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[forty-three] minus twenty-two: it gets stale

centaur 0

Recently I went to do something in Mathematica - a program I've used hundreds if not thousands of times - and found myself stumped on a simple issue related to defining functions. I've written large, complicated Mathematica notebooks, yet this thing I done hundreds of times was stymieing me.

But - yes - I'd done it hundreds of times; but not regularly in the past year or so.

My knowledge had gone stale.

Programming, it appears, is not like riding a bike.

What about other languages? I can remember LISP defun's, mostly, but would I get a C++ class definition right? I used to do that professionally, eight years ago, and have published articles on programming C++ ... but I've been writing almost exclusively Python and related scripting languages for the past 7 years.

Surprisingly, my wife and I had this happen in real life. We went to cook dinner, and surprisingly found some of the stuff in the pantry had gone stale. During the pandemic, you see, we bought ahead, since you couldn't always find things, but we consumed enough of our staples that they didn't go stale.

Not so once the rate of consumption dropped just slightly - eating out 2-3 times a week, eating out for lunch 2-3 times a week - with a slight drop in variety. Which meant the very most common staples were consumed, but some of the harder-to-find, less-frequently-used stuff went bad.

We suspect some of it may have had near-expired dates we hadn't paid attention to, but now that we're looking, we're carefully looking everywhere to make sure our staples are fresh.

Maybe, if there are skills we want to rely on, we should work to keep those skills fresh too.

Maybe we need to do more than just "sharpen the saw" (the old adage that work goes faster if you take the time to maintain your tools). Perhaps the saw needs to be pulled out once a while and honed even if you aren't sawing things regularly, or you might find that it's gone rusty while it's been stored away.

-the Centaur

Pictured: The bottom layers of detritus of the Languages Nook of the Library of Dresan, with an ancient cast-off office chair brought home from the family business by my father, over 30 years ago.

[forty-one] minus twenty: a better picture?

centaur 0

Somehow, inadvertently, I caused the previous picture's post to get blurred in transport. Below is a better version, which seems to have come through much clearer:

This is from my blogpost "All the Transitions of Tic Tac Toe, Redux" . Apparently the full-size image is no longer available (probably because it's close to 80 megabytes in size, and whatever file hosting I was using to put it up is broken) but a "smaller" version is below, only 12 megabytes in size (or here):

All the transitions from the first state of tic-tac-toe (at the bottom) to to win for X (left), win for O (right), or draw (top).

Funny ... I long remembered this as being the topic of "Don't Fall Into Rabbit Holes" but that turns out to have been a completely different project.

-the Centaur

[twenty-nine] minus twenty-one: what’s up with these titles?

centaur 0

In case it isn't clear, when I took on the Blogging Every Day project, I hoped to get at least one post a day for the full year. Today, the 19th of February, is allegedly the 50th day of the year (according to On This Day in Math, this is the smallest number that can be written as the sum of two squares in two different ways, 1+49 and 25+25 ... who knew? Pat Ballew, apparently). But by my count this is only the twenty-ninth blogpost in this series (not counting blog posts done for other reasons), so it's twenty nine, minus twenty-one behind what the goal should be for the day. And I need to be doing at least two of these a day to get back on track.

Just so we're clear.

-the Centaur

Pictured: What was behind my head when I was taking that picture of King's Fish House.

Ah, Red Rock …

taidoka 0

... I miss the glory days when you were open until 10 (and Bookbuyers was open to midnight, just up the street) but you're still a great place to grab a mocha, get together with techy friends, and work on a project.

What's amazing about the Bay Area is how much technology is just milling around in the ether. I practically tripped on a robot on the way to the meeting, some people at a nearby table were talking about self-driving cars, day before yesterday the people next to me were talking about robots, reinforcement learning and my colleagues, and I ran into three techy friends, one of whom introduced me to some more robot folk.

What a place to be, and what a time to be alive.

Blogging every day.

-the Centaur

[eighteen] plus nineteen

centaur 0

Very tired and sleepy, so you get graffiti ... good night.

-the Centaur


centaur 0

Two tomahawks in all but bone for the high school gang's 30th annual "Edgemas" party, prepped with my own custom almost-dry rub and set aside to rest for 24 hours prior to a reverse-sear:

I hear it turned out pretty well. :-D

-the Centaur

One [redux]

centaur 0

It's a [re]start. Welcome to 2023, everyone.

-the Centaur


centaur 1


Update on Site Maintenance

taidoka 0

Well, it looks like the way WordPress is going to pull the Classic Editor out of my cold, dead hands is to screw up the formatting of any post published with the Classic Editor. The only way it seems to get posts to appear correctly in the blog roll is to use the new Gutenberg garbage. I will be updating posts a few at a time to try to overcome this. The problem is only "new" Classic Editor posts ... the older content in the blog doesn't appear to be affected, so hopefully it won't take too long if I update a few a day.

-the Centaur