Saturday 11/23 was a work day, in exchange for today, Friday 11/29.
The next, three day, work week was looking looking like it might be more relaxed, with things wrapping up. Really, it wasn’t; a few new feature requests finally got specified, plus there was the (hopefully) final build for testing. The 20 prototype machines left our Las Vegas office on Tuesday, and I believe are arriving at the test site in Oklahoma today. Supposedly some more testing will be done before we go live, so Monday is going to be real interesting. A small side project, supposedly needed for Tuesday, may fall by the wayside.
Tuesday or so they replaced the outdoor lanterns in our townhouse subdivision. This was kind of nice since mine had never worked, and it was never really enough of an issue that I remembered to contact the association about it. They seem to have corrected the problem while changing them, so now I know which switch turns it on ;^)
Meanwhile, I finished reading my old programming languages textbook, Programing Languages: Paradigms and Practice that I picked up off the shelf a few weeks ago. This of course sent be back to my bookshelf to consider which of the books from classes I supposedly took to read next. I ended up choosing the one not from a class: I had at one point grabbed Introduction to the Practice of Statistics from a box of books that the collage bookstore was throwing out, since I had never had a convenient slot to take the actual class in. I’ve been seeing some of the formal statistical terms here and there, so it should be helpful to know exactly what people are talking about. Some of the meaning discovering techniques will quite likely be useful in some of the projects I have lined up as well.
I also finished A Pattern Language, by Christopher Alexander and others. (See earlier discussion on part one of the series.) The book is subtitled “Towns, Buildings, Construction” which nicely describes it’s structure.
The first section is about the structure of regions and towns. Here Alexander perhaps oversteps his bounds an architect. The section comes off as a utopian ideal with little authority behind it. While many of the ideals are noble goals, I’d want to see if anyone had tried applying them before putting most of these into practice.
The second section contains the bulk of what I expected: the elements that make a single building good and whole. Things like Light on Two Sides of Every Room, Common Areas at the Heart, Entrance Rooms, and Cascade of Roofs are more withing Alexander’s area of knowledge, and make more intuitive sense. Some of the drawings of buildings designed around this section of the pattern language are indeed quite appealing, and I’d be willing to include these types of features if I ever try building something.
The third section covers construction techniques and other finishing touches. I didn’t come away from this section sharing the author’s fascination with lightweight concrete; I’d want to see a few buildings built this way before I fully accepted they are appealing places to be. Of course this section (and the first one, for that matter) are also farther from my own experience: everyone has been in better or worse buildings (second section), but fewer people have built them, or organized towns.
I’ve started on The Oregon Experiment, which is a much smaller book, with much larger types, so shouldn’t take so long.
For Thanksgiving, I went out to my parents house. I started out trying (and failing) to correct a random application my mother’s solitaire program. (Which, she said, could actually be a good thing, given the time-eating nature of solitaire.) I also attempted to set them up updating thier web page. AOL had abandoned the tool my parents originally made it with, so it was either start over or find a separate editor. A cursory search for a free WYSIWYG HTML editor wasn’t too productive. On the upside, I have a christmas present option.
Since it was just the three of us, ‘Thanksgiving Dinner’ was just a trip to Old Country Buffet, somewhere between the solitaire and the web page.