Shortlog - a log of everyday things



Today's reading for HCI includes a paper coauthored by Ed H. Chi. In searching for background on the authors to better understand their places in the field, I found his autobiography. What I found interesting was this section:

"College was a breeze, but I worked hard to finish early. I had set my goals, and nothing was going to stop me from becoming a famous computer scientist. Little did I know how hard it is to do that. It was the fortune of a young punk who didn't know the limit, and tried anyhow. This drive, which I still carry to this day, was the major reason of being where I am now."

Heh, sounds somewhat familiar. And then this one:

"There is nothing more shocking than the realization of becoming someone who needed change, because of the single-track focus I had. Toward the end of my Ph. D. in early 1998, I started to change my life philosophy and went through a personal metamorphosis. Before this period, I had rejected the possibility of ever becoming a true Renaissance man, because I had thought that, given all the knowledge in the world, it was impossible to be a good and true Renaissance man. But I gradually realized that it wasn't the END GOAL of being a Renaissance man that mattered, but that the PROCESS of trying is what really mattered."

Most people who know me well know that it is (and has long been) one of my goals is to be a Renaissance man (or at least, as close as I can get). I can't remember exactly who first described me as one, but I remember the glowingly happy feeling I get every time I hear the phrase. Granted, I realized a while ago that being a true Renaissance man now is impossible (as my father put it, "You're a couple hundred years too late to be a Renaissance man"), but in my mind I still see that as the impossibly high goal that I want to strive toward. It may be impossible to get there, but as Chi writes, it's the process of trying that matters.

So, Renaissance man or no, I shall continue to strive for greatness, for knowledge, and for what it is to be a Renaissance man.

I know Sarah will remind me that Renaissance men had impeccable physiques, so I will need to start a more strenuous exercise regimen.

I love Felix von Leitner's slides on what optimizations compilers do. The question "how much does a cache miss cost" was raised in OS today, and in about 20 seconds I re-found slide 47. The whole talk basically says "the compiler is smarter than you are" and gives all sorts of evidence. GCC produces very good code in most of von Leitner's tests, and consistently outperformed icc/sunc/msvc. Impressive stuff, though I'd love to see the content updated for 2010.