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The Linguists - Tonight (Feb. 26) on PBS

I just saw this in a magazine - tonight on PBS (10pm EST on my PBS station):

The Linguists is a hilarious and poignant chronicle of two scientists—David Harrison and Gregory Anderson—racing to document languages on the verge of extinction. In Siberia, India, and Bolivia, the linguists confront head-on the very forces silencing languages: racism, humiliation, and violent economic unrest. David and Greg’s journey takes them deep into the heart of the cultures, knowledge, and communities at risk when a language dies.

Before airing on PBS, The Linguists world premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and screened at more than 40 festivals worldwide. The Linguists is produced and directed by Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller, and Jeremy Newberger of Ironbound Films, and based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grants No. 0452417 and 0438121 and by the Nonprofit Media Group.

Databases are boring

As some may know, I love computers, I love everything about them. I like writing and reading on the computer - the wealth of information is amazing, I like smaller programming tasks (for now), I enjoyed Java, HTML, CSS, my current excursion into ASP.NET and VB.NET, I enjoy working with images and video. But there is one thing that I could never warm up to and that is anything related to databases. Databases bore me - just the thought of gigabytes of data makes me yawn. Unfortunately, the ASP.NET class at Davenport also covers some database stuff. It makes sense I guess, most web-based programs are connected to a database somewhere be it an online shop or a customer list, a service list or what-not. Have I just not found the right approach to it to see the beauty of databases?

So far, I have enjoyed every single chapter of this book, but now I have to force myself through pages and pages covering SQL, ADO, ODBC, COM, OLE and I can’t seem to finish. What’s up with all the acronyms? I have to fight through at least another 50 pages going on and on about data connections and sources, queries and relationships, propertiessssssss - sorry, my head hit the keyboard when I feel asleep typing this. Can anyone help me? What am I not getting? Is there a way to make this more enjoyable? It’s not like I need much - heck, I have spent hours of my life watching my hard drive defrag and download progress bars grow.

Oh well, back to the ADO.NET model….

Captain Sully

I have been in love with this story since it happened, and while it’s not related to anything else, check out Captain Sully and the Crew on Letterman in case you haven’t seen it yet:

What to do when you got nothing to do?

OK everyone, I need your help. I am not very busy right now and I would love to do something worthwhile to keep myself occupied. I am expecting some things coming in next week, but I am going crazy right now. The occasional hundred words that come in a couple of times a day don’t keep me busy.

So far I have cleaned up files on our documentation network drive, zipped and archived old projects, done my homework, read an extra chapter in my ASP.NET book, and hassled my boss to give me stuff.

Can anyone recommend anything for me to do? It can’t involve noise, getting off my a$$ or anything that would suspiciously like “non-work” to a person passing by. I keep hearing people talk about maintenance on their TMs but I don’t know what to maintain there. Any suggestions welcome!

This may sound like the sweet life: doing nothing all the while getting paid - let me tell you, not so much. I am ready to shoot myself if I can’t find anything worthwhile soon. I know it will come pouring any time soon, some new software coming up and a translation into Russian that will give me plenty of in-house post-processing, but for now - nada, njet, nothing, überhaupt garnix!!!

Discuss why the data types are the same across languages in the MSIL.

The data types in the different languages in the Microsoft Intermediate Language (MSIL) to provide compatibility. In .NET, various languages can be used but in the end they have to be able to interface with each other. The .NET compiler compiles the languages into MSIL and it can only do this without problems since the data types are the same. It would be incredibly difficult if each language had its own data types or its own definitions of data types. A string for example is a “group” of characters or digits and every program understands it as such. Now imagine another programming language would define a string only as a group of characters and not consider digits and a combination of characters and digits would be called a word, then the VB string cisp238 would be considered a word in the other languages and the .NET compiler would have to examine all strings to see if they need to be converted to be compatible.

I found a real world examples: In VB.NET, the data type Long is a 64-bit number while in VB6 it was a 32-bit number. So, it would require a lot of care to bring those two languages together and every time one languages uses a data type Long you would have to exactly specify what it means. The rules for the different .NET languages are specified in the Common Language Specification (CLS).

I found an interesting link about how different languages define the primitive data type Boolean: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boolean_datatype which is a good example of the advantages of uniform data type definitions.

It also seems like MSIL is the great “equalizer”. People used to have arguments about the speed of different programming languages, or better the speed of the applications coded in those languages. The argument was that C++ was faster than VB but in .NET everything is going through the MSIL and that determines the speed.

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