July 31st, 2013

July 31st, 2013

July 26th, 2013




But the simplest and most radical thing that Ridley Scott did in Blade Runner was to put urban archaeology in every frame. It hadn’t been obvious to mainstream American science fiction that cities are like compost heaps—just layers and layers of stuff. In cities, the past and the present and the future can all be totally adjacent. In Europe, that’s just life—it’s not science fiction, it’s not fantasy. But in American science fiction, the city in the future was always brand-new, every square inch of it.




Cities seem very important to you.




Cities look to me to be our most characteristic technology. We didn’t really get interesting as a species until we became able to do cities—that’s when it all got really diverse, because you can’t do cities without a substrate of other technologies. There’s a mathematics to it—a city can’t get over a certain size unless you can grow, gather, and store a certain amount of food in the vicinity. Then you can’t get any bigger unless you understand how to do sewage. If you don’t have efficient sewage technology the city gets to a certain size and everybody gets cholera.


[emphasis added]



See Also: WordSalad.WilliamGibson

July 25th, 2013



For a while it was often reported, erroneously, that you typed all your books on a typewriter.




I wrote Neuromancer on a manual portable typewriter and about half of Count Zero on the same machine. Then it broke, in a way that was more or less irreparable. Bruce Sterling called me shortly thereafter and said, “This changes everything!” I said, “What?” He said, “My Dad gave me his Apple II. You have to get one of these things!” I said, “Why?” He said, “Automation—it automates the process of writing!” I’ve never gone back.


But I had only been using a typewriter because I’d gotten one for free and I was poor. In 1981, most people were still writing on typewriters. There were five large businesses in Vancouver that did nothing but repair and sell typewriters. Soon there were computers, too, and it was a case of the past and the future mutually coexisting. And then the past just goes away.



See Also: WordSalad.WilliamGibson

July 24th, 2013

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This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed. If you have received this email in error please notify the system manager. This message contains confidential information and is intended only for the individual named. If you are not the named addressee you should not disseminate, distribute or copy this e-mail. Please notify the sender immediately by e-mail if you have received this e-mail by mistake and delete this e-mail from your system. If you are not the intended recipient you are notified that disclosing, copying, distributing or taking any action in reliance on the contents of this information is strictly prohibited.

July 24th, 2013

There was a (humorous) short subject about technocracy entitled “Technocracy” produced at some point, and I saw it on PBS’s Matinee at the Bijou.

Shown at least once

I’ve never been able to find another citation of this movie.

July 23rd, 2013

July 21st, 2013

A few months ago — late March, apparently, BoingBoing had a post about using IFTTT to automate collecting wonderful things. I stuck it in my open-tabs, and there it resided for some time.

Finally, earlier in July I implemented the ideas in it.

Basically, use the automation site If This Then That to take new photos (animated-gifs, in this case) from a public DropBox folder, and make a new WordPress post out of them.

Not life-saving, and not world-changing. However, like a lot of other people, I am fond of animated gifs, in ways that I don’t fully understand. But in order to explore that fondness, I’d like to post some of the gifs for later perusal. But… I don’t care enough to save the gif, open the WordPress dashboard, create a new post, add media, yadda yadda yadda.

But with this recipe, I can just save a gif to a folder, and IFTTT does all that annoying grunt-work for me.

There are some drawbacks: gifs remain in dropbox, with an image-link to them, not uploaded as media to the blog. So they can’t be displayed with lightbox, f’r instance.

The post has an odd sequence of divs added:

  <img src=''
       style='max-width:600px;' />

At least one of the extra divs seems to be required. I no clear idea why. And don’t really care enough to dig deeply into it. But it’s a bit of a nuisance when staring at one of the posts. Enough to note it, but not enough to fix it now.

So, this is why you may now see more animated gifs on this blog than posts with words in them. Any individual animated picture may be worth less or more than one thousand words of another blog post, but they are a lot easier to post.

Also of interest: a list of IFTTT recipes.

July 19th, 2013

July 16th, 2013

See Also: part 1, part 2


An attempted install on my home system went much more smoothly, all modules appeared to be present. I ran into one remaining issue that I had encountered previously, and so I’ve opened a ticket.


I also discovered the Emacs Guide — which bills itself as an Emacs guide written for JavaScript coders. It’ll cover installation, basic text editing to taking advantage of powerful extensions made for NodeJS and JavaScript. However, it’s primarily a guide to emacs.js, and is currently incomplete (“Creating Modules”, “Creating HTML Files”, “Debugging” and “See Also” are empty sections, while “Creating Projects” exists only as a keybinding note).


Still, I’ve got some other issues with it.


By default, the code wants all of the files in the HOME directory. I don’t put my files they’re — they’re going into Dropbox, and shared across a couple of installs.

It’s not difficult to update the code for this — but if that file is updated in the project, my updates go out the window.

I think the project should support something different, but I haven’t written a replacement for it.


A minor issue is relative line-numbers. I’m sure somebody likes them. I find them distracting.


But most importantly, basic keystrokes are remapped. That the arrow-keys are mapped to other functions is perhaps forgiveable — Emacs already has line-up, line-down, prevchar, next-char mapped to certain keys. Which I never use. Because it’s stupid to use those keystrokes on a modern keyboard that has arrow keys. But, hey. I can almost follow along. Emacs-stylee, right? Although how following an obscure Emacs convention for a library that is pitched at non-Emacs-users who want a Javascript IDE is a bit perplexing.


Unforgiveable, however, is the remapping of keystrokes like kill-region. That’s a basic Emacs keybinding, and shouldn’t be screwed around with. WTF?


emacs.js has the ability too use customized profiles, but these seem to be loaded AFTER things have already been loaded, so the keybindings might be unfixable by simple means. Or maybe it is an easy fix — I haven’t really looked into the customization yet.


I want to use emacs.js — it’s got a lot of javascript-editing packages included that I’m interested in.

But the setup, lack of complete documentation, and bizarre keybindings is slowing me down.

It’s an open-source project, and I can work to minimize those problems.

I’ve opened one ticket already; these notes are part of my own further process.

July 15th, 2013


July 14th, 2013

July 7th, 2013

I use Emacs, and one of the key roles I use Emacs for is journaling — keeping a log of what I do, as regards to work (I could do a better job of personal journaling, but I wouldn’t need or use Emacs for that, I’d probably put that in a paper-based journal). For computer work — whether it’s day-job related, freelance-related, or personal-project related, tracking what I did and when can be invaluable when I try to recreate a setup or recall what I was doing last month when project X started working/failing.


For years I used a simple journal, original built by someone else, that I had enhanced. It’s up at github, but I’ve recently (April/May 2013) started using org-mode and I am happier (sorry, old-journal-code!).


The below extract is taken from my org-init.el file, and needs some tweaking. They were inspired by Journaling with Emacs OrgMode. There is still some reliance on global-functions (aren’t they all, in Emacs-lisp?) from my old journal-mode, but they do the job of opening a new file where I need it. Then org-mode does all the rest.

(global-set-key "\C-c\M-jw" 'org-journal-work)
(global-set-key "\C-c\M-jp" 'org-journal-personal)
(global-set-key "\C-c\M-jf" 'org-journal-freelance)
(defun org-journal-work ()
  "Send work-based directory to org-journal for day-job journaling."
  (org-journal "D:/home/Personal/org-journal-work/" "work"))
(defun org-journal-personal ()
  "Send dropbox-based directory to org-journal for personal journaling."
  (org-journal "D:/Dropbox/Emacs/org/org-journal-personal/" "personal"))
(defun org-journal-freelance ()
  "Send dropbox-based directory to org-journal for freelance journaling."
  (org-journal "D:/Dropbox/Emacs/org/org-journal-freelance/" "freelance"))
(defun org-journal (&optional root suffix)
  "Open .org file named after today's date, format YYYY-MM-DD-Day.jnl,
in subdirectory named in variable root, set in ~/.emacs,
else as defined below.
    (setq root (or root "D:/Dropbox/Emacs/org-journal/"))
    (setq default-directory (year-month-dir root))
    (setq todays-date (format-time-string "%Y-%m-%d-%a" nil))
    (let ((sfx (if suffix (concat "." suffix) "")))
    (setq filename (concat todays-date sfx ".org")))
    (list (read-file-name
"Open journal-org file: " default-directory filename nil filename)))
  (find-file filename) ;; switch to buffer if exists, or open file
  ;; following lines based on
  ;; heading is not working correctly if it is the result of (today)
  (let ((isearch-forward t) (heading (get-today)))
        (unless (org-goto-local-search-headings heading nil t)
          ((lambda ()
             (insert heading)
             (insert "\n\n"))))
        ;; (org-show-entry)
        ;; (org-narrow-to-subtree)
        ;; (end-of-buffer)
        ;; (backward-char 2)
        ;; (unless (= (current-column) 2)
        ;; (insert "\n\n "))

July 5th, 2013

July 5th, 2013

July 1st, 2013
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