5:33pm: Re: Mac OS X Tiger annoyances
I messed with the "bring X11 windows to foreground" problem, and found a workaround that isn't too painful. Say I want to work in XEmacs, running under X11, and occasionally do stuff in Safari. From X11 I do "Hide Others", Command-Tab to Safari, and when I switch from Safari to go back to XEmacs, I do it with "Hide" (Command-H) rather than with Command-Tab.
A solution would be better, but this apparently works for me.
12:19pm: Down-list was already bound
I lisp mode in emacs, the command Down-list moves the cursor into the s-expression following point. It is bound to Meta-Control-d. In Tiger, that binding is occupied by "lookup in dictionary". I rebound (is that a verb? Dictionary says it is...) that to F8. Lookup in dictionary is rather neat, I already started using the Oxford Dictionary in Dashboard, but this is even quicker. To try it out in Mac OS X Tiger; select a word in a Cocoa application, and hit Command-Control-d to display its dictionary or thesaurus entry.
3:50pm: Re: starting a thesis
An update to an earlier post... The thesis "On choosing a programming language" was accepted at the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration (NHH), and with that, I finally got the right to use the title "Siviløkonom". With a somewhat inflationary translation to English, it equals a Master of Science. Ironically, my education in the fluffy subjects of economics and business administration will thus be coined "Science", while my forthcoming Master's degree in Logic and Symbolic Programming will be a Master of liberal arts.
3:50pm: Looking for a job
I'll need a job when I move back to Norway in the end of July. I'd prefer to find something that either includes lisp hacking, or touches on ai or linguistics. There seems to be a lot of recruitment companies around, and many job offers require quite specific competence, thus excluding candidates whose courses have aimed to teach persistent skills.
Still hoping for that one "dream job", otherwise I'll have to apply for a wider set of jobs when I get back.
In Mac OS X Tiger, there's something missing when you come back to X11 from other apps. The X11 windows are not brought to front. Therefore, I have to hit F10 twice or something in order for the window I used to get focus again. As others have remarked, this is quite annoying when I switch from XEmacs to say, Safari, to preview a web page or check the Hyperspec, and then switch back again. One thing is Apple shipping X11 with a bug like this, another is failing to come up with any temporary fix. Not impressive.
8:27am: Push or pull in learning new stuff
Having once again autocompleted M-x *slime-repl*, I looked for a command to switch to Slime's repl, and found that switch-to-lisp had been bound to C-c C-z all along. The lesson learned is that I am willing to live with a certain amount of friction from my tools, and that from time to time, I should look for documentation not with the purpose of finding out how to complete a particular task, but rather to find out how the application writers have tried to make my work easier. C-h m is your friend, I guess.
3:19pm: starting a thesis
Hopefully, I have now completed a business and economics paper named "On choosing a programming language". More on that if it's accepted.
My next project should be more fun. I'll write a web server. Alert readers may ask whether the world needs more web werver apps, to which I'd reply that it is the side effect of the project I'm most interested in--that is, to train myself in the craft of following a specification in the form of an internet standard to write an application.
First hurdle: the headers of a request are specified in an augmented BNF form (specified in RFC822), and I'd like to use Henry Bakers META approach (as specified in his paper Pragmatic Parsing in Common Lisp) to read it.
12:47pm: iBook upgrades
The iBook 12 inch 800mhz seems attractive. Possible upgrade paths are a faster disk drive and lots of ram. Not that I need it for anything, though.
The Hitachi Travelstar 7K60 sells for about USD 235, while the upgrade at the Apple Store from a 30 to a 60 gig HD for the iBook set you back USD 75. With the Hitachi option, you get a faster drive, and perhaps the 30 gig disk can be used for something. In Norway, komplett.no retails the 7K60 for NOK 2291,-, 24 percent VAT included, while the Norwegian Apple Store charges NOK 720 for the upgrade from 30 to 60 gigs. I guess that a harddrive upgrade voids the warranty of the iBook. How about an authorized shop, may they perform the upgrade and maintain the warranty?
Apples spec on the iBook is that it maxes out with 640 meg ram. Some memory dealers claim that it can take up to 1152 megs of ram.
Upgrading to 640 meg ram costs an extra NOK 1470,- at the Norway Apple Store, compared to USD 150 at the US Apple Store. Appearantly, it's cheaper to buy the RAM from a third party.
For comparison, to get the Powerbook delivered with 1024 meg ram, you'll pay an extra USD 700. Funny thing is that for the Powerbook, an extra 512 megs of ram costs USD 300, compared to the 150 for the iBook. Is it not the same RAM?
8:44am: if reality TV leads to online blogging, then makeover TV leads to ...
Jill Walker, a scholar, heard a media scholar state the obvious; reality is out, makeovers are in . From Southern Africa, it's kinda hard to grab the zeitgeist of the western world, for the poor, reality seems to trump over makeovers. Anyway, my hypothesis is that MTVs Real World led to blogging. Homepages, and later blogging, is exposing the individual to innocent bystanders, and as such I see it as a low-bandwidth reality series focusing on a single person.
If reality TV leads to blogging, there may likewise exist a low-bandwidth equivalent to makeovers. Let's see if there are traits of the makeovers that translate to online media. The makeover process features commitment and peer pressure induced by the fact that the protagonist will get on TV -- there are resources in stylists or coaches that turn the average into the ubermensch. So there is a synthesis between motivation; what you could do if you just pulled yourself together, and technology; what you could do if someone told you how to reach a particular goal.
The parallell I'm looking for should provide motivation and technology. Technology will route itself, I think, the hard part is fabricating the motivation, the monster drill seargeant that will make people do the what they deemed impossible.
Finished Aminatta Fornas book "The devil that danced on water". It's about her growing up as the daughter of an opposition politician in Sierra Leone. Refreshing how she seemed to be at liberty to describe the state of her country as ass. Perhaps visitors can't.
So far, I have digested books from Kenya (Kuki Gallmann's I dreamed of Africa), Zimbabwe (Mike Godwin's Mukiwa), Zambia (Alexandra Fuller's Don't let's go to the dogs tonight), Congo/Zaire (Michela Wrong's In the footsteps of Mr. Kurtz).
Suggestions on what to read on Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi, Botswana and Namibia are welcome.
Happy one year in Zambia yesterday. Brian, the gardener, wore a party hat to celebrate the occasion.
Later in the evening, I read Cory Doctorows Eastern Standard Tribe.
Story had some traits common with Gibson's Pattern Recognition - how things are made, cultural tension UK/US. It's lovely how the cyberpunk genre is slowly coming to terms with being fiction rather than science fiction.
The book made me think of excellence, and how people find out what they are good at. I know I'm still looking. MTV has a series they call "Made" -- I only saw part of one episode - young, many girl friends frat boy wanted to become a dancer and went through a months hard training. Today's question:
If you had a drill sergeant at your disposal, what exercises would you make him make you do?
2:43pm: cost of holding computer equipment
Selling off potentially useful gear does not make sense apart from saving space. I used to have an SGI Indy, which was blessed with a TV input card. Before moving across the world, I sold the Indy, but kept a G4. The G4 had no option for TV input, so I bought a crap external box from Formac. This box attaches by firewire to the mac, but the sync is off by almost a second. Yay progress.
In an ideal world, I'd have kept the Indy, and distributed tv signals to all unix boxen in the vicinity.
the funny thing is that the Formac card, being "new" computer equipment cost more than what I got for the Indy. At least it takes up less space than the SGI did.
5:15pm: is a future iPod the real Apple Tablet?
Cringely muses on a Tablet by Apple, thinking of it as a digital hub. Maybe. If there was room for an Apple tablet, first I'd like to know what a tablet could do that a future iPod can't. Hard disks follow Moore's law just just as much as processor power does, so future iPods will probably be able to record video like a TiVo does today. With some clever user interface, using an iPod as a remote may make sense. Only you'd need two, as one would need to be hooked up to the TV set, while the other would rest on the couch or table if you have one. Big win for Apple, selling video iPods with a rebate on the remote-control iPod.
5:15pm: Search for absent urls
They claim we live in the future -- well, here's a request for a futuristic feature. Thinking that a 17-inch 1680 by 1050 display would be nice, I went to IBM, making up what to me would be the most probable URL for displays by ibm: http://ibm.com/display/
This pages does not exist, which in itself is somewhat silly, but wouldn't we prefer a webserver that pulled out the local part of the url, "display/" truncated a the pending slash, replaced any remaining slashes with spaces, and did a site-wide search for that string, perhaps even redirecting me to the page with the highest rank, "I'm feeling lucky"-style?
5:14pm: Competition on the desktop
After I added noatime to the mount commands for the disks on my laptop, the disk remains in sleep mode after it spins down. The possibility of spending USD 2000 on an Apple laptop makes me consider spending the time to fine-tune my current debian setup. With a harddisk that remains spun down, my outdated Inspiron 7500 is n percentage points closer in performance to an 15" powerbook, and thus worth (* (/ n 100) 2000) more to me.
12:57pm: DVR-A05, kernel panic and MacOS X
About a week ago I installed a Pioneer DVR-A05 in my PowerMac G4 running MacOS X 10.2.6. Since then I had several kernel panics. A german newsgroup had a post on how to avoid it: System Preferences:Energy Saver:Sleep and uncheck "Put the hard disk to sleep when possible".
I'm burning a disk from the Finder right now, which I couldn't do from the Finder before I unchecked this option.
Just thought this info should be on the web in near-English.
8:28pm: Debian on a desktop?
Slashdot reports that Bruce Perens of "Open Source or something" fame is waving his arms about UserLinux, an initiative that should get big corps to maintain a port of Debian to the desktop, taking over the void after RedHat gave in on desktop users. It'll be ready in 6 months, they estimate.
I'd like a smooth desktop [Update: by smooth desktop I mean one with antialiased scalable fonts] right now. It doesn't work on Debian Stable, and without bandwidth, it's too much of a hassle to upgrade to Testing. Still dreaming of a Powerbook.