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Latest Forum Posts

The Form Letter Machine
The form letter machine is EXACTLY what I needed and I've spent hours now making a very complex tree that will serve my purposes very well.. By the way, your [demo] "movie" provided several minutes of good entertainment for my two kids--they thought it was a hoot. They're nerds in the making, I guess :)
K.E.. image

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Working with time on computers

Screenshot - 5_30_2018 , 8_44_15 AM_thumb001.png
OSNews recommends today a nicely put together multimedia rumination on the issues of representing and working with time on computers. Looks pretty good.

This is one of the best articles - experiences? - I've ever read. It's funny, well-written, deeply informative, and covers everything from programming with time, to time and UI design, to time and accessibility. This is simply an amazing piece of work.


A simple one-parameter equation that can be used to reproduce any plot

Screenshot - 5_29_2018 , 11_08_46 PM_thumb001.png
Pretty neat stuff.  The full short paper PDF is linked on the page below.

In a very surprising paper Steven Piantadosi shows that a simple function of one parameter (θ) can fit any collection of ordered pairs {Xi,Yi} to arbitrary precision. In other words, the same simple function can fit any scatter plot exactly, just by choosing the right θ. The intuition comes from chaos theory. We know from chaos theory that simple functions can produce seemingly random, chaotic behavior and that tiny changes in initial conditions can quickly result in entirely different outcomes (the butterfly effect). What Piantadosi shows is that the space traversed in these functions by changing θ is so thick that you can reverse the procedure to find a function that fits any scatter plot.


Re: More good web comics you've discovered

This guy is very very funny animating stories from his life. He has dozens of them.


Interesting article discussing how C on modern architectures is convoluted

Screenshot - 5_22_2018 , 11_13_28 AM_thumb001.png
Here's an interesting article that argues that using C to write low-level fast code that operates close to the bare metal is no longer a straightforward task, and is becoming increasingly virtualized..

One of the key attributes of a low-level language is that programmers can easily understand how the language's abstract machine maps to the underlying physical machine. This was certainly true on the PDP-11, where each C expression mapped trivially to one or two instructions.  Since then, implementations of C have had to become increasingly complex to maintain the illusion that C maps easily to the underlying hardware and gives fast code... In light of such issues, it is difficult to argue that a programmer can be expected to understand exactly how a C program will map to an underlying architecture.


posted by mouser donate to mouser
discovered on osnews.com
(permalink) (read 2 comments)

How to keep going

"How to keep going"

This is a video from the perspective of
a) an artist / a creative person making a living from that work
b) someone who thinks things aren't getting any better (and probably are getting worse)

I dont necessarily share these perspectives, yet I found the video had some very helpful advice. A lot of which (but not all) I relate to, and agree with. When he uses the word 'Art', I substitute 'Life'. Works mostly...

Most important, he made me think, and rethink things a bit, quite a bit at times.

Re Creativity:
I see creativity as being relevant to business, of all kinds; to relationships (of all kinds) -- creativity is really the business of life. Artists forget this, and think it just belongs to them. Keep that in mind when watching the video.

It's a long video, by my standards anyways -- so, below the video, I include notes I made re highlights

  • 1:00 'if the CIA did Haiku...' Black-out poems -- I enjoyed this work
  • 5:40 Groundhog Day: "What would you do if you were stuck in one place, and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?" 'How you answer this question is your art' (as suggested above, substitute 'life' for 'art').
  • 9:17 "Forget about being a writer, follow the impulse to write" [Ann Packer]
  • 10:40 'we're trained to heap praise on our loved ones in market terminology. We used to have hobbies, now they're called side-hustles.' Touches on the dangers of turning what you love into a career.
  • 11:30 leads nicely into inspirational robot drawings by five-year-olds :-)
  • 14:06 'she thought the "uncommon" was a better phrase than "art" ' -- nice example of an artist getting us to look at the 'common' as if with eyes that haven't seen it before.
  • 17:45 'you are allowed change your mind'
  • 19:38 'when in doubt, tidy up' (but not otherwise!)
  • 22:16 looking closer at slogans, e.g. "make your mark on the world!" [I think this from Steve Jobs, but not 100% clear from video]. This especially interesting to me -- there's a lot of what I consider BS being traded on the internet as wisdom, and being simply taken for granted by a huge number of people out there. (FWIW I find the conclusion here a little weak.)
  • 23:00 'Demons hate fresh air' -- walking, getting out there, as opposed to being 'plugged-in'. Might seem a little twee, but true in my experience.

Mini review: The Acme editor on Debian on Windows

Basic Info

App NameAcme
App URLhttp://acme.cat-v.org/
Supported OSesPlan 9, its forks (9atom, 9front, Harvey OS, JehanneOS et al.) and Inferno; UNIX, Linux and related operating systems are supported through plan9port. There is/was a Windows version called Acme-SAC but it does not seem to work on Windows 10 anymore.
Pricing SchemeThis is free software.
Reviewer Donation LinkGive me virtual money replacements.
Screencast Video URLhttps://www.youtube..../watch?v=dP1xVpMPn8M


This is actually both a review and a tutorial. Please don't hurt me for partially ignoring the headline.


After the UNIX 7th Edition which almost anything that claims to be "UNIX-like" is either based upon or inspired by had been released, the developers continued to work on it. However, the last three UNIX releases did not see much adoption: Between UNIX Version 7, released in 1979, and UNIX Version 8, released in 1985, the UCB's UNIX distribution BSD had been developed so far that it had more than twice of UNIX's system calls. In fact, the eighth UNIX was basically a reimported version of 4.1cBSD, modified to run on VAX computers.

Neither the 9th nor the 10th (and final) UNIX were ever released as a complete operating system, efforts to work on it were soon stopped in favor of what should have been UNIX's successor for operating systems research, named Plan 9 from Bell Labs, inspired by what was called "the worst movie of all times". (I will not link that.) The developers of Plan 9, mostly being recruited from the UNIX and C teams (among them, Rob Pike and Ken Thompson), continued from what they had: the graphical terminal Blit came in the 8th edition, Mk and the rc shell were there in the last UNIX version as well. Plan 9 tried to complete UNIX's approach of "everything is a file" by introducing the 9P protocol which acted as a replacement for regular APIs (including sockets and other device calls). Using the wikifs layer, even the Wikipedia could be edited as if it was a collection of files on the local machine. (Sadly, this layer does not seem to have been ported to other operating systems yet.)

Of course, since the 70s were over, the usual computer had a real screen instead of a printer and Apple, Amiga and Atari had successfully taken Xerox's revolutionary input device, the "mouse", out of obscurity by the mid-80s, this was what was considered the best way to interact with a computer: The Plan 9 operating system, including its text editors sam and acme, was developed to be used with a three-button mouse. The designers decided that light blue and light yellow were the best colors to stare at all day, so there was not much to configure. Theming was not a thing.

Click here to read the full mini-review now..

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