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K | Chasing Men Who Stare at Arrays

Archive for the 'K' Category

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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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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Posting from Paris on my iPhone

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I am having a lazy afternoon in Paris playing with my iPhone before venturing out for dinner with the infamous H&M. Lazy afternoon = sorting out how to get photos from my iPhone directly into this blog post, here. Voila! I adore WordPress!

It has be such an exciting week at the International Kx Conference in Dublin, I don’t know where to start with the story.

I brought a special short video divined from my research material and screened it for about 75 people. The piece was warmly received. Thank goodness. I needed the affirmation because I was feeling overwhelmed and a little discouraged. Documentary film is getting cut from all sides in Canada, grants are getting extremely scarce and at the same time tv airtime is going to reality shows. So even if you scrape together a show, there are fewer opportunities to show it. But never mind. I have received a transfusion of enthusiasm and we have cyberspace… So I am back to my cheery dgaf self.

And finally after all these years… I got to meet… Arthur Whitney. Now that was pretty awesome.

Ok. That’s enough 1 finger blogging From my iPhone. (I am blogging from my iPhone!!!!!)

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Happy New Year! The 2011 Photo Array!

I’m looking forward to a 2012 that is just as fast paced as 2011. And for whatever it’s worth, I didn’t blog as much as I did last year which is something you will notice in this post of photos. Yes indeed, a picture is worth 1000 words.

In fact, we only made 12 posts for 2011 and in spite of this low showing, my faithful readers, according to a report WordPress sent me last night:

This blog was viewed about 9,700 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

I’m thrilled! Rock on!

Happy New Year Everyone! Let’s kick some more ass in 2012.

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J, K & NC (+ J Conference 2012)

I have a Stats exam next week and because I really should be studying, I thought I’d drop you a quick note.

First, a special announcement: the J folks are planning a conference RIGHT HERE in Toronto July 23rd  &24th 2012.  Come one! Come all!

The J-community has really stepped up to the plate in terms of financial and in-kind labour for this documentary project.  Let’s face it folks, unless you’re Fred Brooks, Arthur Whitney or Eric Iverson, or a dozen or so other stars, wanting to be in the documentary doesn’t do much for me.  

I expect you noticed I was in Chapel Hill last month.  Luckily, Roger Hui alerted me to the fact that The University of North Carolina has a programming gem in their freshman class who, at all of 18, has already made a splash in the J programming forums. Welcome Marshall Lochbaum, and his former high school math teacher Henry Rich (pictured above).

And of course, less obvious was my visit to NYC to see for myself what amazing work is going on at Kx.  If you haven’t watched the video of our Simon Garland in action (with moderator Tom Groenfeldt) you’re missing the cutting edge.

 

OK!  Off I go… Exam prep is really not that bad… or so I keep telling myself…

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Disruption 45 – Take that!

In 1997 a man by the name of Clayton M. Christensen published a book called The innovator’s dilemma: when new technologies cause great firms to fail.  This book canonized the concept of “disruptive technologies” which Christensen had cooked up to dispute the “technology mudslide hypothesis.”  If you’re up on your business  innovation theory, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

This is why being called disruptive is now a huge compliment.  Who got named as the Disruptor #45 this week by  Institutional Investor?  Our very own Simon Garland.  The article’s punch line?

The advent of higher-capacity machines promises to improve efficiency not only by handling more data but also by reducing programming complexity. But such gains are neither easy nor automatic for those who run these R&D races.

This is photo of Simon with Charlie Skelton last winter in NYC. This smile, is the ever polite and indulgent, “DO you really need to point that camera at me on the weekend?”

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America!

It took forever to get through immigration and I’m having a really bad hair day (sorry Monica) – BUT AMERICA HERE I AM.

You can follow this little story on twitter #arrayStories

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