Content from 2008-09

Funcalls and Fun w/Code
posted on 2008-09-29 17:49:22
Life: I have a part-time job interview tomorrow and I've gotten by so far through contract work. I'm also really enjoying not having a car. I've picked up some new tunes and am in guitar fingerpicking mode. I should learn how to myself, really. For now though I'm just listening to Kaki King and Andy McKee. Oh, and Calexico too. They're awesome. Moving on...

Techie stuff: I've pretty much completely switched to Xmonad. It's great and I've polished up my key layout and config for it. There will be some changes in that sense in my next RedLinux release (Fast Amazon download mirror and install guide here). For example, there won't be a Caps Lock key in my Linux. It will just be another Control key. It's not like you use it anyway, right? I'm also starting to finally get comfortable with emacs and slime. And Practical Common Lisp is a really fun and great book to pick up lisp. More on all that later. Here are some fun code snippets:

(dotimes (x 30)
(dotimes (y 30)
(format t "~3d" (* (1+ x) (1+ y))))
(format t "~%"))

(do ((n 0 (1+ n))
(cur 0 next)
(next 1 (+ cur next)))
((= 10 n) cur))

Pop quiz: What do these two Common Lisp snippets do?
(reverse '(The first prints out a multiplication table up to 30x30. The second computes the 11th fibonacci number.))

And the first macro:

(defmacro do-primes ((binder lbound ubound) &rest expr)
`(do ((,binder (next-prime ,lbound) (next-prime (1+ ,binder))))
((> ,binder ,ubound))

Sure it's useless but it makes sense and points the way to some great possiblities. Additionally, destructured lists like so are grand. That's enough lisp to bug you folks with for one day. Deuces.
Let That Which Does Not Matter Truly Slide
posted on 2008-09-25 22:23:34
Being unemployed is starting to get scary if only because I don't know how I'm going to make it to the next thing. There's a next thing I'd really like to see happen though and I'm prepared to risk a fair amount to get it. I may need an interim thing to pay bills until the next thing is actuality though. That's tricky business. If you know of anybody that would be interested in a contract I.T./Linux/Computer nerd, please let me know to get in touch with them.

My buddy Chris Blair started his blog in the last few days with a review of an old Business Sim game but he's already got up entries on everything from Football to SpaceX's Falcon1. Good stuff.

Kris Osterhage also recently dove into the blogging world first with blogspot but then quickly migrated to livejournal. He's blogged on gaming and hardware mostly but he recently put up some politics entries and...well, I'm not ready to dive into that yet. Call me preoccupied. Those conversations can get long and bitter and for the moment, my energies are best spent pretending this isn't an election year.

Now, on to RedLinux. At long last, I've got a really fast mirror for RedLinux so if you're looking to download an ISO to try it out, downloading it from my Amazon S3 mirror is the way to go. Just click here. So, if you'd like to try it out just download that ISO, burn the ISO to a CD (if you're not familiar with this google can help) and reboot your computer with the CD in the drive. Then follow my simple installation guide:


Wait for the CD to boot to the login screen. Type guest as the username, hit enter and then type guest as the password and hit enter. Tada. You're now using RedLinux. To get to my analog for a "start menu" just right-click on the desktop. You'll see something like this.

Open a Terminal by clicking terminal, then simply type "sudo /opt/larchin/run/" entering guest for the password when prompted. After a moment, the installer will pop up like so. Personally, with Linux installations I like getting the hard part out of the way first so once Larchin is up click on "Edit Partitions Manually" and then select the Gparted option like this. It will pop up Gparted which should look something like this if you're on a Windows only or Mac only machine. If you're partition layout is more complicated than that (i.e. your drive doesn't end in one large partition) than you may want to ask a friend (or me) for help. I'll be more than happy to give you a hand over the phone or, if possibly, in person.

It would also be a good idea at this point to pull up another terminal as before and typing "killall thunar" to make sure that the file manager doesn't try to automatically open any of the partitions as you're working on them. If the terminal complains that there is no thunar process when you tell it to killall them, then you're in good shape and can get back to Gparted. Just type exit to close the terminal.

Once back in Gparted, click on the partition and select the resize button in the top left to get this screen, then click the ending right arrow and drag it to the left to shrink the partition like so. Once installed, RedLinux will take up about 2.5GB (~2500MB) so I'd give it at least 3000MB but you can go as high as Gparted will let you really. Click "Resize/move" once you're satisfied and you should end up hereabouts. Select the unallocated space and click the new partition button to get this dialog. Set the filesystem to be ext3 and then reduce the size until a little over 1000MB of free space will remain afterwards, then click add. Select the unallocated space and click the new partition button once again, this time setting the file-system type to linux-swap and then clicking add and you should end up with something like this. Before moving forward, note the /dev/sda* numbers of your partitions. Know which one is swap and which is ext3.

You've now reached the scary/boring step. Click the apply button near the top center and click the apply confirmation to have Gparted save your changes to the disk. This could take anywhere from 10-20 minutes depending on the size of your hard disk but shouldn't take much longer than that. Once it's done, exit Gparted and select "Use existing partitions/finished editing partitions" in the Larchin installer. It will ask you about the swap partition at the next screen, and the box next to your swap partition number should be checked. Click okay. It will now ask you to select the install partition and should have defaulted to your ext3 partition. Hit the checkbox under format and click the dropdown under Mount Point to select "/". It will request one more confirmation that it has your information down correctly. Hit okay to proceed. The installation will proceed accordingly.

Almost done. All you need to do now is give it a root password (this is not the same as your regular logon/user password. Pick something that else that you'll remember). Write it down somewhere if it makes you feel more comfortable. You really shouldn't ever need it. Last but not least, tell it to install grub to your MBR and you're done! Click okay to exit the installer and then right-click on the desktop and click reboot. When you're computer reboots you should have the option of booting into your brand new RedLinux install. The username and password will still be guest, so read the new_user_guide online or by logging in, right-clicking to open the start menu, opening a text editor and then opening "new_user_guide.txt". Happy hacking!
RedLinux released!
posted on 2008-09-23 17:13:53
At long last and at least 3 days later than expected I'm released RedLinux into the wild. Keep in mind this is really just an ArchLinux derivative that I've had lots of fun working on. Most to all thanks should go to the awesome folks behind ArchLinux and the larch software for creating Live CDs. That said, you can now download the ISO image for RedLinux from my High-Speed Amazon S3 mirror and there is an Install Walkthrough now available. Burn the ISO to CD and reboot with it in your CD or DVD drive to try it out.

There's a new user guide at and the config files also reside in that directory. I'll be creating an individual page with an installation tutorial and a few other things in the coming weeks. There are a few other things I'm focused on at the moment but that is coming. You can of course always contact me via blog comments, IM, or e-mail if you're trying it and having any problems however.

Four quick pointers (not in hexadecimal):
1). The default username and password are guest. The new_user_guide.txt file on my website or in the home directory of the install tells you how to change it and/or create new users, etc.
2). The "start menu" so to speak is accessed by right-clicking on an empty part of the desktop. You should be able to get to anything you need from there (file manager, text editor, web browser, music player, reboot/shutdown, etc).
3). There's a run command available by pressing Alt+F2. Typing wicd-client gets you the wireless/network browser, firefox gives you the browser, etc. Wicd-client is supposed to load on launch but does not. Accidentally messed up a start script, getting it fixed and uploaded this afternoon hopefully.
4). You can install RedLinux by opening a terminal (Right-click, then Terminal) and typing "sudo /opt/larchin/run/" and hitting enter. Enter the guest password at the prompt and off you go.

I'll be updating this post and the upcoming RedLinux portion of the site as more content is available.
On Precarity
posted on 2008-09-23 00:36:54
A number of my friends have started blogs recently and I'm pretty happy about it. Now I just need to talk Burke and Will into starting them. Anyway, I'll link to those guys later. This isn't about that. This is about being broke.

In addition to being jobless, I'm now carless. That car was a piece though, if sold will probably be sold at a loss and over 4 thousand dollars have been spent on it's maintenance as of tomorrow...since January. I'm normally pretty polite on here but FUCK THAT CAR.

That said, I think being broke has many lessons and interesting prospects and, to be honest, I can't say I'm sad about losing the car or my former job. Both are things I've been meaning to do for a while. I've figured out that I can now live (sans car+job) on $800 a month. I just need a source of income. Ha. Anyway, I have some interesting opportunities to explore in front of me and a short period of time to seize them. All the same, if you know of anyone needing I.T. help for around $20/hr or if there's a good way to work from home let me know. With all that in mind, I give you Sterling Hayden:
"What does a man need—really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in—and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all—in the material sense. And we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention from the sheer idiocy of the charade.

The years thunder by. The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.

Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?”

Damn right. Oh, one more relevant, and lovely, quote but this time from the ever quotable Ben Grad:
"I spent the summer looking for a job, and now that I have one I am mainly angry all the time. Or at least all the time I'm in the office."

Think like Sterling Hayden, treat your lives like a challenging voyage (otherwise they won't be very interesting) and build them on a firm foundation of financial unrest.

Free Time, Free Agent
posted on 2008-09-18 15:22:50
I was let go this morning. I have $800 to my name. Oh, and rent's coming up.

I'm also quite excited though. Things really weren't too great between my former employer and I. It just wasn't a good fit though there are many positive things to be said about the company, the workplace and the people there. I'm excited about future opportunities and, naturally, hope that I get to do work with Linux. :-)

I'll be spending most of the rest of the day preparing for that awesome Linux Conference I keep mentioning that's going down this Saturday. If you know of anyone that needs an I.T. worker or has some contract work for me feel free to drop me a line though. Time to keep my nose to the grindstone.

Quick Edit: Apparently, someone has the same idea as me about how to do Free Educational Content Distribution. Go Stanford! I can't say I'm a huge fan of their programs approach (start with a Pascal-ish language, move towards Java, then on to C++ and a few others; maybe it's the ordering I disagree with...) but I expect the quality and coverage to be excellent. That said, they're distributing via Youtube, iTunes, something called Vyew and torrents for both MP4s and WMVs. Well done, Stanford. Well done!
Odds and Events
posted on 2008-09-17 14:36:11
Good morning. Plenty has happened since yesterday. Let's recap.

Nick Ali has written up some details about Atlanta Linux Fest in his blog. It's this Saturday on Northside Pkwy from 11am-6pm, there's pizza for $5 and I'll have my laptop and my ArchLinux derivative in case you want to see it along with download links and (if I can get some blank CDs) hard copies. You should come! I'll make it fun. I promise. Don't you all wonder why I'm so crazy about this shit sometimes? You'll know.

I was wondering where I'd host the ISOs for my ArchLinux derivative. It looks like that problem is solved. I give you Badongo. They have a 700mb upload limit and files stay up until they're inactive for 90 days if you're a free member. That's pretty excellent. Hopefully, I'll put out releases every three months or so though they'll mostly be package updates in all likelihood. At some point in the future (circa me getting a new laptop) I plan to do an Arch64-based RedLinux build and get images for it online. Now if only I can get the RedLinux portion of my site up by Saturday...

In bad tech news, I may have to get a computer with iTunes going just for iTunes U. I don't know if that content is DRM'd and I suspect I could strip it out anyway. I guess I'm still evaluating my options for stealing an education.

In neat tech news, I'm generally more excited than the stuff Amazon is doing with AWS than the stuff Google is doing these days technically. Let it never be said that I don't think the Floating Data Center idea is pretty kick ass though.

Final tech note, Wordpress optimization seems to be about two things. Installing WP-Cache or something similar and database tuning. I mean, really, it's about reducing the number of times that PHP calls or database accesses need to occur but I should learn more about databases. Later on that is, when I'm thinking about building real sites.

Note to Benchwarmers Clairmont: I know you have a 21 and over age limit set. I'm 22. My girlfriend and my buddy Kris aren't. We won your trivia night last week and things were cool with us then. We showed up this week and someone ID'd the whole table and asked us to leave. Here's a hint: If we're not planning on ordering alcohol and just want to play trivia and eat food you're losing business by asking us to leave. It's not like we haven't been there dozens of times before. Just a thought.

I'm looking at various options for housing next year. Our lease expires in May and I'm not sure what I'll be up to or where I'll be working but I suspect I'll want to live in roughly the same area I'm in now. I don't know that I'd want to be in the same house. The rate is good, the location is good, the home itself is really pretty decent. That said, managing 5 people in a house is a little...bleh. Teresa and I are both fond of the idea of Post Oglethorpe as a lot of our friends are there and it's close to school for her. I'm not sure how I feel about the prices though. I'd certainly want 3 people in a 2 bedroom since there are cheaper options than Post Oglethorpe available. Post Oglethorpe was sold just this August though. Maybe new management will bring changes. Time will tell.
The Thing At The Bottom
posted on 2008-09-16 19:01:55
I'm finally getting to that point where I'm really curious about math. To be sure, I'd really like to beef up on my high school math (Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus) as I haven't done any in years! That said, I'm really more curious about Set Theory and Abstract Algebra and at least a little interested in Linear Algebra. Topology and Number Theory can wait.

What I really think I'm curious about though are Algebraic Structures. There's a great FAQ on them here and the Wikipedia entry also looks pretty thorough. Once I read those maybe I can look into Type Theory and Formal Systems and the relations between them. That said, I'm sure I won't understand anything about Lie Algebra Cohomology or Category Theory any time soon.

At least there are good video lectures to be had. Math, Algorithms and Data Structures here I come?
Open Content, Mass Storage
posted on 2008-09-16 17:53:42
I think it's generally agreed upon that free video lectures are cool. I'm not saying that everyone wants to watch them but the fact that it's possible to download M.I.T. and Berkeley lectures, course readings and assignments most people seem to view as positive perhaps because many of us will never attend those schools.

There is tons of content out there and it's often difficult to find it all. There are a few sources I've found that help in sorting through everything but my sources tend to lead towards what suits my studies (computer science) best. That would be Peteris Krumins blog and Lecturefox. There are plenty of Google Techtalks and Authors@Google videos that are good as well. Beyond that, I occasionally find one off blog posts that may link to content I wasn't aware of. If anyone knows of any ACM conferences similar to the Reflections conference at UIUC where videos are released please post in the comments.

Unfortunately, most to all of these sources have a curious notion of "sharing" or online distribution. There are one or two problems that all the content they've posted online [under the egalitarian notion of global learning] suffers from. The first problem being that it's streaming content which is difficult to download (generally .flv or .rm format). The second problem being that if there is a download option for the content it's through a non-cross platform or DRM-encumbered client (such as iTunes).

Thankfully, Mplayer exists. Mplayer is my video player/encoder of choice (though VLC is quite good, too). And wouldn't you know it? It provides support for watching, ripping and converting those frustrating rm streams in addition to everything else. Flash videos are easy enough to rip through existing Firefox Extensions.

To make things even more exciting, there's no reason anyone can't mirror all the educational content out there. Except for legality of course, I can't speak to those details and I expect most of this content is under separate licenses. I do wonder if the Creative Commons No Derivative Works clause includes transcoding though. I suspect it doesn't based on the definition of derivative work. But to return to my original point about mirroring, storage is cheap now. Even NAS setups though they still run a good deal more than regular storage. But c'mon, it's a fileserver in a box. You knew that though, right? When you can get a 320GB PS3 or Notebook drive for $100, a 500GB external for $100 and a 1TB internal drive for $140 you know life is good. Not that I'm not excited about the day when the same will be possible with SSDs but don't worry, that day is coming.

Also, to the folks who filmed the Lively Kernel Talk from last night as well as those filming technical talks generally: If most of what the presenter/speaker is discussing concerns what's happening on the computer screen, you should be filming the computer screen. It's a handy rule.

Now, if you're not a Computer nerd or Software Freedom Advocate you may wonder why any of this would bother anyone. After all, you can still stream the videos with RealPlayer or watch them via Youtube in any event, right? Not quite, though I'll admit my problem is mostly with the egalitarian notions of education that I perceived (or imagined) to underpin this whole OpenCourseware initiative. If your stated goal is to make a set of educational resources available to as much of the world as possible via the internet then you're effectively after every demographic. There's not a section of the market you can afford to alienate.

In many parts of the world, I expect it's a real pain to find the time to sit in front of a computer and stream a file. Particularly in places where internet connections are scarce and are not broadband where they are available. Particularly if the file is a one or two hour lecture that you might want to rewind or pause at various points. If a guy can't watch the file in (connected) India, how is it free learning throughout the connected world? Additionally, if someone wants to watch video lectures when it suits their schedule (say at the gym or on the train) why would you prevent them from doing so unless they had a specific brand of portable video player?

If you're trying to promote free educational content then the first step you can take to responsibly pursue your goal is to choose the most widely viewable formats and lend your content to the widest possible types of use (including offline use but perhaps excluding commercial profit). Poor choices have been made in both respects. Flash Player historically wasn't available for x86_64 based Linux platforms though that has been recently remedied and iTunes U isn't available on Linux at all. More seriously, RM and FLV videos are difficult to download and use portably. Conversion to another format tends to be necessary as well.

Somewhat relatedly, I'd like to suggest that the masses of Open Content out there could use a good marketing push. Open Courseware is as underused as music, images and video in the Creative Commons. Someone really needs to create a service which finds Open Content and recommends or reviews it based upon the more familiar proprietary content in Music, Film and TV that consumers are fans of. Just giving it away isn't enough.
Less fun, More funk
posted on 2008-09-15 17:21:18
9 months into "the real world" I'm a bit perplexed. With all this talk of industry and full-time jobs, I for some reason expected that "the real world" would expect you to be industrious. Apparently, I am mistaken and while you'd want to end up at a job that challenges, drives and energizes you it is by no means a necessity. I've been thinking about this a lot and at some point will write more and possibly even wrap up that emerging philosophy series of posts. Particularly because I've been having lots of discussions that concern economics and/or politics lately and there seem to be some tenuous strands between those things. I go back and forth on what we need to do about the majority of people that accept and have no issue with the status quo, or at least lack the drive, energy or determination to get outside, above or beyond it. I would say that's probably 90% of us and am pretty sure I am in that category myself at present. It certainly seems unreasonable to demand the peak of human achievement from everyone and highly questionable whether people would universally like being at the peak of their potential achievement, or near it. I'll try to elaborate on those thoughts enough for them to be coherent in the near future.

Found some good reading\watching this morning though I sometimes wonder when\how\if I'll get to all of it. One good thing is the S3 2008 conference (unrelated to Amazon's S3 architecture ) which includes video footage of a presentation on the Lively Kernel . That's pretty cool stuff and I hope I get a chance to watch it tonight. Also there was a paper co-authored by Pascal Costanza on Reflection in Programming Languages , specifically Lisp. I've read the first few pages and though some of it is over my head I think I can stumble my way through it. I really am hoping to get around to reading this paper by David Wiley titled Online Self-Organizing Social Systems: The Decentralized Future of Online Learning . Will referred it to me and it looks quite good. I'm even tempted to read some Dijkstra .

I'm interested in getting some of the piano work of Ravel, Satie, and Debussy. I have Debussy's Children's Corner and like that. Then again, maybe I just need more Masashi Hamauzu.

A final thought: Why are 90% of the good technical lectures on the web in RM format which I must tediously rip to download an offline copy? No, I do not trust your site to stay up with the content I want forever. Even if you're google or wikipedia. Thanks, Peter.
Eat Food, Sleep, Have Visions
posted on 2008-09-12 16:19:27
Wow. What a day. I've been managing to keep fairly busy lately but also enjoying myself a good deal. So what's in store today? A word about music, a bit about games, some programming thoughts (on Factor and Common Lisp) and a mention of RedLinux.

Music: Four Tet has been making me really happy for the past 24-48 hours. I've known and liked Four Tet for a few years now but I think just how good he is at what he's doing only hit me recently. Two tracks did the trick for me and both are off his album Everything is Ecstatic. One is titled 'Smile Around The Face' and the other is titled 'And Then Patterns'. I'm posting a streaming link to 'Smile Around The Face' because it's awesome. There's a pretty interesting list of his 9 most influential records here and some interviews here and here that I may read later. As a sidenote, I'm jealous of all those NCF kids and their Walls. I want to throw a wall. If I did though I'd probably be silly/lame and try to sneak this track in...

Four Tet - Smile Around The Face
Found at

Games: I've been saying that one of my favorite things about the new game consoles is the downloadable games. Xbox 360 and PS3 seem particularly strong in this category to me though the Wii has old mainstays from Nintendo lore to prop it up. I've already mentioned echochrome and everyday shooter here in the past and they're both quite good but I don't think I've mentioned Super Stardust HD. It has been and continues to be simply delightful. Some video tips on the game were recently released as a free downloaded on the PSN and convinced me to pick up the $4.99 single player expansion pack. They also released a free patch for the game so that you could play music off the PS3 hard drive once that functionality was possible through firmware updates. If anyone who has worked on the game is reading this: Excellent, excellent work guys. Really. This is how to build a title and continually improve it, create community, etc. I look forward to your future releases.

Languages: I'm going to separate my blathering here into sub-ramblings based upon the language concerned. First up, Common Lisp. I've been having some fun working with a friend to get a simple Gmail scraper/wrapper API developed in Common Lisp that would allow me to connect to accounts grab and compose messages, etc. We were relying on a CL library named mel-base to achieve this. I've been doing development locally and in the process gotten a bit more familiar with SBCL, SLIME and ASDF-Install. I've definitely come around to the idea that there is a place for both Common Lisp and Scheme which I, in misguided form, derided some time back. There are certainly pros and cons to each. At any rate, the combination of ASDF-Install, SBCL and SLIME is pretty great. That said, I realized after a bit of tinkering that mel-base lacks SSL support even here in 2008. That means it won't work with most (if not all) of today's web-based e-mail services which require SSL to encrypt the connection to the server (you know, so people can't steal your password and e-mails). I'm quite surprised it isn't there by now but assume the maintainer has been busy. Luckily, there is a CL library for SSL called CL+SSL, appropriately. I'm very tempted to find a way to patch SSL support (with a dependency on CL+SSL, of course) into the POP3, IMAP and SMTP folders in mel-base and contribute the patch upstream for the next release. I have no idea what I'd be doing really and I'm fairly intimidated but it seems like a good start and a reasonable place to help and try my hand. There are some other people who have pursued this though that I should get in touch with first to make sure no patches are already in circulation for SSL. Next up, Factor. I've been interested in stack-based languages since I first learned of them and still am quite intent on learning Forth in the near future. Possibly as my first non-lisp language. I stumbled into some blog entries by Phil Dawes on why he likes Factor and has enjoyed learning it. He also has an excellent post digging down into the versatility and usefulness of the compiler. Speaking of which, the Planet Factor blog offers some of the clearest insight into the development and internals of a programming language I've ever read, particularly one as young as Factor. Keep an eye on this one. You've got one more year, Slava. I want my 1.0.

RedLinux and Logos: I'm solidifying "plans" for the v.08 update to RedLinux. You can catch a glimpse at the changelog. I also have some logo designs (Thanks, Neil!) for the lambdabang, I just need to decide on size and color. Once I get a logo for RedLinux, I'll start working on the web page for it and get the ISOs up. End of September? We just might be able to do that.
Just for Fun
posted on 2008-09-10 20:05:53
There's so much I've been meaning to post about lately and so much that's been going on. It's very hard to keep up with it all. This will consequently seem a bit scattered but it's largely divided into Gifts, Linux Stuff (which continues to bring me perpetual joy), programming language stuff and hardware stuff.

Redlinux: I've been working on my own ArchLinux Derivative over the past few months and mentioned it a bit here. I'm hoping to get an ISO for an installable LiveCD of it online by the end of September with a sort of beginner's guide and homepage for it set up here. There won't be a forum or anything initially. Just e-mail me for feedback/help. We'll see how that goes. I'm calling it Redlinux. Also, I put all the default *rc files and other important config files (including new user documentation and the changelog) in a new folder on the site. It's at Redlinux is currently at version v.07. The initial online release will incur an automatic version bump to the nearest .x0 rounding up.

Logos: I'm looking to get a sort of logo for the site. I'm not sure where to go with this. I also need a separate logo for Redlinux. Any ideas are welcome. I have one for a site logo. It's a Unix Shebang combined with a lowercase Lambda. Like so: #!λ. I think it's pretty cool but it'd take some work to make it prettier. The Inconsolata font would be a good start. I don't think they have a lowercase lambda symbol though. :-(, Sad Panda. I'm thinking we call it the *Lambdabang*. Eh, eh?

Gifts: I've been thinking about money and my actual needs and wants a good deal lately. Part of that comes from having to constantly figure out finances due to being young and broke in a struggling economy. The other part is me thinking about the few material things I enjoy and which I'd like to prioritize. Good ideas for gifts for me that I hadn't previously considered are Internet Hosting (and you know I'll want pretty serious control over the box. Maybe linode or lylix.), a subscription to LWN (Linux Weekly News) which I've been enjoying a lot lately (the back issues are free) and various books from the amazon wishlist, as always. Cooking supplies might also be good but I'm probably best off picking those myself. Homemade good food. It's expensive, but fun!

Hardware: I've been thinking about buying a new computer for about a year to a year and a half now. I recently moved into the "strongly considering it/planning it" phase and started saving. This box would probably end up replacing my aging homemade beast of a "main desktop" which would in all likelihood become my server box. I decided fairly early on I wanted the new system to be a laptop because I'd really like to be able to go portable at any time and not be at a loss for processin power. Plus, that'll make it easy for me to move around lifestyle and home-wise which seems reasonable at the moment. To be honest, my needs are essentially met by my current equipment and the extra processing power wouldn't go to use too much as I don't game anymore. The Thinkpad A31 (present laptop) hates secure wireless networks for some reason and I wasn't able to wrestle it into submission. A larger concern would be hardware dying in the Desktop. It's still going strong but we're passing the 4-year mark and you can never be too sure. Besides, I'd love to catch some of the new emerging tech like Multicore processors, new wireless standards (Wi-Max and draft-n, I'm looking at you), and Solid State Drives! I'd also love to be able to get something based on AMD's upcoming Fusion processors but that's still a year out and I'm not sure I'll wait that long. I like the direction they've gone with the Athlon series and feel that they're more motivated than Intel to innovate. Always have. They're still not as fantastic about supporting Open Source as Intel though and that's beginning to become a deal breaker for me. Especially considering that their Shrike mobile platform may use broadcom wifi or something equally messy where Linux is concerned. I know I want something 12 or 13", preferably 13, with a minimum of 4 hours of battery life, a dual-core processor and a 60GB SSD. Ideally, it'll be Shrike-based (that's waiting a year), have HDMI or Displayport out with good Linux support and draft-n or Wi-Max. Vendorwise, I'm torn between IBM/Lenovo and Dell. I've had good experiences with Thinkpads (IBM, now Lenovo) and like them but they're not the best Open Source company. Dell has been making a real push in that direction of late and have some very competitive looking offerings which I could even buy with Ubuntu pre-installed. My final three is presently a tie between the Lenovo X300, the Dell XPS M1330 and the Dell Latitude E4300. I'll be coming back to re-evaluate when I've got about $1,500 stashed away. :-)

Languages: In the near future, I'd like to get a post up revising some of my former opinions on Programming Languages. Particularly of the Scheme family. Some of my earlier ramblings now seem quite misguided. Plus I've been playing around with Common Lisp more and though I'm not quite a fan of the funcall syntax I'm starting to grok some of the reasoning for multiple namespaces. My experiences with PLaneT vs. ASDF-Install bear that out. *shivers* Collisions are ugly.

Linux Tip: Ever been frustrated trying to transfer directories with spaces in them via scp? I have. There are one or two things that seem like they should work but don't. I've been too lazy to look up how to do it until today. Here's how:
scp -r "user@host:/path/to/directory\ withspace/" .
Simple, right? Duh.

I was going to mention how Linux Kernel Hackers make me happy and throw a few quotes from the mailing lists on here but I think this is more than enough for now. Later, folks.
An Update
posted on 2008-09-05 20:07:29
Wow. So I started a post on Friday (I think, maybe Tuesday) but I must not have saved or finished it. It's not sitting in my drafts folder. Anyway, I've been a bit up and down lately but I'm really glad Fall is starting. It may be my favorite season. I dig the cooler weather. I got my wisdom teeth out yesterday morning and that went smoother than I expected. I miss chewing food but other than that have no real complaints. I haven't needed much of the hydrocodone (basically vicodin) they gave me and haven't been sleepy or incoherent much either. In fact, I've been up since 8am today and really enjoyed catching up on e-mails and little things like that. Ah, vacations.

Newsflash: Cooking is really fun. I've cooked a little ever since moving into the house and meant to move on to more advanced dishes but really stuck to basics (pasta, pizzas, burgers + dogs, sauteed chicken) for the first month or two. Recently though I found some food blogs and have been trying to cook real meals. I started this monday with made from scratch blueberry muffins and filet mignon and mashed potatoes for dinner. It was wicked good. In the upcoming weeks I'm hoping to pick up fried chicken and empanadas. Tonight I may just try to figure out french onion soup. :-)

So, the next two months are huge. September there are three major Linux Conferences (X Developers Summit, Linux Plumbers Conference and the Kernel Development Summit) going on and a fourth in Atlanta. The one in Atlanta (Atlanta Linux Fest 2008) is on Saturday, September the 20th and I couldn't be more excited. It's from 11am-6pm over on Northside Pkwy and I signed up as soon as I heard about it. Plus I just got my wisdom teeth out. October there are lots of Linux Distribution releases (particularly Ubuntu and Fedora) and a number of awesome games coming out for PS3 including LittleBigPlanet, Fallout 3 and Bioshock. I'd really like to get the custom ArchLinux derivative I've developed over the summer out by October, too. Even if that just means putting the ISO on megauploads and creating a page for it on my site.

Beyond that, I'm just trying to get back into programming. I haven't moved as quickly as I'd like but I am having fun. I'm really tempted to try to learn about Factor, a concatenative language (like Forth) developed by Slava Pestov. It looks really cool but I can't quite afford to get sidetracked at the moment. If you're interested in what it's like trying to write a modern programming language though they've got a great blog and Slava has made some great posts on the Compiler Architecture lately. My big programming focus at the moment though is trying to do some hacking for a startup in NYC. I got contacted by one of their developers and think I can learn a lot from them though how much I'll be able to help is still up for debate. At the moment, I'm mostly writing glue code for Common Lisp libraries but I'm really enjoying it. It's also made me realize just how crucial libraries and the way they're handled by a language is. I can't believe they managed to leave module systems out of the RnRS for so long! I can also see why Common Lisp opted for multiple namespaces but I'm still not sure I like it. And I definitely just don't like the syntax for funtion calls after being used to Scheme. Ah, well. There is no perfect language.

Feel free to swing by the house if you want to help me learn to cook or see me looking like a chipmunk.

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