Recent blog entries for argent

20 Aug 2008 (updated 20 Aug 2008 at 17:08 UTC) »

Long time no see.

Just want to note that I've found ALEX.

First hit was at

And someone else has archived it at

And I still want a handheld with a good scripting interface.

I still want a handheld computer with a cool scripting interface. I'm not sure a web browser is necessary, but it's something people are familiar with and it'd automatically let you integrate local and remote resources when you were online.

Personal IE comes with quite a lot of Javascript support, but it doesn't seem to have any hooks into the local databases. Oh well.

Javascript is looking better and better to me these days. Is that a bad sign? Should I take this to Badvogato?

Microsoft had the right idea, they just haven't figured out where it makes sense yet.

I'm talking about their whole web browser == the OS thing. You don't want to do that on the desktop, your applications are too heavy-duty, they break the browser metaphor, and the security issues are horrid.

But where it does make sense, is in a handheld computer. The applications you run in one of those things are, mostly, well suited to the model of filling out forms and following links.

Take an iPaq, and install a lightweight browser. No javascript or anything applety... it's a purpose-built browser, if you want special behaviour suited to the touchscreen you hardcode it in.

Then add a copy of Apache with a server-side scripting language. Maybe a bunch. I like tcl (NeoWebScript, that is), but something like REXX or Perl or even a VB clone or Javascript would be useful for people who like those.

Build in your address book applications and the like using the web server. As much as possible your user interface for EVERYTHING is through http://localhost/....

You'd want a few extensions to HTML. A mechanism to edit using rich text in entry fields (using an SGML/XML markup, of course, behind the scenes), for example, and a way to deal with large graphical objects that's better than the way things like Terraserver or Mapquest manage it. But mostly you'd do things through the browser.

It just seems like an automatic match. And with cross-database links (and look at critlink for an idea of how to synthesize them if there's not a good anchor already there... perhaps have a special tag in the URL to signify 'search the document for this string'?) you'd get some nifty epiphenomena.

It's almost worth picking up an iPaq running Linux to experiment with the idea...

What some people would consider "the ideal hacking environment" I'd consider a bare minimum. It's been a long time since I worked some place that didn't have 24 hour access, 24 hour A/C, decent lighting, and so on.

A controlled auditory environment. I can't work when the guy in the next cubicle is yelling at a vendor on the phone, and I can't work if I can't occasionally yell at a stupid vendor. Same with music. I need it sometimes, but I don't want to hear anyone else's.

Headphones are a no-go... I can't get up and move around. Maybe bluetooth headphones would solve the problem.

Lots of bookshelves. All the way to the ceiling, at least on one wall. Places to put up my posters and pictures. An expectation that *good* artwork won't get pilfered. No hassles about work-area toys.

Couch, preferably a variety of couches.

Offices have plusses and minuses. Plus: you can get away from people. Minus: people can get away from you. Cubicles really do seem more efficient, but we need get-away-from-people space. Maybe a couple of quiet rooms with couch/desktop/workstation/closed door/sound system... and a timer?

Plenty of ethernet. At least 4 ports per office VLANnable to whatever test lans you need them to be on. And as many hubs and switches as you want for in-office things.

Room for at least 3 workstations in the office, per person. Sometimes you really need to have an end-user system for end users.

A real electronic workbench you can take stuff to beat up on hardware on, including good lighting and magnifiers and soldering iron and lots of little boxes full of stuff like solder and sockets and common parts.

A full size arcade Tempest machine, in good shape.

Don't forget to keep an eye out for Alex

Lost Dog

I was looking for the ALEX global file system by Vince Cate. It was his thesis project, and it provided a really nifty way to access random FTP servers via an NFS proxy. It seems to have died a horrible death, though... the related Gecko project is rolling on, but it's really FTP land I want to get to. Anyone know whether ALEX is still alive anywhere?

Why would someone want the March issue of Upside magazine?

(Apparently, if you're mentioned in it)

I get it for free. It goes straight to File 13.

(Though I'd keep a copy or two if they had my name in it. I'm not that blazé yet... it always freaks me out when someone unexpected like the bouncer at the Old Absinthe House in New Orleans goes "You're at Neosoft, right? Peter da Silva!"... that was when I realised that the Internet had won.)

Got my replacement GoType keyboard, and work just ordered a Handspring modem for me. Just add a digital cellphone and pretty soon I'll never need to be offline.


An interesting idea floated (at least) by maphew.

The stage beyond Master.

Inigo Montoya. The Dread Pirate Roberts. The Corsican Wizard.

Yes. It's fitting.

The other night:

I'm sitting at the table in this fast food mexican place eating fajita tacos (and skimming Salon or something on my Visor thanks to Sitescooper) in a bit of a hurry, when I see this old guy in the corner. Looks like your stereotypical career homeless guy, stringy grey hair, weathered face, carrying a bundle and a bedroll.

But he's sitting there typing on this honking laptop with a 13" TFT screen (plugged into the wall... he'd found himself a table where he could borrow a bit of fast food electricity), and now and then he'd go outside and walk back and forth, smoking a cigarette, talking on a cellphone, gesticulating like some hot executive making a deal. Reminded me of Chad Mulligan in Stand on Zanzibar. Working on the Hipcrime Manifesto, maybe... boy he'll be pissed when he finds some spammer in India has ripped off the name.

Never did find out what was going on. If anyone else has seen this apparition (Taco Cabana, corner of Bissonet and Kirkwood, Houston, Texas) fill me in...

In article <8cfs7j$8tj$>, Andrew Cooke <> wrote:
> There's a Malbolge hello world program at
> c -
> I think this is the first significant Malbolge program.


I sort of feel like I'm in the presence of something out of one of Vernor Vinge's Singularity stories. It's like running into an algorithm that only makes sense in a higher Zone of the galaxy. It's like Willi Wachendon discovering the difference between himself and an enhanced human. The Singularity suddenly feels very close indeed... no unaided human could have written that program, and somehow this feels more important than anything else wetware and software can do better together, because this is applied to the genetic material of the software itself.

[If you do two diary entries in one day only one shows up in the "recent diary entries" page]

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