(This is a snapshot of my old weblog. New posts and selected republished essays can be found at raganwald.com.)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006
  Does the term "Exponential Growth" mean anything to you?

Assaf laid the tag-smack on me, so here are five little known facts about me. This blog has a strict theme, so all five are “nerdy”:
  1. “My” first computer was the High Speed Job Stream in the Sanford Fleming building at the University of Toronto. It was an IBM something-or-other, but there was no restriction on running punch card jobs in SNOBOL, LISP, or WATFOR. I was twelve at the time, so please don’t be shocked when I say that it took me a few weeks before I became bored of printing calendars with line-printer art of playboy models and progressed to using Fortran to print the multiplication table and Fibonacci series.

    My second computer was a Nova 1220. I wrote BASIC programs for it and especially my own highly customized Star Trek game. It needed all 16K of RAM, it was so big. The listing was fourteen feet long. More than a few people tell me with pride that they work on Enterprise software that would probably be fourteen miles long if anyone ever printed all of the source. I change the subject by telling a joke about a truck. Yes, those are front-panel switches for bootstrapping the CPU. Yes, I learned the three 16 bit words needed to obtain an audience with the demon.

  2. I grew up in the sixties, when there were still race riots, when companies routinely discriminated against women because “they would just quit to start a family,” and when Toronto hosted a great number of young American men who didn’t want to fight in Vietnam. I helped my parents prepare for protests by colouring placards. I lived on a commune for a short while and I went to “Young Socialists” camp in the Summers.

    Although this seems unrelated to nerdy things, I think anyone reading what I have to say about coding as a form of self-expression and about the importance of the programmer in the production of software will see the unbroken thread that has run through my life.

  3. My first job was in “Mr. Gamesway’s Ark,” a games and puzzles superstore way ahead of its time. My second was as a haberdasher. my career has oscillated in the same fashion ever since: the pursuit of beauty for its own sake (in math or in dress), the social side of nerdery, and sales. Software development in a startup environment seems to deliver all of the goods in one load. And when someone gives me a friendly tip to “wear a blue suit to the presentation,” it’s always nice to be able to ask in return “the Chalk Stripe or the Plain Navy?”

  4. I dream in black and white, although from time to time I am aware of a colour in my head: I know in the dream that something has a colour, but I cannot see the colour and this seems very normal. Like most of humanity, I remember having flying and levitation dreams as well as helplessness dreams.

  5. I am an autodidact. This is probably obvious to anyone with a real (as opposed to JavaSchool) education in Computer Science.

Lucas, Chris, Reinier, Rusty, and Dharmesh, you’re it. The ‘rules’ appear to be: five personal trivialities and tag five more victims. Good luck finding five who haven’t already been tagged by this generation of growth!



Comments on “Does the term "Exponential Growth" mean anything to you?:
The 30th anniversary of the big fire in the Sir Sanford Fleming Building is approaching at great speed. Feb 11.

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Reg Braithwaite

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Homoiconic Technical Writing / raganwald.posterous.com

What I‘ve Learned From Failure / Kestrels, Quirky Birds, and Hopeless Egocentricity

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IS-STRICTLY-EQUIVALENT-TO-A / Spaghetti-Western Coding / Golf is a good program spoiled / Programming conventions as signals / Not all functions should be object methods

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The single most important thing you must do to improve your programming career / The Naïve Approach to Hiring People / No Disrespect / Take control of your interview / Three tips for getting a job through a recruiter / My favourite interview question

Exception Handling in Software Development / What if powerful languages and idioms only work for small teams? / Bricks / Which theory fits the evidence? / Still failing, still learning / What I’ve learned from failure

The unary ampersand in Ruby / (1..100).inject(&:+) / The challenge of teaching yourself a programming language / The significance of the meta-circular interpreter / Block-Structured Javascript / Haskell, Ruby and Infinity / Closures and Higher-Order Functions

Why Apple is more expensive than Amazon / Why we are the biggest obstacles to our own growth / Is software the documentation of business process mistakes? / We have lost control of the apparatus / What I’ve Learned From Sales I, II, III

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