Monthly Archives: February 2009

iconv is the heat

I’ve been looking for a software tool that would convert foreign characters into a poor substitute.

Call me Ugly McAmerican. I don’t care.

My language has been worn down — I would say, “polished” — like a river rock to the point where it doesn’t have a million characters or funny accent marks or any of that stuff. Now, I don’t mind if your language uses them. I don’t even mind if we have a common encoding. What I do mind is that none of my tools work with your stupid common encoding. When grep and sed and diff and ruby all know what to do with your ?q???????, give me a call.

In the meantime, I plan to go on working in ASCII as much as possible. Then, when necessary, I’ll use tools to convert ugly-quotes to pretty ones, or turn ... into ellipses, etc.

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Kindle 2 looks pretty sweet

Amazon’s front page today is all about the version 2.0 Kindle. I have to admit, it looks pretty sweet. Choosing B&W rather than color was a good trade-off so you can up the pixel density.

I looked up three books I’m reading right now, and they were all available. Interestingly, they were also (slightly) cheaper on Kindle than on paper. In my experience, electronic versions are usually no cheaper than the hardcopy. This is especially true of bibles and bible-study materials like commentaries and lexicons. I understand why the BDAG is $150 in print (well, sort of) but there’s no reason they should charge that much when you spare the trees.

On the other hand, the Kindle costs $360. How many years does that buy you? That is, what price are you paying for your new “bookshelf?” And will the next version read your ebooks? (And if it reads them at all, will there be a media conversion “upgrade” fee?)

The science of faith

Here are two articles I should look at more closely, both in the New Scientist. (I forget where I came across them, sorry.)

Born believers: How your brain creates God

The credit crunch could be a boon for irrational belief

The second title is a game attempt to make something arcane and abstract timely and relevant. The first title is better. Imagine if, instead, it said, “Born seers: how your brain creates a visual representation of the universe.”

(Updated; I forgot to give this a title.)