Lazy evaluation

Every time I try to advertise functional programming to non-functional programmers, one of the key features I mention is lazy evaluation. ‘You can have infinite lists! How awesome is that?’ And every time I actually need or want to use this great feature, I end up evaluating some infinite data structure and killing my SBT or GHCi.

Turns out one has to be careful with awesome. Especially the infinite kind.

How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life

Sacco boarded the plane. It was an 11-hour flight, so she slept. When the plane landed in Cape Town and was taxiing on the runway, she turned on her phone. Right away, she got a text from someone she hadn’t spoken to since high school: “I’m so sorry to see what’s happening.” Sacco looked at it, baffled.

via How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life – NYTimes.com.

Reading this makes me wanna delete my Twitter and FB profiles. Err on the side of caution.

Dell Precision M3800 mobile workstation, developer edition

Dell announces another in its series of “developer laptops” with Ubuntu pre-installed. This time it’s the überpowerful M3800 mobile workstation, available with everything from an i7 CPU, through a Quadro K1100M graphics board to a 3840×2160 display. I remember ArsTechnica’s review of the XPS 13 developer edition, in which they basically said the best thing about the laptop was that it was “unremarkable”, which by today’s standards is the best compliment. Dell managed to deliver a premium quality linux laptop that just worked, Cupertino style. If they manage to do the same with the powerful 15” mobile workstation and, as they announce in the blogpost linked above, with the upcoming XPS 13”, we’ll have Linux-powered alternatives to both the Retina Macbook Pro and the Macbook Air. Which would be brilliant.

You seem to be doing a great job, Dell.

British Chocolates Won’t Cross the Pond

“Have you tried Hershey’s chocolate?” asked Nicky Perry, a longtime British expatriate living in New York.

“I’d never sell it in my store,” she said, using a string of imaginative expletives to describe how the ubiquitous American chocolate tastes to her.

via After a Deal, British Chocolates Won’t Cross the Pond – NYTimes.com.

Even though I’ve never been to the US and haven’t really tried their chocolate, the NYTimes article seems to match my friends’ opinions about American sweets. And it reminds me of living in another country which is very protective of its groceries market, especially dairy products: Norway. If there’s one thing that I like better in Germany than in the beautiful, rich Scandinavian land, it’s the availability of various sweets, yoghurts and other food products. That’s one of the first thing you notice when you move to Norway: regular grocery stores have a very poor selection, and the great majority of products are local, due to enormous taxes imposed on imported food, which serves as protection of Norway’s expensive farming. You can get imported chocolate in some fancy stores, but it’s much more expensive than local stuff.

Coding in Python, cheating in LetterPress

I’ve been trying to hone some web-development skills the last few days, and yesterday evening I read about a particularly elegant Python microframework called Flask. I read the tutorial, did some stackoverflow searches and hacked a very simple (borderline trivial, actually) app for cheating in LetterPress in just a few hours. The code that runs the whole application is merely 50 lines long, and that’s only because I’m adhering to PEP8’s blank lines policies. Karolina contributed some CSS code and a logo, and we deployed it to Heroku in a couple of minutes. As a web-development newbie I have to say I’m amazed by how quickly and easily one can learn writing simple applications from scratch these days. And Heroku deployment can be done (for free!) by just one git push. Amazing stuff, especially if you remember coding PHP in 2004.

“Under the skin”

In the spirit of 2014-summaries I’d like to mention Jonathan Glazer’s film “Under the skin”, which was definitely one of the best movies I’ve seen this year, and one of the very best sci-fi movies I have ever seen. If you have some winter holidays now, rent it on iTunes or Amazon or something and watch it. It’s very disturbing, but great.

(Also I think it’s a perfect example of that new video Mitchell Stephens talks about.)