2016 — 5 March: Saturday

When it comes to communication with my nearest and dearest (in this case, my son — I'll consider my sibling later!) my operating principles for the last several years have evolved pretty much into:

  1. No news is good news
  2. Don't ask; don't tell!
  3. Less is more

Hey! If it works for us, don't knock it.

So I subjected...

... my (it turns out, rhinovirally-afflicted) son to the following lengthy, ruthlessly-brutal, email interrogation on Thursday:

I was wondering if you had any particular wish in the gift line...? 
It's traditional, after all! 

I felt entirely justified1 as it was, after all, then just over a month since our last, brisk one-line exchange.2

Why this sudden flurry of diplomatic cables? Well — impossible though it is — his next birthday is coming up in a fortnight. Christa would forgive me most things... but forgetting Junior's birthday? No chance! Hence my gentle probe which, as you can see, extended into an almost unprecedented second line.


He thinks a Raspberry Pi3 would be just the thing "for hi-def video streaming and audio playback". Like father, like son, it seems.

To understand exactly why...

... this long, and very interesting, "transcribed conversation" made me chortle at this point (approximately half-way through it)...

The great frontier 500 years ago was literacy. Today, it's doing programming of some kind. Today's programming will be obsolete in not very long. For example, when I was first using computers in the '70s, people would say, "If you're a serious programmer, you've got to be using assembly language." Now, I often ask these computer science graduates, "Did you learn assembly language?" They say, "Yes, I had one class about assembly language."

Why do people not learn assembly language? because computers are better at writing assembly language than humans are, and it's only a very small set of people who need to know the details of how language gets compiled into assembly language.

Stephen Wolfram in Edge

... you need only know two things: the first being the 1957 Isaac Asimov story "Profession" and the second being that my first four years in the computer industry were spent enjoyably grubbing around at precisely the assembler level, initially on the ICL 1900 Series mainframe, and later on the ICL 1500 Series (ex-Cogar) desktop mini-computer.

As a reward...

... for yesterday's bit of boring banking I permitted myself a traditional minor-league indulgence in Waterstone's and WH Smug, stocking up on a trio of Linux magazines and an equally interesting trio of paperbacks:

Three books

I have no idea where book cover designers get their ideas from. The Slater has been deliberately "aged", the Smolin partially inverted, and the Heisenberg presumably is illustrating electron orbitals.

Begone, foul SSI!

In the afternoon, I was first shown a very smart piece of recursive folder traversal — a well-nigh perfect proof of concept in which Brian's latest bit of wondrous Python took less than three minutes (run time) to expunge all trace of SSIs from a little over 1GB of 'molehole' web page files and repair every internal hypertext link accordingly. Then, for an encore, I was reunited with my Marantz A/V receiver (shortly before it departs to its next client). In fact, I missed out only on what would have been my third free cuppa of the day — with Roger & Eileen!

Two snail mails...

... of decreasing order of importance to contemplate now that my next crockpot is embarked on its thermal journey:

  1. I have a "normal" bowel cancer screening result for my (third) guvmint-sponsored bi-annual game of Poo sticks.
    One of the weirder ways of marking the (back) passage ravages of Time, I guess.
  2. I now have a replacement copy of a book I ordered at the end of last year but that never showed up.
Late arrival

I'm hoping the content will be more impressive than the typesetting used on the cover.

So that's...

... how it caught on?

Early days

Who knew the Royal Suite of the Grand Hotel in Brighton revealed the Queen not to be a big Internet user? (In 2005, at least.)

Musing further...

... on "like father, like son" I was amused to see I'd sent this to Mrs Big Bro in NZ a while ago:

[dear Mama] asked me this week if she could get rid of the two ugly boxes attached to her Sony hifi system on the grounds that they — the speakers, that is — didn't do anything, so I rather suspect she may be losing the plot to some extent. She also wanted to get rid of the equally ugly dipole that has served a 25-year sentence as her radio aerial — she always refused a roof aerial — on the grounds that she's never liked it. What can I say? Perhaps this non-hifi gene has expressed itself in Big Bro, of course! As for why she's suddenly decided after nearly 30 years to play her late husband's jazz LPs that she could never stand... who knows?

Date: 2 August 2003



1  I'm his loving father. Comes with the territory :-)
2  Coming as it did hard on the heels of our previous one... last November.