In Larry Niven’s book Protector, a main character wears a vest with about a hundred pockets, stuffed with every conceivable gadget you could want (“Hyperspatial bypass shunt? Knew I had one here somewhere…”). The Scottevest looks like the real-world equivalent. All it needs is a solar cell on the back (well, maybe a small Chernobyl) to power all the devices stuck in the vest. And, of course, an RFID-based way to find them all (or perhaps a pocket containing an inventory).

TouchStream report

A week into using the TouchStream keyboard, I have to report –


– i can’t type on any keyboard effectively now (so it must be working)

– i definitely notice the strain going back to a regular keyboard

– the mouse / click / scroll gestures are way cool


– my typing rate is still about a quarter or a third of normal

– typing code and using Emacs, which use many more shift/control/etc. combinations, is slow; the error rate is quite high, and I undo a lot of mistakes. I can type english without much frustration, but typing code requires a lot of concentation

It’s going to work out eventually, but it’ll probably take a full month or so to be totally comfortable with it.

There appear to be “ghost” gestures which randomly turn on the numeric keypad. I’ll go for “K” and suddenly it’ll be “3”. I haven’t figured out why this is happening yet.

There is a gesture editor, and I’d love to start rebinding gestures (e.g., stick control on pinky+ring+middle of either hand, that’d be great). But the UI is not obvious, and I should probably just learn the keyboard before I try anything fancy.

More next week…

Popups and stuff

Here’s another really annoying HTML feature. Hover over this. Great. If you’re using a browser that knows about the acronym tag, then you’re englightened.

I’ll have a full report on the TouchStream keyboard in a few days. The good news: I haven’t gone insane yet. The bad: I’m still getting used to it, after about a week I can type english with a fairly high error rate, and at about one third my normal typing rate (which is, after 25+ years of typing, quite high).

Bad Movies

As reported elsewhere, movie studios are trying to blame text messaging for the decline in ticket sales this year.

Talk about grasping. The article specifically mentions Charlie’s Angels; Full Throttle — my wife and I saw the first Charlie’s Angels movie for about the right price (free) — and as for the other films on the list . . . who cares? I think we’ve seen three or four movies this year, and last year wasn’t much better.

Hollywood’s real problem is similar to that of the music industry’s: People know garbage when they see or hear it. You can get away with crappy, unimaginative products for only so long before the chickens come home to roost.

I expect legislation against “appreciation of art” courses in public schools next….

Scheme to the metal

Schemix is a scheme that lives in the Linux kernel.

It seems like a cool idea. There are a lot of devices out there that don’t really need to be fast . . . why are they written in C? [ans: the rest of the kernel is]The ability to prototype device drivers (or just play with the hardware) in a higher level language with essentially instant turnaround is very valuable. I know a number of hardware engineers who use Forth to exercise new hardware, and I’ve used similar techniques (with hack scripting languages) to exercise drivers.

If you’re starting a new project, and you start with a new scripting language from scratch, you are doomed. Go back. Pick anything else. Even DOS batch scripts are better.

The TouchStream Keyboard

I am typing this on a TouchStream keyboard. I’ll have a full review of it in a few weeks. At the moment I’m doing about eight corrected words a minute, with TONS of typos.

The keyboard was definitely done by folks who know their stuff. For instance, there are Linux and BeOS modes, as well as macros for doing CVS and Emacs commands.