Facebook has a page for me.
Timothy Moss is my ex-neighbour from when I used to live at 511 Manchester Street in Christchurch.
Diane Maclagan was my classmate during the years of 1992-1994 while I was at university studying mathematics. She was always getting better grades than me, which was very damaging to my ego, and to top it all off she is now at the University of Warwick. The best that I can do to try to beat her brilliance is for me to try to make my Website a lot cooler than hers. I hope that I have succeeded! You can find pictures of her using Google Image Search.
Tim Sturge is another of my classmates from 1992-1994 while I was at university studying mathematics.
Chris Wright was an old school mate from the years 1986-1991 at Christchurch Boys’ High School. Although he died in 2015 at the early age of 41 he was a grand-master chess player, one of only three in New Zealand! He worked as a professional chess tutor tutoring young players for the junior world championships. If you are another graduate of the class of 1991 then I would like to get in touch with you.
Frank Pearson (who died in 2003 at the early age of 63) was my uncle (father’s older brother) in San Francisco.
Tibbles is my cat who has her own Website.
Bjarne Stroustrup. Creator of the C++ programming language. My feeling about C++ is that if it hadn’t been invented yet and I was as intelligent as Bjarne Stroustrup, then I would have invented it! Esoteric Information Warning: I believe that Stroustrup got his clever and useful idea of C++ classes and privacy from the Simula language.
Richard Stallman. Founder of the Free Software Foundation, the GNU Project and principal author of (among other things) the GNU Emacs text editor, the G.C.C. compiler and the GNU Debugger, which ultimately led to the GNU/Linux operating system. He’s also quite a character as I found out when I went to one of his lectures. Esoteric Information Warning: I believe that Stallman wrote Emacs by copying the existing Lisp systems at M.I.T. where he worked, and wrote G.C.C. using the design decision of having no calls to the free C library function so that it ran with a bigger memory footprint than other compilers but vastly simplified the design of the program. This worked because the memory requirements of the program are proportional to the size of the source file being compiled.
John McCarthy (who died in 2001, aged 84) for inventing the Lisp programming language, and founder of the A.I. labs at M.I.T. and Stanford. Click on the following link for information about Common Lisp including a video interview with John McCarthy. This link was provided to me by Bryan Innes (Email: bryan <dot> innes <at> wiht-email <dot> com).
Eli Zaretskii (eliz <at> gnu <dot> org) for helping me overcome my install problems and learning difficulties with GNU Emacs (via the Internet newsgroup gnu.emacs.help).
DJ Delorie for producing a GNU system inside MS-DOS called DJ.G.P.P., short for DJ’s GNU Programming Platform. His first name is not an acronym but is literally DJ which causes much confusion on the part of banks who insist that DJ stands for something. I have adapted his motto: ‘‘Making it harder to hate computers’’ for my Website.
Nelson Mandela (who died in 2013, aged 95) for his ability to unite people for a single cause, namely equality for all, regardless of skin colour. Because of his achievements he is often referred to as ‘‘The Father of the Nation’’ (namely South Africa).
Bill Gates who along with others founded Microsoft. Because of his tremendous success in business we all love to hate him, but it is hard to deny his intelligence that caused him to succeed so dramatically. For example, when he first wrote the Microsoft Windows operating system it ran like a dog at the time but he foresaw that computers would rapidly get a lot faster than they were at the time, rendering Windows usable. He also recognised that people tend to favour standardisation in the field of computers, and foresaw that his operating systems would become the default standard. Despite Microsoft’s present domination of the computer software market I believe that a free operating system (such as GNU/Linux) will ultimately triumph.
Tim Berners-Lee for inventing the World Wide Web.
Sir Edmund Hillary (who died in 2008, aged 88) is probably New Zealand’s most famous New Zealander. He was the first person to conquer the world’s highest mountain, Mount Everest. Then he re-payed his debt to the local Nepalese people by building schools and hospitals for them. Although he is now dead, Hillary is the first living New Zealander to appear on our national currency. It must have been believed that the probability of Hillary turning into a child molester was low enough to risk placing his face on every $5 of New Zealand currency.
Sir Peter Jackson who put New Zealand on the map as a place to make high quality high computer graphics content films such as most notably Heavenly Creatures, The Lord of the Rings movies and King Kong. His earlier splatter films (such as Bad Taste and Braindead) are worth a look too.
Mike Leigh is one of the world’s greatest living film directors. All of his films are groundbreaking in different ways. Happy-Go-Lucky, Secrets & Lies, Career Girls, and All or Nothing are emotional dramas that are impossible to hate, whereas Vera Drake and Topsy Turvy are compelling period drama, and Naked is dark and shocking, although too dark for most tastes.
The Wizard of New Zealand is one of Christchurch’s most famous living individuals.
Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia that anyone can contribute to. Has over 5,040,833 articles in English and almost all written to a very high standard of scholarship. I use Wikipedia almost exclusively for the links on the The Greatest Artists of all Time page of my Website. You can view the pages I have written for Wikipedia. I have also written an article about Wikipedia versus Britannica. This Website heavily borrows from the layout style of Wikipedia, especially the (lack of) capitalisation of titles/headings and the (lack of) italicisation of certain items.
The site wiktionary.org is Wikipedia’s version of a wiki-based Open Content dictionary.
TradeMe is the definitive site for buying and selling goods within New Zealand. Be warned however that this Website is highly addictive.
The Simpsons. Favourite ten episodes listed roughly in order of decreasing merit:
|1.||‘‘You Only Move Twice’’||8 / 26||3F23||Homer is hired for a new job on the basis of his supposed expertise.|
|2.||‘‘King Size Homer’’||7 / 26||3F05||Homer purposely gains 61 pounds in weight in order to qualify for a disability allowance.|
|3.||‘‘Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish’’||2 / 26||7F01||Mr Burns runs for mayor.|
|4.||‘‘The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show’’||8 / 26||4F12||A new character is added to the Itchy & Scratchy Show|
|5.||‘‘Simpson and Delilah’’||2 / 26||7F02||Homer finds a miracle treatment for baldness.|
|6.||‘‘Last Exit to Springfield’’||4 / 26||9F15||Homer becomes a union representative.|
|7.||‘‘Brush with Greatness’’||2 / 26||7F18||The Simpsons visit Mount Splashmore and Marge paints Mr. Burns.|
|8.||‘‘Some Enchanted Evening’’||1 / 26||7G01||The Simpsons face a babysitter with sinister intentions.|
|9.||‘‘Marge vs. the Monorail’’||4 / 26||9F10||Springfield invests in a monorail.|
|10.||‘‘Homer's Enemy’’||8 / 26||4F19||Homer meets his nemesis with hilarious consequences.|
I have found the List of The Simpsons Episodes helpful to compose the above list. In my opinion the earliest episodes are better than the more recent ones, due to an apparent lack of good new ideas in the more recent episodes.
Seinfeld is famously known as a show about nothing, or more accurately: pondering over the minutiae of everyday social interactions.
Whose Line Is It Anyway? The older British version has a wider range of jokes and comedians than the newer American version.
Fawlty Towers is the greatest British comedy series of all time and it seems like a travesty that they only produced twelve episodes. It tells a story of a long-suffering man Basil Fawlty whose spirit is regularly crushed by his domineering wife Sybil. He is constantly entering into hilarious misunderstandings with his waiter Manuel whose command of the English language is frustratingly poor. Basil is also rude, sarcastic and cruel so that the audience is not disappointed when he gets his just desserts. Their funniest episode is called ‘‘Communication Problems’’ and is about how Basil secretly makes a winning bet on a horse but is foiled by a near-deaf woman who refuses to turn her hearing aid on because as she says: ‘‘It runs the batteries down!’’.
The concept of a flawed character ultimately receiving negative consequences applies to most artistic works. The most beautiful and morally superior characters in an artistic work almost always never receive negative ultimate consequences while the uglier and morally inferior characters almost always do receive negative ultimate consequences. Most artists seem to be aware (either consciously or unconsciously) of this principle. The purpose of this principle is to increase our enjoyment of a work of art. Our emotional investment in the beautiful and morally superior characters is always rewarded with dividends and our emotional divestment (hatred) of uglier and morally inferior characters is also rewarded with dividends of the opposite kind. An example of this principle in action is horror movies where the people who have extramarital sex are almost always killed while the virgins almost always survive to the end of the story.
Photo: GNU Emacs
GNU Emacs is a text editor and a religion in itself that is available on almost all platforms. Here is a list of its features, listed in order of decreasing coolness:
Built-in Emacs Lisp programming language for implementing virtually any conceivable feature. You can read an article about some of the features that I have added to Emacs.
Customisable Syntax Highlighting
C/C++ keywords, comments and strings in their own colours.
C/C++ global variables in a different colour from local variables (a feature invented by me). The downside of this feature is that global variables must be prefixed by the word global_. Using too many global variables can be a source of bugs in a program, so it is useful to have syntax highlighting of their use. The dabbrev feature (see below) helps to mitigate the cost in terms of extra typing from longer variable names.
C/C++ Super Comments (a feature invented by me). Super Comments start with /// and end with the end of line. Super Comments are highlighted brighter then normal C/C++ comments and are analogous to Java’s /** ... */ comments in that they contain text for the programmer to read rather that just commented-out code.
C/C++ Allegro graphics library function calls in their own colour (a feature invented by me). Whatever libraries you use, it is possible to set up syntax highlighting for those libraries.
You can view a screen-shot of Emacs’ syntax highlighting using my personal choices of colours. Note: keywords are in bold black, function definition names are in bold black foreground with yellow background, types are in blue bold, comments are in dark green italics unbold, super comments are in red italics bold, strings are in bold white foreground with a blue background, variable definitions are in blue unbold, class properties are in orange bold and global variables are in green bold. I am using a variant of the much maligned Hungarian notation so that Emacs is able to highlight global variables and class properties in different colours. Without Hungarian notation such as prop_* for properties and global_* for global variables it would be impossible to do the syntax highlighting so that is why I use it.
Integrated make, gdb, grep, dired, info, calendar and eshell etc. means that programmers almost never need to leave Emacs while doing useful work.
Dynamic Abbreviations (dabbrev). For example: press z, and then repeatedly press Alt-/ to cycle through all words in memory that start with ‘‘z’’. This feature allows you to use long variable names (which are more descriptive than short variable names) without needing to type them in every time you use them.
Automatic indentation, so there is no need to waste time aligning code by hand.
Find matching brackets.
Re-definable keys to reduce the risk of developing R.S.I. (Repetitive Strain Injury). For example I have defined all of the function keys F1 - F12 to achieve different commonly-used operations, such as F1 for help, F2 to save all currently edited files, F3 to save and purge all currently edited files, F4 to delete all but one window, F5 to activate cbrow my own C++ class browser, F6 to toggle the value of the variable selective-display for folding and unfolding of buffers, F7 to toggle read-only status, F8 to undo and F9 to compile, F10 to go from *.hts files to *.html files, Shift F10 to go from *.html files back to *.hts files F11 is bound by Lubuntu to toggle maximisation of the current frame, Shift F11 is bound to d-complete-file, F12 is bound to eval-last-sexp, Shift F12 is bound to d-complete-lisp for Lisp dynamic symbol abbreviations. I have also redefined the command find-file from Control-x Control-f to the shorter Control-f or Control-d because it is used so much.
The downside of Emacs is that it is inevitably weighed down by its many features and can be quite daunting to learn. As a result I would only recommend this program to fellow nerds.
The GNU/Linux system which includes such programs as: bash ls mv cp grep find gcc make tar gzip m4 sed, etc. I use Lubuntu GNU/Linux which is a trimmed down version of Ubuntu GNU/Linux suitable for working on older machines. The documentation says that it will run comfortably with only 500MB of memory, although my machine has 4GB of memory. For generating my Website I use m4 and Emacs’ batch mode to generate pages with a wide variety of fonts and colours and hierarchical menus.
The Mozilla Firefox Web Browser gives me freedom from pop-up windows that plagues the Internet Explorer Web Browser.
The GNU m4 preprocessor which I use for designing all of my Websites. Of its many features, the ones that I use are file inclusion, macros, conditional constructs and shell commands. An example of its use is the navigation aids at the top and bottom of every page in this Website. I have written an article that shows how I use m4 in this Website.
Exact Audio Copy (E.A.C.) and Foobar2000 are a pair of applications that serve as a superior replacement for Windows Media Player for the purposes of (respectively) ripping and playing music files. Foobar2000 is superior to Windows Media Player because you can change the artist name and album name of multiple music files at the same time, whereas with Windows Media Player you need to change them one at a time. Also the random play feature of Foobar2000 also is more random than Windows Media Player’s random play feature. E.A.C. is superior to Windows Media Player because it rips tracks with fewer errors. I have a 1 TB Hard Drive for the purpose of storing my entire CD collection (655 GB *.flac files) so that tracks can be played at random with no repeats for over 5 weeks of continuous playing. This gives better performance than most radio stations and anyhow is better than any radio station because it only plays songs that I like and have chosen to be in the play-list. For those of you who are interested in my stereo, here are my specs:
WireWorld U.S.B. cable connecting the computer to the DAC (Digital to Analogue Converter).
Sennheiser HD 800 Headphones. See the following review. This is the best product that Sennheiser make and it is so good that, in conjunction with the Naim DAC and Headphone Amplifier, it makes C.D.’s sound like crap. I need to upgrade my C.D. collection to 24 bit 96 kHz sampling rate files or even better: 24 bit 192 kHz sampling rate files.
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