Quoting Donald Knuth

Donald Knuth challenged ChatGPT-4 with 20 questions and then submitted the results and his comments to Stephen Wolfram. The whole thing is fascinating in many ways and worth reading. Some remarkable quotes: Of course these are extremely impressive responses, sometimes astonishingly so; thus I totally understand why you and others have been paying attention to it. The most immediate impression is the quality of the wordsmithing. It’s way better than 99% of copy that people actually write. »

A new modern MSBuild terminal logger is coming with .NET 8

The latest .NET 8 Preview is out, and I love that they’re finally changing how MSBuild logs are printed to the terminal. The new Terminal Logger ditches the infamous “wall of text” that is a nightmare to parse in favor of a cleaner, leaner, and more organized output. Once enabled, the new logger shows you the restore phase, followed by the build phase. During each phase, the currently-building projects are at the bottom of the terminal, and each building project tells you both the MSBuild Target currently being built, as well as the amount of time spent on that target. »

Book Review: La Mossa del Matto (The Fool's Move)

Alessandro Barbaglia’s La mossa del matto (The fool’s move) tries to be three things in one: the life story of chess champion Bobby Fischer, a reconciliation dialogue between author and father, who died too soon, as well the tracing of a daring parallel between Fischer’s relationship with Russian champion Boris Spasskij and that of Achilles and Ulysses of Homeric memory. In our neck of the woods, we say that too much is crippling, and this work runs the risk. »

Tiny electronic desktop sculptures

Adorable, functional, often internet-connected desktop bots like those below are hand-crafted by Mohit Bhoite in San Francisco, California. It pleasantly surprised me that they’re built as a purely artistic expression. All sculptures (as Mohit rightfully refers to them) are unique and not for sale. Check them all out on his website (via). Subscribe to the newsletter, the RSS feed, or follow me on Mastodon »

macOS networkQuality tool

Today I learned about a precious little macOS command line tool, networkQuality. The networkQuality tool is a built-in tool released in macOS Monterey that can help diagnose network issues and measure network performance. Usage: networkQuality -v Example output: ==== SUMMARY ==== Uplink capacity: 44.448 Mbps (Accuracy: High) Downlink capacity: 162.135 Mbps (Accuracy: High) Responsiveness: Low (73 RPM) (Accuracy: High) Idle Latency: 50.125 milliseconds (Accuracy: High) Interface: en0 Uplink bytes transferred: 69. »

Book Review: Disastri (Disasters)

Daniil Charms was considered a children’s author and could not stand children all his life. While his whimsical fairy tales populated illustrated books and magazines, giving him something to live on in the silence of his room, he also feverishly wrote tales for adults, equally imaginative but inhabited by an excruciating melancholy, as in fairy tales went wrong. At the dawn of the USSR, this desperate fantasy of his was tolerable only if it was confined where it was least dangerous, in children’s literature. »

Story of Redis and its creator antirez

I read a well-researched story about Redis and its creator Salvatore Sanfilippo, also known as antirez. I was already familiar with many details as I have been following him since OKNotizie and Segnalo, of which I was a user. At the time, as a user, I exchanged a few emails with Salvatore, whom years later I had the pleasure of meeting in person, as we were both speakers at several conferences. »

Motorcycling the Tuscan Chianti

Last weekend I attended Eroica 2023, a motorcycling event organized by the Italian branch of the Triumph Owners Motorcycle Club I currently preside. We rode the Eroica route, a legendary gravel bicycle race that runs through the most beautiful territories of the Tuscan Chianti region. It was glorious. The weather was perfect, the food was incredible, and the close-knit party of thirty T.O.M.C.C. bikers had great fun. We all ended up covered in an astonishing amount of powder. »

AI-curated minimalist news

Minimalist News is the first LLM project that excites me but in a nervous way. Quoting the About page: We only publish significant news. To find them we use AI (ChatGPT-4) to read and analyze 1000 top news every day. For each article it estimates magnitude, scale, potential and credibility. Then we combine these estimates to get the final Significance score from 0 to 10. And now the best part: We’ll only send you the news scored 6. »

FatturaElettronica for .NET v3.4.8

Fattura Elettronica for .NET v3.4.8 was released on NuGet today. The Fattura Elettronica project allows for the validation and de/serialization of electronic invoices following the Italian Revenue Agency standards. As with the previous one, this release also addresses a small undocumented behavior in validating the invoice. See the relevant ticket for the details. Subscribe to the newsletter, the RSS feed, or follow me on Mastodon »

Book Review: Land and Sea

Land and Sea is an essay in short story form written in 1942 by Carl Schmitt. Subtitled “A consideration of world history told to my daughter Anna,” this essay recounts and summarizes the geo-historical-legal evolution of our planet since the discovery of the New World. The originality of the work lies in the author’s identification of the Earth-Sea dichotomy as the driving force of human history. I went into this book knowing very little about the author, Carl Schmitt, and the contents. »

The religious aspects of the corporate space race

A fascinating article surfaced on Nautilus last week. Mary-Jane Rubenstein, a professor of religion and science in society at Wesleyan University, shares her concerns about the technical strides and aspirations of Elon Musk’s SpaceX, the company’s mission to enable thousands of people to live on Mars, and the ethics of terraforming the planet to be more like Earth. What’s intriguing, though, is Rubenstein’s thoughts about the religious underpinnings of the United States space program and how even modern science is still hostage to imperialistic Christian ideas. »

Quoting Cicero

Not to know what happened before one was born is always to be a child. I found this Cicero quote on Lapham’s Quarterly’s about page. A little research dug out the supposedly original version found in Orator Ad M. Brutum (46 BC). It goes like this: To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history? »

Book Review: Medieval Callings

Medieval Callings comprises eleven essays by internationally renowned medieval historians. Somewhat deceptively, only Jacques Le Goff’s prestigious name appears on the front page, as he authored the introductive essay and handpicked and curated the collection. Each piece presents a nuanced profile of a significant social or professional Middle Ages group. Warrior knights, monks, high churchmen, criminals, lepers, shepherds, artists, and prostitutes, all prominent figures of medieval society, are depicted here with great detail. »

The Interstellar Style of Sun Ra

Pitchfork has a great piece on Sun Ra and his legacy. It’s worth reading if you’re a fan, even more so if you know nothing about him. But what Sun Ra had done, and done best, was reminding earthlings everywhere that he wasn’t mortal. He was a signifier of a life beyond the reality of this one. He was a visual reassurance of the presence of another world. He brought the cosmos to the streets, and, most importantly, he was a reminder that one does not have to subscribe to the status quo—musically, stylistically, politically, ideologically. »

The end of computer magazines in America (and elsewhere)

In the mid-to-late 80s, my excitement used to culminate by the end of the month when BYTE’s new issue would hit the newsstands1. In my small Italian hometown, only one, sometimes two, newsstands would sometime get a copy (BYTE was published in the US and copies sent abroad were scarce; only major, close-to-the-train-station stands had a chance to receive it). I wasn’t the only kid in town interested in that elusive one issue; I had an anonymous competitor. »

Noam Chomsky on ChatGPT

Noam Chomsky’s essays are always worth reading, no matter the topic he decides to address, because, well, frankly, he’s one of the brightest and most well-informed minds of our time. His criticism of OpenAI’s ChatGPT makes no exception. It does an excellent job of explaining how LLMs work, the differences with human reasoning, and why, in his opinion, the advent of artificial general intelligence is a long way to go, if ever. »

The real cost of interruption

I’m just back from reading Programmer Interrupted: The Real Cost of Interruption and Context Switching, an interesting short piece in which I learned about at least two new things. First, The Parable of the Two Watchmakers, introduced by Nobel Prize winner Herbert Simon, describes the complex relationship between sub-systems and their larger wholes. In the context of the article, it helps explain, even for non-programmers, the cost of an interruption. It also hints at a possible mitigation technique: »

ChatGPT is making up fake Guardian articles

Chris Moran, the Guardian’s head of editorial innovation: Last month one of our journalists received an interesting email. A researcher had come across mention of a Guardian article, written by the journalist on a specific subject from a few years before. But the piece was proving elusive on our website and in search. Had the headline perhaps been changed since it was launched? Had it been removed intentionally from the website because of a problem we’d identified? »

FatturaElettronica for .NET v3.4.7

Fattura Elettronica for .NET v3.4.7 was released on NuGet today. The Fattura Elettronica project allows for the validation and de/serialization of electronic invoices adhering to the canon defined by the Italian Revenue Agency. This release refines how the one-cent tolerance is accounted for in validation checks of types 00421 and 00423. As is often the case, there are subtle differences between the theoretical implementation defined in the official specs and the actual validation implemented by the same Agency that released said specs. »