Content from 2009-01

Bursting Browsers

posted on 2009-01-29 02:49:08

My browser is filling up with tabs and I'm tired of it so it's time for a link dump. There were probably also things from my Google Reader that I wanted to post in here but that thing moves so fast I can never keep up with it. Honestly, it's impossible. Maybe I should start reading less.

This year is starting to come together nicely. I'm enjoying school a lot and as far as I can tell so far I've been kicking ass and taking names...not that I should brag about it. It's not like I'm in a really tough school and it's not like I'm far into my major. Oh, well.

I still find the two most interesting topics in Computer Science to be Operating Systems and Programming Languages. We're still so early in the computer age. I think there's a long way left to go. I don't have anything smart to say about OSes and PLs because there is too much I have left to learn. Instead, in the next few days I hope to talk a bit about Emacs and LaTeX. I swear by that text editor at this point. The more you use it the more you get sucked into it I suppose...but I can imagine switching from Firefox to Emacs for browsing.

Speaking of which, Firefox 3.1 Beta 3 should be coming out soon and we all should want that. It's about time Tracemonkey got here...and if you have any memory usage improvements or additional stability bring them my way. I'm a ridiculous internet user to be sure and I average about 40 tabs most of which have a decent amount of javascript or images but I still think we can do better. Hammer away guys!

Now then, about those links:
- First of all, there are some notes from a POPL 2009 track that I found highly interesting here. I hope that things are indeed shaken up as much as they suggest over the next 10 to 15 years. There is cause for optimism as much as despair. It's been posted on LtU and hopefully some good comments will turn up there.

- Bruce Schneier thinks we should have Data Breach Notification laws. Makes sense don't you think?

- The Scheme Language Steering Committee is going through an election soon and I'm pretty interested in taking part. Naturally, they have a fantastic lineup of nominees. I'm one of those people that's a little dissatisfied with R6RS but I am unaware of the historic RnRS before R5RS so I should probably read up before voting. Who am I kidding though? I'll never find the time. We'll see what happens.

- Following up from the first article, the links here to the original article, follow up, and LoperOS are all fairly interesting. I'm actually pretty happy with the state of computing as it is these days but I don't have to write code professionally...and I'm certainly not opposed to escaping todays methods\tools\PLs\OSs\ISAs\etc.

- Speaking of tools though we do have some incredible tools today, like this Cycle Accurate x86 simulator. I don't know when I would need it...but it is there.

- There have been some interesting thoughts on the economic stimulus lately. I think three of my favorites are this one, this one and this one. This post talks about how to spot economic BS which is of course also useful in these hectic times. We'll still forget these lessons in a scant few years, I fear.

- I still think there's a good bit wrong with both our economic and education systems at several levels but they're the best we have right now. After all, our college admissions processes are admittedly pretty arbitrary. Hopefully they'll improve in the future but in the meantime I think a lot of the problems are summed up well here. In the meantime, let's all just think differently and remember what Brandon Marsalis said.

- Bruce Sterling has a good bit to say about the State of the World in 2009 and though this is one hell of a thread there are some extremely interesting views present. It's definitely worth a half hour or so of reading, even if you can't finish it.

- As for thinking about the future, keep these two things in mind: Work on something that matters and this probably will be a Genomic century.

- While we're on the not quite computing train, I might as well mention the wonderful works of Elizier Yudkowsky again whose recent series on Fun Theory has provided some throught provoking material. *shrug* Maybe it suits you maybe not. Here is a summary. There has also been some talk on Overcoming Bias about Obama's Inauguration and Setting the Bar now. That's certainly worthwhile too.

- Speaking of Operating Systems and Foundations of Computing and all that bull, here's something worth reading/thinking about. I haven't actually used Plan 9 but there are (I think) some very good comments in this thread and things worth pondering.

- This is interesting if only because it seems reasonably honest/unbiased and explains many of the pros and cons of a broad array of languages. That said, I don't see any concatenative languages represented and that makes me a little sad.

- Last but not least are a few thoughts on our new president from Rafe Colburn: Thank God the torture is over and this choice makes me deeply, deeply happy.

Between Google Code University is pretty cool but what I'm really excited about is their Summer of Code. In the past I've read about it but if I can learn enough and get my act together quickly enough I may actually be able to participate this year! We'll see. A friend offered to mentor me for LispNYC if I can come up with an appropriate project and I'm both flattered and excited but I've got a lot to learn between now and then before I can do anything really useful. Back to my lisping. On a related note, I would keep my eye on this site over the next few months. I expect we'll all be seeing some really neat stuff.

Finally, a few tangents. Some of the stuff people create in LittleBigPlanet is astounding. These guys need to stop their home computer office wars...but I think I can say I actually prefer my setup to theirs. I've made good choices based on my needs, so have they. That's enough for now. I should try doing something actually productive. Later guys.

It's a strange Saturday

posted on 2009-01-24 23:00:45

I meant to post an entry about all sorts of nerdy and interesting computer things I've been reading but it's been delayed. I'll probably regret posting this but it's the first thing I've written poetry-wise since July. It was sort of an experience.


I want the biggest hug I have inside me to swallow you up,
Like the reals swallow the rationals.
I don't want to go back to the beginning,
I'd rather see forward to understand where
I'm going. The whence question is
imprecise and leads me down paths,
many with thorns,
and only more imprecise questions.

The waters remain muddy so I climb the ladder out
until I find myself in clouds, fluffy and inarticulate.
Floating amid a mass of almost fluid abstractions,
they leak rain all over my parade.
I want to be more than you,
encompass you,
surpass you.

I lost sight of God just over a distant moon.
I hope I didn't offend him, my absent-mindedness
is often misperceived. But his opinion is not my concern.
I must be ever mindful that even if I find him and think
God is everywhere, that my invention is my own and is fractal
...or homoiconic. I cannot trust myself.

I rode the solar winds further up to get a better view
but everything was opaque, only more black boxes. I
couldn't fathom how to measure the cardinality so I
counted off an Aleph One, resolved to return
once I was the wiser. Higher still then until I saw it.

Our patchwork universe was being held together by holes.
Dark holes which pulled at us as the drain does the droplets.
And this was too much for me.
I know my monkey brain is too small.

And then I saw you. I remembered, "A ha.
I''ve left my sphere." And I looked back
and saw it. I'm not sure how long it will last.

It didn't look like much. Small and dirty and ignorant.
But I saw a quiet room on a sunday flooded with light and you.

Maybe it will be enough.

Disparate Discourse

posted on 2009-01-22 04:42:03

Before I bore you, I should mention something worth reading. There was an interview with Clay Shirky I read that I thought was just excellent. It's on the response to technological change and some of the effects of the change (the newspaper industry esp.). It's in 2 parts and it's definitely worth it. Check it out: Part 1 and Part 2. Also, if you've ever wondered about the people who write adware, here's an interview with one. There's a little bit of geek speak but it's not too bad and he certainly has some interesting things to say.

I've had a lot on my mind I've wanted to mention here but I've been distracted by real life lately. You know, school, keeping up the house, budgeting, exercise, a small social life, etc. It's been a big January. Obama got inaugurated and seems to be taking his first steps well. EA Blackbox disappointed me by not including Custom Soundtracks, one of the few features I cared about, in the PS3 version of Skate 2. And wouldn't you know it, I'm just loving SPSU. I can't explain why. I especially don't know when I found it so miserable last time. The classes aren't more challenging (except for maybe my programming course) but I'm just enjoying myself a lot more. Maybe that year off really did benefit me. I'm also really loving the public transit I take two days a week to get there. If I can get through the next 30 years without a car, I'm liable to try.

My 2 school days, Tuesday and Thursday, are both 13+ hour days. I leave at 7:30 and get back home around 9:00. It's worth having the rest of the week off though. My first class is Technical Writing which I at first hated and still think is pretty dumb. Thankfully, it's the sort of class where if you just keep your head down and do what you're told you'll do well. I'm normally not good at that but I'm managing so far and it's been getting a little easier as I've gotten less afraid the teacher will grade my work arbitrarily.

The really odd thing which I don't know how to relate is that I'm making friends at SPSU. Last time I made a point of going to class and back to my dorm. I spoke to few (or no) people in my classes and was this ghost guy that happened to live on campus but spent most of his time at work or his Oglethorpe girlfriend's dorm. I'm still near Oglethorpe and I still see the folks I care about, particulary that girl. That said, I run into people constantly throughout the day and they want to talk or hang out with me. The lunchroom, the hallways, just walking around. It bothered me a little initially because I was used to sitting around people watching and reflecting during that time and people kept coming up to me. It seems that people my age don't really reflect much to me for some reason. Anyway, it was weird getting approached all the time at first but it's fun now.

I have a Global Issues class which is sort of politics and probably should've been covered by a bit of Core 3 but I'm signed up for the 2nd of something like 6 debates and mine is on the issue of population control. I'm all about that and I've been thinking a bit about sustainability and anomie lately. I still don't have anything smart to say though. I have a Discrete Math class in which I actually adore the professor. Literally. She's precious. She bounces all over the damn room because she has ADD so bad she can't hold still. Or she's just that excited about Discrete Math. She specializes in Extremal Graph Theory after all. Anyway, her enthusiasm makes all the difference. I've sort of made the class fun for myself additionally by picking up LaTeX to typeset all my math homework. It all ends up looking like $\forall x \in Z^+ p | \sim p \to (q \lor r)$ or some such. God bless the almighty Emacs. I (almost) live in there. If you want to understand why someone would subject themselves to such a thing instead of just using a Word Processor like MS Word, read this.

I've got a few programs I need to write. I need to write an application to help me keep up with my budget and I need to write a cookbook application to help me store and keep track of my favorite recipes. I'm definitely writing the cookbook app in Chicken Scheme and may or may not write the budget app in Common Lisp. By the way, I'm looking for a simple but stellar Chili recipe. Anybody have one they're willing to share?

Part of my recent joy has been that I'm less concerned about changing the world with my life. It's sad to me quite often but the amount of effort required to not be an ordinary person is tremendous and the sacrifices great. I'll try to explain that in more detail later but in short I'd like to spend my life with a loved one quietly but intently. It's hard in some sense not to end up sleepwalking through your life and going with the flow. Anyway, for now I've got to get this posted and get to bed in the next 10 minutes so I'll be well rested for my 14 hour day tomorrow. Good night.

My .hgignore

posted on 2009-01-14 23:25:29

Before I forget it or fail to version it somewhere I want to post the contents of my .hgignore file. You may or may not find it useful if you're a mercurial user but it's really for me. :)

syntax: glob

Counting Down

posted on 2009-01-13 00:45:25

It's been a pretty eventful holiday season. I wrecked my Maxima on Dad's birthday (the 23rd), in particular. I didn't want to mention something until I had a concrete opinion to express and now I do. It was for the best. Seriously. I had spent considerable amounts of money trying to keep the car in good repair this year, it wasn't paid off yet and my parents and I had long since agreed it was a lemon but had no way to get rid of it.

Luckily, the insurance has paid off the car, I'm fine and this enables me to cancel my insurance and have a bit more financial leeway for the coming school year. I had to figure out a method of public transit from Brookhaven to Marietta but that didn't turn out to be too tricky. It ultimately just means I'll spend about 3 hours twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) on CCT and Marta. Today I went for the first time as a test run. The ride was enjoyable and afforded me a bit of time to get some sampling done. I took care of a few on-campus errands, bumped into several disparate acquaintances such as John Valentine and some Fayeteville folks and scoped out food options.

In short, I'm ready for school to start even though they're going to make me learn C#. I hope I can use Mono most of the way.

I keep reading about the economy, earmarks and entitlements. Is no one else thinking that the real issue here is sustainability, limited resources and population control? Minsky gave a talk on this but he's not the first person to raise the issue. When are we going to admit the planet can't indefinitely support 6 billion people or at least do the math/research to prove that it can? That's the question I'd really like us to be thinking about. If we want to be honest and accountable, the big picture is the only place to talk. The futurists and sustainability freaks seem to be pretty much the only people doing that. I'll rant about that more later but I wanted to at least note that it's been occupying increasing amounts of headspace for the past 6 months.

Speaking of mindspace, I still really love ogling the stack languages. I played with Forth a little bit but didn't get too far. It was just a fun diversion from Lisp at the time. I still really want to check out Factor.  Frankly, after seeing how fast the factor guys grow the ecosystem and libraries around the language I believe their productivity gain claims. Go Planet Factor, Go Slava. I'm sure I'll get around to playing with it sooner or later. I have a nightly installed and FUEL setup...which actually popped up on Reddit today ironically enough.

The only consumer-y thing I can think of that I'm excited about for the foreseeable future is the upcoming release of a PS3 game called Skate 2. Skate 2 is really just a patched-up and glorified Skate 1 to me. I'm still excited and I don't mean to speak ill of EA Blackbox but I could care less about much of the new stuff. I just wanted custom soundtracks, a tripod camera and good PS3 framerates. It comes out on January 21st and I'll disappear for a week in all likelihood exploring all it's corners.

I still marvel at and love my new X200 and btdubs, btrfs is in for 2.6.29. For the record, I've had a newsgroups subscription with Astraweb for about a week now. I've poked around for a few Oscar screeners but haven't observed anything I couldn't find on isohunt or thepiratebay. Sure, the download speed is a boon but I'm looking for content that isn't readily available on other networks. I've checked out nzbmatrix and What am I missing?

The RIAA has said they're giving up lawsuits and trying something else. I'll be keeping an eye out and looking for service that don't discriminate to Static IP users with their own blogs or pander to RIAA/MPAA/etc. In IP related news, Lawrence Lessig appeared on the Colbert Report. He has much more interesting things to say beyond what was covered so I'd recommend picking up some of his books, reading them free online or at least reading the Wikipedia articles on his first book and Free Content.

I've also been catching up on my music obsession over the cold season and particularly enjoyed White Winter Hymnal by Fleet Foxes and Grounds for Divorce by Elbow the last few days. Also, I love Battles at least a little bit for writing Tonto, Atlas and Leyendecker. I'm also enjoying Amon Tobin all over again because he's a damn genius.

I haven't been keeping up tremendously well with my New Years Blogging resolution, as you may have noticed, but I think that will change now that I'm busier. I've been doing much better with the music sampling and skateboarding. On to the coding and schooling.

Resolutions and Predictions

posted on 2009-01-02 02:59:31

So this is a stupid New Years Post and maybe it's a little late. Are you supposed to post these on New Years Eve? I don't know. Anyway, here we go.


- By May, I will be over half way done with HTDP.
- By May, I will have analyzed over 1000 songs for samples and make at least one composition from said samples.
- I will maintain a 3.5 GPA. Sure that's probably not rigorous or demanding but discipline before excellence.
- I will blog and exercise (gym, jogging, or skateboarding) at least once a week.


- Solid State Drives will attain an across-the-board performance advantage with a reasonable size disadvantage by Q4 2009. (~256gb for $300 or ~$1.25/gb) Edit: Okay, that was really stupid and not what I meant to express. Solid State Drives already have an across the board performance advantage with a (for some definitions of) reasonable size disadvantage if you get a good drive (Read: Intel or Samsung). I was really trying to comment on affordability of said quality drives. The Intels are sitting at $500/80gb right now and I don't know about the Samsungs. I'm predicting ~$300/256gb by the end of 2009. I'm leaving myself leeway by not stating whether or not I mean fiscal 2009.
- No console will have a strong lead by the end of 2009 and we'll have to call this generation Console War a draw.
- Linux and Mac will continue to infiltrate the consumer market but will not exceed 10% of worldwide market share.
- The MPAA will follow the RIAA's lead and stop their lawsuits to pursue alternative means of Intellectual Property Rights enforcement.
- IP Law and laws covering digital property and privacy will see increased scrutiny and public awareness. (Hey, I'm just hoping.)

What haven't I thought of that I should have?

Unless otherwise credited all material Creative Commons License by Brit Butler