January 9th, 2004

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Little Mason Jars of Sleep

Insomnia is really fundamentally unfair. There I am for half the night, totally unable to sleep because I can't shut my brain down. ("Must write character sheets!" "Is the new oil tank okay?" "*Jeezus*, it's cold!") Then I get to the morning -- I can scarcely keep my eyes open, nor form a particularly coherent thought.

We don't need pills for sleeping. We need a canning process for fatigue...
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Geekery: Xen

Fond though I am of hating Microsoft (due to its excessively aggressive business tactics), I have to admit that Microsoft Research comes up with remarkably cool ideas from time to time.

Computer language geeks should check out this article on the hypothetical language Xen. This is basically a collection of extensions to C# to make it much more usable for data processing. In particular, the article describes how to extend C# to make it really, really easy to use it for XML processing; along the way, they almost casually make it easier to embed SQL processing as well.

Of course, the annoying thing is that the chances of actually seeing this language come to market are slim -- MSR comes up with any number of great ideas that the Monolith never actually gets around to selling. But I can hope -- I suspect these concepts have ramifications well beyond XML processing...
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More Language Geeking

And another cool project from MSR: the F# Language. This is basically yet another variant of ML, which I've been meaning to really learn for ages. It sounds like it's not quite as complete as Caml; OTOH, it sounds like a good stripped-to-the-basics version of ML, which is probably excellent for really getting my feet wet. And it's a proper .NET language, which means complete interoperability with C#, and that means that I might even be able to write useful programs in this language without too much pain. Heck, I might even be able to use it for work, at least in non-mission-critical stuff.

Oh, boy -- new toys! I get very antsy if I go more than six months without learning a new computer language, and it's been way too long...