we seven

is an excellent book by the seven mercury astronauts (isbn 978--4391-8103-4). As usual I'm going to quote from a few pages:
By working with the designers and engineers on a brand-new, complicated airplane you learn to ferret out the bugs and problems before they can be built into the system to worry other pilots who will use later production aircraft. [John Glenn]
Looking back on it now, it sounds a bit silly. But it takes little moments like that to build up a person's tolerance of fear and his ability to face the unknown. [Malcomn Scott Carpenter]
When I got back to the States, I served a hitch teaching some younger pilots how to fly. This kind of duty is probably even more dangerous than combat. At least you know what a MIG is going to do. [Virgil Grissom]
A test-pilot is fiercely proud of his profession. [Walter Schirra]
I could not take care of the polyp right away because part of the procedure before they could operate on it was to keep me absolutely quiet for four days and not let me speak… Later on the medics did put me on a week's silent treatment. I had to break it only once when a NASA official called me up from Langley to ask me how my polyp was coming along. I told him he had just interrupted the cure. [Walter Schirra]
In combat, for example, you are thinking about what goes on outside of your airplane… But in test flying you have an entirely different problem. You are concerned about what is going on inside the airplane, and what the aircraft itself is doing. [Deke Slayton]
If you are an amateur in this business, and you just think you are in trouble, you can really get yourself into trouble very fast by doing the wrong thing first. You might be a whole lot better off if you did nothing at all. [Deke Slayton]
In flying, navigation is generally defined as "continuously detecting and correcting infinitesimal errors in the flight path." [Deke Slayton]
The schedule was flexible. We knew that variable factors such as weather, over which we would have no control, could cause delays. [John Glenn]
This panel groups all of the warning lights in one convenient place so we can see at a glance if any problems have cropped up. [John Glenn]
Each part that goes into the capsule has had a prototype tested to destruction to make sure it can stand the rough ride and the temperature changes. The test procedures are extremely painstaking. First, one part is tested; then two parts are linked together and both of them are tested as a unit. The small units are joined into bigger units for further testing, and this process continues until finally the entire machine is ready for a master test. [Malcomn Scott Carpenter]
We adopted three basic principles. First, we would use any training device or method that had even a remote chance of being useful. Second, we would make the training as difficult as possible so that we would be overtrained, if anything, rather then undertrained. And third, except for some wise scheduling of time, we decided to conduct our training on an informal basis. Everyone assumed from the start that we were mature, well-motivated individuals. Everyone knew we were all eager to make good. [Deke Slayton]
The manual went out of date as fast as the capsule grew… In the meantime… we had to work with some early drawings of the spacecraft that had been included in the original specifications. This was a bit like learning how to cook from looking into some chef's garbage pail. [Deke Slayton]
We did not blame any of our problems on such things as gremlins. For one thing, these creatures belonged to another era. [John Glenn]
We also had daily scheduling meetings to keep everyone informed of our progress and up to date on any problems which cropped up. Here is where we reviewed the work being done on the various systems. [Virgil Grissom]
Even though the electronic machines were clever, we did not let them run the show. [Alan Shepard]

an ecology of mind

is an excellent dvd, by Nora Bateson, about her father, Gregory Bateson, who wrote An Ecology of Mind. As usual here's are some selected quotes:
Without context, words and actions have no meaning at all. This is true of all communication... [Gregory Bateson]
A role is a half-arsed relationship. It's one end of a relationship. You cannot study only one end of a relationship and make any sense. What you will make is disaster. [Gregory Bateson]
I've been bothered a little bit the past few days by people who say, "What do you mean 'ecology of mind'". And approximately what I mean is that the various sorts of 'stuff' that goes on in ones heads and in ones behaviour, and dealing with other people and walking up and down mountains, and getting sick and getting well and all that. That all that stuff interlocks, and in fact constitutes a network, and you've got the sort of complicated, living, partly struggling, partly co-operating, tangle, that you find on the side of any of these mountains with the trees and various plant and animals that live there. In fact an ecology. [Gregory Bateson]
The division of things into parts tends to be a device of convenience, and that's all. [Gregory Bateson]
Wise men see outlines and therefore they draw them. [William Blake]
Madmen see outlines and therefore they draw them. [William Blake]
If a fool should persist in his folly, he would become wise [William Blake]
The difference that makes a difference is a way in which to define something in terms of its relationships, using contrast and context, instead of isolating it with a name. [Nora Bateson]
Krishnamurti said something like "You might think you're thinking your own thoughts. You're not. You're thinking your culture's thoughts." [Nora Bateson]
I guess I've been reading too much Alice. [Gregory Bateson]
The double-bind is a creative imperative. Its the moment when, because this doesn't work and that doesn't work, something else is going to have to be improvised. A creative impulse is necessary at that moment, to get out of the situation, to take it up a level. [Nora Bateson]
The combination of theme with variation immediately points you to something behind it. A formative principle. [Terrence Deacon]
He was often accused of talking in riddles and never coming to the point. The question he posed "What is the pattern that connects?" was never meant to be answered, because the patterns are changing. It was the act of questioning that he was pushing for. Knowing that the eyes behind that curiosity will be the most apt to give the patterns of connection room to wiggle as they perpetually self correct. And to see the beauty in that process. [Nora Bateson]
When you see process you see constant change. That's why Gregory was constantly quoting Heraclitus "no man can step into the same river twice". Because it's flowing. [Mary Bateson]
Only by the creation of change can I perceive something. [Gregory Bateson]
A man walking is never in balance, but always correcting for imbalance. [Gregory Bateson]
He asked the question "What is there about our way of perceiving that makes us not see the delicate interdependencies in an ecological system, that give it its integrity." We don't see them, and therefore we break them. [Mary Bateson]
Any kind of aesthetic response is a response to relationships. [Mary Bateson]
I hope it may have done something to set you free from thinking in material and logical terms, when you are, in fact, trying to think about living things. [Gregory Bateson]

Larry and Jen do Roman Numerals in C++



You may remember Larry and Jen from the popular (800,000+ hits) Deep C (and C++) slide-deck. Well, they're back - this time practising their C++ by doing the Roman Numerals problem.



Here it is in pdf too.

agile development in the large

is an excellent book by Jutta Eckstein (isbn 978-0932633576). As usual I'm going to quote from a few pages:
Quick feedback should be the first thing you introduce.
It is important that instead of the process being adopted it is adapted.
Starting with really short cycles seems to help implement the change to an agile process. If the cycles are short it is very difficult for the whole team to fall back into its old habits.
Learning and change processes are part of each other. Change is a learning process and learning is a change process.
Every agile process contains the following subtle steps
(1) reflection (awareness)
(2) learning
(3) change.
A plan is nothing; planning is everything. [Eisenhower]
If a project is on time and in budget it doesn't mean it was a successful project, but a successful estimate.
Methodologies do not produce skilled developers.
Stability is more negative than it is thought to be. [To stabilize something is to kill it]
A book is always a prevented dialogue.

more secrets of consulting

is an excellent book by Jerry Weinberg (isbn 978-0932633521). As usual I'm going to quote from a few pages:
Consultants are hired for knowing what others don't know, so a consultant who stops learning soon decays in value.
It's always better to be a do-something rather than a know-everything.
The Wishing Wand reminds me of the ability to ask for what I want, and if necessary, to live with not getting it.
Modern psychology often scorns introspection and has become the study of other people's behaviour.
I personally think that big changes result from an accumulation of small changes.
Incongruence is stereotyped behaviour.
It takes big balance to learn small balance.
Nothing is immutably programmined into my mind - except its programmability. The ability of my mind to program itself is a far greater ability than any particular program.
Fear is one of the brakes on creativity.
In social engineering, as in all engineering, failures teach more than successes.

the right stuff

is an excellent book by Tom Wolfe (isbn 978-0-099-47937-6). A marvelous tale of courage. As usual I'm going to quote from a few pages:
In the military they always said "flight test" and not "test flying".
Once the theorem and the corollary was understood, the Navy's statistics about one in every four Navy aviators dying meant nothing. The figures were averages, and averages applied to those with the average stuff.
What people were seeing on television were, in fact, ordinary test events. Blown engines were par for the course in testing aircraft prototypes and were inevitable in testing an entirely new propulsion system, such as jet or rocket engines.
Conrad stares at the piece of [blank] paper and then looks up at the man and says in a wary tone, as if he fears a trick: "But it's upside down."
This obsession with active control, it was argued, would only tend to cause problems on Mercury flights. What was required was a man whose main talent was for doing nothing under stress.
The boys' response, however, had not been resignation or anything close to it. No, the engineers now looked on, eyebrows arched, as the guinea pigs set about altering the experiment.
The esprit throughout NASA was tremendous... Bureaucratic lines no longer meant anything. Anyone in Project Mercury could immediately get to see anybody else about any problem that came up.
They had barely moved the first stick of furniture in when the tour buses started arriving, plus the freelance tourists in cars. ... Sometimes people would get out and grab a handful of grass from your lawn. They'd get back on the bus with their miserable little green sprouts sticking out of their fingers. They believed in magic.
Herein the world was divided into those who had it and those who did not.

trustee from the toolroom

is an excellent book by Nevil Shute (isbn 978-0-099-52998-9). A marvelous tale of courage and friendship. As usual I'm going to quote from a few pages:
At last she asked, 'Do you think my Mummy and Daddy were very frightened when the ship got wrecked?' The adult quality of the question amazed him; children were so much older than you thought they were. 'No,' he said. 'No, I don't think that they'd ever have been frightened. They weren't that sort of people. And you won't be frightened of things either, I don't think.'
He was impressed and somehow amazed by the things he did not know. These men were working as a team, doing things together quickly and accurately, things that he could only guess at. He knew that on their teamwork the safety of the aircraft depended. All his own skill and ingenuity could not assist them by one iota; the most that he could do to help them in their work was to keep right out of their way.
Technical fields, he reflected, of necessity were small; if you were an expert in one subject you could not be expert also in all the others, for no man's mind was big enough. The man who designed the radar presentation that the controller had used to talk them down that morning would not himself have been able to bring them into a safe landing, for he would not have known sufficient about aeroplanes.
Where everything was strange this seemed no stranger than the rest.
He was scared stiff. He sat there in his cricket shirt and braces with Panama hat upon his head under the brilliant sun of the Hawaiian Islands, the bread and the corned beef untasted on the desk beside him, concentrating on doing the one that he had been taught, keeping the tiddly little triangle upon the lubber line.
Towards the morning it occurred to him that anyway he should not keep his grim forebodings to himself. Two heads, or several heads, were better than one. If he shared his apprehensions with other people someone might pull some rabbit out of an unthought-of hat, might make some suggestion that would somehow make Keith's journey to Tahiti safer.
Jack shook his head. 'Ma died last year. She was always wanting to get back to the islands, but she liked the television too, so she was pulled both ways.'
'I tell you one thing,' he said presently. 'I'll leave the little generator set here, in the Mary Belle.' Jack stared at him. 'Leave that here, with me?' 'That's right. This ship hasn't got a motor. She ought to have one.'
'I think when people get older,' he said, 'they kind of get more mellow. They kind of like to give help in return for help they get.'
She had decided in her own mind that he was honest.
She paused. 'Don't refuse him when he wants to do this little thing,' she said gently. 'You've given him a lot of pleasure with your letters and the clock. Let him do this for you.'