The Fugue Counterpoint by Hans Fugal

6Jun/121

Code Reading on a Kindle

First, add this to your ~/.enscriptrc file:

Media: kindle 498 612 0 0 498 612

Now, here's a script (I call it kindlecode) to generate a pdf on stdout:

#!/bin/bash
enscript -Mkindle -E -p- "$@" | ps2pdf - -

Usage is something like this:

$ kindlecode *.{c,h} > /Volumes/Kindle/documents/foo.pdf

kindlecode in real life

12Feb/090

Why I switched to Git

I love it when someone else writes what I've been meaning to write, so I don't have to write it.

This article covers the reasons why I switched from mercurial to git, about as well as he could possibly hope to without consulting me, reading my mind, or being me. It's a bit creepy.

He explains it very well (probably better than I would) and has more insight into the technical details than I do.

While we're on the subject, you should all go read git for computer scientists so you can think like a git. If you already have a CS background, it's quite painless I assure you.

11Sep/082

Touch Typing

Steve Yegge has posted an funny, irreverent, and above all excellent argument for touch typing. I highly recommend it even if you do touch type.

I am downright flabbergasted by some of the comments though. There are hunt-and-peck folks defending their inability to touch type as lifestyle choice based on the belief that they will get RSI. People justifying typing slow because it
saves them from wasting time chatting or writing long emails. There are some interesting claims from 2–4 finger typists that they can type without looking at 70wpm (this is certainly possible), and choosing not to learn to touch type
the "right way" because it will give them RSI (this is certainly ludicrous).

Typing is a vital skill if you work in IT, especially programming. Of this there is no doubt, rationalizing strangers aside. I simply cannot imagine being stuck typing at 10wpm or less. It would be like being stuck behind a pair of tractors on the freeway going 20 mph. For the rest of your life.

Last I checked I type about 65 wpm on average. I could probably go faster, but I never have felt the need. I can type as fast as I think when programming. If
I were a stream-of-consciousness novelist or a secretary, I could probably make use of a faster typing speed. As it is, 60–70wpm seems to be a sweet spot
for me.

I'd like to discuss the ridiculous RSI claims. Yes, if you type all day without breaks you can get RSI. There are certain things you can do to mitigate or exacerbate this for a given amount of typing and typing speed. If you tried to go lightning fast all the time you might hasten the onset of RSI. But I argue that the absolute worst thing you can do if you're afraid of RSI is to not touch type. RSI means Repetitive Stress Injury, from repetitively performing certain motions until your body starts to break down. Smaller more relaxed motions are less stressful on your body than large stiff motions. If you touch
type well, your hands are relaxed, your fingers float over the keys, and movement is minimal. Of course you still need to take care—take breaks, spend some time thinking without typing or drawing pictures on paper, proper nutrition, etc. But the biggest thing you can do to prevent RSI is to have proper form. And maybe learn dvorak (I still use qwerty because I find sysadmin and programming to be tedious with dvorak, but I don't spend most of my time actually typing).

On the other hand, if you hunt and peck 24/7 guess how much more movement—repetitive movement—your body is enduring? Ever heard of tennis elbow? RSI isn't the exclusive privilege of touch typists. If you type slow enough that you can't possible get RSI, you are irrelevant. If you type fast enough to be productive but don't have good form, you are setting yourself up for RSI. If you're RSI-prone or just paranoid, go learn dvorak now or find a job that doesn't require much typing.

I'd add to Steve's exhortation to learn to touch type, that if you do touch type but you feel your form is off, you have low accuracy, or you feel that your fingers are stiff, do some conscientious practice. Focus on accuracy and relaxation first, then speed. Enhancing your typing skills is a great benefit if you spend a lot of time typing, although learning to touch type in the first place is obviously a much bigger payoff.

Let's continue to learn from musicians: correct form (including relaxed posture and keep those wrists off the keyboard/desk), accuracy, then speed.

28Feb/082

Crème Rappel v2.2

I've released yet again. Go to the web page for the details. Now Crème Rappel has its own RSS feed so I'll shut up about here now.

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