Lispian Random meanderings on whatever catches my fancy

Lispian
Computer Languages
Watching the KLOCs

I’ve been a computer scientist for over 30 years. That’s a long time no matter how you cut it. And across those years I’ve come to accept somethings, such as the fact that the difference in capability between any two given computer scientists can be an order of magnitude. I’ve also come to accept that […]

The Move and the Big Start

Returning to my recollections on Texar, we come to the latest installment on the aspects of being an entrepreneur at Texar. An investment from VCs in the bank and visions of grandeur. That’s where we were in the Spring of 1999. We needed office space and found 3500 sq. ft. of it in the west […]

Top Computer Scientists, Ever

I was going through papers as I try to clean up 30+ years of computer science clutter and came upon this list I made back in 2004. It’s a list of the 22 most influential people in computer science, in my opinion. James Anderson [all things security, reference monitor, Multics] John Backus [FORTRAN, Algol, loads […]

Lasagna Code: Redux

I write here as sort of a pressure release valve. It seems that my little rant on Lasagna Code got some attention. I read through the comments. It seems most get what I’m on about. But I figure I might as well be a bit clearer, in case any of those posters revisit. Yes, I’m […]

Lasagna Code

Anyone who claims to be even remotely versed in computer science knows what “spaghetti code” is. That type of code still sadly exists. But today we also have, for lack of a better term — and sticking to the pasta metaphor — “lasagna code”. Lasagna Code is layer upon layer of abstractions, objects and other […]

RIP John McCarthy

The creator of my favourite programming language passed away yesterday. Lisp is, in my view, the best language ever devised. Sadly, too few in the computer industry realize or comprehend this fact. Lisp, and its descendants such as Scheme, are beautifully consistent programming languages wherein the programs and the data are defined identically and as […]

RIP Dennis Ritchie

Dennis Ritchie passed away this evening at the age of 70. I doubt it’ll get the play in the papers that Steve Jobs death did even though Ritchie’s impact was greater in my opinion. For those unfamiliar a brief writeup on Unix and its founders. Rob Pike posted a note re: Ritchie’s passing. A true […]

Lots of Irritatingly Silly Parentheses

That’s what many people I know think of when they hear my favourite languages are all Lisp derivatives such as Scheme or Clojure. They usually follow that up with a statement indicating that there are just too many brackets in Lisp. For a while I’ve wondered about this and after a little bit of study […]

How About noOS?

We have NoSQL but maybe it’s time for noOS. I’ve talked about this with colleagues for a while. Many are old enough to realize why we have operating systems, but some of the younger crowd don’t. The reason for an operating system is to equitably share the resources of a computer. This made sense when […]

Computers

For the most part computers just aren’t that much fun anymore. I’ve come to this stark conclusion of late and realize that part of my general malaise regarding the industry is that my passion for and love affair with computers is over, or at least in the latter waning stages. When I first got into […]

Asylum Seekers
Asylum Seekers

One book I constantly reference is Alan Cooper’s The Inmates Are Running the Asylum. It is an excellent book explaining the difference between what a techie sees are how software should function versus what a normal person sees and wishes software would do. It all boils down to the difference of putting the onus on […]

Revisiting Code of Yore

I’ve started a new job. I’m now working with some of smartest people I’ve ever worked with, an impressive lot. One of them I owe a lot. He was a former prof. And he still makes my head spin with how easily he handles technology and how it can be applied to the real world. […]

Density

I’ve long been complaining — some would say bitching — about how verbose it is to code in many languages today. In many cases I am sorry witness to people programming in C/C++ or Java and writing thousands upon thousands of lines of code only to end up with a piece of code that coudl […]

Why I Hate Programming

I had a chat with an old friend last night about a bevy of CS things and we came to why I haven’t programmed much the past decade or so. It’s not that I can’t. I had to for one of my Ph.D. courses. It’s just that I find it too low bandwidth. It’s a […]

No More Programmatic Verbosity

I’ve been disillusioned with programming languages for a long while. I started coding in the 70s and more than 30 years later here I am in a funk about programming languages, but I do see rays of light. First, let me tell you about the languages I like: C Pascal Algol Lisp Prolog Scheme Python […]

Rogue

There’s a great article on Rogue over at Gamasutra. It brings back a lot of memories, especially ones of sitting in the computer lab playing Rogue on the Engineering Vax. It so inspired me and a couple of friends that a few years later, around 1985, we coded up a version of Rogue for the […]

10 Years Too Early

Over at Musings of a VC in NYC there’s a new article titled “Only Ten Years Too Early“. Man that brings back some memories for me. 10 years ago I began my startup. It’s no more, but the technology we worked on is finally becoming accepted. In fact, the amount of interest mounts constantly. 10 […]

Why I Find Software Depressing

Each day that goes by I find another reason for my disgruntlement, nay, depression with software. What was a cool thing to do has slowly evolved into a form of archaelogical drudgery wherein one digs around in other people’s crappy code trying to sort out how something works and then attempts to morph an idea […]

Book Review: Geeks Bearing Gifts

I’m re-reading a book by Ted Nelson, the guy who created the notion of hypertext back in 67, and fully documented it. You can read about his creation, called Xanadu, on Wikipedia. His new book is more of a rant about the computer industry. It’s a telling book. First for the oddities of the book. […]

Shepherding Code

I don’t understand why we’re still shepherding our software through the CPU. Machines are so fast we should be focusing on the software, the experience. Instead, I watch as software gets bigger and bigger, more and more cumbersome. More difficult to understand. When I started coding 30 years ago we had to write tight code […]

40 Years On and We’re Still Not There

Now I know what Moses felt like, wandering around the wilderness awaiting the promised land shown years earlier. As a computer scientist it saddens me to see that we’ve not fully realized what Engelbart was capable of demonstrating in 1968! Whenever I want to show people how sad our progress has been with computers, I […]

Our Digital Lives

This story brings back some memories from a few years ago. When we first got a digital camera I wondered about how long these formats would be readable. Today I see so many different card formats for cameras it’s silly. Then I think back to floppy disks and hard disks and all the different formats […]

The Morris Worm

Recently it was the 20th Anniversary of the Morris Worm. A number of articles have appeared discussing the worm. It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years. But the articles tweaked my memory and I remember quite vividly aspects in and around the release of the worm. And I remember quite well talking to Bob […]

Mother Of All Demos

Every so often I post about this video. It is truly something everyone interested in computers should watch. Done back in 1968 it shows pretty much everything we have today. It does make me wonder why it isn’t used to squash a lot of software patents that were so obviously demonstrated by Doug Engelbart that […]

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