Lacking Natural Simplicity

Random musings on books, code, and tabletop games.

Recent Reading and Viewing; Oracle

Recent Reading

  • Blue Magic, by Jo Clayton; DAW, May 1988; DAW Collecttors No. 743. Good, but not quite as good as the first in the series.

  • Two-Bit Heroes, by Doris Egan; DAW, January 1992; DAW Book Collectors No. 870. Also good, but not quite as good as the first in the series.

  • The Suns of Scorpio, by Kenneth Bulmer, as by Alan Burt Akers; DAW Books 1973; Futura Publications Limited, 1974. This is the second of the Dray Prescot books and deals extensively with his adventures in the Eye of the World amongst the partisans of the Red and the Green. This was the first of the Dray Prescot books that I read. I got it from the Salem College library as a youngster one snowy winter day when I'd gone there with my Dad (who was a professor there at the time) because schools in our county had been canceled because of the snow. The copy that I borrowed that day was the DAW (USA) edition; the version I own now, oddly enough, is the British edition.

Recent Viewing

  • Zatoichi sakate giri, also known as Zatoichi and the Doomed Man, 1965; directed by Kazuo Mori; writing by Shozaburo Asai and Kan Shimozawa; starring Shintarô Katsu.

  • A Man Apart, 2003; directed by F. Gary Gray; writing by Christian Gudegast and Paul Scheuring; starring Vin Diesel. Worth seeing on cable, I suppose, for those who like that sort of thing.


It turns out that to install Oracle 10g on a Windows XP machine that doesn't have a static address or which is not connected to a network you have to install the Microsoft Loopback Adapter, configure it with a non-routable IP address, make it the primary network address, and make sure oracle uses that address when it installs. This is documented in this version of the release notes but unfortunately, this is not the current version of the release notes, so if you follow the normal links on their website or you look at the relase notes that come with the download you won't see that section.

Just for posterity, here's what Oracle has to say:

10.22 Prerequisite for DHCP Installation

To install Oracle Database or Oracle Database 10g Companion Products on a server configured with DHCP, or if you want to perform an off- network installation and connect to the network afterwards, then you must appropriately configure the Microsoft Loopback adapter as the primary network interface before installation.

Follow this procedure:

  1. Install Microsoft Loopback adapter on the DHCP computer. See Also: Microsoft Knowledge Base documentation for instructions on installing and configuring the Loopback adapter

  2. After installing the adapter, you must assign it a non-routable IP. The following values are recommended: 192.168.x.x (where x is any value) and Then assign a subnet mask of

  3. Modify System32\drivers\etc\hosts to include an entry of the form:

    ;non-routable IP Fully-Qualified-Windows-Machine-Name Windows-Machine-Name-Aliases

    For example: oracle-laptop
  4. Windows considers Loopback adapters as a type of network adapter. After installing the Loopback adapter, you have at least two network adapters on your computer: your network adapter and the Loopback adapter. You want Windows to use the loopback adapter as the primary adapter. Check your operating system documentation for instructions on how to do this.


You must set up the Loopback adaptor before installation.

Recent Reading and Viewing

Recent Reading

  • Masters of Fantasy, edited by Bill Fawcett and Brian Tomsen; Baen, 2004. I think this book is misnamed: I think it includes works by only two “Masters” (Norton and Foster, though each are more masters of space opera in the non-pejorative sense, especially Foster) and several who are potentially “Masters”, along with a lot of extruded fantasy product. In practical terms, I only liked the stories by Norton, Asprin & Nye, Drake, Moon, and Weber. Several of the others were competently written, and the rest were extruded fantasy product. (Foster is definitely a “Master” of space opera, and I've liked his Spellslinger tales in the past, but this one did nothing for me.)

    In the Introduction Thomsen talks about the difference between “category” fiction (he explicitly calls “category” a pejorative) and “genre” fiction. As far as I can tell, the difference is that “category” fiction's main venues for sales were the drug store and gas station (and probably, though he doesn't say this, the supermarket) wire racks and the fact that they sold relatively few copies, while “genre” fiction sold well and was respected by the publisher and bookseller and was treated as essentially a normal fiction book. Thomsen attributes the publishers' and booksellers' current “respect” for fantasy entirely to fantasy's ability to produce best sellers, and to this respect attributes the existence of the numerous small publishers specializing in the genre.

    Frankly, I disagree. The publishing industry's “respect”, as always, is for bestsellers only, because they make the most money for the publisher, and they're perfectly happy to discard authors who are profitable but not bestellers. That's why there has been an increase in small publishers: they are the only ones willing to publish these profitable but not bestselling authors. The big publishers are more interested in gambling on who will produce the next bestseller, so they publish new authors and drop them unless they produce bestsellers. That's why the size if a print run for a typical fantasy book are smaller now than in the mid 70s: print a few, see if it becomes a best seller, and if not, don't print any more, regardless of whether it was profitable or not. Go for the pot of gold at the end of the bestseller rainbow and ignore the profitable small business along the side road.

    • “Introduction”, by Brian Thomsen.

    • “Out of the Deep”, A Valdemar story, by Mercedes Lackey.

    • “Earthborne”, A Witchworld story, by Andre Norton.

    • “Mything in Dreamland”, A Myth Adventures in Dreamland story, by Robert Asprin and Jody Lynn Nye.

    • “Race for the Sky”, A Bifrost story, by Mickey Zucker Reichert.

    • “Shademehr and the Old Wive's Tale”, A Shadamehr story, by Margaret Weis and Don Perrin.

    • “Serenade”, A Spellsinger story, by Alan Dean Foster.

    • “Child of Prophecy”, A War of Light and Shadow story, by Janny Wurts.

    • “The Afterlife of St. Vidicon of Cathode”, A Warlock story, by Christopher Stasheff.

    • “The Elf House”, An Isles story, by David Drake.

    • “Gifts”, A World of Paksenarrion story, by Elizabeth Moon. Moon has come a long way from her original, AD inspired, Paksenarrion books; this story makes me want to reread the first few to see how much of it was always there.

    • “The Amorous Broom”, A John Justin Mallory story, by Mike Resnick.

    • “Web of Deception”, A Bahzell story, by David Weber. Well, it's not really a Bahzell story, is it? It is set in the same world, and Bahzell appears as an important supporting character. Good all the same.

  • Kothar and the Wizard Slayer, by Gardner F. Fox; Unibook/Modern Promotions, 1970. I picked this up because of Ron Edwards' mention of Fox's Sword & Sorcery books in Sorcerer and Sword; I might read another of Fox's books if I ran across it, but I wouldn't search them out.

  • Drinker of Souls, by Jo Clayton; DAW, 1986; DAW Collectors Book No. 668. Jo Clayton's books always have interesting protagonists in hostile surroundings, and always make me appreciate the comparative safety of a well-run modern legal system; well worth rereading.

Recent Viewing

  • Zatôichi nidan-kiri, also know as The Blind Swordsman's Revenge, 1965; directed by Akira Inoue; writing by Minoru Inuzuka and Kan Shimozawa; starring Shintarô Katsu.

Recent Reading

  • The Gate of Ivory, by Doris Egan; DAW Books, February 1989.

  • Incubus Dreams, by Laurell K. Hamilton; Berkley Books, September, 2004. As has become usual, it seems as if more of the plot is dealing with Anita Blake's sex life than anything else. Still good, if you can tolerate that level of explicit detail.

Building Emacs and Unison on Windows XP

Building Emacs on Windows XP

Results from a superficial exercise with very limited use or testing:

  1. Use the instructions in .../nt/INSTALL.

  2. Compiling release 21.4 with gcc and -no-cygwin completed, but produced an emacs.exe that died with an error when run, except when run under gdb, in which case no error was observed.

  3. Compiling release 21.4 with Visual C completed and produced an emacs.exe that ran without error.

  4. Compiling a version obtained from Emacs CVS with the current versions of MingW and MSYS completed and produced an emacs.exe that ran without error.

Building Unison 2.10.2 with GTK+ v2 on Windows XP

Short form: build ocaml mingw version using cygwin tools with -mno- cygwin, get gtk2 development environment from the Win32 GAIM folks, patch so ptty handling is same as sun (die at runtime), use with MSYS ssh.

Recent Reading and Viewing

Recent Reading

  • The Life and Works of Chopin, by Jeremy Seipman; narrated by Jeremy Siepmann with Anton Lesser, Neville Jason, Elaine Claxton, and Karen Archer; NAXOS AudioBooks Ltd, copyright 2001.

  • The Farthest Shore, by Ursula K. Le Guin, copyright 1972; Antheneum, September 1972; Bantam Books, October 1975; 8th printing, November 1977.

  • Tehanu, by Ursula K. Le Guin. Atheneum, 1990. Originally published as Tehanu: the last book of Earthsea. When Tehanu was first released there was a lot of controversy amongst those who remembered the first three * Earthsea* books fondly because where the first three were beloved children's/young adult books about (among other things) coming of age and choices, Tehanu is about (among other things) child abuse and gender/power relationships. Many felt that Le Guin had used the popularity of the earlier three books as a springboard for a polemic. I recently reread the three earlier books and the fourth in fairly close proximity, and in my considered opinion the fourth book has the same voice as the earlier three: it's definitely an Earthsea book. I was glad to find, a while ago, that there were more Earthsea stories to be told after Tehanu.

  • Earthgrip: Tales from the Trader's World, by Harry Turtledove, copyright 1991; Del Rey, December 1991. “6+” copyright 1987, Analog, September 1987; “Nothing in Night-Time”, copyright 1989, Analog, March 1989; “The Great Unknown”, copyright 1991, Analog, April, May, June 1991.

Recent Viewing

  • Zatôichi abare tako also known as Zatoichi's Flashing Sword, 1964; directed by Kazuo Ikehiro; writing by Shozaburo Asai, Minoru Inuzuka, Kan Shimozawa; starting Shintarô Katsu.

  • Zatôichi kesshô-tabi also known as Fight, Zatoichi, Fight; 1964; directed by Kenji MIsumi, writing by Seiji Hoshikawa, starting Shintarô Katsu.

  • Frazetta: Painting with Fire, 2003; directed by Lance Laspina. This was an interesting documentary about Frank Frazetta, who dominated the field of fantasy illustration.

Recent Reading

  • Mr. Timothy, by Louis Bayard, copyright 2003; read by Mark Honan; BBC Audiobooks America, 2003; produced in by arrangement with HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. An odd sort of sequel to Dicken's A Christmas Carol, dealing with Timothy Cratchet's attempts as a young adult to deal with the death of his father and the overwhelming and smothering benevolence of his kindly uncle Ebeneezer, along with a number of unpleasant murders of young girls in mid-19th century London. Despite my expectations and a really alarming verbosity I ended up rather enjoying this.

  • Drumbeat, by Dudley Pope, copyright 1968; Pocket Books, 1970.

  • Ramage's Diamond, by Dudley Pope, copyright 1976; Avon Books, January 1982. I've enjoyed what I've read so far of Pope's Ramage books, and was happy to find this one in a local library, along with a number of other volumes in the series.

Skeptical about Macro Hygiene?

Eli Barzilay has a couple of interesting USENET articles on his experience changing from defmacro to syntax-case. Unfortunately, I didn't understand Shriram Krishnamurthi's comments on hygiene at all.

Additions on Tuesday, 21 April 2009

I thought I'd better quote what he said:

By the way, I've been skeptical about hygiene for the past six or seven years. The hygiene algorithm struck me as such an obviously good idea that I simply couldn't understand what the MIT folks meant when they said (and I'm paraphrasing, loosely, from papers I haven't read in a decade) that the hygiene algorithm doesn't make sense. Only a few years ago did I begin to unravel this, and now I almost entirely understand it. In short, it has taken me nearly a decade to understand why someone did not understand something that I understood obviously, and it's only because what I understood obviously, I now barely understand at all.

It's really simple to understand how to implement defmacro. It's not simple to understand how to implement syntax-case. Throw in modules, as in PLT Scheme (and R6RS, apparently), and things are even more difficult. Throw in the oddity of writing syntax-case/syntax-rules macros with the pattern matching syntax, and you really have to wonder.

I really wish somebody would sit down and write detailed survey article comparing all the Lisp and Scheme macro systems and considering all the interactions with modules and pattern matching. I think it's really needed. [Do I say this somewhere else, too?]

Goodbye, PM3; Recent Reading

Goodbye, PM3

I have been cleaning some uncessary packages off and in the process accidently deleted pm3-forms, a GUI library for the Polytechnic Modula 3 implementation (PM3). Unfortunately, CVSup uses the forms library, and I use CVSup extensively to keep the FreeBSD source code and Ports up to date, so I can keep up to date. Unfortunately, I'd built PM3 back in the XFree86 days and have since switched to Xorg and the dependencies in the other PM3 packages would have caused rebuilding and reinstalling all the XFree86 packages. I had no desire to go back there, so I decided to delete all the PM3 packages and CVSup and rebuild CVSup from scratch. Upon consideration, I decided to use the ezm3 Modula 3 distribution instead of PM3 ; the ezm3 distribution is specifically maintined to support CVSup, and since that's the only thing I'm using Modula 3 for any more it makes sense to use the smaller but better maintained ezm3 instead of the bigger and more featureful but almost unmaintained PM3 distribution.

It's really a pity: the PM3 distribution had a lot of neat programs included and Modula 3 is very interesting language and was used as the building blocks for a lot of very interesting research, but today the user base is too small to see much development with the language. Personally, I think it has a lot going for it: it's a relatively small language with a great number of features that showed up in other languages of its kind only later: garbage collection, modules, threads, objects, generics, and so on, in a very readable and understandable way. In many ways it's a better language than many of its successors.

Unfortunately, for my personal use, it doesn't go quite far enough in one way: I've been spoiled by the convenience of higher level languages like Dylan, Lisp, Scheme, and Objective Caml; and in another way it has gone a little too far: interfacing to C is well defined, but is not without some easily overlooked drawbacks. The situation was not improved by the minor but pervasive incompatiblities between classic Modula 3 on one side (the original DEC distribution, PM3, and ezm3) and the enhanced version produced by Critical Mass (CM3). In the end, it remains a language that, like Oberon-2 and Ada, I like, but not enough to use regularly.

Recent Reading (Harlan)

  • Wasteland of Flint, by Thomas Harlan; Tor/Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, April 2003. I devoured Harlan's earlier Oath of Empire, a fascinating fantasy set in an alternate Roman Empire, so I was overjoyed to find he has started a new series, beginning with this book. This time it's science fiction, but again it's alternate history, set in the future in a universe where the Aztec empire rules Earth and has expanded to the stars. It's a good book that kept me interested to the last and looking forward to the next book in the series, House of Reeds.