STAIRS/ECAI-12

I’m in Montpellier attending STAIRS/ECAI. The city is nice, and I’m experimenting with taking b&w-only photographs.

The main conference is very big, comparable to AAMAS in size, which is a bit surprising. The workshops on the other hand seemed much smaller. STAIRS however, where I had a paper, was a very peculiar experience: it’s basically a conference for PhD students that has AI “in general” as its topic and allows for… 15+5 min talks. This results in a number of very short and very fast talks on all AI-related topics, from machine learning through non-monotonic reasoning to logic and knowledge representation. On top of that you have an audience full of PhD students that basically don’t ask any questions (because they’re unfamiliar with most stuff outside of their respective narrow fields). Weird.

Also, I’d like to share 3 small observations about France/Montpellier, as it’s the first time I’m in this country:

  1. The food everywhere is fantastic. Seriously, beats Spain and any other country I’ve been to. It’s not very cheap though, but I guess that has something to do with the fact that Montpellier is a touristy place, and it’s August.
  2. People are very friendly, and most of them speak English quite well. They’re not very eager to speak it, though, e.g. they understand what I’m saying and, if forced, will reply in English, but they generally ask questions and reply in French. To which I always reply in English (unless it’s something really basic), and it seems to all work perfectly fine.
  3. Drivers are much more aggressive than in northern Europe. Feels almost like in Poland.

How the iPad ruins my travel experience

I travel a lot, be it for work or pleasure, and one of the things I particularly enjoy when I’m transferring at my favorite Schiphol airport is visiting bookstores. I browse magazines, bestsellers and non-fiction, and usually buy an issue of The Economist, The New Yorker or a book. Or actually, I used to buy.

Ever since I have the iPad1, I stopped visiting bookstores. I no longer buy The Economist or The New Yorker, because there’s an app for that. Well, not only there are apps, but magazines are usually much cheaper if bought in “the newsstand” rather than in printed form. I no longer buy books there either, because I prefer using the Kindle app for reading while traveling (cuts the weight of the bag significantly). You might then say that there are no cons to this situation, and it is indeed a typical first world problem, but there are two observations I made today that I’d like to share here. Continue reading “How the iPad ruins my travel experience”

The Vim Experiment

Today I started my Vim experiment, that is I stopped using Emacs and decided to try using only Vim. I cannot stress enough the experiment and try keywords here, because Vim is so different to me, and I’ve been using Emacs for soo long, that it’s very likely I will abandon the whole thing and go back to Editor MACroS in a couple of days.1

And of course there is a couple of answers to the obvious why?! question.

  1. Because I’m a “hacker” and I like trying new things, and because I want to embrace the uncomfortable.
  2. Because I watched some Vimcasts, and got very, very impressed2 by what you can do if you know Vim. I’m not sure if it’s possible to do all this with Emacs. It probably is, but anyway, see point 1.
  3. Because managing my Emacs configuration has become painful. The new system of package repositories introduced in Emacs 24 is confusing to me, I’m not sure how to use it and from what I can tell not all the packages are using it. With Vim, I can use Pathogen to synchronize my plugins with their git repositories, a solution I find efficient and nice.

So that’s it. These are the reasons. Now let’s see how long will I last in the Vim-land.


  1. Funny thing: I remember that the very first programmer’s editor I ever used was actually Vim. I got convinced to try Emacs in college by my friend Szopa, got impressed by AUCTeX and Preview-mode, and stayed with it ever since. 
  2. I got so impressed that I immediately bought Drew Neil’s book on Vim.