Search for non-English editions of Robert Pirsig’s books

We have started a search for all non-English editions of Robert Pirsig’s books. That is:

  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
  • Lila: An Inquiry into Morals

The process is as follows:

  1. Check this spreadsheet to see if your non-English edition is already listed
  2. Use this form to add to the spreadsheet

We are interested in all editions. Meaning that a certain publisher might have released multiple editions over the years. Each edition should be added. In 2024, for example, two new English editions were published.

Editions show significant differences in terms of design and content. An edition might, for example, feature a new cover and foreword. In most cases, a new edition also has a new International Standard Book Number (ISBN), but this is not always the case. The original 1974 edition of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, for example, shares its ISBN number with its 25th anniversary edition published in 1999.

Please add as much information as you can. It will help us to find an catalog them.

Zen Again

It has been 50 years since the first edition of Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance was published. I previously published a whole paper on the cover designs. Harper Collins in the US and Penguin Random House in the UK just published new editions. The UK edition is just a re-release with no new material.

The US edition has a new forward by Matthew B. Crawford. The interior also has a completely new layout. The cover itself features a photograph of Pirsig’s original Honda Super Hawk, which has been restored and brought to the Smithsonian (National Museum of American History).

Thanks to a kind donation from Ian Glendinning, I can now share more photos of the Easton Press edition. It is an amazingly beautiful book that includes a certificate of authenticity, a note on the author, and the authors’ signature.

Jibo is dead (again)

In 2020 I recorded a podcast episode entitled “Why do all social robots fail in the market?“. I interviewed Tomas Concha from NTT Disruption, the company that had bought the commercially unsuccessful robot Jibo. I already had my doubts about NTT Disruption in 2020. In 2023 NTT Disruption was disrupted. Meaning that it closed down and with it Jibo. This does seem to be the end for this little useless robot.

But don’t worry! Other companies continue to build largely useless robots that are not much more than smartphones on wheels. Have a look at Samsung’s Ballie robot.

The idea of a smart home robot is not new. Amazon developed their Astro robot, but did not sell it to the general public. LG is also presenting a robot at CES2024 with roughly the same features.

I wonder if Samsung or LG will sell their robots to consumers. Or is this just another robot PR gag?

Posters of famous computer scientists

There are many important computer scientists and innovators. I created a small and very personal list and created posters to honour their contributions.


Beautiful options for creating PDFs with LaTeX

Adobe’s PDF format has become a standard for the exchange of beautiful documents. Let’s start with some less obvious options for the meta data of PDF documents. These are important for search engines, both online and locally, to correctly index your document. It can dramatically improve the ranking of your documents.

Acrobat knows title, author, subject and keywords to describe your document:

In LaTeX, these options can be set using the popular hyperref package. I barely create any LaTeX project without it. You can setup the meta data for the PDF document with pdftitle, pdfauthor, pdfsubject and pdfkeywords:

    pdftitle={Swim Training Patterns},
    pdfauthor={Christoph Bartneck},
    pdfsubject={Exercise your body and mind.},
    pdfkeywords={swimming, XML, language, program, training},

Acrobat also offers options for how PDFs are displayed when first opened:

Important options here are the presence of the bookmarks. These will be based on the headlines used in your LaTeX code (pdfpagemode). I normally use a single page for the layout (pdfpagelayout) that is fitted to the screen (pdfstartview). The enclosing window can be resized to the initial page (pdffitwindow) and centred on the screen (pdfcenterwindow). Last, it makes sense to use the document title for the window title instead of the file name (pdfdisplaydoctitle).

If you set all these parameters, you get a beauatiful and functional PDF that gives a perfect first impression when the user opens it.