About Lisp, Pandora, Central New York and Other things on my Mind

February 5, 2007

I’m working my way through Paul Graham’s Book Ansi Common Lisp. I’m feeling lazy right now ( I think that it being almost midnight has a lot to do with it), and I want the answers to some of the excercises. I went here, and looked up for some answers. Unfortunately, the writer did’nt post answers for chapter excercises that I was looking for. I guess I’ll have to figure this out the hard way.

Pandora’s automated selection of music has good and bad days. I spent Saturday morning and afternoon listening to it, while I randomly clicked around on the web, and I enjoyed song after song. Today, its just dismal. I dont get it. Maybe my preferences change between Saturday morning and Monday evening.

Central New York’s weather sucks big-time today and will remain crummy until Friday, when the lake-effect snow and arctive wind finally subside. We’ve had a uncharacteristically warm December, and I had almost dared to hope that the warm spell may have just last. It was wishful thinking. Winter came back roaring back. Looking at the weather outside, it would be hard to believe that global warming is occuring because it sure does’nt look like it. Its no wonder there are so many environmental skeptics out there, when they have to go through these kinds of winters. I’m bracing myself for about a foot of snow this winter.

Other things on my mind? Tax Season. I made a New Year Resolution that I would get my taxes done as soon as I got my W-2 forms. I got mine about 2 weeks ago. Procrastination will be the end of me. I found an interesting tax tip today. I need to confirm this but an extra $30 is’nt bad.



March 27, 2006

So I decided to test drive the mapping service from Microsoft today.

The first thing I usually do is to directions for the unlikely senario that I have to drive from Miami to Seattle. The first time I tried it, I got the "server is busy. Please try again" message. That put a little damper of my opinion.

Then I decided, that I would do comparison of different routes that I take home to work. Now, most other mapping services like google's and yahoo!'s and Rand McNally's ask you for a start and end addresses, and then find "best" directions. These directions are often not the best if you have some local knowledge about shortcuts either from a person who lives there, of having been to the place, you have some vague memory of it.

Microsoft's offering on the other hand allows you to locate the locations you're interested in without specifying the address. All you have to do is point, right-click and select either "from" or "to". Now this allows a user to plan the route in stages, or if the user has some local knowledge, use it for route planning. I'm pretty sure Google, Yahoo! and RandMcNally must have thought about this, but they must have figured that most users would just want to input the start and end address and get the directions. The Microsoft user experience for me was pretty good, except for the the initial hiccup about the "server being busy…" but I dont think its going to go down well with users. At least I dont think they will use the service to its full potential.

The one other feature I was curious about was the "locate me" feature. I clicked on that, and a window opened up giving me three choices.

  • Install an ActiveX control.
  • Use an IP address
  • Cancel

I'm betting that most users are either going to skim down the text, see the cancel button and click on it, or alternatively, they're going to see ActiveX control click on the small "x" on the top-right corner. This is typical Microsoft UI.

All in all, my initial reaction is that its a great and feature-rich service. While it may win me over, I dont think it will over rank-and-file consumers, either because of the halo effect of google and yahoo! or they might not use it to its full abilities.

…I'll be writing more about this as I use the new services more.


March 20, 2006

I’m listening to KCRW.com right. The show is Studio 360, the guest is Bruce Stutz. He’s written a book on the various celebrations of spring held in the United States. Here in B’Ville, I think we’re still in the middle on winter, even though its late March, (well almost late March). Listening to the program, made me think of Basant, the annual spring festival held in Pakistan. I remember how people used to make sure that they had some yellow on their dress, and did lots of kite flying. It was always a good time. This year unfortunately, the government banned it, apparently because of the use of glass rubbed string (which admittedly was a big cause of injuries and deaths). Of course, there was the religious fundamentalists who always want to put a damper on everything cultural in Pakistan. Read more it here.