Posts tagged ‘Books’

Happy New Year!

Last year I posted a Happy Christmas Eve! posting. I hope everyone had a very Happy Christmas again this year. This year I figured I would do a Happy New Year one.

Some from around the world, Australia, New Zealand, the Islands, and maybe even some from the Far East have already experienced the 2013 New Year, and we will also be experiencing it very soon. Here Midnight Eastern Standard Time (EST) about eight and a half hours from now….So Happy New Year 2013 to everyone!

Happy New Year 2013!

Happy New Year 2013!

And some words of wisdom from some great writers and thinkers:

He who breaks a resolution is a weakling;
He who makes one is a fool.
~F.M. Knowles

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
~Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1850

Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink and swore his last oath. Today, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient shortcomings considerably shorter than ever. ~Mark Twain

Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account. ~Oscar Wilde

New Year’s Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. ~Mark Twain

May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions. ~Joey Adams

Happy Birthday Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace Honored by Google December 10, 2012

Ada Lovelace Honored by Google December 10, 2012 – Happy Birthday – Born 197 Years ago!

Happy Birthday Ada Lovelace! You would have been 197 years old today!

Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace

For women in Tech, Ada Lovelace shows that even back in the 1800s, women could do some amazing things!

Ada Lovelace: ‘The Enchantress of Numbers’ (+video) – CS Monitor

Ada Lovelace was the visionary half of the team that helped create the modern computer. Lovelace is honored by Google as the ‘first computer programmer.’

That’s quite an accomplishment for a woman who was born 197 years ago – born today (December 10th) but back in 1815! From Ada Lovelace’s Wikipedia entry:

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (10 December 1815 – 27 November 1852), born Augusta Ada Byron and now commonly known asAda Lovelace, was an English mathematician and writer chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage‘s early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Her notes on the engine include what is recognised as the first algorithm intended to be processed by a machine. Because of this, she is often considered the world’s first computer programmer.[1][2][3]

Ada was the only legitimate child of the poet Lord Byron and his wife Anne Isabella Byron. She had no relationship with her father, who separated from her mother just a month after Ada was born; four months later Byron left England forever and died in Greece when Ada was eight. As a young adult, she took an interest in mathematics, and in particular Babbage’s work on the analytical engine. Between 1842 and 1843, she translated an article by Italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea on the engine, which she supplemented with aset of notes of her own. These notes contain what is considered the first computer program – that is, an algorithm encoded for processing by a machine. Ada’s notes are important in the earlyhistory of computers. She also foresaw the capability of computers to go beyond mere calculating or number-crunching while others, including Babbage himself, focused only on these capabilities.[4]

Amazing!

The inventor, Charles Babbage, had the following to say about Ada Lovelace as quoted from her Wikipedia article,

Ada Lovelace met and corresponded with Charles Babbage on many occasions, including socially and in relation to Babbage’s Difference Engine and Analytical Engine. They first met through their mutual friend Mary Somerville; Ada became fascinated with his Difference Engine and used her relationship with Somerville to visit him as often as she could. In later years, she became acquainted with Babbage’s Italian friend Fortunato Prandi, an associate of revolutionaries.

Babbage was impressed by Ada’s intellect and writing skills. He called her “The Enchantress of Numbers”. In 1843 he wrote of her:

Forget this world and all its troubles and if
possible its multitudinous Charlatans – every thing
in short but the Enchantress of Numbers.[42]

Here are a few more links about Ada Lovelace:

Ada, The Enchantress of Numbers: Poetical Science – eBook by Betty Alexandra Toole, Ed.D.

Ada Lovelace – The Babbage Engine – Key People – Computer History Museum

Secret Ada by Panopy for iPhone / iPod Touch

Secret Ada is on sale today for $2.99 (40% off for a limited time) in the iTunes Store.

On the Panopy Blog:

I have a meta-entry for Ada Lovelace Day. Instead of writing about a particular women (I’ve already written about 45 of them so far in my iPhone app, Secret Ada), the topic is “Women in Technology: Why Care About Gender?

I snagged Secret Ada today and have been having a blast with it. Deciphering text to read about the 45 women!

I hope Panopy makes Secret Ada for the Android soon too!

Project Gutenberg Founder Michael S. Hart passes away

[tweetmeme source=”bambismusings” only_single=false]To the man who changed the way we read…

Rest in peace, Michael S. Hart! You have done a wonderful thing in your Project Gutenberg! May your family be comforted by the knowledge that we all love you and will miss you greatly!

Project Gutenberg founder Michael S. Hart has died – Jacket Copy by Carolyn Kellogg at LATimes
e-Book Founder Michael S. Hart Dies At 64 – NPR Morning Edition with David Greene (mp3 and transcript) (has a soundbite of Michael S. Hart on Science Friday)

There is also a great piece over at the newly revamped Linux.com website by Nathan Willis entitled, Project Gutenberg and You: Using Open Source to Contribute to PG

There are so many great facets of the Gutenberg Project! And the article at Linux.com really outlines them well! And they are all in the public domain and DRM FREE!

Thank you Michael S. Hart! And the entire Gutenberg Project members! Which can really be any of us in so many areas!

For a while when I had the time, I even helped proof read some of the OCR scanned books. I really want to get back to that soon if they are still doing that. Gonna have to check on that…Yep, they do (link in the Linux.com article). 🙂

Frank Muller – Remembering a Great Audio Book Narrator

Frank Muller – Remembering a Great Audio Book Narrator

I did a more indepth review of Frank Muller, the wonderful audio book narrator, which was published by Blogcritics today!

For years, it has always been my particular joy to find an audio book that had been narrated by Frank Muller. I love the work of many narrators of books, but even after all this time, I still think, Frank Muller is my all-time favorite narrator.

Much more in the full article.

1984. Max Headroom. Brave New World. Time Machine. I Robot.

Why these books? I personally believe there is an element of truth in all science fiction. Maybe not as written, but the concepts upon which they are written.

1984. For those who have not read this rather sick and twisted version of a future no one wants to be a part of. It is a cult classic, science fiction tale of extrapolation of the worst possible scenario that could happen. At least in my humble opinion. I enjoyed reading it as I have many other great piece of literature. It was masterfully written, enveloping, and although I don’t believe we will live to see this happen, I do see some inklings of things that niggle.

Regardless of how folks feel about the book itself, there are some amazing quotes from George Orwell’s 1984 that we all should be aware of.

The mantra of INGSOC presented by the “Ministry of Truth”:

WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

Two particularly interesting paragraphs at the beginning of the book speak about the signs everywhere with the black-mustachio’d face gazing right into your eyes from everywhere, with the words, “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU” as a caption. He also indicated the police patroled in helicopters peering in homes, but they didn’t matter, it was only the “Thought Police” that mattered.

Winston, the main character, was trying to remain, what he considered to be sane in the midst of insanity around him where truth was lies, and lies were truth, and truth was only what they were told it was.

He began to write his thoughts down in a hidden book, hidden, at least he thought it was hidden, from the “Thought Police.”

There were televisions in each home, but these televisions were two way -receivers and transmitters of both audio and video – and you never knew when they would be ‘tuned’ into your particular television. Something that would be unnerving to anyone.

His first words in his journal was the date April 4th, 1984 and after some thoughts, he began to madly write thoughts down. Then after some ‘normal’ everyday things happened, including strange mind control rallies where everyone was ‘encouraged’ to take part. Winston sat in his little ‘apartment’ and after realizing that “only the “Thought Police” would read what he wrote before they wiped it out of existence and out of memory. He wondered how you could appeal to the future when not a trace of you, not even an anonymous word scribbled on a piece of paper, could physically survive.” He began writing again,

To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone–to a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone:
From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of Big Brother, from the age of doublethink–greetings!

After some rather morbid contemplation, he wrote again:

Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime was death.

He knew first hand how someone could be wiped out; his job was part of the process of rewriting history to reflect the current needs of ‘the Party.’

It is really a very sad story of a man, driven quite mad by the insane life forced upon him and the insane thinking forced upon him by the ‘Party.’

There was no freedom, no true living, no hope.

One final thought from the book, toward the end of the book in one interview with O’Brien, who apparently is trying to convince Winston of the ‘Party’ truth’…

O’Brien was looking down at him speculatively. More than ever he had the air of a teacher taking pains with a wayward but promising child.

‘There is a Party slogan dealing with the control of the past,’ he said. ‘Repeat it, if you please.’

‘”Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past,”‘ repeated Winston obediently.

‘”Who controls the present controls the past,”‘ said O’Brien, nodding his head with slow approval. ‘Is it your opinion, Winston, that the past has real existence?’

Again the feeling of helplessness descended upon Winston. His eyes flitted towards the dial. He not only did not know whether ‘yes’ or ‘no’ was the answer that would save him from pain; he did not even know which answer he believed to be the true one.

O’Brien smiled faintly. ‘You are no metaphysician, Winston,’ he said. ‘Until this moment you had never considered what is meant by existence. I will put it more precisely. Does the past exist concretely, in space? Is there somewhere or other a place, a world of solid objects, where the past is still happening?’

‘No.’

‘Then where does the past exist, if at all?’

‘In records. It is written down.’

‘In records. And—-?’

‘In the mind. In human memories.’

‘In memory. Very well, then. We, the Party, control all records, and we control all memories. Then we control the past, do we not?’

In our current world of ‘political correctness’, and the wishing to do away with a past that might bother some folks, where wonderful technologies are being created, and used by, or made use of by, massive companies who in turn make use of agencies to control them, and by association, those who make use of them – Well, that could make something ‘like’ these scifi scenarios, like 1984 and others, or the equally unacceptable future in the Max Headroom scifi television series, actually come to pass some day in the future…

This book along with so many other great scifi books really do have some (hopefully) twisted elements of truth in them, but they are still very interesting. Science Fiction is the mind out to play, searching for a combination of possible future science and social responses…and maybe to in some small way, foresee or forewarn.

I genuinely hope we never live to see anything like this come to pass. But it’s great fiction, and thought provoking, none the less.

NOTE: Originally posted: March 2005 (recreated from my original mangled blogspot.com blog)

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