Parenting while plugged in – don’t do it

I am guilty as charged and with Richelle’s help, changing my ways: NYTimes: “The Risks of Parenting While Plugged In”:

…children in higher socioeconomic homes hear an average of 2,153 words an hour, whereas those in working-class households hear only about 1,251; children in the study whose parents were on welfare heard an average of 616 words an hour.

Part of the reason the children in affluent homes she studied developed larger vocabularies by the time they were 3 is that “parents are holding kids, the kids are on their lap while the parent is reading a book,” Dr. Hart said. “It is important for parents to know when they’re talking to kids, they’re transferring affection as well as words. When you talk to people, there’s always an implicit message, ‘I like you,’ or ‘I don’t like you.’ “

Making Emacs with emacs-starter-kit a little more friendly

Hopefully you’ve read the docs and know that you can override settings and implement your own extensions rather easily:

Create a Lisp file under ~/.emacs.d/ specific to your username ($USER-NAME.el) or system ($SYSTEM-NAME.el) that Emacs with emacs-starter-kit will load automatically at startup.

I’ve created mine specific to my user name – ~/.emacs.d/kmarti05.el. You can determine the value of your user-name in emacs by issuing C-h-v user-login-name.

Here is the contents of my ~/.emacs.d/kmarti05.el file:

;; visible bell
(setq visible-bell nil)
;; allow selection deletion
(delete-selection-mode t)
;; make sure delete key is delete key
(global-set-key [delete] 'delete-char)
;; turn on the menu bar
(menu-bar-mode 1)
;; have emacs scroll line-by-line
(setq scroll-step 1)
;; set color-theme
(defun my-zoom (n)
"Increase or decrease font size based upon argument"
(set-face-attribute 'default (selected-frame) :height
(+ (face-attribute 'default :height) (* (if (> n 0) 1 -1) 10))))
(global-set-key (kbd "C-+")      '(lambda nil (interactive) (my-zoom 1)))
(global-set-key [C-kp-add]       '(lambda nil (interactive) (my-zoom 1)))
(global-set-key (kbd "C-_")      '(lambda nil (interactive) (my-zoom -1)))
(global-set-key [C-kp-subtract]  '(lambda nil (interactive) (my-zoom -1)))
(message "All done!")

Reads: E.W. Dijkstra: “The Humble Programmer”

E.W. Dijkstra ACM Turing Lecture 1972: “The Humble Programmer”:

Automatic computers have now been with us for a quarter of a century. They have had a great impact on our society in their capacity of tools, but in that capacity their influence will be but a ripple on the surface of our culture, compared with the much more profound influence they will have in their capacity of intellectual challenge without precedent in the cultural history of mankind. Hierarchical systems seem to have the property that something considered as an undivided entity on one level, is considered as a composite object on the next lower level of greater detail; as a result the natural grain of space or time that is applicable at each level decreases by an order of magnitude when we shift our attention from one level to the next lower one. We understand walls in terms of bricks, bricks in terms of crystals, crystals in terms of molecules etc. As a result the number of levels that can be distinguished meaningfully in a hierarchical system is kind of proportional to the logarithm of the ratio between the largest and the smallest grain, and therefore, unless this ratio is very large, we cannot expect many levels. In computer programming our basic building block has an associated time grain of less than a microsecond, but our program may take hours of computation time. I do not know of any other technology covering a ratio of 1010 or more: the computer, by virtue of its fantastic speed, seems to be the first to provide us with an environment where highly hierarchical artefacts are both possible and necessary. This challenge, viz. the confrontation with the programming task, is so unique that this novel experience can teach us a lot about ourselves. It should deepen our understanding of the processes of design and creation, it should give us better control over the task of organizing our thoughts. If it did not do so, to my taste we should not deserve the computer at all!

It has already taught us a few lessons, and the one I have chosen to stress in this talk is the following. We shall do a much better programming job, provided that we approach the task with a full appreciation of its tremendous difficulty, provided that we stick to modest and elegant programming languages, provided that we respect the intrinsic limitations of the human mind and approach the task as Very Humble Programmers.

Maureen Johnson – “I am not a brand.”

Maureen Johnson: “Manifesto”:

The internet is made of people. People matter. This includes you. Stop trying to sell everything about yourself to everyone. Don’t just hammer away and repeat and talk at people–talk TO people. It’s organic. Make stuff for the internet that matters to you, even if it seems stupid. Do it because it’s good and feels important. Put up more cat pictures. Make more songs. Show your doodles. Give things away and take things that are free. Look at what other people are doing, not to compete, imitate, or compare . . . but because you enjoy looking at the things other people make. Don’t shove yourself into that tiny, airless box called a brand–tiny, airless boxes are for trinkets and dead people.

Read the whole thing

NPR covers Mark Horvath’s

I try and spend some time each week serving lunch at Project H.O.M.E.’s “Women of Change” with other fellow CIM Volunteers. I’m engaging some of the folks who work at Women of Change into possibly trying a project along these lines. I think Mark Horvath is onto something by sharing these stories as raw as he does. “Former Homeless Man’s Videos Profile Life On Street”

Reference Links:


Mark Horvath: haRdLy NOrMal

Dear Aunt Jeanette, love you, Shane

A dear friend to my Mom, and a source of many, many warm memories, my aunt, my Godmother, Jeanette Holohan, passed away Friday morning.

How exactly aunt Jeanette encountered Mom shortly after I was born was never fully outlined, they had talked a little bit about the job Jeanette had at the local grocery store in Fairview, NJ, and Mom just striking up a conversation with her out of the blue about something seemingly random. That sounded like Mom, ready to reach out to anyone and make a connection. And that sounded like Jeanette, ready to lend an empathetic ear.

Aunt Jeanette was a warm, loving soul whose friendship to Mom, during me and my brother’s earlier years, provided her with a kind of acceptance and understanding she needed during dark days. Mom loved her so much she made Jeanette my Godmother, and Dante’s and my aunt. Through the years she would talk of her in the way all timeless friends talk of each other, with that knowledge that here is that other person that really understands me, that really gets me. We each need that so much in life. Mom and Jeanette provided that for one another.

I have great memories of being over Jeanette’s, being babysat by her daughters, and having dinner. We lived down the block and all I wanted to do was to hang out there. Lena Horne, the Muppets, and spaghetti.

Life takes many twists and turns when you face the difficulties my Mom had so contact became sporadic. Richelle deserves credit for helping us re-establish a connection, which helped me reconnect her and Mom after she had stopped swirling after her husband’s death.

My thoughts and prayers are with her daughters and friends this morning. Their Mom left a huge impact in my life. I hope I’ve learned some major lessons from her. The power of the random connection, the importance of friends and unconditional acceptance, love and working to understand one another.

Her kisses, her hugs, her voice saying, “love you Shane, you be good to your Mom sweetie” will be with me till the day I die and I hope I am as good a friend as she was.

Love you too aunt Jeanette, miss you,


Unemployed? Don’t Apply Here

Imagine you are unemployed and are applying for a new job at a company you are qualified for, and want to work for, and being notified that your application will not be accepted, because you are already unemployed.

This is what some job hunters are facing in this increasingly look-the-other-way unemployment situation according to Laura Bassett in The Huffington Post: “Disturbing Job Ads: The Unemployed Will Not Be Considered”. There is a good thread at “Hacker News” as to why this makes no sense, getting beyond the ethical and moral concerns of it.

Great Spring and Maven tutorials Cameron McKenzie: “The Easiest Way to Get Started with Spring” – good toe-dip to the Spring container, dependency injection and inversion control. Will Iverson: “Building Web Applications with Maven 2” – great intro to Maven, building a small web-app, and running it with Jetty.

JavaWorld: John Ferguson Smart: “An introduction to Maven 2” – a bit more detailed then the previously mentioned Maven tutorial, but does not include Jetty unfortunately.

If I could find one tutorial that brings these elements together, with a little Eclipse IDE configuration and usage thrown in, it would be great.