Archive for June, 2008

Giants in the Born!

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

Giants dancingAnother day, another great sight in the Born.

I was sitting here 15 minutes ago when I became aware of lots of drumming and piping outside. I tossed up whether to go down and film some of it, given that I’ve recently been posting a few things from the Born and it might be getting repetitive. I’m glad I did though, because the giants were out.

I’ve seen these giants dozens and dozens of times over the years in Barcelona, but I’m still not sick of them at all. I find them somehow majestic and solemn, and I love watching them parade down an old street bobbing up and down to the music, doing courtship dances, and spinning around. There’s also lots of variety. Sometimes you’ll see at least a hundred of them out for a special occasion.

Have a look at the video. It’s very impressive live. I hope some of that comes across in these few short clips. You have to wait until about 2 minutes in before the giants start moving and dancing.


Paella for 325 people

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

PaellaOnce a year they cook paella in the Born. They put out two long lines of tables and chairs. Anyone who wants a ticket buys one (8 euros in 2008) which gets you a large plate of paella, bread, salad, water and wine.

This year there were seats for 325 people.

It’s changed over the years. There are more tourists and it’s more expensive. Some say the paella is less good, though I don’t agree with that (in fact it’s never been fantastic). The atmosphere is completely relaxed with tons of people from the neighborhood out having a nice meal. I’ve been going every year for 10 years, when not away on travel.

Paella paddle
The best part for me is usually watching them make the paella. This year was a bit different. For the first time they had butane gas burners under the paella pan. Usually they just break up a bunch of wood and set a blazing fire right there in the middle of the Born. They also only had one pan, whereas there are usually two.

The photo on the right shows one of the paddles they use to stir the paella. That should give you a good idea of how big these things get. Today they didn’t really need anything that long, but it was nice to have around just in case.

And below is a short movie I made. I chopped it up a little so as to end with a frame of my daughter.


Sardanas in the Born

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

OK, this will be a quick one. I’m trying to post occasional videos taken in my neighborhood.

Here you have a typical Catalan scene: a band playing and people dancing Sardanas. You can see this any weekend in front of the cathedral. But this was in the Born and I happened across it on the way home. It’s 60 steps from my front door (yes, I counted).

I don’t really like this music. Like living in Santa Fe and eating Southwest cuisine, I thought it was great at first but that quickly changed. I don’t enjoy the too-reedy quality of the sound and that it’s almost always identical. It’s also really long. But you may go ahead and enjoy it. Be my guest. I really like it when the first person does the initial piping and beats the tiny drum attached to his forearm near the elbow. The dancing starts a couple of minutes into the video. It’s cute.

The church in the background is Santa Maria del Mar, whose stained glass windows and gargoyles are about 4 meters from my balcony.


Embracing Encapsulation

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

Encapsulated[This is a bit rambling / repetitive, sorry. I don't have time to make it shorter, etc.]

Last year at FOWA I had a discussion with Paul Graham about programming and programmers in which we disagreed over the importance of knowing the fundamentals.

By this I mean the importance of knowing things down to the nuts and bolts level, to really understand what’s going on at the lower levels when you’re writing code. I used to think that sort of thing mattered a lot, but now I think it rarely does.

I well remember learning to program in AWK and being acutely aware of how resource intensive “associative arrays” (as we quaintly called them in those days) were, and knowing full well what was going on behind the scenes. I wrote a full Pascal compiler (no lex, no yacc) in the mid-80′s with Keith Rowe. If you haven’t done that, you really can’t appreciate the amount of computation that goes on when you compile a program to an executable. It’s astonishing. I did lots of assembly language programming, starting from age 15 or so, and spent years squeezing code into embedded environments, where a client might call to ask if you couldn’t come up with a way to reduce your executable code by 2 bytes so it would fit in their device.

But you know what? None of those skills really matter any more. Or they matter only very rarely.

The reason is that best practices have been worked out and incorporated into low-level libraries, and for the most part you don’t need to have any awareness at all of how those levels work. In fact it can be detrimental to you to spend years learning all those details if you could instead be learning how to build great things using the low-level libraries as black-box tools.

That’s the way the world moves in general. Successive generations get the accumulated wisdom of earlier generations packaged up for them. We used log tables, slide rules, and our heads, while our kids use calculators with hundreds of built-in functions. We learned to read analog 12-hour clocks, our kids learn to read digital clocks (so much easier!) and may not be able to read an analog clock until later. And it doesn’t matter. We buy a CD player (remember them?) or an iPod, and when it breaks you don’t even consider getting it “fixed” (remember that?). You just go out and buy another one. That’s because it’s cheaper and much faster and easier to just get a new one that has been put together by a machine than it is to have an actual human try to open the thing and figure out how to repair it. You can’t even (easily) open an iPod. And so the people who know how to do these things dwindle in number until there are none left. Like watch makers or the specialist knife sharpeners we have in Barcelona who ride around on motorcycles with their distinctive whistles, calling to people to bring down their blunt knives. And it doesn’t matter, at least from a technical point of view. Their brilliance and knowledge and hard-won experience has been encapsulated and put into machines and higher-level tools, or simply baked into society in smaller, more accurate and easier to digest forms. In computers it goes down into libraries and compilers and hardware. There’s simply no need for anyone to know how, learn how, or to bother, to do those sorts of things any more.

Note that I’m not saying it’s not nice to have your watch repaired by someone with a jeweler’s eyepiece or your knife or scissors sharpened in the street. I’m just noting the general progression by which knowledge inevitably becomes encapsulated.

In my discussion with Paul Graham, he argued that it was still important for tech founders to be great programmers at a low level. I argued that that’s not right. Sure, people like that are good to have around, but I don’t think you need to be that way and as I said I think it can even be detrimental because all that knowledge comes at a price (other knowledge, other experience).

I work with a young guy called Esteve (Hi Esteve!). He’s great at many levels, including the lower ones. He’s also a product of a new generation of programmers. They’re people who grew up only knowing object-oriented programming, only really writing in very high-level languages (not you Esteve! I mean that just in general), who think in those terms, and who instead of spending many years working with nuts and bolts spent the years working with newer high-level tools.

I think people like Esteve have a triple advantage over us dinosaurs. 1) They tend to use more powerful tools; 2) Because they use better tools, they are more comfortable and think more naturally in the terms of the higher-level abstractions their tools present them; and 3) they also have more experience putting those tools and methods to good use.

The experience gap widens at double speed, just as when a single voter changes side; the gap between the two parties increases by two votes. Even when the dinosaur modernizes itself and learns a few new tricks, you’re still way behind because the 25 year-old you’re working with (again, excluding Esteve) has never had to work at the nuts and bolts level. They think with the new paradigms and can put more general and more powerful tools directly into action. They don’t have to think about protocols or timeouts or dynamically resizing buffers or partial reads or memory management or data structures or error propogation. They simply think “Computer, fetch me the contents of that web page!” And most of the time it all just works. When it doesn’t, you can call in a gray-haired repair person or, more likely, just throw the busted tool away and buy another (or just get it free, in the case of Open Source software).

That’s real progress, and to insist that we should make the young suffer through all the stuff we had to learn in order to build all the libraries and compilers etc., that are now available to us all is just wrong. It’s wrong because it goes against the flow of history, because it’s counter-productive, and because it smacks of “I had to suffer through this stuff, walk barefoot to school in the snow, and therefore you must too.”

Some of the above will probably sound a bit abstract, but to me it’s not. I think it’s important to realize and accept. The fact that your kid can’t tie their shoelaces because they have velcro and have never owned a shoe with a lace is probably a good thing. You don’t know how to hunt your own food or start a fire, and it just doesn’t matter. The same goes for programming. The collective brilliance of generations of programmers is now built in to languages like Java, Python and Ruby, and into operating systems, graphics libraries, etc. etc., and it really doesn’t matter a damn if young people who are using those tools don’t have a clue what’s going on at the lower levels (as I said above, that’s probably a good thing). One day very few people will. The knowledge wont be lost. It’s just encapsulated into more modern environments and tools.

I’m writing all this down because I’ve been thinking about it on and off since FOWA, but also because of what I’m working on right now. I’m trying to modify 12K lines of synchronous Python code to use Twisted (an extraordinarily good set of asynchronous networking libraries written by a set of extraordinarily young and gifted programmers). The work is a bit awkward and three times I’ve not known how best to proceed in terms of design. Each time, Esteve has taken a look at the problem and quickly suggested a fairly clean way to tackle it. Desperate to cook up a way to think that he might not be that much smarter than I am, I’m forced into a corner in which I conclude that he has spent more time working with new tools (patterns, OO, a nice language like Python). So he looks at the world in a different way and naturally says “oh, you just do that”. Then I go do the routine work of making his ideas work – which is great by me, I get to learn in the best way, by doing. How nice to hire people who are better than you are.

That’s it. Encapsulation is inevitable. So you either have to embrace it or become a hand-wringing dinosaur moaning about the kids of today and how they no longer know the fundamentals. It’s not as though any of us could survive if we suddenly had to do everything from first principles (hunt, rub sticks together to make fire, etc). So relax. Enjoy it. The young are much better than we are because they grow up with better tools and they spend more time using them. It’s not enough to learn them when you’re older, even if you can do that really fast. You’ll never catch up on the experience front.

But it sure is fun to try.

Sequoia Capital is the new Delphic Oracle

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

Consulting the OracleIn a belated attempt to educate myself by reading some of the things that many people study in high school, I’m reading The Histories of Herodotus. It’s highly entertaining and easy to read. I read The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides a few years ago and enjoyed that even more. Herodotus is the more colorful, but the speeches and drama in Thucydides are fantastic.

There were lots of oracles in classical Greece, and elsewhere.Of the Greek oracles, the Delphic Oracle was, and still is, the best known. People (kings, dictators, emperors, wannabees) would send questions like “Should I invade Persia?” to the oracle and receive typically ambiguous or cryptic responses. We have a large number of famous oracular replies. Herodotus recounts how Croesus decided to test the various oracles by sending them all the same question, asking what he was doing on a certain day. The oracle at Delphi won hands down. Croesus then immediately put more pressing matters to the Delphic oracle, famously misinterpreted the pronouncements, and was duly wiped out by the Persians.

Imagine yourself in the position of the Delphic oracle. You’ve got all sorts of rulers and aspiring rulers constantly sending you their thoughts and questions, asking what you think. You’re in a unique position, simultaneously privy to the most secret potential plans of many powerful rulers. You really know what’s going on. You know what’s likely to succeed or to fail, and why. You get to give the thumbs up or thumbs down. By virtue of your position and the information flowing through your temple, you can direct traffic; you can shape and create history. You might even be tempted to profit from your knowledge. Your successful accurate pronouncements invariably reap you rich tribute.

OK, you can see where this is leading…

Sequoia Capital, and other well-known venture firms, have a somewhat similar position. They have thousands of leaders and wannabee leaders bringing them their detailed secret plans, proposing to mount armies, found cities, build empires, to attack the modern-day Persians, etc. By virtue of their unusual position they probably have a pretty good idea of what might work, and why. Using this knowledge, but without necessarily revealing sources, they can cryptically but assuredly state “oh, that’ll never work” or they can encourage ideas that are new and which they can see will somehow fit and succeed. If company X has consulted the oracle, disclosing a detailed plan to go left, and company Y plans to attack from the right, well…. why not?

Entrepreneurs beg an audience, get a tiny slice of time to make their pitch, and occasionally receive rare clear endorsements. Much more frequently they are left to scratch their heads over cryptic, ambiguous and unexplained responses (and non-responses). You can bet the Delphic oracle didn’t sign NDAs either.

It’s stretching it too far to seriously claim that Sequoia is the modern-day equivalent of the Delphic oracle. But on the other hand, over 2500 years have elapsed, so you’d expect a few changes.

Random thoughts on Twitter

Monday, June 9th, 2008

TwitterI’ve spent a lot of time thinking about Twitter this year. Here are a few thoughts at random.

Obviously Twitter have tapped into something quite fundamental, which at a high level we might simply call human sociability. We humans are primates, though there’s a remarkably strong tendency to forget or ignore this. We know a lot about the intensely social lives of our fellow primate species. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that we like to Twitter amongst ourselves too.

Here are a couple of interesting (to me) reasons for the popularity of Twitter.

One is that many people are in some sense atomized by the fact that many of us now work in an isolated way. Technical people who can do their work and communicate over the internet probably see less of their peers than others do. That’s just a general point, it’s not specific to Twitter or to 2008. It would have seemed unfathomably odd to humans 50 years ago to hear that many of us would be doing a large percentage of our work and social communication via machines, interacting with people who we don’t otherwise know, and who we rarely or never meet face to face. The rise of internet-based communication is obviously(?) helping to fill a gap created by this generational change.

The second point is specific to Twitter. Through brilliance or accident, the form of communication on Twitter is really special. Building a social network on nothing-implied asymmetric follower relationships is not something I would have predicted as leading to success. Maybe it worked, or could have all gone wrong, just due to random chance. But I’m inclined to believe that there’s more to it than that. Perhaps we’re all secretly voyeurs, or stickybeaks (nosy-parkers). Perhaps we like to see one half of conversations and be able to follow along if we like. Perhaps there’s a small secret thrill to promiscuously following someone and seeing if they follow you back. I don’t know the answer, but as I said above I do think Twitter have tapped into something interesting and strong here. There’s a property of us, we simple primates, that the Twitter model has managed to latch onto.

I think Twitter should change the dynamics for new users by initially assigning them ten random followers. New users can easily follow others, but if no-one is following them….. why bother? New user uptake would be much higher if they didn’t have the (correct) feeling that they were for some reason expected to want to Twitter in a vacuum. You announce a new program, called e.g., Twitter Guides and ask for people to volunteer to be guides (i.e., followers) of newbees. Lend a hand, make new friends, maybe get some followers yourself, etc. Lots of people would click to be a Guide. I bet this would change Twitter’s adoption dynamics. If you study things like random graph theory and dynamic systems, you know that making small changes to (especially initial) probabilities can have a dramatic effect on overall structure. If Twitter is eventually to reach a mass audience (whatever that means), it should be an uncontestable assertion that anything which significantly reduces the difficulty for new users to get into using it is very important.

Twitter should probably fix their reliability issues sometime soon.

I say “probably” because reliability and scaling are obviously not the most important things. Twitter has great value. It must have, or it would have lost its users long ago.

There’s a positive side to Twitter’s unreliability. People are amazed that the site goes down so often. Twitter gets snarled up in ways that give rise to a wide variety of symptoms. The result seems to be more attention, to make the service somehow more charming. It’s like a bad movie that you remember long afterwards because it wasn’t good. We don’t take Twitter for granted and move on the next service to pop up – we’re all busy standing around making snide remarks, playing armchair engineer, knowing that we too might face some of these issues, and talking, talking, talking. Twitter is a fascinating sight. Great harm is done by its unreliability, but the fact that their success so completely flies in the face of conventional wisdom is fascinating – and the fact that we find it so interesting and compelling a spectacle is fantastic for Twitter. They can fix the scaling issues, I hope. They should prove temporary. But the human side of Twitter, its character as a site, the site we stuck with and rooted for when times were so tough, the amazing little site that dropped to the canvas umpteen times but always got back to its feet, etc…. All that is permanent. If Twitter make it, they’re going to be more than just a web service. The public outages are like a rock musician or movie star doing something outrageous or threatening suicide – capturing attention. We’re drawn to the spectacle and the drama. We can’t help ourselves: it is our selves. We love it, we hate it, it brings us together to gnash our teeth when it’s down. But do we leave? Change the channel? No way.

Twitter is both the temperamental child rock star we love and, often, the medium by which we discuss it – an enviable position!

I’m reminded of a trick I learned during tens of thousands of miles of hitch-hiking. A great place to try for a lift is on a fairly high-speed curve on the on-ramp to the freeway / motorway / autopista / autoroute etc. Stand somewhere where a speeding car can only just manage a stop and only just manage to pull in away from the following traffic. Conventional wisdom tells you that you’ll never get a ride. But the opposite is true – you’ll get a ride extremely quickly. Invariably, the first thing the driver says when you get in is “Why on earth where you standing there? You’re very lucky I managed to stop. No-one would have ever picked you up standing there!” I’ve done this dozens of times. Twitter—being incredibly, unbelievably, frustratingly, unreliable and running contrary to all received wisdom—is a powerful spectacle. Human psyche is a funny thing. That’s a part of why it’s probably impossible to foretell success when mass adoption is required.

If I were running Twitter, apart from working to get the service to be more reliable, I’d be telling the engineering team to log everything. There’s a ton of value in the data flowing into Twitter.

Just as Google took internet search to a new level by link analysis, there’s another level of value in Twitter that I don’t think has really begun to be tapped yet.

PageRank, at least as I understand its early operation, ran a kind of iterative relaxation algorithm assigning and passing on credit via linked pages. A similar thing is clearly possible with Twitter, and some people have commented on this or tried to build little things that assign some form of score to users. But I think there’s a lot more that can be done. Because the Twitter API isn’t that powerful (mainly because you’re largely limited to querying as a single authorized user) and certainly because it’s rate-limited to just 70 API calls an hour, this sort of analysis will need to be done by Twitter themselves. I’m sure they’re well aware of that. Rate limiting probably helps them stay up, but it also means that the truly interesting and valuable stuff can’t be done by outsiders. I have no beef with that – I just wish Twitter would hurry up and do some of it.

Some examples in no order:

  • The followers to following ratio of a Twitter user is obviously a high-level measure of that user’s “importance” (in some Twitter sense of importance). But there’s more to it than that. Who are the followers? Who do they follow, who follows them? Etc. This leads immediately back to Google PageRank.
  • If a user gets followed by many people and doesn’t follow those people back, what does it say about the people involved? If X follows Y and Y then goes to look at a few pages of X’s history but does not then follow X, what do we know?
  • If X has 5K followers and re-tweets a twit of Y, how many of X’s followers go check out and perhaps follow Y? What kind of people are these? (How do you advertise to them, versus others?)
  • Along the lines of co-citation analysis, Twitter could build up a map showing you who you might follow. I.e., you can get pairwise distances between users X and Y by considering how many people they follow in common and how many they follow not-in-common. That would lead to a people you should be following that you’re not kind of suggestion.
  • Even without co-citation analysis (or similar), Twitter should be able to tell me about people that many of the people I follow are following but whom I am not following. I’d find that very useful.
  • Twitter could tell me why someone chooses to follow me. What were they looking at (if anything) before they decided to follow me? I.e., were they browsing the following list of someone else? Did they see my user name mentioned in a Tweet? Did they come in from an outside link? Would a premium Twitter user pay to have that information?
  • Twitter has tons of links. They know the news as it happens. They could easily create a news site like Digg.
  • In some sense the long tail of Twitter is where the value is. For instance, it doesn’t mean much if a user following 10K others follows someone. But if someone is following just 10 people, it’s much more significant. There’s more information there (probably). The Twitter mega users are in some way uninteresting – the more people they have following them and the more they follow, the less you really know (or care) about them. Yes, you could probably figure out more if you really wanted to, but if someone has 10K followers all you really know is that they’re probably famous in some way. If they add another 100 followers it’s no big deal. (I say all this a bit lightly and generally – the details might of course be fascinating and revealing – e.g., if you notice Jason Calacanis and Dave Winer have suddenly started @ messaging each other again it’s like IRC coming back from a network split :-))
  • Similarly if someone with a very high followers to following ratio follows a Twitter user who has just a couple of followers, it’s a safe bet that those two are somehow friends with a pre-existing relationship.
  • I bet you could do a pretty good job of putting Twitter users into boxes just based on their overall behavior, something like the 16 Myers-Briggs categories. Do you follow people back when they follow you? Do you @ answer people who @ address you (and Twitter knows when you’ve seen the original message)? Do you send @ messages to people (and how influential are those people)? Do those people @ you back (and how influential those people are says something about how interesting / provocative you are)? Do you follow tons and tons of people? Do you follow people and then un-follow them if they don’t follow you back? Do you follow random links in other people’s Twitters, and are those links accompanied by descriptive text or tinyurl links? Do you @ message people after you follow their links? Do your Twitter times follow a strict pattern, or are you on at all hours, or suddenly spending days without Twittering? Do you visit and just read much more than you tweet? How much old stuff do you read? Do you tend to talk in public or via DM? Are your tweets public?All that without even considering the content of your Twitters.
  • Could Twitter become a search engine? That’s not a 100% serious question, but it’s worth considering. I don’t mean just making the content of all tweet searchable, I mean it with some sort of ranking algorithm, again perhaps akin to PageRank. If you somehow rank results by the importance or closeness of the user whose tweets match the search terms, you might have something interesting.
  • Twitter also presumably know who’s talking about whom in the DM backchat. They can’t use that information in obvious way, but it’s of high value.

I could go on for hours, but that’s more than enough for now. I don’t feel like any of the above list is particularly compelling, but I do think the list of nice things they could be doing is extremely long and that Twitter have only just begun (at least publicly) to tap into the value they’re sitting on.

I think Google should buy Twitter. They have what Twitter needs: 1) engineering and scale, 2) link analysis and algorithm brilliance, and 3) they’re in a position to monetize the value illustrated above (via their search engine, that already has ads) without pissing off the Twitter community by e.g., running ads on Twitter. What percentage of Twitter users also use Google? I bet it’s very high.

Python: looks great, stays wet longer

Sunday, June 8th, 2008

Wet clayI should be coding, not blogging. But a friend noticed I hadn’t blogged in a month, so in lieu of emailing people, here are a couple of comments on programming in Python. There are many things that could be said, but I just want to make two points that I think aren’t so obvious.

1. Python looks great

In Python, indentation is used to delimit code blocks. I like that a lot – you would indent your code anyway, right? It reduces clutter. But apart from that, Python is very minimalistic in its syntax. There are rather few punctuation symbols used, and they’re used pretty consistently. As a result, Python code looks great on the page. It’s not painful to edit, and I mean that figuratively and literally. This is worth noting because when you write complex code it’s nice if the language you’re doing it in is very clean. That’s important because code can become hard to understand and unpleasant to work with. If you have pieces of code that you dread touching, that may be in part because the code is really ugly and complex on the page. Perl is a case in point – there’s tons of punctuation symbols, and in some cases the same thing (e.g., curly braces) is used in multiple (about 5!) different ways to mean different things. If the language is pleasant to look at for longer, you are more willing to work on code that might be more forbidding when expressed in other languages. Esthetics is important. Actively enjoying looking at code simply because the language is so clean is a great advantage—for you, and for the language.

This might not seem like a big point, but it’s important to me, it’s something I’ve never encountered before, and it’s a nice property of Python. BTW, people always make fun of Lisp for its parentheses. But Lisp is the cleanest language I know of in terms of simplicity on the page. The parens and using prefix operators in S-expressions removes the need for almost all other punctuation (and makes programmatically generating code an absolute breeze).

2. Python stays wet longer

I don’t like to do too much formal planning of code. I much prefer to sit down and try writing something to see how it fits. That means I’ll often go through several iterations of code design before I reach the point where I’m happy. Sometimes this is an inefficient way to do things, particularly when you’re working on something very complex that you don’t really have your head around when you start. But I still choose to do things this way because it’s fun.

Sometimes I think of it like pottery. You grab a lump of wet clay and slap it down on the wheel. Then you try out various ideas to shape whatever it is you’re trying to create. If it doesn’t work, you re-shape it—perhaps from scratch. This isn’t a very accurate analogy, but I do think it’s valid to say that preferring to work with real code in an attempt to understand how best to shape your ideas is a much more physical process than trying to spec everything out sans code. I find I can’t know if code to implement an idea or solve a problem is going to feel right unless I physically play with it in different forms.

For me, Python stays wet longer. I can re-shape my code really easily in Python. In other languages I’ve often found myself in a position where a re-design of some aspect involves lots of work. In Python the opposite has been true, and that’s a real pleasure. When you realize you should be doing things differently and it’s just a bit of quick editing to re-organize things, you notice. I might gradually be becoming a better programmer, but I mainly feel that in using Python I simply have better quality clay.

Bandoneón

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

BandoneónI’d never even heard of a bandoneón before last Thursday.

There was a performance of the guitar class at the kids’ school and after they were done the two teachers played for us all. It was great. The woman on the right playing the bandoneón is Argentinian and has been in Barcelona for 3 months. She’s been learning the bandoneón for 5 years and playing guitar “all my life”. As for the bandoneón, it looks good, sounds good, and doesn’t sound easy to learn. Here’s an excerpt from the Wikipedia page linked above:

Unlike the piano accordion, the bandoneón does not have keyboards per se, but has buttons on both sides; and also unlike most accordions, most buttons on the bandoneón produce a different note when played closing than when played opening. This means that each keyboard has actually two layouts – one for the opening notes, and one for the closing notes. Since the right and left hand keyboards are also different, this adds up to four different keyboard layouts that must be learned in order to play the instrument.

Check it out: