December 1, 2004

The cost of plagiarism and laziness

December 1, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized

I am deeply saddened to read the message posted on , which I reproduce below:

Recently, one of my essays—originally an article posted
on Usenet titled “What is philosophy?”—turned up in an eastern
Wisconsin high school. There it was submitted by a student who claimed
it as their own work. After exchanging a few e-mails, the teacher
presented evidence to me, in the form of an electronic log, of the
student having authored the article before me. Since my own proof is
no more substantial, the essay was accepted by the school as the
student’s own.

In light of this, and the possibility of future occurrences, I am
ending my Web-publishing endeavors. I will continue to write, but
through printed outlets, where the role of authorship cannot be
disputed. It is not so much the accusation of plagarism which troubles
me, as the doubt it casts on the very aim of my writing: upholding the
glory of a life lived for the Truth.

My apologies to all who found this site encouraging or inspiring. If
you wish to write me at [email protected], I would be happy to
continue a private dialog with you on whatever subject interests you

To that student, whoever you are, wherever you are: I hope you’re
proud of yourself. Idiot. You may have taken the easy way out now, but
I hope you wise up before someone out there finds out you’re a fraud.
Even if no one catches you, there’ll always be that nagging feeling
that you haven’t really explored your potential.

John, don’t stop writing. Keep sharing your ideas. Keep thinking out
loud. Live. Dream. Inspire. One person may not believe in what we
value, but there are people in the world who listen to what you say
and who share your thoughts.

UPDATE: 2004.12.03 , from John Wiegley

Hello! to everyone who wrote after my website was taken down: After
thinking about it for a couple of weeks, I decided it was too harsh a
measure. I hope everyone will continue to visit again. I’ll start
posting blog entries again tomorrow.

Reflections: Random thoughts on presentations

December 1, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Not in any order.

– Focus on what people want. Whether you’re selling an idea or

teaching first-year students the joys of programming, you have to
show your audience what they’ll get out of the talk. Restructure
your talk if you have to. What makes sense for you might not make
sense for them.

– Don’t read off your slides. This is a canonical rule, but I’m still

surprised at how many people break it. If you summarize your points
using incomplete sentences on your slides, you’ll find it easy to
follow this rule.

– Break long slides into more slides. Whitespace is your friend. Watch

your font size. If it goes below 20pt, chances are you’re trying to
cram too much data on one slide.

– Tables full of data are evil. If you find yourself with a table of

numbers, see if you can make a graph instead. Make sure you choose
the appropriate type of graph. Bar graphs and line graphs show
growth and relative levels, pie graphs show percentage.

– Make sure your text is readable. Light-on-light is unreadable even

with drop-shadow. Be careful about dark-on-dark, too. Projectors
don’t handle some colors well. If possible, test under the same
conditions as your actual presentation. Try to take color-blindness
into account, too.

– Use your background as free advertising. Add a logo related to your

talk or your company. I like putting Tux on my Linux-related talks
because Tux is cute and the logo reminds people they’re listening
to, well, a Linux talk. Think subliminal.

– Animation should feel natural and be almost unnoticeable. You want

animation that just makes sense. Never use random or gratuitious
animation. Make sure each animation has a purpose. If you use slide
transitions, pick one transition and stick with it. You do not want
your audience to be going “ooooh, what a cool animation” unless
you’re selling them presentation software.

– I find it helpful to provide an overview on almost every slide.

../presentations/2004113-taming-the-todo.pdf has an example.
Some people like seeing the bigger picture when they’re learning
something. The overview also makes it easier for people to estimate
how far they’ve gotten in your talk.

One thing I’d like to experiment with would be using blanks in my
slide text. (Remember those fill-in-the-blanks from school? Right.) I
wonder how that will affect audience concentration…

Another recruit for the wonderful world of Planner hacking!

December 1, 2004 - Categories: emacs

Chris Parsons wrote:

Well, I was using the excellent new planner-create-note-from-task, and
thought, “wouldn’t it be nice to have the note optionally created on the
plan page rather than the (less useful) date page? I must ask Sacha to
do that.”

And then I thought, “No! I’ll venture into the previously unchartered
depths of lisp programming… and work out how to do it myself.”

Here’s my diff. Pass a prefix argument to always create on the plan
page. Perhaps this should be the default – Sacha’s call, I guess.

Be gentle, it’s my first proper lisp coding :)

Wheeeeee! Another person discovered the joys of Emacs Lisp hacking!

See, Planner is easy to hack. =)

E-Mail from Chris Parsons

XF86Config-4: Linux on the Fujitsu Lifebook P1110

December 1, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Important notes:

– Use the ati driver.
– Modeline “1024×600” 51 1024 1040 1216 1328 600 600 606 626

See LinuxLaptop#3 for the whole config.

Emacs for my Mom

December 1, 2004 - Categories: emacs

Do you think Emacs is something we can learn?

I think Emacs is something my parents can learn, but something they
currently don’t have reason to study. Even the PIM aspect won’t be
helpful, as my mom is really uses Outlook synchronization with mobile

Right tool for the right job, I guess. =)

People sometimes try new things for the sheer heck of it. My dad tries
different lighting techniques. My mom tries new ways of management. I
try new sites and new software (mostly related to PIMs). We do that
because we are interested in the topic and we can see the long-term
benefits either directly caused by the tool or indirectly due to
keeping our minds flexible. We serve as gateways (or gatekeepers?) for
other people who don’t have the time to explore these things.

Sometimes we’re not looking for new ways to work. Sometimes we’re just
curious about stuff. That’s cool, too. If my mom’s curious about this
software program I keep writing about, she can give it a whirl. =) seems to have Emacs for
Mac OS X, although I’ve never actually tried it because I don’t have a
Mac. (Hint? ;) ) Pick “Emacs for OS X (your version here)”. Err, I
don’t know what “mount the DMG disk image” means under Mac OS X, but
it might be something you can find under the option-click (or one of
those funky buttons) menu…

Knowing my mom, hmmm… I suggest trying out Tools: Games: Tetris
first. =)