Thursday, September 30, 2021

Bad Karma: a very short review

By way of one of my oldest and dearest friends, I encountered Paul Wilson's odd yet captivating BAD KARMA: The True Story of a Mexico Trip from Hell

Wilson grew up in the San Diego suburbs in the 1960's and 1970's and became an avid surfer during those peak days of "surf culture".

So when some of the other surfers that he knew invited him to go along on a surfing adventure to a renowned surfing beach in tropical Mexico, Wilson jumped at the chance.

Then everything went wrong.

This is an unusual book. It's not really clear why Wilson waited forty years to tell his story, and of course the reader is bound to be skeptical of the unreliability of memory after such a long time.

And Wilson is not a natural writer, so the book is, as my friend so memorably put it, "rather low prose".

But Wilson's tale is so dramatic and vivid, and Wilson is so enthusiastic about the telling of the story, that you can't help but be swept up in his excitement as you read it.

For anyone who has ever come of age and done those terribly stupid and reckless things that we do when we are a certain age, you'll be entertained (and, perhaps comforted) to see that there are people out there whose dreams of adventure were even more stupid and reckless than you ever thought possible.

And he saves the most remarkable part of the adventure for the last ten pages, so the ending is great!

Monday, September 27, 2021

The Linux Programming Interface: a very short review

When I was first starting out as a professional programmer, circa 1981, I spent the first few years of my career working on IBM mainframe operating systems.

In the late 1980's, I moved out of the IBM mainframe world and started working on Unix operating systems. At that time, I learned about Unix by reading books such as The Design of the UNIX Operating System and The Design and Implementation of the 4.3 BSD UNIX Operating System.

Later, I studied the books of Richard Stevens, such as Unix Network Programming and Advanced Programming in the Unix Environment (which was generally known to engineers as APUE).

Time passed (a LOT of time ... :) ).

This summer, via a colleague, I learned about the Michael Kerrisk's The Linux Programming Interface.

Kerrisk's book is an amazing resource for professional Linux system programmers. It is organized thematically, around topics such as processes, memory, I/O, networking, etc. Individual chapters can be read (mostly) independently, so you can jump to a particular section to study a particular topic, but a (highly) motivated engineer can also read the entire book, start to finish, for a complete treatment of the various ways that a Linux programmer can access the facilities of the Linux operating system programmatically.

Of course this isn't summertime reading (although it actually was for me :) ); it is reference material. And great reference material to have!

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Slow vaccine progress

Alex Tabarrok notes that September has been a relatively good month for vaccinations, world-wide, even if here in the United States it's been rather a stinker: One Billion Vaccinations in a Month!.

... over the last 30 days the world vaccinated one billion people.

Six billion doses administered in 9 months! That's definitely progress, even if I could always wish for more.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Java marches forward

Java 17 is now generally available.

For someone like me, for whom Java is a daily programming language, but only part of my overall technology stack, keeping up with Java nowadays is an exhausting proposition.

Look at the major changes that are included in Java 17!

Look at the release notes for Java 17!

But really, for someone like me, Java 17 is just part of that picture. I'm still generally using Java 8 in my day-to-day work, with small occasions when I use Java 9 or Java 11.

So it's not just Java 17 that I'm out of date on, it's also Java 12, Java 13, Java 14, Java 15, Java 16.

Luckily, the good folks at Oracle have this covered:

JDK 17 will be a long-term-support (LTS) release from most vendors, including Oracle. If you’re upgrading from the previous LTS release, JDK 11, then you have many more JEPs to look forward to, summarized here:

And boy, that's a big list.

As the Red Queen said, though, these are just the facts of life:

"Well, in our country," said Alice, still panting a little, "you'd generally get to somewhere else—if you run very fast for a long time, as we've been doing."

"A slow sort of country!" said the Queen. "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"

For now, I'll keep on doing all the running I can do.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Simu Liu is having his moment

I've been a huge fan of Kim's Convenience for several years, it's one of the best "unknown" shows on TV.

It has great writing, and also a wonderful cast.

So I was thrilled when Simu Liu got a huge break as the star of the new Marvel Shang-Chi movie.

Anyway, Simu Liu is definitely having his moment.

Sorry for all the pop-ups and ads; the Huffington Post website has become a real cesspool.

Anyway, I hope he goes on to have more fine chances, he's a great actor.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Hard, hard work on the front (fire) lines

It's hard to even begin to comprehend the blood, sweat, and tears in this terse and rather bureaucratic description of the fight to save the homes of twenty five thousand people in the greater South Lake Tahoe area:

Yesterday hand crews assessed opportunities to build direct line along the fire perimeter from California State Route 89 west toward Scout Peak to reduce threats to structures in Christmas Valley. At Echo Lake firefighters were shuttled across by boat to work on structure preparations and hand crews assessed opportunities to build direct line along the fire perimeter from U.S. Highway 50 west toward Echo Lake. Near Pioneer Trail in South Lake Tahoe, dozers continued to build mechanical line along the bottom edge of the slope to keep the fire south of these communities. Engines patrolled and prepared structures that remained threatened. During night operations, specialized night flying helicopters were used to drop retardant from a mobile retardant plant to slow fire progression near Christmas Valley and hot shot crews built direct line along the fire perimeter on the northeast edge of the fire from Trout Creek toward Trimmer Peak.

Today hand crews will build direct line along the fires edge from Christmas Valley west toward Nebelhorn and from U.S. Highway 50 west toward Echo Lake and hot shot crews will continue hand line construction near Trimmer Peak at the northeastern most edge of the fire. In the community of South Lake Tahoe, dozers and hand crews will continue mechanical line preparations near Pioneer Trail and begin improving old road systems in the Cold Creek drainage. Air resources will assist firefighters on the ground with retardant and water drops to slow fire movement and cool hot spots along the fire perimeter as conditions allow.

Be safe. Be careful. We appreciate all you do.

Slow vaccine progress

As of September 1, 2021, the CA State Dashboard is now reporting that 47 million vaccine doses have been administered.

Broken down slightly more, the CA State Vaccine Dashboard is now reporting that 66.8% of the 12-and-older population is fully vaccinated, while another 10.2 percent are partially vaccinated, totaling to 77% of the 12-and-older population with some protection.

Unfortunately, the state is still recording 10 thousand new cases a day.

Given that there are approximately 34 million people ages 12-and-over in California, the 23 percent of those who are not vaccinated comprise some 7,800,000 people in California with no vaccine protection.

23 percent of a big number is a big number.

I fear we may see 10 thousand new cases a day for a long, long time.