Friday Four

Friday, December 02, 2011

1. Sometimes, the best advice comes from those who have to fight against their own limitations to see what it is that seems to come naturally to many others. David Finch tells us how to give great Christmas gifts -- something he had to think about explicitly due to his "Asperger's-induced empathy deficit".

2. If -- among many other possibilities -- you like your TiVo, your Android smart phone or iPhone, or, in most cases, the non-Windows OS on your main computer, you are directly benefiting from "The Strange Birth and Long Life of Unix" on a daily basis. I especially enjoyed reading about how early developers figured out how to get their bosses to sign off on developing their ideas despite the cancellation of a similar project earlier: 

So [Ken] Thompson and [Dennis] Ritchie got crea­tive. They formulated a proposal to their bosses to buy one of DEC's newer minicomputers, a PDP-11, but couched the request in especially palatable terms. They said they were aiming to create tools for editing and formatting text, what you might call a word-processing system today. The fact that they would also have to write an operating system for the new machine to support the editor and text formatter was almost a footnote.
Dennis Ritchie, who recently died, is, incidentally,the creator of the C computer language, so don't forget to thank him for the Internet (scroll down), as well.

3. The title sounds subjectivist, but the lesson, to account for the context of individual differences when offering advice to individuals, is anything but. Marco Arment, a recovering Mac fan-boy, has finally realized that, in some contexts, "Whatever Works for You", is actually legitimate advice. Drawing from somewhat similar experiences of my own, I will note that full recovery is marked by the realization, one day, that the kinds of choices others make that one once found irritating no longer annoy.

4. This browser start page serves as a nice reminder to focus when using the Internet.

-- CAV

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