Archive for the 'IBM' Category

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APL in the New Millenium

It is a condition of wisdom in the archer to be patient because when the arrow leaves the bow, it returns no more.

– Sa’di

My friend, Scott Hall, will notice that I borrowed the Sadiq quote above from his Facebook post this morning.  It resonates with me on many levels today.  On the personal side, I’ve already had to apologise twice today for speaking too quickly, too soon & without the requisite precision. Ouch. TWICE.

In the mean time, I’m thinking about how serious and personal this project has become.   This feels a little like scope creep, which started innocently enough with who’s here and who’s willing to let me shove a camera in their face.    The answer of course, is me and my dad.

In any case, what jumped out at me when I wrote the application I mentioned last week for the film is a shift of voice that has occurred in the last year.  In other words, I’m using my own voice because, guess what folks, the story is getting more personal.  But don’t be scared.

I’m also relying on serendipity to pull me through the tidal waves of material which are coming my way.  I am emboldened by Denis Shasha’s essay on Michael  O. Rabin The Possibility of Chance, although I know full well, this is not the interpretation he had in mind.

But this does lead me to my next point which is that of the small treasures my father put into my box, APL Quote Quad Volume 29, Number 4 from June 1999, attracted my attention.  This issue attracted my attention because APL Berlin 2000: The Array Processing Language Conference for the Year 2000 is on the cover.  This year’s APL conference in September is also in BerlinAnd I really want to go!

It’s probably an appropriate moment to think about how much the world has changed in the last decade. Communication technology has been revolutionized, which is great for me, but how will this effect our coming together in person?  What will draw us together to face the rath of Eyjafjallajökull? Why can I just throw in a word like Eyjafjallajökull, and be confident that if you don’t know it, you’ll find it?

Now my trump card. The reason my father put this particular issue of  APL Quote Quad into my box is not because of Berlin.  It is not in my possession to make me think about the future, or what I’m doing or how I’m doing it.  This issue simply holds the obituary of  John C. McPherson and my father wants me to know about this man, a visionary really,  who championed APL at IBM in the very early days.

And that’s what I mean by serendipitous and personal.

And if you are part of the array language community, and you’re up on your obits, you’ll recognize the title of this blog post.  It is the title of perhaps Ken Iverson’s last article, I’m guessing here but Chris or Roger will know for sure, if it really was his last.

My hope is to encourage the relatively small APL family to mute their differences, and present a more united face to the programming world.

So, I’m here doing my part, knowing full well, this is not the interpretation he had in mind.


APL’s Brat Pack


I’ve had my head down, working away at my Accounting duties for days and days and days!   And then I figured out how to move this damn blog so I can host it myself, which I’ve wanted to do for months.   So, I moved it.  In other words it no longer “lives” at WordPress. 

Sorry folks, you’ll need to set up your feeds again.  And Boy, that took a lot of fiddling.  I hope it was worth it.

So, I’m under pressure to give you some good stuff, as it’s been almost two weeks since I’ve posted anything at all.

Lucky for me, both David Allen and Michael Berry turned up in Toronto last week.  Both these guys cut their baby teeth while programming in APL back in the 70’s and 80’s. When other kids were out washing dished, they were digging in to real time computing.  And guess what?  They’re doing really well now.

Michael Berry

Michael’s family was moved around by IBM in the same herd as my family.    And the truth is,  I had my first heart break when our families got separated, not so much from losing contact with Michael, himself, because he was much older, but his sisters! My first impulse, when this all began was to run and go find them in California.

David Allen

David Allen

And so, the first thing I did was to call David up and say, I’m coming to Palo Alto, can I crash at your place? He said, yes!   And came to my talk at the Computer History museum and helped me out by running the camera.  I think Larry Breed still thinks he’s my camera guy, instead of CTO!


From Crasher to Prancer

A copy of  Masterminds of Programming arrived at 70 Winona Dr this week, sent from the master himself (and whom I owe a phone call.   I’ve kept Aidin waiting for a over a week now, so I’m starting to sweat. )

I have yet to sort through all the personal notes, posts & leads that have been coming in non-stop for the last couple of months.  I love these kinds of problems.  They’re fantastic to have.

I’m also putting out videos that I owe people & this feels great too – the machine is moving.

But the latest news: I’m speaking on Tuesday at the BAPLA2009 – Tuesday June 9th after lunch. Wooo- Hooo!


Home in Toronto & Moving Forward

I’m happy to be home and relaxed after a restful long weekend (Queen Victoria day in Canada – GBTQ).  I’m finishing up a video I owe which is long overdue.  I have promised to write up an account of the meeting with the Bay Area APL Association for the Vetor Blog – so I won’t get into that just now.

My trip to California was wonderful.  In between the presentation and taping sessions, I was privy to some pretty interesting gossip and personal reflections about relationships between fathers and daughters.  I expect that as I am talking to a preponderance of men, many of whom have daughters, this will be a re-occurring theme.  As for the gossip… well, now.  What should I do with this?

And speaking of fathers…

My father received a call from Adin Falkoff on Friday.   And even though he caught me in a compormising moment when he called to pass on the news, I was very happy to hear about all it.

Adin, it turns out,  learned about the film on the grapevine, and called to say he was excited by the idea.  Thanks, folks.  Good work!

And if you’re paying attention to Vetor’s blog, you already know about the new book, Masterminds of Programming which features Adin on the creation of APL.

As a side note…

The readership of this blog is now growing beyond friends and family, and people are asking, “Who are you to be making this film, anyway?” so I suppose it’s time to post some biographical details.  I’ve added this to my “to-do’s”.

As for forward momentum…

Today I put in a call to an award winning Canadian Animation artist and film producer.  I hope he returns my call.  I have met him casually so… fingers crossed.   So, guess what I’m thinking about to spice up this film?

I am also assembling the team.  I have high hopes for Iris, a camera woman who called out of the blue as I was running out the door to Palo Alto.   Many of you will remember Maria Nunes from the IPSA days, when we were operators together in the 1980’s, she’s now a video editor extraordinaire who also edits for CBC News.

I am also organising a ring of international spies.  Already there are agents in Europe & the USA.  If you think you are cut out for super secret missions, send me a note.  One can never have too many collaborators.

I’ve finally touched base with Roger Hui and he promised to drown me in photos of his Kids at BAPL – Yay!

Take care, everyone.  I completely appreciate the notes and references and contact info and anecdotes and moral support and co-operation from everyone.  This is why I love this community.

And remember – Nerds Rock.  We’re becoming cool, even.   Fancy that!


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