Computer Science Fiction

Science fiction explores the effect of technological progress on society.  It is ironic, then, that the majority of SF authors miserably failed to predict the impact of computers and information technology. Why does Google return no meaningful hits for “computer science fiction?”  Is it not obvious that this term needs to exist, if we wish […]

50 Vertical Miles

A little over a year ago my family moved to a house near the north edge of Salt Lake City.  Although access to real mountains is not great — it’s about a three-hour walk to the nearest 8000′ peak and a major slog to a 9000′ peak — the foothill access is excellent.  At the […]

Nine ways to break your systems code using volatile

The volatile qualifier in C/C++ is a little bit like the C preprocessor: an ugly, blunt tool that is easy to misuse but that — in a very narrow set of circumstances — gets the job done.  This article will first briefly explain volatile and its history and then, through a series of examples about […]

Is That a Compiler Bug?

It’s common for a computer program to display behavior seemingly unrelated to its source code.  Additionally, programs written in C/C++ frequently change their behavior when the compiler optimization options are changed.  This post is a quick guide to figuring out if the compiler is at fault.  This post was motivated by a blog post by […]

Elk in the Neighborhood

When hiking locally, I usually move fast and don’t bother taking pictures.  However, one thing I’ve learned is that a clearing snowstorm often makes for striking photography.  So it was just luck, then, that I had a camera on an afternoon hike in upper City Creek Canyon a few days ago when I ran into […]

TRIGA

Today I visited Utah’s TRIGA: a nuclear reactor located in the building where I’ve had an office for about nine years.  I’ve had a low-grade fascination with these devices since reading about them many years ago in one of Freeman Dyson’s books.  Unlike powerplant reactors, which rely on elaborate safety systems, the TRIGA series is […]