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

The Book Thief is a favorite story of the last few years. I listened to the audiobook (hence this image) while driving around the United States. I know some people complain that the story isn’t original, but the writing style is very creative.

The Book Thief

This article shares the source code for a Monte Carlo simulation that I wrote in Scala. It was inspired by the movie Minority Report, as well as my own experience.


For the purposes of this simulation, imagine that you have three people that are each “right” roughly 80% of the time. For instance, if they take a test with 100 questions, each of the three individuals will get 80 of the questions right, although they may not get the same questions right or wrong. Given these three people, my question to several statisticians was, “If two of the people have the same answer to a given question, what are the odds that they are correct? Furthermore, if all three of them give the same answer to a question, what are the odds that they are right?”

“In reality, programming languages are how programmers express and communicate ideas — and the audience for those ideas is other programmers, not computers. The reason: the computer can take care of itself, but programmers are always working with other programmers, and poorly communicated ideas can cause expensive flops.”

~ Guido van Rossum, in this 2016 article

August 13, 2019 Colorado weather forecast: Thunderstorms, rain, and egg-sized hail.

Thunderstorms, rain, and egg-sized hail

Went up on the roof of the garage to look at the meteor shower, which always reminds me that we're on a rock hurtling through space. Which further reminds me of this.

~ August 13, 2018

You are a ghost driving a meat-covered skeleton

I often forget about it, but I was just reminded that Project Gutenberg has over 60,000 free e-books. This is a list of yesterday’s favorite downloads.

Project Gutenberg

I like this tweet from Kadie Luna. Free yourself, dammit. :)

Free yourself

“You must concentrate upon and consecrate yourself wholly to each day, as though a fire were raging in your hair.”

~ Taisen Deshimaru, Questions to a Zen Master

“Truth waits for eyes unclouded by longing.”

I keep running into various versions of this quote (from sources like the Tao, Ram Dass, and Zen books), so I thought I’d share it here. All sayings like this mean that if you become like a clear mirror and view the world exactly as it is — not how your desires (and fears) want it to be — you’ll see the truth.

I remember reading this story where Steve Jobs was apparently friends with Rupert Murdoch, and Jobs tried to tell Murdoch that Fox News had become a destructive force in American society, and this might be Murdoch’s legacy.

It reminds me that when I first became a consultant, I was supposed to help sell a product named UnixWare from a company named Novell. Over time I learned that the product was crappy, and I didn’t want to sell it to anyone. So I learned the lesson, “Beware anyone that is trying to sell you something; if their morals are compromised, who knows what they’ll sell you.”

If you’re to believe Steve Jobs, this makes me wonder why Fox News would want to a destructive force in society. And like social networks, Fox News viewers are the product and their advertisers are the customers. (To be continued...)

Steve Jobs: Fox News has become an incredibly destructive force in our society

They are called escape rooms. They sell an experience. The experience is escape, both literal and metaphorical. For around $30, you and a handful of friends/colleagues/strangers are “trapped” in some kind of space together and must collaboratively puzzle through a series of challenges to win your freedom.

The clock is ticking: You get 45 minutes, or 60, or 90, to escape, although if you fail, they let you out anyway. Usually, the game offers some kind of story to help explain why you’re solving puzzles in a room with a countdown clock.

Escape is big. There are, by the most recent unofficial count, at least 2,300 escape rooms in the United States.

~ from this story about escape rooms

Related to some work/research I’m currently doing I thought I’d share these links about the Scala 2.13 collections classes:

This older link is also good:

I haven’t read this yet, but here’s a link to an electronic version of a free book titled, The Science of Functional Programming. Who knows, it may one day have an impact on my book, Functional Programming, Simplified.

I just found this tweet from Grzegorz Kossakowski, and agree with it all the way. For Scala, the fusion of OOP+FP is a founding principle — and it’s well-explained in the book Programming in Scala — so lets see where it takes us.

Scala founding idea: Fusion of FP + OOP

My monitor is still a little too low. I guess I need to write a few more books.

Need to write more books

I have my own personal motivational speaker. I discovered him on a trip to Los Alamos, New Mexico. (Sadly, the bookstore in Los Alamos where I found him is no longer in business.)

Albert Einstein doll

With the fireweed blooming in Alaska, summer will soon be yielding to fall and winter.

Fireweed blooming in Alaska (and winter coming)

When people tell me, “You’re gonna regret that in the morning” I sleep in until noon because I’m a problem-solver. :)

I'm a problem solver

I don’t know the original source of this photo, it’s been passed around Facebook a lot, but it’s funny.

Do not trust atoms, they make up everything

Enjoyed Cowboys & Aliens at Wasilla’s fancy new stadium seating movie theater. How strange to walk out of a theater and into a valley of fireweed surrounded by misty mountains.

(A Facebook post from Wasilla, Alaska, August 9, 2011.)