Friday, December 28, 2007

GEB part one

I just finished part one of Godel, Escher, Bach and I can honestly say it's been an exciting experience. I was first introduced to GEB by some friends at RubyConf. A week later at the local erlounge again it was commended. Since I had been reading a lot of pure tech books lately so I decided I would give GEB a shot. It's true that it's a book that 10 people could read it and each come to 10 different (valid) conclusions as to the purpose of the book.

Highlights for me thus far
  • The carollian dialogues between the Tortoise and Achilles. Especially the one which demonstrates the difficulty of trying to use logic and reasoning to defend itself.
  • The chapter on recursion. I think it's safe to say that most people that enjoy hacking on code would find this particular chapter enjoyable.
  • The numerous correlations between seemingly disjoint subjects. Obviously the book treats the relationship between G, E and B with special consideration but there are correlations on many more levels. You find yourself on the same page dealing with the intrinsic meaning of symbols and abortion, for example.
It's been some of the most challenging pages I've read in a while. I typically only have a few hours a week to spend with GEB and it's taken me several weeks to get 275 pages into the book. Ironically the most challenging part of the book thus far has been the Preface. I guess it shouldn't be that surprising when you consider the task of describing GEB holistically.

I would recommend this book to anyone who feels like they have been too intensely focus on one mental task too long. Often I find myself doing just that since it seems to be my forte. The various puzzles have been a nice trip outside the mental box (Strange Loop) I've placed myself in.

Recommendations for reading GEB
  • Attempt all puzzles. The completion of many of the puzzles is not of much importance in the scope of GEB. The mental exercise is of far greater value.
  • When you find yourself breaking out of a Strange Loop try and explain it to someone else. Here's something I came up with last night as I explained the Dual Nature of Formal Systems:
Imagine a chess board. Legal moves can be represented in algebraic chess notation (illegal moves could be represented as well). For example Scholar's Mate could be represented as:
  1. e4 e5
  2. Qh5?! Nc6
  3. Bc4 Nf6??
  4. Qxf7# 1-0
Now since Godel showed us that formal systems (in this case the allowed moves in Chess) can be mapped onto Number Theory you could imagine being able to create equations for entire chess matches that could be derived mathematically. What if something so simple as converting all the numbers in the various expressions were converted to base 26 and represented by the English alphabet. Since I'm already in the state of imagining atrocious coincidences I might as well imagine that upon transposing the numbers the letters reveals an entire book about the legal chess moves. Better yet, what if the book was not about legal chess moves but illegal! That would indeed be a Strange Loop.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Kino 1.2.0: great on F8

Today I spent some time figuring out why I couldn't get Kino's transitions working on Fedora 8. Previously I was using version 1.1.1 from the livna repository and I noticed today that a tarball for 1.2.0 existed. Building and installing it to my home dir worked like a charm. All audio and video FX are working. During FUDcon I might seen if I could update the livna package for kino so that others could benefit. I'll test it out a bit more in the meantime.

On a side note I also gave pitivi a shot. It's far from it's first 1.0 release but I must I like the interface a bit more than kino. Plus, being written in Python makes it a little more hackable.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

My first attempt at video editing on linux

It's been a while now since I sold my iMac. The one thing I've missed the most since that day has been the video editing (I haven't touched my mini-dv since). Tonight I decided I would give kino a shot. It's pretty good but it's definitely not iMovie. For some reason I was not able to get the transitions working on my system. I'll try and figure that out tomorrow. In the meantime I've uploaded a sample video of some clips of me and my wife on Topsail Beach, NC.

On a side note, people should give try. It's the first video service I've found that has first class support for ogg theora (big thumbs up). If you create an account be sure not to re-use a password as everything is done over HTTP (that's a big thumbs down).

*UPDATE* At least on my machine I wasn't able to get the aforementioned embedded video to play. I don't know anything about the cortado applet but apparently that's what is being used. Anyway, it plays on my machine with mplayer and at the moment that's the only thing that matters.

*UPDATE* I think the only thing I needed was the gstreamer-plugin rpm installed. Now it's working for me.


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