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April, 2010 | Chasing Men Who Stare at Arrays

Monthly Archive for April, 2010

You say cult, I say community

I feel like I’m living with a time machine in my studio. One day it’s 1951, then it’s 1980.  Now I’m back in this century, full speed ahead!

I did, in fact, finish reading Patterson’s, The Quants (Crown Publishing, 2010). It’s a quick read, big type font.  Patterson reduces technology to “supercomputers” and the “money grid.”  That’s fine.  I expect this approach sells well.

I almost forgot, the name of the game is to make lots of money.  Lots and lots and lots of money!   I’m kidding, my partner reminds me once a month or so.

Patterson mentions FORTRAN, close to the beginning of the book, but I didn’t think to mark the page and it didn’t even make the index.  So, I can’t find the exact reference at this moment.  He does use the word programming from time to time, but that’s it.

Still, I’m happy that I read this book, even with its substantial fluff factor.  I learned more about hedging and credit default swaps, even if Paterson’s presentation is more metaphorical than not.  And I have a renewed respect for Mandelbrot. I had no idea that he plays a role in the grand discourse of theoretical finance (of course, I know about his SET and FRACTALs).

I have since moved on to Richard Bookstaber’s A Demon of our own Design (Wiley & Sons, 2007). I’m only about 20% into the book.  It has a tiny, tight type font.

And look!  We get our own section.

He calls us THE APL CULT!

My vision of myself as a female Peter-Pan-Pied-Piper cross summoning the Jedi, CRUSHED!

I’ll say more about the book when I’m finished with it.  You just never know when something in the end contradicts one’s impression in the beginning.  And the last thing we all need is for me to brandish around some half baked opinion.  But what I will say now, is this:

So far, I find this memoir style analysis intriguing in its detail. The level of specificity is remarkable, actually.  And, If we do, in fact, fancy ourselves to be the champions of Kenneth Iverson’s tools of thought, then Paterson presents a valid corollary which deserves consideration.

Further,  if you are really interested, you can find more notes about Bookstaber’s critique of APL easily in cyberspace.

Ta, for now.

I’m off to train on my light saber.

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Getting ready for secret screening

Guess what?  I’m filming this right now.  Of course, I’m going to Washington at the end of the month, I’ll say more about that later… But if I get my act together and my sound engineer gets out of the hospital in time!!! THEN there is a surprise screening of my ever improving demo.

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Hello Helskini!

Dear Everyone in Helsinki –  You must be having a wonderful time.  I hope you are pleasantly surprised to see my little demo!

In the mean time back in Toronto, my father is visiting from his new country farm.  This is what happens on your birthday lunch, when your daughter gets a new camera for her documentary project.

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.934865&w=425&h=350&fv=%26rel%3D0%26border%3D0%26]

more about “Dad on Christina Shen“, posted with vodpod

Christina Shen was the only female developer on the APL team back in the olden days.  She taught me how to use chopsticks when I was very small.  I hope to get to meet her again soon. According to my dad, IBM hired its first female employee in 1960. Apparently, this was a big deal.

1960!!! Wow.  That was kinda late in the game, don’t you think?

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Toronto Paparazzi sighting

I now carry my new pocket sized Flip video camera everywhere, just in case.

And get this, the other day I bumped into Eric Iverson! He was walking down the Danforth on some random afternoon in the beginning of April.  Just like that.

Can you think of a better way to spend the first real spring day of the year?  Strolling down the Danforth with Eric Iverson and stopping for a coffee.  I can’t.  It was great!

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Unsung Jedi knight

There are two copies of the 1978 anniversary photo of “Iverson’s Six” or the IVSIX as they were called.  The well circulated official version with Richard Lathwell, Kenneth E. Iverson, Roger D. Moore, Adin Falkoff, Phil Abrams & Larry Breed.  And the outtake version, with these same guys… with another guy, caught, most certainly by not accident, Jon McGrew.

Jon has been there all along.  In fact, he is responsible for a wonderful collection of photographs, now a decade old of quite a few APL celebrities.

His Eulogy for Ken at the Toronto memorial in 2004 makes a very good story.

John McGrew @ KEI Memorial Video by Catherine – MySpace Video.

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3401 North Market Street, Philadelphia

This is what my studio looks like when I said I would talk at APL2000’s 2010 User’s Conference in DC on the same day I have to write a final exam here in Toronto.  Poor me!

So, I’ll write the exam tonight, get on a 6am flight. 

Note to self – schedule 3:45am airport limo pick-up & ask everyone to pray to the airline gods.

Then!  I’ll stick around DC and meet the fine folks of APL2000, who I don’t know well at all, which is super cool.  And since I’m so close by, I’ll take the train to Philadelphia and get some photos of the old IBM Scientific Center building which was located at 3401 North Market Street in Philadelphia during the 1970’s.

How’s that for a plan?

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Winner takes all in America's great Capital

I’m having a wonderful time here in Washington DC.  I’ve put “faces to names” of many of the APL2000 folks, another branch of the array language family I didn’t know much about before embarking on this journey.

Also, it was a great honour to present Sonia Beekman with her prize for winning my array language challenge.  Remember, I asked you guys to name 6 female array language programmers on the blog.   Well, Sonia WON!  So I gave her a limited addition apple photo that I made for everyone who knew me in diapers and attended APL reunion up in Toronto in 2004.  This means Sonia now possess a piece of art also held by Robert Bernecky, Miachale Berry, Eric Iverson, Richard Lathwell, Roger Moore and maybe one or two others I can’t think of at this moment.  Congratulations Sonia!

I also learned that Sonia’s degree is in Biology, like at least one other great female APL mover and shaker.  In fact, I’ve met quite a few biologist who take to array programming languages.  Interesting.  I’m filing this in my tools for thought file.

Now it’s time to pack and catch that train to Philly!

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