lisp machine keyboards

space-cadet keyboard 1

photo gallery of lisp machine keyboards: Space-cadet Keyboard and Other Lisp Keyboards


Technology for Knowledge in Past Decades

Perm url with updates: http://xahlee.org/comp/technology_for_knowledge_in_past_decades.html

There are a few technology i dreamed of when i was a teen, or anywhere from 30 to 10 years ago. Some of them have become realities today due to tech advance. Some of my tech fantasies were:

  • ① Encyclopedia at your fingertips. Find out any factual info in matter of minutes.
  • ② A world of photos of any place, on demand. That is, view collections of photos of any place on earth.
  • ③ A virtual 3D model of any building in the world. In particular, great buildings such as famous architectures, cathedrals, castles, temples, or even skyscrapers of whole city. (this aspect we often see in scifi movies. 10 years ago, in movies, it shows the wire-frame of buildings or whole city. Today's movies, upgraded such scene into a interactive holograph (e.g. latest Iron Man movie showed such).)
  • ④ Any video (including film, TV program), ever recorded, at your fingertip on demand.

Most of these have become realities today.

Encyclopedia at Your Fingertip

Wikipedia is encyclopedia at your fingertip, and more generally, the internet. Even just 10 years ago, any fact, even trivial ones, such as list of US presidents, means a trip to the library. To answer any trivial question, it means plan and drive/walk to a local library, then “do research”. It often means that to answer a trivial fact takes at least half a day. Today, the answer comes within 5 seconds, from the multi-purpose phone device in your pocket.

See also:

Photos of Anywhere on Demand

Google Earth and Google Map is the realization of world's photos at your fingertip. For any place on earth that's well populated, you can immediately see hundreds photos of it. The streets, the people, within few seconds.

Mont Saint-Michel abbey Google Earth
A 3D-model of the Mont Saint-Michel abbey in Google Earth. Those little icons are photos.

3D Models of Any Place on Earth

For 3D models, Google Earth does some degrees of it. And Second Life also some degree. In Google Earth, all major cities have 3D models, albeit a very rough one. It allows you to view any big city or building from any angle. Although currently the models are very rough sketches, basically just blocks of rectangles or spheres that lets you get a sense of the building's shape.

Mont Saint Michel 002-s
A 3D-model of the Mont Saint-Michel abbey in Second Life that you can walk-thru.

in Second Life, and in general 3D games, there you have the full detailed 3D models. With gaming software, you can actually walk-thru in it. Suppose it's a cathedral. You can walk into the building, walk thru any of its doors, corridors, hallways, basements, as if in real-life. You can also view the whole thing from any angle or position, as if you are a bird. Though, the problem with Second Life or 3D game here is that only a handful cities or real life buildings are available. Vast majority of scenes and buildings in 3D game are fictional, great by itself, but has no educational values in history or culture or real architecture.

The good aspect of Google Earth here is that ANY major city or building are available. The good aspects of 3D games is that you have detailed, walk-thru model, but just a handful of them.

Detailed walk-thru models as in gaming for all buildings and terrains of the world is probably coming, perhaps in 10 years?

See also:

Any Video on Demand

As for any video on demand, it has not happened yet. Today, you can view most popularly demanded items, such as movies (but usually with payment). However, if you want to see for example Olympics games of a particular year that's been recoded on video, good luck! Or, any news broadcast program of a particular year and day, it's nearly impossible, paid or not. I suppose, they will eventually come. 5 years? 10?

See also: Computer Tech Progress and Video On Demand.

Dennis Ritchie, John McCarthy, Hackers

Perm URL with updates: http://xahlee.org/comp/tech_geeker_vs_hacker.html

in short, a tech geeker is a hacker who is completely ignorant of social sciences.

to give some example using programing celebrities: Richard Stallman (RMS), Paul Graham, Jamie W Zawinski (JWZ), Eric S Raymond (ESR), Michael DeGusta, Kent Pitman, are hackers, but they are not tech geekers, because they have done things that require significant involvement with society (e.g. started company or organization), even if their stance is extreme (compare to politicians: actor-turned-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ronald Regan, silver-spoon scumbag George W Bush.).

in contrast, vast majority of elite coders who slave on comp.lang newsgroups, are tech geekers.

What's some example of tech geeker who are famous? I think Tom Christianson, Linus Torvalds, Rob Pike, Dennis Ritchie, are good examples.

of course, in general, i despise hackers and tech geekers, with rare exceptions (e.g. i like Jamie Zawinski, Michael DeGusta, Bill Gosper, …).

note that there are a lot expert programers who are not hackers (thus nor tech geekers). For example, most academic computer scientists are such. Celebrity examples: John McCarthy, Donald Knuth, Edsger W Dijkstra, Guy Steele, … and also lots who are not academicians or not always academicians, e.g. Bill Gates, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Richard P Gabriel (RPG), Stephen Wolfram ….

For detail, see:

Here's other essays related to hacker, tech geeker, involving celebrities:

Mont Saint Michel abbey

art, 3D model, architecture

Mont Saint Michel 002-s
Mont Saint-Michel in Second Life


HTML5 Audio tag doesn't support midi files

It's a pity. With html5 and all advances, it seems midi file is still not supported. Test here: HTML5 Audio Tag Midi File Test.

Lana-Del-Rey - Video-Games

Perm url with updates: http://xahlee.org/music/Lana_Del_Rey-Video_Games.html

Lana Del Rey - Video Games

, 2011-10-24

A beautiful song by new star Lana Del Rey (b1986).

“Lana Del Rey - Video Games”


Swinging in the backyard
Pull up in your fast car
Whistling my name

Open up a beer
And you say get over here
And play a video game

I'm in his favorite sun dress
Watching me get undressed
Take that body downtown

I say you the bestest
Lean in for a big kiss
Put his favorite perfume on

Go play a video game
 It's you, it's you, it's all for you
 Everything I do
 I tell you all the time
 Heaven is a place on earth with you
 Tell me all the things you want to do
 I heard that you like the bad girls
 Honey, is that true?
 It's better than I ever even knew
 They say that the world was built for two
 Only worth living if somebody is loving you
 Baby now you do
Singing in the old bars
Swinging with the old stars
Living for the fame

Kissing in the blue dark
Playing pool and wild darts
Video games

He holds me in his big arms
Drunk and I am seeing stars
This is all I think of

Watching all our friends fall
In and out of Old Paul's
This is my idea of fun
Playing video games

The video is a bit repetitive. Also, what's with the flashing of American Flags one too many times? This is a love song, not in memory of JFK. Artistic theme of retro American culture, fine, flash flag once. But twice?

And if you check several of her songs on youtube, seems every video's got a American flag in it.


Rabbit vs Hare, Rabbit Meat Poisoning, Three-Rabits Motif, Cuniculture

Today's fun words and facts:

  • what's the diff between rabbit vs hare
  • prococial vs altricial
  • cuniculture
  • etymology and relations of the words coney and cunt

See: Rabbit vs Hare, Rabbit Meat Poisoning, Three-Rabits Motif, Cuniculture.

bagel making

Perm url with updates: http://xahlee.org/Periodic_dosage_dir/bagel_making.html

Story: My Teen Years in Bagel Making

, 2011-10-23

When i was a teen, i worked as a bagel maker for 3 years. Roll the dough into torus shape, and bake them. All manual work. At the time, ~1985, there's also machine rolled and machine baked. But it is said they don't taste as great. (i never verified it myself though)

bagel oven
Bagel oven. img src

Here's what we do to make bagels.

You put 40kg bag of flour, 2 pails of water, few dozens eggs, sugar, honey, malt, into a dough mixer. After 40 min, take it out. (note: 40kg and 2 pails of water = very heavy)

The making takes 2 guys. One to roll the dough, one to bake. Sometimes 2 dough-rollers, because baking goes faster, when the shop is busy and boss demands greater output.

Here's what the dough-roller do: Cut dough with knife into one slab, then slice a thin strip out, then grab the strip, wrap around your palm, pull to cut the dough, and roll and press on the table to seal the ends into a torus. Repeat to make another. After making 40 of them, drop them in a boiling pot. After boiled for ~2 min, the baker take them out, align them on 2 long wooden boards and the boards into a wide, door-less, fire brick oven. After a min, you use a long wooden board shaped liked a oar to flip a array of bagels in the oven, and meanwhile also position them into the next row farther from the fire. Do this for all rows. (there are about 6 rows at a time in the over). For the last row, you use the oar to "scoop" them onto the oar, move out of the oven, then you kinda tilt the board like a kung-fu move so all the bagels fly neatly into air and land on a big wooden trough.

All this is manual work but done in kinda conveyor-belt fashion. 40 bagels out every 2 to 3 minutes.

Dough-rolling is very labor intensive. Remember, when the pace is fast, you have to roll 40 bagels per 1 min. This is why sometimes there are 2 rollers, or the baker helps out.

The baker's job is less physically intensive, but takes more skill, due to the use of oar to manipulate them and mental timing.

It was back-breaking labor. I did it for 8 hours a day for ~3 years. Basically minimum wage. My bosses (often Jewish) are nothing you'd call kind. The other dough-rollers and bakers staff i worked with are pretty much uneducated. Blacks, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Iranian… i don't recall if some are illegal immigrants. (i have working paper back then) The power-relation among us are like primitives. (if you are a office worker, you know how sometimes there's office politics among you and coworkers. At worst, it escalates to manager. In a sweat shop, the power struggle are verbal threats, sometimes physical fight, etc. (sometimes you can get a feel of it in movies, like inmates in prison. For lack of better description, you do what you can to survive.)) It was in Montreal.

Dough-rolling of making bagels.
“The Real Bagel of Montreal by Ed Antonio”. Video of making bagels.
“St. Viateur Bagel Shop ~Montreal”

See also Wikipedia Montreal-style bagel. The companies i worked for are Fairmount Bagel and “R.E.A.L Bagel” in Montreal. It seems they are still in business. Google will find it.

PS The best way to eat it, is of course hot out of the oven. If already cold, then with cream cheese and salmon!