Category: computers

Euclidea – Geometric Construction Game

Euclidea

Euclidea

Euclidea is a very interesting game. Something new, a different game, educational, fun, difficult, challenging. A great game. If you like geometry, if you loved how to build geometric constructions on paper, but always made them blur, you will love this game.

Getting back to Linux: Part #1

Debian_Logo_02After the last Apple keynote, the news on Mac Book Pro, and the exorbitant price, I took part of this Sunday to look back to Linux as a Desktop. Although I work usually on a 2011 Mac, that runs perfectly (just some bumps), I have a Lenovo laptop. So, I decided to install the Linux distribution I have been using lately for my servers: debian.

First I downloaded the netinstall image. It complained of missing drivers for wi-fi and ethernet. Then, I downloaded the non-free netinstall image. Same behavior.

Well, decided to keep it, and use a USB stick to install the missing packages. After going from/to my mac to download missing packages and dependencies, I got something. The card is detected, the correct (at least it seems) module is loaded, ifconfig shows the device, but ifup fails to bring it up.

After googling and fighting with wpa (first I was thinking this was the problem), I found out that Linux was just deciding that it couldn’t load the interface, and mentioned something about rfkill, that I am not sure what it is.

Googled a little more and found articles saying that my Lenovo has some other wireless card than the one listed by lspci. Strange.

In any case, the day is almost over, and I need to get back to my job. My conclusion so far is a quote from an old teacher, now a friend: Linux is still a Cowboys operating system.

Not sure about all Linux distributions, but debian for sure.

 

Slitherlink

Slitherlink

Slitherlink

Usually I do not play much on my Android phone. But when waiting for someone or something, to have a good puzzle is worth it.

Slitherlink, as you can look up in the Internet, is not an idea of this app author. It is a known puzzle, and if you look up in Google Play, you will notice a few implementations.

I can’t say that this one is the best, as I did not test any other. But it installed correctly, runs smoothly, and seems to have some good diversity of modes and difficulty levels. Therefore, I am quite happy with it, happy enough to consider buying the ad-free version, with extra levels. Truth be said, the free version includes a good mount of levels, and ads are not intrusive. So, kudos for that.

About the game, it is up to you to read about it and test it. It can be seen as some sort of minesweeper, with some reasoning mechanisms also used in sudoku.

eXist-db: Installing XQuery functx module

existdbUsing the blog as a notepad, I will start posting here some notes on things I discover and are not very clear in the documentation (or I just did not find it at first).

In the last times I have been hacking in eXist-db, and writing XQuery. I noticed a website with a lot of interesting functions with the functx prefix. The eXist-db website help reference returns hits for this module. But it is not installed by default (or at least, it can happen on not being installed by default).

To install it, just run this XQuery command:

repo:install-and-deploy(“http://www.functx.com”, “1.0”,
“http://exist-db.org/exist/apps/public-repo/public/functx-1.0.xar”)

After installation the functx module can be loaded with

import module namespace functx = “http://www.functx.com” at “/db/system/repo/functx-1.0/functx/functx.xql”;

Also, for reference, I found the list of eXist packages here.

IGI Global: the clown of scientific publishing?

I am not sure how I agreed to write a chapter for a book to be published in IGI Global. Probably, being edited by a friend that invited me personally to send a proposal made the difference.

I have my contribution ready, but starting to think on just forgetting it. Why? Because IGI Global is, surely, kidding with me. They have a set of rules for their contributions, and somewhere in the middle, they say, and I quote:

 

LaTex. LaTex files are NOT accepted because they are not compatible with IGI Global’s typesetting program. As an alternative, we require that you use MathType (see “Equations” below).

First, dear IGI, when not possible to use the fancy form of LaTeX, the latest X should be in uppercase. Second, if hey are not compatible with your typesetting program, that is probably because you are using the wrong typesetting program. And, no, LaTeX is not useful only for math. Please learn what LaTeX is, try to use it, then evaluate how it can be useful or not for your editorial requirements.

Third (or fourth, I think I will stop counting), look to other publishing houses. Who are your adversaries? Springer, probably. Do you know they use LaTeX? Yeah, they do! And they create good quality document. Of course they do, they use LaTeX. And no, I have an IGI book, and no, your books does not have typesetting quality. I am sorry.

Finally, because I have some hours to lose formatting the chapter, if you want us to use Microsoft Word, please create a template in Word. Do you know what that is? You know how it can be useful? Do you? I am sure you don’t.

 

BaseQi

Usually I do not advertise on this blog. In fact, this is not properly advertisement, but a review. But given I am happy with the product, yeah, it can be seen as advertisement.

I will talk about BaseQi, the Ninja Stealth Drive. Basically, it allows you to pop-in a MicroSD card into your MacBook keeping it all inside. I know this sounds a little pornographic. But if you have a small SSD drive, like me, you will be happy to duplicate this easy its space. There are some similar products with the SD card built-in, but then, you can’t replace it later if, for example, it gets non working. Also, there are some similar products with this same mechanism. For those, I can’t talk, as I did not try them.

To explain the idea, follows a set of pictures. Of course you have similar pictures in their webpage, but having pictures from an user can make you a little more confident.

First, the Samsung 128GB drive being added to BaseQI.

DSCN0983

Note how tight it fits…

DSCN0984

Now, put it on your Mac SD Card reader…

DSCN0985

And push it all in… just clean!

DSCN0986

Any.Do – The best task tracking system ATM

Any.DO-Logo-+-NameFor a long time I have been trying different ways to track my stack of tasks. I tried different approaches, from using paper (it is fun!), Calendar Mac App, Wunderlist, and recently Any.Do.

Paper is probably the best, as you can write freely, draw, scratch, rip, and other physical activities that are quite fun. But, unless you get a small notebook, it gets hard to be with you all the time. You could also scratch on a smart phone device, like Samsung S Note app. But when I am working in my laptop, I do not like to have to take the phone to add or remove entries. So, next natural step is to use a tool that syncs tasks between devices.

Wunderlist is cool. Cool enough for me to use it for some time. It has the fun fact that it keeps finished tasks scratched, just like you might do in paper. Nevertheless, the app is (or was, when I tried it) quite limited. You could have different todo lists, but it was hard to see them all at once. You could add some manual tags to tasks (I did that for some time), but it got boring. And it wasn’t easy to sort tasks. You needed to, somehow, change its date.

I tried for some time Evernote for that. It allows to add tick boxes to your notes. But again, not easy to see all tasks in one screen, unless you add them all in the same sheet. And if you do, it gets complicated to manage the order, and the categories, with lots of cut, copy and paste.

So, recently I am using Any.DO. It is also available for Mac, Web, and Android, so easy to sync around. And it has three main ways to see your tickets: per category, per time, or per importance. And in each of these three views, you can sort easily your tasks just by moving them around. I am very satisfied (for now, at least) with it. But I still wonder how much more fun and efficient it might get with the paid version. But a monthly (or yearly) subscription is not exactly what I want right now. Nevertheless, if I could buy the app (and not a service) I might be buying it soon.

The Joy of Logic (2013)

Socrates syllogism

Socrates syllogism

For something completely different, today I talk (erm, write) about a BBC documentary on Logic. It starts with Socrates Syllogisms up to Boole algebra. Then a quick visit on Mathematics nightmare of trying to prove Mathematics logically (yeah, Maths aren’t logic!), introducing first order logic. Then, we get back to Boole algebra and Alan Turing, and understand how it changed the world, and how you, my friend, are using Boole algebra in your computer, at levels you might not think of.

This should be a required documentary for every computer science student (or researcher). It is really worth to “lose” a class to show this to our students.

Windows 8.1, lock screen and flickering

Windows 8.1 Default Lock Screen

Windows 8.1 Default Lock Screen

Mostly sure you recognize this screen from Windows 8.1. This is the default picture, at least for some Windows 8.1 installations, used in the lock screen. A lot of users do not change it, as it is used in a few circumstances. Nevertheless, I changed it. And it made me shiver on Windows 8.1 implementation details. Although it is really fast booting, when compared with other Windows versions, I still see things I would prefer not to. Namely, before the picture I chose for the lock screen be shown, the screen flickers and I see.. yes, the default picture shown above. This means that the operating system is loading this image from disk, even when it is not needed. Couldn’t the system load the user defined picture and, only if it does not find it, load the default picture? Wouldn’t that be faster?

Also, Windows 8.1 is out, a lot of fixes, and the “dots animation” on the busy screens are not yet fixed? Any of my students would make that animation correctly. Yeah, look to it with caution, and you’ll see what I mean.

Atom.io

B62xj9FCUAA3YoC.png largeAbout two months ago I discovered the existence of Atom.io, a free editor from the GitHub team. This fact, being from the GitHub team, made me wonder. There are not good editors for Windows. I usually use Notepad++ that is great, but somewhat limited on extensibility. When I use Mac OS X or Linux, I usually use Emacs or Vim. I know there are versions of Emacs or Vim for Windows, but I got curious on the Atom.io editor. But unfortunately I did not like it. It is quite heavy starting, the UI is not very polished and there isn’t native support for LaTeX. I know the idea of this editor is to be extensible, but when something gets completely community driven, diverse modules or packages for the same purpose appear, and it gets difficult to know what to install.

Nevertheless, I did not quit at first. I got into the package manager and tried to install a LaTeX package. The first package I found should, at least, allow me to compile a tex file directly from the editor. After about 3 minutes installing a package (too much time for such a limited package) I tried to compile the LaTeX document and I did not get any feedback. Neither that the plugin was invoked or that it wasn’t; if the file was compiled, or not. Nothing. I didn’t even get LaTeX highlight.

Please, atom.io crew. Look into Notepad++. Look to its size. Look to how fast it starts. Look to the amount of different languages syntax he supports.

So, at the moment, wondering if I’ll install Sublime, Gvim or some Emacs.