October 30, 2003

Parker's XL 1200

genera peek system inspector

Michael Parker has some screenshots and description of his Symbolics XL 1200 lisp machine running Genera 8.3. (It's also for sale; $3000.)

And since the system comes with source for pretty much everything, and is essentially a debug build without the associated speed penalties, it makes for an eminently hackable box. :-)

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October 29, 2003

IROS 2003

I'm in Las Vegas today for IROS. I have fallen in love with the Sony QRIO.

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October 28, 2003



Sunday night Mark and I saw Brujeria in Ventura. I think I liked the Asesino show better, but this was still pretty great.

don quijote marijuana.mp3, raza odiada (pito wilson).mp3

There was lots of eye burning smoke on the drive between Thousand Oaks and Ventura. But you've probably already seen the satellite images.

satellite image of the crazy fires and smoke

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Time Series

76 plo-chops

Too much lisp scares away the normal people. I think Jason Salavon's work is gimmicky, but I still looked at it all and thought it was cool [via gavin].

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Practical Common Lisp Chapters 4-6

The next three chapters of Peter Seibel's book-in-progress, Practical Common Lisp, are up for review.

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October 26, 2003

Lisp Packages

Gary King started a discussion on ll1-discuss on modules and package systems, specifically comparing Common Lisp packages to Python modules.

If you're interested in that you might also be interested in Erann Gat's “The Idiot's Guide to Common Lisp Packages” (PDF).

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October 22, 2003

Work at Google

<Xach> heh, google has a paid ad on a search for "guy steele"
<Xach> Work at Google
<Xach> Google is hiring expert computer
<Xach> scientists and software developers!

A few other random names I tried that do not have ads: Peter Norvig, Paul Graham, Gregor Kiczales.

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October 21, 2003

Segway as a Robotics Platform

segway rmp

As part of DARPA's Mobile Autonomous Robots Software program, they've developed a common “Robotics Mobility Platform” for researchers to use... a Segway.

CMU is working on a Robocup team using the Segway RMP.

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October 17, 2003

Never Comments Again

Since I'm back and can keep an eye on things a little bit better, I've reenabled comments.

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SLIME On the Move

SLIME has moved from sourceforge to common-lisp.net.

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CL-PDF 2.0

CL-PDF 2.0 is out.

  • This release provides support for cl-typesetting
  • Major changes in the fonts and font-metrics classes
  • Support for custom character encodings
  • Loading and embedding of type1 fonts
  • Several fixes

cl-typesetting isn't actually available anywhere, is it?

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October 16, 2003

ILC 2003 in Review

john mccarthy at the 2003 international lisp conference

This cliki page has pointers to ILC 2003 coverage (so far just some photos and a comp.lang.lisp thread).

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ERSP 2.0

The day I arrived in New York for the International Lisp Conference, Evolution released version 2.0 of the Evolution Robotics Software Platform (ERSP). Hopefully now I can work on something other than bugfixes.

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October 14, 2003


Espen Vestre is talking about Net Fonds's PrimeTrader system, written mostly in lisp, using LispWorks.

primetrader screenshot

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Extending LispWorks

Dan Moniz noticed something interesting about the latest LispWorks release.

5.2 Editor Source Code

This release contains the source code for the LispWorks Editor.

One of the tiny neat things about Erann Gat's talk yesterday was seeing him matter of factly extending the MCL environment to support some new stuff.

Update: Rainer pointed out that the LispWorks editor is a fork of Hemlock.

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October 13, 2003


Last night: Almost saw Neal Pollack doing parodies of rock songs or some shit in Williamsburg, but who wants to spend $8 for that? In any case, I will never feel excessively hipsterized for living in Silverlake again, I mean, my god.

Tonight: Saw Hot Hot Heat at Irving Plaza. They were good; great presence, might not buy their CD. ARE Weapons opened, and they sucked. Saw very hot girl in audience, NYC girls are qualitatively hotter than most other, but not all, girls, in short shorts; Turned out to be Chloe Sevigny. Love Chloe Sevigny, even if she was most inauthentic in Gummo.

Chloe Sevigny knows how to use them, regardless, ARE Weapons suck. Drank and played darts until 3:30 am. Still love NYC.

Update (12:34 pm the next day): Apparently I posted the above text last night. Nobody is more surprised than me.

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October 12, 2003


It's retarded, but lemonodor is under attack by comment spammers. There are dozens if not hundreds of preteen porn spam comments.

This would happen when I'm critically low on disk space, in another city, and have only dialup.

Until I can install a real solution, I'm disabling comments.

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October 10, 2003


I love LA, but can I buy CDs there at two in the morning? No. Can I go into a bar and get a drink? No.

(Oddly, the bartender didn't know what Maker's Mark or Knob Creek were. But she made up for it well by being very well-made.)

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October 09, 2003


<dan_b> the only real reason to use setq for anything these days is to demonstrate that you've been using lisp >10 years

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October 08, 2003

Peace and Quietness One Mile Up

aerial view of mt. wilson observatory

Saturday night I did the coolest thing; My friend Lori took me to a party at the Mt. Wilson observatory, about 5,000 feet above Pasadena in the San Gabriel mountains, where we got to use the 60-inch telescope.

the 60-inch telescope at mt. wilson

The 60" is almost a hundred years old. When it was built it was the biggest telescope in the world, and it was the first one that could resolve stars in other galaxies.

'telescope action shot

When you're inside the dome, it's nearly pitch black and it takes a while to get used to moving around without bumping into things (before we went in, the astronomers warned us about bumping into things so we wouldn't get a limb sliced off when the dome started moving, or be electrocuted by the bare 110-volt line running around the perimeter). Weighing 70,000 lbs., floating on top of 40 gallons of mercury, the telescope swivels pretty easily. It's awfully disorienting though when you're looking up, watching the telescope slew to a new target, and suddenly see the entire dome begin to rotate around you.

ring nebula

We looked at nebulae, double stars, globular clusters, Mars and its moons, and our moon (really bright, and hard to track since it's so close). My favorite thing was definitely seeing the ice cap on the south pole of Mars. Hello, carbon dioxide! Hello, future human habitat!

There is something profoundly different about seeing these objects through a big telescope compared to in a photograph, knowing that between your eyeball and the star/nebula/whatever there are only a couple big mirrors and millions of light years. Fucking awesome.

While I'm in New York for the lisp conference I hope I get to see the Museum of Jurassic Technology's exhibit “No One May Ever Have the Same Knowledge Again”, which is a collection of letters that cranks and crackpots have written to the Mt. Wilson astronomers over the years, outlining their theories of the universe.

A selection from one letter:

Dear Gentlemen,

Some weeks ago I wrote you a letter. Not yet having heard from you I was wondering if you received my letter I wrote you from Homai. Since, I have shifted from Homai, to Auckland. So I thought I would send you my new address. I want to tell you I am not after money & I am not a fraud. I believe I have some knowledge which you gentlemen should have. If I die my knowledge may die with me, & no one may ever have the same knowledge again. Because if people hear talking they want stick, they go & do away with their selves. I have gone through frightful things still I go through it & I am beginning to get knowledge. I would write down & tell you what I no. But I would sooner wait till I hear from you. Because you are both strangers to me & my letter may go astray. When one writes one needs peace & quietness

I hope I have a chance to go back to the observatory soon.

P.S. While poking around in the lower level of the dome, I found a set of old wooden lockers. One had a metal nameplate that read “Hubble”.

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October 07, 2003

Lispworks 4.3 Personal Edition for OS X

Xanalys has released a free “personal edition” of Lispworks for OS X [via Rainer Joswig, who could maybe use permalinks].

Restrictions on the personal edition include a limited heap size and a 5 hour session limit.

Rainer earlier sent in some screenshots.

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October 06, 2003

Corman Lisp 2.5

Roger Corman has released Corman Lisp 2.5, which has lots of ANSI-related and compiler improvements, bug fixes, an enhanced IDE, and a new GUI library [via Dan Moniz].

See the release notes for more details.

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October 05, 2003

Carl Junker and Friends

room in carl junker's house

Carl Junker was a highly trained architect who went crazy and then spent the rest of his life working on a house for himself. He didn't just design and build the house, he also built the furniture (check out the chest above, with the body of Christ carved into the top) and decorated the whole thing.

Wild. It made me think of Louis Wain, who painted cats.

normal cat by louis wain

He kept painting cats as he became schizophrenic, and the progress of his illness was reflected in his art.

crazy cat by louis wain crazy cat by louis wain crazy cat by louis wain

On the the “Neuroscience Art Gallery” site alongside Louis Wain's paintings are some details of a painting by a 25 year old schizophrenic artist. I love the feeling of this one:

detail from a painting by derek bayes

It reminds me a little of the final scene in Scarface.

A few years ago I visited the House on the Rock, near Madison, Wisconsin. I don't think the guy that built it was ever diagnosed with anything, but my god, the house is a testament to obsession. Walking into a huge, dark room containing the largest carousel in the world (none of the two or three hundred animals are horses) with deafening circus music, looking up and seeing hundreds of topless mannequins hanging from the ceiling, each with angel wings... it was a good simulation of craziness, anyway.

house on the rock angels

(The House on the Rock complex is immense, but it's hard to get a sense of the scale while you're walking through it. After we lost track of the hours, tired and very thirsty, unable to find any other people at all, we reluctantly broke into an abandoned slushee/hot dog concession shop and ate and drank until our skin turned the color of blue raspberry (which would be blue). You probably think I'm making this up, but I'm not.)

I still haven't been to see the Watts Towers.

watts towers

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October 03, 2003

Ricky Jay

ricky jay

I was going to post something a couple months ago that I found on cardhouse, the archives of Ricky Jay's weekly radio show on KCRW, Jay's Journal, but I forgot (forgetfulness seems to be a recent theme here).

Nobody seems to know who Ricky Jay is.

He's been in a bunch of David Mamet films: House of Games, The Spanish Prisoner, Homicide, Heist. He was in an X-Files episode. He was even in Boogie Nights. In some circles (just a few people I know, maybe) he's famous for writing Cards as Weapons, a self-defense book that teaches one how to use ordinary playing cards as... weapons (he can impale watermelons with them).

From an interview with The Onion:

O: Have you ever used your magic powers for evil?
RJ: Can't think of a day when I haven't. [Laughs.]

I found out a friend of mine is his assistant. I got all excited, and she said “You really know who Ricky Jay is?”

Because of that I went and looked at his website, and found (the real focus of this post) this amazing profile of him from the New Yorker (PDF; here's an HTML version). It's long, and I'm no magician lover, but I really enjoyed it.

I haven't even mentioned the really interesting bits about Ricky Jay, or why you should read the article. I guess I'll just leave it up to you to decide whether it's worth taking a look at, but know this: he is not like any other magician.

I'm a little scared I will walk into Canter's some night around 3 or 4 am and see him.

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Willful Ignorance and Elitist Drivel

Metafilter has a thread on Paul Graham's Java's Cover essay.

From the comments:

  • this guy is just a bitter Lisp proponent
  • Lisp: everyone who promoted it always seemed to be a whining snob.
  • if lisp users were as smart as they think they are they'd have learnt from their mistakes, but no, they write bitchy articles and think that renaming "let" (or whatever other trivial changes graham's much-hyped-and-long-waited-but-still-not-present-language will make to lisp) will somehow change all this.
  • Not only an argument from a willful position of ignorance, but elitist drivel, as well. reply: these are lisp users. i guess you haven't met them before?
  • the Lisp guru is writing bitter diatribes on the web
  • there are an awful lot of lisp bores (more than lisp users, it seems like, at times).
  • I often hear about the wonders of Lisp and about how there are a number of large projects (like Sabre), although I have no real urge to try it out. Especially because most of the Lisp evangelists I've known have been real assholes about it.

Smug-lisp-weenie-ism seems to be a pretty significant image problem for lisp.

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October 02, 2003

Circle CD

yumiko kayukawa

Oops, I forgot to mention circle here (actually, it's “cirCLe”, but I don't think I could bear to keep typing it, or reading it, like that).

circle aims to be (i.e., it does not yet exist) metacircle's “open source 'whole product' production-quality Common Lisp environment targeted at the GNU/Linux operating system.” It's based on SBCL, and will include a package manager, a web server, database support, GUI stuff, and sockets; all tested and working in unison. I guess it is trying to be an open source equivalent of a full-featured commercial lisp environment.

Dan Barlow is considering selling a circle CD, which would be a bootable linux CD containing circle. Profit from the CD would go to fund Dan's work on “SBCL threading, CLiki, asdf and other Lisp software.”

If you're interested in the circle CD you might want to take the circle CD survey.

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Seibel's First Three Chapters

Peter Seibel's book on Common Lisp is taking shape before our eyes; The first three chapters are at a point where Peter is soliciting comments.

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