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

If you think programming now is difficult, VisiCalc was written in assembly language for an Apple II. Here are a few words from this web page that describe this code:

VisiCalc was written in assembly language

Dan Bricklin, inventor/creator of VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet program for personal computers, has created this page of historical notes and images about his work. His work came long before my interest in computers and programming, so I enjoy reading about it from a historical perspective. He shows a TI calculator and very large state diagram on this page. I remember seeing calculators like that in stores, and the work he put into the state diagram looks like a modern mind map.

If you’re into history, it’s all very cool.

Dan Bricklin- the history of VisiCalc and other things

This article shows a little bit about how and why solar energy may become cheaper than coal in the next ten years.

Solar energy to be cheaper than coal

I went to bed last night thinking that it would be cool if iPhones were made of gravitons configured to your body’s unique vibrational frequency, so if your phone was in the kitchen while you were sitting on the couch, you could hold your hand out and the phone would come flying over to you. (Pity anything between you and your phone, and I don’t know how the gravitons were configured to only activate on demand, rather than being in constant orbit around your body (or stuck to your body)).

Then in a dream in Santa Fe this morning I was driving along and realized that I needed to change lanes very quickly to make the turn from St. Francis onto Cerillos Road. From what I can gather, I did that so fast that I flew into another reality. I ended up in a forest where I first came upon some combination of a gorilla and a bear that was walking upright through the forest. Fortunately it was wearing a breathing mask of some sort and I thought, “It’s not threatening, it’s just out for a walk.” Then a skunk as large as a car came walking down the road. It freaked me out, and I quickly thought of that bear-gorilla’s breathing mask, but the skunk was actually quite pleasant and just wanted to be petted. A large four-legged animal was flying in the sky above me, but cows the shape of giraffes (and twice their size) inside 30-40' tall chain-link fences had my attention, especially when they all came over to the fence in anticipation that I might feed them.

After a few more quirky sightings, I arrived at my destination and went to get my dogs some water. The water came out of a fountain normally, but then when it hit my clasped hands it become a consistency thicker than jello. This was convenient, because it let me carry a large “bowl” of water over to my dogs, who were really thirsty. They initially thought they had to bite the water, but then they learned that they could lick it normally.

After that things got a little weird. (I don’t know words in the English language that I can use to describe most of what happened next, though there was a lot of telekinesis, and a few beings were training me in the possibilities of what *could* be done, as opposed to the limited set of things I normally do in the dream state.)

That moment where you’ve been working on something really hard at your desk, you solve it, then lean back, swivel your chair to the side, put your feet up on the desk in celebration, and then realize there’s a burning candle behind your head.


This morning I’m reminded of a favorite meditation tip: Some days when you try to meditate, it just doesn’t work. On those days just put in your time on the cushion, or try to make game of it. Get up when the timer goes off, have a cookie, but don’t punish yourself for being a “bad meditator.” New wrinkles in the brain aren’t easily made.

But then on those days when it comes easily and naturally, turn off the timer/alarm, think, “Surf’s up, dude,” and ride that wave as long and as hard as you can. Good rides like these make those struggles worthwhile.

Happy New Year & Namaste

This is a series of Facebook posts from an adventurous day in Alaska, December 31, 2010:

1) Hmm, more bad weather today. Adding “tire chains” to the grocery list, and I’m out the door. Driving to Seward to celebrate the new year!

2) Famous Alaska saying: “There’s old pilots, and there’s bold pilots, but there ain’t no old and bold pilots.” Meaning I’m stopping in Anchorage tonight.

3) So ... I was trying to get to Seward tonight, but got stuck in a steep, icy parking lot in Wasilla for a while. I finally decided to drive-slide the car to the edge of the parking lot where there was a small strip of frozen dirt and grass that went up the side of the hill. I got the tires on the right side of the car on that strip, built up as much speed as I could, and finally got my car up the hill. It took more than an hour to get out of there. After that I tried even harder to find tire chains but could not, so I decided to stop in Anchorage. They started the fireworks at 5pm (because of the whole darkness thing), and various shows went on all night, which was a really cool way to spend the evening. found a nice part of a talk by Steve Jobs in 1998 where he talked about products vs profits. I don’t think I’m the only one who thinks that Apple has lost their way in this regard. macOS keeps getting more and more clumsy, and both it and iOS have more bugs (that affect me) than ever. And then there’s the battery issues in the 2016 MacBook Pro and macOS, which is discussed in the article.

Steve Jobs: Products vs profits

As a quick note about traits in Scala, this StackOverflow page makes a few good points about sealed traits:

Here’s a short article on that explains why you might not need to use StringBuilder in Java any more.

You may not need to use StringBuilder in Java any more

One of the things you have to remember when working with human beings is that IQ is not the same as EQ, and they’re rarely equal. Some people have a horrible temper. One guy I know is smart, but he remains the biggest jerk I’ve ever met.

I remember hearing one time that when people are hurt in their childhood or teen years they stop developing emotionally at that point. So if they are somehow hurt when they are twelve years old, they can be thirty years old physically but only twelve emotionally. I don’t know if that’s 100% true, but it seems like it in some cases I know. (And the hard thing is that these people don’t know that they have these problems.)

Nothing screams “Happy Holidays” like a fake positive-pregnancy test, that’s what I always say.

(Google “woman selling positive pregnancy tests” for more details.)

False-positive pregnancy test

It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap, we gotta get out while we’re young ... not sure why I thought grocery shopping would be a good idea today.

(Happy Holidays)

Writing as someone who likely has Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) and who has also looked into histamine intolerance, it was surprising to see the headlines in this image being “news” in 2016. MCAS was officially designated as a disease in 2007, and for anyone who knows about it, there’s nothing new about this. Cured foods are well known to be a trigger for people with mast cell issues, meaning that eating cured foods is known to trigger mast cells to release histamine (i.e., to degranulate).

Cured meats bad for asthma

Here’s a great view of the Rocky Mountains and part of Boulder, Colorado, from my apartment on December 21, 2013.

(As a not-too-subtle plug for my book, that great view was paid for by my consulting career.)

Snowy Rocky Mountains and Boulder, Colorado, December, 2013

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” ~ Lao-tzu

“It also includes about five gas station stops.” ~ Alvin

Diary entry from December 21, 2010, 1:45am, Wasilla, Alaska:

“Sitting outside with Jack Daniels and a few neighbors. Lunar eclipse is just starting, wish I had that better camera lens now.”

Lunar eclipse 2010, Wasilla, Alaska

From “Winter Solstice Day, 2011,” two moose working things out in Palmer, Alaska.

Two moose in Palmer, Alaska

O’Reilly has an article titled Scaling Scala. The article talks about Scala, Akka, Spark, Kafka, Dotty, Cats vs Scalaz, and more.

Scaling Scala

The Wall Street Journal has an article titled, Microsoft, rebooted, emerges as a tech leader. Personally I’ve ignored Microsoft since around 2005, but some of their recent decisions seem better than they have been in years (IMHO).

Microsoft, rebooted, emerges as a tech leader