More frobnulated Words

August 24, 2010

In a previous post, I presented a couple of nonce and other frobnulated words.

Let us obstreperously add a few new words to the previous list.

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Getting Clip-Art

July 20, 2010

Interoperability of software is still a major issue. Not only closed systems do not play well with others, open systems sometimes—often—have the same problems with exchanging information. One that only plays well with others when forced to is, of course, our good friend Microsoft. Sometimes they pretend to play well, and other software developers must reverse-engineer the file formats to read and write data in a compatible format.

One minor annoyance is Microsoft Office’s clip-art bundle file format that is not supported (at the time of writing, anyway) by Open Office. This means that you can download clip-art for your presentation only to discover that they are perfectly useless. Or, you can take 10 minutes and look at what the bundles actually contains!

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A matter of interpretation

May 18, 2010

In calculus 101, amongst the first things we learn, is that the derivative a function is the slope of the tangent to the function, that is, the instantaneous slope at some point on the function. We have, for some function F that the derivative f is given by:

\displaystyle\frac{\partial\:F}{\partial\:x}=\lim_{\Delta\to{}0} \frac{F(x+\Delta)-F(x)}{(x+\Delta)-x}=\lim_{\Delta\to{}0}\frac{F(x+\Delta)-F(x)}{\Delta}=f

So the formulation looks like a slope, and it is taught that it is a slope as well; all the concepts surrounding differentiation are expressed in terms of slopes of tangents, and that’s OK, because that’s what they are.

But suddenly, in calculus 201, we learn how to find the anti-derivative of a function, also known as the integral. But the metaphor changes completely: we’re know talking about the area under the curve. Wait. What?

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Bad Laptop Colors: Why?

February 16, 2010

In Calibrating your LCD for Better Results I presented a few techniques to adjust your LCD so that you get better colors, even though it’s not a perfect calibration.

I have a couple of laptops and their screens aren’t all equal. Not all all. The Vaio gives beautiful, vibrant colors. The Dell Mini 10 HD also gives rather cromulent colors. The E6500, on the other hand, is dreadful. Not the whole computer of course, because otherwise it’s a rather good machine. But the screen is just disappointing. And the thing is, you can’t adjust anything besides the brightness—which defaults to blinding bright. What would it take to make such a screen acceptable?

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Features I’d like to see in my Editor.

February 2, 2010

Do you ever have pipe-dreams about what you should be able to do with your computer? Like those crazy virtual interfaces like they had in the movie Minority Report or like every CSI lab seems to have? (well, that’s at the movies, of course). What about just more down-to-earth matters such as making large, complex documents such as source code more legible? I have few ideas—maybe a bit wacky.

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Those Pesky Applications!

January 26, 2010

Regardless of which operating you’re using, you’re bound to encounter applications that cause you problems. Some applications cause you problems so often that you eventually place a custom launcher or even a keyboard short-cut to a command that kills the applications. Firefox used to be one, but since version 3, it’s been much better. I still have problems, though now it’s always related to the Flash plug-in (which is rather troublesome in 64 bits mode). Another one that cause me problems regularly, is EvilEvolution, the Exchange client for Linux.


One essential *nix command you should know, is kill. The kill command dispatches a signal to a process, by default, SIGTERM. This message instructs the process to terminate. It can ignore the signal, but in general, it will close gracefully after freeing resources. If the program ignores the signal or is in an unstable state, you can kill it “harder” by using kill -9, which sends the process an unmaskable SIGKILL. The process terminates instantly under most circumstances.

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Cats, Pharaohs, and the Golden Ratio

December 8, 2009

Certain numbers keep showing up in nature. The Golden Ratio,

\phi \approx \displaystyle\frac{1+\sqrt{5}}{2}

is one of them. It shows up in cats, sunflowers, and Egyptian pyramids.


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