A Little Scheme

I go through phases of playing with Scheme for utility code, maybe even portable dev; while FreePascal is a better language for this, I'm frustrated by the lack of library support and the useless iOS situation.

Scheme's always been an emergency backup language; it was fun to learn back in the '80s and early '90s, and both SICP and TSPL are good books, but nobody wanted to pay for Scheme dev, and anyway the language is very annoying to write. I often treat it as a logic puzzle to get anything done, not a useful tool. But it does have good library support, and it can compile to very fast binaries, despite having GC pauses and consuming 2x as much memory as a C program. Maybe I can get better at solving problems in it, build up some libraries, and make it useful?

So the current landscape is:

  • Chez Scheme:
    • Pros:
      • Very fast to compile and at runtime, competitive with C compilers.
      • Great interactive REPL, not just a half-broken readline history like pretty much every other Scheme.
      • Debugger is reasonably good, and integrated in the REPL. All I really use myself is (trace FOO) and (inspect BAR), but non-caveman coders will make better use of it.
      • Current R6RS implementation plus extensive chezscheme library.
      • By R. Kent Dybvig, author of TSPL, and Cisco currently employs him to maintain Chez Scheme.
      • REPL environment is called a café, which I find charming. Yes, I also liked all the coffee puns and iconography from early Java programming.
    • Cons:
      • Not as widely supported by tools & documentation as Racket.
  • Racket:
    • Pros:
      • Very nice GUI.
      • Current R6RS implementation plus extensive racket library.
      • Built around making multiple languages; I don't really care about this. I loathe "Typed Racket", one of the worst combinations of ideas in history.
      • Tons of documentation.
    • Cons:
      • Mediocre performance. There's a project to rehost Racket on Chez Scheme, which would fix this, but then why use Racket?
      • Doing anything in the GUI destroys your environment, all the objects you've made, unlike any LISP or Scheme ever. So it's utterly fucking useless as an interactive REPL. I can't say enough bad things about this. ★☆☆☆☆ Kill On Sight.
  • Chicken:
    • Pros:
      • Compiles to C and thence to native binaries, with nice FFI to C libraries.
    • Cons:
      • Mostly old R5RS, with a few extension libraries.
      • Terrible REPL, only really usable as a compiled language.
  • Scheme R7RS benchmarks

Chez Scheme is the clear winner for me; if I was a novice, I might choose Racket and not realize that the REPL is a broken abomination for a while. If I was only doing C interop, Chicken would be better.

Editing in BBEdit works OK, but it doesn't know how to find function definitions. I guess Vim has current syntax, but I'm kinda over that habit unless I have to sysadmin. I have never been emacsulated and never will.

Atom's symbols list doesn't do any better. But if you do want to use it, install package language-racket (all other language-schemes are R5RS at best), and then add some file types to config.cson:

      "source.racket": [

In any editor, any language, I use hard tabs (1 char = 1 logical indentation level, obviously), and normally tabstop at 8 chars which discourages very long nesting and encourages me to extract functions. Scheme is indentation hell, so set the tabstop to 4 spaces. (The code blocks below won't show that.)

Do not criticize my C-like paren/brace placement; I prefer clear readability of code structure to some obsolete Emacs dogma.

So, let's see it work, with hello.ss:

#!/usr/bin/env scheme-script
(import (chezscheme))
(format #t "Cheers 🍻 , ~a!~%" (car (command-line-arguments)))
% chmod 755 hello.ss
% ./hello.ss Mark
Cheers 🍻 , Mark!

Now for something more serious:


;; stdlib.ss
;; Copyright © 2015,2018 by Mark Damon Hughes. All Rights Reserved.
(library (stdlib)
    (export inc! dec! currentTimeMillis randomize input atoi)
    (import (chezscheme))

;; Variables

(define-syntax inc!
    (syntax-rules ()
        ((_ x)      (begin (set! x (+ x 1)) x))
        ((_ x n)    (begin (set! x (+ x n)) x))

(define-syntax dec!
    (syntax-rules ()
        ((_ x)      (inc! x -1))
        ((_ x n)    (inc! x (- n)))

;; Date-Time

(define (currentTimeMillis)
    (let [(now (current-time))]
        (+ (* (time-second now) 1000)
            (div0 (time-nanosecond now) 1000000))

;; Random Numbers
;; "Anyone who attempts to generate random numbers by deterministic means is, of course, living in a state of sin." —John von Neumann

(define (randomize)
    (random-seed (bitwise-and (currentTimeMillis) #xffffffff) )

;; Input/Output

;; Reads a line from stdin, ends program on EOF
(define (input)
    (let [(s (get-line (current-input-port)) )]
        (if (eof-object? s)
            [begin (display "Bye!\n")

;; Strings

;; Converts a string to an integer, 0 if invalid
(define (atoi s)
    (let [(n (string->number s))]
        (if (eqv? n #f)
            (inexact->exact (truncate n))



#!/usr/bin/env scheme-script
;; guess.ss
;; Copyright © 2015,2018 by Mark Damon Hughes. All Rights Reserved.

(import (chezscheme))
(import (stdlib))

(define (guess)
    (display "I'm thinking of a number from 1 to 100, try to guess it!\n")
    (let [(theNumber (+ (random 100) 1))]
        (define guesses 1)
        (do [(break #f)] (break)
            (format #t "Guess #~a? " guesses)
            (let [(g (atoi (input)))]
                    [(or (<= g 0) (>= g 100))
                        (display "Try a number from 1 to 100.\n")
                    [(< g theNumber)
                        (display "Too low!\n")
                        (inc! guesses)
                    [(> g theNumber)
                        (display "Too high!\n")
                        (inc! guesses)
                        (display "You got it!\n")
                        (set! break #t)
    (display "***GAME OVER***\n")


chez-compile.zsh, with my thanks to Graham Watt for explaining wpo and libraries:

if [ $# -ne 1 ]; then
    echo "Usage: chez-compile.zsh MAINNAME"
    exit 1
rm -f *.so
rm -f *.wpo
mkdir -p bin

cat <<ENDTEXT |scheme -q --optimize-level 3
(compile-imported-libraries #t)
(generate-wpo-files #t)
(compile-program "$1.ss")
(compile-whole-program "$1.wpo" "bin/$1")

rm -f *.so
rm -f *.wpo
if [ -f "bin/$1" ]; then
    chmod 755 "bin/$1"

Now I just:

% chez-compile.zsh guess
compiling guess.ss with output to guess.so
compiling stdlib.ss with output to stdlib.so
% bin/guess
I'm thinking of a number from 1 to 100, try to guess it!
Guess #1? 50
Too low!
Guess #2? ^DBye!

Well, that was an adventure to get the equivalent of my first BASIC program from 1980, which can be run in Chipmunk BASIC if you don't happen to have a TRS-80 Model I handy:

10 N=INT(100*RND(1))+1:T=1
100 PRINT "GUESS #";T;"? ";:INPUT "",G
110 IF G<=0 OR G>=100 OR G<>INT(G) THEN 200
120 IF G<N THEN 210
130 IF G>N THEN 220
140 GOTO 230
210 PRINT "TOO LOW!":T=T+1:GOTO 100
220 PRINT "TOO HIGH!":T=T+1:GOTO 100

But now I can think about more complex problems in Chez Scheme!

Here's the tiniest piece of what I've been thinking about next:

Island in emoji

CS Larva

CS Larva
My first infinite loop was summer, age 10, only because I hadn't seen a computer until the year before. My pre-college computing skills were 90% self-taught; LOGO class at ~12 and a year of "comp sci" at 14 were minimal. ⌨️🖥

Fake Emoji & "Smart" Quotes Fuck Off

WordPress does a lot of things, not always well, but better than other blog platforms. But occasionally it runs amok like a toddler on espresso scribbling over your stuff with crayons and shitting in corners before falling down in a huff.

Today, it decided to replace my emoji with terrible little pictures again despite using the Disable Emojis plugin, so I gave up and edited functions.php (Appearance, Editor). And took this opportunity to uneducate my quotes so you can actually use code I paste without having to run it thru BBEdit's "straighten quotes" text menu. I didn't invent any of this, but it's all buried in obsolete version advice.

Add this:

// Fake Emoji & "Smart" Quotes Fuck Off
remove_action('wp_head', 'print_emoji_detection_script', 7);
remove_action('wp_print_styles', 'print_emoji_styles');
remove_action('admin_print_scripts', 'print_emoji_detection_script');
remove_action('admin_print_styles', 'print_emoji_styles');
remove_filter('wp_mail', 'wp_staticize_emoji_for_email');
remove_filter('the_content_feed', 'wp_staticize_emoji');
remove_filter('comment_text_rss', 'wp_staticize_emoji');
add_filter('emoji_svg_url', '__return_false');
add_filter('run_wptexturize', '__return_false');

Sláinte 🥃

The Freedom to Write Garbage

Nice notebooks make it hard to write, because you feel you can't write garbage in them. Cheap notebooks give you the freedom to write garbage.

I used to use a DayRunner®, but then I'd fill it with cheap lined filler paper, and fill those pages with everything, and throw them in a box when I was done; I had a Palm Pilot for scheduling, but writing long notes in it was hard. Later I got into nice big Moleskines, which I rarely used because they seemed too nice for my chaos. Then stacks of Field Notes, which I keep one in my jacket, but use grudgingly. Lately I'm back to cheap 50¢ spiral notebooks and pads, and I write all the time.

I don't use a fancy pen, either. I'm currently using a "TÜL" mechanical pencil which is semi-junky (the eraser holder is loose and pushes down, so I have to tape it in place!) but fat enough for my hand, and a Field Notes clicky ballpoint which needs a 10¢ refill soon. A box of disposable ballpoints will work just as well as your $500 handcrafted engraved gold-plated fountain pen and hand-squeezed squid ink.

None of what I write on paper is important long-term, that's what Markdown files on a computer are for. Instead, every new topic or date gets written at the top of a page, sometimes just one item on that topic. And I'll go forward thru a book until it's full, then move on to the next. Anything worth keeping gets typed in eventually.

Here's a least-embarassing page from my current notepad, tracking Animal Crossing characters because paging thru Contacts in the game is so very slow.

notebook-animal crossing

And yes, my handwriting is appalling and random-looking; no two letter forms are the same. I learned slow and perfect block lettering until I got the Palm Pilot, then Graffiti retrained me and it's been crap ever since. I learned cursive as a kid but have never used it for long writing.

Solid Coffee and Capsule Silence Tuesday Music

My coffee today is just mud; I can't see a spoon more than 2cm deep into it, and it tastes like all the beans were just moistened into mud, not diffused. Gaah. I'm still drinking it, but I'm not happy.

You know what still makes me happy? Anamanaguchi: