Notes from the Library

Tue, 31 Mar 2015

Java Shop Politics | Michael O. Church

Once, I was at a company that was considering (and eventually did so) moving its infrastructure over to Java, and there was a discussion about the danger of “Java Shop Politics”. It would seem strange to any non-programmer that a company’s choice of programming language would alter the political environment- these languages are just tools, right? Well, no. In this case, almost all of us knew exactly what was being talked about. Most software engineers have direct experience with Java Shop Politics, and it has a distinct and unpleasant flavor.

Lots of people (including the guy who first taught me how to write computer programs) like to say “you can program anything in most any language, and the people I’m interested in are those who can pick up a book and learn as much of the language they need to get the work done.” This is an interesting counterpoint in the case of Java.

Mon, 23 Mar 2015

I finished reading Essays in Love by Alain de Botton this morning. I looked the guy up, and found that he wrote the book at the age of 23. While reading the book I felt an oscillation between maturity and immaturity, and I also felt that the author’s awareness of his own immaturity was also something that went up and down. The de Botton who wrote the book must have had a pretty low view of himself, because being in his relationship with a girl named Chloe becomes to himself his only redeeming quality. This happens very quickly, and he finds it extremely difficult to recover from when she falls out of love with him after a year or so of being together.

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Sat, 21 Mar 2015

Back in November I wrote about “Mr Whitton’s timers”, a web application I wrote for three main purposes: (a) playing short sound effects and voice recordings into the classroom with minimal keypresses and no mouse usage; (b) starting timers for activities with minimal keypresses; (c) storing points scored and time wasted for the classes I teach that participate in our reward/bribery system. Over the past week I rewrote a large part of the application in Haskell. I’m learning Haskell and was looking for a beginning project to get a feel for doing basic stuff. In particular, I wanted to get a grasp of when I should be writing pure code and when I should be using a stack of monads.

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Sat, 14 Mar 2015

Pratchett’s writing taught me a lot: The World sucked, but an interest in basic decency went a long way. That people as a whole could be terrible, and that the universe at large wasn’t involved in what we were doing, but that what we were doing was important on it’s own infinitesimal scale that was what mattered. That people and places and things were worth getting into, even if no one else thought so, and even if you weren’t good at them. It was what was in you that mattered. If you wanted it, you could, and should, participate in it for as long as it felt right. That you should be yourself as you wanted yourself to be. Not as other people wanted you too. (Ook)


I’ve been trying to get out of my head by thinking about basic decency lately. It helps having a job with opportunities to do that fairly frequently.

Thu, 12 Mar 2015

Britney Spears - Brave New Girl | YouTube

We do warm-up exercises to this before each swimming lesson. For the month of March I’m attending swimming lessons at the local swimming pool. I suspect the language barrier will make it useless to continue past the first month.

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