Perhaps I was too hasty…

… for others who just saw “Drek Captain and the World of Stupidity” questioned whether I was seeing the same movie they were. I can’t answer that; all I can say is that what I was watching was the moment visual style finally vanquished intellectual substance. Perhaps I was too hasty. Certainly the movie was visually imaginative.

But I guess after September 11 I want a little realism in my escapism: I think wonderful tales told of heroes who save the day for all the little people who can only sit back and do nothing end up with the little people who did nothing ending up dead.

Because there are no heroes.

If you want to save the world, stand up and do it yourself.

My First APL Program

As a side project right now I’m investigating computer languages — not just experimenting with Perl vs. Python but trying to expose myself to different families of languages, such as functional, logic, imperative, object oriented, and obfuscated.

Most recently, someone mentioned that array languages are the least

widely known family — perhaps because the founding language in the group,

APL, was written with a nonstandard character set. Perhaps the most terse

of all programming languages, APL spawned a series of children, like J and K,

which, even though they can be written in a normal alphabet, retain APL’s

essential terseness — or, dare we say, obscurity?

I plan to learn J. However, before I did so, I committed myself to learning

at least a smidgen of the original APL, so I could see how the language was

originally intended to work and look.

Here’s my first APL program, designed to produce a Vigenere tableau:

Note the code isn’t in the standard ASCII character set, so I had

to represent it as an image file.

The heart of the code is the central box of the next image. This should read as:

disclose (( -1 rotate (indexList (shapeOf Y)))
(outerProduct rotate) (enclose Y))

and executes right to left:

To translate into pseudocode:

// Assign the alphabet to the variable Y
// Now perform the following:
((outerproduct rotate)
(rotate -1 (enumerate (length y)))
(box y)
// This is the moral equivalent of:
// (1). Treat array Y like a "scalar" variable
boxedY = box(y)
// (2) Find the length of Y - in this case,26
lengthOfY = length(y)
// (3) Get an array from 1 to the length of Y
// We will use this (1 2 ... 26) later to
// rotate the alphabet to the side
list1toY = enumerate(lengthOfY)
// (4) Rotate list by one so that the first
// row is a "no-op" rotation: (26 1 2 ... 25)
// (I should have just have subtracted one
// from each list to get (0 1 .. 25), but
// it's just my first APL program!)
rotateAmounts = rotate(-1, list1toY)
// (5) Create a "mapping rotate" function that takes
// a list of integers as its first argument and
// rotates each element of its second argument
// by the supplied integer.
// We had to "box" Y earlier because APL by
// default treat each of its elements as a one-element
// array.
mapRotate = outerproduct(rotate)
// Now create 26 copies of Y, each rotated by the amount
// specified in the rotateAmounts variable, and collect
// them all into a list. This is morally equivalent to:
// list(
// rotate(26, boxedY),
// rotate( 1, boxedY),
// ...
// rotate(25, boxedY)
// )
rotatedY = mapRotate(rotateAmounts, boxedY)
// Now "unbox" the rotated list, which takes the
// list of lists of rotated Ys and turns them into
// a matrix or grid rotation
return unbox(rotatedY)

The idea in my mind was to take an input array and print

a diagonalized rectangle with it. With the alphabet, this

becomes a Vigenere table — once the “indecipherable cipher”,

now a trivial matter for any modern computer.

With a different string, like “01” or “_[]” (reading the two

brackets as the APL Quad character), and a suitable change

in length of the output, it becomes instead a checkerboard:

Deciphering that is left as an exercise to you, dear fanu.

Cut me some SLAC!

I just had some pictures developed and found these gems from my November 2003 trip to the Stanford Linear Accelerator:

Some of the other pictures developed are so old that, well,

let’s just say that half the couples in one Christmas shot are

either getting divorced or have been for some time now.

Oy, do I need a digital camera.

Resident Evil 2: Aqualitylapse

I and my old high school buddy William just came back from seeing “Resident Evil 2: Apocalypse”.

And while there were many things I enjoyed about the movie, and even think it had the skeleton of an interesting plot, both William and I had the same reaction.

Simultaneously, we *tried* to excuse its suckitude by dissing it as a “B” movie, but immediately realized it was at best a “C” movie.

“Aliens vs. Predator”, how we miss thee.

OK, now we’ve lit this candle. This isn’t the permanent form of this weblog — I’ve allocated the site and software for a full-blown wikiblog upcoming soon — but at least now the blog and the hand-generated site are integrated, and I can post at the click of a button. Woo hoo!

And to tide you over, here’s a pointer to where I get my physics news.