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Name: Jose A Ortega
Member since: 2000-12-11 21:52:30
Last Login: 2011-01-19 01:55:17

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Recent blog entries by jao

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27 Jun 2010 (updated 27 Jun 2010 at 03:00 UTC) »

Recent discoveries:

  • Common Lisp. As a result of my getting involved (again) in TUNES, i'm learning at last Common Lisp. I've begun with Successful lisp, and Paul Graham's classic On Lisp will follow. Right now, i still prefer Scheme, but we will see.
  • Ruby. I've been reading a lot about Ruby lately (yes, fxn, there is order in this universe ;-) and really like it: it combines the power of Perl with a nifty object system, plus a handful of refreshing ideas (like, e.g., iterators). It will probably become my scripting language of choice.
  • emacs-wiki is an Emacs mode to maintain a local WikiWiki. I'm using it to keep personal notes on a local repository, neatly organised and hyperlinked, and all in ASCII format! Font lock makes them visually appealing, and you can even export your pages to HTML. Just another reason for never leave Emacs. Definitely worth a try.

After using FreeBSD for a few months, and having to recompile all my installed ports due to an upgrade to version 5.0, i have returned to Debian: it took just two hours to update the old installed system to a spiffy Sarge distribution, without a quirk. FreeBSD ports are a far call from apt and friends.

12 Jun 2002 (updated 12 Jun 2002 at 22:07 UTC) »
sites worth visiting (or, at least, sites i keep on visiting lately):
7 Mar 2002 (updated 7 Mar 2002 at 00:32 UTC) »

It's been a long time without a post, due (mainly) to high workload... you know, the blisses and woes of a start-up. Nevertheless, i've not been idle. To begin with, i've come back to debian. FreeBSD's ports exhausted my patiente, due to poor dependency handling (i had to install gnome-pilot as a pre-requisite for mrproject!), an obsolete libtool version that nobody seems to be updating (more than a year old) and that prevented my compiling cvs versions of dia and guile, total lack of up-to-date compiled packages and some other minor quirks led me to try a fresh install of debian, and i got hooked again. It's really a pity, for bsd's kernel is so much better, imho, than linux 2.4 (i'm using 2.2.10 at home, btw). But, at the end of the day, i realised that i was using exactly the same applications in both os's, so that the important thing is the package management. Debian's is simply better.

i also got tired of waiting for the update of the OCaml port to 3.04, once i decided that OCaml was the right choice for my next projects. i finished a fp-and-co-languages review, incluing OCaml, Haskell (very nice), Scheme (extremely elegant), ML (well, you've got OCaml) and, last and very least, Python (please, use Perl instead). At first, it was hard to get used to OCaml's syntax, but i learnt step by step to love it... and, oh well, it's just syntax. What really matters is the new semantic world that functional programming opens up; each functional language i've tried came loaded with a handful of little conceptual treasures: type inference, first-class currying and functors in ocaml; lazy evaluation and monads in haskell (with the nicest quicksort evaluation i've ever seen); continuations and macros in scheme... no wonder that reading the python tutorial was so disappointing! It is also a pleasure to find , when using and reading books about, say, ocaml, a direct map between advanced computer science issues and the language you're using; you feel like using a tool from the ground up... imperative languages like C++, Perl or Java are like folk, pop or rock music: funny and light, with some harmonic surprises now and then; funcional languages are the classical music of programming, harmony itself.

As a result of these musings, i don't feel so partial to C++ against Java: they're more or less on the same league. So, it's been not that traumatic to use java at work, a decision we took due to schedule and stuff constraints. Reading Meyer's Object Oriented Software Construction (almost finished) has also made me reconsider some of the relative virtues of both languages, and i'm beginning to appreciate some java features such as garbage collection and reflection (i still terribly miss templates and generic programming features, though). Meyer's book is, by the way, worth reading. It's very well written and insightful, once you factor out his dogmatic defense of Eiffel as the only true solution to virtually all your problems.

15 Jan 2002 (updated 15 Jan 2002 at 02:22 UTC) »
OCaml. Almost finished the Objective OCaml book... hmmm, still deciding if i really like it. When it comes to functional programming, scheme seems nicer and more elegant. As for oo, OCaml offers some interesting things like subtypying, which you don't find, for instance, in C++. Parameterised modules also look interesting, and the standard libraries are quite complete (liked the Marshall module, for instance). So, all in all, i guess it's ok. I must find a little application to try it out.

WindowMaker. Back again to wmaker, because of some annoying bugs in blackbox when resizing emacs frames. In addition, the new wmaker version 0.8 let's you launch already docked apps from the command line (or a script, for that matter), a functionality i really missed. And, finally, i took a look at the bb sourcecode, and found it very low quality C++, so... let's see how long i stick to wmaker this time!

MMDK. Must have a look at Knuth's implementation of MMIX before starting my own: it seems quite powerful, and maybe it's no use reinventing the wheel; there is even a gcc port cross-compiling C/C++ to the MMIX emulator!

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