The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert A. Heinlein
If you haven’t read it, put it on your list. I enjoy every single page of it. It’s one of my favorite books of all time. When I arrived in the Netherlands, almost nine years ago, I wanted to improve my English and catch-up with American and British culture, not so present in France. So I started reading a ton of science fiction, fantasy and steam punk. I used to go to work walking, listening to audio books, which is how I experienced The Moon is a Harsh Mistress the first time.
Playing with React
At some point I got fed up with Medium, where I was hosting my blog. The posts that I see are so formatted and undirectional (not to say condescending) that I start having an epidemic reaction when I see them. Most of them contain either why you should, or this thing is wrong and here’s why I’m right. In other words I don’t identify with the community at all. I still respect the quality of the platform and thank Medium for hosting my blog for so long, and I’m probably going to cross-post to Medium.
The 180 degrees shift
On February I decided that it was time for me to move on from developing a scientific software for MS Windows using Fortran to the more current sotware applications developed for the web. Two months later I was starting at Lunatech, in Rotterdam. Why such a move? I was working for Plaxis for seven years and I knew all I wanted to know about the product, the company and the market.
I went back to France for Christmas holidays, by train as usual. I have a full day of travel, with a lot of time to spend, and some quiet time at my parents. I prepared it well: I downloaded several books from Safari Books Online on my tablet. Here’s what I’ve read, from cover to cover, or in diagonal. The year without pants The book is about Scott Berkun’s experiment in Automattic, the company behind Wordpress, where he was asked to see what could be the role of a team manager in such a flat organisation at that time.
EuroClojure - My first Clojure conference
In the last week of October I went to Bratislava to attend EuroClojure, an important Clojure event organised by Cognitect. I took the week off, and paid the registration with my own money. Functional programming is too far from my day job, I practice it on my spare time, so that’s normal. I spent the week end in Vienna, lovely city, I walked a lot and visited some museums. I saw one Vermeer, that’s one more to the list.
It’s far more than an image. I think I should first start with why spending time creating a logo I know I should focus on building the app, especially if my main purpose were to getting it going on, showing it, asking for feedback and iterating, trying to get some users, i.e., to make a contribution. But it’s not only this. I am spending my spare time on numerry for the fun and the learning experience.
Hosting Numerry, or the adventures in finding a cloud provider
In its simplest form, numerry is a tool for scientists to quickly plot and visualise data. That’s my personal pain point, the frustration to be solved behind numerry. The first use case is doing this on a desktop. Yet I don’t want to build a graphical user interface (GUI) per operating system, or resort to Java or Qt. No. I want to learn modern web development, and that means building the GUI for the web, even if first it’s going to run locally.
As many new projects, from scratch or not, prototyping is an essential step. For side projects, which are often small try-outs, a prototype is not needed as the project is the prototype. Numerry is a full fledged application, a collection of prototypes in a sort: the graph database, the web frontend, the backend with the server and the graph execution, etc. It’s manageable as a collection of prototype components, but it’s still, for a one-man army on his spare time, quite a challenge.
Visual algorithms. And more. Numerry is the name of my new side project, where I spend my spare time. The idea is visual algorithms: drawing them on the screen then executing them. This comes out of the frustration I have when I want to plot a simple curve and have to figure my way out of a spreadsheet, to produce something that I can hardly put into a presentation, share through email or social networks.
Recursive graph or not? Or, infinite data structure or not? While working on implementing a graph database in my spare time, I had troubles choosing the right data structure for the graph. That’s the cornerstone of the whole thing, so some serious thinking was needed to get this base design decision right, because the rest of the implementation is going to depend a lot on it. The critical part was to choose between a recursive or a non recursive representation.