"The Vim Clutch": a footpedal for the code-editor Vim

Vim is a text editor greatly loved by many programmers, because of its radically keyboard-centric design.

When you're coding in Vim, you generally never touch the trackpad or mouse; everything is done with the keyboard. Indeed, your hands don't even move around very much on the keyboard, because Vim doesn't even use the arrow keys. To move the cursor left by one character, for example, hit the "h" key. The "l" key moves you one character right, "k" takes you up one line, "j" down one line. There are also tons of clever little key-commands that speed up text-editing: Type "dw" and it deletes the word you're currently on, type "d$" to delete to the end of the line.

The upshot is that once you've mastered Vim, there's a glorious feeling of Csikszentmihalyian flow: Your fingers move in a blur of supremely economic, efficient movement. Your fingers spend far more time on the home-row keys.

But wait, you might wonder: How does this work? What if you want to use h/l/k/j to type letters, not to navigate?

Well, Vim has two modes -- "command" and "insert" mode. You enter command mode to use all those nifty shortcuts, and go back into insert mode when you want to type text. When you write in Vim, you're constantly shifting back and forth between those two modes, using the "esc" key to enter command mode.

That shift -- between those two modes -- is the only thing I've ever heard coders occasionally complain about with Vim. Read the rest

Great moments in pedantry: Actually, there is a Jedi mind meld

It's right there in the Expanded Universe book series, says Chris Peterson, a research assistant in MIT's Center for Civic Media. It's a form of group communication. What's more, Peterson writes, if you follow the theories of anthropologist and sociologist of science Bruno Latour, the Jedi meld might actually be the most useful tool for Obama to employ. (Thanks Ryan!) Read the rest

Ant has had it up to here with your academic controversies

If you read our story about the ant evolution debates then you will enjoy this LOLant made by biologist and insect blogger Alex Wild. (Thalex!) Read the rest

Inn at the Crossroads: A "Game of Thrones" cooking blog

I've long been a big fan of modern attempts to cook medieval cuisine (see: Medievalcookery.com, University of Chicago Press' The Medieval Kitchen, and all the various scanned, historic cookbooks available through Wikipedia). There's something about the cultural anthropology of food that just really appeals to me. Plus, I love the way historic cookbooks assume you know how to do then-basic parts of household labor and will start a recipe with instructions like, "First, butcher and dress a pig." Oh, okay. Sure.

The Inn at the Crossroads blog combines the geeky joy I get from medieval cooking with the geeky joy I get from George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. The results: A brilliant collection of recipes for dishes mentioned in all five of Martin's novels, many developed using medieval cookbooks and techniques.

In a way, this blog is almost inevitable. I haven't read a series of books this obsessed with the food its characters eat since Little House on the Prairie. Unlike Laura Ingalls Wilder, however, George R. R. Martin doesn't provide much instruction in how to make that food. So bloggers Sariann and Chelsea should get serious props for reverse-engineering recipes for everything from medieval pork pie , to marinated goat with honey, to honey-spiced "locusts" (actually crickets). This is one of those food blogs that's totally worth gawking over, even if you never plan on cooking the recipes.

Thank you, Laci Balfour!

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