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    Forever War is an amazing book. It makes the reader experience the senselessness of war.

    I’m reading Cryptonomicon at the moment. It’s a great book: all the intertwined plot lines are fascinating and I want to know what happens to the characters. As usual for Stephenson, there are frequent diversions and a lot of technical details (eg on cryptography, the physical structure of the internet). He has become one of my favourite authors.

    As far as classic sci-fi goes, Alfred Bester is great. The Stars My Destination is one of my all time favourites. The Demolished Man got a Hugo award in 1953.

    The Machine Stops is an amazing story by E.M. Forster all the way from 1909! It predicts the internet and videoconferencing, among other things.

    Some more classics:

    • Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land (1961) and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966).
    • Larry Niven’s The Mote in God’s Eye (1974).
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      Heinlein seems to be recommended by a lot of people in the community so I’ll give that a read next week along with the sequel (Forever Peace) to Forever War.

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        Heinlein has several phases. There’s the early teen / mil sf stuff (“Farmer in the Sky” etc), the psuedo-libertarian propaganda stuff (“Moon is a Harsh Mistress”) that seems to have come along with his libertarian 2nd (3rd?) wife, then he has a stroke & a bunch of medical problems and starts writing weird huge books: “Friday”, “Stranger in a Strange Land” etc. He was also bright guy who, at least some of the time, was actually satirising the things he was writing about. So there are many Heinlines & people are probably attached to different aspects.

        Honestly, I think there’s better SF being written in the modern era though. If you really get into the field, it’s worth going back & reading some of the older stuff, to see what later authors are sometimes reacting against / referring to, but reading SF from the 30s<->50s is not in any sense mandatory.

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          I tend to agree. Avoid Heinlein, other than maybe Starship Troopers. I will never forget his line “9 out of 10 rapes are actually the womans fault”, which is from Stranger in a Strange Land. That was such a bad book, it actually put me off reading for a while.

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            bleah I wish I could unread that line. Not only is it preposterously and poisonously paradox, it also disgustingly ignores the fact that by far not all rapes involve women at all.

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          Stranger in a Strange Land is great not just because it’s a great story, but again because it’s a window into the counter-culture / free love movement of the 60s. Same warning applies though - walking talking screaming sexism in this book. Doesn’t make it any less of a classic, but being aware is good :)

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            I could never get into Heinlein. I finished Starship Troopers, but couldn’t even make it half way through Moon is a Harsh Mistress. I just don’t think he’s that great a writer. I’ve heard good things about Stranger in a String land; might give that one a shot, but from what I’ve read so far, I have several other things I’d rather try to get through first.

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              I really enjoyed Forever Peace too, although it isn’t really a sequel.

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                The three companion pieces to Forever War would be Starship Troopers by Heinlin, Armor by Steakley, and then pick one of either Falkenberg’s Legion by Pournelle and Stirling or the anthology Hammer’s Slammers by Drake.

                Other military sci-fi novels (say, Old Man’s War by Scalzi or a lot of the space-opera-y stuff) to me just feels too…cartoony, I guess? Like, I don’t want to go so far as grimdark 40K “FOR TEH EMPRAH ETERNAL WAAAGH”, but I also want the fighting and fighters–or the politics behind them–to be in focus instead of the technology or cutesy sci-fi tropes.

                I may be in the minority in that opinion though. :)

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              If you ask me for a recommendation for classic sci-fi, I would always reply: Stanisław Lem! He got famous for Solaris but I rather did not enjoy that one actually. For me, the ultimate pinnacles of Lem’s work are “The Futurological Congress” and the short stories of space travelers Pirx and Ijon Tichy. Tichy’s “Seventh Voyage” is a must-read! Also the Eighth and Twentieth. I particularly enjoyed Pirx’ “The Test”, “On Patrol”, “The Hunt”, “The Accident”.

              What I like about these works are their playful paradox, comical approach to sci-fi: even that far into the future and sci-fantasy, profane details dominate the plot in unexpected ways. From hilariously funny to mind-opening, etching out sci-fi in a higher resolution.

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                wow, how many years ago was that … that website is really old. I liked the page at the time I first saw it, it marked my personal transition to pronounced certainty that “Agile” wasn’t my thang.

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                  Does anyone get where in the tcp state diagram you see this behaviour? I don’t see it yet.

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                    Completely rewiring Osmocom’s openbsc internals. (yes, the open source mobile phone network software)

                    Traditionally, we had BSC, MSC, VLR and HLR collapsed into the OsmoNITB (Network In The Box), but with recent developments…

                    • we want to also have true 3G authentication (milenage), which our HLR couldn’t do;
                    • also for 3G, we’re separating MSC from BSC;
                    • we want a separate Home Location Register for asynchronous DB access;
                    • and Harald Welte has prepared a completely new Virtual Location Register implemented in well-defined finite state machines, basically completely replacing our previous attach/auth/ciphering code, which I’m now settling into place.

                    As a result I have the joy of wildly destructing legacy code, lancing whole new end-to-end test suites to verify the state machines and invent new data structures to unweld the layers of OpenBSC. I get to see every hidden fold, I get to completely trash ugly corners of the code with a machete and am making good and focused progress: it’s super fun! :D

                    Looking forward to merging this to master, hopefully in one or two months' time…

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                      all those acronyms … it’s “Visitor Location Register”, not “Virtual”. Actually “Volatile” would be the best match for what it does…

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                      Joscha’s talks are highlights of the *c3 events, amazingly clear reasoning on profound questions of our existence. Great moment where you see a game of life bulding some sort of larger computing structure [spoiler]… and it turns out to be another larger game of life!

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                        I had to turn in an assignment on reinforcement learning at midnight and now have to prepare a small presentation about the topic until the end of January. Still not sure if I should present in German or English.

                        For another course, I am writing a vhdl program for Elliptic Curve Cryptography. Well, essentially it’s going to be a basic hardware point multiplier. What needs to be done is

                        • binary extended Euclidean algorithm
                        • point addition
                        • point doubling
                        • repeated adding and doubling, alias multiplying.
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                          Split the difference and present in Frisian!

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                            I think part of the grading process is going to be about how well the audience understood the speaker so I am afraid that’s not a viable option.

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                            Benefit of English is it can be distributed widely. I collect and pass on tons of cutting-edge papers but only if they’re English. I apparently missed a few, good works in Germany and France at one point since they used native language. I wasn’t only one from what I could tell on forums with people outside America.

                            If it’s not intended for widespread utility, then its language should be tied to what your audience is most receptive of. Do whatever language they’d prefer in a presentation in that context.

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                              I’m surprised that there’s any research being done where the results are not published in the lingua franca of science. I was told that French institutes have to publish their abstract in their native language but besides that I thought it’d be all English.

                              The work is not cutting-edge at all so it does not factor into it much. The paper I wrote is English anyways.

                              I actually didn’t really think about my audience, they might benefit from German more, while English would be an opportunity for me to practice. And it might be less work since the scientific terms do not have to be translated.

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                                On practice side, you might do both languages regardless so you still get the practice. Then have someone review the English copy.

                                Example of one in German is uSINApaper in 2003 below in German where most from that group were English. Fortunately, a translation turned up plus descriptions in sections of other papers.


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                                  …and while you’re at it practising, why not also write in Frisian, Arabic, Russian, Japanese and Xhosa, think of the long term benefits! ;)

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                                    English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, German, and Arabic probably have you covered if wanting job or political prospects in powerful countries from here to the future. ;)

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                                    That would probably be the best, then I could just let the others vote on it.

                                    Huh, the more you know. Thanks for showing me that.