Where There Were No Doors

Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before - Joseph Campbell

Friday, February 25, 2005

These Memories Can't Wait

Aye up folks. Well, I was going to respond to Mr. Duff's comment to my last blog entry... but I'm afraid I don't have the time just now (and the response deserves a good, solid, satisfying rant to do it justice), so you're going to have to wait 'til the weekend David, sorry.

Oh, and before I go any further, a big:

Happy Birthday Red!

to my dear friend Red; the grooviest and loveliest girl in Amsterdam. I wish I could be there to celebrate, gorgeous, but I shall raise a pipe or three in your honour this evening.

It'll soon be time for me to start work for the day (being your own boss has advantages). Of course when the project timelines are tight, and I find myself shouting at the monitor at 4am on a Monday morning because some piece of SQL or ColdFusion code is doing something apparently undocumented, it's then that heretical thoughts like: "There's something to be said for a straight-forward 9-to-5..." rise, unbidden, in the recesses of the mind.

For those of you who also work with computer code (at whatever level), I offer you this cautionary tale.

Not three days ago myself and my flatmate were working on the new (to us) technique that's all the rage thanks to Gmail and googlemaps... the use of xmlHttpRequest to interact with the server in a way invisible to the user (we've written a Content Management System in ColdFusion, and the ability to use javascript to interact with the CF code on the server is incredibly useful).

Anyways, after a solid couple of days immersion in this issue and more seemingly unfathomable errors than you can shake a stick at (even if it were a very big stick, and you had very strong arms), we finally cracked it and asynchronous javascript and XML is now another technique in the repetoire. And a very groovy one at that.

But what of the psychic impact?

My flatmate has just told me that when his alarm went off this morning, he apparently looked at it accusingly and switched it off. Then he rolled over and went back to sleep, secure in the knowledge that he didn't have to get up yet... dreams and memories merged with waking life... and the alarm, you see, clearly wasn't a well-formed XML document... there was a type mismatch error somewhere...

... fifteen minutes later he awoke again with a start, thinking "What the fuck am I on about?"

So yeah, who said There's Nothing New Under The Sun? I'll bet that never happened to our neolithic ancestors.

Ah well, it really is getting to that time now... but before I go I shall quickly join the zombie horde and pass on a couple of those blog-memes that irritate the hell out of every right-thinking human. Firstly from L, comes:
  1. Grab the nearest book.
  2. Open the book to page 123.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
  5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.
Unfortunately, given the sort of reading I do, I'd honestly have to spend a long time digging through my bookshelves to find something trashy or throwaway. Currently sitting on my desk are two books by Albert Einstein, a book about Albert Einstein, Resource Wars by Michael T. Klare, the rather infamous The Limits to Growth and Tim Leary's The Politics of Ecstasy. The one that is literally closest to me is Relativity by Albert Einstein, and this conveniently self-contained passage is from the introduction to Appendix III ("The Experimental Confirmation of The General Theory of Relativity")...
But this point of view by no means embraces the whole of the actual process; for it slurs over the important part played by intuition and deductive thought in the development of an exact science. As soon as a science has emerged from its initial stages, theoretical advances are no longer achieved merely by a process of arrangement. Guided by empirical data, the investigator rather develops a system of thought which, in general, is built up logically from a small number of fundamental assumptions, the so-called axioms (we call such a system of thought a theory).
- Albert Einstein
(Relativity, page 123)
So there you have it. I was going to do another blog-meme thing, but time is passing and that front-end user registration system ain't going to build itself, now is it? So instead I shall leave you with the following album recommendation... For those of you who own it, you should really dig out Talking Heads' Fear of Music and give it another listen. It's been too long, hasn't it? And fucking hell! How good is "Memories Can't Wait"!? (Thanks for reminding me about this one, Mahalia!)

For those of you who don't own it... do so.


Anonymous Jez said...

"...when the project timelines are tight, and I find myself shouting at the monitor at 4am on a Monday morning..."

It's a relief to know I'm not the only one who does this.

25/2/05 13:02  
Blogger Ryan said...

The nearest book to me doesn't have sentences - it's the Chemist & Druggist Monthly Price List. The third line down on p123 refers to Liberty Gallery Cosmetics nail polish, "irridescent heather", Recommended Retail price £0.99.

I need to get a new job.

25/2/05 16:37  
Blogger L said...

ha ha - sucked you into the vortex... the book sounds interesting-- definitely more "intellectual" than my choice.

It will have to be added to my ten mile long list of books that I would want to read...

28/2/05 02:39  
Blogger Jim Bliss said...

No Jez, you are not alone. One thing I've noticed though, is that it's taking me at least 20% longer per project since I've unhooked myself from the caffeine I.V. drip. My blood pressure may appreciate the change of lifestyle, but I suspect my clients would rather I ran the risk of an early heart-attack.

Lovely thing, the work ethic, isn't it?

Ryan: You need to get a new job.

L, it was impossible to resist. I read your blog and noticed "Relativity" sitting on top of the in-tray. I figured if Page 123 wasn't filled with equations, then there was a good chance there'd be something interesting worth posting. I would point out though, that it's not a book for the physics novice. But with a basic scientific or mathematical background, I think most people would get a lot out of it.

The fact that much of Einstein's commentary is written as though addressing an incredibly sceptical audience makes it doubly delightful...

After further consideration you cast a somewhat disdainful glance at me - and rightly so - and you declare: "I maintain my previous definition nevertheless, because in reality it assumes absolutely nothing about light."

28/2/05 18:46  
Blogger L said...

hmmm... perhaps I should just read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas again then.

1/3/05 01:44  
Blogger Jim Bliss said...

Well Fear and Loathing is definitely a worthy alternative. And I suspect Einstein would have approved.

I think I need to read something along those lines right now actually... a change of pace. It's all been very academic lately. Not that Einstein's writing style is academic... far from it... but there's only so much style you can put into mathematics...

There's plenty of non-academic unread books on my shelf at the moment... the Bill Hicks book "Love All The People", a Jim Dodge novel, a slim Richard Brautigan book, a very fat Neal Stephenson one, a JG Ballard novel and the most recent Ken MacLeod space opera. But which one should I take with me on the tube when I head into central London for that meeting tomorrow afternoon...?

Hmmmmmmm... I'll have to sleep on that decision.

2/3/05 02:36  

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