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The Bug by Ellen Ullman

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the evil-geniuses-for-a-better-tomorrow dept.

Books 1547

Never Rock Fila writes "On the front page of tomorrow's New York Times Book Review, a slightly breathless but overdue enthusiastic review of Ellen Ullman's new novel, The Bug. The review acknowledges that 'Ullman has already established herself as an indispensable voice out of the world of technology' -- if you haven't read her first book, a memoir, Close to the Machine, read that too -- and it's nice to see a mainstream publication like the Times, the gold standard of book reviews as I understand it, giving such prominent and positive attention to a novel by a former 'software engineer' that's all about getting inside the mind of a programmer, even concluding 'If more contemporary novels delivered news this relevant and wise they'd have to stop declaring the death of the novel.' The reviewer, one Benjamin Anastas, has the chops to develop a sustained comparison to Mary Shelley, to legitimately place the 1984 computer programmers at the center of the novel among 'all the best characters in fiction,' and to declare the book 'thrilling and intellectually fearless.'"

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I loved her show on FOX (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6200702)

Those skits were hilarious, and it's even where the Simpsons got their start. Catch it in reruns if you can.

Re:I loved her show on FOX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6200711)

Wrong Ullman

Re:I loved her show on FOX (3, Funny)

moehoward (668736) | more than 11 years ago | (#6200720)

No. He's talking about Ellen DeGeneres on "When Liberals Attack".

Re:I loved her show on FOX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6200835)

Imagine that, Ellen writing a book on Rugs...

DOES IT MEET COMMUNITY STANDARDS? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6200777)

Stuck at a red light outside an adult bookstore,
His son said "Daddy what are all those X's for?"
As the light turned green he changed the subject fast,
Started talking about football as they drove right past...

What do you say? [jakesteed.com]

Re:I loved her show on FOX (0, Offtopic)

saden1 (581102) | more than 11 years ago | (#6200886)

NY Times has as much credibility as Fox News. How can anyone take either of these entertainment organizations seriously?

Disgusting!

Re:I loved her show on FOX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6200944)

I thought it was that sci-fi show Ellen In Nation.

Re:I loved her show on FOX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6202591)

Uh it's not Tracy Ulman. The Tracy Ulman Show is where Simpsons got its start.

Wow. (4, Funny)

mrseigen (518390) | more than 11 years ago | (#6200719)

First Cryptonomicon hits the best-seller lists, now a paper does a favorable review of a novel about a geek.

Either us geeks are buying more books, or the mainstream population is getting brighter. Somehow, I think it's the former. American Idol is still on television.

Re:Wow. (4, Insightful)

Zebbers (134389) | more than 11 years ago | (#6200969)

geekier != brighter

cryptonomicon wasn't any more 'intelligent' than other books, it just had its basis in a geekfriendly subject

the majority of novelists do a substanial amount of research about the state of their subject in real life. Writer's spend a decent amount of time in libraries.

I dont find Farscape to be all that more entertaining than American Idol. Its called personal preference, taste.

The Slashdot crowd really reminds me of the punkish segment of population. Rebel and Yell. The system sucks, damn the system, damn the man, damn the sheep. Lets all dye our hair green. In the end, you aren't much different. You only seem different if you focus soley on those areas where you do differ so much.

Maybe the technocratic elitist themes in Cryptonomicon are true....

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6201945)

So, talking about a cyberpunk novel, you marvel at its audience being punkish, eh..

who did you say you were to comment on brightness ? ;)

(no i am not canadian)

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6202589)

geekier != brighter

Hear, hear. If I see one more slashdot poster write about how some people aren't "smart enough" to understand computers, or one more condescending discussion of how to make linux popular with non-techies (usually by having more and purtier graphics), I'm going to puke.

You see this in every discipline--everybody seems to define intelligence as the ability to do whatever it is they do best. Get in the habit of examining your own biases. Have a little respect for the people that have worked long and hard to learn something about a field you're not familiar with.

Re:Wow. (1)

MegaThawt (672826) | more than 11 years ago | (#6201813)

>Either us geeks are buying more books ... (ahem) Either *we* geeks are buying more books... Several years ago I couldn't even spell "geek", now I is one.

Re:Wow. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6202543)

Get with it! American Idol is not still on TV.

American Juniors, however, has taken its place.

Posted anonymously for obvious reasons.

Re:Wow. (1)

solferino (100959) | more than 11 years ago | (#6202750)

please.

i've read both close to the machine and cryptonbloodywhateveritwascalled. ullman's book was well written and insightful. stephenson's book would be close to the worst book i've ever finished. i cannot imagine why you would categorise the two together, unless it's because of this 'us geeks' nonsense.

'us geeks' indeed - care to step out side an urge to run with a pack and think for yourself for a minute?

Re:Wow. (1)

Beliskner (566513) | more than 11 years ago | (#6203531)

Either us geeks are buying more books, or the mainstream population is getting brighter
It means more geeks are unemployed. You can't read while driving to work, and you can't read at work. With only the weekend free, one day is taken up by shopping, leaving Sunday to read a book. All this is assuming you don't spend a day posting to Slashdot ;-)

Why is no one commenting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6200721)

Huh?

Sometimes you're the windshield (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6200722)

Sometimes you're the bug.

Ullman's Programming the Post-Human (5, Interesting)

Drakonian (518722) | more than 11 years ago | (#6200724)

If you get a chance, read Ellen Ulman's article Programming the Post-Human - Computer Science redefines life. It was an excellent and realistic look at the current state of AI development. It was found in the October 2002 issue of Harper's Magazine. (I couldn't find an online copy) I'll have to think about picking up this book now, I thought her writing was superb.

Re:Ullman's Programming the Post-Human (0, Interesting)

rkz (667993) | more than 11 years ago | (#6200749)

She also did some softcore porn while she was in college, I can't find the link right now but it was somewhere on E! online [eonline.com] . If you have time look it up, they even had some pics (cencored). Suprising she was not all that hot but an interesting fact nonetheless.

Re:Ullman's Programming the Post-Human (0, Troll)

Loonius Trugoats (681506) | more than 11 years ago | (#6200854)

I read that too! It was on google entertainment news a while back, although I can see why she writes books.

Re:Ullman's Programming the Post-Human (3, Interesting)

sl70 (9796) | more than 11 years ago | (#6201241)

What!? I don't believe it. I went out with her in college and, while I can't guarantee she didn't do porn (I wasn't with her all the time), I seriously doubt it. She always was a serious woman. Sure you're not mixing her up with Tracey Ullman?

Re:Ullman's Programming the Post-Human (0, Troll)

ElectricPoppy (679857) | more than 11 years ago | (#6201532)

I went out with her in college...

I think YOU are confusing YOURSELF with someone who could GET A DATE.

Re:Ullman's Programming the Post-Human (1)

sl70 (9796) | more than 11 years ago | (#6201586)

I think YOU are confusing YOURSELF with someone who could GET A DATE.

Ellen, now I need *you* to defend *my* honor!

Re:Ullman's Programming the Post-Human (1)

ElectricPoppy (679857) | more than 11 years ago | (#6201626)

Just a joke, man... ;)

Re:Ullman's Programming the Post-Human (1)

Drakonian (518722) | more than 11 years ago | (#6201633)

Hehe. I guess she is on Slashdot [slashdot.org] but maybe you already saw that.

Re:Ullman's Programming the Post-Human (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6202092)

Hehe. I guess she is on Slashdot but maybe you already saw that.

She is now. You think this story posting of the NYT review was going to be a surprise to her, that she was not given advance notice in order to "establish" herself in this community? It's not like, by her high UID and the single posting she had made (in this thread, about *her*) that's she's been active hereabouts for years...

Doesn't make it bad; just a tad... disingenuous.

Re:Ullman's Programming the Post-Human (5, Informative)

ullman (681517) | more than 11 years ago | (#6201263)

That's funny but unfortunately not true. You must be confusing me with Ellen Degeneres or Tracy Ullman (or someone; there's nothing on E! online for me). I did many things in college, but softcore porn just wasn't among them. In any case, I'll stick to writing.

Re:Ullman's Programming the Post-Human (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6201314)

How would you like to have your tight little vagina pounded into a sloppy wet mess by the Living Incarnation of Pure Evil?

You know where to find me...

In other words; you're a whore, but not the GOOD (-1, Troll)

Bold Marauder (673130) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204379)

kind.
Who needs you? Fuck off back to college and get a REAL trade.

Ellen Ullman Stuff (5, Informative)

the end of britain (575444) | more than 11 years ago | (#6200734)

Salon.com loves Ellen Ullman almost as much as I do. Read excerpts from The Bug here: http://archive.salon.com/books/int/2003/05/16/ullm an/index_np.html You can read articles by Ullman here: http://archive.salon.com/directory/topics/ellen_ul lman/ Salon is free as long as you watch a little commercial (C'mon--its 10 secondds, and then you get to read Ulllman--for free!!!)

Re:Ellen Ullman Stuff (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6200819)

It's funny. I just heard of Ellen Ullman last night when reading a random blog that linked to "The Dumbing-Down of Programming" [salon.com]

I loved the way she described it all... I was reliving my days back in the dorm, installing slackware for the first time. Highly recommended.

Re:Ellen Ullman Stuff (1)

Tony-A (29931) | more than 11 years ago | (#6201883)

"Dumbing-down is trickling down. Not content with infantilizing the end user, the purveyors of point-and-click seem determined to infantilize the programmer as well."

And don't you just love those pop-ups where "your" computer tells you what it wants you to do!

Re:Ellen Ullman Stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6203722)

Pop-ups, schmop-ups, get with the program!

The 'program' in this case being Opera.

Re:Ellen Ullman Stuff: I dunno... (1)

stanwirth (621074) | more than 11 years ago | (#6201829)

In "Closer to the Machine" she gets intimate with clients and co-workers during the project even.

Extremely unprofessional.

And really...yuck.

lemme introduce you to a few abstract concepts (1)

mister_jpeg (46354) | more than 11 years ago | (#6202342)

like fiction or artistic license.

Yeah, if someone bedded a coworker or client before a deadline, it would be worthy of censure. However I don't believe the narrator of "Close to the Machine" is Ms. Ullman herself.

a few abstract concepts: how about FACTS (2, Informative)

stanwirth (621074) | more than 11 years ago | (#6202524)

You said: lemme introduce you to a few abstract concepts like fiction or artistic license.I don't believe the narrator of "Close to the Machine" is Ms. Ullman herself.
in response to my comment that in "Closer to the Machine" she gets intimate with clients and co-workers during the project even

Mr. Jpeg: did you read it? Closer to the Machine is a MEMOIR.

From the spamazon Editorial Review of Closer to the Machine by Cliff Barney:

Author Ellen Ullman, an independent computer programmer, holds little back in recounting her experiences. She discusses her business career, her approach to software and her sexual adventures, all with the same frank detachment.
Read it and weep. What I find so disturbing is the non-technical community's (read: Salon, Book Editors) lack of censure for her non-professional approach.

And, The Bug--oh!! A bug that only happens sometimes at different places in the code? Christ on a bicycle, hasn't she ever fixed a freakin' memory leak before? Corruption she's clearly familiar with, but this kind has a blindingly obvious Simple solution. Instrument the code with Purify or Insure++, or Electric Fence or at least check where and how memory is being allocated and deallocated. This isn't rocket science, you know. Oh well, guess that's the difference between her "20 years of programming" and my 25.

Sure The Bug is fiction, but it's fiction based on a truly lame approach to debugging.

Re: a few abstract concepts: how about FACTS (1)

RoninM (105723) | more than 11 years ago | (#6203393)

Read it and weep. What I find so disturbing is the non-technical community's (read: Salon, Book Editors) lack of censure for her non-professional approach.

I don't even know where to begin. Since when is it inhernetly unprofessional to maintain personal relationships with co-workers/clients? And since when is accurately recalling your life, even its mistakes, censure worthy? (It is, after all, a MEMOIR, as you kindly pointed out.) And why is it your place to judge her for it?

A bug that only happens
sometimes at different places in the code? Christ on a bicycle, hasn't she ever fixed a freakin' memory leak before? [...] Oh well, guess that's the difference between her "20 years of programming" and my 25.

A memory leak is a failure to deallocate memory causing the program to consume ever more system resources. This does not fit the description of a transient bug. Perhaps you meant a buffer overflow? (But, then, at least one of your debugging suggestions doesn't support that notion.) Besides which, memory errors aren't the only source of transient bugs in programs. Maybe by year 30 you'll have this all figured out?

Re: a few abstract concepts: how about FACTS (1)

stanwirth (621074) | more than 11 years ago | (#6203548)

Since when is it inhernetly unprofessional to maintain personal relationships with co-workers/clients?

Ever since Potiphar's wife came on to Joseph, and Joseph had to say "thanks, but no thanks" and suffer the consequencs. It's not OK. You don't screw the crew. End of story. It's not good programming, and it's simply not professional.

A memory leak is a failure to deallocate memory causing the program to consume ever more system resources.

Which causes transient failures, typically at different locations in the code every time. Fact. You obviously have never had to work with code that has a memory leak. And a buffer overflow is a type of memory allocation error.

Re: a few abstract concepts: how about FACTS (1)

fcw (17221) | more than 11 years ago | (#6203820)

It's perfectly possible to have relationships with co-workers without being unprofessional.

Professionalism is being able to stay focussed on business issues, while being able to put personal issues to one side for the duration of your work. It has nothing to do with who you see when you go home at the end of the day, when you should then put business issues to one side.

If you can't keep the two separate (and be seen to do so by your colleagues), then you're not being professional. But equally, if your colleagues don't understand that it's quite possible to keep the two separate, then they're the unprofessional (or, more likely, immature) ones.

Solution to the NYT registration thing... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6200740)

How come everybody always posts these broken links that require registration? Why can't they link to, say, the Google partner URL or some such? Is this some kind of unwritten rule? Or do the Slashdot editors make sure to find the registration-required URLs? I always see replies with "no reg link", etc. Why don't the original authors use these?

Re:Solution to the NYT registration thing... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6200763)

BOYCOTT NYTIMES ARTICELES, SEND TACO A ASCII GOATMAN every time those motherfuking editors post shitty articles from NYT about some stupid bitch failed pornstar

Re:Solution to the NYT registration thing... (4, Insightful)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 11 years ago | (#6200793)

They're not "broken links", you're just too lazy to give the NYT some fake info one time - that, or you prefer to whine about it each time a NYT link comes up here.

If Slashdot starts using the Google partner tag, then NYT and Google will evntually shut it off - checking referers, etc.

Re:Solution to the NYT registration thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6200797)

This is news for nerds not news about failed porn stars

Re:Solution to the NYT registration thing... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6200828)

Right. I want to read about successful porn stars. With pictures, if possible.

Re:Solution to the NYT registration thing... (-1, Troll)

rkz (667993) | more than 11 years ago | (#6200837)

http://goatse.cx/
the most famous pornstar in the world

Re:Solution to the NYT registration thing... (0, Troll)

Loonius Trugoats (681506) | more than 11 years ago | (#6200845)

Thanks I'll be sure to check that link out as soon as I get home

Re:Solution to the NYT registration thing... (1)

asscroft (610290) | more than 11 years ago | (#6200946)

If you don't like the way the NYT's runs their web site, you're more than welcome to start you own f_in newspaper and you can put it online and NOT require registration. If you can be good enough to get good articles written by good reporters to the point that slashdot would actually want to link to you, then we will all be able to rejoice at the fact that you don't reqire free registration. Really, this isn't a flame. There is no one stopping you from doing this - so please, do it so we won't have to hear another whining post about NYT's registration. Or you could get hired on at the NYT and change thier registration policy. btw, I assume your's was a legitimate question wrapped in a whine and someone already replied with a good answer addressing the question, hence I'm addressing the whine - which is not unique to you at all. So don't take this personal, any of the NYT-Reg-Whiners could start their own reg-free newspaper so we can quit hearing about the free-reg paper.

Re:Solution to the NYT registration thing... (1)

majcher (26219) | more than 11 years ago | (#6201028)

Re:Solution to the NYT registration thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6202056)

Because they are stupid. Are you new?

when i first looked at the title (0)

PhiberOptix (182584) | more than 11 years ago | (#6200747)

i was like...Ellen Feiss made a bug? then like...bleep....what? ullman? and i was like..huh?

Word is it got squashed (1, Interesting)

tuluvas (679950) | more than 11 years ago | (#6200750)

I hear that the bug got squashed and didn't make the best sellers list! But on a more serious note, that will make a very good read. Im glad someone finaly went to the trouble to write a book about the stuff I do everyday! also maybe it will get programmers some more respect. The sterotype of a pale loser breaking out with zits is getting on my nerves! But oh well I cant say anything about it really, I have not read it yet.

Re:Word is it got squashed (1)

bj8rn (583532) | more than 11 years ago | (#6200921)

I started to wonder one day, why do they only call movies with lots of violence and killing action-movies? I mean, there are many, many more activities other than killing people. Why don't they call movies about lawyers working on a difficult case or movies about philosophers trying to prove other philosophers that everyone else but the prover is wrong action movies (that'd be freaky...)? Maybe in the near future, books and movies about hacking will also be labeled 'action'.

Imagine a white-hat hacker and a 'black-hat hacker sitting at keyboards frantically typing code (and commenting it, so that normal people could understand what they're doing). When the good guy is trying hard to hack the bad guy's server (to stop the black-hat from doing whatever bad things he's planning), the bad guy commands his hordes of script kiddies to attack and DDoS the good guy - who then proceeds to wipe out these legions (variant: uses something clever to block them off - but this isn't nearly as sexy). At the most crucial moment, the good guy's computer crashes, fortunately he manages to boot the system up in time (while the bad guy is being overconfident and ROTFLMAO-s on the floor) to save the day. Hooray, everybody's happy (except the bad guy) and the good guy gets the girl.

Re:Word is it got squashed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6202912)

DDoS'ing is sexy? Give me a break. That's like calling carpet bombing sexy. Elegant code is sexy. Elegant code written on the fly to exploit a newfound vulnerability is sexier still. Brute force is for meatheads.

Re:Word is it got squashed (1)

bj8rn (583532) | more than 11 years ago | (#6203804)

Which of the following two would look better in a movie?

1) hero-hacker uses something elegant (but completely cryptic to an average viewer) to block off the DDoS attack on him in a few moments (and says 'phew')

2) hero-hacker disables all attackers one by one (while conveniently allowing the director to show one disappointed face after another)

I think the first one could be compared with a carpet bombing (or hunting rabbits with nukes...), the other would be the equivalent of picking off the enemies one by one (which they always do in the movies...). Which one would Hollywood choose?

Golden standard? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6200772)

"...and it's nice to see a mainstream publication like the Times, the gold standard of book reviews as I understand it..."

I thought Oprah's book club was?

Re:Golden standard? (1)

obnoximoron (572734) | more than 11 years ago | (#6201169)

>> "...and it's nice to see a mainstream publication like the Times, the gold standard of book reviews as I understand it..."

> I thought Oprah's book club was?

It's a close contest.

read it, liked it (4, Insightful)

sith (15384) | more than 11 years ago | (#6200789)

Finished this a few weeks ago after reading the sample of it Salon had posted. A very solid book, and the technical stuff was pretty solid as far as compiler interaction and such. It doesn't paint a rosey picture of life as a programmer though, and made me glad I got out of CSCI when I did...

CSCI? (3, Funny)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 11 years ago | (#6200821)

Computer Science Crime Investigations?

Re:CSCI? (1)

gfody (514448) | more than 11 years ago | (#6200866)

computer science college idiom

Re:read it, liked it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6204357)

You'll be back in when the next big tech boom hits, just like all of those other loser accountant/business, jockey-wearing bucketheads.

The Bug Available on e-Book (3, Informative)

Opinari (603868) | more than 11 years ago | (#6200842)

FYI, Palm Digital Media [palmdigitalmedia.com] has Ms. Ullman's tome available for the Palm Reader.

Strange review (4, Funny)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 11 years ago | (#6200849)

it's nice to see a mainstream publication like the Times, the gold standard of book reviews as I understand it, giving such prominent and positive attention to a novel by a former 'software engineer'

I've read the review, it suck. Here it is :

Welcome to The New York Times on the Web!

For full access to our site, please complete this simple registration form.
As a member, you'll enjoy:

In-depth coverage and analysis of news events from The New York Times FREE

Up-to-the-minute breaking news and developing stories FREE

Exclusive Web-only features, classifieds, tools, multimedia and much, much more FREE

Signing up is as easy as 1-2-3

Thanks for review NYTimes. Here's one book I won't buy : it's all about internet junk !

Re:Strange review (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6200878)

Try this...

username: slashdot321
password: slashdot321

Enjoy. :-)

Re:Strange review (0)

domenic v1.0 (610623) | more than 11 years ago | (#6200895)

Thank you O' holy one who bringeth my salvation of an account. Ever since the NYTimes generator site became useless, I never bothered registering... Thanks again.

Re:Strange review (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6200978)

doesn't seem to work now. :-) thanx 4 the free acct >;-)

Asshole. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6201097)

Enough said.

B & N instead (4, Informative)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 11 years ago | (#6200892)

A little offtopic, but I'd like to see book links point to somewhere else, like Barnes & Noble. After all the coverage on /. of the amazon.com patents I thought this would have been obvious. Let's not support software patents and shop somewhere else instead. Here are the B&N links:

The Bug [barnesandnoble.com]
Close to the Machine [barnesandnoble.com]

Re:B & N instead (2, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 11 years ago | (#6200967)

Except BN.com has inventory problems and incompetant customer service. And besides, if you're going to boycott anybody who holds software patents, you'll never be able to buy software again -- every major firm hold them or relies on them. If you want to make a difference, write your congressperson, be politically active, join a movement, all the Citizen of a Democracy stuff. It's time consuming and hard work, but a lot more effective than this kneejerk boycott crap.

Re:B & N instead (2, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 11 years ago | (#6201141)

if you're going to boycott anybody who holds software patents, you'll never be able to buy software again

I don't.

If you want to make a difference, write your congressperson

I do. Hillary Clinton doesn't write back to any of her constituents who I've spoken to.

be politically active

I am.

join a movement

I have.

a lot more effective than this kneejerk boycott crap

It's hardly kneejerk and every little bit helps.

Re:B & N instead (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 11 years ago | (#6201419)

You never buy any software? No game CDs? How about a system BIOS?

OK, that's a little unfair. And I have to applaud your social comittment. But I just don't see refusal to pay for software as a viable political strategy. It's simply impractical for 99% of all computer users.

But! you say. "Free" software is making big inroads against unfree software! Yes, and that's because companies like IBM, Borland, SGI, and Sun are pushing it. Although they prefer to call it "Open Source". They like it because its a better way to implement an industry standard than the old design-by-comittee approach. This doesn't prevent them from also selling closed-source software -- or from filing software patents of their own.

Re:B & N instead (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 11 years ago | (#6202049)

I do. Hillary Clinton doesn't write back to any of her constituents who I've spoken to.

C'mon, you've got two others, just in Congress!

As for boycotting Amazon--if you want to do that, has your organization informed Amazon, directed links to their competition, and been as public as they can about it?

If not, it's not a boycott. It's just "voting with your dollars." And rather ineffectual at that.

Re:B & N instead (1)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | more than 11 years ago | (#6202525)

How can you possibly blame Amazon for taking out a patent on one-click shopping. If our patent system is so fucked up that they would allow such a rediculous thing, then a person at Amazon could not just say "well we better not file a patent because the founders of the constitution did not envision the purpose of patents to be fucking obvious things that cover common sense" It's the US patent office's fault, and also congress's fault--it is NOT the fault of Amazon. You can not blame a corporate entity for not taking a moral stance on something like this, I'm not saying that when companies take immoral actions in general that you cannot blame them if what they do is technically legal (i.e. IBM & the holocaust), but if you take a look on a case by case basis, there are somethings for which you must blame your congressmen/the voting public. Boycotting every company which owns a software patent is similar to boycotting every company which receives corporate welfare.. its not their fault our politicians are pussies--no, it is our fault for voting the fuckers in in the first place.

Re:B & N instead (1)

miu (626917) | more than 11 years ago | (#6201952)

Except BN.com has inventory problems and incompetant customer service.

I make a lot of purchases from bn.com and the only circumstance in which I've run into inventory problems has been with used books listed for offline used book stores. The two times I've contacted customer service they were courteous and competent.

BN also actually honors the allowed contact methods you give them and don't have a privacy policy subject to change with no notice and applied retroactively, both of which are provisions of Amazon's policy.

screw barns and noble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6201434)

why support a huge super corporation like barns and noble. support independants. i guess you will be one of the few happy people working for the big 6 in the future...

gotta go hit starbucks now!

Re:B & N instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6201459)

That would be nice, but Slashdot is no doubt an "affiliate" of Amazon, and gets some tiny kickback for referring buyers with those links. For a nickel and dime effort like OSDN, those pennies probably count.

Re:B & N instead (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 11 years ago | (#6201610)

"nickel and dime effort"? I think you just described OSDN's market cap.

Stay Far Away from "Close to the Machine" (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6201004)

I was tricked (in retrospect) into reading "Close to the Machine" by a fellow graduate student who similarly cheerleaded for the tech-informed literary prowess of Ms. Ullman. I was sorely dissapointed by that outing (was I expecting too much? I doubt it). The problem was that "Close to the Machine" was a good literary effort when measured with the but-I-am-a-programmer stick and a bad book when measure with the a-book-is-just-a-book stick. I hope that this book is better, but I'll wait for the reviews (from book reviewers, not geek cheeleaders) to come in first.

Benjamin Anastas (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6201047)

wrote a very funny novella called "An Underachiever's Diary". Highly recommended if you want to read something different from your staple sci-fi/fantasy/computer-book diet.

Wow! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6201103)

Amazing. This is so fucking boring and stupid that I don't even care! Maybe I'm just too tired...

the bug and the digital fortress (1)

stanwirth (621074) | more than 11 years ago | (#6201230)

While it's preferable when females write intelligent things about the scene (vs. writing stupid things about the scene ala aimee deep), and are cast as intelligent females in fictional accounts of hacking (as in Digital Fortress [amazon.com] ), or even as interesting characters in computer games (Lara Croft) "The Bug" is still a female writing about computers, rather than writing software , developing algorithms , modding hardware etc.

OTOH, any progress is good, and since progress in the area of "the image of female geeks" requires a substantial change in the culture , perhaps the best place to promote this change is through cultural means.

The terrific thing about The Bug is that the author has written code, so she's writing from experience so we don't get the kind of nonsense we saw in, e.g. "Swordfish." Swordfish was just crap. I mean, come on, why all the blood and guts surrounding gaining physical access? If they had to gain physical access to the servers, they weren't such great hackers. Doh! Plus, much as I like Halle Berry the thing her character did was social engineering--she had to bring in the male gun techie to do the real work. eeeeeyuck! Again, if her social engineering skills were that great, why didn't she just apply it to the problem at hand, rather than the complex and messy techniques the Travolta character came up with. This was the only regard in which Swordfish was realistic: the gal had the by far better skills to solve the problem simply and quickly, yet the solution that got implemented was some big messy over-complicated plan developed by the guy. Typical !

By contrast, I just loved Angelina Jolie's character in "Hackers," [amazon.com] errors of fact and ludicrous storyline notwithstanding. She played a great character in Tomb Raider as well--too bad about the muddled plot. And who could forget Carrie Anne Moss' SSH-1 'spoit in Reloaded?

It's when Ullman is brought in as the technical consultant on the Hollywood production of The Bug, and perhaps even Digital Fortress, and we consequently see the first believable and intelligent movies on the topic, that we'll finally see a triumph of substance over style. And I hope they get Angelina Jolie or Carrie Ann Moss to play the lead!

Next... the Programmer TV Series... (2, Interesting)

ivi (126837) | more than 11 years ago | (#6201234)

Folks, -any- profession (&/or the workplaces
around it) that has influenced -lots- of
peoples' lives has had TV series about itself.

We've had lots of medicos... from "Ben Casey"
& maybe some before him...

We've had lawyers... from "Perry Mason" &

We've had police from The "Untouchables"...

We've even had teachers & schools (recently
"Boston Public" - which got -cut- in Australia,
soon after a sequence on the use of "Nigger"
(we're not racist down here, we just don't
want to give our people anything too controvertial
to think about...)

Someday (if/when programmers become influential
again (remember when we were -mostly- physicists,
mayhematicians or electronics engineers?),
we might see some TV series on programmers.

Would anybody like to brainstorm up some story-
lines for "The Programmers" that might fit into
a 30-minute slot, each week?

storylines for... the Programmer TV Series (1)

feepcreature (623518) | more than 11 years ago | (#6201570)

Would anybody like to brainstorm up some story- lines for "The Programmers" that might fit into a 30-minute slot, each week?

Isn't that what Dilbert [dilbert.com] is for?

Re:Next... the Programmer TV Series... (3, Interesting)

Bodrius (191265) | more than 11 years ago | (#6201590)

False.

All the professions that have spawned TV-series of their own are essentially social professions: police, doctors, investigators, lawyers, artists, teachers, reporters, etc. The core of the working-time (as seen in TV) in these cases has to do with interacting with people.

Even the exceptions that have more "technical meat" (CSI and the like) tend to be off-shoots of the typical case. Like a secondary character in a novel that becomes a favorite, but would normally not stand by itself.

This is not about who "influences society". It's about emotions. Emotions move plots more quickly and easily than ideas, and don't have to be explained too much. TV is about simple, approachable, uncomplicated emotions driving simple plots around emotions. The facts are not important unless emotionally charged, or sprinkled at least a little bit.

Face it, computer programming is not the most socially interesting profession. Certainly not the most emotionally charged for an outsider. It's logically, intellectually challenging, which means boring for someone looking for a sit-com instead of a documentary.

People connect to the pathologist's "determination", as he "earnestly" looks for evidence to "catch the evil bastard". They don't connect to a professional obsession for doing the job well. They might as well watch a mechanic work.

Of course, a TV series could be made around a computer programmer, as long as its thematic is about social interaction and not programming. It wouldn't be a show about programmers, though, just like "thirty something" was not a show about architects, and "Drew Carey" is not a show about HR coordinators. The profession will be an uninteresting prop, assumed to happen off the set.

Another choice would be to focus on the weirdness of the social interactions themselves are, as compared with the rest. But people don't want to watch that either, they want to connect to social interactions they're already familiar with, that they can empathize with. The excellent "Freaks and Geeks" was almost exclusively popular with... you guessed it, freaks and geeks. We all know where that one ended.

Re:Next... the Programmer TV Series... (2, Interesting)

stanwirth (621074) | more than 11 years ago | (#6201708)

Yah! And I can see Scott Adams doing the writing for it.

There was a British series called "Attachments" that actually had some decent programmer content/activity, though it was dominated by dotcom management pratfalls and consequences that we've all seen in real life by now, so why make yourself sick watching it on TV.

What's more interesting is the "junkyard wars" format, with Robot Wars [robotwars.co.uk] and Robotica. And yet you don't get very good representation of the interesting part -- they're presented like Pro Wrestling.

How do you illustrate the process of problem solving in a visually compelling way? Better yet, how do you engage the viewer intellectually in the process? There's the dramatic twist, the quirky character, the suspense -- but the most engaging it gets, really, is in the whodunit or the spy "thriller". And these are so formulaic, predictable and worn-out by now, that there's just no fun in them.

Science and Techno documentaries are by far the worst-- their Breathless Admiration of The Great Man Of Science and His Great Discovery, or This Wonderful New Technology And How It Will Change Our Lives. How utterly boring.

Re:Next... the Programmer TV Series... (1)

bsartist (550317) | more than 11 years ago | (#6202354)

mayhematicians

Causing mayhem for a living? Now *that* sounds like a fun job!

You've Been Asleep at the Telly (1)

oldCoder (172195) | more than 11 years ago | (#6203561)

Almost all successful television series have some plot device to plausably permit a stream of new and odd characters to run through the premise-world inhabited by the series regulars.

This is why crime shows and police dramas are always standard. Plenty of odd and unusual behavior. Same with hospital shows. A stream of patients. Not too many prime time weekly series about life on farm in the middle of nowhere (Little House being the exception) or life in a senior citizens home. TV Series located in restaurants, bars, and diners are periodically tried, but it's hard to generate crisis after crisis in a diner.

Now one thing you don't get while programming is a stream of new and odd people coming through each week. There have been office comedies, (Yes Minister) but these are the exception. Sara Michelle Gellar had new demons to slay each week. But imaging trying to carry a series modeled on the movie "The Net" for a few years! Each week another abandoned secret agent types mysterious messages onto Sandra Bullocks computer screen. What's the variation, new fonts?

Programming isn't the center of TV series for the same reason that chess players, writers, philosophers, lexicographers, poets, and mathemeticians aren't --- the interesting things aren't dramatically visible.

I've got it! Each week the wacky cast tries to decode another 100 line error message about syntax errors in C++ templates. A laff riot! For sweeps week, the compiler crashes on a divide by zero error. I can't wait.

It in the NYT (1)

nagora (177841) | more than 11 years ago | (#6201280)

So how do we know Ellen Ullman even exists let alone what are the chances they actually read the book before writing the review?

It's a joke, folks. Calm down.

TWW

Too bad it's in the NYT (2, Funny)

rossz (67331) | more than 11 years ago | (#6201430)

Couldn't they have put the review in a more reliable newspaper such as the Weekly World News, National Enquirer, or The Sun?

A Thought Some Might Expand Upon... (1)

DaftShadow (548731) | more than 11 years ago | (#6201462)

Now there is a new development that's changing this. I think that the open source movement is a way for coding to be a social act. It's social in the way programmers are social; there's a lot of ego involved in it, showing off your work and getting recognition for it, and I think that's fine. The most promising thing about it, in addition to having open source, is that the practitioners now have a social way to interact around programming.
I am somewhat curious what some in the crowd deign the strengths and weaknesses (socially!) of open source development. I haven't done any research, and was hoping to leech off my fellow social misfits a bit ;-)

Depressing as hell (1)

GrandGranini (49627) | more than 11 years ago | (#6201539)

I got about a third through the book and then had to stop. It's rather unsettling to read about a character in a novel, and then slowly come to realise that it is pretty much oneself who is being described here, and in such an unflattering light.

Ethan Levin is a lot like me, living in the Bay Area as a programmer pushing forty, with an ex-girlfriend working for a nonprofit org, even down to some of the smaller mannerisms (Shudder). I'll stick to O'Reilly books in the future, they are much less unsettling.

Book review on Kuro5hin.org (1)

Ramses0 (63476) | more than 11 years ago | (#6201710)

Hi.

Once upon a time I read this book and posted a review on kuro5hin.org [kuro5hin.org] . It was a good book, and it's still on my shelf (meaning I haven't seen myself able to give it away or sell it yet). Keep an eye out for it at your local Half-Price books.

--Robert

P1 (1)

perotbot (632237) | more than 11 years ago | (#6201773)

I remember reading a hacker book in High School (1983) called the Adolesence of P1. P1 was a program that managed to take over the networked IBM and CRAY mainframes of the day (the 70's??). Typical adventure fair but with many old school hacks like the bank and the school machine that did grades. I thought about it a year ago and it was frightening in that it predicted most of the security fears that people have now... anyone else remember this?

Re:P1 (1)

Javamonkey (11366) | more than 11 years ago | (#6202638)

I remember reading a hacker book in High School (1983) called the Adolesence of P1. anyone else remember this?

Yup. I read it in junior high and thought it was great. I found it in the library in college and reread it--unfortunately in between I had developed some literary sensibilities (not a lot, but a few) and didn't dig it quite as much. But if I could find a copy, I'd grab it and read it again.

Great Book (3, Informative)

Bugmaster (227959) | more than 11 years ago | (#6202127)

I just finished the book - at the urging of the Salon review. One way I can describe it is "Pi [imdb.com] in book form". You can literally feel the insanity creeping into one of the main character's minds... It gets even scarier when you see the characters go through the same emotional upheavals that you yourself do when coding. Really scary stuff... The book is very, very realistic. You can see that the author actually understands the programmers and the QA testers she writes about -- as opposed to, say, the mainstream media which still seems to be fixated on the 13-year old scr33pt k1ddi3 image.

Let me put it this way: this book literally made me fear for my own sanity. Now, if that's not a good endorsement, I don't know what is.

"The" Bug ?!?! Only one?!?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6202523)

She must not be a real programmer.

If so, it would have been titled, "The Bugs". I haven't heard of any software project with only one single bug!

I wonder if I could get it read by non-programmers (2, Interesting)

glaude (255564) | more than 11 years ago | (#6203736)

I wonder if I could get it read by non-programmers in my company.
Just in order to make them feel the psycological consequences of them changing their specs two weeks before commercial release...

Review?? (-1)

pkcs11 (529230) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204318)

Do you review books or simply review book reviews??
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