For work, I am reading a book called Continuous Delivery. Its tagline is “Reliable Software Releases through Build, Test, and Deployment Automation.” I am reading it so that I can apply its principles both for software projects at work and software projects at home. Lately, I have been seeing ways that I can apply it in real life. For instance, the book has a chapter on Continuous Integration, of which there exists a companion book as well as numerous other texts on the subject. The first role of Continuous Integration is “Thou shalt not break the build.” For every change that is made, there should be tests that make sure that a regression has not occurred. How can I apply this rule in real life, though?
Last week, I had worked enough hours that I came home and decided to finally deal with the mess that was my dresser and closet. Both were overflowing; I didn't wear most of it and, when input my clothes up, I just crammed them wherever I could, regardless of where they went or whether there was room to put them where they were being shoved. So, I took out every piece of clothing I owned, touched them all, and determined whether I wanted to keep them, given them away, or just get rid of them. It took two hours, but I finally got the mess under control. Now, to apply Continuous Integration to this problem, I need to define some tests that I check every day.
Here are the tests I came up with, in the form of a check list:
- Ensure that the top of the dresser is clear
- Ensure that the top of the cedar chest is clear
- Ensure that there is adequate spacing between hanging clothes so I can see what is there
- When opening drawers to remove clothes, ensure that the remaining clothes are neatly folded
These basic tests that I mentally check every time I go in our room or closet have helped me, in the last week, make sure that the clean up I did last week does not suffer a regression. If, like this morning, I discover something on the dresser, I consider the build to be broken and revert the change (I removed the offending article and worked to make sure that the problem was fixed). Over time, I hope that incremental changes like this will help make sure that the master bedroom and closet are neat and tidy. Then, I can tackle the other rooms in the house. The keys to make sure that problems are taken care of as soon as they occur, just like in Continuous Integration.
As an adult, I cannot believe I have never read this endearing book that was the inspiration for one of my favorite movies as a child. The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende, goes far beyond the plot of the movie, whose end occurs around half-way through the book. The book is much darker than the movie ever thought about being. I have had a hard time deciding how much to talk about here; on one hand, the English translation of the book is 29 years old. On the other hand, how many of my contemporaries have actually read the book versus just thinking they know the story since they have seen the movie?
In the book, Ende covers the nature of the Nothing, what happens to the Fantasticans (I actually like the name Fantasians much better) when they are taken by the Nothing, and how the Nothing affects the real world. The scene with Gmork, where all of this is explained, could not be more different than it was in the movie since the brief spurt of action found in the movie is not present. Once Ende gets beyond the end of the movie, he starts to explore the idea of what happens when you allow yourself to get too wrapped up in fantasy and who you wish you can be and begin to forget who you really are.
if you loved The Neverending Story as a child, I highly recommend reading this book as an adult. Be prepared for your conception of Fantasia to be forever altered, though.
With Emily now a bit older than four years old, I have gotten extremely tired of reading children’s books to her. Now, this does not mean that I am tired of reading to her. While stories like the Berenstain Bears, Curious George, and the Golden Books are fantastic compared to most of the children’s books that have been written, I have read all of the ones we own to Emily (and that is a lot of those books). So, starting this week, I have decided to rebel. Over Christmas, we brought back a lot of Ashley’s old story books from her parent’s house. This included ten or so of the Great Illustrated Classics. So, this week, I picked up Heidi and began to read it to Emily. At first, I was a little worried about how she would deal with that, because my daughter is very opinionated, especially with regards to the story she listens to at bedtime. However, she seems to really be enjoying Heidi so far. We are reading 3–4 chapters a night, with each chapter being 10–15 pages each, with illustrations every other page. Once we get through the classics we have, I may look at introducing her to Nancy Drew, since Ashley and her Mom have collected virtually every Nancy Drew known to man and we have them all stashed in Emily’s room.
I also have a goal to get Emily off of her Disney movie obsession. We have watched about half of My Fair Lady and she likes that so far, so I am going to let her watch the original movie version starring Rex Harrison. After we finish reading Heidi, I am going to show her the Shirley Temple version of the movie. This won’t break her of the Mouse, but it will expose her to other classic films that will not drive me nuts to watch.
It all started so innocently.
Driving back to the house, I decide to stop by the library to see if the book I placed on hold has come in yet. I was just there yesterday, picking up two other books that I had on hold—is this one here yet? Alas, it is not. No matter; I can do a little research while I am here. Hmm, Nolo’s book on estate planning appears to be that for which I am looking.
Satisfied with my find, I head back to the front to check out and notice the Great Courses on CD and pick up the great debate on the American Constitution. Now, I am completely distracted and wander the shelves, idly picking up books that catch my eye until, 30 minutes later, I find myself walking out of the library with a total of six books and twelve half-hour lectures on CD.
Now, I am sitting at home, happy as a clam, surrounded by a mass of books from the library and that I received for Christmas. But, as you can see, I have a small problem.
What should I read first?
This weekend, I finished reading “In Code: A Mathematical Journey” and, I have to tell you, it was simply amazing. The book is about the project of Sarah Flannery, a sixteen year old girl who wins a series of prestigious science fairs due to her work on public key encryption algorithms. While the discussions of the PKCS were interesting, the human story of how Sarah approached her work was fascinating. Since she is the main author of the book, you get to see first-hand her love of mathematics and her dedication to solving the problem ahead of her.
Throughout the book, I found myself identifying with Sarah. Although I have never done any work on the same level as she has, I can understand the drive to understand something fully and to be able to explain it simply to other people. So, if you are interested in cryptography or you are just interested in getting a glimmer into how my mind works, check out this book. You won’t be disappointed.