2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 600 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 10 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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>Science Fiction – "Remake"

>This was another book by Connie Willis. It is about near future world in which no more movies with live actors are made. All movies are produced digitally and most are simply digital remakes of old films. The main character is a guy who works on custom remakes or some more extensive studio projects – like removing all A.S. (addictive substances) from the movies. This can be difficult at times – just think about removing all cigarettes and alcohol from “Casablanca”.

Our hero meets a girl, named Alis, who is obsessed with musicals and dancing. She dreams of dancing in the movies, even though no one makes “live actions” anymore. With a bit of time warping and some computer magic she eventually gets her wish.

There were two things I liked about this book. One was that the author invented a lot of new words for the future world (things like chooch, paste-ups and others) and you had to figure out what they were from the context, like you would if you were transported into that culture. The other thing I like about the book is that I had no idea where it was going. The ending wasn’t quite like I expected.

On the other hand the plot was not as engrosing as “The Bellwether” was. I also found it somewhat funny that in this future Hollywood the only movies that were available were ones from 1980s and before. The author did not invent any future movies.

I read this book for our SF discussion group meeting. It was a quick read, although when I skipped few days between chapters I had hard time remembering the jargon from the future.

>Hackers and Painters

>I have been using O’Reilly’s Safari service, which gives you access to O’Reilly books online. One of the books they added recently is a collection of essays by Paul Graham called”Hackers and Painters“. I have read some of these essays from Paul Graham’s web site, but several of the essays in the book were not published elsewhere.

Yesterday I read the title essay. In it the author compares hackers to painters. They are both “makers” – hackers create software and painters paintings. He makes an interesting point that hackers don’t fit in academia, because they are not scientists, nor do they fit well into companies, because they are not engineers.

One other neat observation that he makes, is that the way he write code is equivalent to an artist’s sketch. That is, you do not do a big formal design, but jump into coding and then work with the code as the primary medium.

You need to know that Paul Graham made a lot of money writing software in Lisp. In fact, he has written several essays and a book about Lisp. The book is available for free on his website.

Today I read another essay, titled “The Road Ahead” – it was a story of his startup company and his philosophy of startups. One thing he said is that when you are a startup and you have a choice between doing something easy and something hard, always pick the hard thing. This will make it harder for any competition to cach up to you.

I’ll post more as I read additional essays – but if you are impatient, just visit Paul Graham’s web site and do your own reading.