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June, 2012 | Chasing Men Who Stare at Arrays

Monthly Archive for June, 2012

Going nova: Kx princess denouement 

The  intricacies of this APL story, a story of epic proportions, with richness, contradictions, irony, paradox and most importantly brilliant characters provides everything a storyteller could hope for.  This is the perfect story.  Except…well, a slightly less ephemeral subject would be easier to visualize, but never mind.

The dashing Pierre Kovalev and Oleg Finkelshteyn (left) take after their mentor, Arthur Whitney and are men of few words, big brains and deep hearts.  They are working on performance optimization, a field where those trained in Array Programming Language thinking have an advantage, a mental edge.  Seriously, Professor, take note.

The up and coming Peter Bell, Carlos Butler and Tisean Jeffers (right) from Loughborough University are all bright stars ready for action with poise and affability which indicates there are great things in their future reminiscent of APL’s Brat Pack. Peter, by the way, gets extra points for recognizing me from YouTube, which means, folks, he is out there exploring and paying attention.  Go easy and think about what this says about him, rather than me.

Fintan Quill (left) radiates a calm competence with just a hint of characteristically Irish charm. He’s a bit like Simon, although Simon isn’t Irish.  Fintan has a long history with Array Programming and recently joined the Kx team in New York. Lucky Kx!

And if I really WERE a Princess, and to be candid, I’m certainly not. And in actuality, I get along better with Queens than Princesses, but if I were a Princess, I would give David Katz (below) my scarf, any day.

He has the ultimate, you just never know with APL, story. Having written his Master’s thesis on APL a relatively long time ago, and then finding not much APL action in Michigan back in the day, he went on to more mainstream  Software Engineering.  And then, several years later his resume was plucked out of the pile because of that APL thesis.  AND that’s why I had the pleasure of meeting him in Ireland.  Incidentally, he half volunteered and was half drafted to help me with the next phase of this project, which is getting it financed.

Where are all the women?  Well, it turns out that Janet, Victoria, Alla and Holly are all running around faster than the speed of light keeping everyone in business.   So far, I haven’t caught them sitting still long enough to grab a picture.  But they’re there.  You can bet on it.  And guess what I’m learning?  If they weren’t, these guys wouldn’t be here either.

In  conclusion, the support, encouragement and congeniality from all the people I met in Ireland, pictured and not pictured, have left me burning a little brighter. The realization of a documentary about APL is far from a sure thing, but these folks just nudged it one step further along.

Thank you.

(PS I’m still showing everyone who will tolerate listening to me, J on my iPhone.  I mean everyone. ) 

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The iPhone, J & me

I love my iPhone.  It was the best Christmas gift ever, even better than the filing cabinet on Valentines day.  So, I am interrupting the princess report to mention I now have J on my iPhone.  Of course, many in the Community already know from twitter that I was interviewing Eric Iverson yesterday so that I can make a video to show at his J conference in July.

Thanks to Liz Giddons, I have live action shots of my first experience trying out J on a computer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am proud to report that the demographics on my Youtube channel have shifted in the last month to where the female readership has climbed to 16% up from many too many months at 2%. I don’t really understand why, but it sure makes me smile.

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Kx Princess Report #2

Where were we? Oh, yes, my commitment to Simon to find the K-Club in Straffan just outside of Dublin. And to arrive with something to show.

I flew in a day early to relax and see the city. This was enough time to learn that the Irish can give uncomfortably vague directions that miraculously work. For example, “It’s across the road,” did in fact turn out to be true.

The event was a Kx International Users conference. The tricky business about these conferences is that they are TOP SECRET. In fact, one of my new found friends revealed to me all kinds of interesting details about his personal life and when I asked if they were a secret, because… er… I am making a documentary… He said, no. BUT! What he had just explained to me about his work, now THAT, was absolutely secret.

Don’t get too excited. The only people who would understand any possible trade secret I may have learned, are the ultra-geek of geeks. I don’t expect to be kidnapped and held for ransom anytime soon. So, no kiss and tell. That’s how it goes. I can say that the spirit of innovation which began in the 1950’s with Dr Iverson at Harvard carries on. And simple is still the more difficult and best route. Even after all these years.

It was a real treat to finally meet Arthur Whitney. I expect that if I say too much right now, he’ll never talk to me again, which would be tragic. BUT! It was great. And Janet Lustgarten is the sharpest executive I’ve ever met. She’s an awesome role model for anyone, and is especially inspiring for women in tech. It was a pleasure to spend time with these folks.

Next time I’ll tell you about Carlos, Oleg, Peter, Pierre and Tisean. They share first prize for inspiring super ultra-core fans. What I mean by that, is when I ask myself, Why the heck am I doing this anyway? I just need to see their smiling faces and my batteries re-charge.

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The Princess goes to Straffan part 1

Perhaps ironically, the competition and barriers I am setting out to tackle make working on Wall Street look like summer camp. The stakes are much higher too because the currency is soul.

Documentary filmmaking is an uncertain, messy, un-businessy business and that’s why so many documentaries never get made. The sheer impossibility of the endeavor can grind a person down. And I was feeling it at the end of March; a little worn down; a little tired from the countless hours that have gone into this project since 2009; a little scared at the opportunity cost of my own labour gone; a little bit doubtful that I had anything to say.

It sounds like self-pity, but it’s actually just exhaustion.

Those of you who know me or have worked with me know that in the parlance of business, I’m a finisher. What this means is, that since I made a commitment to Simon Garland last summer, it doesn’t matter what obstacles were in the way. I would find the K Club, a castle in Ireland. And I would bring a show.

Now, I’m really glad and so I will tell you about why over the next couple of posts.

Thank you, everyone, for tuning in.  And may the Force be with you always.

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