monthly programming summary january 2016

Jan 25, 2016  

Again, this isn’t really restricted to Programming per se, but more generally “computer-related stuff”. Next time, I’ll pick a better name. Until then, here are a few interesting links I came across last month, in no particular order:

  • The Handbook of Lisp Functions (cover page below): a technical report from 1961.

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  • Digression on learning new languages: Ugh, I’m too embarassed to even write this. I keep changing my mind about what I like more. I thought this was going to be “the year of Clojure” for me, but then Gilad Bracha’s book came out and now I’m torn again (Can I have them both? Maybe, but I fear I don’t have that kind of time anymore :P)

  • Busting the myths behind MicroKernels: ”Microkernels are slow and Elvis didn’t do no drugs”

  • Here is a paper from 1982 (”The Architecture of the Burroughs B5000 - 20 Years Later and Still Ahead of the Times?”), which was even then lamenting the sorry state of hardware, and only seems quaint now (as in ”why would you do things different?”)

  • Various ways to make Clojure programming more productive: ”Pimp My REPL”

  • I had a bunch of entertaining blog posts by Crista Lopez in the past (e.g. ”Jedi Masters”), but was blown away by this set of slides. You’re a programmer, you want to be a programmer for life, you have to read this: ”Exercises in Programming Style”. And if you really like it, get the book.

  • Came across this intriguing indie film trailer (”TraceRoute”), though I haven’t gotten around to seeing the movie yet (the writer/protagonist navigates “… the ghosts of nerddom’s past present and future …”). Dunno, added it to my “to watch” list.

  • Obviously, the X-Files is back. If you like this sort of stuff, the first episode is free to watch on Fox. Go watch it :)

  • A couple of articles for “historical interest”. The first is the New York Times reporting on … the opening of its web site, in 1996!. But really, you skip ahead to the very last line for your dose of irony-or-tragedy: “The market is booming for newspapers on the World Wide Web”. Ouch.

  • The second is hilarious, from even further back (”Value of Windowing is Questioned”, 1984!!), and here the Times speculates on the dubious value of a graphical user interface. The opening line asks: “Does anyone do windows any more?”, and the article concludes by predicting “doom” for the upcoming new OS by Microsoft. I thought I’d see if the author had time to reflect on his past predictions, so I looked through the newspaper’s archives, but it looks like he stopped writing technology articles in 1987 and switched to Food and Travel. Anyway.

Here’s a “quote of the month” for you:

Science is much more ‘sloppy’ and ‘irrational’ than its methodological image.

(Paul Feyerabend, Against Method, and I meant to refer to the so-called science of computers)