@akkartik There are some influences from the past, but for me going back for retrocomputing programming is more of a learning exercise and a way of enforcing constrains in the amount of processing power and memory available. I also love memory mapped IO and a fixed memory layout, but I understand the tradeoffs for general computing in multi-application contexts.

What I miss in modern machines is mostly predictability (multiple cache levels, predictive branching, superscalar pipelines).

@vertigo That's an interesting counter-thought. I worry that I'm not seeing parts of the state space by hewing too closely to where I started.

@neauoire @alderwick @bd @s_ol @roberttheiv

For @neauoire and others here, it was some game console. NES, GBA, etc. I wonder how common it is to actually escape the gravitational pull of our first systems, how much of the differences between our projects stems from having our brains colonized by different first systems.

@alderwick @bd @s_ol @roberttheiv

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One idea that got dropped on the editing floor for this post: the long shadows cast over our lives by the very first systems we program on.

I started programming (in undergrad) on an IBM PC descendant running DOS. I moved on to more sophisticated systems, but over a period of decades keep returning to seemingly little things about that first system that I could never replicate. Little things I turn out to be willing to give up big things for.


@neauoire @alderwick @bd @s_ol @roberttheiv

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New blog post: a map of sorts of Mu's neighborhood in idea space, as I see it.


Comments most welcome. Particularly from @neauoire and @alderwick since I mention (and possibly misrepresent) Uxn.

Proximal trigger for this post: ekaitz.elenq.tech/hex0.html by @ekaitz_zarraga, which sent my brain on this tangent. Also midwifed by @vgr's exposing me over the years to imaginary maps and mapping as a useful exercise.

@ndpi @peregrine @neauoire It's probably closer to figuring something out for myself rather than discovering something truly new.

The biggest constraint of all is scale. 10 people collaborating will come up with something coherent 10% of the time. 5000 people, maybe 0.01%? Like an Avengers movie or something. (Like them or not, they have an almost dictatorial level of coherence.) But no cities have coherence in quite the same way. (Though I now wonder what Christopher Alexander would say.)

@akkartik @eris @pallas

"I'll make a sound that's so alone that no one can miss it, that whoever hears it will weep in their souls, and hearths will seem warmer, and being inside will seem better to all who hear it in the distant towns.

I'll make me a sound and an apparatus and they'll call it a Fog Horn and whoever bears it will know the sadness of eternity and the briefness of life."

@neauoire @eris @pallas My favorite is the Foghorn. Though I haven't read many short stories by him.

you might think we're slow, but think again! (1/3)

if we want to ship 25 laptops/wk, it means (simplified) with 2 people working on this 40h/wk each and one 20h/wk to cover all required skills to assemble, flash, test, package, export: each unit can get max 4h of attention so everything has to go smoothly for this to work out.

@peregrine @neauoire This feels like an essential contradiction of human nature: we like building cathedrals alone, but when we come together there isn't enough room for everyone's darlings, and we end up with the Tower of Babel instead.

In the real world this seems unavoidable, but in software there's a way out: curating cathedrals. Take out the inessential as you chase coherence. And leave some room for someone else to add their little constructions on top as they learn cathedral-building.

I tried walking into the kitchen, but the way was blocked. On the top step down was the fridge door, covering the stairs.

Earlier today my partner convinced me that the blue jellies aren't dangerous, and that I should touch one. We were sitting on the small wooden sea-leveled platform at the tail end - or whatever seafolk call it - watching them slowly drift past right below us. They looked magnificent. Maybe two or three times the size of my hand, almost fully translucent with a bright blue rim at the edges. The center of the body, maybe half the diameter, housed four perfect circles placed edge to edge, again with bright blue rims. I thought I could see gentle sparks inside them, but it could also just be reflections from the sun.

I expected them to be... I don't know - flat? And thin? In a way. But gently poking it felt strangely solid and firm.

Then it continued gently drifting away.

I'm not from this coast. When I did my intentional belly flop (it's just a thing I do) my first thought was not of how cold the water was, but how much it tasted of salt. When I'm not swimming in a lake I on reflex expect the water to be brackish.

I think I can get used to this, though. Tonight I will dream of jellies.

Some live-coding in my programming environment, running on my computing stack built up from scratch.

archive.org/details/akkartik-m (video; 6 minutes)

Main project page: github.com/akkartik/mu

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@s_ol Sarcastic?

I'm kinda surprised that I don't hate it.

Tired: Grad school involves knowing more and more about less and less. You graduate when you know everything about nothing.

Retired: Computing involves doing less and less with more and more, until you accomplish nothing by consuming everything.

@venko @bugaevc

@neauoire got it! missing a DUP. I had to step through and note down the stack state after each instruction to figure it out.

I am LOVING uxn. it's quite tough for me, but the simplicity of the operations is very satisfying and working with the stack is like a little puzzle.

Finished off this step stool. Slanted dovetails were a bit to get my head around and I actually made a mistake of the second set. Oh well - lots learned and works as intended; helping little people get a little bit higher up.

Mostly reclaimed pine, all cut by hand. Just wood and glue and oil and time.

@s_ol Ok I understand! You want a microscope, not a bicycle 😄

More seriously, it totally makes sense to take a processor's view and say, "what tools would best explain to people how to use me?" A processor manual that does something like worrydream.com/LearnableProgra would be amazing.


@viznut Too bad I didn't see this in time! Did you end up submitting something?

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Merveilles is a community project aimed at the establishment of new ways of speaking, seeing and organizing information — A culture that seeks augmentation through the arts of engineering and design. A warm welcome to any like-minded people who feel these ideals resonate with them.