Monday already?

This weekend went by fast. I was just thinking while listening to some music how many musicians I listen to (a continuation of my youth, to be fair…) are dead. It certainly lets you know you are getting old when bands you loved as a teenager are either playing state fairs on one-off shows or defunct. Quiet Riot no longer has any original members, and the sound is quite different. Kevin DuBrow and Frankie Banali have both passed away. Those guys on the back of the album cover, who in real life were probably not all that great, are no longer here. I never admired them, nor did I seek to emulate them. I was (and am) my own person. I don’t let anyone think for me, nor do I worship celebrity. I find that sort of behavior sheep-like and unbelievably shallow. I admired their talent, for sure. I enjoyed their music (and still do), but I do not model my life after them.

I never followed trends. I never looked in a magazine to see what to wear. I wore what I wanted. I was more about comfort than fashion… which explained why I didn’t wear ties. 🙂 The sad reality of Jr. High and High School was that people tried to imitate other “cool” people and looking back, you could see how shallow that was. I was one of the few who did what I wanted. It didn’t matter that most people thought I was weird. The people I socialized with were computer nerds just like me. We all liked to play video games, board games and watch Kung Fu Theater. 🙂 The difference I had with them was that I never changed to fit a new thing. Some of my friends did, going down the “rap” fad, liking whatever was on the airwaves at the time, I suppose. We still got along though, because they all knew I wasn’t a follower. That made high school bearable, to be honest. I wouldn’t have minded if no one hung out with me, because I was my own man, but having a few guys to hang out with and play BBS door games (who remembers those?) on a Friday night instead of trying to become a father at 15 made things flow more smoothly.

I wasn’t into socialization. I wasn’t a joiner, though for college fodder, I joined the wargames and computer clubs in high school. (I was already playing wargames with the folks in the club, so why not make it official? Battletech was my favorite, along with Star Trek Starship Combat Simulator by Fasa.) I guess my ramblings have come full circle. I’m officially “old”. My music is outdated, my movies are “classics” now (not really, they were never mainstream), and I don’t really care for the new stuff. Except bands like Alestorm, Amon Amarth and Judicator (who I am a patreon supporter of, thank you very much.)

I suppose I’ll hit the hay.. I really wish things would go back to the days of vinyl and my old room in Florida, with my Amiga and C64 still on my computer desk. I miss my old “bank remodeling sale” office chair (the “command chair”) that squeaked like an old bed when you moved. Glorious times, gents. Glorious. Still, I like my music at my fingertips now (2TB HDD full of my music collection, that is considerably larger than it ever was on vinyl or even CD), and I like the idea that I can still be me and not worry about anyone else’s opinion. As Dee once said “I am… I’m me.” 🙂

NeoVIM

I have always extolled the virtues of Vim, mainly because I started my Unix career using Vi (ed really killed my brain before I found Vi), and I really love the editor. It’s got enough going for it to be more than an editor for many people, and just simple enough to edit text files when you need it. I am by no means an expert (and I constantly find new things in Vim that I enjoy, including features that I never knew I needed until I started using them), but I love Vim. I am not against Emacs, but I have found that I gravitate towards Vim more often than not. I think Emacs is a smashing good editor (the buffers are super useful once you get used to them), but I simply gravitate towards my first love… Vim.

That being said, I installed NeoVIM which is a “Vim on Steroids”, I guess you could say. (As an aside, I love Debian. It’s such a great distro…) I’m just scratching the surface of the new features NeoVIM has. As I find more about it, I like it quite a bit. It won’t supplant Vim for me, because I can’t use NeoVIM everywhere (particularly at work), and Vim will always be a great tool in my small, but fun, Linux toolbox.

Cheatsheets on your keys

Vim is a great editor. I love it and after nearly 30 years of use, I am still learning new things about it. it’s a wonderful editor. I don’t mind Emacs, and in fact, I’ve used it some, but my first editor experience in the Unix world was Vi. I was a novice CS/CIS student and had an account on an HP-UX machine, so I needed to try to do some of my homework on the Unix boxen. I loved the idea, since my Amiga was my primary computer at the time, and Unix was fascinating to me (I later installed from floppy Slackware 0.99, but I never got my video card working properly, so it was DOS with “screen”… which is a great terminal tool, too.)

Anyhow, I’ve been keeping little booklets and post-its how to do the various things in Vim (I always forget how to indent blocks of code for some reason… as right now I can’t recall it.) I think it’s “>”, but don’t quote me on that. I don’t use too many plugins, just in case I get complacent. I would rather use Vim as a visitor to a system than being stuck in a “very useful but limited to my machine sort” of way. 🙂

I switched keyboards (again) back to my Unicomp Model M remake, so I don’t have the stickers on my keys anymore. I liked them, but the edges were too “sharp” and I always felt like I was missing a key when touch-typing. I have an unorthodox touch-typing style that I gleaned from using a keyboard long before a typing class (thanks to my wonderful Atari 800xl.) I never re-developed any “proper” typing method, even after taking typing in high school. It has helped me with one thing, of course… I don’t have any worries about carpal-tunnel, because I never keep my hands still enough to stretch the wrists unnecessarily. It is a double-edged sword, really. It takes me a few minutes to get my bearings if I switch to a new keyboard (even with the same layout.) The only one I can pick up and fly on is the original Atari 800xl. 🙂

I bought an Acer “rounded” (pre-Win key) keyboard recently, and when it gets in, I’ll have to “learn” that spacing on the keys. 🙂 I have a devil of a time if there’s a textured “WASD” keyset on a keyboard. I don’t like the different feel. I guess I’m set in my ways, but I always lead off those keys oddly and double-type a letter or an adjacent one.

All in all, I prefer keyboards to mice/trackballs. Which is weird since I use KDE (which is more mouse-friendly than some WM’s). 🙂 Heck, I may even try a plugin or two on Vim to see how things work. I don’t want to get stuck with a plugin that I rely too much on over plain Vim. It’s easier to keep a copy of my .vimrc around than a thumb-drive with my favorite plugins on. 🙂

Choosing an IDE (for programming efficiently)

I have to do a lot of “updates” to existing codebases in my job, which is fun in its own, sort of quirky way. I like to see how some people program… it gives a good idea how they think. (I’m sure people looking at my code probably think I’m a schizo with ADHD.) By and large it’s easy to find where I’m going using my trusty VIM (and my complete mental block at remembering how to do things in the editor), but there are times I need to refactor the code considerably, and I find an IDE would fit nicely… at least I think so.

So, I’m on a small, short-lived (I told you people think I have ADHD) trek to find a great IDE for both C/C++ and Python/scripting of all sorts. It doesn’t have to have a million plugins, nor does it have to do much in the way of making a “complete” environment (build and whatnot). But what I’d like to have is an idea where classes are defined and breakdown where functions are (and how/when they’re called.) I’ll have to try quite a few, but since I’m an official linux-only developer, I’m set with tons of examples. (Stay tuned… or not….)

Seven Languages in Seven Weeks

I bought this book (it’s a programming book, not a linguistic book, by the way), and I am going to give it a whirl. I think I already know a couple of the languages, but it never hurts to bone up on them. I really need to, so I can keep on top of things. Plus it’s fun to do. I like learning new languages. I need to hone my Perl too, so I can fiddle with its monumentally cool text manipulation (like Python, but wow!)

2021

It’s here. 🙂 I’m kidding, by now you probably already know that. I am just letting my single reader (me) that I’m not dead, and I have a few things to say soon… but I’m working on what order to write them.

I am going to start learning Ruby (because I want to), and Haskell (because I have a thick book to read on that)… I want to learn the former because its syntax looks neat, and I want to learn the latter because I want to understand Functional Programming. 🙂

Stay tuned…

The more things change…

The more I continue to change my keyboard. 🙂 I loved the Unicomp, but at my age, my fingers aren’t as adept at whacking those heavy bucking springs. I suppose I’ll keep it for nostalgia purposes (even though it’s not an original, but it’s authentic), but I figure at some point, I’ll have to put it in the “closet of misfit keyboards” nearby. 🙂 What else am I going to put in there, Delphi books? 🙂

Go and Rust

I have been toying with the idea to learn Go and/or (most likely and) Rust. I just think they’d be neat languages to learn, plus I’m not very interested in career moves now. At my age, I’m doing this for fun. I have some ideas about making things in Go that can be one-off tools for things I do currently in python/shell scripts. *shrug* It’s a toss up. 🙂

But hey, I have lots of projects in the air. 🙂 I still have to finish my solo translation of a board wargame I found at Half Price Books.

Unicomp Keyboards

I always change my keyboard. It’s a sickness, I suppose, but I am never truly 100% satisfied with any keyboard I buy. (It means I have a stack of keyboards that might kill small animals if it ever tipped over too). The last time I bought a “non-cheap” (I don’t really think the ones I buy are expensive, because I don’t go over $150), was my Coolermaster RGB refurb for $79. I like it a bit, mainly because it has Cherry MX Blue switches (I like the sound), but it isn’t perfect (and I think the RGB is pointless). I don’t think I would’ve bought it at full price (RGB apparently adds $40 to the price of the keyboard, because it’s “full” RGB, and not just a bunch of colored LEDs.)

So, I watched a few youtube videos and learned about Unicomp. It’s a company that arose out of the Lexmark spun off company that was part of IBM during the days of the Model M keyboards. Apparently IBM spun off the business after a time, which is documented on their website https://pckeyboard.com Anyhow, I thought I’d buy one (the last model M style keyboard I had was an old Dell that came with my Pentium II).

So far, I like it quite a bit. It’s comfortable, sturdy, and it really feels good to type on it, even for a long period of time. I haven’t had it long enough to give a really “thorough” review, but over time I’ll post how I am getting along with it. I hope to keep this one in my keyboard tray for quite a while. 🙂

Functional Programming

I’ve decided to give Haskell a whirl. I bought a couple of books on the language and hope to move forward with a new programming paradigm. The idea came from my book about Text Processing in Python. It had lots of functional ideas (for lack of a better word) in the book, and I thought a good dose of Haskell could get me over the learning hump. The idea of functional programming is a good one, but I’m still in the early stages of the concept and the syntax too. It’s a slow-going part-time task, so I don’t know when I’ll be particularly adept at it to use it elsewhere, but you never know. 🙂 It’s always hard in the beginning, and I look forward to mastering this concept.