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Archive for December 7th, 2017

The Essential Knuth”  (2013©)  —  book review
This book is an interview of Professor Donald E. Knuth by Edgar G. Daylight (and edited by Kurt De Grave).  The book is part of the “Conversations” series and covers topics like Knuth’s childhood / family, college life, and then more typical topics – ALGOL, structured programming, other software pioneers and finally the history of computer science history.  Basically, it’s a chance to record the thoughts of a pioneer in his field (computer science) about his life and views about his accomplishments and opinions of other greats in this field.
Is it earth-shattering?  No.  Is it interesting?  Yes.  Knuth appears to be a man who rather humbly acknowledges his own “greatness” in his field, but puts it down to both ability and the good fortune of being born at a time when his field of interest was new.  If you are interested in the thoughts of a giant in his field (and I am in this field), you should like this.
The book is very short: less than 90 pages and has practically no technical information.  It is, therefore, entirely accessible to the general public.  If reading isn’t your “thing”, I have subsequently found most of the book is also available on YouTube in short interviews.  Final recommendation:  moderate to strong.  The book is so short and contains so little technical info, you will lose almost nothing for investing the couple of hours it will take to read this book.  And, it is interesting (even if in only a limited way).
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On This Day In:
2016 Hoping For The Best Come January
2015 Adaptive Security
2014 Wants
2013 Side Effects
2012 Just Trying To Earn A Living
2011 Productive Worry
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Atticus reached down and picked up the candy box.  He handed it to Jem.
Jem opened the box.  Inside, surrounded by wads of damp cotton, was a white, waxy, perfect camellia.  It was a Snow-on-the-Mountain.
Jem’s eyes nearly popped out of his head.  “Old hell-devil, old hell-devil!” he screamed, flinging it down.  “Why can’t she leave me alone?”
In a flash Atticus was up and standing over him.  Jem buried his face in Atticus’s shirt front, “Sh-h,” he said.  “I think that was her way of telling you — everything’s all right now, Jem, everything’s all right.  You know, she was a great lady.”
“A lady?” Jem raised his head.  His face was scarlet.  “After all those things she said about you, a lady?”
“She was.  She had her own views about things, a lot different from mine, maybe … son, I told you that if you hadn’t lost your head I’d have made you go read to her.  I wanted you to see something about her — I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand.  It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.  You rarely win, but sometimes you do.  Mrs. Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her.  According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody.  She was the bravest person I ever knew.”
Jem picked up the candy box and threw it in the fire.  He picked up the camellia, and when I went off to bed I saw him fingering the wide petals.  Atticus was reading the paper.
   —  Harper Lee
From her novel:  “To Kill A Mockingbird
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On This Day In:
2016 Hoping For The Best Come January
2015 Adaptive Security
2014 Wants
2013 Side Effects
2012 Just Trying To Earn A Living
2011 Productive Worry

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