/* no comments (part I) */

January 25, 2011

Comments have always bothered me. Not that I do not find them useful. It’s that we never know really how to use them properly. They’re also quite hard to maintain so that they follow the current state of the code. Comments tend to be written by the original programmer then never really updated to follow the latest modifications.

In addition to be concise, informative, to-the-point, comments should be written in the most precise language possible, one where words are chosen so that there are no unwanted overtones, no innuendos, and no obscene language. English is the new lingua franca, and this means that comments, in order to achieve collaboration with as many different people as possible, must be written in English. That might be a problem when you’re dealing with non-native speakers.

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Epigraphs in LaTeX

January 18, 2011

There are times when part of the message, the gist, must be communicated to the reader in an out-of-band fashion, so to speak. One way of doing this is to use an epigraph to open a chapter or section, carefully chosen to convey the intended message but in the voice of another author (self-epigraphs are of very bad taste in my opinion).

\LaTeX is the preferred document preparation system of computer scientists, physicists, and mathematicians and if you intend to follow a career into the academia, it’s pretty much unavoidable. One day, you’ll have to learn \LaTeX. The thing is, \LaTeX is pretty much like C++: it can do just about anything, but it’s not going to help you do it. You have to rely on the innumerable packages or, if you really can’t find what you need, you can code it yourself. Let us have a look on how to code an epigraph macro in \LaTeX.

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It’s A Fact.

January 15, 2011

(My apologies to Yann Arthus-Bertrand.)


Now on Twitter

January 12, 2011


iPod Touch Movies?

January 11, 2011

I got myself one of those “retina display” (960×640) 5th gen iPod Touch for the New Year. First impressions are that it’s rather well integrated, responsive, and has a number of fun applications. It’s even usable as an X/SSH thin client with a 10$ App.

With Permissions of Emily Carroll

But then you try to see how far you can push the use of the device with Linux (my primary operating system) and find that the support is dismal. The support is already not that impressive with Apple‘s iTunes running on Mac OS X. iTunes is really slow even when running native (i.e., without virtualization) and also does some very stupid things such as preventing you from copying a PDF you downloaded from the web back on the computer even though it has no DRMs—a behavior defective by design. Another limitation is in the iPod itself: the video formats supported are very limited.

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The CFM-01

January 4, 2011

In a previous post, I presented the CFM-00, a “cluster” of 8 Pentium III at 500MHz, assembled into one MDF casing. The assembly was rather clean-cut given the rather rudimentary materials (MDF and threaded rods) but the resulting computing power is dismal (but that’s no surprise). We have about 2GHz of computing power, and at 128MB of ram per node, it makes running even just a remote shell not that responsive.

A few months ago, my friend Christopher came to me with a data center clearing deal with Pentium III 1GHz 1U rack-mount (with 512MB of RAM) servers for $15, and I got eight of them to build the CFM-01, the successor to the CFM-00. But I did not strip the motherboards from their casing this time, I built an inexpensive rack out of slotted angle steel.

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