Wednesday, March 31, 2010

There's a way to do that in emacs

Given a number of lines of text such as

foopy charlie
foo bravo
food alpha

and you want to sort them by their second field so they end up like

food alpha
foo bravo
foopy charlie

the right emacs incantation is:

C-u 2 M-x sort-fields

That's all.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Michelle Shocked concert

Katherine and I went on our yearly pilgrimage to Moe's Alley to see Michelle Shocked last Saturday. Steve Wozniak was there too, quietly enjoying this tiny "Reggae Pub". As ever, Michelle was truly amazing. Her energy, her humility and that soaring voice. Mostly her older songs, but with lots of local guests and backing from a band lead by James Nash who just smoked that guitar!

As Michelle says of herself,

I've been through some dark times but I've experienced joy too. Now that joy can't be suppressed.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

97 Things Every Programmer Should Know

Another useful book in the "97 Things" series from O'Reilly has been published, this time for programmers. My contribution is "How To Use A Bug Tracker". There are more details at O'Reilly and Amazon.

This book was created by each person adding their contributions to a Wiki, where it was edited and discussed. The whole process worked really well due to the editor, Kevlin Henney.

p.s. My photo on the cover is four rows down, third from the left, just in case you're looking.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ambiguity everywhere

I use emacs for writing code, which is considered a bit old-school by many Java programmers. One of them recently commented that "watching someone use emacs is like watching ballet". Was that a compliment or not? "Graceful" and "efficient" come to mind, but maybe he just doesn't like watching ballet.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

One of those mornings

6am. Our eldest child woke me from my slumbers with "Daaaad, the toilet's overflowed!". Turns out it had thoroughly clogged itself late last night and then a leaky tank valve had allowed water to gradually drip into the bowl overnight. Ugg. However, the rather questionable design of many American low-flush toilets is not the point of this post. In the process of clearing the clog I realized that this was where an education comes in useful. I asked her to flush another toilet in the house which created a partial vacuum in the sewer line and helped my efforts with the plunger. It worked wonderfully! A discussion of the physics involved ensued, but the best bit was seeing my daughter continue to believe that her Dad could fix anything.