Recently, a coworker discovered that other coworkers found out about her blog. Her response was to shut it down. There's a funny aspect about blogs. Despite its very public nature, it's quite common to want a blog that's somewhat secret, i.e., available to some people you know, but not to others.
You could, of course, achieve this effect by password protecting the blog, and only letting your friends know, but then they'd have to remember the password. And there's something about strangers reading it too.
As usual, even though this opens up my entry for the blog, it's not what I want to really write about.
What I really want to write about is Richard Feynman. I have to say that he is one of the great influences of my life. No, I didn't go into physics. I didn't become a genius. I won't become a Nobel prize winner, nor have I played bongos, nor did I try to find my way to Tuva.
However, he did have an influence on how I try to think about things. In particular, he tried to understand things in a real-world sort of way. He gave credit to his dad for that, who would tell him how big dinosaurs were by picturing them relative to the house they lived in.
Recently, a friend gave me a copy of Feynman's Lectures on Computation. No, this is not his original book on physics. It's about the fundamentals of computers.
Feynman died in the late 80s, but by then computers were quite prevalent. While he was a physicist by training, he learned some stuff about computers too, though in a fundamental sort of way. He would be interested, for example, in the basic computer architecture, and to know what is or is not computable. He would probably not care to know how modern software is written.
Like many books that he gets credit for, these lectures were not written by Feynman. Instead, they were recorded, and more or less transcribed. His original lectures in physics were done this way too, and usually, someone else did the job of transcribing.
Although Feynman had the reputation of being a good teacher, what makes for a good lecture doesn't always translate to easy reading. It takes work to make it sound as easy to follow as it was live.
With that caveat, I must say Feynman seemed to have a pretty good idea how to teach stuff. He knew that the key was to relate what he was teaching to every day things people understood. Even a well-educated person benefits from such explanations.
I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of explanations and feel that Feynman was perhaps nearly as brilliant a teacher as he was a physicist, and that's a rare quality indeed.
If you get a chance, I'd read his book on computation. It's not revolutionary by any means, but it is a interesting read by a person who looked at the world in his own way.
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