Date: May 12, 2013 3:28 AM Author: David Park Subject: Work on Basic Mathematica Stephen! (I've renamed this and started a new thread because my reply is not exactly

to the question.)

Oh, what a wonderful Wolfram blog! Earlier Stephen hinted at Mathematica as

an iPhone app. Now it's data mining Facebook data (Gee I wonder if

Zuckerberg has thought of that? He might be able to develop a great business

model.) Can Twitter be far behind? There are many significant mathematical

equations that will fit into 64 characters - or whatever the limit is.

Ramanujan would probably have done well on Twitter. And women are more

interested in personal relationships and men are more interested in sports?

Who would have thought? The average person on Facebook has 342 friends! Well

there are friends and there are friends. Montaigne wrote that his friendship

with Etienne de La Bo=E9tie was such that "So many coincidences are needed to

build [it up] that it is a lot if fortune can do it once in three

centuries." One might say, ephemera in ephemera out.

For the dwindling few of us who still have desktop computers and large

screens, or maybe two large screens, who are interested in learning or doing

some extended mathematics, and the even fewer who would like to write

literate Mathematica notebooks as technical documents, I wonder if Stephen

could find some time to attend to basic Mathematica, fixing its problems and

fulfilling its vision?

Mathematica lacks stability. Things that worked fine in one version don't

work in the next. Especially troubling to me is the basic user interface.

This got much worse in Version 9 with outright bugs that are in your face

all the time. For example: often if I click in an existing Input cell and do

a line return the Messages window opens with a contact WRI if this happens

message. Or if one clicks after a word in a Text like cell and uses Ctrl+K

for spell checking the message window again opens with a similar message. I

like to use spell check a lot so this is especially annoying to me. I don't

see why WRI couldn't have fixed these problems by now. (Or introduced an

actually useful feature to spell check a selection such as a Text cell or a

Section.)

The Version 9 command completion feature, which used to be great, no longer

works well. I have turned off the auto completion feature but what is left

still does not work as well as the Version 8 behavior. For example, if one

types:

Carm

and then uses Ctrl+K to complete the command, there is only one choice,

CarmichaelLambda. In Mathematica 8 the symbol would be automatically completed and the cursor would be left at the end of the word. But now it brings up a menu,

even though there is only one choice, and one must click the menu. But you

are not finished yet! No there is another menu (somewhat displaced so you

may miss it), which is the equivalent of Ctrl+Shift+K and which we could

have done if we wanted, so one must by-pass that by clicking at the end of

CarmichaelLambda to get back to the normal typing entry. That's two extra

clicks added. You might say that's not much, but when it's at the basic

entry point for material in a notebook it is a lot.

One has to wonder how many parsers there are in Mathematica for kernel,

front end, packages, workbench and how their behavior shifts around between

versions? Can one copy and paste an expression without its underlying

representation changing? I suspect this may be a nagging underlying source

of instability.

I realize and appreciate that WRI continues to add new capabilities to

Mathematica and this inevitably results in learning and stability problems.

There could be better design efforts on these things and more professional

testing so the designs would stick and work well. Progress might be slower

but it would be surer.

Doing mathematics is not social media. It's not done that well on an iPad.

And iPhone, iPad technology is not necessarily appropriate for Mathematica.

People do not want to scroll two 25" screens with their hands. Just ask

Microsoft.

Mathematics and Mathematica are intrinsically difficult enough as it is.

That makes it all the more important that WRI present users with a stable,

robust, easy to use basic interface. WRI had not done the best job they

could at this and not what one would expect for a relatively expensive

product.

David Park

djmpark@comcast.net

http://home.comcast.net/~djmpark/index.html

From: r.b.nachbar@gmail.com [mailto:r.b.nachbar@gmail.com]

I'm interested in making word cloud graphics, as demonstrated in the recent

Wolfram Blog post

http://blog.wolfram.com/2013/04/24/data-science-of-the-facebook-world/ (near

the end of the post). Does anyone have a function that will do this?

Thanks,

Bob