Courtesy of the lovely Bash, What’s Alan Cox up to these days? Answer: an MBA, and getting involved in Welsh Linux. :-)
16th European Summer School in Logic, Language and Information – with a bit of luck, I might be going. Colour me logical, baby!
This is all over the place at the moment, but if you haven’t seen it yet… Things to do while watching the Lord Of The Rings movies.
Three of my favourites:
Dress up as old ladies and reenact “The Battle of Helms Deep” Monty Python style.
(at least it wouldn’t have dwarf-tossing or surfing elves in it…)
Finish off every one of Elrond’s lines with “Mr. Anderson.”
Imitate what you think a conversation between Gollum, Dobby and Yoda would be like.
Two mildly interesting things which happened to me last night:
1. I saw a house round the corner from mine with Christmas decorations in the window. Guess they’re starting late this year.
2. I read Winnie The Pooh for the first time; it was cool, but I was disappointed to get to the end without meeting Tigger. I hope they make a sequel some day. ;-)
Jam – a nifty looking replacement for make (particularly nifty in that it understands C and C++ dependencies, so your Makefiles (or Jamfiles, I suppose) tend to be a lot shorter). Plus it doesn’t use XML, unlike ant, which has got to be a good thing… :-)
Plus, I spoke, for the first time, to Alan Cox today. Very briefly. More on this some time in the next fortnight or so, I reckon…
Paul Novorese on Type C and Type M arguments – nice.
The most famous type M argument is the “law abiding citizens have nothing to hide” justification for any given big brother policy. I particulary despise this argument, and often I despise those who make it, as they obviously are too lazy to develop rational justifications for thier positions.
And yet, what is the right answer to that? I mean, how do you counter that argument? All suggestions welcome… (Man, I need a commenting system – maybe it’s time I looked at Movable Type).
Dad sent me a couple of photos, which I thought I’d share:
That’s Blossom, their cat, doing the kind of daft thing cats do; and Adam, my nephew, who appears to growing frighteningly fast. Wave to the internet, Adam. :-)
Hmmm, Blossom’s pose (and, to be honest, general attitude) reminds me of this excellent Get Fuzzy cartoon:
It’s quite amazing to see how many of the predictions made in this Byte article on microkernel operating systems from 1994 were just completely wrong.
I mean, apart from the big one at the start, that “Every next-generation operating system will have one [ie, a microkernel]“, there are all sorts of little predictions and “obvious points” about the market about that time which ended up not happening for one reason or another.
Fueling the current microkernel frenzy is the recent fragmentation of the operating-system market. With no one vendor a clear winner in the operating-system sweepstakes, each needs to be able to support the others’ applications.
I suppose this was still in the day when it looked like OS/2 might have a chance.
Since the processor market seems more likely to fragment with competing designs than to converge on a single architecture, running an operating system on more than one processor may be the only way to leverage buyers’ investment in hardware.
Well, that didn’t happen, except in the embedded space.
Operating-system designers have learned their lesson and now build operating systems that make adding extensions manageable. There’s no alternative. With increasingly complex monolithic systems, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to ensure reliability.
So how come Windows and Linux are still monolithic then? Eh? Eh? Eh?
There’s also a need to subtract features. More users would flock to Unix or NT if these operating systems didn’t require 16 MB of memory and 70 MB or more of hard disk space.
Ah, if only it had been true. But no, we’ll just buy more memory and bigger hard drives, dummy!
Don’t get me wrong. I like the idea of a microkernel and I hope (but doubt) that somehow they’re the future. I’m just marvelling at how much this article got wrong. Not that I’m suggesting I could do better, then or now… It’s just interesting, is all.
Stop stop talking about who’s to blame, when all that counts is how to change.
Well, I know I’d rather see Superman as President than, say, Conan the Librarian.
One of the nice things about my work is that I get a steady stream of academic and not-quite-so-academic journals turning up in my pigeon-hole, for me to read and then pass on to a colleague. Most of the time these contain nothing of interest to me, but now and then that’s not the case. The April issue of ACM Queue just turned up on my desk, and it’s dedicated to embedded systems. Booooring, I hear you say. Well, yes, but look: here’s an interview with Jim Ready of Monta Vista Software, all about his company‘s use of Linux in the embedded space.
Nice interview, and a couple of particularly neat-o quotes:
For similar reasons, the Asia-Pacific region is also a very strong supporter of Linux. Part of Linux’s strength in Asia comes from not wanting to hand the keys of the kingdom to a proprietary OS vendor. Neither Sony nor anybody else is going to let Microsoft define what a television, PVR, PDA, or phone is, although Microsoft would love to do it. There’s an “ain’t going to happen” aspect driving the Linux adoption in the consumer space, meaning people are not going to hand the market over to a sole-source provider. The beneficiary is Linux, and we are a key supplier of embedded Linux. This is a very, very strong market phenomenon, no question about it.
On porting Linux to non-x86 architectures:
Let’s put it this way: If it were a big job to rip out x86 stuff and put in all these other CPU-specfic things, we wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing today. We release an image of Linux and its utilities across all those architectures at the same time, exactly at the same revision level: something no one has ever done in the world before, by the way. And we’ve done it in a very straightforward, highly automated way. If there were really weird “broken” parts of Linux, it would make that impossible. So we’ve demonstrated beyond a doubt that Linux is completely portable and architecture-independent.
Andy’s Saturday Night. I was a Cheshire Cat. Not a ginger one though, which seemed to annoy some people.
On-line Orgasmic Simulation [bela].
Not accurate though, because I don’t somk.
The Isophone [null] – though I think an easier, and possibly cooler, way to do this would be to just fit speakers and a microphone into an ordinary sensory-deprivation tank. In fact, don’t they come fitted with speakers already so you can drift away listening to whales humping and whatnot?
If we are going to lose, we arm everything with cobalt – and I mean everything; we have jackets at nearly every missile magazine in the world, on land or at sea – and contaminate the world. If we can’t have it, nobody can.”
Update 2003-09-15: A few comments over at /dev/null, mostly on the sceptical side.
Murphy: Yes, I will bring tears to the eyes of anyone who thinks they can architect on the basis of everything working and all bits talking to each other in synchronous lock-step. All architecture should be pessimistic, not optimistic. Design with failure in mind. It’s the only way. An asynchronous approach to time ordering is critical.
PyXMMS – control XMMS using Python. Here we go…
Also nifty: pyosd, for TV-like on-screen displays from Python.
Geek interlude: As of about half an hour ago, I’m running linux kernel 2.6.0-test4, courtesy of this howto. Everything went smoothly, and things seem decidedly snappier, no doubt thanks to the kernel preemption patch, which was my main motivation for trying it out (although I hear CD burning is simpler too). The only thing that seems to be broken is lm_sensors, but I pretty much expected that – it seems incredibly fragile.
Why negotiate with your political opponents when you can annihilate them? In the era of WoT, little concerns like war crimes and human rights just don’t register.
More on knots via Mark Hughes: The Tangled Task of Distinguishing Knots and Knots and Their Polynomials. Unfortunately I’m waaay too busy to read them at the mo, but maybe later tonight… Thanks, Mark!
If you are having trouble getting everything to fit, try narrowing your margins, reducing your font to 7, or getting rid of the ‘deadweight’ by eliminating your education or omitting the nouns.
Untying the Gordian Knot – mildly interesting though short on detail. OTOH knots are complex buggers.
I got to that page after googling on “gordian.knot”, inspired by a student of mine cutting the Gordin Knot in an exam question. When asked to provide a solution to the famous Dining Philosopher’s Problem, this bright spark suggested adding more forks. Who’d have thought that the next conqueror of Asia would be a Computer Science student at Swansea?
If none of the above makes sense to you, feel free to drop me an email and I’ll do my best to explain. :-)
Fascinating “don’t-miss” (to quote Jorn) interview with Bernard Lietaer, all about money – what it is, what the problems are with the current system, and lots about the complementary “yin” currencies emerging all over the place [robot]. Way cool.
I am afraid that if the United States had to live by the rules that are imposed on, say, Brazil, the United States of America would become a developing country in one generation. It’s the system that is currently unstable, unfair and not working.
Africa for instance has been dropped off the world economic map for most practical purposes.
I spent last summer in Bali. People are remarkably artistic in that island. Their communities are unusually strong. They have festivals that are totally mind-blowing, and can last a month. They’re having a good time. It’s a comparatively non-violent society. And what I found is that it isn’t a simple coincidence that they have been using a dual currency system for many centuries. All these unusual characteristics of Bali turn out directly to be nurtured by their dual money system.
I’m saying that exclusive use of a competitive programmed currency in a community tends to be destructive for the community fabric. This isn’t theory. We’ve seen this happen at the tribe level, with the collapses of traditional societies. I’ve seen one happen myself in Peru among the Chipibo in the Amazon. That tribe had been in existence for thousands of years. When they started using the national currency among themselves, the whole community fabric collapsed in five years’ time.
I like the one for the woman holding a baby…
SPBLinux – Linux on a USB keychain drive. Like, yeah!
These things are getting seriously cheap – I bought one today (256Mb, USB2.0) for 55 quid from Mr USB (look under “Flash Drives/MP3 Players), but for 90 quid I could have got half a gig (in fact, I kinda wish I had). Now, that’s just silly, and where’s it going to end?
I mean, OK, compared to a 3.5″ it’s expensive – I can get 80Gb for about 100 quid now, right? But this baby’s so much more transportable than a hard drive. Half a gig is enough to put a reasonably repectable linux distro onto, and then you can cart it around to wherever you go and boot into it. How long before we have 1Gb drives? 2Gb? 5Gb? 10Gb? At this point, the computer you’re on becoming irrelevant – a hotdesk. You carry your operating system and your data with you. I really like this idea. Of course, the tricky bit is hardware configuration – you can only hotdesk if your OS is good at autodetecting hardware and playing nice with the local network, whatever it happens to be. But it’s a nice idea. One day…
Oh, and since hotdesking already has a meaning, I hereby invent a new word. Er, but what? I dunno, how about “pocketdesking”? Any better ideas, send me a postcard.
When I installed gentoo linux, I also started using grub as my boot loader (as opposed to the more traditional LILO). Grub can display a splash image in the menu background, and for quite a while I’ve idly wanted to customising this. Well, here’s the howto. w00t.
This snippet caught my eye:
It also supports what is becoming increasingly clear – that the stretches of DNA we call genes are only a small part of the genetic story.
It’s been a quiet fortnight, hasn’t it? I went on holiday to Cornwall and had a lovely time, mainly lazing around in my parents’ back garden, although a trip to Eden didn’t go amiss either, especially combined with a gig by The Orb and Moby.
Anyway, back to work, busy busy busy, etc. – but just enough time to point out that The Diamond Age is fast approaching [null although apparently Slashdot's seen it too so probably so have you already, but anyway] and Dubai is to build the world’s first underwater hotel – groovy [rotten].
It is illustrative of the bizarre way my mind works to note that I reached that page by the following path: I was reading a (paper) document about CASL, the Common Algebraic Specification Language, which is something I’m researching at work. This mentioned Monoids, so I searched and found this wikipedia entry – very elucidating. That took me to category theory, which according to that page is also apparently half-jokingly known as “abstract nonsense”, which fact led me to google on that term, which took me to this page on everything2.org, which links to the usual yoga which is a dead link page with a link to yoga warmup – hurrah.
The World Wide Web – your free association playground on acid.
It’s a good month for Mars-gazing – the best it’s been for 5,000 (or maybe even 60,000) years, in fact.
Awesome. The Dark Wheel, the novella which came bundled with the best computer game I ever did play, the classic space-trader-battler Elite. The only thing I remember is a passage about a guy with some weird parasites lying dormant in his face, and his hopes as to when they would choose to emerge. Let’s see… Ah yes, here we go:
It was a human being, and not a humanoid alien that faced them. But what had happened to its face was beyond description. There were many ways to change ordinary human looks to nightmarish caricatures of the same: flying too close to certain stars, being exposed to the interstellar vacuum too often, working in certain ore and mineral mines . . . But Alex, as he stared at the lumpy, grey swellings that swathed this person’s flesh, could not imagine what grotesque disaster had befallen the caller.
‘These things. This . . .’ tapping his face. ‘Parasites. Spider worms. I did a stint in the pen on Dykstra’s world, and the little buggers took a liking to me. These are the larvae, about two million of them. They’ll hatch out in about ten years, and that’ll be the end of me. I sort of hope I’m at a dinner party with someone I don’t like, at the time, but you can’t plan for these things.’
Classic. Thanks, Dave! :-)
Karzai shared with Ahmed Rashid his belief, like that of the average Afghan today, that the answer to that question lies in an understanding reached between the United States and Pakistan during Musharraf’s visit to Camp David, that Afghanistan could be, in effect, “sub- contracted” to Pakistan. Karzai also told Rashid that Musharraf’s critical remarks about the Karzai regime during his visit to the United States reminded him of the pre-September 11 days when Pakistan was fully backing the Taliban and exercising ever-more-strident control over Afghanistan.
Superb Defective Yeti on Moby Dick. Given Matthew’s propensity for making up bullshit (good examples here and here) I assumed that the quote (spleens, hypos, knocking hats off) was made up too. But just to check, I mosied on over to Project Gutenberg and downloaded me a copy – and there it is, Chapter One, spleens, hypos, and hats. Superb. Now I simply must read this book, not withstanding Matthew’s comments about twentysomething Moby Dick liars.
I’ve just heard about Agnula, a project which aims to support the production of two Linux distributions (one based on Debian, the other on RedHat) dedicated to audio and multimedia. Check out the project description page for a list of the software they’re aiming to include – pretty ambitious.
Via ntk, and timely since I’m thinking about doing some Palm development soonish, maybe, if I get round to it and don’t get distracted by lots of other exciting things, which is also likely, we present, Onboard C:
A C language integrated development environment that runs right on your Palm PDA and compiles native Palm executables
I must also, of course, take a close look at pippy.
Here’s an interesting article about how the market for tantalum, which is an essential ingredient in all our lovely consumer devices like mobile phones, computers, palmtops, etc. is feeding war, corruption, destruction, and extinction in central Africa [null]. Argle.
Courtesy of Simon (although I expect the meme’s getting top rotation right now), a review of Real Life. Ho1 ho1 ho1, etc.
Player death is a serious issue in real life, and cause for continued debate among players, who often direct unanswerable questions on the subject to the game’s developers, who are apparently (and understandably) so busy that they generally keep silent.
Photo in St. James Park by the marvellous John Hegley.
Hey Brits! Doesn’t it give you a warm glow to know that you can be extradited to the USA without prima facie evidence? [null]
… a demonstration of what can be accomplished visually through CSS-based design.
Seriously impressive – I didn’t actually realise quite how much was possible, it seems. For instance, compare Gothica with, say, Calm & Smooth – they’re the same HTML file, just different CSS! Corking.
Desire to play with Gimboland design growing…
Websites that shorten long URLs [gamma]. Nice – I used to use makeashorterlink until I discovered tinyurl, but some of these other features look interesting. Perl API, huh? Where’s the Python one? ;-) (Yeah, I know, I know, write it yourself. I know.)
It’s really time I listened to Simon and started reading Defective Yeti, so I have.
Unfortunately, that means I now have no choice but to present a long list of fantastic posts. It’s almost redundant, since most of the posts are, frankly, rather good, but anyway… kitten wrath, Dr Pepper, Logan’s Run (I actually quite like Logan’s Run, but knowing me that’s probably just because Jenny Agutter gets nekkid), toothpaste slapstick, go you chickenfat, What Venomous Egg-Laying Mammal Are You?, lego currency, etc., etc., etc. – wow.
It’s a while since I discovered a site that made me laugh out loud so consistently. I guess the last one was bash.org. Simon, I repent!
I went looking for a chicken/pesto/pasta recipe last night and stumbled upon allrecipes.com, which I’ve got to say, is totally the business. A few particularly nifty aspects: for a given recipe, you can automatically scale the ingredients to however many servings you want, you can have the amounts in metric or “US standard” (ie everything in terms of “cups” – whatever they are ;-)), each recipe has reviews and ratings, and if you register you get a “recipe box” in which to keep your favourites and any notes you make on them. Very cool.
OK, so maybe none of this is news to anyone who’s used the web as a recipe resouce for some time – but to me it was all new and exciting.
Plus, the meal I selected, Chicken Pesto a la Lisa, was dead easy to cook and super-duper yummylicious.
Oooh, so that’s what blanching is – I always wondered.
A couple of tasty bits from tiddly-pom over the last few days: Six plays Hex, telling us about a KDE app for playing Hex, the game John Nash invented because Go was too inscrutable for him; and Planet of the Zeppelins, on interesting plans to colonise Venus with Cloud Cities from The Empire Strikes Back. Well, not quite, but almost.
Speculations on a gay subtext to Harry Potter. Rubbish when taken literally of course, but the last paragraph Andrew quotes has got it right, I reckon.
“Play a grooming song!” says Panbanisha through her human interpreter. “I want to hear a grooming song!”
Onscreen, Gabriel begins playing slow synth pads not unlike something that might appear in one of his soundtracks. Panbanisha listens and begins to pick out delicate single notes on the keyboard, like a beginning and extremely hairy Brian Eno or Erik Satie. It’s stunning footage, albeit not the sort of thing that would make the cut on When Animals Attack.
“She likes this note,” says Gabriel, as the ape begins repeating a note and its octave. “No one has ever told her about octaves. She finds out for herself. So she’s either recognizing the pattern, or it’s through what she’s hearing.”
It’s also nice to see the Blind Boys of Alabama mentioned, as I’ve coincidentally been enjoying their work lately.
He’s looking very Zen-master, isn’t he?
Something I hadn’t heard of when it came up in a meeting a few weeks ago, and which I’ve just got round to investigating: The Stable Marriable Problem. Kewl.
Because everything in her home is waterproof, the housewife of 2000 can do her daily cleaning with a hose.
Or how about this:
It is easy enough to spot a budding hurricane in the doldrums off the coast of Africa. Before it has a chance to gather much strength and speed as it travels westward toward Florida, oil is spread over the sea and ignited. There is an updraft. Air from the surrounding region, which includes the developing hurricane, rushes in to fill the void. The rising air condenses so that some of the water in the whirling mass falls as rain.
I’m sorry, I must be going mad. I thought you said “oil is spread over the sea and ignited”. Oh, wait.
Why Functional Programming Matters, a paper from 1984. Alas, in general, functional programming is still rare, so presumably this paper didn’t have quite the intended effect. Yet. :-)
Jorn is back after nearly a month, and the first thing I see is a pretty cool logarithmic timeline of the history of the Universe with (some) references.
Includes such nifty moments as “diamonds created in South Africa”, “fish with legs”, “giant cockroaches”, “cats and dogs diverge”, “giant birds eat tiny horses”, “whales diverge from hippos”, “Mediterranean sea evaporates”, “Sahara more arid than today”, “first Australians hunt giant marsupials to extinction”, “discovery of prime numbers”, and of course, “Riverdance”. :-)
Archaeologists in western China discovered five earthenware jars of 2,000-year-old rice wine in an ancient tomb and its bouquet was still strong enough to perk up the nose, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Hectic day… A three-and-a-half hour Internal Examiners meeting this morning, and a seminar right now, then I have to write up the minutes of the meeting. Can’t these people see it’s sunny, god damn it! ;-)
The phrase “chiseled spam” popped into my head earlier – it comes up in Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, but I’m not sure why I was thinking of it today. Anyway, feeling curious, I googled on the phrase, and the first hit was worth reading, so here it is: chiseled spam.
Which is nice, because it introduces me to Strip Mining For Whimsy, which looks good in general. Huzzah!
I’m currently teaching myself Haskell (using yaht). Right now I’m having terrible trouble trying to stop my brain from flipping out through my ears as I try to understand something called Continuation Passing Style. This is the clearest explanation I’ve found so far, God help me.
I’m also trying to adjust to the fact that in Haskell, 0+1+2+3+4 could also be written as (+)1((+)2((+)3((+)4(0)))) or even (+)((+)((+)((+)(0)4)3)2)1. Bargle!
Blimey… I was looking at continuations over a year ago.