Monthly Archives: March 2009

Quote of the day 2009-03-31

From The Record

It’s hard to link people across so many thousands of kilometres, so you have to sort of dig deep sometimes to find those common threads, and I think (it’s) maybe facial hair. Perhaps in the beginning it was a response to the elements, but certainly over time, a fashion statement is one of the unifying themes in Canadian culture.

I mean, Brian Blessed… Richard Stallman… these guys, whoever they are… Maybe I should grow a beard. Throw in peace and harmony and I’m sold.

Ad Astra 2009

I like Ad Astra. It’s a cute little con.

Got in last night. I was giving Holly a ride so I decided to take off early. Unfortunately, I forgot that I promised I’d also give Eric and Alex a ride. Oops. I was just passing under the 427 when I got Eric’s call asking when I could pick them up. They were able to catch a ride into town later, though, so that worked out okay. Which is good, since I’m staying in their room.

Friday night was mostly just hanging out. I ran into some surprising people. Today I’ll probably sit in on some readings and things.

Notes

  • I’ve signed Eric and myself up for the D&D 4e game tonight, so I’ll finally get to try that out. I haven’t played D&D in ages. I’ll let you know how it goes.
  • Tamora Pierce gives a shout-out to Sventlana Chmakova. Wishes she’d write more Dramacon. :D
  • Good creative writing panel about overcoming creative blocks and distractions. I’m finding that stuff relevant to coding stuff as well.
  • Was hoping to sit down for a game of D&D 4e (was going to play a cat girl avenger). A medical emergency prevented that from happening. Looks like everyone’s probably okay, but we were a bit shaken by it all.

Ada Lovelace Day: Barbara Liskov

It’s Ada Lovelace Day. Here’s my post:

Barbara Liskov is a pioneering computer scientist and winner of the ACM Turing Award for 2008. She’s currently head of the Programming Methodology Group in MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab.

Barbara Liskov in 1975] Back in the 70s, she designed a programming language called CLU, which established fundamental concepts about data abstraction that influence every object-oriented programming language (which, honestly, means pretty much every programming language–you heard me, Lisp weenies) being used today. Ruby, C++, C#, Java… they were all built on her work.

I know about Barbara Liskov mostly from the Liskov Substitution Principle:

Let q(x) be a property provable about objects x of type T. Then q(y) should be true for objects y of type S where S is a subtype of T.

Put another way (and you probably need to know a little bit about object-oriented design to appreciate this), subtypes must always be able to be substituted for a supertype. Programmers mess this up all the time, and it makes for god-awful messes in code, which is why we need Barbara Liskov to set us straight.

[Barbara Liskov]

The Blue Coat

Character Options, the dudes who make Doctor Who action figures, announced that they will be releasing a special, limited edition version of the Sixth Doctor action figure in a blue coat.

[A blue coat!!!]A blue coat!

I cannot express how unbelievably awesome this is.

I’ll try.

Back in the 80s, when Colin Baker was tapped to be the Sixth Doctor, the producer at the time, John Nathan-Turner, was starting to lose his mind. He decided to (a) make Colin Baker’s Doctor a total dick, in contrast to Peter Davison’s nice Doctor and (b) make him dress up in an obnoxious multi-coloured coat that would make Andrew Lloyd Weber wince. Colin Baker’s Doctor is not warmly regarded by very many fans of the original series, and his run was marred by bad writing, unfortunate schedule changes, a hostile BBC management and an eighteen month hiatus where the series’ future was in serious question.

Doctor Who carried on after the show was canceled in 1989 (several years after Colin left). A group of guys* who were doing fan-produced audio plays in the 80s started producing licensed Doctor Who plays with the original surviving actors and releasing them on CD around 2000.

Colin Baker, in reprising the Sixth Doctor, wanted to reinvent aspects of his character that he thought were a mistake. His Doctor became more nuanced and less argumentative. He was teamed up with an elderly history professor named Evelyn Smythe, who was less tolerant of his cocky bluster than either Peri or Mel. The pair worked surprisingly well.

Another thing Colin Baker said he’d always wanted to change if he got the chance was his outfit. He said he would’ve preferred basic black himself.

[Real Time] A few years before the the new series came online, BBC Interactive wanted to get some original content for the “Cult” Doctor Who site. They commissioned Big Finish (the audio play guys) to do a play for them, Real Time, and they provided visuals in the form of still images by Lee Sullivan. One of the challenges in doing those images was the Sixth Doctor’s coat. It’s a pain to colour, and in order to save some effort, they wanted to re-use art by flipping images, which you can’t do with a multi-coloured, asymmetric coat. And since no-one beside John Nathan-Turner ever liked Colin’s on-screen outfit, they changed it, for a toned-down blue version of a similar design. The blue coat idea had been used previously on book covers, but this was the first time we got to see it in action, as it were.

The blue coat was referenced in later Big Finish audio adventures, and it’s become their official costume for the stories that take place after Trial of a Time Lord.

And now there’s going to be a toy to make it even more official. And I’m thrilled.