Chris tagged me for the Book Meme.
Total number of books owned:
Somewhere over 1900, including a hundred or so recipe books, but not including several boxes of books in the garage.
Last book bought:
Fermat’s Last Theorem by Simon Singh. Interesting read, more history than mathematics and just fine for a plane trip.
Last book read
Err… Fermat’s Last Theorem by Simon Singh.
Before that I’d just finished Sherri S. Tepper’s Sideshow
/0553762893/qid=1119131393/sr=8–2/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl14/002–2888801-2480828?v=glance&s=books&n=507846, third in a set of stories that explore the moral tension between society’s rights and individual’s rights. Tepper’s other books in this set (Grass/055376246X/qid=1119131946/sr=8–1/ref=pd_bbs_ur_1/002–2888801-2480828?v=glance&s=books&n=507846 and Raising The Stones) are also very readable.
Five books that mean a lot to you
Tag five people to continue this meme
Five people? That’s a lot. You do realise that if all five participate, and they each tag five people who all participate, and so on, and so on, within 14 generations the entire population of the world will have done this survey?
I asked Richard to interview me. Responses are below. Instructions for furthering the meme:
1. Java or Python? I jest. Done any Python coding lately?
I got paid to write Python code earlier this year. We needed to call the Windows Speech API (SAPI) from our Java application. SAPI is an ActiveX API, and I couldn’t find a Java-ActiveX bridge that looked to be up to the job. However, Java can call native executables, so I coded up the SAPI calls in a short win32 Python program and then turned that into a standalone Windows executable with py2exe. Underscoring Python’s brevity, the Java code needed to reliably call native executables is longer than the Python program it calls.
Aside from that, I have just been coding the odd script, and I am up to question 10 in the Python Challenge. (By “am up to”, I mean “am stuck on”.)
On the question of “Java or Python”, I’m hoping that Groovy will grow up to be nearly as programmer-friendly as Python, while still being acceptable to the Java crowd. Time will tell.
2. How neat are your children?
‘Neat’ as in cool? Mitchell (10) is in the Australian Youth Choir which will perform with the Vienna Boys Choir at the Sydney Town Hall in July. That’s pretty neat. Connor (age 7) said to me the other day, “If I grow up to be a computer nerd like you, I’m going to write a program that is a game.” That was pretty neat too.
‘Neat’ as in tidy? I’d say average. On the plus side, they clean away their own plates after meals, don’t drop crumbs on the floor and almost always take uneaten bananas out of their school bags. On the minus side, they have inherited their father’s handwriting and I despair of ever seeing the walls of their room again (although the floor now makes regular guest appearances).1
3. What’s the coolest sci-fi you’ve seen or read recently?
Battlestar Galactica, because:
Mind you, if you had asked, “What are the ten coolest sci-fi’s you’ve seen or read recently?” I could have answered that too.
4. Are you coming to OSDC this year?
This last week I started thinking about what I might submit. Perhaps something short on Groovy or Java. I’m definitely interested in doing a lightning talk this year.
5. What excites you about programming?
Programming gives me a buzz in three ways. First, I enjoy discovering how to make computers do things. The more tricks I can make a computer do, the happier I am. One reason I get a kick from Python is its ability to glue together all kinds of bits in new and interesting ways.
Second, I love the process of meeting people’s needs, from sitting down with them to understand their requirements, figuring out a solution that works for everybody, and – especially – delivering finished product that makes people’s lives better.
Third, I get warm, fuzzy feelings from expressing complex problems in simple code. The programming efforts I remember most fondly are those that took several days to produce a few dozen lines of really easy to read code. Reading other people’s simple-code-to-do-complex-things is just as enjoyable.
Thanks to Richard Jones for taking the time to think up five good questions.
1 Mum, I know you’re reading this. Before you comment, I would just like to remind you that Richard asked if my children were neat. He did not ask if I was neat as a child.
Tim Weber of the BBC reporter rustles up Bill Gates’ quote of 2005:
Bill Gates is one of the people with Firefox on his computer, so I asked him for his opinion.
“I played around with it a bit, but it’s just another browser, and IE [Microsoft’s Internet Explorer] is better,” Mr Gates told me…