Monthly Archive for November, 2009

Good Golly, it's working! The Jedi rise again

The day is coming when my daily hits will outrun that first initial post back in May 2009…

Oh wait!!!!  That day would be today!  Did it!  Done!  Most hits ever in one day!  And it’s only 10:29am!

…when I, half in jest, posted everywhere in cyberspace that I could think of, something to the effect of:

Dudes, I want to make a documentary film about APL.

Which began this grand adventure to seek out the array language Jedi warriors, the great, great, great grandchildren of Howard Aiken.  And I’m finding them! And I’m finding you!  Or you’re finding ME, which is even better!

I’m meeting Heather at 1pm to see The Men Who Stare At Goats.

As for the Jedi – Wikipedia Knows:

The Jedi Code is a code of conduct that establishes rules and modes of behavior for the Jedi. There are different versions of it in the expanded universe.[1] The code was as follows:[2]

  • Jedi are the guardians of peace in the galaxy.
  • Jedi use their powers to defend and protect, never to attack others.
  • Jedi respect all life, in any form.
  • Jedi serve others rather than rule over them, for the good of the galaxy.
  • Jedi seek to improve themselves through knowledge and training.


I joined the bloody ACM

Thank goodness for the student membership at the ACM and all those economics classes I’m taking.  Actually, right now I’m on business law and I have to write an exam tomorrow night.  I was supposed to write it last week, but got stuck in Boston, which is another story.  I always get stuck in Boston.

I joined the ACM because I wanted to write something super accurate about Alex Morrow, and everything super accurate about APL folks is archived in APL Quote Quad and locked away in the ACM’s little corner of cyberspace.

I was going to say something cheeky about getting the ACM’s attention, but the truth is, thanks to Joey Tuttle, Curtis Jones and Simon Garland, I’m having no trouble getting the attention of some pretty slick players in the world of computing.  So, I’ll be nice.

I like Alex because he introduced me and my sister to Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad books.  He is a lovely man.

IBM likes Alex and made him an IBM Fellow because:

First at IBM and later at Lotus, where he was named a Lotus Fellow, Morrow made significant contributions in fields ranging from programming languages and operating systems to software standards and personal computer software. His early achievements included his involvement in the establishment of an international standard for the APL language and the ACIS 4.2 operating system for IBM’s first workstations. When the Open Software Foundation was created to produce a standard Unix operating system, Morrow became IBM’s founding executive for this effort. More recently, he was a driving force behind the integration and unification of Lotus’ product line and now is active in developing the next generation of “pervasive computing” technologies.

ACM SIGAPL APL Quote Quad 1999
Volume 29 ,  Issue 4  (June 1999) Page: 4

I’m absolutely thrilled to have Alex’s help.  We’re off to get a full history from Adin Falkoff.  I better ask Adin!

And someday I’ll tell the story about Charlie Brenner’s MG Mini, Alex’s tree & my dining room table.

Oh, and I happened to notice the APL standards debate woke up again this week in comp.lang.apl and all the APLs struggle with saving face.


Is there a degree for this?

Boston.  The happy home of Harvard, MIT, Mark I & Alex.

The first thing I did when I got off the plane was run visit my new boyfriend, Harold Aiken’s, Mark I.  He lives in Harvard’s Science Center on Oxford Street in Cambridge.

While the students come and go… Mark I sits.  It’s pretty cool to be able to just walk in there and see the old boy.

I ended up picking up more Computer History books at the MIT Press bookstore.  APL is mentioned.  But I have to say, I don’t like the tone. I’m happy to add another voice to the fray.

First, I’m learning about Computer History.

Or how it’s written about, actually.  And yes, there’s a long way to go between Mark 1 & IBM/360.

Which is where I get to my original question: Is there a degree for this? 

Because if there is, I want one.

Thank goodness I find all of this poking around interesting.  And I just fell in love all over again when I saw this photo.  What a lovely machine.

I can imagine all those Naval officers sweating away over their ballistics and voilà!

Programming is born.

Do you want to hear about my meeting with Alex Morrow?  I most probably should start by explaining who exactly he is. 

Ah…  A job for another day.  Tomorrow.  Soon.  I’ll be bak!



I’m off to Boston!  Ready or not!


Ex ungue Leonem

There is this huge difference between living your life in the shadow of something like a programming language and actually understanding where you are in the context of something more objective, like, well… dare I say… history.

aikenbookSo, I’m of course finding out all of these things that most of you probably already know.  Like, for example, that Ken Iverson studied under Howard Aiken.  This, I did know.

What I did not know, is that his dissertation was jointly supervised by Mr. Aiken & Wassily Leontief, the economist who later won the Nobel Prize for his invention of “input-output” economics. [pg. 206-208 of I. Bernard Cohen’s Howard Aiken: Portrait of a Computer Pioneer]

At the same time, in my reading I’m finding some freakishly familiar echos from the past.

So, when John Roy said, “Boston!”.

I said, “Yes! Let’s Go!”

And I shall pass by Harvard & meet up with Alex Morrow next week.  And that’s that.


I can't believe I ate the whole thing

dyalogtapes1 The Dyalog APL 2009 Conference is officially digitised.  Whew.  That only took 2 months.  Good thing I have other ways to make a living.  Yikes.  The next step is to encode the rest of Gitte’s material and mail it off to the UK.

There are some extra special moments.  Everyone is so sincere. 

I’m in love all over again.  Sigh.

Actually, first I have to work on something for some super-secret, super-cool folks in a extra-special-aren’t-I-lucky-to-get-to go town.  I’ll blog about it in December.

Truthfully, I will only tell if I come up with something good for them…  Otherwise, I’ll hide.

Seriously – I’m having a date with my boyfriend instead of going out on my own to see, ‘The Men Stare at Goats’ tonight. 

Mistake?  I hope not.

I think it’s a guy flick too.



Minowbrook & Stephen Taylor's Hat


I like this picture because I’m doing that APL hand talking thing.  In fact, looking across the room at my Mac, I see Morton doing the same thing.

And I’m of the firm opinion that by wearing a smart guy’s hat for half a day,  I’m now smarter.  Guess whose hat I’m wearing! 

Sing along…

John Jacob Jinkleheimer Smith, his name is my name too.  Whenever we go out, the people always shout, There goes John Jacob Jinkleheimer Smith.

Boy, you’ll really need to be paying attention to get that one… Me breaking out into song. Hee Hee

At this moment, I’m digitising more Morton.  I’m working on tape 9 of 16… I’ve passed the halfway mark of the Dyalog APL 2009 Princeton collection.  I’d be even closer to being done if… well… on second thought, I’ll spare you the editor’s woes… It’s sufficient for you to know, it’s not always smooth sailing.

On another topic, I’m getting ready for a short trip to Boston.  My next job to do tonight is to send Alex Morrow a note to see if he can meet up with me. 

I shall tell him that my sister reads the Frog & Toad  he gave us 35+ years ago to her boys.


Array Men

I know I didn’t say ‘& women’. They are so few.  And they have important pivotal roles.  But I’ll get to that later…

Last night I was up in my studio digitising more footage from the Dyalog APL Conference… Wee… This is the fun part of film making…

hahahahahaha That’s a sarcastic laugh.

Uploading hour for hour, each tape. One 45 min session crashed at the end of the process 4 times before I got the fix to the problem right (yup -4 x 45mins, flushed).  And I got to watch my own talk. I’ll stop with the sarcasm.  Sigh – all my friends are now charged with helping me work on my posture, which sucks.

On the bright side, I took a break and went to the Sorauren Park Pumpkin festival with my sister.  Every year, everyone takes their jack-o-lanterns to our little park. It’s really cool & if you are my facebook friend, you got to see some pictures last night.

My sister is here to help sort through my dad’s stuff before he hauls it all to his new place up north.

And Also on the bright side… It’s feels good to have these tapes tackled one by one.


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