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 🙂

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 — 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 keyed  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 — 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 Loki  the Tortie is in the middle of a mind meld with a couch cushion. I eagerly await the results of that meld 🙂

Meanwhile I want to read up on the work of Marc-Antoine Fardin, winner of the Ig® Nobel Prize for 2017:

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

Thanks for reading.

 

Working on Computers in 1975

Let’s flip the toggle switch on my steampunked time machine and head back to 1975 — 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 — I worked on a 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 — 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 — 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 — uttered or iterated.

Programming-816

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

Meanwhile — in the “greater” world — folly tramples on dreams deferred. Do we stand at the rim of an abyss — 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.  I like the way my friend Hariod expresses a gentle treasure — confronting imponderables with contentedness. Witness contentedness. Consider this photograph:

 

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

Happy Easter 2017 🙂

Thanks for reading.