A new Amiga — better late than never?

A review of the new Amiga hardware and software: The Micro-AmigaOne and Amiga OS4 Developer Prerelease via [MeFi]

My first computer was an Amiga 500, and what a fantastic machine it was — although snail-like in terms of raw number of MHz by today’s standards, it felt quick and responsive, and while many people remember it for its awesome gaming credentials, the OS was also powerful and easy to use.

Reading the article about the new Amiga, I experienced a pleasant feeling of nostalgia for my Amiga using days. Interestingly the article highlights that one of the problems with the new machine is the one application area where I always thought the Amiga to be weak, word processing software. Of course these days, provided there was a decent LaTeX implementation I wouldn’t need a word processor, but for many people it remains one of their most frequently used applications.

So is there a future for the Amiga? Given that I bought my first PC ten years ago this summer, I suspect that this new product comes at least 10 years too late. However, in his conclusion the author remarks how well the system works on what is practically PDA-level hardware. Could the Amiga find itself another profitable niche in the PDA/mobile phone market? The story of BeOS suggests there is little room for another player in the desktop market, but I’m sure there are plenty of former Amiga-owners who would love to be able to dual boot into a new version of AmigaOS if there was a inexpensive x86 port.

Essential Links for Cambridge CompScis

A collection of links relevant to Cambridge Computer Scientists:

  • On line Dictionary of Computer Terms
  • ucam.cl.students – The Computer Lab student newsgroup
  • comp.risks — A very interesting, low-traffic newsgroup with anecdotes from around the world about software engineering and security practice. Recommended reading for Software Engineering and Security courses, as well as general interest.

Learn Useful Stuff


See the CompSci category of blog posts for other items of possible interest.

LaTeX Tips

While teaching somebody how to use LaTeX recently I noticed that my webpage of useful LaTeX tips and links was no longer accessible.

Counting words in LaTeX

You can count the words in a normal text file using the wc command, but if you run this on a LaTeX source file, then it will also count the LaTeX commands as words. One solution is:
sed 's/[a-zA-Z]*//g' file.tex | wc -w
although this will probably give you a false result if you have many mathematical formulæ in your file.

A better alternative might be to use this Perl script which I hacked up whilst writing my PartII dissertation. It strips out the majority of the LaTeX commands, and attempts to understand the difference between commands that contain “text” within the curly brackets (e.g. section headings), commands that have text within the curly brackets that should be ignored (e.g. cite) and commands where everything between begin{} and end{} should be ignored (e.g. equation). You can then pipe the output to wc. stripTex.pl.

Legal music downloads overtake single sales

Downloads overtake single sales (from BBC News).

This is hardly surprising since, as far as I know, sales of singles have been in free-fall for a while. The quality of music that seems to make up the vast majority of the singles chart suggests that the majority of sales are to 12–14 year olds anyway — a tech-savvy market that is bound to be attracted to 99p downloads.

News (same article) that album sales are up 2.6% over a “record 2003” suggests that downloads (of all forms, legal and illegal) aren’t hurting the music industry as much as it would like us to believe either.

Anti-Comment-Spam and Other WordPress Plugins

Over the Christmas vacation this blog was spammed repeatedly, particularly annoying since I was on a dial-up connection that made downloading all the comment notification emails annoying if nothing else! It seems this is quite a common problem and as usual Google provided an excellent resource for tackling the problem. Read on for a detailed description of what solutions I have employed, but like all anti-spam methods there is always the possibility of false positives, please do let me know if your comment appears to get lost in the ether.

Continue reading “Anti-Comment-Spam and Other WordPress Plugins”

Getting back in the saddle

After a lovely two week break at home with my parents, including a fun trip round the country visiting friends over the New Year weekend, I arrived back in Cambridge today. Not much seems to have changed — I have only been away for two weeks(!), and it still seems quite peaceful and student-free so I am planning to get back to serious thesis work next week.

Over the holidays, I:

  • caught up with my old school friends, many of whom I haven’t seen since this time last year!
  • almost cleared my inbox (although it seems to be rapidly filling up again already!!)
  • added Joel on Software to my daily reading list;
  • read a good book by Jasper Fforde
  • didn’t think about my thesis once. 🙂

All-in-all, an excellent holiday I think.

Happy new year, everyone!