The OS, Part 2 – Living On Linux, Part 3

OK, SO NOW WHAT I was going to try and finish this, but … naw.

March 11, 2021 · James Felix Black

The OS, Part 1 – Living On Linux, Part 2

HOW DO WE DEFINE “THE OS”, ANYWAY? I used to get pretty stroppy about things like “Pop! OS” or “Elementary”, both of which are just re-skinned Ubuntu, but from a this blog perspective, I’ll just say that the “OS” is the stack from kernel to UI that serves as the functional basis for providing services and applications for getting things done. In that sense, I think it’s entirely fair to consider Ubuntu as distinct from Debian as distinct from Gentoo or Arch or whatever – the UI aspect of all of them are pretty different one from the other, and at the end of the day, I am a user of my machine, so the UI is pretty much the endgame, here....

March 10, 2021 · James Felix Black

Hardware – Living On Linux, Part 1

FIRST THINGS FIRST The most important thing to keep in mind is that this is a desktop computer, not a laptop. I don’t like laptops – while the engineering of modern laptops is pretty remarkable, you spend so much of your engineering budget on the compromises inherent in the form factor, to enable a use case that I don’t care about (mobility). So, I’m sure this whole exercise would look pretty different if I were doing this on my MacBook or something....

March 2, 2021 · James Felix Black

Living On Linux, Part 0

LINUX, I GUESS? So for reasons that defy explanation, I have decided that I need to live on Linux, or at least, make a go of it. I have been a Mac user almost exclusively for decades, but as I have aged, my asks of a computer have largely shriveled down to Emacs, and a web browser. I still appreciate the craft of a lot of the software I use on the Mac; and I still think that Apple’s hardware is basically best in class, but I’m distant enough from needing e....

February 23, 2021 · James Felix Black

Advent of Code 2020, preparing, part 02

Ok, so in part one we got the first part of the first day of last year’s Advent of Code puzzle working in Haskell. This post will be an exploration of the second part. Each day of the Advent of Code has a puzzle with two parts; usually the second part will be a twist on the first part; sometimes, it’s simply a scale issue, where the first part solution was naive, and you can leave your solution running over night, or choose a more efficient solution for both parts....

November 23, 2020 · James Felix Black

Advent of Code 2020, preparing

I’m going to try and complete the Advent of Code puzzles this year, in Haskell, without bouncing off of those stupid interpreter problems that have always driven me away in the past. Encouraged by a fellow poster on, I’m going to try and blog my attempt here. I don’t have a lot of extra time, but I would like to be better at blogging, and also at Haskell, so let’s hope that this works out....

November 19, 2020 · James Felix Black

Movie Review - Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

I got stoned and this is my movie review. Q: Why does Mahershala Ali want to kill Alita? Q: Who is Dr Ito and why do they all like him so much? Q: The whole “get a pro contract by racing in this open and then somehow leverage that pro career into … magic beans?” plan seems like a pretty convoluted way to move the plot forward? Q: Who’s doing the productive labour in this society?...

July 25, 2020 · James Felix Black

Movie Review - A Simple Favor (2019)

I didn’t really know anything about this, going in. It was tonally all over the map; the performances were good, it was competently put together. The pure aesthetics of watching Henry Golding and Blake Lively interact was pretty great; but at the end of the day, the plot was stupid, the pacing weird, and the tone veered too radically between farce and thriller to work for me. Any time you “solve” the big mystery with a twin, you have failed, screenwriter....

June 29, 2019 · James Felix Black

Movie Review - The Meg (2018)

There is a lot that I should like about this movie: Jason Statham (including a hilariously unnecessary shot of his eight? 10? 12? pack); the strong international cast (although I can’t see Cliff Curtis and not get the residual Once Were Warriors creeps); it’s a Chinese/US coproduction, with all of the bi-cultural rah-rah silliness that that entails; the titular creature is a GIANT RELICT SHARK, I mean, precisely in my wheelhouse....

December 16, 2018 · James Felix Black

That'll Help!

Today, in the normal course of doing my job, I encountered a situation that caused the JVM to blow up, and, being the friendly and helpful piece of software that it is, it emitted 28,092 lines of stack trace. That’s twenty-eight thousand lines, totalling 2.2 megabytes worth. But, thankfully, the JVM doesn’t do tail-call elimination, so none of those super useful stack frames could possibly be elided. Software wins again.

May 1, 2018 · James Felix Black