Sunday, June 22, 2008

The hacker and the ants

I have so much too do, but somehow last night I decided that rather than do work, I would finish of reading "The hacker and the ants" by Rudy Rucker. I can't be bothered explaining the plot, but it involved writing software for robots in various Silicon Valley start ups. Some quotes
"I sighed heavily. Look Ben I want to use a real language, not a LISP language. A language with documentation and support would be nice too, a language faminar to more than thirteen Taiwanese graduate students? Can I keep woking with SuperC?"
(There was a high level language to program the robots in one of the companys he worked at, that he started to like a bit later). Title of chapter seven "Bloodlust hacking frenzy". Another quote
"Even though Ross and I were still exchanging scientific information, we were at the same time in the throes of a flame war. But it didn't really matter. As Roger Coolridge had once told me, if you are a serious hacker you don't let flames bother you. Instead you grow thick scales."
Anyway the novel has a subplot of him breaking up with how wife that was not so interesting as the computer science stuff. Rucker has had an interesting career. He started by getting a PhD in maths. Then he wrote many Science fiction novels. After 10 years of that he got a job a University teaching computer science, with out an experience in programming. He then converted him self into c++/java hacker. (This explains some of his rants against LISP in his book, that surprised me for a Professor in a computer science department). Anyway I will checkout more work by Rudy Rucker. It looks like some of his work is infected by the hippie virus, but that is just the "pot talking" -- the hacker maths background seems sound.