March 15, 2009
I have had a rather unpleasant time setting up a little scheme
environment in emacs on my ubuntu 8.10 install. I first tried aptitude
install mit-scheme but unfortunately, the mit-scheme package for 8.10 is
broken. It depends on libtld3(spelling?) which is unavailable for ubuntu
I tried installing the the mit-scheme binaries from savannah.gnu.org. I
only got the i386 unix binary working after I installed some of the
dependencies listed for the broken mit-scheme binary
package. Documentation is very much lacking for the binary package. I
briefly looked at the install instructions for the scheme source but
they run up to 10 pages long. I ran configure, make, make install a
couple times and after a couple failures I gave up.
Then I tried guile instead. It was OK but I could get it to work w/
emacs as I liked. In particular, C-x C-e won’t evaluate the expression
using guile. Instead it tries to use the regular lisp interpreter and
chokes on the scheme-specific keyword "define". Very annoying
I messed around w/ my .emacs configuration to no success. The only real
expression needed is:
(setq run-scheme-program "scheme")
I finally settled on mzscheme and only got that working after installing
the larger drscheme package sudo aptitude install drscheme.
I think I found the quirk that was confounding me earlier. If I run M-x
run-scheme, thereafter C-x C-e works as it should.
Now it is time to concentrate on these sicp lectures . . .
March 10, 2009
apparently emacs as schemeMode built-in so I don’t have to spend several
hours configuring my .emacs. damn, was looking forward to it.
back to sleep . . .
March 10, 2009
Since I live in Nepal, I get stomach parasites pretty frequently. This
means a trip to the doctor, a series of oral antibiotics, and several
days in bed half-asleep, half-awake. This is my predicament now.
I find that when I am recovering from nasty stomach parasites I can
still write e-mails and check websites but not really do anything that
requires more than 30 seconds of continuous concentration. I learned
both vi and emacs while recovering from diarrhea. I have never read
anything serious or made any intelligent decisions while half-conscious.
Why is this? Maybe because the brain chews up a lot of energy. Serious
though requires more energy while playing around w/ your editor doesn’t
require much seriousness or sustained concentration or work out when you
have to run to the toilet every 5 minutes.
Things I won’t accomplish today: Read another chapter in "Understanding
the Linux Kernel," start reading Structure and Interpretation of
Computer Programming. Something I may do, set up my emacs environment
for programming Scheme. Since I know the lead developer of SLIME, I know
some people to look to for answers.
Damn, I feel tired and my eyes are closing.
10 minutes later . . .
Other stuff I have done while recovering from stomach viruses:
1. Watched all 5 seasons of the Wire during a particularly bad illness
2. Watch all 4 seasons of "It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia" (in
March 2, 2009
I am pretty damn excited about Dell mini 9n but this new netbook is way better
http://www.alwaysinnovating.com/touchbook/ . I have like the different
netbooks that have come to market but none could hold a candle to the
OLPC XO in terms of reliability and low-power features. That comes down
to the fact that they are all x86 processors that don’t really optimize
for those features. Even the XO has an x86 processor. It compensates for
its power-draining architecture with a measly clock rate of 377 Mhz. Get
up to 1 GHz on an x86 and you absolutely need a fan.
I hate CPU fans in a netbook. I really hate them. Fans move. Moving
parts break in the hands of little kids and adults.
This "touch book" breaks new ground w/ its ARM processor from Texas
Instruments and its correspondingly long battery life. Plus, no fans!
Finally. I also love ARM processors because they are cheap! I really
hope this Touch book launches a new wave of cheap and truly durable netbooks.
Well, this isn’t yet as exciting as the Palm Pre w/ its kickass mojo sdk
and sweet application framework. The Touch book supposedly has its own
customized linux OS but I bet it is just GNOME Mobile w/ Mozilla optimized
for a touch screen
February 25, 2009
I love my Dell Inspiron 1420 laptop but I hate its 3.5" hard
drive. About every 12 months I have to replace the hard drive. It is
only logical. If you have incredibly dense disks spinning at 7200 rpm in
a non-stable environment, stuff ‘gon break. I am on my 3rd hard drive
now. Yesterday my wireless stopped working. I popped in an older hard
drive and lo and behold! the wireless worked fine.
I updated the driver firmware from <a
wireless</a> site and it kind of worked but no longer would connect to a
WPA network. The drivers hosted on that site are updated daily so I
can’t fault them for instability. I could have recompiled my kernel but
that wouldn’t solve my real problem, which is that disk failures are
screwing w/ my boot sector and critical system files.
So I re-installed ubuntu but this time created separate partitions for
/, /usr, /var/, and the great big monster /home. Hopefully, hopefully
this will isolate disk errors to my avi files for "It’s Always Sunny in
I can’t claim credit for this great idea. I got it from the sprawling
<a href="http://rute.2038bug.com/index.html.gz">Rute User Tutorial and
Exposition</a>. If there is any single, comprehensive guide to linux for
the sysadmin, this is it.
February 20, 2009
This is pretty darn exciting. Dell is now selling their Inspiron Mini 9n
for a ridiculously low $250.
It has impressive specs w/ 4 GB SSD, 1.6 GHz CPU, 512 MB RAM. Wow! The
XO-1’s we are getting 4000 of for Nepal don’t have nearly the same
specs. HOWEVER, I bet the XO-1 is 10x more durable than the Dell Mini.
Either way this is exciting. Cell phones have had a huge impact on
international development, democracy, and education. Cheap laptops will
have an even greater impact.
The global economic collapse will have some advantages. It will force
well-fed electronics manufacturers to cater to more price-conscious
customers. A year ago the Dell mini would have cost $350 or $400. Now it
is $250. I wager it will cost $150 come January 2010.
February 18, 2009
I have been working on the OLPC project for over 2.5 years so far and I
have never taken the time to really understand much about the underlying
windo manager. I have spent some reading Sugar docs but they were a bit
above my head. They kept referring to GNOME services and specifications
and that ever-referenced http://www.freedesktop.org site.
There were lots of references to pango, gconf, dbus, and other
Today I will try to read in its entirety the GNOME platform overview
http://library.gnome.org/devel/platform-overview/stable/ let’s see how
far I get!