The best introduction to the mountains

It’s a day late for Tolkien’s birthday, but is it ever too late for Tolkien or Wolfe? Thanks to John Barach for sharing this tribute to Tolkien by Wolfe.

You are not likely to believe me when I say that I still remember vividly, almost 50 years later, how strictly I disciplined myself with that book, forcing myself to read no more than a single chapter each evening. The catch, my out, the stratagem by which I escaped the bonds of my own law, was that I could read that chapter as many times as I wished; and that I could also return to the chapter I had read the night before, if I chose. There were evenings on which I reread the entire book up the point—The Council of Elrond, let us say—at which I had forced myself to stop.

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PureApplication and hybrid cloud

hybrid-redbookIBM has published a new Redbook that discusses how you can build a hybrid cloud solution using PureApplication System, Software and Service.

I’m privileged to have served as a contributor to this Redbook, with a particular focus on the ways in which PureApplication’s multi-system management and deployment capabilities allow you to build cross-site and hybrid business solutions.

But even beyond multi-system deployment, the power of patterns combined with the variety of PureApplication offerings allows for a genuine “write once, run anywhere” model for applications.


I bought a basic Kindle recently and I’m enjoying it. I don’t currently plan to buy many e-books, but rather use the Kindle as a better tool for existing reading compared to my computer and phone. Here’s what I’ve discovered so far:


PDF’s aren’t the best format for reading on Kindle. I’ve found two tools for converting PDFs to e-books and uploading them to my Kindle. For simple PDFs (e.g., single column, and not a scanned image), Calibre is great for converting and uploading. However, Calibre does a poor job with PDFs that are scanned copies of books (this applies to many of the books linked above). For these I use a two-step process: first, I run the PDF through the K2PDFOpt tool (at the time of this writing, version 1.63 crashes for me on some books, but 1.51 is stable). This increases the size of the PDF file significantly, but it organizes it in a form that Calibre is much better able to handle. Then I use Calibre to convert these PDFs to e-books, and upload them to my Kindle.


Until now, I saved longer articles and blog posts for later reading using open tabs in my browser. This quickly grows unwieldy. The Instapaper service allows you to save web pages for later reading, and it integrates with Kindle. Now when I run across a longer article, I click a button to send it to Instapaper, and by the next morning the article is ready to read on my Kindle.


The Kindlefeeder service allows you to send blog and news feeds to your Kindle. I’ve selected several of the blogs I read (ones that tend to have longer articles) to be sent to my Kindle, and now I read them there rather than on my computer.


If you have any other tips and tricks I’d appreciate hearing about them.

All of the above should work with e-readers other than Kindle. In the case of Instapaper and Kindlefeeder, you may need to upload a file manually to your reader instead of having it automatically sent there.

Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid

Hofstadter, Douglas. Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid. New York: Basic Books, 1999.

This book is an excellent and fun, if lengthy, romp through art (visual, literary, and musical), mathematics, logic, provability and computability, linguistics, cognitive science and artificial intelligence, and more. Hofstadter cleverly explores a myriad of amazing connections between all these fields. And while he ends up drawing no substantive conclusions about his final hypothesis of emergent intelligence, the journey is no less exciting.

I disagree with Hofstadter’s opinion of the nature of intelligence. But I thoroughly enjoyed this book for a number of reasons. First, despite its imposing size, it is accessible; Hofstadter presents mathematical proofs in an easily understood way, using examples, analogies, and much explanatory prose. Second, despite its imposing size, it is delightfully fun; this book is brimming with humor, wit, cleverness, and exciting coincidences. Lastly, it is an excellent introduction to a broad variety of topics.

I first read this book in eighth grade and deeply enjoyed it. In part this book served as my introduction to the exciting fields of logic, mathematics, and computer science.