What made Xerox PARC special?

In case you haven’t heard of Xerox PARC before, it’s a research center founded in the 1970’s and, particularly in its early years, provided many vital inventions to the technology community. One of the most visible inventions is the graphical computer interface with point-and-click interaction and windows.

On Quora Alan Kay, one of the original computer scientists at XEROX Parc, answers the question of what made Xerox PARC special:

There was a vision: “The destiny of computers is to become interactive intellectual amplifiers for everyone in the world pervasively networked worldwide”.

[…]

Parc was highly concentrated with regard to wealth of talents, abilities, vision, confidence, and cooperation. There was no real management structure, so things were organized to allow researchers to “suggest” and “commit” and “decommit” in a more or less orderly fashion.

It’s worth reading his whole answer to get an understanding of what was the driving force for the researchers.

Shania Twain Releasing New Album Soon

CBC News:

Twain is charting a return to music after suffering from dysphonia — a vocal cord disorder that she attributed to stress. She has had intensive voice therapy over the past few years to relearn how to sing.

[…]

She plans to release her first new music in 15 years later this spring, revealing she’s been writing new songs that reflect in part on her painful 2008 breakup with husband and producer Robert “Mutt” Lange.

Shania Twain is one of my long-time favorite country artists and I’ve been hoping she would release new music for years, thoguh. I can’t wait for her new album, and am curious what her new sound will be after her dysphonia. She’s been through

You People Make Me Sick

A rant like this is exactly why the internet exists. Posted in the Grilled Cheese subreddit:

A grilled cheese consists of only these following items. Cheese. Bread with spread (usually butter). This entire subreddit consist of “melts”. Almost every “grilled cheese” sandwich i see on here has other items added to it. The fact that this subreddit is called “grilledcheese” is nothing short of utter blasphemy.

Go read the whole thing, have a laugh and learn not to mess with people and their grilled cheeses.

The Case of the 500-Mile Email

I came across the story of the 500-Mile Email quite some time ago, but it’s an absolute classic:

I was working in a job running the campus email system some years ago when I got a call from the chairman of the statistics department.

“We’re having a problem sending email out of the department.”

“What’s the problem?” I asked.

“We can’t send mail more than 500 miles,” the chairman explained.

I choked on my latte. “Come again?”

“We can’t send mail farther than 500 miles from here,” he repeated. “A little bit more, actually. Call it 520 miles. But no farther.”

Dangers of Texting and Driving

The CBC:

A witness says the driver of a pickup truck that collided with a church minibus in rural Texas, killing 13 people, acknowledged he had been texting while driving — highlighting the dangers of sending messages on smartphones while behind the wheel.

A stark reminder that whatever the text message may be, it is never more important than the road around you while driving. Pull over and stop if it’s urgent, or save it until your destination.

Curated List of Falsehoods Programmers Believe In

On GitHub there is an entertaining collection of falsehoods that many programmers believe in:

Falsehood articles are a form of commentary on a particular subject, and are appreciated by the developer community at large for their effectiveness and terseness. They’re a convenient written form to approach an unfamiliar domain by dispelling myths, point out common pitfalls, show inconsistencies and subtleties.

In a sense, Falsehood articles are a suite of wordy unit-tests covering extensive edge-cases provided by real-world usage.

I’m personally a fan of the date and time falsehoods.

Mountain Biking Mt. Wilson on Echo Chutes and Sam Merrill

I consider myself comfortable on my mountain bike, and capable of covering fairly technical terrain. Even if I can’t ride it, I know I can walk it. This video by BKXC, however, shows a trail I simply would not take a bike to.

A narrow trail along sheer drops means the pucker factor is high with this one.