Friday, July 31, 2009

Emacs for the Mac

Recently I've been making more use of my iMac for programming at home, and I've been struggling to get a comfortable, reliable emacs setup. Today I came across Tim Bray's blog entry on giving Aquamacs a personality transplant, and it really helped. In summary, I put these into my ~/.emacs file:

;;; AquaMacs tweaks
(setq mac-command-modifier 'meta)
(setq x-select-enable-clipboard 't)
(setq mac-option-modifier nil)

These turn the command key into a meta key, cause the emacs kill buffer to participate fully in the OSX clipboard and, ah, do something to the option key (which, now that I have command as meta, I don't use). Thanks, Tim!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

7,565,349... the number of my newly-issued patent for the frequency distribution operators.

I think of this as my first "real" patent; the prior patents for which I'm an inventor are the Torrent patents, where we all played a role but it's hard to point to anything specific and say, "That's MY idea." This one is really my baby; Mike Beckerle was a very helpful sounding board, but the main ideas and the implementation are mine. IBM, of course, handled the logistics of the filing process - all four and a half years of it.

I have decidedly mixed feelings about so-called software patents, but this one at least meets the "non-obvious to a skilled practitioner" bar; so far, no one I've described the problem to has come up with this solution.

So - it's a funny milestone, but a milestone nonetheless.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


One of the things I enjoyed during my trip to India is the creative uses the Hyderabadis have for henna. It's used to make elaborate patterns on hands, called mehendi, and to color grey hair, for both women and men.

a young girl having a mehendi applied


From "10 Incredible Indian Beards and Moustaches" at

I've been thinking of trying henna on my hair and beard since returning from Hyderabad. I recently found henna in the Little Market in Acton and tried it on a portion of my beard. I liked it, but the henna didn't seem very intense, so I ordered some henna from It came last week while I was visiting my mother; last night I mixed it up, and this morning RuthAnne applied it.

Henna is basically ground up leaves from the henna plant, and it has an odd, funky, slightly-wet-dog odor to it. It looks remarkably like baby poo. RuthAnne wore gloves to avoid winding up with orange hands and slathered it on.

From HennaHead

I let it sit in my hair for about three hours; then Katy rinsed it out (a bit of a trick where the henna had dried out), I showered and washed my hair, and - voila!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day, 2009

It's still July 4th, but I have a few moments while Mom naps to start my 4th of July entry. Mom and I were up late last night (11PM) working on a puzzle, and we both slept late this morning - me until about 7:45, Mom until about 8:30. After breakfast and some packing for tomorrow we took the shuttle to Buchanan for the picnic.

The weather is lovely; blue sky with a few puffy clouds, warn without being hot, and a bit breezy. We checked in at the dining hall and then headed outside for lunch. We sat at a table with some of Mom's neighbors, as well as a couple who have one of the duplexes at Buchanan. (Her name is Arlene; I can't recall her husband's name.) They do a lot of traveling and had very interesting stories. Here's the husband with Mom.

And here's a picture Dan (who lives two doors down from Mom) took:

After a nap we went over to Jeannie and Bob's for another picnic. We had a beautiful sunset; the fireflies came out in force, and we set off sparklers.

From Sparklers

The next three links are to video clips.

Jeannie Marie will be going to church with us in the morning; then we'll be back here for lunch and final packing.

This has been an interesting visit - certainly grist for another posting.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Meeting Tony

I'm visiting my Mom in Elizabethtown, and this morning Karen and I took her to her physical therapy appointment with Tony. This is for her rotator cuff repair; Mom has been working with Tony since her surgery, and he's really helped her regain strength and motion. Here they are, going through the exercises.

before getting started

pumping iron, like Aahnold.

cranking away at full tilt

Before heading over to Lancaster for the appointment, we took a short walk to the top of the hill near Mom's apartment.

Mom and me

Mom and Karen