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February, 2010 | Chasing Men Who Stare at Arrays

Monthly Archive for February, 2010

An open BAR in NYC! That's how Brooke is doing!

Talk about Array Language Programmer Jedi!

Booke Allen’s No Shortage of Work project has completely taken off.   Over the last 8 months this fabulous idea has begun to glow with a profession sheen to rival the best out there.

Tomorrow night they are hosting their first members only networking event of the year in NYC!  With free booze! Join quick!  Maybe it’s not too late!

And hey – headhunters, watch out!  This people-helping-people business is going to shut you down someday… soon.

Best of luck to everyone tomorrow night.  Wishing I were there too!

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Watching you watching me

I’m going to Waterloo next week because Matt Gorbet is organising a Ted conference, and lucky for me, they’re letting me in…  which is what started it all….

No. Not really.  I am going to Waterloo, that part is true.

What actually started everything is the fact that I have, as usual, an oppressive amount of accounting homework to get through, so I spend most of the morning sitting and standing and sitting and wandering away from my desk, playing phone tag with Sonia, emailing my teacher trying to wiggle out of my exam date and bothering innocent working folks on Skype.

My attempts to get an audience with Lee Dickey in Waterloo failed, so I hunted down Jeffrey Shallit.  Who, as it turns out, is on sabbatical in Boston, of all places.  BOSTON!  I was just there.

The double or perhaps triple irony, of course, surrounding my near misses with this Philly boy, is that in 1983 Steve Weisler, a linguistics professor at Hampshire College, who might have understood the  strange occurrence of an 18 year old young woman programming in APL, tried in vain to get me to study automata theory.  Maybe if I  had listened…  I might… well, who knows…  get an Erdos number!

But I didn’t.  No Erdos for me!

Jeffrey had asked me for a copy of his talk at Ken’s memorial a few years ago, so I agreed to dig it out of my archives today… and after extracting a fee equal to his weight in gold…  I present you will the unabridged version of his talk….

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.923065&w=425&h=350&fv=m%3D103081131%26type%3Dvideo%26a%3D0]

more about “Jaffrey Shallit @ KEI Memorial Video …“, posted with vodpod
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Barbie, Godzilla & Stravinski's Lunch

My tag line today refers most obviously to Mattel’s announcement that Barbie’s 126th career is ‘Computer Engineer’.  Most tech news syndicates have noticed, I liked chipchick‘s take on the story.

I’ve always been a huge Barbie fan, in spite of my 60’s style feminist upbringing, which means that as a girl, Barbie was forbidden.

So, of course when I grew up, I developed, not one, but two series of paintings about the story of Barbie and Godzilla getting married and giving birth to a blond haired lizard faced child named Godiva.  Needless to say, I’m thrilled to see Computer Engineer Barbie finally joining our ranks.

In the mean time, funnily enough, Godzilla and I have been working together on my Mac, which blew its graphics card.  As you can see, Godzilla is perfectly designed for this little job (booting from disk).  Which is good because I don’t have much experience tinkering around with the mysteries of Apple,  I did a lot of booting and rebooting.

The up-side of this sideline is that I know a lot more about my Mac, and all the pieces are back together and it is in fine working order. My Mac dealer, by the way, did not believe that my problem was caused by a fried graphics card, in spite of numerous reports in cyber space, most notably on Apple’s own forums… So, I found a new dealer. Who the heck wants to lug a huge Mac Pro tower half-way across the city when they don’t have to?  Damn.  I was SURE it was that little card (and I was right).

Anyway, it’s fun to be thinking about Barbie and Godzilla in the same week.  And after a few frustrating, but fruitful days of do-it-your-self Mac maintenance, I’m thoroughly sick of computers.  Which brings me to my final segue, I started yet another book last night.  Drusilla Modjeska’s, The Orchard which I have read more times than any other book, with the exception of maybe Eloise (Kay Thompson).

Ms Modjeska is an Australian writer who also wrote Stravinski’s Lunch a very insightful comparison of lifestyle choices made by two female Australian painters, whose stories stand up well as metaphors for us all.  By “us all”  I mean female artists – and perhaps female computer engineers, though, engineers, in general, are better paid than artists.

So, on that note, I will close with a quote from page 4 of The Orchard:

When Ettie tells this story, although I have no reason not to believe it is true, it’s sometimes hard to distinguish from the fairy tales she uses to illustrate her life.  When I imagine the world in which she lived as a girl all that time ago, I do so through the lense of history.  But Ettie herself doesn’t see the past through a plate glass window separating then from now.  She sees the past as more of a dream, and in that dream, all of us are linked…

And on that note – Happy Valentines…  & to the Canadians, Happy Family Day.  Rock on.

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Remember green bar paper?

Remember green bar paper?  I’m not sure when it came in, but it did come in outside of the limits of my memory.  What I mean to say is that it was always there.  And then… poof!  It was gone.

My dad is now happily settled in Manitoulin and this morning I got around to looking through my box – which he has stuffed to the breaking point and dropped off at my house.

My box now contains collectibles spanning several decades including the APL character set type-balls,  listings on green bar from the 1970’s with hand written corrections, as well as the J Phrasebook, Phrases published by Iverson Software in 1996 authored by Chris Burke, Roger K. W. Hui, Kenneth E. Iverson, Eugene E. McDonnell & Donald B. McIntyre.

At the same time, I installed K on my PC this weekend.  I’m hoping my days of wishing I had access to APL are over.

I’m still reading about 4 computer history books at the same time.  It makes for slow progress, if you’re counting by completion.  I’m at the point in the Grace Hooper biography where they start talking about Grace’s struggle with Alcohol dependence.  I’ve learned also that Ada Lovelace had her own battle with alcohol.  Not all array programmers drink like fish, but some do.  Or have.  Hmmmm… Something to contemplate.

And while I’m throwing big names around, I also found the letter from the American Institute of Physics, dated May 31, 1973 informing my father, Mr. Richard H. Lathwell, that he, Roger D. Moore and Larry M. Breed would be presented with the Grace Murray Hopper award during the ACM Annual Conference in Atlanta Georgia that year in August.

And to close… While I have been remiss this month in the posting, you most certainly have held up your end of the bargain. You’re still reading! This is fantastic You make me proud.

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