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

I don’t know the original source of this “Please don’t move/observe the coffee machine” image, but I just saw it here on Twitter.

Don't move or observe the coffee machine

Li Haoyi has created a JSON library he named uJSON.

“Rip our your heart and throw it in the bin.” A funny tweet from BBCBigField.

Rip our your heart and throw it in the bin

This is the speed limit sign on the Dalton Highway in Alaska. If I remember right, this is the only speed limit sign you’ll see when headed north from Fairbanks heading towards Prudhoe Bay. (I started off driving about 50 mph, but then after realizing I was the only person on the road, I drove as fast as conditions allowed, typically around 90 mph.)

The speed limit sign on the Dalton Highway, Alaska

Two good quotes from the last few days:

“Humble pie is good for everyone.” ~ Broncos DE Derek Wolfe

“Be excellent to each other.” ~ someone at a Meetup, talking about social interactions

Seeking Alpha has a good article on how the last eight corporate scandals/problems have affected their stock prices over time. Useful stats: “Excluding Facebook, the median length of the declines is 63 days. The median percentage decline is 35%.”

Business scandals/problems and how they affect stock prices over time

Over the last few years I’ve had a few dreams where I become lucid in a dream and find myself running on all fours. When this happens I think, “Well, this is odd, why am I running like this?” I then try to stand up, but I can’t. Typically I just keep running like that until I fade into the blackness of unconscious sleep.

One time when this happened I found myself running on all fours down a sidewalk, with a street to my left. Just as I was thinking about trying to stand upright I heard a noise to my right. I stopped in place, saw something small moving, and more or less against my will I began running towards the thing that moved. It suddenly occurred to me that the reason I was running on all fours was that I was a dog. “I” had my normal “I know I’m Alvin” consciousness, but I was in a dog’s body and I didn’t seem to have much control over the situation, I was just a passenger.

From a Ron Jeffries article, Dark Scrum: The case against the Sprint:

“Let’s consider the Scrum Sprint. What’s the strongest case we can make against it? We’ve already talked about the fact that Sprints are not necessary to teams who are working well: pulling one story, and swarming on it, then another and another, works better, my friends and I believe, than Sprints. (There are good reasons to continue a regular cadence of planning, and certainly of review and retrospection.) But that’s not much of a case. What else ya got?”

Here’s an article with two interesting exercises near the end of it: How thinking about infinity changes kids’ brains on math. When you’re ready to go deeper, that article links to a NY Times article, Teaching the mathematics of infinity. And then that article links to another titled, The life of Pi and other infinities.

(When I was a young lad, I’d often lay in bed at night and wonder, “Okay, so I go to the edge of the universe ... what’s after that? There’s gotta be something after that, right?”)

As a brief Scala tip, a fun thing you can do with the map method on Scala sequences (Array, List, Seq, Vector, etc.) is to convert a sequence of objects into a sequence of something else, typically extracting a field from the original object to create the new sequence.

For instance, imagine that you have a case class named Person that has two constructor parameters, firstName and lastName:

I had to go to a physical therapy appointment early this morning in Louisville, Colorado, and one benefit of getting up early were some beautiful views of the overnight snow, clouds on one side of the sky, and sunshine on the other.

Overnight snow, Louisville, Colorado

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”

~ Margaret Mead

One of my favorite ways to use the Unix awk command is to print columns of information from text files, including printing columns in a different order than they are in in the text file. Here are some examples of how awk works in this use case.

“My father always used to say, ‘Don’t raise your voice; improve your argument.’ Good sense does not always lie with the loudest shouters, nor can we say that a large, unruly crowd is always the best arbiter of what is right.”

~ Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Very much enjoyed reading Tim O’Reilly’s book, WTF? What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us the last few nights. Just surprised it didn’t have animals on the front cover. ;)

WTF? What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us

After watching Meet John Doe last night, today my neighbor’s dog was barking all afternoon. Thinking my neighbor might be like the neighbor in the movie, when he came outside I went outside also and yelled over to him, “Are you hard of hearing?”

He yells back, “What?,” so now I’m thinking I’m on the right track, which leads me to yell even louder, “Are you deaf?

Well, things didn’t quite go like they did in the movie.

~ Diary note from March 25, 2011, Palmer, Alaska

The Native American woman I met last week had an aneurysm and brain surgery last year. (She showed me the scar, and she’s fine now.) Before the aneurysm was discovered, she went to a shaman who’s well-known among Natives here. He lit something, made some smoke, did whatever else he does, then looked at her, put his finger on her forehead and said, “You are blocked here.”

Unfortunately she assumed he was referring to a mental blockage, and thought, “No, I’m an open person, he’s wrong.” Shortly after this, doctors discovered the aneurysm right where he pointed.

This is the story she told me.

The last time I moved to Alaska I decided to only take what would fit in my RAV-4, so I measured the capacity of my car and then created a RAV-4 simulator in my living room.

Driving to Alaska and my RAV-4 simulator