inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #26 of 128: Jennifer Powell (jnfr) Wed 24 Mar 99 14:01
    
heh. How did you come to be a a one-woman publishing phenomenon, Laura?
And what kind of motorcycle do you prefer to ride?
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #27 of 128: ciderpunk (mtrbike) Wed 24 Mar 99 14:05
    


A motorcycle book!  I was going to do one, actually, on basic motorcycle
maintenance and repair.  There's an old book called Auto Repair for Dummies
(written long before the actual For Dummies series was invented, although
I'm told there's now a second edition that's an actual dummies book, how
ironic is that), which I've always admired because it explained
really basic auto maintenance incredibly well -- really, really basic stuff 
like identifying the parts of your engine. 

Anyhow, I wanted to do something similar for motorcycles, except I realized
that I could count the people who needed it on one hand, so just having
them over to my garage some weekend would save a lot of time. 

Come to think about it, though, my bigger concern at the time was that 
no one would publish it and I didn't have the money to do so myself.  But
this was before the Web!  Hmmmmmmmmmm!

I own a bunch of motorcycles, but I do most of my riding off-road.  I have
a little honda dirt bike.  Its big fun.  
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #28 of 128: Joel Bremson (jbremson) Wed 24 Mar 99 14:35
    
>Whether it's compiler or interpreted is not really relevant to my
>point about which "compiler" to use.  If you have a Perl 5 program,
>it won't work with a Perl 4 compiler, so they might as well be two
>different languages.

This generally isn't a major problem. You can install multiple
interpreters on a machine if you need to run scripts written under
different versions. You can even tell the program to require a certain
version or higher of perl to run.
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #29 of 128: ciderpunk (mtrbike) Wed 24 Mar 99 15:06
    

> heh. How did you come to be a a one-woman publishing phenomenon, Laura?

Accident.  I wrote a modest little technical book about HTML a few years
back.  People liked it.  Next thing I knew I was a Best-Selling Computer 
Book Author.

My publisher is responsible for most of the "phenomenon."  A lot of the 
books that are out there with my name on them are either repurposed versions 
of a single Java book that I wrote, or books that other people wrote as part 
of a series that I helped design ("Laura Lemay's Web Workshop.")  It gives 
the illusion that I've been a lot busier than I have been (which is not
to say that I haven't been busy).  

It got kind of out of control for a while.  I ended up having to promote
and support a whole lot of books that I hadn't written, and some that I 
didn't particularly like.  I wasn't comfortable with that, so I kind of 
withdrew altogether for a while and let the whole thing die down.  The 
Perl book has been the first new book I've done in a long time; I don't 
expect it to be anything huge, but I'm pretty darn happy with it.  
I'd much, much rather do good work than be rich and famous.

OK, I'd accept rich.  
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #30 of 128: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Wed 24 Mar 99 16:23
    
>count the people who needed it on one hand

Oh, you are so wrong. :-)
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #31 of 128: i'm confusing my heart dying with murderous rage (jet) Wed 24 Mar 99 17:19
    
(sorry, I didn't mean to hijack your topic.)
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #32 of 128: dragging in Hyperborea (dbdoty) Wed 24 Mar 99 17:23
    
Another satisfied customer on the HTML books here, who's never done any
Perl. Does it's syntax resemble anthing I'd find familiar (Forth, BASIC, C)?
Is it strongly typed? Will it let me get in all kinds of trouble?
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #33 of 128: ciderpunk (mtrbike) Wed 24 Mar 99 17:27
    

Perl resembles all languages, but much of it is reminiscent of unix
shells and C.

It is not strongly typed.  Just the opposite, it is quite
promiscuously typed (plum will love that).  

Oh yes, it will get you in all kinds of trouble.  
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #34 of 128: dragging in Hyperborea (dbdoty) Wed 24 Mar 99 17:59
    
I greatly prefer languages that let me get in trouble--probably a symptom of
first learing to program in Forth. I hate languages that try to force me to
do things THE RIGHT WAY!
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #35 of 128: ciderpunk (mtrbike) Wed 24 Mar 99 18:08
    

Perl will never ever do that.  Its against the Perl religion.  
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #36 of 128: i'm confusing my heart dying with murderous rage (jet) Wed 24 Mar 99 19:07
    
Many people (myself included) who have been using Perl for years have
a strong love/hate relationship with it.   Like The Force, it can
be used for both good and evil.

Good: a program manipulating strings in HTML pages
Evil: a program that duplicates an existing program, but is slower
      and a resource hog, written because somebody was too lasy to
      read a manual

I like Laura's book because it doesn't teach Evil Perl.
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #37 of 128: Cynthia Heimel (plum) Thu 25 Mar 99 00:07
    

I understand none of it except for the motorcycles.  but nevermind!  At
least now I know that In the Beginning, There Was Assembly.
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #38 of 128: dragging in Hyperborea (dbdoty) Thu 25 Mar 99 06:57
    
Actually, in the beginning there was machine language, which is not
*exactly* the same as assembly language.
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #39 of 128: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Thu 25 Mar 99 07:26
    
I remember a class where we had to write a device driver and toggle it into
the minicomputer so that it would be able to talk to the terminal.
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #40 of 128: hoofprints d' (satyr) Thu 25 Mar 99 08:37
    
Promiscuous typing...

the logical value of an integer
the numerical difference of two characters
the power to leep tall buildings in a single bound
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #41 of 128: Cynthia Heimel (plum) Thu 25 Mar 99 10:25
    

sharon, you're just showing off!
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #42 of 128: Undo Influence (mnemonic) Thu 25 Mar 99 10:41
    

Laura, you've told us much about being a geek. Could you talk also a bit
about being a redhead and a drummer?

(Feel free to explain the allusion, as well.)
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #43 of 128: impoverished intervallic palette (castle) Thu 25 Mar 99 13:07
    

Before we get into that, however, I'd just like to add my words of
admiration for Ms. Lemay who is the absolute goddess of clear explanation
of sticky technical information, a trait that I noted and benefitted from
numerous times on the WELL before she wrote word one of her first book.  

If anybody deserves success for writing books of this nature, it's you, my
dear.
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #44 of 128: i'm confusing my heart dying with murderous rage (jet) Thu 25 Mar 99 14:16
    
laura, you haven't mentioned bees enough yet.

(re: <38>: I covered 20+ years of history in one sentence. machine vs. assembly
is far too technical for that high level of discussion.)
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #45 of 128: Katherine Branstetter (kathbran) Fri 26 Mar 99 07:51
    
Bees?  Laura knows about bees?
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #46 of 128: ciderpunk (mtrbike) Fri 26 Mar 99 17:47
    

I know a bit about bees.  Bees are this year's obsessive hobby, and one
of my many attempts to do something that forces me to turn off the computer
and go outside at least once in a while.  

I have two beehives in the hills above my house.  They don't have actual
bees in them yet, because me and the beekeeper whose bees I am taking over
are having trouble getting connected.  But any day now -- hopefully before 
the cherry trees bloom -- I will have bees.  

Yes, I have the goofy bee suit with the veil and smoker and everything.  
I look like one of those Intel Bunny People (tm) with it on.  
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #47 of 128: ciderpunk (mtrbike) Fri 26 Mar 99 17:49
    

<mnenomic>'s reference to redheads and drumnmers is an allusion to my old
usenet days (ah, those were the days).  On usenet, you sign your posts with
a signature.  Mine was this one:

****************************************************************
Laura Lemay                                lemay@lorelei.sun.com
Redhead.  Drummer.  Geek.
****************************************************************

So the redhead thing was self-explanatory, although my Big Confession
for the day is that I was not and am not a natural redhead.  Strange
genetics or stress or gamma rays or something gave me a significant
amount of gray hair starting from the age of 13, and I wasn't about to
sit for that.  Fortunately, modern technology gave us hair dye, and I
feel it is my responsibility to try as much of it as possible. I
change my haircolor a lot.  What fun is life if you can't change your
hair color?

Drummer.  My obsessive hobby of the 80's and early 90's.  I was a
really rotten drummer.  Mostly I played drums because I had a lot of
internalized anger and I liked to hit things.  Playing drums was much
less likely to get me into trouble. I had to give them up when I moved
into an apartment too small for my drum kit.

The signature was kind of radical in 1989 -- that was way *way* before
being a geek was supposed to be cool. 
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #48 of 128: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Fri 26 Mar 99 17:56
    
The signature I always remember -- that was you, wasn't it? -- was the one
along the lines of, "I have plenty of friends.  I am busy for dinner." and
went on from there.  Basically to shoot down all the wannas.
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #49 of 128: ciderpunk (mtrbike) Fri 26 Mar 99 17:58
    

And thank you, <castle>, for that compliment.  I have a definite
love/hate relationship with technical writing -- I just love doing it,
think it can be really powerful when done well -- but have a deep
nagging insecurity that to be a Real Writer I should be doing Real
Writing like fiction or journalism (or give up writing altogether and
be a Real Programmer).  That technical writing is some sort of lesser
writing that isn't creative or artistic.  

I have an essay somewhere in me about this, about the value of 
good technical writing.  We are NOT HACKS, goddammit.  
  
inkwell.vue.34 : Laura Lemay: Brain the size of a small planet!
permalink #50 of 128: ciderpunk (mtrbike) Fri 26 Mar 99 18:02
    

Sorry for the blank lines.  I always end up with too many blank lines
at the end of posts when I think too much. :)

Yup, Sharon, that was me, and I only had that .sig for a week or so,
because I got SUCH FLAMAGE for it.  (all from men, of course).  How
dare I imply that the email I was getting was all come-ons!  Usenet
was more enlightened than that!  (actually, it wasn't, but far let
facts get in the way of a good thrash).  
  

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