Older blog entries for lmjohns3 (starting at number 2)

8 Sep 2002 (updated 19 Sep 2002 at 18:13 UTC) »

technical writing in Austria

I'm learning quickly here that my education as a Franklin Scholar helped give me one exceedingly valuable skill : technical writing. There are literally millions and millions of people in the world who :

  1. do not speak English as a native language, or perhaps are native English speakers but lack solid grammar skills,
  2. are working in technical disciplines, e.g. computer science or mechanical engineering, and
  3. have to write papers or documentation in English to publish their work.

Now most people, for the most part, do a really good job of communicating their ideas. However, they often need help with pesky prepositions, difficult sentence constructions, or common usage problems in their English writing. English is not an easy language to learn well ! In addition, the only editing help the people from the above lists have usually comes from one of two sources :

  1. colleagues who have concentrated in English studies and don't know much about the technical side of the papers they are proofreading, or
  2. colleagues who have concentrated in technical disciplines but are not native English speakers or do not necessarily know English that well.

This is really not intended as a self horn tooting. My own language and technical skills can always use work ! But because I am a native English speaker and have studied both a technical field and a more language oriented one, my colleagues at work have found this combination of skills to be quite valuable for them.

Actually, I intend this mostly as a challenge to all students to search outside your chosen discipline, in whatever language you want. Broad educations might never be finished, or they might be socially abnormal, but if you can help someone (even a native speaker !) proofread a technical publication in any langauge, they will truly appreciate an editor that can combine knowledge of a technical field with the ability to communicate that knowledge.

USB rocks

On a completely unrelated note, I just bought a USB optical mouse and got it to work with minimal hassle under X 4.2. Yay ! All I needed to do was "mkdir /dev/input" and "mknod /dev/input/mice c 13 63" after installing the kernel modules.

2 Sep 2002 (updated 19 Sep 2002 at 18:12 UTC) »


After a mostly caffeine-free existence throughout college, the temptation has finally become too great. But it's really not my fault: here I am faced with an irresistible combination of early mornings, ten hours of programming a day, and free good coffee at work. Now if only they had little pastries and cookies as well, or fresh fruit or something like that.


I have started to really charge into one of the GStreamer documents, the Filter Writer's Guide. It needs serious help, and I am trying to get a handle on at least some of it. Writing documentation is tough, though, and requires a really good understanding of things. Looks like much reading is in the near future.


At work I've installed Bugzilla. Bugzilla is a hacked up set of Perl scripts that functions (and functions well, even), but not without a heavy dose of voodoo. Unfortunately, a nasty DNS situation seems to have thwarted the effort to get Mailman to work, but we might be able to hack it up a little to get some mailing list action in the house.

So that was the first two weeks, interspersed with some emailing and web browsing ... now I've got some real programming projects. I'm looking at creating a Zope interface for CORBA 3, trying to see if it's possible to use Zope to act as a thin client for CORBA apps. I might also start working on a CORBA 3 code generator, but we'll see. CORBA is really complicated, but it's kind of cool. Definitely the kind of thing that management drools over (platform independence ! code reuse ! rapid development !).

well, as i type this, gstreamer is installing on my machine, hopefully step 1 of 3 in getting rhythmbox to work.

i've started to get the hacking urge again, postponed by a mindless summer of driving, sleep, and no work whatsoever. of course, wingo spent much time this summer (while i was slacking) getting a nice app out the door, and that's been a source of some of the hacking urge as well. but now i'm on the job, programming all day and beering on the weekends. what other ingredients are needed to start programming in one's free time ? perhaps just an internet connection (check) and the right mindset (check) and lots of unclaimed or low(er) priority time (check).

so the plan is to get to work once more on drumbox. granted, there are already drum machine apps out there, but i don't think they have good interfaces for my uses. also, i just want to hack on a program for a bit. :)

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