a programming blog

Drawing Down the Moon (Review)

Drawing Down the Moon: Magic in the Ancient Greco-Roman World is an academic history of the perspective and practice of magic. Broad and detailed, Edmonds covers multiple types of magic, discussing the who, what, why, and how of each, and attempting to place the magic within the broader culture practice. Themes carried throughout include what counts as magic and how that magic might be embedded within the culture.


Range to Dice Notation

Before dice notation was adopted, early roleplaying games described dice rolls using range notation. For example, 3-18 indicated rolling three six-sided dice or 3d6 in modern notation. Converting a range to dice notation requires a little thought, so I’m going to describe a way to solve the conversion programmatically. Background Dice notation is a succinct domain specific language to represent discrete probability distributions and is heavily used in tabletop roleplaying games.


Black on Red: My 44 Years Inside the Soviet Union (Review)

Robinson after being elected to the Moscow Soviet, book page 103 Robert Robinson was a black machinist who accepted an offer from the Soviets to leave his job at the Ford plant to come to Russia to help train their machinists in the 1930s. Accepting the deal, he pursued his engineering career and invented many productivity improving tools, acquired a mechanical engineering degree, survived the Purges and World War II, and after the war, spent decades trying to leave.


Availability, Fire Safety, and the IBM 704

The SHARE organization was organized in 1955 to share operational knowledge and computer programs for operators of the IBM 704. “Operational knowledge” included monthly availability reports and, perhaps unexpectedly, safety advice. Each site reported its own availability via a common form. Each installation was given a two-letter identifier (which, as SHARE grew to more installations, became a branding problem for some sites).


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