Alvin Alexander | Java, Scala, Unix, Perl, Mac OS X

A nice thing about most hotels in Santa Fe is that they treat water like you’re living on the Space Station. They have signs like, “You may have noticed that there’s not a lot of water around here. Please don’t waste it! Thank you, the management.”

At restaurants they usually only give you water if you ask for it, and I remember one time a waitress asked if I was really going to drink it or just look at it.

All of which reminds me of being at a hostel one time, where there was a sign that said, “Save water, shower together.” :)

Water use in hotels in Santa Fe, New Mexico

“I can’t judge. There are two kinds of people in Alaska: those who were born here, and those who come here to escape something. I wasn’t born here.”

~ Rachel Clement, Insomnia

If you’re interested in investing, this story, GPUs vs. TPUs: Can NVIDIA Hold On To Its Lead?, is a good read.

Dieter Rams Ten Design Principles: Recently I wrote about Jonathan Ive design interview quotes, and if you're familiar with industrial design and Apple design, you know you can't mention Jonathan Ive without also mentioning Dieter Rams, a world famous designer for Braun.

(If you don't know why I say that you can't think of Apple or Jonathan Ive without thinking of Dieter Rams, this Gizmodo article shows the amazing comparisons between Mr. Rams' designs and current Apple products.)

Dieter Rams 10 design principles (commandments)

So, to give Dieter Rams a little honor and credit -- both for his work at Braun and the evolution of his work at Apple — here are the famous "Dieter Rams 10 Design Principles":

  • Good design is innovative
  • Good design makes a product useful
  • Good design is aesthetic
  • Good design makes a product understandable
  • Good design is unobtrusive
  • Good design is honest
  • Good design is long-lasting
  • Good design is thorough down to the last detail
  • Good design is environmentally friendly
  • Good design is as little design as possible

I don't consider myself an Apple fanboy — for instance, I think whoever is designing Apple software these days is making things overly complicated (with OS X 10.7 through 10.12) — but I am a Jonathan Ive hardware design fanboy. I have a great respect for the industrial design work he and his team do. It’s safe to say that if I were in college these days I’d be studying industrial design instead of the aerospace engineering degree I got way back when. has a good story about Jonathan Ive and Apple’s new campus.

Here’s a story about a command-line app named speed-test that gives you network speed information from the command line.

Here’s an article from titled, You could become an AI master before you know it. The story is about companies who are trying to make AI usable by non-AI experts.

Linux grep commands FAQ: Can you share some Linux/Unix grep command examples?

Sure. The name grep means "general regular expression parser", but you can think of the grep command as a "search" command for Unix and Linux systems: it's used to search for text strings and more-complicated "regular expressions" within one or more files.

I think it's easiest to learn how to use the grep command by showing examples, so let's dive right in.

I meditated last night until I started falling asleep. I kept trying to fight through the sleepiness, but it was to no avail.

I got up, went to bed, and almost immediately had one of those “You’re not Al, you’re somebody else” dream or dream-like experiences (like when Captain Picard went unconscious on the bridge and lived another life). After a long period of time I woke up in a bed with tears streaming down my cheeks because of what had just happened. (A friend died in my arms.) I sat up, looked around, but couldn’t figure out who or where I was. With my body/brain/mind rejecting the situation, I barfed into the trash can by the bedside. I was glad someone put that there.

After somewhere between thirty and ninety seconds I remembered who/where I am. With my body shaking as usual after one of these experiences, and not wanting to go back to sleep, I bundled up and went for a long, cold, after-midnight November walk. The clear sky was beautiful, and I was glad to be alive, even if I felt like crap. I made a note to myself that I need to take midnight walks more often, I appreciate the solitude.

~ November 12, 2015

Zen Wisdom: “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”

When I saw this just now it reminded me of the quote, “In enlightenment, death has no relevance to one's state of being.”

This is cool, though I don’t know why people are always picking on Pluto. (It may also need an asterisk stating that Saturn needs to be at an angle like that.)

All the planets fit between the Earth and Moon

In the ancient Sanskrit language, the word “dakini” can be interpreted as a female embodiment of enlightenment, an outstanding female practitioner in yoga and meditation.

In Tibet, the word for dakini is “khadroma,” and it literally means “female sky-traveler.”

Driving back from Golden, Colorado I was listening to Lady Cab Driver by the artist formerly known as Prince, and wondering if these days he would have called it Lady Uber Driver.

And here’s a gratuitous photo of some cattle on the right and wrong side of the fence, a big field, and some mountains.

Drive back from Golden, Colorado (and Lady Cab Driver)

A nice man who works at the local Walmart shared this story this morning while I was checking out:

“You know, I’ve been married 54 years.”

[long pause. you can tell he’s thinking about something.]

“One time, a long time ago, I was sitting on the couch, watching tv, and I could feel her staring at me. I mean I could just feel it. So I turned and looked at her and said, ‘What?’”

“She said, ‘You know what.’ I said, ‘No, I don’t.’ She just got up and walked away.”

“You know, to this day I still have no idea what I did.”

[long pause]

“I think sometimes in a relationship you just have to say, ‘I’m sorry,’ even if you don’t know exactly what you did or didn’t do.”

I haven’t had time to watch it yet, but here’s Martin Odersky’s Devoxx talk that’s titled, Plain Functional Programming.

An “I Voted” sticker in the Koyukon-Athabaskan (native Alaskan) language. (I don’t know the original source of this image.)

Alaskan I Voted sticker

For the last few years, Intel CPUs have included a copy of the MINIX operating system way down in “Ring -3,” which apparently has support for networking and a web server. ZDnet has one of the more detailed stories about "MINIX Inside.”

From November 7, 2016: On the eve of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, I thought I’d share these memories of the worst things that were said about Presidential candidates in years gone by:

1976: Jimmy Carter had a brother named Billy who apparently really liked beer.

1980: Ronald Reagan made some bad movies, and was the first President to have been divorced.

1988: Gary Hart was a front-runner until it was found out that he was having an affair with Donna Rice. Within a week he quit the race.

1988: Joe Biden plagiarized a speech, and quickly withdrew from the race.

1992: Bill Clinton was rumored to have had affairs, and he was the first major candidate to admit to smoking marijuana (though he apparently didn’t inhale).

1996: Bob Dole seemed really grumpy.

2000: George Bush was the first presidential candidate where I can remember thinking, “Um, he doesn’t seem very smart. Shouldn’t there be an IQ test for this position?”

(I would later come to think that there should be an “Enlightenment Test,” where Presidents have to think about “100 years from now” as much as they think about today.)

2008: John Edwards: affair, dropped out

I’m sure there’s more than that, but that’s all I can remember at the moment.

I’ve found this to be a good metaphor for practicing mindfulness 24 hours a day.

The actual practice is that whenever your mind wanders you gently bring your attention back to your breath. An important point is that just as you wouldn’t get angry at the spoon, you also don’t get angry at yourself for becoming less mindful; you just return your focus to your breathing.

(Sorry I don’t remember which book I saw this in at the moment.)

Mindfulness metaphor