php's string escape code for ESC (ascii 27) - \e

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I just came across phpsadness.com. In one of the entries the author notes:

PHP has no shorthand escape code for the Escape character; it is usually \e.
See: php language.types.string#language.types.string.syntax.double
It does have octal (\033) and hex (\x1b) escape codes for it, but these become especially cumbersome when doing things like ANSI escape sequences to control the color of output in your terminal, where the clarity of the sequences is important and even a few extra characters increases the line noise significantly.

I decided to go ahead and add it myself: https://bugs.php.net/bug.php?id=60350
Patch, documentation update and testcase all submitted.

Umlauts on a US Keyboard (QWERTY)

I always have a hard time remembering how to set the keyboard shortcuts for umlauts on GNU/Linux.

Use the runtime utility setxkbmap:
setxkbmap -option "compose:lwin"

So now (+ just means "and then press" in this context):

Keys to press Character that you get
win+s+s ß
win+a+" ä
win+shift+a+" Ä
win+u+" ü
win+shift+u+" Ü
win+o+" ö
win+shift+u+" Ö

Also don't forget to set ctrl+alt+backspace back to a sane setting with:
setxkbmap -option "terminate:ctrl_alt_bksp"

Apple Lossless Audio Codec on Debian


I just found out about Apple's Lossless Codec going open source, so I decided to give it a spin. I'm putting my experience here since ALAC's trac (at least the bug entry form) is down. I submitted a bug about that upstream.

Update: Thanks to Bill Siegrist from Apple for releasing a bugfix on the next morning (hours later... on a Sunday). There is another issue with uploading attachments. Sounds like might be this.

Another update: Issues are now submitted here and here.

Father of LISP and AI Pioneer, Dr. John McCarthy dies at 84


Right after I was told that I have an extension on my Artificial Intelligence homework, and before I got done rejoicing - someone on irc mentioned that Dr. John McCarthy just died. I first heard about him in the book Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach. I was just going over some of his papers on his site and I was going to fix the margins on some of the .pdfs (thankfully he released the original .tex files). If you haven't read any of his papers, check out his website.

After I'm done with my AI class I think I'll reread the Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (aka the Wizard Book). I haven't dealt much with LISP outside of academia, but I've always found it interesting.

It really is nice when you reread a book, many years later. You always seem to "get things" in a different way.

I'll leave you with this (John McCarthy is interviewed at 16:40:

Rest In Peace Dr. Dennis M. Ritchie, Steve Jobs & Dr. Ralph M. Steinman

Within a short period of time the world has seen great loss. First we lost Dr. Ralph M. Steinman whose advancements in the field of Immunology are truly remarkable. I'm really glad that he ended up getting that Nobel Prize (even if it was posthumous). Next we lost Steve Jobs, a truly creative visionary. While I disagreed with some of his philosophical choices, he was an inspirational man with a legion of followers. He really changed computing forever. He will surely be missed. The latest person whom we lost is Dr. Dennis M. Ritchie (dmr). He gave us the C programming language and he played a key role in the development of UNIX. Words can not adequately describe how I feel right now. I wish I could say Thank You to all of them for giving us so much. I'd especially like to thank dmr, I never had the privilege of meeting you yet you've had one of the most profound influences on my life and my career. I spent so many nights reading the UNIX manuals. Those were some of my happiest memories. RIP

Here are two inspirational videos:

Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson talk about UNIX:

Steve Job's Commencement Speech:

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