High Altitude

No computer programming stuff today; just some fun for Friday. As I’m writing this Felix Baumgartner’s attempt to set the world record for skydiving height by diving from a helium balloon has been scrubbed due to bad weather. This attempt has got me thinking of my good friend JB, who back in 1982 set the…


Fabulous Adventures In Casting

I’ve written a lot about casting over the years in this blog, but always in the context of the “cast operator”: the operator that instructs the compiler to make an explicit conversion from a value of one type to a value of another type. I have recently taken up a new hobby that is casting…


What’s the difference? Trenchcoat vs Duster

Today, yet another episode in my ongoing series “What’s the difference?” This time, a non-computer-related topic. I am often complimented on my choice of outerwear in the Seattle rainy season, and I hate to respond to a well-meant compliment with a correction. So I usually let all those “Nice trenchcoat!” comments slide and just say…


Roguelike people

No technology today. Rather, some advice. I don’t know if there’s some sort of grifter convention going on, but I have seen four different short-con artists operating in Wallingford, the neighbourhood of Seattle where I live, in the last three days. Though that might be a slight mischaracterization. One of them was selling from a…


Funniest Hungarian Joke Ever

I’m back from my fabulous adventures in Austria, Romania and Canada and I had a fabulous time, as you might imagine. We were in Romania for a wedding of some close personal friends who live here in Seattle; much of the groom’s family escaped from Romania during the Communist period and settled in Austria, so…


I’m glad and sad that that’s over

No computers; high technology of a different sort today. Shuttle Atlantis has safely returned to earth for the last time; the Space Shuttle Program is over. Which both makes me sad, and makes me breathe a huge sigh of relief. Thank goodness that is finally over. As you might have gathered, I am highly ambivalent…


My Buddy Neil Totally Agrees With Me

[No computer stuff today; just some fun for a Friday.] British fantasy author Neil Gaiman was in Seattle recently. I was so disappointed that I did not find out about it until it was too late to attend his event. It’s a pity I missed it because I’ve been wanting for years to ask Neil…


Enormous Explosions

Welcome to 2011 everyone; I hope you all had as restful a time as I did over the winter break. We’ll get back into language and tools design next time; today’s post is dedicated to the memory of my friend Frank, an old and dear friend of my whole family who passed away shortly before…


Eric Lippert, from Microsoft?

No technology today, just an amusing story from a couple summers ago. Leah and I rent out a room in our house; I find it quite pleasant to live with a friend who pays my mortgage for me. One day a couple summers back our housemate K had her parents visiting from California. She and…


Murky Research

No computers today, but some interesting – and important – math. (And, happy Canada Day, Canadians!) “Car Talk” is a popular weekly phone-in program that has been on National Public Radio for several decades now, in which Bostonian brothers Tom and Ray crack wise and diagnose car (and relationship) problems. On many programs they feature a “puzzler”….