Smelly Socks:"Gravitational Waves – How Einstein’s Spacetime Ripples Reveal the Secrets of the Universe" by Brian Clegg


Gravitational Waves: How Einstein’s Spacetime Ripples Reveal the Secrets of the Universe - Brian Clegg

By complete coincidence, last night I had my amateur radio telescope pointed at a certain part of the sky. I had left the recording equipment on, and when I played it back this morning there was this strange message:


“Oh freddled gruntbuggly,

Thy micturations are to me

As plurdled gabbleblotchits in a lurgid bee.

Group, I implore thee, my foonting turlingdromes,


And hooptiously thrangle me with crinkly bindlewurdles,

For otherwise I will rend thee in the gobberwartswuh

With my burglecruncheon.

See if I don’t!”




If you’re into Physics and Smelly Socks, read on.

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Y2K compliant SAP: "A Life in Code – A Personal History of Technology" By Ellen Ullman


Life in Code: A Personal History of Technology - Ellen Ullman

If you want to get a glimpse of what was the Y2K Bug craze in 1999 Ullman’s chapter on it is a must.


Millenniums may ask: “What was the Y2K bug?” Well, as one who was actively working in IT at the time, it basically was the number of seriously heavyweight IT-reliant- and IT-provider-based organizations running crapped out, moth-eaten, disaster-ready systems for critical public service and infrastructure functions, systems that were originally developed for Noah’s GPSing around Ararat, beggars belief. The problem with the earlier Y2K and other system’s potential 1970s-based clock issue and its siblings was and is their potential for cascading. The Y2K bug did, indeed, bite a lot of systems, but it did not go critical and ignite a runaway reaction. However, before the event absolutely no-one on the planet knew for sure whether it would or not.



If you’re into Computer Science of the Personal Kind, read on

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Bone-in Meat Without the Meat: " Proust and the Squid" by Maryanne Wolf


Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain - Maryanne Wolf

“Will the split-second immediacy of information gained from a search engine and the sheer volume of what is available derail the slower, more deliberative processes that deepen our understanding of complex concepts, of another’s inner thought processes, and of our own consciousness?”

In “Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf”

Why wouldn’t Amazon publish the ebook I wrote in 1986 on a ZX81 and posted to them saved on a cassette tape? On the other hand, I once (1988, I think) did the work for a non-linear dynamics paper on my Sinclair Spectrum, and produced the diagrams using the Spectrum’s printer, which used sparks to burn dots in the silver coating of the paper, then photographing and enlarging them. It was submitted to the very snooty college journal. They accepted it but wondered if I couldn’t make better diagrams. They published anyway when I said I couldn’t. How I wish I could recover this. It’s in one of the floppy disk in my attic at home…I’ve still got several programming nuggets I developed at the time. One of them was a chess compiler in C. If I had the hardware to read that kind of media (I’ve still got the floppy disks, but I no longer have the drive that went along with them…), I could recover most of them too if I really set my mind to it. But I wouldn’t regard it as worth the effort, so they’ll eventually get lost without anyone ever knowing whether they are worth saving. Only me…A lot of forensics software aims to keep old formats readable – so incompatibility is the least of our worries. Books last for hundreds, even thousands of years. Modern storage media do not. ‘Bit rot’ is going to become a serious problem…

If you’re into Proust and Programming Languages, read on.

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Transferable Skills: "Wired For Coding: How to Stand Out From The Crowd and Land Your First Job as a Developer" by William Bushee


Wired For Coding: How to Stand Out From The Crowd and Land Your First Job as a Developer - William Bushee

Whatever they are taught today will be obsolete tomorrow. But the concepts won’t. Good programming requires the ability to break down a task, organise the steps in performing it, identify parts of the process that are common or repetitive so they can be bundled together, handed-off or delegated, etc. These concepts can be applied to any programming language, and indeed to many non-software activities. Educating youth does not drive wages down. It drives our economy up. China, India, and other countries are training youth in programming skills. Educating our youth means that they will be able to compete globally. This is the standard from the Right that we don’t need to educate our youth, but instead fantasize about high-paying manufacturing jobs miraculously coming back. Many jobs, including new manufacturing jobs have an element of coding because they are automated. Other industries require coding skills to maintain web sites and keep computer systems running. Learning coding skills opens these doors. Coding teaches logic, an essential thought process. Learning to code, like learning anything, increases the brains ability to adapt to new environments which is essential to our survival as a species. We must invest in educating our youth. What coding does not teach is how to improve our non-code infrastructure and how to keep it running (that’s the stuff which actually moves things). 



If you’re into Learning Computer Science, read on.

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Samsung Steps Challenge: Desert (April)


Participants: 1 319 304 (from all over the world)
Place:16 234th (first 2%)
Number of steps: 572 219

In my 20s, I used to run a lot. When I say a lot, I MEAN A LOT!! I’d go for 10 km runs before breakfast. Why? Because running was fun (still is). I suspect that most people who enjoy running don’t sit down first to work through the comparative health benefits but instead just put their shoes on and go. As fast as they can. I stopped running when my left knee got busted up. Instead I took up walking (second best game in town).
I used to think if I didn’t run, really hard, for at least 40 minutes I was wasting time. But after stopping training and putting on weight I decided to walk. Nothing too brisk. More importantly I just felt more relaxed and realised my mind and body really looked forward to those walks.
The major dilemma for automobile users who can’t be bothered to exercise by walking up to the shops, is whether to walk or run to the car. I think running would prove the more effective in such short distances. For others who are too lazy to go outside at all, it might be good for them to walk or run to the bathroom (after making sure the floor is dry though), or to the clothes-line and back. This could save billions in the cost of treating heart disease (but perhaps more in treating domestic accidents).Anyway, the overall benefits for all lazy people everywhere is potentially massive (bigger than their fat arse).
If you’re running/walking, read on.

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I’m not telling. I want it all for myself, and sometimes get it that way. OK, it’s near Lisbon but I’m saying no more…

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Gambler’s Fallacy: "One Human Minute" by Stanislaw Lem


One Human Minute - Stanisław Lem, Catherine S. Leach

“Every minute, 34.2 million men and women copulate. Only 5.7 percent of all intercourse results in fertilization, but the combined ejaculate, at a volume of forty-five thousand litters a minute, contains 1,990 billion (with deviations in the last decimal place) living spermatozoa. The same number of female eggs could be fertilized sixty times an hour with a minimal ratio of one spermatozoon to one egg, in which impossible case three million children would be conceived per second. But this, too, is only a statistical manipulation.”


In “One Human Minute” by Stanislaw Lem



Lem never fails to disappoint. This is one of those long-forgotten Lem books no one remembers anymore. I read it more than 20 years ago, and it still packs quite a punch. My love with book reviewing started around the time I read this three-essay-volume (“One Human Minute”, “The Upside Down Evolution”, and “The World as Cataclysm”) comprising reviews of non-existent books… As always, when a book is this good my mind goes on a tangent…


Boss: “Will this work?”

Statistician: “Probability of success is 90% so…”

Boss: “Let’s do it.”


Boss: “It didn’t work. You’re fired.”


Hopefully the statistician will use his period of unemployment to get better at his job. If you’re offered a wager where there is a 90% chance that you will win 5 euros and a 10% chance you will be shot dead then you have to be a very poor statistician to think “the probability of success is 90% so I’ll take it“.



If you’re into SF, read on.

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