Building GCC From Scratch Natively on OSX 10.11 (El Capitan) and Above

With every iteration of their desktop operating system, Apple seems more and more determined to try new and novel ways to irritate me. The rootless security model that prevents anyone from writing to ‘/usr‘ (except for ‘/usr/local’; though there is no way for you to re-create this directory if you wipe it). The big problem is that the build process of GCC requires that ‘/usr/include’ exists, and the OSX 10.11 security model does not allow you to create it.

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Invisible Photographer Meets Vanishing Fox

My absolute favorite wildlife encounter in the Pantanal was with a central South American endemic Crab-Eating Fox (Cerdocyon thous). I had left the group behind in the safari vehicle on the road to try and close in on some jabiru in the marsh on foot. I was creeping about, camera + lens in hand, when suddenly, I saw her staring at me through the marsh vegetation. I froze. After a few moments, I realized that it seemed that while she sensed something, she could not actually see me: she kept sniffing the air in my direction, ears pricked and alert, and starting intently (right at me!

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Is that an archosaur in your Pantanal, or are you just happy to see me?

Finally getting around to finishing processing some of my Pantanal wetland photographs, and realized that despite being famous for its endemic birds, I was drawn more to the other clade of archosaurs in the region, the Crocodylia, represented by the Black Caiman, Caiman yacare. The Pantanal population of caimans is the largest single crocodiilan population on the planet.

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More Sandhill Cranes!

Love these birds! More Sandhill Cranes from the kayak. This time I deliberately avoiding going too close to where I last saw the nesting pair, and instead hit a different area of the marsh. Here I stumbled upon a colony of 8-10 individuals. (The one on the right seems to be complaining about its day to the others, who are all dutifully listening, The middle one has completely zoned out, though, and is daydreaming about cornfields while waiting for the rant to end.

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Sandhill Cranes Parents and Chick

AMAZING experience! So, I was using my kayak to stalk a Great Blue Heron in the marshes at the other end of the lake behind our house and the guy kept drifting deeper and deeper into the marsh, till I could not follow any more (less than a 10th of an inch water, and chock full of vegetation; next time, I am getting a push pole!). So I turn around to head back, when I see these guys almost right next to me!

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Evolution of Bioluminescence in Millipedes

Walk deep into a rainforest at night. Switch off your headlamps. And wait with open eyes. At first, it is so pitch black that you cannot see your own hand if you wave it in front of nose (as Bilbo might have said). As your eyes get accustomed to the darkness, you will realize one thing. Everything glows. Everything. There is fine fuzzy layer of bioluminescent fungus covering dead leaves and the bark of trees, so you can almost make out the forest like some one has traced it out in ghostly yellow-green outline.

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Vim: Insert Mode is Like the Passing Lane

Insert mode is not the mode for editing text. It is a mode for editing text, because both normal and insert modes are modes for editing text. Insert mode, however, is the mode for inserting new/raw text directly from the keyboard (as opposed to, e.g., from a register or a file). Thus, you will only be in insert mode when you are actually typing in inserting (raw) text directly. For almost every other editing operation, normal mode is where you will be.

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From Acolyte to Adept: The Next Step After NOP-ing Arrow Keys in Vim

We all know about no-op’ing arrow keys in Vim to get us to break the habit of relying on them for inefficient movement. But, as this post points out, it is not the location of the arrow keys that makes them inefficient, but the modality of the movement: single steps in insert mode is a horrible way to move around when normal mode provides so much better functionality.

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Laika: A Sad, Unnecessary Death

I think our space programme is one of our species’ greatest achievements. It does have a sordid past, though, with roots in war, conflict, aggression, violence, paranoia, and narrow-minded parochial/tribal brutality. Which makes it all the more remarkable that I think it unites us as a species now, when it was born of such acrimonious and savage division. But probably one of the greatest crimes of the early days our species’ space programmes is the death of Laika.

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