Functional Programming Principles in Scala course starts today
pohl comments on HackerNews:
So far I’m liking the way the course material is structured. In the first week Martin is guiding you through call-by-name and call-by-value in the lamda calculus, but without its syntactic peculiarities and without really mentioning lamda calculus more than once in passing. I think this is a good idea, because lambda seems to raise defense mechanisms in students who are seeing it for the first time. Sneaky.
Yes, it all looks very good and I have to say I was looking forward to this course for a while. Scala seems to be bridging two worlds: the functional and impractical weirdness of Haskell that I’m so used to, and the objective and industrial approach of Java. My motivations for taking this course are purely practical: if I don’t get my PhD for whatever reason I will search for a job as a Scala programmer.
I travel a lot, and I mean a lot not only for a PhD student. Yes, I do travel to conferences, workshops, seminars and summer schools, but apart from that I visit family in Poland and friends in The Netherlands, which means I’m on an international flight at least once a month. It made me reflect on how I travel, how I feel about traveling and how many of my traveling habits changed.
First of all, I don’t like traveling by plane. As most people, I hate security checks, the hassle it takes to get to/from many airports (taking trains, buses, taxis…), baggage allowances that most people abuse (it’s been a while since I was able to actually put any of my stuff in the overhead compartment), crowded gate entries, etc. I take high-speed trains whenever possible, but I always have to take a plane in order to get out of Bergen, since taking a train through Oslo and Sweden is expensive and very inefficient.1
Continue reading “Traveling”
How Would You Fix the Linux Desktop?
The culture of Linux remains the culture of 1993 mid-range computing—but we no longer live in a world in which CS students can’t afford the hardware/software they use at school and mainstream OSes can’t do the fun stuff. Quite the opposite. It’s funny to think back at how thrilled I was to have X11 on the desktop (compared to Windows 3.1) versus how I feel now, twenty years on, comparing KDE or GNOME on Fedora or Ubuntu to OS X 10.8. The tables have been exactly turned. Linux is still essentially the same in architecture and philosophy, while the rest of the world has moved to a completely different paradigm in which computing is essentially appliance-driven. In 1993 Linux was ahead of its time. In 2013 Linux is a decade behind.
These days, I want an complete, polished, turnkey appliance at low cost and with no labor time investment, not a set of building block. Today’s appliances are fast, intuitive, stable, durable, powerful, and integrated like the iPad (which I do, yes, use for serious work about 5-6 hours a day). For most users (which is where I have always ultimately fallen), Linux is solution in search of a problem that no longer exists.
Ask Slashdot has an interesting discussion about current state of the linux desktop, which has become (again) a heated debate after Miguel de Icaza’s blogpost and Linus Torvalds’ reply. There are some very insightful comments, like the one by aussersterne above, but more importantly the discussion gives a good picture of the linux/FLOSS community, with different views on what linux desktop is or should be, different backgrounds, ideas and problems. The first comment sums up the problem, or meta-problem to me:
I’ve been using Linux on my desktop for 13 years now. It works just fine for me.
Sony RX1: A Full-frame Compact Camera
We were surprised (and delighted) when Sony decided to create the RX100 – its first compact camera for serious photographers, but that’s nothing compared to our surprise when we were told about the RX1. This isn’t just Sony’s most serious compact camera, but arguably the most serious compact camera we’ve ever seen. It features a full-frame sensor and a fixed 35mm F2 lens, making it a real heavyweight in terms of lightweight photography. Sony has said it is targeting professional photographers and we see no reason to question that.
There’s hasn’t been a better time to look for a good compact(ish) camera ever before. When I recently wrote about being on a market for such a thing and listed my options, I was quite surprised how many there were (compared to, say, 2008, or even 2010). Now not only has Fujifilm introduced the X-E1, and not only has Sony presented the NEX-6, but we also have a first ever full-frame compact camera. At $2800 it’s not cheap at all, but boy is that a fantastic idea.