First hike of spring!

I got out today for the first time since this winter for a real hike — not just a quick walk with the dog, but something that takes more than half an hour and is worth bringing the camera.

I went out to Fall Creek, down in Felton; there’s some nice history along the trail there. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, this valley’s economy was driven by lumber and lime — much of early San Francisco was constructed with resources drawn from here. Anyway, up the Fall Creek trail are the remnants of old lime kilns and a limestone quarry run by I.X.L. Lime Company.

Fall Creek

I started out to the lime kilns first; it’s about two kilometers from the parking lot up the South Fork of Fall Creek. The park was packed — I was hiking between a family taking visitors out and a bunch of families with small children.

Once at the lime kilns, I waited until the people had moved on and got some photos. The kilns are huge; they’d pile wood in the bottom and then the limestone over it, and it would apparently burn for days. It must have made an amazing amount of heat. Above the kilns you can see bits of the rail car system used to bring the limestone down to the kilns, although you have to look hard to find it.

Lime Kilns

Then I continued past the powder store and up the canyon to the barrel site, where the barrels for the lime were made. This is another couple kilometers from the site; I would assume — although I don’t know — that the primary reason for putting the cooperage where it was was because of the water power needed to run the sawmill, and the trees to cut for the wood for the barrels. There’s still a fair amount of old equipment, too.

Barrell Mills

Once there, I walked back along the North Fork of Fall Creek. Hiking along the creek is an interesting experience; the photos don’t really do it justice, but you’re usually sandwiched between canyon walls separated by tens of meters, with the trail sharing the bottom of the canyon with the creek. The creek’s eroded the base of the canyon and the trail quite a bit; there’s lots of places where you cross the creek, or have to trek up the canyon wall a few meters and back down because a shift in the creek has eroded the logical place for the trail.

I took quite a few photos, although none of them really capture the size of the trees or creek canyons. You can see them in my photo album.

Overall, a good day to be out!

Wait. Where have you been?

Well, gee, it’s been eight months without a post. If you were hoping for wisdom about Yesod, I’m really sorry that I let you down.

Shortly after starting the project, I learned that my day job at Nokia Research Center was going away — specifically, Nokia was closing the lab that I worked at, and I would be looking for another job.

Thanks to several supportive people — among them, my boss at Nokia and his boss — I landed fairly quickly on my feet with others I’d worked with before, at Microsoft, working in the division that’s responsible for a lot of cool things for Bing. It’s been a great transition, but it’s been like drinking from a firehose — I lived a very sheltered life, well away from a lot of mainstream Microsoft technologies (SQL Server, ASP.NET, and ASP.MVC, I’m looking at you!) and in addition to my regular work responsibilities in my new role, most of my learning cycles have been coming up to speed on the latest enhancements to C#, the various public and private frameworks I use in my new job, and so forth. Under the circumstances, something had to give, and Yesod was that something.

I’m sorry.

I’ve thought a few times about making this another Microsoft technology blog, but there are an awful lot of them, and I’m starting behind where many, many good bloggers are. About half of the epiphanies I’ve had about programming for the twenty-first century Microsoft platform would be old hat to most of you, and the rest probably don’t care — you’re probably still using Qt on Ubuntu or something like that.

At the same time, there’s been no work towards the next book, which was always the purpose of this blog — to cross-pollinate between what I did at work, what I wrote for you in print, forging a connection between the two. That’s not to say there aren’t more books coming at some point; in fact, I’m incubating a couple of ideas now. But they’re in the incubation stage, and publishers generally like freshly baked content, not content that’s been posted for free on the Internet first. (Can you blame them? I can’t.)

But stay tuned. More is coming; I’m just not quite sure what or when yet.

A Peek at Server Logs

So, I’ll happily admit to anyone that asks that I’m terrible about self-promotion; if anything, this blog is an extension of my books: writing about what matters to me for you, hoping to find a match. I don’t pick topics because they sell, or because I think they have wide appeal; I’ve always been drawn to writing about problems that I’ve encountered that I think others may encounter as well.

That’s why I found this chart from StatPress so interesting tonight — it’s a look at the most commonly read entries on this blog.

Blog Topics By Request
Blog Topics By Request

I love Lisp — no denying it. And I’ve spent some time plinking away at using Lisp on various machines; my time spent coercing CLIM to work on Mac OS X is clear testimony to that fact. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to turn my affection for Lisp into a paying concern; in fact, I’ve barely been able to integrate it with my day job (this paper is as close as it gets, folks!) because my primary career focus is mobile, not any of the problems Lisp typically targets.

Unfortunately, given the amount of time I have for coding, Qt wins out over Lisp and CLIM, or even plain Lisp; the day job is currently focused on research on mobile UIs at Nokia, and Qt (or Windows Phone 7, which I’m just getting started with on my own time) is where it’s at.

I’ll admit some frustration, though — I’d like to be of more use to the community that finds these pages useful, especially because I think it’d be more fun sometimes than just quickly knocking out a few pages about problems I’ve solved on the day job for other Qt developers to refer to. So, open questions to all you people who got here looking for Lisp on Mac OS X: what else can I help you with? Where are your pain points? And what the heck are you using Lisp on Mac OS X for, anyway?

The obligatory first post…

Installing and configuring WordPress has been on my personal to-do list for an absurdly long amount of time. Back in February 2002, I started a personal blog on LiveJournal, which I kept up-to-date on an intermittent basis. I’d always planned on using it both as a professional soapbox and a personal journal, although it quickly became more of the latter than the former. In recent years, it’s largely lain fallow, a victim of benign neglect as I tackle professional writing and engineering commitments.

With the imminent publication of my latest book, Beginning Javaâ„¢ ME Platform (Beginning from Novice to Professional), it’s again apparent that I should put more effort into reaching out to both those I know and those who read my work. Not only is this an important part of publicity for me as an author, but it’s also a service to you, my readers, because it gives me an opportunity to keep you up to date. I only hope that I am more successful in keeping you up to date than I am self-publicity, something I have generally neglected. 

Hence, this blog.

I’m not certain what all I will post here, or how frequently I will post. You can certainly expect any updates or feedback on my books, of course, but I’m also planning on using this as a working notebook for other technical musings. I don’t have any plans to become a career blogger and make this a central part of my professional activities; to be frank I think there’s too much of that on the Internet already! Instead, I think this is going to fill a very narrow nice, with me posting the occasional update to a previous (probably paper) publication, various tips and tricks I’ve picked up in my engineering career, and possibly some engineering notes about things I’ve found difficult in the hopes that capturing it here will help others.

Thanks for stopping by!