Hey Fosstodon, what you have you been reading recently?

@distractedmosfet The only thing I've been reading in the last time are server logs and source code. Really should read a nice book. I have my eyes on 2001 by Arthur C Clarke.

@Johann150 A fate that afflicts many on here I imagine. Have you read much by Clarke before?

@distractedmosfet No and I have not even watched the movie, at least not completely. But I already know there are some discrepancies between the book and the film, probably intentionally by Kubrick.

The last time I read a book that was not something like a flex/bison manual or the like was in school (to be fair that's only a few years ago).

@Johann150 Okay. What do you think lead to you wanting to read it? Recommendation somewhere? Just hearing about it enough times to finally get curious?

@distractedmosfet I think the latter, but more like seeing a bunch of clips of the movie. Also a bit of a rabbit hole with HAL, e.g. did you know that the song he sings in the movie while being deactivated is called "Daisy Bell" and is actually the first song sung by a computer? That let down another rabbit hole of how computer voices are created, eventually ending up on a video by bisqwit on YouTube about voice generation.
In the end it's the computer thats most interesting again :ac_pleased:

@Johann150 Ahh yes I know the Bisqwit video! He makes some great ones. If you know anyone else who makes videos like his I'd be super interested! I think I had heard that it was the first song sung by a computer before. Feels like a typical path that'd get a fosstodonian interested in a piece of media. Perhaps time to check if your local library has a copy!

@distractedmosfet or... Christmas is nearly and I never know what to say is people want to gift me something...

@distractedmosfet yup thats it. I think its an interesting book for everyone whos into Internet privacy.

@Aaron_troetcafe_ It definitely sounded very relevant to the interests of many fosstodonians (and fediverse people in general)! Have you finished it or still working on it?

@distractedmosfet it’s separated in 2 books and i finished the first one so far

@distractedmosfet I've been reading Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace at the moment

@edel I have heard this title a lot but only just looked up a synopsis in response to your reply. Sounds quite interesting. What do you think of it so far?

@distractedmosfet I think Wallace's prose is very interesting. He has a certain way of describing things that is a little unconventional and I like it, but sometimes it does make it hard to read. There's a lot going on in the book so if you aren't reading it every day it can be easy to lose some plot threads.

@edel Okay. Challenging but the rough points carry some character? I'll make note of that because I often like things that are a little challenging. From extreme horror, to books where everyone sucks, tough prose, to experimental music. If you remember this exchange when you finish it I'd love to hear what you thought when you finish!

@distractedmosfet ... Linux Kernel Development, Robert Love. It's fun and interesting recreational reading.

(... the above conclusion just made me reconsider my estimate of how much of a nerd I am.)

@ssafar Have you contributed to the kernel yourself? Or is it just a curiousity? And don't worry I think you're in good company here! 😂

@distractedmosfet yeah that was the second thought: "at least here I fit in" :D but no, I'm not that cool myself :) just looking into it to understand what's under the hood (and to provide more source material for making up crazy plans along the lines of "let's make a linux - lisp machine hybrid" :P)

@ssafar Curiousity is an important trait! And lisp machines are fascinating! Bit of a lisp guy myself, did some stuff in Clojure. Do you have a preferred dialect?

@distractedmosfet the favorite is Common Lisp! Although I think I might have written more code in Emacs Lisp that gets daily use (using emacs as a Java IDE at work presents some interesting programming challenges :))

@ssafar I'm an emacs guy too and did Java at the day job until recently and yeah the integrations there didn't seem too flash? What did you end up going with?

@distractedmosfet well, after trying a couple of them myself... I ended up going with...

- compile a jar file (... our build system can do that even for an Android app)
- use a class file parser lib to dump out every single method call into a couple of csv files (... 200ish lines?)
- load this into a PostgreSQL database with nice indexes (... ~100 lines of SQL)
- query this from emacs, with some regexes added.

Does ~60-70% of what I used an IDE for & it's way simpler :)

@ssafar Oh wow. If I'm interpreting you correctly that allowed you to do 'find reference' type functionality? Is there anything else this enabled?

@distractedmosfet yep! Also, imports & "go to class" (I think those two make the difference between "unusable" and "kinda okay" for Java).

I guess the fanciest part so far was using to basically put a breakpoint into ~2000 methods that fell out of a SQL query. I'm not drastically sure how to do that with a normal IDE :)

@ssafar Okay. Frida seems really interesting! Thanks for introducing it, and also thanks for answering my questions! It was interesting. It does highlight that most IDEs provide fairly useful default behaviour, but ironically like, no focus on say using a REPL to take bits of its functionality and do some specific behaviour in bulk.

@distractedmosfet ... and thanks in turn for making the thread that somehow led us from "books" to "Java IDEs and reverse-engineering tools"; fun conversation indeed :)

btw you mentioned that you aren't doing Java anymore; what's the replacement?

@ssafar I left that job recently. Java is definitely in that clump of "comfortable and fine" languages but I believe though that some languages offer real advantages for certain use cases (you may have read before) and so whilst Java is fine I don't think its one of those languages that offers a compelling advantage other than maybe large existing talent pool.

@distractedmosfet yeah, I definitely agree (and yes, I did read it! it's actually Paul Graham essays where I first discovered Lisp :)) Also, Lisp's "everything is fixable at runtime" approach makes quite a difference, too!


Finishing "Economic Facts and Fallacies" by Thomas Sowell. After that will be starting "1984" by George Orwell.

@distractedmosfet I've been reading Edward Snowden's Permanent Record. I've read a third so far, and while it's not exactly bad, I hope it gets better soon.

I also read Peter Singer's "The Life You Can Save" a few weeks ago. Quite thought-provoking, and just like Singer's "Animal Liberation", it has both detailed moral dillemas and easy, practical solutions to them, which I find valuable.

@cirno "The Life You Can Save" sounds interesting! And yeah the addition of practical solutions is very valuable. Problem identification is nice but solutions are important! Do you often read books on things like moral philosophy? I'm curious what got you to read such a book, because it definitely seems like a good pick just not one most would make.

@distractedmosfet Just a heads up, if you go to the book's official website, you can get a PDF and an Audiobook of it for free :)

Well, I read another book of his, Animal Liberation, because I wanted to learn more about veganism. It was a well-written book, and it led to me listening to a bunch fo talks and podcasts of his, which made me aware of The Life You Can Save. And since it's free, I decided there's no reason not to read it.

@distractedmosfet As for my choice of genre for a book, I wouldn't say that moral philosophy is my go-to genre. I just read whatever seems good on whatever topic I find interesting. In the last year I've read "Hello World" by Hannah Fry, "Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman" by Richard Feynman, "Sapiens" by Yuval Noah Harari, "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins. I definitely gravitate more towards pop-sci than novels, though.

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