"In their capacity as a tool, computers will be but a ripple on the surface of our culture. In their capacity as intellectual challenge, they are without precedent in the cultural history of mankind."
-- Edsger Wybe Dijkstra (1930-2002)
I was writing a scholarship essay about him yesterday because I've always been very interested in him, and I think we underestimate his impact on computing. I think many people think of Bill Gates as making the first operating system or maybe they thing Steve Jobs was first and Gates just stole it from him. Whatever it is, they're wrong! It was Dijkstra who helped pioneer the idea of operating systems as synchronized sequential processes, which he explains in his paper “My recollections of operating system design” (EWD1303). Can you imagine that!? This is before the days of keyboards and fancy DOS prompts and all that crap, it was just an problem that came up because of the small amount of memory in the so-called "computers" of the day. His shortest-path algorithm is pretty famous also, but a little over my head. He was a key player in the development of structured programming, which was uber important, and was on a team that created the first Algol 60 compiler, a language that gave rise to today's more famous languages. Maybe this is boring to some of you, but computers wouldn't be what they are today without them because programmers certainly wouldn't be. He fought against goto statements! He fought to make programmers think about problems rather than memorize semantics of some supposedly "powerful" programming language! He is a hero of computing, and I just had to say something about him.
Moving on, I've got a couple of a interesting movie tidbits. There are some new pictures up from the Mick Garris adaptation of Stephen King's Desperation. It should be an interesting mini-series, but I probably won't watch it because I like to read his books before watching the movies. The other thing is that Disney contracted some writers to write a screenplay for a Tron remake. Who knows, maybe it'll be good.
I found a better iPod Shuffle article than the one I posted a couple of days ago here from the New York Times. It also talks about the craptacular Mac Mini. And this is out of the blue, but I really hope I get into GUI 201! Professor Holzman gave no guarantee that he has any spots available, and if he does I have to audition to get in. I've been waiting all semester to get in though, and he's such an awesome guitarist! If I take a couple of GUI classes I may be able to work directly with him, which is in-sane.
And now, the 3X Thursday meme:
1. When you go on vacation, does it mean you have to *go* somewhere, or is staying home okay? Why/why not? What do you do?
I'd like to go somewhere, even if it's not out of town. Part of vacationing is getting away from the ordinary, and the ordinary would be staying at home. I could go to a family's place or a friend's place or to a party or something, but even short vacations are nice.
2. What would you rather deal with, rain or snow? Why?
I guess rain since it doesn't really require maintainance, but I'd love a good snow day every now and then.
3. What do you think about these geniuses who build their house on an unstable hill/flood plain and then wonder why when it rains a lot, it slides into the valley below? Do you feel sorry for them? Why/why not? For clarification, we'll limit this question to homes/geniuses in California.
No comment on this one because I don't know enough about California housing to answer properly.
Bonus Question: What's on your calander this year?
My family because my cousin's wife made one with pictures of our family on the months. It's a nice looking calendar, so I'll put it up in my apartment when I go back to Austin.