posted by [personal profile] hendrikboom at 08:50pm on 09/09/2009
Distributed version control systems are more-or-less incompatible with word processors, at least with the current crop of file formats. A DVCS's main job is merging sets of changes that were made independently, possibly at opposite ends of the Earth. They tend to analyze changes in terms of insertion, deletion, and replacement of lines.

But lines are what's not significant in natural-language text, which flows from one line to another like water in a river. And word-processors usually encode the text into some kind of binary file, where the newline characters the DVCS uses are missing.

And the new XML ODT files, even if you uncompress them, aren't particularly helpful, because all their syntax consists of matching brackets of different kinds.

When Betty edits
a b c d e f g h i j
a b <i> c d e f </i> g h i j
and George turns it into
a b c d <b> e f g h </b> i j
instead, the result of merging the two sets of changes gives us
a b <i> c d <b> e f </i< g h </b> i j.
which is syntactically invalid XML, and can therefor no longer be edited in the word processor. The users cannot fix the bad merge.

But there are other data representations which may not have these problems, such as infix operators (perhaps with priorities to make sure paragraphs are inside sections and not vice versa). Merging may not always give the right answer, but it will give results that are syntactically valid and therefore can be edited further.

So I ask: Is there some way of accomplishing the things word processors do entirely with infix operators?

-- hendrik
posted by [personal profile] hendrikboom at 12:08pm on 22/08/2009
Going through old junk, I just found something I've been looking for for decades. It's another verse to Suzanne, allegedly sung by Leonard Cohen at a Mariposa Folk Festival long ago and transcribed by someone who was there. It's labeled "3/", so presumably it goes after the second verse and before the usual third verse. For all I know my copy may be the only one in the world ... of course it won't be once I post it here.

-- hendrik


All my friends are fast asleep
In places that are high and deep;
Their bodies torn on crosses
Their visions meant to leap;
And in between their dreams
They hate the company they keep.
Nancy lies in London grass.
And Tom in Marco Polo's pass,
Peter slowly dips his toes
In bathtubs filled with Turkish snows.
Leonard hasn't been the same
Since he wandered from his name,
And Alphie(Robert) always loves to tell
How he became invisible at last.

And you want to travel with them,
And you want to travel blind,
And you think you'll maybe trust them
For they've touched your perfect body
With their minds.
posted by [personal profile] hendrikboom at 11:00pm on 07/08/2009
Tonight I got to attend a film -- no, a concert -- no, that's not right either, a presentation of Melissa auf der Maur's new multimedia offering, OOOM, Out Of Our Minds. Not the whole thing, just pieces. I got to see the film, which was first presented at Sundance. During breaks in the film (it seems the Palais de Congress has a hard time playing a DVD or Blu-ray disk without equipment failures) she explained what it was like to collaborate with a film-maker. Then she performed a few of her songs. She had no band with her, so she sang, accompanying herself on bass guitar. She said she had never performed without a band before, but the result was overwhelming. I can imagine that the sound would be fuller. smoother, more rounded with a band, but I can only expect it would lose the single-minded intensity it gained from being a one-woman show.

More of this stuff will apparently be shown in performances on the coming months, and the entire multimedia package (including a comic book) will be released early next year.

I will be awaiting it. I hope some of her truly solo performances will be included, because I would be sorry not to hear them again.

-- hendrik
posted by [personal profile] hendrikboom at 02:19pm on 08/07/2009
hendrik@lovesong:~$ ls -l /bin/ls
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 92312 2008-04-04 10:22 /bin/ls


I remember the day when I could use ls on a 48K PDP-11.
That was total memory, including the OS, code space, static data space, and writable data space. Processes could be swapped, but weren't paged, so that really was all the (virtual or real) RAM it could use.

Today's ls wouldn't even fit on that machine 30 years ago. We had entire C compilers that could run on that machine. And generate code that would fit on it, too.

What has happened to software?

What could ls possibly be doing that takes 92K of code?

Not to mention four shared libraries!

hendrik@lovesong:~$ objdump -x /bin/ls | grep NEEDED
posted by [personal profile] hendrikboom at 12:33pm on 06/07/2009
I've just started reading The City & The City by China Miéville. Let me recommend it, based only on the four chapters I've already read.

I was told the not to read any of the reviews, but to read the book first. having read only four chapters so far, I don't think I will be able to give away significant spoilers; I can't reveal what I don't know. Nonetheless, I'll be careful here.

It's a police procedural, in an unusual environment. It's meticulously detailed and believable, and that's one of its real strengths. It's also quite strange, in directions not usually explored in science fiction or fantasy, and that is its other strength. So far, at least. I expect more of the author, based on what I've read so far.

I suspect the underlying concept may well be as impossible to describe without spoiling the book as the one in Cryptozoic. So I won't.

-- hendrik
posted by [personal profile] hendrikboom at 09:54pm on 19/06/2009
It looks very much that I'll be going to Readercon. The only thing left is to arrange transportation. I'm leaning toward driving, but am concerned about the possibility of highway hypnosis.
posted by [personal profile] hendrikboom at 08:34pm on 01/06/2009
liz_marks mentions a tool to find which of your LJ friends have arrived at dreamwidth under the same names:
posted by [personal profile] hendrikboom at 06:51pm on 06/03/2009 under ,
[Error: unknown template qotd]

It's my real name.

-- hendrik
posted by [personal profile] hendrikboom at 10:09am on 13/01/2009 under , ,
[Error: unknown template qotd]

Marks & Spencer. I know it's still around in the UK, but it's gone from Canada.
posted by [personal profile] hendrikboom at 11:43am on 05/12/2008 under
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Crusade, the sequel to Babylon 5.


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