(prl “Sweet”)

A few months back I decided to try to get back up to speed with Windows. This was largely a career hedge — I was worried that I’d been doing server-side Unix work for so long that I was becoming a little one-dimensional, and this didn’t please me.

The toughest part about development in Windows is the lack of tools. In Unix, there are 1,000,000 different tools that fit perfectly in with the OS and you use the one that’s best for the task. Sure, Windows has most of the tools that you can find under Unix, but they don’t work with the OS nearly as well.

Microsoft’s .NET platform promises to change all of this for the better. Their goal seems to be making the entire system run under .NET and the tools are following. MS has their entire tool suite generating code for .NET. Unfortunately, they offer only a very limited range of languages — C#, a niced-up Java (which isn’t saying much if you aren’t a fan of Java); VB.NET, a niced-up piece of crap; managed C++, which will be great once the get the likes of Boost working with it. What really makes .NET cool, however, is that third-party developers are starting to write implementations of other languages — interesting languages — that target .NET.

Iron Python is my favorite, as Python is an imminently nice language and the implementation is very well done. More interesting, though, is something I saw on The Larkware News today: L Sharp .NET.

L Sharp .NET is a Lisp implementation (based on Arc) for .NET. According to the docs, the early implementation has all the good stuff that you’d expect from Lisp — functions, lexical closures, macros, etc. It’s currently only an interpreter, but they claim to be working on generating .NET executable files.

Unlike most of the other .NET languages (Iron Python excluded, of course), Lisp is a fun language. It’s seems less like work to code in Lisp, and that can’t be a bad thing. So yay for the L Sharp .NET folks.

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Holy Crap

Hello, Dollar! has a thing or two to say about bringing your lunch to work. Long story short, bringing your lunch saves big dollars if done over time. Their back of the envelope analysis has bringing lunch four days a week savings $1,000 a year and all of that adding up to over $500,000 over 40 or so years.

When I look at those numbers for myself it’s absolutely frightening. Hello, Dollar! estimates $7/day for lunch out. In Old Towne Pasadena it’s more like $10-$15/day and then another $5-10 for pints on Chippy Friday. If you assume an average of $12/day and the same $2/day home lunch figure (we’ll keep the pints as Chippy Friday really is one of the highlights of the week), the figure is $2,000/year that I could be saving. The only thing I spend more on is my house.

Damn.

(via Lifehacker)

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Universal

William Gibson quotes Tom Waits:

When people ask Tom Waits where he’s been ’til recently, he tells ‘em “stuck in traffic”. And, boy, do I ever know what he means. But then again it’s all part of the pro-cess.

Now, I’m not nearly in the same league as Waits and Gibson in terms of the projects I work on, but “stuck in traffic” strikes even me as a great way of explaining the way things go. I’ve got a million and one projects that I’d like to work on, but silly little things keep coming up and make it hard to get traction on any of them.

I guess I’m glad that I’m not the only one.

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YRL v. 2.1

We updated the YRL web site and announced a new head of the lab today. Apparently we rebranded (we’re “Yahoo Research” in opposition to “Yahoo Research Labs” now) and renamed all the research group (I was in the “Machine Learning” group yesterday; today it’s “Data Analytics,” which makes it sound like I spend my days pouring over spreadsheets rather than putting the finishing touches on SKYNET).

Get excited about this, people. This is important stuff that will change your life (especially the rad graphic on the front page that makes me want to dig through the sofa for change).

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The Show Crash Spectacular

There’s nothing quite so pleasing as the random, unexplained SciFi homage. I just ran in to fun one in Cory Doctorow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom:

The Haunted Mansion was experiencing a major empty spell: the Snow Crash Spectacular parade had just swept through Liberty Square en route to Fantasyland, dragging hordes of guests along with it, dancing to the JapRap sounds of the comical Sushi-K and aping the movements of the brave Hiro Protagonist.

Nothing else around it, it’s completely unexplained. Now in addition to a fun story, I get to be in on the joke. Good times.

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Why Do You Work So Hard?

Mark Morford’s column in the SF Gate asks the question "Why do you work so hard?" Why do we all spend our lives in cubes under florescent lights getting RSI working on projects that we may or may not care about? Why do so few of us pursue what we’re genuinely passionate about? Why do so few of us even know what we’re genuinely passionate about? The answer he gives: fear. Fear of violating social norms, fear of going without luxury, fear of being different. We let these fears trap us in jobs that may be going somewhere or may not and that we may enjoy or may not. We’re trapped, but comfortable enough to let inertia keep us from making any changes or even thinking about whether or not we should be making changes.

This can’t be the right way to live. I like what I do, but is it really what I want to do for the rest of my life? The unfortunate answer is that I don’t know. Am I ever going to find out if I spend the rest of my days at a desk, comfortable with my paycheck and health insurance and well-understood place in the general order of things? Somehow, I doubt it.

It’s something to think about at any rate.

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1965 BSA Thunderbolt

John Scalzi points to an eBay auction for a 1965 BSA Thunderbolt. Isn’t this the kind of bike that HST rode while he was doing research for Hell’s Angels? My copy seems to have walked so I can’t confirm for certain, but the internet suggests as much.

I don’t know how to ride a motorcycle, but I’m strangely compelled to bid on this one.

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Innocent Escapes

I feel like a real tool for shilling somebody’s ads, but Brawny’s "Innocent Escapes" web campaign is hi-freaking-larious. Brawny Man stars in a series of Very Special Moments Just For Her short films where he puts the "sin" in "sincere" with laudable gusto. "Because It’s Monday" and "That Thing You’re Going Through" are my personal favorites. Be sure to check out the custom made videos as well.

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More LA New Belgium pictures

beFrank — one of my favorite bloggers and a constant reminder to the world that life’s better than you think it is — brings very good news: a documented report of Fat Tire here in Los Angeles. At least I hope it is. Here, that is. His work takes him all over the world, and perhaps he’s just got a photo left over from work in Colorado or similar. I’ve got hope, though. The elusive New Belgium will make its way to the SGV soon enough.

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Kingdom of Loathing

I’m not really one for video games. I don’t own an Xbox or a PlayStation or whatever it is the (thirty-year-old, apparently) kids have these days, and my eyes sort of glaze over when people start going on about GTA:Topeka and what have you. I guess it’s because I don’t find the games at all compelling. Why waste my time with something that’s obviously put together by talentless ametures? Well, unforaunately for my free time, I’ve found a computer game that is the ultimate in class, intellectual stimulation and production values.

Kingdom of Loathing

The game is called Kingdom of Loathing, and damn. As you can see, it’s after 1:00AM and here I am playing it (worse, actually: I’m writing about playing it).

The basic idea is that you’re some sort of stick figure and you wander about and do some stuff. You’d think that this would be weak, but it isn’t. You get to beat up bums, steal wallets, rescue artists’ tools, and get hopped up on goofballs. If you aren’t sold already, let me tell you about the graphics: it’s all stick figures. Damn.

Joking aside, it’s incredibly addicitve and the writing is hilarious. If you’re one who doesn’t understand the whole video game craze and would much rather make fun of the damn things, this is your game.

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