Sunday, December 13, 2009

The New Luddites, Part 3

The New Luddites have stuck their heads up again. This time it's the Economist whining about information overload in mobile GPS units. The correspondent is, he assures us, a longtime lover and user of maps, but somehow all those curvy lines on the display just overwhelm him. He compensates by dimming the display and just listening to the spoken directions. The barely-below-the-surface theme is that maps have no business being digitized anyway. After all, people have been getting along with paper maps for centuries.

Is this a problem anyone else has? The GPS display seems perfectly clear and informative to me, even without a lifetime love affair with maps. I just don't get it. Every once in a while you glance at the display to see how far it is to your next waypoint. Actually, you don't even have to do that because the GPS unit will warn you in plenty of time.

If the GPS unit overwhelms you, turn the damn thing off and use paper maps or your memory or whatever. Just leave the rest of us in peace. Please.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Proof That Book Publishers Learned Nothing from the Music and Movie Industries

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Rewire Redux

A few posts ago I ranted about gave a carefully reasoned analysis of an article about how computers were destroying our brains or something. Now Cory Doctorow makes the same points in a slightly different context. He even mentions the old “calculators are destroying our ability to do math” silliness and explains why that argument is not just wrong but the actually misses the point that by liberating us from spending years developing a facility to do arithmetic in our heads we are free to learn to think about mathematics at a more abstract and useful level.

The link takes you to an 11 minute video interview of Doctorow that is well worth your time. Doctorow's main thesis is that technology frees us from worrying about many of the mechanical details of writing and mathematics and allows us to concentrate on their more important aspects.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Another Slime for Vim

Over at Jonathan's Techno-tales Jonathan Palardy writes about using Vim for Lisp programming. His idea is to emulate some of the Slime functionality by using Gnu Screen to help communicate between the REPL and the Vim editing buffer. He's written a Vim plugin to automate the process but you don't need that to try the process out.

It's a nice hack but doesn't have anywhere near the functionality of Slime. Still, if you're a committed Vim user and program in Lisp this may be a good solution for you. The same technique should work with any language that uses a REPL-like mechanism.