Last time I mentioned wanting to write a chess move parser since my earliest days of programming. Hard-core coders often see things in terms of the software behind them. For instance, I sometimes wonder about the software running my microwave oven. Andy Warhol drew our attention to how an artist is behind even a mundane soup can label. Similarly, every computer-driven item in your growing collection of smart tools and toys has a programmer or many behind it.
Dedicated coders also look at problems in terms of the software to solve them. When my (ex-)wife complained about the difficulty of scheduling teachers, rooms, and classes, for the year, I began pondering scheduling software. I think a big part of it is the challenge of solving a double-puzzle. First you have to figure out the problem; then you have to figure out the software solution.
And one area that programmers find extremely attractive is games!
I don’t know if it’s having been in the saddle so long, having all this retirement time, or the magic of Python (perhaps all three), but I’ve made major advances in personal projects that have been on my drawing board for a very long time. One of them, in fact, goes back to my earliest days of programming in late 70s!
It’s certainly true that 35 years of writing computer software teaches you a few tricks. At the very least, you learn all sorts of things not to do! On some level, the computer language doesn’t matter, but a highly expressive language makes some kinds of development not just easier, but actually fun!
And Python! I haven’t laughed with delight over a computer language since Lisp!
November shouldn’t pass with just the one post. I intended a post last Science Fiction Saturday to rave about the new Doctor Who episode (celebrating 50 years of Doctor Who), but the day slipped to Sunday before I got the writing motor started. I’ll rave about it now: it was really, really good! A wonderful, delightful milestone marker and, as always, built on a damn good story.
I’ve not been idle lately! Dedicated post-retirement loafing finally shook the work dust off my shoes, and I’ve gotten back into personal project work. Seriously into it. In the 16-hour sessions, sleep and eating are unwelcome distractions, not knowing what time of day (let alone what day of the week) it is sense of seriously.
And I read some really good vampire novels!
I’ve been playing with Python and POV-Ray, catching up on movies, enjoying the continued nice weather, and even getting in some reading. Yet it’s still weird how little I seem to get done considering the days are all mine. (And I still haven’t fully shaken the sense that all this free time ends at some point.)
For now I plan to focus on project work—the previously mentioned Python and POV-Ray playing—so there may be a pause in the posting while I putter (possibly a plethora of pauses). Please stay tuned!
In the meantime, I have some questions:
Over the last two days I’ve written about a way of viewing words, sentences, even entire books, as single (very large) numbers. We do that by treating the characters in the string as “digits” in a number system we define. Technically speaking, we interpret the string as a number written in some large radix.
This is actually what we do every time we look at a written number. For example, we interpret the four-character text string “2013” as representing the numeric value two-thousand-and-thirteen. We do this easily, because we’ve grown up with the base 10 number system, decimal. The systems I’ve written about simply extend the concept.
Today, as a Sideband, I thought I’d get into some of the more technical details.