Alvin Alexander | Java, Scala, Unix, Perl, Mac OS X

One thing about meditation, it brings back some memories that are buried in the depths of your brain/mind. For example, when I was 17 or 18 years old I remember my father and “the woman he got pregnant while he was married to me my mother” having a conversation where they referred to themselves as “survivors.” I further remember thinking, “If throwing your wife and children overboard to save yourself makes you a survivor, sure, you’re a survivor.”

When I left Alaska in 2011 I didn’t have enough room in my car for all of my books, so these are the books I left behind.

Books I sold when I left Alaska in 2011

I used to use wunderground.com all the time. Then, over time, I noticed that it kept getting slower and slower. Out of frustration I looked around for other good weather websites. Today I use accuweather.com.

On the web and with apps, performance — or lack of performance — is important to acquiring and retaining customers.

XO Play is a “thinking man’s” football game that I created for Android devices. It’s for those of us who enjoy thinking about football strategy, of how to take advantage of our strengths and our opponents’ weaknesses, and how to call plays to win games. If you’ve ever watched a football game and thought, “I can call plays better than this guy,” XO Play is for you.

Version 1.4

Version 1.4 introduces four game levels you can choose from:

I’m not sure if this is just a Colorado thing, but there are also a lot of goats around here.

Sheep manure?

“When the clutter of compulsive thought is cleared away, the light of awareness becomes powerfully bright.”

~ Tina Rasmussen

(Ms. Rasmussen co-wrote the book, Practicing The Jhanas, which is one of my favorite meditation books.)

I remember when the only wind turbines I had ever seen were the ones off of I-65 in Indiana, part of an experiment at Purdue. Now there are over 59,000 of them. I’m not sure why the southeast isn’t participating, but this U.S. wind turbine database is cool.

The U.S. wind turbine database

If you ever need a Java method that returns a boolean value based on a given probability, I can confirm that this method works:

/**
 * `probability` should be given as a percentage, such as
 * 10.0 (10.0%) or 25.5 (25.5%). As an example, if `probability` 
 * is 60% (60.0), 100 calls to this function should return ~60 
 * `true` values.
 * (Note that Math.random returns a value >= 0.0 and < 1.0.)
 */
static boolean getRandomBoolean(float probability) {
    double randomValue = Math.random()*100;  //0.0 to 99.9
    return randomValue <= probability;
}

I haven’t bought too many statues in my life, but I did buy some of these howling dog/coyote/wolf statues while I was in Santa Fe, New Mexico. They remind me of Zeus and some other Siberian Huskies I have known.

Howling wolf/coyote statues, Santa Fe, New Mexico

I don’t know what the exact numbers are, but Colorado is growing very rapidly, especially in this area where I live in the cities near Boulder. On a walk today I counted that 66 out of 220 license plates I saw were out-of-state license plates, meaning that a whopping 30% of my neighbors are from out of state and haven’t changed their license plates yet.

In an effort to share some source code (but without taking the time to explain it), here’s some Java source code that I just used to create a JFreeChart chart/graph of some data that I use in my Android football game:

Just before I woke up Wednesday morning I had a particular thought in my head. As I pondered that thought I heard a feminine voice in my head say that good thoughts and bad thoughts are like clouds in the sky. They come and go, and when they’re gone the sky is blue.

After I heard that I laid in bed (still asleep) and wondered if that would be a helpful thing to tell anyone else.

A monk was anxious to learn Zen and said, “I have been newly initiated into the Brotherhood. Will you be gracious enough to show me the Way?”

The Master said, “Do you hear the murmuring sound of the mountain stream?”

The monk said, “Yes, I do.”

The Master said, “Here is the entrance.”

~~~

“Listening intently” is a simple, fun meditation practice. Just sit, relax, and listen to your environment like a dog, cat — or a squirrel in the wild, where your life depends on your listening. At work I used to have fun by listening to as many conversations as I could simultaneously.

Do you hear the murmuring sound of the mountain stream?

Sometimes when I get really sick with the MCAS symptoms it becomes very hard for me to communicate. If I’m with someone else during those episodes and they look at me struggling I think, “I’m still Al, I’m still in here ... I just can’t get the words out.”

I think sometimes that’s the way it is for people when they get older and slow down, or have dementia, I imagine they have those thoughts as well.

We were in the middle of having some bad storms so I walked up to my living room window to see what they looked like. When I saw the clouds I started to say, “Wow, that’s some nasty looking sh-,” when a close lightning bolt threw me back across the room. Lesson learned: Don’t curse at Mother Nature’s designs.

~ June 28, 2013

Let me start by saying that I don’t know if I’m an “A” Player. In part, that definition depends (a) on what work I’m doing, and (b) who you compare me to. For instance, if you compare me to Linus Tourvalds as a Linux C programmer, I’m very clearly not an A Player. Shoot, I’m not even a player.

But if you were to judge me on other skills, I’d like to say that I’m at least a B Player in the things I care about. As I wrote in my book, A Survival Guide for New Consultants, my superpower as a programmer/analyst is empathy; I care about my work, and about my success and my client’s success. If you pay me $100,000 to do some work, I want you to make at least 2X or 10X or more from my work. I want my clients and sponsors to succeed.

Beyond that care, since I began paying attention to Apple and Jonathan Ive starting back around 2005, I’ve become more interested than ever in quality. When I work on something, I imagine that I’m either working with Mr. Ive, or that I’m going to have him review my work, and I want it to be impeccable.

This is an excerpt from the Scala Cookbook (partially modified for the internet). This is Recipe 14.4, “How to run a shell command from the Scala REPL.”

Problem

You want to be able to run a shell command from within the Scala REPL, such as listing the files in the current directory.

Solution

Run the command using the :sh REPL command, then print the output. The following example shows how to run the Unix ls -al command from within the REPL, and then show the results of the command:

As a little note today, if you ever need to extract a subset of a Java list or array, here are some examples of the Java subList method:

This is a photo of a sidewalk in front of an art museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico. (Sorry, I don’t remember the name of the museum and I’m too lazy atm to look it up.)

I applied a Gaussian Blur effect to the cars on the right and the bright stuff at the end of the corridor (using Gimp), and it’s amazing how much that makes the rest of the image “pop” out. Nothing else has been altered.

Santa Fe, New Mexico art museum sidewalk