Monthly Archive for January, 2011

Mourning Glen Wightman d. Jan 15, 2011

From In:File "Historical Information Products Newsletter" Reuters Internal Newsletter Issue no 3 December 1989 I still hear Glen’s voice in my head every single time I pack for a trip to any of the world’s financial centres.  You see, Glen was the guy who sent me on my first solo trip to London, UK to negotiate a data feed from Reuters Dockland’s data centre to Toronto sometime in the early 1990’s.

Take all your common sense with you,  you’re going to need it.

And then he laughed.

The laugh! Glen’s laugh can be described as a perfect mixture of glee and compassion accented with a touch the devil threw in for fun.

He had hired me fresh out of Art School as a programmer/analyst for the Reuters’ Master Reference Database, formerly owned by IP Sharp.  At the time, this database was analogous to a giant world wide directory for all public companies.  Yes.  All the public companies in the world.  In other words, Glen gave me a huge break.  And then he patiently tended to my rough edges for years as I struggled to find my place on his team.   You gotta love that guy.

Everyone loved that guy.

In the context of this blog, IP Sharp, a Canadian APL shop through and through, left several key legacies, including the data it housed and collected for years.  I expect this data now silently brings in millions and millions of dollars for its current owners. Glen was one of the guys who built this data.

And what makes us unique as an APL Array Language Community is that we’re still in touch.  And there are hundreds of us mourning this week, all over the world, as we face the challenges of everyday life, and say goodbye to a very special everyday guy.

My deep, deep sympathies go out to Glen’s family, especially to Juilette, Jacqueline, Melanie and Rosalind.  I’m so sorry.

Glen’s obit can be found here.

Expressions of sympathy may be made by making memorial donations to The Canadian Cancer Society or The Dorothy Ley Hospice.

Photo From In:File “Historical Information Products Newsletter” Reuters Internal Newsletter Issue no 3 December 1989.

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Off to school

It’s late—

I’m late.  I’m running very, very, very late.

It’s tax season, so I’m working a lot for actual money these days, which rocks.  I took a break from accounting school last semester, but as they say… the party is over.  It’s back to the grind.  Classes begin again this week.  Sigh.  I hope you’ll forgive this tiniest of posts; believe it or not, we have to adhere to our production schedule here at the story factory.

For your amusement, I’ve introduced Godiva to illustrate the last couple of articles. If you’re curious as to her origins, give her photo a click with your mouse.  She’s a creation of my imagination, but I think my mother and sister divined her name.  I wanted to get a photo of her with the real APL type ball, but alas, her tail has fallen off.  She needs some maintenance before the next photo shoot.  A job for another day.

And on a semi-related note, in honour of Seth Godin, I want to personally thank those of you who “have my back.”  You know who you are, and I do, as well.  I would be nowhere without you.  xxxx 0000

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Winter tributes to APL

Godiva in WonderlandHave you noticed that the last two months of 2010 brought some pleasant surprises for APL?  Perhaps there is a decided shift in the public discourse concerning our underdog hero; or maybe like Alice, I’ve gotten lost in the Rabbit hole.  But it sure seems to me that supporters are coming out of the woodwork in unexpected places. As usual, this provokes a backlash from the unrelenting critics, but their words seem to lack luster, discipline and often sound petty.  An interesting development.

Some highlights of the articles that have passed over my screen in the last few months:

Dick Lipton, a Computer Science professor at Georgia Tech closed out November 2010 by musing on the subject of Notation and thinking. He writes about “notation in mathematics and theory, and how notation can play a role in our thinking.”  Of all things, he comes to the defense of APL’s character set as he puts it in the context of a history of symbolic notations, beginning in 1557 with the introduction of the equal sign, “=”.   Lovely!

In addition, thanks to a tip from my Twitter buddy @kaleidic, I learned that Allan Kay defends APL when Lipton’s colleague at Georgia Tech, Mark Guzdial, chimed in with what boils down to “APL is too hard“.

Incredibly it’s not just the academics who are speaking up.  Back in September, entrepreneur Allan MacKinnon noticed Dennis Shasha and Cathy Lazere included a tribute to APL in their new book Natural Computing, and he wrote about it in his blog, Pixel I/O.

Let’s see how this all unfolds in 2011!

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APL Array Language family in 2011 – Predictions

Happy New Year Everyone!

After a brief hiatus, we’re jumping back on the air.

As my emergence into the new year coincides with my first big cold of the season, I’m extra grateful and to have spent the last couple of days under the covers with my new book, fellow Canadian Dan Gardner’s Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Fail – and Why We Believe Them Anyway. A true gift.

“The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” (p. 27)

I’ve decided to try on my Hedgehog hat and will make some predictions for the new year.

Temperamentally, I’m more of a Fox, but the research highlighted in the book indicates Hedgehogs get more air time, so I’ll attempt to emulate one.  I hope you can appreciate the irony.

The Predictions

  1. Opportunity for terse, powerful array based languages continues in 2011.
  2. A small number of individuals will achieve unprecedented commercial success.
  3. Major parallel processing problems will be solved and become passé.

It’s nice to be back.  I’m looking forward to another year on this grand film making adventure.

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