Monday, June 28, 2010

By all means, choose a distinct name for your program

"I love screen". "screen?", you ask, "do you love your screen or screen in general, like in sun screen?". And right you are, screen is not a name, it is not even a very distinctive noun as it is so ambiguous. So, when I say "I love screen", I'm talking about the program that Oliver Laumann wrote like 23 years ago and that is probably the open source program that I have used for the longest time (basically, since it was first released).

Now, as much as I love screen, I hate its name. I guess that Oliver and his room mate pondered how to name the program for a while, maybe even for a new hours or days, and then went "Damn fuck it, we're just unimaginative hacker dudes, round corners are not yet invented, creative design folks avoid us like the plague (and we like it that way), let's call the darn thing screen and go on hacking."


Whatever name you choose for your program, make sure that it is not a word. If you absolutely want to use real words, choose at least two of them that never occur together anywhere else. Better yet, invent a word. Use Google to validate your name. Use something stupid. Get on with it.

I'm writing this because the poor choice of naming for screen bites me every day. screen has a serious bug. Sometimes, one of the screens (sic!) hangs. It then never recovers, and once one of the screens (yaaah!) hangs, it does not take long until the whole session ceases to work. In the end, even trying to reattach the session hangs. I think I do have basic Google skills, but so far I have failed to find anyone having the same problem. I can't imagine that I would be the only person to have this problem, but the name of the program makes it impossible to find that person.

You are making the life of your users much much easier if you give your programs names that are distinctive and unique. Yes, Ryan Gahl and Aycan Gulez, I'm looking at you today while I write this. :)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

How to convert your old-style Symbolics keyboard to USB

Peter got in touch with me because he tried to follow my instructions how to convert a Symbolics keyboard to USB with his old-style keyboard and he failed. He assumed, and that was what I would have assumed, that the color coding of the internal cabling of the old and new keyboards would match, but they don't. Here is a table that shows the pinout for both keyboard types:

New Style Old Style Function Teensy
Pin# Color Pin# Color
1 blue 8 white GND GND
2 yellow black not connected
3 green 2 red 5V 5V
4 red 3 green DIN D4
5 black 1 yellow CLK D5
6 white 5 blue CLR D6