Tuesday, February 26, 2008

In praise of Haikus

Programmers are no strangers to strict requirements on form and syntax, so working in the poetic medium of the Haiku comes almost naturally.

Programming is fun.
Little virtual widgets.
Poems that do work.

The brevity and compactness of the haiku lends itself well to writing something tighly focused. I find them quite enjoyable to write.

Of course, there are quite a few other poetic structures of note which can offer a fun challenge. The limerick and the sonnet are two of my favorites. Here's a limerick I wrote (beware, obscure programming reference ahead).

There once was a coder named Chuck.
And through all the source code he snuck.
  He changed not a line,
  it all worked just fine:
he programmed by punching a duck!

A sonnet would be a bit ambitious for this late hour. So unleash your creativity, let's see what you've got.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Happy Valentines Day

Vanessa prepared a wonderful meal for me this Valentines day. Four courses, the first one pictured here, all delicious. This was the roasted red pepper tomato soup with an artistic heart made of sour cream. And this was only the first course. Have I mentioned that the meal was delicious. I'm very thankful, I married quite a cook. Not only that but she decorated too.

It would seem I borrowed a page from one of Ben's blogs and wrote about food. What can I say, a meal like this makes an impression.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

My Programming Journey so Far

One of the great things about working in computer science is that you never stop leaning. It seems that many programmer follow a progression from one popular language to the next, and I thought I'd dedicate a post to reminisce about my journey so far. I first learned to program in C. This was at the age of sometime around eleven or thirteen. I was instantly hooked, and since then, I've kept right on learning. I think the path I've taken has been fairly typical. From C, I learned C++ (starting in high school). I learned Java during a summer internship after my junior year of high school. In college, it was more C++, Java, and C (I really learned the ins and outs of C in my networking class) along with some other programming languages.

My favorite two classes in my college computer science curriculum were the ones in which I learned assembly language and designed an arithmetic logic unit and then a simple processor. I finally felt like I understood exactly how computers worked. With assembly language I learned a bit about machine code, how many clock cycles specific operations take, and it felt so good to optimize a bit of code to run blazingly fast. In circuit design I learned where those clock cycles come from, why operations take the time they do, and how those machine language op codes are determined. In all things software, at some point it all comes back to electronics.

College was also a time to get a taste of other, less widely used, but none-the-less important languages. Scheme and Prolog were particularly interesting to me, but I haven't had much occasion to use them very much recently.

Through my career, I've focused primarily on C++, then Java. After that I've had the opportunity to use a large number of languages. I learned Ajax programming using JavaScript, I wrote some PHP, C#, and a rather large amount of Python. Outside of work, I like to explore new concepts and languages and I've taken a look at some other languages too. Some notable examples include Ruby and Common Lisp, but I haven't built anything serious with them yet. Python is a language which I've really grabbed hold of recently and I've been learning quite a bit about it. At least half of the side projects I'm working on in my spare time these days are in Python. There seems to be quite a bit of momentum behind Python, and I'm very interested to see where this all goes.

So there you have it, a small glimpse into my journey thus far. How does it jive or differ from your own?

Friday, February 08, 2008

Firefox 3 Beta 2

I recently downloaded the second beta of Firefox 3 from Portable Apps. I didn't want to replace the version of Firefox I already had installed, so I used the version from Portable Apps which runs as a standalone binary. Sometimes it's really nice to unpack a program without touching the registry or worrying about installing.

Overall, I'm very happy with the changes I've seen in the latest version. I had heard that there have been some improvements to the JavaScript engine in this version, and they are noticeable. When I logged in to gmail it seemed a bit more responsive. I have to say though that my favorite changes are in the address bar. When typing the address, the address bar shows addresses, titles, and logos for pages that you've already visited. Firefox 2 did this too, but I think 3 gives more detail and a larger number of results. I found myself using it much more often than in 2. Part of the reason is that it shows the most recently visited page at the top instead of the shortest match. I also liked that you could star a URL to add it to your bookmarks, and you can even select a folder and tag the URL from within the address bar.