October 18th, 2017
jack: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] jack at 09:37pm on 18/10/2017 under , , ,
Spoilers )
jack: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] jack at 01:34pm on 18/10/2017 under
OK, so I actually read "Wrinkle in Time" (and book #2 but not any more). I think I'd had the impression that I'd read it at some point and forgotten, but now I think I never read it at all, it's really really different to anything I remember reading.

It's very good at what it does.

It's very shivery when they realise how far the horrible grey mist on the universe has spread.

It sets up a very convincing backdrop of angels and other beings fighting against badness with human help, in ways where this is how the universe works, and what people stumble upon is the same stuff that scientists like the childrens' parents are just starting to discover.

The characters of the children (well, mostly Meg and precious Charles Wallace at this point) are very good.

I stumbled on the narrative convention of mentor figures swooping in and saying "hey children, only you can do this, you need to go through this set of trials, when this happens, do this, you don't need to know about X, good luck". Like, that's a common narrative convention that works very well: you just don't question too hard the mentor figures have some special insight into how quests turn out. It's especially useful in childrens books because you can explain what needs to happen directly to the main character and reader. (Think of all the stories of stumbling onto the first person you meet in a secondary world who says, you need to do X, Y and Z.) But eventually you read too many books where it doesn't work like that that you start to question. Even if you don't ask if they might be lying, you wonder, could they really not spare twenty minutes to summarise the biggest risks and how to avoid them? How do they know what's going to happen? If this is all preordained, they why are they providing even this much help, and if not, and the fate of the world hangs on it, can they really not provide any more help?

This is partly me having been spoiled for some simple narrative conventions by being exposed to too many variants, and possibly (?) me not understanding theology well enough (I'm not sure how much this is something that is supposed to actually happen for real, and how mcuh it's just a book thing?) It doesn't always fail me, this is basically how Gandalf acts all the way through LOTR "OK, now we're going to do this because, um, fate" and I'm happy to accept it all at face value, even when other people quibble, but in some books it bothers me.
sparrowsion: (mini-sparrow)
posted by [personal profile] sparrowsion at 12:04pm on 18/10/2017
Compare and contrast:
  1. Captains Gabriel Lorca and Matthew Gideon: "obstinate, difficult, independent, not prone to following orders from home, not politically astute...but he'll get the job done" (quote via Wikipedia).
  2. Michael Burnham and John Matheson: not trusted by all of their crewmates.
  3. "Discovery" and "Excalibur": experimental ships running on a blend of technologies.
  4. The tension between conflict and exploration: the intended rôles for the ships and how we see them, and the series in question considered against its progenitor.
Mood:: 'geeky' geeky
October 16th, 2017
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] ghoti_mhic_uait at 01:39pm on 16/10/2017 under
Finished a languishing application for an audio transcription job. Not sure whether I'll get it or not, but at least it's done now. Applied (successfully) for a website testing job. Both of these are self-employed, no guarantees that I'd get actual work from them but worth a try. Boggled at the adverts for 'work from home' jobs many of which are prison officers.
jack: (Default)
You know that weird feeling where your tests sometimes pass and sometimes don't, and you eventually realise they're not deterministic? But it took a while to notice because you kept changing things to debug the failing tests and only slowly realised that every "whether it succeeded or not" change didn't follow changing the code?

In this case, there were some failing tests and I was trying to debug some of them, and the result was the same every time, but only when I ran a failing test by itself and it passed did I realise that the tests weren't actually independent. They weren't actually non-deterministic in that the same combination of tests always had the same result, but I hadn't realised what was going on.

And in fact, I'd not validated the initial state of some tests enough, or I would have noticed that what was going wrong was not what the test *did* but what it started with.

I was doing something like, there was some code that loaded a module which contained data for the game -- initial room layout, rules for how-objects-interact, etc. And I didn't *intend* to change that module. Because I'm used to C or C++ header files, I'd forgotten that could be possible. But when I created a room based on the initial data, I copied it without remembering to make sure I was actually *copying* all the relevant sub-objects. And then when you move stuff around the room, that (apparently) moved stuff around in the original copy in the initialisation data module.

And then some other test fails because everything has moved around.

Once I realised, I tested a workaround using deepcopy, but I need to check the one or two places where I need a real copy and implement one there instead.

Writing a game makes me think about copying objects a lot more than any other sort of programming I've done.
October 15th, 2017
hilarita: otter hanging onto the sides of a mesh fence, waiting for food (hungry)
posted by [personal profile] hilarita at 08:13pm on 15/10/2017 under
The Big Meow, Diane Duane

That woman can turn me inside out, and make me grateful for the experience. I nearly cried when reading this over lunch at work. It's in the same universe as her Young Wizards series, but focused on feline wizards (it's the third in that series, all of which are now available in a portable electron format). I love the character growth, the description of cats, the love of the Universe and so on. This also has a strong 1940s Hollywood thing going on, which I suspect is wonderful if you have interest in it, but for me was just sort of background noise.
October 11th, 2017
hilarita: trefoil carving (Default)
posted by [personal profile] hilarita at 10:09pm on 11/10/2017 under
I accidentally hit "post" when trying to load my reading page.

I might be a bit tired. Still, on Friday, I'll get a break from being in "All the doors on this spaceship have a sunny and cheerful disposition" mode, because my meetings have been cancelled! We got time off for good behaviour (having meetings yesterday and today)!

I don't know what I'll do on Friday. Probably look at the size of my to-do list and gibber uncontrollably; it's been growing exponentially.
October 10th, 2017
hilarita: trefoil carving (Default)
Today I was in a meeting. I was chairing (the usual chair was away). There were 9 people in the room, and 4 more dialled in via the Magic Of Technology (TM). I was the only one that wasn't a man.

I mean, they're all good people, and I don't feel inferior or left out because of my gender. I just tend to think it's a bit of a shame that it's mostly middle-aged white men* who are getting the fun of designing a really cool piece of scientific kit. I know that some of this is a result of the dire gender balance in physics, computer science, maths and engineering twenty, thirty, forty years ago. But I looked at the gender balance of the current undergraduates in maths (15%), computer science (13%) and engineering (23%) at Cambridge. This... is not exactly promising for the future. I mean, it's getting better. There have definitely been more men doing engineering and computer science in the past. It's just that the pool of people who'll get to work on cool computing projects in the future is still overwhelmingly male. And that's a bit sad.

* We had one person who wasn't white. At least a few of us are under 40 (at the moment).
jack: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] jack at 02:19pm on 10/10/2017 under , ,
I've read several examples of sociopathic characters in several different books, and been left with a bunch of thoughts.

Read more... )

July

SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
      1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
8
 
9
 
10
 
11
 
12
 
13
 
14 15
 
16
 
17
 
18
 
19
 
20
 
21
 
22
 
23
 
24
 
25
26 27
 
28
 
29
 
30
 
31