A note on pedagogy of programming: web.archive.org/web/20050…

Obligatory Octopus post – this time, an explanation for their brain complexity that suggests a possible common factor for all complex brains: an expansion in the variety of microRNA


On the appeal of different types of languages

From this HN comment:

The central question for any programming language isn’t how comfortably it welcomes casual newcomers; it’s how effectively it creates a human:machine interface for the committed.

Most criticisms of how Lisp looks can be likened to criticisms of a frozen screen from a crashed video game. One needs to play the video game. Lisp acquires its meaning in short time scales from the experience of syntax-aware editing, a live experience.

Lisp acquires its meaning in long time scales from the experience of using macros to rewrite the language to exactly suit the problem at hand. Haskell is safer, faster, more densely expressive, but not as plastic.

Lisp appeals to woodworkers; other languages appeal to people who like to buy nice furniture, sit in it and get to work. I can see both sides, and I’ve worked hard to experience both sides.

Interesting talk by Peter Thule: youtu.be/ibR_ULHYi…

An interesting science v religion take: www.theguardian.com/science/2…

The problem with Scheme is that there are too many of them; TIL about Loko scheme.


A range of Lisp typography (!)


A short, tragi-comic account of GNU/FSF: www.spesh.com/danny/wri…

Getting romantic about the craft of programming :-)


On the difficult market for developer tools: www.kite.com/blog/prod…

Level-headed assesment of blockchain: www.tbray.org/ongoing/W…

Picking email providers is hard now, we’re spoilt for choice.

I have similar thoughts on Fastmail and iCloud: www.brycewray.com/posts/202…

From an HN comment:


Designed and deployed credit card readers used in gas pumps back in 1979. (Sold to Gasboy)

Wrote a fine tuner to allow communication between satellites (precursor to TDRSS days). Still used to this day.

Failover of IP in ATM switches (VVRP, PXE, secondary DHCP, secondary DNS, secondary LDAP, secondary NFS). While not invented here, it is still used today as this is a Common setup to this day.

Printer drivers for big, big high-speed Xerox printers on BSD. Still used to this day by big, big high-speed printers.

Also, early IDS products (pre-Snort) at line-speed. Sold to Netscreen.

Easy zero-setup of DSL modem before some BellCore decided to complicate things (thus exploding their field deployment budgets; Southwestern Bell/Qwest enjoyed our profitable zero-setup). Sold to Siemens.

1Gps IDS/IPS before selling it to 3Com/Hewlett-Packard Packard.

Now, I'm dabbling in a few startups (JavaScript HIDS, Silent Connections, replacing the systemd-temp).

Impact? It is more about personal pride but its impacts are still being felt today.

Dunno who this person is, but I’ll be lucky to feel I’ve don a fraction of this.

A random HackerNews comment:

And now it hits me, for the first time, shamefully: the sense that Urbit is Pynchonesque… it’s often said of Pynchon that nostalgia for the 60s is the animating theme of most of his later work, and here it is made explicit: the chain Usenet -> Reddit -> YouTube. (Clearly, I think this is a good thing.) Do I miss usenet? I have to say I only ever liked it from within emacs, with glowing characters on a black background. Seeing it on a web page, dark on light, is just not the same. Les neiges d’antan Once upon a time, it was fun to see what you could learn about an IP address that you found in a weblog. Who bothers anymore? Perhaps it is snowing, in a way that we are too sinful to perceive! There are plenty of numbers. We could all have one, forever; or until we die, and then we can, like Charlemagne, will them to our children, who will factor them at leisure

More Magnatiles fun !!

Clearly a labor of love and very cool: floor796.com

“Tools for Thought” as medium, as computation, as cultural practice, as memory aid.


The right “introduction curve” for Kubernetes: matt-rickard.com/dont-use-…

Haven’t had “an Octopus post” in a while: here’s them throwing things at each other:


“The pursuit of beauty”

This reads like a movie of sorts. Unbelievable.


Leading up to arxiv.org/abs/2211….

Inspiring AF !!

Edit: the cost of doing all this:

Zhang’s preference for undertaking only ambitious problems is rare. The pursuit of tenure requires an academic to publish frequently, which often means refining one’s work within a field, a task that Zhang has no inclination for. He does not appear to be competitive with other mathematicians, or resentful about having been simply a teacher for years while everyone else was a professor. No one who knows him thinks that he is suited to a tenure-track position. “I think what he did was brilliant,” Deane Yang told me. “If you become a good calculus teacher, a school can become very dependent on you. You’re cheap and reliable, and there’s no reason to fire you. After you’ve done that a couple of years, you can do it on autopilot; you have a lot of free time to think, so long as you’re willing to live modestly. There are people who try to work nontenure jobs, of course, but usually they’re nuts and have very dysfunctional personalities and lives, and are unpleasant to deal with, because they feel disrespected. Clearly, Zhang never felt that.”

Great old forth blog (from about 15 years ago!): www.ultratechnology.com/blog.htm

Paradoxes of technological change

Paradoxically, we often find it more comfortable to believe outlandish theories of the near-future than highly logical theories rooted in clear observation of multiple converging trends. Outlandish ideas about the future flatter our pride. We like to think we are creative, that we can see things that don’t yet make sense in the normal reality of average people. Outlandish theories have another psychological attraction: Disconnected from reality, they’re usually not actionable or investable, which means professing them is a cheap way to show off one’s creativity.

Strong theories of technological change are painful to hold. They’re not impressive at cocktail parties; in fact, they are more boring than sports and weather. Though the implications may be remarkable, the theory often reduces to a collection of uncontroversial statements about uninteresting things (and to get the implication you have to work through all the boring premises).

Well-grounded theories are also terrifying to hold because their groundedness means you can usually find a way to bet on them. If you can bet on them, that means you can turn out wrong, and face negative consequences, which is stressful.

A stock-sentiment-tracking service built on Lisp:


A grim use of the Apple Watch’s features: appleinsider.com/articles/…