Print Story The ring of truth
Diary
By TheophileEscargot (Fri Jul 20, 2007 at 11:50:37 PM EST) Reading, Watching, MLP, ODGF (all tags)
Reading: "The Fortress of Solitude". Watching. Ask HuSi: courses. ODGF. Web.


What I'm Reading
Finished The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem. Novel about a boy growing up in Brooklyn in the late Seventies and early Eighties.

Pretty good, realistic-seeming but interesting. Avoids the dreariest clichés of the coming-of-age story. Very well written and keeps the attention.

Weakness: plot and structure didn't really seem to go anywhere. Comes to a kind of resolution, but a lot of stuff is left open. The magic ring plotline seemed a bit pointless, though I suppose it served a kind of purpose in showing that there's no way out.

Overall, seemed like a solid book, but nothing to really rave about.

Salon, NYTimes, Guardian review, review. Author article.

What I'm Watching
Have watched all 12 episodes of the Dresden Files now. Not bad. They don't have the long, tense plots of the books: there's a single plot to each episode, but they do match the mixed comic/dark tone of the books pretty well.

Not sure if there will be a second season: hasn't been an official decision yet, but apparently the ratings were disappointing.

Does seem a bit old-fashioned with the single linear plot per episode. You'd think they'd either go for a continuous storyline, or at least have a sub-plot per episode.

Now just have the second halves of Civilization and The Wire series 4 to go through. So could do with something light.

Ask HuSi
So there's the possibility of some training at work. Possibly just time for online training, possibly an actual course. Apart from Learning Tree and the Microsoft courses, does anyone know of any good courses or course providers?

Software development, advanced C# and ASP.NET, AJAX, that kind of thing.

ODGF
So, for one week now have been cutting down on the food slightly. Have only used the Slim-Fast® products occasionally: substituted 5 meals for them, when the plan would call for 14. However I've also cut down on the sizes of lunchtime sandwiches, and have had smaller evening meals throughout the week.

Saturday July 14
Breakfast: Toast, piece cheese, HE noodles
Lunch: Lamb curry, rice with butter, crunch corner
Snacks: Mango
Supper: Ham sandwiches
Booze: 1 beer
Exercise: 5BX Chart 4 Level A+. Dumb-bells 3x10 all, plus light curls.

Sunday July 15
Breakfast: Slimfast shake
Lunch: Ham and tomato sandwiches
Snacks: Banana
Supper: Spanish duck, potatoes, veg. Choc cake with ice cream
Booze: 1/3 bottle wine, 2 beers, 1 whisky
Exercise: 5BX Chart 4 Level A+.

Monday July 16
Breakfast: Slimfast shake
Lunch: Pepper and cream cheese soup, small chicken sandwich
Supper: Chicken breast, potatoes, carrots, peas. WW choc vanilla dessert
Booze: None
Exercise: 5BX Chart 4 Level A+. 1.75 miles walking. Dumb-bells 3x10 light, heavy. Med 3x1 with heavy weights

Tuesday July 17
Breakfast: Toast, ham, tomato, tiny piece cheese. Banana
Lunch: Smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel
Supper: Omelette, bread, tomato. WW eclair (81 kcal)
Snacks: Kiwi fruit, 3 plums
Booze: 1 whisky
Exercise: 5BX Chart 4 Level A+. 3.5 miles walking

Wednesday July 19
Breakfast: Slimfast meal replacement bar (210kcal)
Lunch: Small chicken sandwich, lentil and bacon soup
Supper: Chicken breast, potatoes, peas, carrots. WW choc vanilla dessert
Booze: 1 beer
Exercise: 5BX Chart 4 Level A+. 3.5 miles walking. Dumb-bells 3x10 all

Thursday July 20
Breakfast: Slimfast shake
Lunch: Small chicken sandwich
Supper: WW beef hotpot. 4 toast. Small piece cheese. WW eclair (81 kcal)
Snacks: 2 banana, 3 plums.
Booze: 1 beer
Exercise: 5BX Chart 4 Level A+. 3.5 miles walking

Friday July 21
Breakfast: Slimfast shake, banana
Lunch: Chicken wrap
Supper: Goulash, bread roll. HE corner.
Snacks: Another banana. 4 plums
Booze: 2 brandy
Exercise: 5BX Chart 4 Level A+. 1.75 miles walking .Dumb-bells 3x10 light, med. 3x20 heavy with med weights

Operation Don`t Get Fatter: Week 84

Early indications look promising with an apparent 2-pound loss. Some of that may be water though: felt pretty thirsty on weighday morning.

Web
Japanese Pizza Hut has sausage roll and beefburger pizza. (Ad).

Children less likely to labour in countries with overseas trade.

Videos. Filipino prisoners reenact Thriller video. Let the bodies hit the floor. Jack Chick's Titanic.

Excellent comment on technological progress on Charles Stross' blog.

None of this will of course make any impact, since Charles Stross is a computer programmer, and programmers remain the absolute bottom of the food chain in the sciences and technology. A programmer doesn't actually know anything, and has never had any contact with the scientific method. If a programmer's code fails, he can just run it on a larger machine, or tell the end user it's going to take longer -- physicists or molecular biologists or materials scientists don't have the luxury of changing their basic constraints, but programmers do. A physicist can't just say, "Okay, let's change the constant of universal gravitation to 1/10 of its current value, then re-run the experiment." But programmers can indulge in this sort of technological onanism by fiddling and twiddling with either the hardware and the software until their kludgy crufty junk code runs at an almost-acceptable rate. For examples, see any version of Windows, or, for that matter any dependency-hell Linux upgrade.

Because they've never had any exposure to actual science and know nothing about the scientific method and have never had to deal with genuine engineering problems, programmers like Stross remain the very worst candidates for writing about the future of science. This may explain why the laughably foolish pipedreams of the Singularity have been promoted prmarily by programmers -- Ray Kurzweil, Vernor Vinge, Charles Stross, Cory Doctorow -- rather than actual scientists or engineers. Programming is to real science as alchemy is to chemistry. Real scientists aren't taken in by this kind of singularitarian twaddle.

He's really got our number...
< I have it! | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >
The ring of truth | 12 comments (12 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
re: comment on Charles Stross by lm (4.00 / 2) #1 Sat Jul 21, 2007 at 04:11:19 AM EST
I agree with the comment as written, but it must be kept in mind that there is a distinction between a computer scientist and a programmer. I've met quite a few programmers and precious few computer scientists.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
most of the real comp sci people i know... by gzt (4.00 / 2) #5 Sat Jul 21, 2007 at 06:30:47 AM EST
...are mathematicians stuindg things like discrete math and computability theory.

[ Parent ]
Computer scientists by ucblockhead (4.00 / 2) #9 Sat Jul 21, 2007 at 08:14:42 AM EST
...are mathematicians. They do no actual science. (That is, a computer scientist doesn't use the scientific method at all.)

As opposed to programmers, who might potentially use the scientific method to debug.

In this respect, the comment applies more to computer scientists than working programmers. (And I must here note that the leading figure in the early concept of Singularty was by Vernor Vinge, who was, indeed, a computer scientist, not a programmer.)
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
The excerpted comment is better than the original by Scrymarch (4.00 / 1) #2 Sat Jul 21, 2007 at 04:25:40 AM EST
But man, that stings.

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

But I have never approached any application by cam (4.00 / 1) #3 Sat Jul 21, 2007 at 05:22:13 AM EST
or program I have done as a science project. They are always solving business problems. Even when I did a driver project it was solving a business problem - not a scientific one.

I consider software - as I do it anyway - the same as accountancy. It is a business support technology. It won't uncover the 'truths' of the universe but it will make your business super-f**king productive.

cam
Freedom, liberty, equity and an Australian Republic

[ Parent ]
Yeah by Scrymarch (4.00 / 2) #6 Sat Jul 21, 2007 at 07:08:15 AM EST
I think software is basically a bureaucracy of automatons. But it does mean software people don't have a good sense of how science progresses.

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

[ Parent ]
Lethem ... by crux (4.00 / 1) #4 Sat Jul 21, 2007 at 06:15:19 AM EST
I really enjoyed Motherless Brooklyn. It lacks some (but not all) of the social/cultural insight stuff and has a page-burner of a plot.

Scientific method in programming by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #7 Sat Jul 21, 2007 at 07:45:46 AM EST
The scientific method is, hands down, the absolute best tool for debugging broken programs. The idea that programmers (at least good ones) never have direct contact with the scientific method is complete crap. Good debugging generally works like this:

  1. Run using various options, debugging printfs, etc. to see what happens. (Collect evidence.)
  2. Make a guess at what the bug is. (Form a theory.)
  3. Make changes to the program either to attempt to fix the bug, or to prove that this is actually the bug. (Test the theory.)
  4. If the theory fails, go to (1) or (2), otherwiswe, done.

I'm not disputing any of the singularity crap, which is yet another case of futurists confusing what they want to happen with what will happen. (And assuming that straight lines stay straight.)
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

Is that really the scientific method? by Dr H0ffm4n (2.00 / 0) #11 Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 01:45:22 AM EST


[ Parent ]
yes (nt) by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #12 Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 05:29:42 AM EST

---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Courses by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #8 Sat Jul 21, 2007 at 07:50:00 AM EST
I've done both normal and online courses. The normal courses I've found to be utterly deadly dull. I took one in C# while working on a C# project at work, and was ahead of the class within a week or two. The lectures were an exercise in dullness because if it.

The online courses, on the other hand, were nice, because they forced me to actually sit down and learn the stuff, but I wasn't forced to sit through a 20 minute discussion period on the difference between int and float.

The basic problem with most of these courses for an experienced programmer is that at least half the class is the equivalent of a 2nd year undergrad. With online classes, this doesn't effect you.

I can't recommend any actual ones as all the ones I took were though the local universities, which I don't believe are available to out-of-state people.
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

Colleagues have recently done by Herring (4.00 / 1) #10 Sat Jul 21, 2007 at 09:33:58 AM EST
ASP.NET/C# with QA. I'll ask. Also, I'll give a verdict on the outfit I'm with next week. When I've been.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky
The ring of truth | 12 comments (12 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback