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Chasing Men Who Stare at Arrays | Catherine Lathwell's APL/A/J/K/Q Film Diaries - Part 3

The Origins of APL – 1974

I shared this video on Myspace on July 20, 2009 where it has received 4604 views as of today.

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Kenneth E Iverson – Toronto Memorial November 18, 2004

Well, hot dang! Youtube decided I get more time.  They sent me a note last week: Congratulations! You can upload videos longer than 15 mins.  This is GREAT news and I’m celebrating by uploading the synopsis of Ken Iverson’s Toronto memorial service I made back in 2004 when I first fell in love with my video camera.
 

 

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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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Lettow on Brooks honouring the 90th anniversary of KEI’s birth

As they say in rock and roll, “You can’t always get what you want… but you just might find you get what you need…”

When Ken Lettow asked me if he could swing down to North Carolina for my interview with Professor Fred Brooks,  I answered with a resounding and emphatic, “NO!”

You gotta love Ken.  Persistence is his middle name.  He then proceeded to convince me that he would not bring havoc to my film set and in fact, he would make himself useful.  And a short training session later…   I have a  sound engineer and set photographer all in one enthusiastic bundle  of a subject matter expertise.   In short, a much appreciated helping hand.

In honour of the 90th anniversary of Ken Iverson’s birth Ken Lettow sent out a wonderful account of our adventure to North Carolina to the J-Chat forum:

As [KEI and Prof Brooks] developed course material for the class,  Ken began to formalize the notation that came to be known as APL, the “the blackboard version” as Eugene McDonnell once so aptly put it.  Their collaboration ultimately resulted in the publication of two books, Ken Iverson’s “A Programming Language”,  in 1962 and “Automatic Data Processing” by Iverson and Brooks, published in 1963.  They also became lifelong friends during this period.

You can read Ken’s  full text here.  He’s also posted a great set of photos.

Happy holidays everyone.  May the Force be with you always.

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Being creative takes time

It sure does.

(Thanks SG)

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A somber reminder from Canada

December 6th is a somber anniversary for Canadian women in tech, especially those of us in my generation who remember 1989.

A gunman confronts 60 engineering students during their class at l’École Polytechnique in Montreal on Dec. 6, 1989. He separates the men from the women and tells the men to leave the classroom, threatening them with his .22-calibre rifle. The enraged man begins a shooting rampage that spreads to three floors and several classrooms, jumping from desk to desk while female students cower below. He roams the corridors yelling, “I want women.”

CBC Digital Archive

Chilling words. And this happened in Canada. I’ll say this again, because if it can happen here, it can happen anywhere.

This happened in Canada.
Women in Tech

The lesson is that tragic things happen when people are singled out and demonized based on some arbitrary attribute. And I mean this to include all levels of society; at home, at work, in the judicial system, in the movie theaters.

Do me a favour and take a quiet moment to think about what I’m saying to you today.

Thank you.

And forever, I appreciate all your support in this crazy documentary adventure.

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It’s APL’s Birthday! Or is it?

Last year we discovered that the first APL workspace was saved November 27, 1966 at 18.53.59. (GMT); the excitement of this momentous event pulling the guys away from home and the American Thanksgiving holiday.  Today we know that this evidence isn’t 100% the truth…  it’s more like 99.7% truth…  According to an eyewitness account from my dad history has been slightly amended… if only by a few seconds!

Should today be APL’s official birthday?

It just so happens that 2012 is the 50th anniversary of the publication of that one little book, “A Programming Language“. THE one little book, that Harvard deemed too small to launch its author, Kenneth E. Iverson into a tenure track position.  Harvard sent Ken packing! It wasn’t until much later that Ken’s work and this one little book was recognized by the world,  winning the Turing Award which is recognized as the “highest distinction in Computer science” and the “Nobel Prize of computing“.

The moral of this story?

Do it right and do it well.  Happy Birthday APL!

 

Many thanks to Rick Procter who reminded me about the significance of 2012 earlier this fall.

 

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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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One for the road

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Hélène Falardeau

As far as I understand it, Tom Gibson gave Hélène the best send-off ever.  And what I see from Twitter is that there are a few of you out there who know Tom.  As for me, my efforts to not be extremely sad, are not working…  Yet.

This is a reposting of Tom’s letter, which Terry Huff sent out on the Toronto Data Services Division listserv.

From: Tom Gibson [mailto:tomwgibson@gmail.com]

Sent: Sunday, October 16, 2011 4:53 PM
To:tomwgibson@gmail.com
Subject: Hélène Falardeau

Hello,

Apologies for the “form” email, but it occurred to me while creating this obit for Hélène for the newspaper that many of you may miss it, so I have included it here. At the bottom of this email is a link to lovely blog post (and picture) from where Hélène last worked in Vancouver.

Please forward or post this to anyone you know who might have known Hélène.

Thank you. Tom

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Hélène Falardeau died in her Vancouver home on Saturday October 8, 2011. She left us happy, at peace, and surrounded by those she loved and who cherished her.

Born in Montreal in 1951, Hélène moved to Toronto at age 14. She was very much the cool and protective older sister to brother Marc and sister Ann (Gosleigh), whom she adored. Hélène later worked in administration for companies such as Upjohn, Mercedes-Benz, the Quebec Government and Reuters. Hélène’s love of reading likely blossomed while working at Coles Bookstore during high school when she brought home Agatha Christie books to help then 13-year-old Marc learn to speak English. One summer Hélène worked as hiring coordinator for the then fledgling Cirque du Soleil the first year they came to Toronto. Other summers Hélène worked as an EKG technician in Chicago while staying with her dear friend Martha. It was during her high school years that Hélène’s “French-English-ness” took shape, and which is so much a part of her. Moving from Montreal to Toronto in the mid sixties, Hélène saw The Beatles in both of their Canadian concerts (1965 Montreal, 1966 Toronto) … one of those screaming girls right up front. Many in Toronto will remember Hélène through her work at Reuters where as Manager of Administration she was known for organizing spectacular Holiday parties, her amazing doodles (the beginnings of her artistic career), and adorning the walls with wonderful artwork. Hélène had style. In October 1998 Hélène moved to Nelson BC to be with Tom Gibson and be stepmother—friend she would say—to Chris and Danielle. Hélène worked in the art supply department at Cowan’s. It was in Nelson that the art inside Hélène emerged, and in a BIG way. Work from her first pen and ink show at the Glacier Gallery surprised many. Who expected such imaginings from a “little old lady from Toronto” (her words)? As an artist she created lifelong friendships with other Nelson artists who encouraged her (“go bigger”), and she earned acclaim for several art series (kimonos, slips, escapades, …). Several more shows, and colour, followed in her eight years in Nelson. Then to Vancouver with Tom. Yaletown, overlooking False Creek, in a very different but active and vibrant life. In Vancouver Hélène had fun working part time at Matchmaker for Hire in Vancouver. A Toronto-lover, it took her a few months to say “now I get Vancouver.” A couple weeks before Hélène died she added, “I love our home here.”

Hélène died from a cancer that struck her dramatically in the summer of 2007. The grace, dignity and resourcefulness with which she faced cancer is a remarkable but perfect expression of who Hélène is, and is something the many who love her can now find comfort in embracing. Please join us in celebrating Hélène’s life on Saturday, October 22, 2011 from 1-4pm. We are pleased to be able to host our celebration of Hélène at the Harrison Gallery, located at 901 Homer Street in Vancouver. In lieu of flowers please consider donating to InspireHeath, a Vancouver-centred, integrated cancer care organization who have helped Hélène in many ways (http://www.inspirehealth.ca/donate). Or just purchase a happy and bright, cut-flower bouquet to celebrate Hélène’s life in your home. Hélène would have liked that.

###

Here’s the blog post. Click the picture in it to see a beautiful picture showing Hélène after her hair started to grow back after chemo in 2008. The photo in the obit piece was taken in Vancouver in 2010.

http://www.matchmakerforhire.com/our-girl/

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