Skellywag

Friday, December 17, 2004

Continually Surprised

London is revealing itself as a place of continual surprise. My 'hood is maybe a bit scummy, but in the past week I have discovered two more art galleries within 2 minutes' walk. I found a large park, about 4 minutes away, with tennis courts, all-weather football pitch, duck pond, gazebo, and odd cast-iron relics.


Sunday, December 12, 2004

Vampires

Following a particularly strenuous day in the office, Nic and I headed for noodles, then Arabic jazz by Majoon and beer at the Ritzy, then Fridge bars, then just said "fouk", and watched Blade Trinity until 2am: cool vampires kicking the shit out of each other, wearing cool clothes and sporting very cool weapons. Good craic!

Reminded me of being in Cuba with Gail, spending endless coach journeys watching Las Vampiras en Habana, with its barely disguised critique of blood-sucking capitalists mixed with lung-busting trumpet-driven son music. Genius.


Ah, Brixton is a wonderful place

Following several more beers, we fell into a long conversation (aka beer-fuelled rant) with two other guys, about mass media, the imposition of ideas, and the state; cultural heritages represented: Britain, Ghana, Jamaica, France, Germany.


Languages

After work late last Tuesday, three of us found the nearest bar, ordered "beer" (though the Tetley's tasted suspiciously good - I must have been thirsty), and had an interesting exchange about the similarities and differences between human and computer languages; how the study of one can lead to a greater understanding of the other.

English has no word equivilent to si in French or doch in German. For the two guys there (one French, one German), this feels very odd. What do we say for the emphatic "yes"? "On the contrary, I maintain it is true!". Not particularly neat, huh?

In contrast, Python has no indexed for construct; one must iterate over a series of objects. At first, this seems strange, but, released from the confines of (int i=0; i<max; ++i), one discovers all sorts of elegent ways in which to express iterative access. Guess what? One of the more powerful and elegant constructs in C# is foreach, swiped from the likes of Python.

What English perhaps loses in expressive power due to its misshapen grammar, ghostly case system, and unpredictability, it gains from its huge proliferation of words, pilfered from other languages, their meanings distorted and highly dependent on context. For example: I was speaking to A German and a Frenchman, not A Germanman and a French. For both the other speakers, this is bizarre!

By discovering (a) the very fact that different languages have the capability to express cerain things in different, more/less precise, or more ugly/elegant ways, and (b) the specific ways in which to harness those expressive capabilities, one becomes more aware of the capabilities of one's own language, whether computer or spoken.


Thursday, December 09, 2004

Good blogs, bad blogs

Two pretty tech blogs: http://webdevel.blogspot.com/ (lots of nice ASP.NET tips, and beautiful), and of course http://www.paulgraham.com/ (no frills, just content).

On the other hand, this is not so pretty: http://webdev.blogspot.com/, nor this: http://dotnetsweatshop.blogspot.com/.

Simple, clear, tidy design, which leaves table and friends behind; it's the Future.


First post...

Hello, world!