Wednesday, August 25, 2004

In one day

I rarely read a book in one day, but “Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman” was so good that I did. So I think it is highly recommendable, it's fun to read, the scientific parts are very lightweight and you get a bit of a insight into Mr. Feynmans life.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Great things to come ... *puff*

Sometimes when I read a paper or a book/paper about a great scientist, or simply some cool (mostly CS) stuff, I want to go out and develop the next great thing, write an application which puts some of the ideas, I just read about, in use. I am inspired by those texts, I want to do something, but nothing ever came from it, nothing. I hope someday something great will come from this, or I do something great, remember what I have read, how it inspired me, and think “ well it took some time, but at least something did come of it”

Probably it is not working out because you need to try and fail beforehand, build one to scratch it. Or in other words: It won't come from nothing, there is some work to be done upfront!

On a sidenote: There is one thing, nothing important, mostly of use for myself, i believe using emacs improved my typing. Maybe it's because it got in the way with I usually handle the keyboard. Previously I used key like END or PAGE UP, but with emacs I am using more different keychors.

If somebody reads this blog, it would be nice if you left a comment.


Reading, UK

Some days I am thinking I am not reading enough and should get out and shop for some english book. On other days I am thinking I should organise myself better and not read so much at the same time. I am really reading a lot, but not what I used to read. I have read some of Nick Hornbys books and liked them, I read Glue and Porno by Irvine Welsh, but I have read the last book of that kind over a year ago. Coincing with my LISP obsession I started reading more “scientific” books/papers. At the moment I am reading

  • “Can Programming Be Liberated from the von Neumann Style?”, John Backus - Paper
  • “Connection Machine Lisp: Fine-Grained Parallel Symbolic Processing”, Guy L. Steele Jr., W. Daniel Hills - Paper
  • “Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman“, Richard P. Feynman - Book
  • “Metamagicum”, Douglas R. Hofstadter - Book (German)

And there are more books & papers in the queue. But I read a lot onscreen aswell, news, blogs, etc. I consider it quite a lot and fear I might loose track somewhere and not grok a paper, loosing time to reread it, if I do it at all.

A another problem is that those books collide with the “required” reading for university, scripts and such.

unexpected call

One of my aunts found me in ICQ today, which is totally unexpected as most of my relatives do not use their computers for anything but work.


My first obession with keyboards was when I bought two german IBM Model M keyboards. Before Model M, I used the cheapest Cherry keyboard available, and before the Cherry I used and AT/XT keyboard which had a switch at the back to toggle between AT and XT PCs. The XT/AT keyboard is a monster in size, but it was my second keyboard and it has *click*, a quality which is missing from modern keyboards.

The keyboard I would like to have does not exist, nor would it be supported by current software. It would be like the old keyboards at university (eg. Stanford, MIT) computers. Those keyboards had an extended character set, eg. they supported entering λ, ∧ and ∨ directly, not latex style \lambda \wedge, \vee

Such a keyboard would probably look like the Knight keyboard or the Space Cadet keyboard. Though it might produce cokebottles and one may need quadruple bucky to enter some characters. Mr. Crunchly might complain.

Using Emacs you will inevitably stumble upon the Meta Key Problem, most keyboards do not have a meta key, (i think SUN keyboards have one, but it is not labelled as such). So the Alt key is used instead. However Meta is just one out of three, due to MIT & Lisp Machine heritage Emacs can also handle Super and Hyper, but unless you have a very very exotic keyboard you won't have them. If you have a keyboard with windows keys you could make more use of them than most users do, not mimick windows behavior but use them as Meta, Super and Hyper instead (which still gives you the option to use them as “windows” keys). If you do not have these extra keys, you are bound to rebind other keys. So, do you really use CapsLock? Do you need two Alt/Ctrl keys?

Supposing the answer is no to both questions, you can fiddle around with xmodmap & xkeycaps. The most common thing seems to be swapping Ctrl and CapsLock, so that Ctrl is next to “a”.
If you use an non-american keyboard there is even more you can do to ease programming, like making parens and other often used brackets more accessible.

The other reason why I'm writing this is to point to John McCarthys paper EFFECTIVE INTERACTIVE USE OF LARGE CHARACTER SETS

Sunday, August 15, 2004


Gestern: Welt Astra Tag mit entsprechend viel Astra. Heute: Kopfschmerzen, Übelkeit, ..., der Tag ist im Eimer. Wahr wohl doch zuviel, aber schön ein paar alte Schulfreunde wiedergetroffen zu haben.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

How many hours does it take to go to Japan by car?

Fool's World Map

This is a project visualizing the world map which many fools in the world imagine. If you can see this map comfortably, you are definitely a fool.

ZEN-STYLE | Fool's World Map