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

The postal code in Stewart, British Columbia, is “VOT 1WO,” which the locals tell me stands for Very Old Town, One Way Out.

Very Old Town, One Way Out

A long time ago — around 2009 — I initially shared some free Java and OOP training material. If you’re interested, you can find it here:

“They don’t wash off easily, do they?”

“What’s that?”

“The sins of the father.”

~ from The Good Cop

The minute I heard my first love story
I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was.

Lovers don't finally meet somewhere;
They are in each other all along.

~ Rumi

Lesley Stahl, a 60 Minutes news correspondent, once had this interaction with Donald Trump:

“I said, you know that it’s getting tired, why are you doing this (discrediting the media) — you’re doing it over and over and it’s boring,” Stahl said. “He said you know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all, so when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.

I read that in this Washington Post story, and it’s also available from many other news sources.

I recently went through a period where my blood pressure (BP) went up to 150/100 and stayed there. My normal BP is ~115/70, so I monitored it for a few days, and when it stayed there I made an appointment with my primary care physician (PCP). I explained everything to her, how I eat almost exclusively organic foods that I prepare at home, and I exercise harder than I have since 2011. I told her that I started feeling a little sick about two weeks ago, and that I was now feeling worse. I suggested that I probably had an infection, because that had been a recurring problem before we knew about the mast cell disease, and I had also just had a surgery in December. To me there was no logical reason that my BP should be that high unless I’m having an infection or some sort of heart issue.

Nonetheless, without doing any tests, her recommendation was that I should increase my Lisinopril dosage from 20mg to 40mg — which is the max you can take, and also has potentially severe side effects. My response was along the lines of, “Okay, whatev,” and after I left her office I made an appointment to see a specialist. I felt like she was just medicating the effect, and had little interest in understanding the cause.

I found this Warren Buffett quote in this Inc. Magazine article back in 2018:

“If you could invest in only one of your fellow classmates, who would you choose? If you could buy, say, 10% of the future earnings of just one classmate, who would you choose? What would you look for?”

The idea is that you won’t just necessarily look at raw IQ, you’ll look at other personality attributes, such as drive, ambition, and hopefully other attributes like honesty and integrity.

Warren Buffett: If you could invest in one classmate ...

My college admission story is that my dad said, “Son, go to college, I’ll figure out a way to pay for it.” Then after my freshman year he said, “Sorry, it turns out I can’t really afford to pay for it. Go get yourself some more grants and loans, and keep up the good work. May the Force be with you.”

Jeyes, a Java version of Xeyes

In my spare time back in 2011 I created a Java version of the old Unix/X-Windows “Xeyes” application. If you ever used Xeyes, you know it as a set of eyes that are displayed on-screen, and follow the mouse cursor as you move it around.

Now in 2019 I just brought it back to life, and here’s a 56-second video that shows how it works:

The people at Triplequote looked at the performance of Scala compilers on different Amazon EC2 instance types in an effort to answer the question, “What is the (cloud) cost per build?”

Triplequote: A Guide to Amazon EC2 instance types

“Keep it small, but keep it going.”

~ a good quote from Pete Seeger, via John Mellencamp (from the IndyStar)

Keep it small, but keep it going

Looks like they might get up to 50” of snow this week in Seward, though it also looks a little warm for that to happen.

When I lived in Alaska, people told me the only way you’d survive winter is if you love winter activities. I don’t ski, but I would enjoy cross-country skiing and snowmachine-ing (they don’t call them snowmobiles). Did I mention it’s March 10th? (Image from this page.)

Up to 50" of snow this week in Seward, Alaska

“If you’re best player has an unhappy attitude when he shows up to work, there’s no joy, there’s no passion to what he brings, that affects the team, it affects the locker room, it’s huge. Teams need leaders, teams need passion, teams need energy, they need positiveness, they need joy.”

~ Chad Brown, about thirteen minutes into this 104.3 The Fan recording, in a discussion about star player Kyrie Irving of the Celtics constantly appearing unhappy, and the team being 10-2 without him.

If you can handle the weather in Boulder, Colorado this winter (2018-19) you can probably handle the weather in Alaska. Well, southern Alaska, anyway. This is the weather in Talkeetna, Alaska or Boulder, it doesn’t really matter because they’re about the same. Of course the huge difference is the darkness in the winter. (Image from

This Boulder, Colorado winter reminds me of Alaska

I’ll write more about this shortly, but yesterday I created a little video of a demo application I call Futureboard. It’s a Scala/Swing application, but it works like Flipboard in that it updates a number of panels — in this case Java JInternalFrames — simultaneously every time you ask it to update.

The “update” process works by creating Scala futures, one for each internal frame. When you select File>Update, a Future is created for each news source, and then simultaneous calls are made to each news source, and their frames are updated when the data returns. (Remember that Futures are good for one-shot, “handle this relatively slow and potentially long-running computation, and call me back with a result when you’re done” uses.)

Here’s the two-minute demo video:

“Pursue something so important that even if you fail, the world is better off with you having tried.”

~ Tim O’Reilly

“Strive for beauty and elegance in every aspect of your work.”

~ Daniel Read

It’s important to remember that even when successful people say things, they’re often just opinions, not facts. Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz once told Jeff Bezos of Amazon, “You have no physical presence. That is going to hold you back.” The reality was that not having a physical presence at that time is what propelled Amazon forward.

March 5, 2019: For a limited time only, I put the paperback version of “Hello, Scala” on sale for $10 (US) on Amazon.

P.S. - It won’t get any cheaper than this.

Hello, Scala paperback book cover

Back in the 1990s I was fortunate enough to work for a very smart, energetic man. In a way, working for him — or at least in the position he gave me — helped change the trajectory of my career into what I wanted it to be.

Skipping 99% of that story ... one thing he did exceptionally well was troubleshoot problems, and troubleshoot them very fast. I didn’t know it at the time, but he was using something called The Scientific Method. After observing him for a while, I saw him repeat these steps so precisely that I thought he must have them on a tattoo on the inside of his eyelids:

  1. Observe some feature, in our case, a bug
  2. Hypothesize a model consistent with the observations
  3. Predict future events the hypotheses should yield
  4. Verify the predictions by making further observations
  5. Validate by repeating