February-March 2007

Heckel, PaulThe Elements of Friendly Software Design. 1991. B. I can see why this was revolutionary at the time, but it’s rather tedious now. Also, I find Heckel’s afterword on fighting for his patent rights bothersome. He’s the poster child for how the patent system can be abused (he manages to rationalize going after IBM instead of the company he believes infringed Zoomracks’ patent, basically because they are bigger.) Lots of interesting views of antique software and hardware. The weirdest is Viewdex’s technique of “scrolling” by rotating out not just the leftmost characters, but sometimes the leftmost vowels, so you go from NAME=Heckel, Paul to NM=Heckel, Paul to Hckl, Paul. Nice photo of the Sharp Model 500, a “portable computer that will fit in your briefcase” (I remember the weight of those “portables”) which includes a printer and “is typical of the high-end portable computers that QuickView software will run on.” Better than any of his own thoughts was this passage he quotes from Wilbur Wright:

No truth is without some mixture of error, and no error so false that it
possesses some elements of truth… After I get hold of a truth I hate to lose
it again, and I like to sift all the truth out before I give up an
error.

Montgomery, L.M
Anne of Green Gables – 1908 – A. I like the other books but none can touch this one.
Anne of Avonlea – 1909. B. Anne’s much less interesting once she grows up, so Montgomery has to bring in Davy to cause mischief (early example of the Cousin Oliver phenomenon).
Anne of the Island – 1915. B
Anne of Windy Poplars – 1936. B
Anne’s House of Dreams – 1922. B+
Chronicles of Avonlea – 1912. A- Montgomery does very well with short stories.
Further Chronicles of Avonlea – 1920. A-

Scott, Sir Walter
Ivanhoe – 1819 – B-. I’d never been able to get into any Scott but once I made it past page 50 it got better. Now I understand Knight’s Castle by Edward Eager better–Rowena is kind of a pill.

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