monthly prog slash math slash sci summary february 2016

Feb 26, 2016  

I said I’d pick a better name, but I couldn’t, so I picked a different name instead. Anyway, here is February’s badly curated list:

  • You may have come across TempleOS, one of those crazy things made by crazy people, and it looks like “LoseThos” was a predecessor (note: that it is available at all is due to the ever-amazing “Wayback Machine”)

You used to buy a computer to program. They didn’t do much else. LoseThos is intended for hobbiest programmers. A working knowledge of C programming is required. It more or less runs on least common denominator PC hardware without networking or the Internet. It is retro in some respects, having no security. As a programmer, I like having full access to my machine – being able to turn-off interrupts or do direct disk block access. It is highly textual, so things can be scripted. It boots fast, and you can power-off whenever you feel like, but just don’t do it during disk writes.

  • Someone pointed me to the “Wolfram Programming Lab” … I’ve only looked at it superficially, but it might be a good alternative to Scratch, as an initial introduction to programming that “makes things happen”

  • This is a theme that I like to share and re-share: Anil Dash talks about “The Web We Lost” (tl;dr: the internet we have is not the internet we were promised)

  • I was no fan of Robert Martin, perhaps because I wrongly associated him with excessive “bureaucracy” in software engineering, but it’s clear I was wrong, because this is a great talk, and is one of the few people (other than, say, Alan Kay), who’ve made this connection between the changes in the “culture” of software development and its “popularization”.

  • This talk by John McCarthy wasn’t particularly interesting, except for a choice quote that’s sure to offend certain “GPL fundamentalists” out there:

I think that Richard Stallman who has been a hero in many respects, has been a negative force in his view that anything/everything should be free and no one should have to pay for anything unless Stallman would think of a mechanism … where my daughter who is a professional writer would still be able to make money.

  • Daniel Spiewak talks about “Living in a Post-Functional World”. I thought this would be meh, but turned out to be very insightful, and also indicates how close FP and OO really are. More to the point, since modularity is non-negotiable, any solution to the problem of modularity drags in OO-ish stuff into an FP language.

  • Someone (thanks, @Beobachter!) suggested using Grav, an intermediate alternative to a fully-static blog (what I have right now), and a fully-dynamic one (e.g. Wordpress), but I’ve been too lazy to investigate how to make the switch.

  • Here is a (very, very humorous!) piece in The Register, ”Learn you Func Prog on five minute quick!”

The object-oriented era of coding is at last drawing to an inevitable and shameful close. We can – and we must! – all join hands and skip gaily into a brave new world, where sloppy state and careless side effects are excised without ruth.

Now every program, from humble Android applet to mighty engine-pollution-test-falsifier, must slough off ridiculous trappings and clumsy complexities of objectivity, and float elegantly forwards down the shiny new functional pipeline – the one, true alimentary canal of code to concurrent computing paradise.

And so on.

  • Finally, Gilad Bracha’s new book is very enticing; I’ve placed it on my “soon-to-read-unless-I’m-lying-to-myself-about-my-available-free-time” list, and so should you.