No Award

Nothing should dilute or adulterate the exalted joy of watching the chess engine you've toiled over for the better part of three weekends start to suggest moves (from a basic 3-ply negamax search with a simple point-counting position evaluation heuristic), unless it's the slight(ly overdetermined?) suspicion that you're overcompensating for something, that you've proved your point by now, that bringing yet another moderately-sophisticated side project in a not-the-most-popular programming language over the threshold of "really cool-looking proof-of-concept" isn't going to show Everyone that you are Smart and should be Respected any more than the last seven already did. Some people actually use software for something other than a trophy, to automate some aspect of the world that otherwise would have been done more poorly. So you've heard. If one were to hypothesize, for the sake of argument (but perhaps not only for the sake of argument) that there can exist diminishing marginal returns to some games, that Respect from Everyone is not a real thing that can be won, that there are treasures and masteries you'd never imagine while chasing GitHub stars, much like how you know there are treasures and masteries that you'd never imagine while chasing school marks—what strategies would that imply, now that you know there is such a thing as being strategic? And how would you tell the difference?

Because People Will Have Brain-Computer Interfaces or Something

Oftentimes I awake from a coding dream with the realization that I'm physically in bed without a keyboard and that the machine is asleep in the other room, from which I can infer that I must have been asleep, too, and only dreaming about solving problems. But there will probably only be a few more decades during which not having a keyboard is evidence of anything in particular.

Studying on the Weekend

Studying on the weekend as a working professional is like keeping a diversified investment portfolio, in stocks, bonds, commodity futures, cash, silver, ammunition, and Bitcoin in encrypted paper wallets; it's like coming in first by half a lap in the thirty-two hundred meters of your Division III college's track and field meet, and then not stopping, continuing out of the stadium, desperately, bleeding, acknowledging nothing but the need to put ever more distance between you and your hypothetical pursuers, until days later (halfway to Nevada), a classmate leans out of a car window and pleads, "You can stop now! Can't you see you've already won?" incapable of predicting or comprehending your reply murmured between inhalations, "The reason ... I won ... is because ... I don't ... believe in finish lines."

RustCamp Reminiscences

On Saturday the first, I attended RustCamp, the first conference dedicated to the newish (in development for fiveish years, but having just hit version 1.0.0 this May, with all the stability guarantees that implies under the benevolent iron fist of semantic versioning) programming language Rust!


Why RustCamp? (It's a reasonable rhetorical question with which to begin this paragraph: going to a conference has opportunity costs in time and money; things worth blogging about are occasionally worth justifying—even if no one actually asked me for a justification.) A lot of the answer can be derived from the answer to a more fundamental question, "Why Rust?" And for me, I think a lot of the answer to that has to do with being sick of being a fake programmer living in a fake world that calls itself Python.

Don't get me wrong: Python is a very nice place to live: good weather, booming labor market, located in a good school district, with most of the books you might want already on the shelves of the main library and almost all of the others a mere hold request away. It's idyllic. Almost ... too idyllic, as if the trees and swimming pools and list comprehensions and strip malls are conspiring to hide something from us, to keep us from guessing what lurks in the underworld between the lines, the gears and gremlins feeding and turning in the layers of tools built on tools built on tools that undergird our experience. True, sometimes small imperfections in the underworld manifest themselves as strange happenings that we can't explain. But mostly, we don't worry ourselves about it. Life is simple in Python. We reassure our children that that legends of demon-king Malloc are just stories. Everything is a duck; ducks can have names and can be mutable or immutable. It all just works like you would expect from common sense, at least if you grew up around here.

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