Luminary Perspective

March 21, 2006

Growing Worms

Filed under: Business, Efficiency, Spiritual Growth, Technical — Luke @ 10:56 am

Last summer, we had the bright idea to purchase some red worms. The little critters are fairly hardy, but even so we thought we lost them last winter when the bin froze solid. Well, this spring I dug around in the bin and it turns out there are several breeding adults still alive in there. Apparently they either grew from eggs, or survived freezing.

I like worms. They are nature’s farmers, constantly plowing and fertilizing the soil. Nightcrawlers are about 5-10 inches long, and plow deep burrows into the subsoil. They come out at night to find any food lying about, then pull it down and eat it. They also leave some of their castings on the surface where it buries loose rocks and fertilizes surface plants. Their tendancy to dig deeply makes them a tree’s best friend, because the roots of trees need spaces to grow into and ways for water and air to pass through the soil.

Red worms are different from night crawlers, because they are smaller and require a higher carbohydrate intake to survive. They thrive on manure piles and rotting vegetable matter, and reproduce quite a bit faster. This is the kind we have in our worm bin. We feed them coffee grounds and table scraps, along with rotting leaves and such for bedding. Our current bin is half of a plastic 55-gallon drum with holes in the bottom for drainage. I am planning to make a larger one by stacking some tires on top of each other.

Not only are worms good for the soil, they make great fishing bait. Red wrigglers are popular because they wriggle around more than nightcrawlers. They (and/or their castings) should be fairly easy to sell if we can get them to reproduce enough.

W red worms
O  reproduce fast : eat high-calorie stuff : small
R night crawlers
M  come out at night : dig deep burrows : greatly improve soil
B worm growing
I  use red worms : feed table scraps : need bin with drainage
N

Computer Game: Learn Dvorak

I just came across a neat computer game. It involves pressing keys really fast. If you hit the right key, you go up a level, but if you hit the wrong key you lose a level. Sound fun?

It’s name is dvorak7min, and came shipped standard with the full Debian linux distribution. I have had it around for 6 months, but unfortunately didn’t bother to try it until this morning. (Shame on me!) All I needed was to switch to dvorak mode using xkbdconfig, and I was good to go. It is awesome, with instant feedback for every right or wrong key-press and an optional display that shows which key you need to press next. If having it blink at you doesn’t work, enable “Nastiness on” and it will start making you think twice.

Maybe a Dvorak typing tutor doesn’t sound too exciting to you. Compared to modern-day games, perhaps it isn’t that engaging. It doesn’t force you to be entertained by the way they do. You could get bored with it quickly if you had too much other entertainment avalable. But for someone like me who has been away from anything more advanced than minesweeper for about 3 months, it’s fun and addicting, much as is vimtutor.

The big advantage is I am learning a useful skill today, whereas I could be busy boosting my reaction time at pumping fake lead into fake corpses. The fact is, I want to be good with the dvorak keyboard — it’s only because I haven’t practiced that I’m not. I have heard many good things about it’s benefits in terms of ergonomics and efficiency. Not only that, but for the unaddicted mind, a tutorial like this has the same stress-relieving potential of any commercial game out there.

D like a game
V  dvorak7min : run xkbdconfig to switch : instant feedback 
O learning a useful skill
R  dvorak can speed up typing : enhances qwerty speed
A why not?
K  regular games more forceful : addiction to them tough to break

March 20, 2006

Stuff about Esperanto

Filed under: Accelerated Learning, Technical, Writing & Education — Luke @ 12:31 pm

One of my favorite languages is esperanto. I like it because it is as easy for me to learn as it is for anyone else in the world. That’s not quite true of english, which is not as easy for everyone else to learn as me.

In esperanto, there is a set of root words. These can be made feminine, negated, or conjugated in various ways by adding the proper suffixes. They can also be made nouns, plural nouns, objects, subjects, adjectives, past tense verbs, present tense verbs, and future tense verbs. In every case, these are added in a consistent manner so you can apply the same rule in every situation.

Some roots are vir, akv, frat, est, am. Viro is a man, virino is a woman. Akvo is water, and akva is wet. Frato is brother, fratino is sister. Malfrato is a non-sibling, and malakva is dry. Estas is to be in the present, estos is to be in the futire, and estis is to be in the past. “Mi amos min fratino” means I will love my sister. “Li estas min frato” means “he is my brother/sibling.” “Ili estas fratoj” means “they are siblings.”

All in all, it is an easy language to pick up, compared to most others. (Admittedly, so are most other constructed languages.) It is also a good introduction to the learning of foreign languages, teaching people to think in terms of the parts of speech and the variety of ways they can be represented.

ES Advantages
PE  easy to learn : same from any background : intro to linguistics
RA Basics
NT  set of roots : repeatable rules : consistent pronunciation
O

Relavent Links:
Esperanto in English

Learning The vi Editor — The Right Way

Filed under: Motivation, Technical — Luke @ 9:08 am

I studied the vi editor yesterday. It is satisfying for me to take in information on various subjects, and even more satisfying when the study starts paying off in terms of time and effort saved. Some of the commands I found handy were dw, cw and ZZ. I used to always use :wq or :q! to quit when I finished with a file, but now I know that ZZ and ZQ available, and much easier to type.

What I really appreciate (maybe it comes with being INT 😛 ) is that the paradigm of vi is based on the idea that an alphanumeric keyboard with two meta keys (shift and control) is sufficient. I am just getting myself weaned off of the “return”, “escape”, and “backspace” mentality. CTRL-M, CTRL-C, and CTRL-H take care of each of these nicely, while h, j, k, and l guide the cursor through the file, eliminating the need for arrow keys. The end result is less stretching of the fingers and less distraction.

If you ever have any question, chances are the gap in your knowledge can be fixed in a few minutes by typing :help . If this doesn’t give the result you are after, try searching for whatever with the forward-slash. (You’ll know all about this after going through vimtutor.) Once you have learned vi, it is hard not to like it.

M Paradigm
O  no non-alphanumeric needed : more simple once you learn it
R Problems
E  none once you learn it : easy to quit before mastering
V How To
I  vimtutor : use :help and / : learn the control and shift-keys

March 19, 2006

The VI Editor

Filed under: Motivation, Technical — Luke @ 12:05 pm

Today I learned a lot about the VI editor that I did not know. Even though it is the editor I usually use when I am in a terminal window, I unfortunately had not taken the trouble to learn all of it’s aspects. Now I look back and think of how much easier it would have been had I only learned this sooner.

There are many tutorials which a simple web search reveals. By simply running the command “vimtutor” from the command prompt, and following it through to the end (instead of quitting in the middle as I had before) I learned about 10 new commands, the lack of which knowledge has doubtless cost me many days worth of productivity.

Perhaps this laziness is because I got used to the Macintosh way of doing things: Make things so intuitive that no tutorial is necessary. But now that I understand how vi works underneath, I might actually switch to using it even when I am not in a terminal window — it is really that cool of an application. Instead of hurting my productivity, it will make me even more productive.

In life there are many things that we put off studying until we have already wasted counteless hours on less efficient methods of doing things. If we instead identify and learn these things comprehensively, we can save a whole lot more time and effort down the road.

VI Editor
ED  : many tutorials available : unlearned commands are useless
IT Time
OR  : spent wisely, saves later : spent foolishly, costs add up

Relavent Links:
VI Lover’s Homepage
An Extremely Quick and Simple Introduction to the Vi Text Editor

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