Category Archives: DevBlog

Why I Still Read Textbooks

“Perilous to all are the devices of an art deeper than we possess ourselves.” – Gandalf the White

I have a monthly textbook budget of $200/month. For the last year, I’ve exclusively spent that on hardcopy Computer Science and Software Engineering textbooks. Whenever anyone catches me reading these eight hundred page beasts, they always ask the same question:


I’m already employed as a Software Engineer, and I’m not reading these books to earn an additional degree, moreover, these books can’t be fun to read, so why would I spend time doing this when I could be smelling the roses or whatever normal people do with their spare time.

Normal People.

In the following thousand or so words, I’ll do my best to answer that question.

Continue reading Why I Still Read Textbooks

Neural Networks Part 5: So You’ve Made A Neural Network. What Can We Use It For?

In the last two installments of this series, I showed how we can use Haskell to define a dynamically-sized single-threaded Neural Network and explained things along the way. So yay! We’ve got a Neural Network! Great!

But now that we’ve got it, what in the heck do we do with it? Find out after the cut.

Continue reading Neural Networks Part 5: So You’ve Made A Neural Network. What Can We Use It For?

Hacker’s Delight, Division Poem

I think that I shall never envision
An op as unlovely as division.
An op whose answer must be guessed
And then, through multiply, assessed;
An op for which we dearly pay,
In cycles wasted every day.
Division code is often hairy;
Long division’s downright scary.
The proofs can overtax your brain,
The ceiling and floor may drive you insane.
Good code to divide takes a Knuthian hero,
But even God can’t divide by zero!
– Hacker’s Delight p. 278.

Yes, It is a Gaming Industry Problem

This came across my Twitter feed earlier today, and, having worked in the gaming industry for five years now (if you count that time working on customer service systems FOR a major gaming company) I have my own horror stories about the culture of silence concerning sexism and sexual harassment in the gaming industry.

As a games tester, there’s tremendous pressure to conform and to operate as some idealized worker-robot. A worker-robot that’s straight, male, and white, because for some reason an industry that used to provide a shelter for alternative lifestyles, hell, used to be an alternative lifestyle in and of itself, apparently operates according to the same dudebro asshole code that high school locker rooms and cliched college frats operate on. It’s like all the geeks saw the assholes who bullied them and said, “Yeah, that. I want to be that.” Continue reading Yes, It is a Gaming Industry Problem

Drive Might Be Inherited, Money and Connections Certainly Are

This article came across my feed today, from a magazine that usually does a pretty good job of things.

I couldn’t help myself. I broke my rule of arguing with strangers on the internet in order to post this diatribe on the Facebook post:

This is horrifying, more like reading Ayn Rand than your typical U.S. Republican speech.

So the rich “inherit” the drive of their parents? What about the political, social, and financial capital that separates the elite from the poor, even in an egalitarian society such as Sweden? What about the fact that a rich B-student in the U.S. can afford an unpaid internship while a poor A-student might have to work for minimum wage in order to mitigate the financial damage of an education? What about the fact that due to these circumstances, the rich B-student gets fast-track to Management, while the A-student may end up working retail after he gets out, because he has no elite connections? What about the fact that the elite have the financial reserves to take outsize risks, safe in the knowledge that however hard they screw it up, they and their family will assuredly not starve.

The world is not an equal place, and Economists deal with the real world. That’s why we’re not philosophers or moralizers. Leave biased, incorrect, and unscientific ideology to them. We’ve got dismal science to do.

While I’m not at all alone in this assessment, I’d like to expand that last paragraph. Continue reading Drive Might Be Inherited, Money and Connections Certainly Are

The Luddite Technologist: Google Documents – The Ninja Writer’s Best Friend

Although I’m by no means a technology buff (says Greg as he collects a steady paycheck as a Microsoft SDET), I’ve done technology columns in the past. At previous jobs, I’ve been referred to as a Luddite for my reluctance to embrace the newest hot sexy piece the kids are carrying around (bought my first SmartPhone in December, but I’m sure they’ll find something else to make fun of now.) I tend to ask more whether the gains in utility justifies the device’s learning curve, a response which invariably gets parried by, “Who cares? THIS SHIT IS AWESOME!”

But I care. One more device to track, find a charger for, and pay the fees on. Hooray? My way works fine, and doesn’t require me to sign a license saying “they” are allowed to shiv my ass for precious Greg-gold.  As mother used to say, “An unshivved ass is a happy ass.”

And so I miss out on awesome new developments like Google Drives (and more importantly for me, Google Docs.)

Greg’s new favorite work-buddy.

Continue reading The Luddite Technologist: Google Documents – The Ninja Writer’s Best Friend