The LOKi Keyboard

One of my star editors, Loki the Tortie, favors a workstation with instant access to the keyboard and the monitor. Please note that this strategic location also includes a cardboard box of suitable size and, as cat fanatics know well, an empty box is filled with a cat in the earliest possible nanosecond. She puts in long hours, so a workplace with good ergonomics contributes to overall productivity.

loki.keyboard
The coincidence of the alpha characters LOKI suggests that a trickster may also be at work here ๐Ÿ™‚

Loki possesses some skills that make her work remarkable:

  1. The ability to patiently ponder an interwoven nexus of data trails, this sometimes requiring deep concentration.
  2. A studied demeanor suitable to sustained mindful concentration.
  3. A profound understanding of breathing in and out in a supra-autonomic way.
  4. Sustained purring, understood here as a low vibratory murmur that is punctuated with sudden twitches of insight.

I have recorded the intervals of Loki’s breathing/purring ratio by applying a number of statistical measures, each calculated, graphed and annotated in the spurious index I maintain in apocryphal lab notebooks stored nowhere or other in an unrecorded carrel deep in the bowels of the hypothetical library of the unknown university where my research may not or may be conducted.

IMG_0774.jpg
Loki the Tortie in a familiar research station

Let us now proceed to Loki’s most recent research. Least, but for from first, Loki issues keystrokes in a discrete amount of time, typically in the range of 0.75 to 0.85 seconds โ€” all conveyed with a stroke of a paw and the trail of a claw.

Here is a link to some signature work, that my fellow mammal recently keyedย  in 0.732 seconds:

2p;;;;;;lok

A cursory glance suggests that Loki needed to urinate: 2p. The semicolons may be delimiters, some code or an urgency to cover the distance to the litter box โ€” perhaps indicating 3 sets of paws (3×2=6 semicolons). In this vein, it is interesting to speculate on that missing “i” from an expected “loki”. Clearly, more research is needed.

These eleven (11) characters are as compact as any regular expression I’ve ever seen, they recall the intense memory restrictions of mid 20th Century computers such as Eniac. Coding in those days placed enormous restraints on code size at the machine level, so rapid nimble paw and claw strokes are a tribute to Loki’s computational genius and the elegance of her code.

semicolon.claws

Right now Lokiย  the Tortie is in the middle of a mind meld with a couch cushion. I eagerly await the results of that meld ๐Ÿ™‚

Meanwhile I want to read up on the work of Marc-Antoine Fardin, winner of theย Igยฎ Nobel Prizeย for 2017:

PHYSICS PRIZEย [FRANCE, SINGAPORE, USA] โ€”ย Marc-Antoine Fardin, for using fluid dynamics to probe the question “Can a Cat Be Both a Solid and a Liquid?”

Thanks for reading.

 

Discovering Patterns in Language

Regular expressions. are powerful metamathematical tools, advanced techniques for matching patterns in a text or multiple texts โ€” something fun and something useful. They are concise chunks of cryptic characters that can search a single text or multiple texts for precise patterns. Select an input file, do one thing or very many things to the file, then drop the resulting text into an output file.

regex-to-fa

Stephen Cole Kleeneย is the mathematician and philosopher who introduced the concept of the regular expression. He worked with Alan Turing and other pioneering types who were intensely active in the 1930’s. Their understanding of a mathematical maneuver called recursion; that led to breakthrough tools in logic โ€” decisions made at superhuman speed and using the processing speed and memory to process words and numbers thrown together and called data. However, beware of the sorcerer’s apprentice phenomenon. Just bewaring.

recursion

An example: look for successive occurrences of WTF (upper or lower case) and substitute “what the fart”.

Through recursion you can stop, go backward a certain of characters, query the findings. Do something with it. Once you become familiar with the meta characters and the syntax, you can do a lot of useful things or destroy many useful things. So save the original file in a safe place and know where your output file ends up.

 

When I was a freelance translator I maintained a translation memory database that kept track of all my translations so that I might be reminded of earlier translations. The software I used was called SDL Trados; however, that was over ten years ago.

Here is one example of how I used regular expression code to insert a carriage return and linefeed whenever a blank space appeared in the original German. Essentially this created records that were one word long โ€” the number of records was the number of words in the text. Then I queried my database for finds. A lot faster than the technique I used when learning German โ€” looking up the words in a large-ass dictionary that I still have on the bottom shelf over there.

mastering.regular.expressions

The same Unix tools developed in the 1960’s remain in the electrons flowing from my screen to yours. They remind me of Arthur C. Clarke’s three laws:

  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

โ€” Arthur C. Clarke’s Three Laws

Hoping this is somewhat illuminating, or mildly amusing ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks for reading.

P.S. Now for something incompletely different, something inspired by Hariod Brawn’s comment below. It’s an article on The Sound (And Taste) Of Music by Layla Eplett โ€” she brings a platter to the conversation and complements Mariano Sigman’s TED Talk:

 

SoundTasteofMusic
Layla Eplett

Thanks for reading this postscript ๐Ÿ™‚

Working on Computers in 1975

Let’s flip the toggle switch on my steampunked time machine and head back to 1975 โ€” the year Gordon Moore revised his hypothesis on the potential exponential growth of computing power, now known as Moore’s Law: computing power doubles every two years. He surprised himself at its curious accuracy.

moore.graph
Semi.Wiki (a semiconductor’s discussion site

Let’s go back to 1975, a year when Singer built business computers โ€” I worked on aย Singer System 10. That sewing-machine outfit made a foray into small business systems, a foray that ended abruptly in 1976.

 

singer.computer
A fine two-tone-dial phone with rotary dial.

Ten years later I was assigned the task of converting a completely manual order processing system at a Cincinnati Milacron division in Blanchester, Ohio. They obtained a small business computer, a wardrobe-sized unit called a CIP 2200B, from the Milacron Products Division. So it was a hand-me-down โ€” with 64K core memory, 10 megabyte fixed disc, 10 megabyte removable disc and a 96 column card reader/punch.

I reported to the corporate boss of information: Pat Goggins. She was a wonderful iconoclast who ruffled many corporate functionaries. I have a soft spot in my soul for independent minds because they threaten the order of things. That is as it should be. Vegans pose a threat to the tyranny of the majority, and that is a very good thing.

vegan.humor

The Electronic Circuit Materials Division manufactured board bases for Ford automobiles, crappy scrap for Radio Shack and all manner of integrated circuit users. It was a fascinating place to work in the 1980’s At that time I was a single parent to my two children โ€” my wife Jeanne died in 1983, and I wouldn’t meet Lisa until 1993. so I chucked my suit-and-tie collection into the closet and returned to German language and literatures, a world I had left in 1973. We moved closer to town in 1987. It was a hot and densely humid day. The cicadas sang, the car blew a radiator hose. We were at the shoulder of an interstate. Who populated that vehicle? Myself, my two kids, our cat and our bird.

Coding a program is a lot like learning a foreign language. Database records are words and relationships. Programs have syntax, grammar, logical thought โ€” uttered or iterated.

Programming-816

One kind reader has expressed an interest in my use of pattern-matching techniques, a method called “regular expressions” โ€” an invention of the 1960’s: it still supports many shells glommed around it โ€” devices with modern application. The shoulders of those giants still support us. There is no such thing as a sky hook.

Meanwhile โ€” in the “greater” world โ€” folly tramples on dreams deferred. Do we stand at the rim of an abyss โ€” perhaps of our own making? Dinosaurs peered skyward at the brink of yet another extinction. What other species unknown evolved over billions of years, to return all to primordial casseroles with a punch on the reset button. Five extinction events and counting. This planet is patient and resilient. ย I like the way my friend Hariod expresses a gentle treasure โ€” confronting imponderables with contentedness. Witness contentedness. Consider this photograph:

 

happy-indian-girls-in-kolkata-by-jorge-royan-argentina

Happy Easter 2017 ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks for reading.