2017 06 Meeting

Attendants: Dann, Leo, Jos’h, Paul

Pre-Meeting Chatting

  • Manuals used to be a standard thing for engineering components/accessories, but this is no longer the case. (Jos’h has a navigation tool for small aircraft whose manual was very thoroughly hidden on its producers website)
  • Construction proceeds apace in Toronto. The Queen Street streetcar is out of commission in favor of quasi-regular busses again. Also, Center Island is shut down due to flooding
  • Paul is interested in Barliman, on which there is a talk this month. Also, one of the developers has been attending the Friday Night reading group.
  • Meetup sucks balls because it requires the creation of a new identity
  • Identity in general also suck balls. “Anonymous” is the ideal “authentication system”, but it opens up a bunch of attacks on communities that can otherwise be avoided.

Jos’h brought a TRS-80

  • Jos’h brought a TRS-80 to play with, which is a machine that has a dual-core 8-bit processor (each core is 4-bit).
  • He was hoping Leo could put SLIME on it.
  • There’s apparently a manual somewhere at archive.org
  • Leo declined to try installing SLIME on it, but Jos’h did show us a LISP that he wrote for it.
  • There’s a BASIC that ships with it, and is adequate in a lot of ways but sucks absolute balls at string processing.
  • Also, apparently this things’ battery lasts 300 hours at full compute
  • There’s an Isaac Asimov short story regarding pocket computers that was written somewhat before this. This did not predict the rise of networked pocket computers. That honor goes to Murray Leinster in the story A Logic Named Joe. Full text here, audio broadcast here.

Leo Asks A Serious Question

  • So Leo’s had an email sitting in his mailbox for a little while, that he’ll turn over to the group.
  • The question is this: “What do you think of Common Lisp as a first programming language? How would you go about teaching this?”
  • Jos’h has the opinion that docs full of examples are the key thing in a first language. Which kind of suggests Racket or Clojure as an ideal target over CL (Jos’h also prefers NewLisp).
  • Dann’s main concern as CL as a first programming language is that it has a lot of accidental complexity built in from the process inherent in standardizing a bunch of individual Lisp systems. His recommendation is likewise for Racket, by way of this thread, involving Felleisen that focuses on creating an education curriculum
  • Paul learned Lisp from a book called Lets Talk Lisp

Post Meeting Chatting

  • Rails API stuff sucks (to the point that Jos’h is frequently tempted to reach under the API into the database directly)
  • Paul mentions Sonic Pi, which is an excellent live-coding synth program that can be put to good use teaching and musicing. (Leo immediately thinks about how to use this for Zouking purposes).
  • Jos’h mentions that Ocean Devotion is the project he’s been working on in Lisp.
  • Dann briefly steers back towards the question of teaching Lisp to kids. Paul recommends Racket, and mentions Jupyter. The general trend here is that interactive programming and short feedback loops are critical.
  • Briefly discuss neuroscience and latency. The Gazzaniga lectures are mentioned.
  • We then start bemoaning the lack of introspection in artificial neural networks