Technical Difficulties from on Top of the Mountain
2005-03-30
  Making myself stretch
Learning a new language is tough, really tough. And once you know a few it gets worse. Not because learning a new language gets harder, it just that you already know so many ways to do something, that learning another way seems pointless. You start working with the new language and you just think, "This is like perl but without half the features that make perl so cool."

I certainly gave it a try last year. First I tried out Lua which seems like an excellent language for programming wrist watches and other tiny projects, but I kept missing basic features like writing stepx += 2 ; instead of stepx= stepx + 2 ; so I passed on that, though it may come around again since Lua5 for PalmOS is just finishing beta. Then I looked at OCaml but never being all that excited by a the wonders of recursion, I fizzled out on that. I mean, the computer doesn' t really do recursion; it just back tracks and tries to figure out what you meant in the first place. So basically programming it becomes:

Figure out what you want to do.
Figure out how to turn it into a recursive process.
Code it.
Computer reads what you coded.
Computer tries to look for and identify recursive functions.
Computer tries to figure out how to implement the recursive function in a non-recursive way.
Computer maybe does something you want.
HP 15c

Maybe its like the old RPN calculators, except there the HW actually did a stack, and so you were just working with what the hardware could do instead of trying to remember order of operations and how many times you had pressed the parenthesis key on a TI calculator.

ruby Anyways, this week I stuck my mouth where my money is and suggested that the Sunnyside restoration project use a Wiki to keep track of everything (and I offered to set it up). Not having any Wiki's handy, I went and took a look at the list of WikiEngines which happens to be organized by language. No, I did not get the one written in OCaml. I got one written in Ruby, so the first thing I actually had to do was get Ruby and mod_ruby installed and working. Now I'm working on the wiki part. Once that's working, I have a fully operational ruby environment that maybe I could even slap Rails into. Very cool possibilities.

pushpins Of course another possibility is that I'll spend many hours on and off over the next week trying to hack google maps to do multiple push-pins based on a user supplied list, which would be really cool. Maybe impossible. Probably a waste of time. But definately really cool.

 
Comments:
I tried augmenting my lovelife using googlemaps searching for hot girls in berkeley, only to be dismayed there was just a line of guys waiting outside thrifty car rental with the same idea... wish me luck @ berkeley chess club tomorrow :)
 
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Paul Graham's Essays
You may not want to write in Lisp, but his advise on software, life and business is always worth listening to.
How to save the world
Dave Pollard working on changing the world .. one partially baked idea at a time.
SnowDeal
Eric Snowdeal IV - born 15 weeks too soon, now living a normal baby life.
Land and Hold Short
The life of a pilot.

The best of?
Jan '04
The second best villain of all times.

Feb '04
Oops I dropped by satellite.
New Jets create excitement in the air.
The audience is not listening.

Mar '04
Neat chemicals you don't want to mess with.
The Lack of Practise Effect

Apr '04
Scramjets take to the air
Doing dangerous things in the fire.
The Real Way to get a job

May '04
Checking out cool tools (with the kids)
A master geek (Ink Tank flashback)
How to play with your kids

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