Talking Small

For the May language of the month, I got to play with a language that I've been looking forward to sinking my teeth into for a long time: Smalltalk. I've had a fascination with Smalltalk since I learned of it in college, but I didn't “get” it at the time due to lack of learning materials.

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Posted on 2016-06-18

Winning at Salt Cartography Using Algorithms and Statistics

I spend way too much of my free time playing Salt - a game where you sail around a procedurally generated ocean, fending off pirates and hunting for treasure. A fairly recent addition to the game was cartography; you can add islands and features upon them to a map to stay oriented in the world. In the world, there exists a cartographer named Hachure, who will evaluate what you've mapped so far and reward you depending on how many islands you've mapped and how accurate your mappings are. So imagine my dismay when I had him evaluate my map for the first time and saw this:

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Posted on 2016-06-16

Porting a Module to Elm 0.17

Elm 0.17 has been out for a little while now; it has a slightly different way of doing things compared to 0.16 and before. Like many others, I started porting my existing applications to 0.17 - first I started with my only “production” application, elm typing tutor, which was pretty trivial to update. After that, I moved onto the sample code I wrote for a talk I gave here in Chicago about Elm, which was also pretty simple. Last weekend, I took it upon myself to update my last remaining body of 0.16 code - the first application I wrote in Elm, one I've been keeping up-to-date since 0.14. I haven't released this code publicly yet; but suffice to say it's an application with a coordinate grid that you can click and drag to scroll around. The drag event functionality is encapsulated in its own module, and porting it to 0.17 was a little more challenging than before, so I thought I'd talk about how that went!

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Posted on 2016-06-14

Combining Character Caveats

I'm currently following the Fluent Forever methodology for learning Russian. The method suggests that when you start learning vocabulary, you should learn 625 common, concrete words that you can easily associate with pictures and feelings. The next step after this is to build your vocabulary to include the 1,000 most common words in your target language. I recently completed the foundation of 625 words, so it was time to move on to the next 1,000. There was just one small problem…

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Posted on 2016-06-01

Unsung Heroes of the Command Line

Since the command line is my primary way of interacting with my computer, I often will take steps to optimize my usage of it. Most command line users know the basics - ls, cd, grep, etc; these are instrumental building blocks in using the command line. However, there are often more specialized programs out there that can really save you some time, and I'd like to share a few notable examples of these kinds of specialized programs that have made my life easier over the last year or two. If you don't know them, hopefully you'll find them useful; if you do know them, hopefully it will just indicate that we both have good taste in our tools. =)

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Posted on 2016-05-30