Snobol4 programming language

The second programming language I became proficient in was SNOBOL4 which stood for “StriNg Oriented symBOLic Language” or something similar, a bad case of mangling a name to come up with a cool acronym. SNOBOL4 was a really cool language. It is a string manipulation language with a very powerful pattern representation datatype and pattern matching which is quite a more powerful and easier to use than regular expression such as are used in Perl and grep. Snobol had tables. Tables were like arrays but the “subscript” was a character string instead of an integer. (Called hashes in some other languages). It was an interpreted language implemented as a macro processor and could sometimes be rather slow. Later a true compiler called SPITBOL which stood for ‘SPeedy ImplemenTation of SnoBOL” another name mangled to get a cool acronym. Spitbol produced quite speedy programs. Snobol inspired several follow ons, SNOCONE was a preprocessor for C that implemented Snobol. An implementation of Snobol patterns in Python called SnoPyl. The developer of Snobol, Ralph Griswold went on to implement another language Icon Icon never enjoyed the same degree of usage as Snobol probably because while it implemented a number of improvements over Snobol (more modern control structures for example), it implemented a different pattern string manipulation system. This pattern implementation may have had theoretical advantages over that of Snobol, but in practice it never became as wide spread as that of Snobol. I remember seeing recruiting ads for the NSA looking for CS majors/programmers with knowledge of Snobol, thinking about it Snobol would certainly be a natural to use for some aspects of code breaking.

Computers vs Britany Spears

I am something of a computer nerd and I understand why many computer types find computers more tractable than people. ( The “no social skills” syndrome.) Computers behave in more or less predictable ways (though at the moment you might not understand why, but deep down there is a perfectly logical explanation for their behavior) and usually if you spend enough time you can find the cause of the unexpected behavior. Interpersonal relationships, particularly ones with a strong emotional content, often degenerate in to a state in which it seems no amount of time will enable you to develop a “fix” or a deep and correct understanding of what went wrong. People, especially some people are just too variable (perhaps the are just a too complex system with many inputs and chaotic (in the mathematical sense) behavior). I have seen several times two seemingly perfectly reasonable behaving persons who ended up in a divorce somehow transform to irrational bitter enemies doing down right hateful things to one another, I have also seen this happen with only one of the persons are primarily behaving badly, and the other person occasionally with justifiable anger which resulted in seemingly a disproportionate response from the other person. The on going saga with Brittany Spears seems to be a case in point. I am not really sure why I have been following it, probably because it has been featured prominently on google news. A good description of the latest “Spears was in a total meltdow” is a case in point, she has been behaving bizarrely, if you believe the news, and in many respects her own worst enemy. While there apparently was a lot of mutual unpleasantness, (Her head shaving episode was apparently precipitated by Kevin Federline telling her that she would lose custody based on upon her drug use which could be proved by a hair test). To me looking from the outside her behavior and logic seem inexplicable and no amount time spent will enable me (or probably anyone) else to find a “perfectly logical explanation” for her behavior and certainly not a “bug” fix.

Change to WordPress blogging software

I am making the transition from plain html to the WordPress blogging software. I pretty much knew from the beginning that some sort of blogging software would be necessary but I started out coding it in html with the thought I would change later.

It was partly a “real programmers code html in vi” mentality but mostly because there were many blogging software packages and I hadn’t decided which one was the “best” for my purposes and my environment. In the end it finally came down to WordPress versus Moveable Type. The decision to go with WordPress was given an extra impetus when a webhosting customer decided to use it more as a Content Management System rather than a blogging tool see http://www.thechildrensgarden.info. And lastly a decision between WordPress vs WordPress-MU where WordPress-MU is a single multiuser installation implemented sitewide. I went with a straight WordPress (per website) implementation for now. One thing I noticed is that WordPress’s spell checker caught a few spelling errors that I had missed coding straight html in vi.