Tao of the Machine

Programming, Python, my projects, card games, books, music, Zoids, bettas, manga, cool stuff, and whatever comes to mind.

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is an interesting manga. It’s very different from most comics and most mangas as well.

I find it refreshing that there are still stories that have more to offer than action, special effects, sex and violence. I’m not a preacher of morals, far from it, but it’s nice to see something different once in a while, to ease our numbed senses. I suspect that most (young) people would find YKK boring, though. In 103 chapters, nobody got into a fight, had sex, died, beat an opponent, or even got mad. One might think there is no clear story at all, but it’s there… it’s just very subtle, and it unfolds slowly and gently.

More at this site. There are also lots of downloads. (This manga has not been licensed to the US or Europe.)

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-05-02 19:28:02   {link}
Categories: manga

The phoenix from the flame... *

My browser of choice will get even better.

(via Simon Willison)

I didn't even know those keywords (like dict) existed. Very useful.

(Later.) I downloaded the latest nightly build, but it just looks the same as 0.5. Maybe there's more to installing it than just extracting it to a directory and running phoenix.exe. Registry settings, perhaps? In that case, I'll better wait for the official 0.6 release.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-05-01 12:34:05   {link}
Categories: general


I am the #1 (and only) search result for 'neetnek' now. :D

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-04-30 17:39:07   {link}
Categories: general

The worst of two worlds

(Warning: incoherent rant ahead…)

Mac OS X is built on a great concept. For beginners and regular users, there’s an easy-to-use, good-looking GUI with a bunch of programs to do many common tasks. For power users, administrators, programmers and the like, there’s a complete BSD system under the hood, allowing you to customize and tweak to your heart’s content.

Sounds great. For some reason it doesn’t work for me, though. Maybe I’m just stupid. Be that as it may, let me tell you about my experiences so far.

To me, coming from Windows, it did indeed seem like a great concept. Get a stable system based on a real OS, and useful applications on top of it, so you don’t have to compile the world to make even the most basic apps work. The best of two worlds. Well, I’m starting to suspect it’s more like the worst of two worlds.

The high-level GUI apps are acceptable (after all, they do what they’re supposed to), but too simplistic for me. I will not go into any details here. To me, they just are (and YMMV(your mileage may vary), of course).

On the other hand, there’s the BSD system, and it comes with all the problems of Unix systems. I’m not exactly a Unix hater, far from it. But sometimes I just want to get things done, and it’s nice if you can do so without having read countless man pages, looking at tons of command line options, staring at obscure error messages, or knowing the inside out of parts of your system that you’re not even interested in (if you knew they existed at all).

One example. I wanted to install PythonCard today. This is a fine app that works great on my Windows box. Installing it on the Mac proved more of a challenge. Unlike for Windows, there’s no installer for the Mac, so I had to do the distutils thing. ./setup.py install didn’t work, it choked on an error somewhere. An additional complication was that I have (at least) two Pythons on my system, 2.2 and 2.3a2, the latter of which has wxPython. So I found some switches, tried to install with prefix /usr/local/, which went better than the previous attempt, but choked anyway. At that point, I gave up. Too early? Probably, but I’ve gotten really tired of trying to make things work (with little success). See my previous posts on editors for that.

(This is just one example, and definitely not the worst of what I’ve experienced since August, when I bought the Mac.)

Sometimes it’s nice if things “just work”. The above is in no way PythonCard’s fault. It probably comes with a vanilla installation script. And running such a script is no big deal if everything goes right. But, if it doesn’t… in order to solve this problem, I would need to know about the various Python installations, about distutils and its options, about the Python site-package directory, about the reasons why the Pythons are installed in different directories, about file permissions (one error was lack of permission to execute a script), etc. One could argue that any (Unix) programmer worth his salt knows these things. Possibly, but on the Mac (read: BSD) I am only a beginner who wants to get some hacking done, without having to jump through countless hoops. On top of that, I may not have the time to learn all these things. It would be nice if I could just see some encouraging results and worry about the gory details later.

(Is Windows better, then? No. Not usually. But: 1. I’m used to it, and 2. it’s easier for me to get things done. I’ve been using PCs since 1991. I don’t have another 12 years to spare to get used to the Mac.)

I’m strongly considering selling the Mac. Too bad, it’s a beautiful machine, with a beautiful OS. It may just not be for me. I keep on going back because it’s pretty and promising, but I invariably end up leaving in frustration. So… keep an eye out on Ebay if you want a reasonably priced G3/600 with 128 Mb.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-04-28 22:38:18   {link}
Categories: switch

Some people really have too much time on their hands...

I know that Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is highly anticipated, but I didn’t expect to find two fake books on the Net. They’re not parodies, they’re fakes, and someone spent a lot of time on them. They’re hundreds of pages, and have convoluted story lines!

Why do I think they are fakes? For starters, they’re too short (~350 and ~550 pages, while the real book will have 768 pages), and unlikely things happen, that are in direct contradiction to hints revealed in interviews with J.K. Rowling. Besides, some actions just seem… out of character.

(There are also some chapters of another version, with (among other things) a character named Cassiopeia. That sounds more like something JKR would write. Maybe it is the real thing?)

I would upload the PDFs, if nothing else they have value as a curiosity, but I’m not sure about the legality of it all. So if you’re interested, you’ll have to look for them yourself.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-04-28 13:17:14   {link}
Categories: books

Simple ideas still work the hardest

I had to waste my weekend to eventually rediscover this universal truth.

See my previous posts about editors on the Mac. I’ve found a (temporary) solution. vim works just fine except that Shift-Tab won’t work. So, instead of Shift-Tab, I mapped F2 to mean “dedent”, which is easier to type, and which can be set on Windows as well. So I’m just going to use F2 now on both systems, and won’t worry about Shift-Tab anymore, and especially not about rebinding keys in all kinds of Mac editors. >_<

It may be worthwile to hack up a minimalistic editor with wxPython, though. That vim version works for now, but it doesn’t scale. I will run into problems when editing lots of files. :split can only do so much, and only one window can be opened at a time, as opposed to Windows where each file can have its own gvim window. (Which doesn’t scale either, because it clutters the taskbar. ;-) So, if I can do something similar with a notebook, that might work.

I will not waste any more time on discussing how AlphaX and XEmacs fought me tooth and claw. :-)

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-04-27 22:30:17   {link}
Categories: (unclassified)

In search of the perfect editor

Or rather, a decent editor. So far, every editor I’ve tried on the Mac has its own little problems. They’re probably little for someone who regularly works with these editors and/or the Mac. They’re not so little for a Mac newbie (which I still am, in many respects) who wants the editor to behave as close to Windows as possible.

I don’t think I am very demanding. All I want is something to edit Python code. To do so, I need:

  1. Home and End keys that behave like on Windows (i.e. go to beginning/end of line, not of document)
  2. some form of autoindent (if I am on an indented line and press Enter, I expect the next line to start with the same indentation)
  3. Tab and (preferably) Shift-Tab to indent/dedent

These three simple wishes have not been met by any editor so far. Not even vim, where Shift-Tab doesn’t work. (This may actually be a Unix problem and probably has nothing to do with vim itself.) Many, many editors violate #1. Others call themselves text editors but are simply not suitable for plain text. Some even do ridiculous things; one editor insisted on placing a dot at the end of every line it visited. >_<

My own hand-rolled Charm editor works fine on Windows, but doesn’t work well on the Mac. Apparently wxPython integration isn’t perfect yet, which is a different problem altogether, but it rules out using my own stuff.

I am currently messing around with XEmacs, which has its own set of problems. (How could it be otherwise? :-) I succeeded in rebinding the Home and End keys, works fine if I rebind them in the editor itself, but as soon as I put them in a startup file, trouble starts. It either doesn’t find the file or doesn’t load it correctly. Or I made a mistake, but I copied the lines verbatim from a sample .emacs file. It doesn’t help that XEmacs seems to have its own notion of where the home directory is. Also, if I start emacs (not XEmacs) from the command line, it attempts to load my .emacs file, and finds errors, although I have no clue what it is trying to say.

Sigh. Notepad almost looks good. Do any Mac gurus out there have any words of wisdom?

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-04-27 01:33:49   {link}
Categories: programming, switch

Everybody wants a piece of it...

Hmm, there’s also a language called Py. I didn’t know that.

(via the 99 bottles of beer page)

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-04-26 19:05:57   {link}
Categories: programming

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