Garry Hamilton

Garry Hamilton

A Brief Bio

Hi. I'm a programmer (since 1981).

I cut my teeth on 8080 assembly language. Since then, I've made my living brainwashing computers.

I've written applications, tools, drivers, a data warehouse, language variants, and a language or two.

I have a passion for information management - more particularly KNOWLEDGE management. To this end, I have invented a transmission, storage, and retrieval model which I call "TNF" (Tagged Narrative Format) as one of its working names. And, no, I'm not going to try to describe it here. I've been working on this concept since I taught computer languages at the local college some 15 years ago. Life (what happens to you while you're making other plans) has a way of providing a significant amount of distraction for one's "Great Ideas" so that things that are not really all that hard nonetheless drag on forever.

I live in the Southwest United States (currently - Nov 2003: Carson City, Nevada). I've finally transferred to the Reno branch of [company name here]. Still here - Dec 2004. Still here - Mar 2006. Update, May 2008 - Now located farther North, on a stretch of I90 between Coeur d'Alene and Spokane.

I have kids - some grown, some teens. UPDATE 10/22/2002: I'm officially a grandad, my oldest daughter having established her own progeny. Am I really that old? Another update 12/02/2004: Looks like another grandkid is pending. (Still later: Yup. That's two. I guess it's official.)

I've traveled a bit and lived in Europe and the UK for a while.

I've done work in rehab, remedial and advanced educational techniques, business analysis and troubleshooting, communications, electronics, and publishing.

I enjoy chess, Scrabble, Abalone, Othello, and other board games. I fenced for a few years, but I haven't picked up a long blade in two decades. I ran the long distance races in school. I ride bikes when I can, but not at the "everywhere, every day" level that I did while I was in Europe. I miss that.

In one life, I did some military time (for those who accept that the Air Force is "military"), which took me to England, Germany, and Greece, and which provided my grounding in basic and radio electronics.

In another life, I spent a decade and a half doing volunteer rehab and educational work - most of it overseas. Consequently, I speak really awful pidgin German, pretty good conversational Danish (better than I write it), and 3 dialects of non-American English (given a few weeks in England, I sound like a native), and 12 words of 5 other languages. I got a feel for how the U.S. is seen from without. I went through (and recovered from) "Ugly American" syndrome. I am well versed in applied educational technology - the kind that gets results in spite of the theories. I know something of the human condition (10 years of volunteer work will do that).

My email accounts have been straightened out.

I can be reached at garry-wiki(at)noisyroom(dot)com.

The kidrhino(at)viawest(dot)net address is no longer valid.

Other: I can be found wherever NoisyRoom contributes. There's a forum or three out there on which I use a nom de Web.

Wiki Mail & Abuse Section

Questions, answers, comments, general abuse, whatever. I'll try to answer as priorities and time slicing allow.

Garry, have you heard the joke: "What do you call a person who speaks 3 languages? - tri-lingual. What do you call a person who speaks 2 languages? - bi-lingual. What do you call a person who speaks one language? - an American! -- Bruce Pennington

Yup. There was a time when I did fit that definition. I was awful at languages in school. Once I moved to where the language was spoken I was able to learn it, and in fact found I have a knack for learning it as the locals speak it (complete with, in the case of Danish, a Vesterbro's (West Copenhagen) accent).

What was really enlightening was that the Scandinavian tongues are clearly the immediate "ancestors" of English. The grammars of the "Norse" languages almost completely match the English of today. The vocabularies differ, but there are words and word patterns that explain a great deal about why English is the way it is.

German is part of the story, and the various Latin derivatives are another part, but the substance and structure of English derives directly from Nordic roots.

Living there for several years did more for my appreciation of my own Mother tongue than all my years of schooling. I can't say I'm a big fan of the Socialism they've adopted there, but the time in-country was worth a great deal to me. -- gh

Hey Garry, I saw you wrote a lot of the Tree Pad page. I just mentioned there that, Novice Programmer that I am, I have been working up some Python Language modules for working with Tree Pad files. If you've any interest, I'd be happy to share. -- Brianvanden Broek Delete When Cooked

Hi, Brian, what sort of modules? I have begun to sketch out a simple email import/export module. In conversations with Henk from some years back, we discussed adding email functionality to the PLUS or BIZ versions. I haven't written to him lately, but the storage of message traffic for quick retrieval and correlation seems like one of the more useful things one could do with it. ~~ gh

Hi Garry, as I said, I'm a beginner, so none of them are Wiz Bang. But I have a general tool set for parsing a Tree Pad file into a Python dictionary (roughly Hash Table) with node id numbers as keys, and dictionaries as values, where the dictionary for each node has key-value pairs for all the nodes data and Meta Data.

I also have mostly done a file to create and maintain an automatic archive of text files I create. (I keep a running txt file of web references, and when it gets too big, run my script. It gets added to a Tree Pad htmhjt file with a hyperlinked Table of Contents for the whole file, and article table of contents to keywords in the new node, etc.

Its all primitive, but if you've any interest, I am happy to give it over. ~~ bvdb

Garry: Re: "Youse guys is treading on my turf."... If I'm one of the "Youse", I certainly meant no offense. My experience with memory and its problems includes a set of Observations that may (or may not) fit with yours to form a different Pattern that may fork into differing Conclusions. Care to 'chat'? -- Hans Wobbe

Offense? Of course not, Hans! The tone is "jocular" (joking), with no implication of "this belongs to me and you may not discuss it."

Chat? Yes, of course. Always open to discussion. That is, if I can remember what I was thinking ... (:-)

I had hoped so since I felt I recognized it as a thing I might do too, but only after getting to know someone a bit. Before that, I have found that formal politeness is a fairly 'flame-proof' suit, it may pay to don.

My interests in memory come almost literally come from the fact that I really am 'interrupt-driven' (I have trouble getting more than 10 minutes of work between interrupts). As a 'techie' I've accumulated a set of personal information tools that help me cope with the way I work, but these are solutions "just for me"; (The Brain, a programmable Editor, personal Wikis, Pocket Pcs integrated with Outlook's less well known capabilities, selective, effective use of MS Office and Project, ...). I've tried to share these insights in the past, not to be an evangelist, but rather because I am interested in finding other improvements or in helping their developers find ways of refining their tools. So far, I've concluded that I am too much a techie to even begin to be able to help non-techies understand what I am talking about.

I also have first-hand experience helping a partner recover from brain surgery. This completely erased her sense of time (which is quite common), her ability to read and write, or of course earn a living, and needless to say, altered her family life too. Using technology to help her recover, is part of my set of observations.

Let's see if there is something in this that acts as a seed for a 'chat'.

By the way, we both have pages at meatball, where the usemod software provides some facilities that make it easier to structure longer conversations, the Signal To Noise Ratio is much better and posts tend to get lost in Recent Changes much less frequently. Would you prefer to continue here or there? assuming "at all".

Regards, -- hwo.

Cozianu vs Kulisz == Hatfields vs McCoys

GH, since non-aligned content on those subjects is almost always miserably contemptible for either basic moral or factual reasons, yes it greatly bothers me. On those rare occasions when someone's opinion isn't idiotic and/or evil, I may or may not care about it. But then, you'd never be able to tell whether I agree with it or not so you'd mistakenly think I'm aligning myself with it.

Far more interesting to me than egalitarianism vs equalism, I'd like to know what you meant when you referred to your fairness-minded spouse. Was she an egalitarian, a devolved egalitarian, or an out and out equalitarian? I'd also like to know whether you understand the difference between egalitarianism and equalism, and why you'd have a problem with egalitarianism. And I'll note that even if you don't believe in egalitarianism, you should learn a thing or two about it in order to be able to argue against equalists. Just like I often use right-libertarian arguments against right-wingers. -- Richard Kulisz

Oh, hi, Richard. You should know by now, from our earlier discussions, that I view "education without experience" as useless, much in the same way that you view "experience without proper education" as useless. The fact that you cite authority and pontificate from your ivory tower really gets no traction with me. Your authorities aren't mine. The fact that you insist your authorities are the only legitimate ones also gets no traction here.

We don't use the same terminology (what a shock) since our backgrounds are radically different. We don't hold the same truths (another shock) for similar reasons, except that I rely on a lot of personal experience and wisdom derived from those with living experience. Sure, I have a text or two that I value, since the direct application of their content has bettered my life, but I'm also certain you don't care, so trying to sell you on what I know is really of no interest.

I'm sure that, sooner or later, you will get out and live some life. When you do, you'll get to field test your favorite theories. If we're both still alive by that time, it will be interesting to see how you fare.

My spouse? Not really an open topic for discussion. We don't always agree. She has, over our twenty years together, discovered for herself that many of her "right ways to do it" have flaws. Every few months I get to hear, "I wish we had done it your way," which is cold comfort. On the other hand, she has a track record of demonstrated ESP (or something like it) that predicts events in a way that has baffled me for that same period of time. She knows when people die. She knows when disasters are imminent. She knows when people can't be trusted. You absolutely do not want to play cards with her. And so on. Spooky stuff. I do my best to juggle the differences in style and understanding.

It bothers me that you seemingly can't credit the other participants here (on c2 wiki) with the sort of judgment needed to figure out what will work for them and what won't. To the point where you act as their censor. Mustn't expose them to "contaminated" thoughts. Heaven knows, some remark made by an "uninitiated and unwashed" contributor might actually influence one of these clearly "philosophically impaired" engineers. Must protect them from "unauthorized" thinking.

The concept that you believe you have the authority to govern what ideas a group of way above average intelligence members of a sophisticated community (who have not appointed or elected you) gets to see is singularly disturbing. The fact that you do it angrily is even more disturbing, since anger and dishonesty are so closely bound.

You want "anarchy" but you want to be in charge.

Contradictory facts. They can't both be true.

There is no credibility in that position.

There'd be no contradiction if you understood enough to actually see what's going on. I'm not an anarchist satisfied with bringing about anarchy. I am an anarch, a power unto oneself. Will to power doesn't imply any desire to be "in charge".

You might be satisfied with an endless treadmill of philosophical dreck if you think that progress is impossible or unimportant. Who cares if people get philosophy wrong if they're just relearning what everyone's already learned in the past millennia? Who cares what programming language anyone uses if the field of programming languages is static and moribund? Who cares about operating systems if the field is doomed to be dead for all eternity? Well, I don't.

I don't believe that OS research is doomed. I don't believe that programming language development is doomed. I don't believe that philosophy has all been done. I believe in PROGRESS. It's a question of protecting myself and the few smart people around from having their time and energy wasted by witless morons. It's a question of protecting our collaborative works from the evil-minded idiots who would destroy them. It's a question of protecting progress from the hateful luddites.

So you see, it's not a question of protection or censure but of collaboration and building up. How could it possibly be about protecting people whom I find contemptible and couldn't care less if they lived or died? And why shouldn't I be angry at them, at the waste of time and energy? I don't value their opinions. I value mine. You'd have known this if you'd understood the difference between an anarchist and an anarch. Or put most succinctly: I'm not some kind of bloody altruist. -- rk

Dude, I do see what's going on. I just see it differently.

"Will to power?" Horse shit. Arrogance. Big "I" little "you" isn't even remotely new. What you "know" is important, and what anyone else thinks or says is clearly not, unless it agrees/aligns with your opinions. Your willingness to be more violent in a conversation doesn't render you more right nor more intelligent, just more violent.

Sadly, you aren't stupid, which makes it more tragic. It's a real waste of intellect when your brilliance gets ignored because of all the verbal violence. I know it requires more strength to endure the slower minds around you, but that's part of the price you pay for actually being heard.

Why would you imagine that violence, which you abhor towards children, would somehow be more suitable toward adults?

Something of a disconnect there.

Unfortunately, C2 wiki is regulated by violence. Which would probably be why I'm so frustrated when participating in it, and why I'm eager for a civilized alternative. -- RK

Sorry to hear that, Richard. I hope you can work that out.

Garry, From your recent comments on About Atheism, sounds like you must have (or would, if you haven't yet) enjoyed Cs Lewis' The Abolition Of Man. (It's one of my favourites.) -- Mark Tilley

Thanx, Mark. No, I must confess I've not read Abolition of Man, but I'm familiar with some of CS Lewis' work. I guess I'll have to add it to my reading list. -- gh

Update, May 2008 - I now have a copy of Abolition of Man. Now all I need is time to read it.

Garry, re: your response to Juan Pablo ... the media doesn't help. My daughter was 5 before she knew what broadcast TV was. It gets worse every year, seems to me... I don't think it is just me getting older. I can't bear the thought of my kids being so bombarded by valueless crap. Or worse, crap that promotes very poor values. I do think that healthy values can be instilled without being part of a church, though. (at least I hope so)

I went to church when I was young. I picked up some useful values. Since that time I've lived a fairly respectable slice of life (by some standards). Somewhere in that process I stopped being a "church on Sunday" guy. For several years "church" was what I lived (daily active application of values and the methods to achieve them). Sundays-only people didn't impress me at all. I still don't do Sundays-in-the-pew. But nobody can shake what I know. Something I have always told my kids when asked whether such-and-such was okay is, "Do What You Know Is Right." If they didn't know whether such-and-such was right/wrong, we worked through it from causes and effects, benefits and detriments. It hasn't been perfect, but I never gave them "just do this; God says so." -- gh

Your homeschooling anecdote was very interesting. My kids began elementary school in Seattle. I was very pleasantly surprised to find (at least at Coe Elementary that we chose to attend) that a public school DID seem to provide a very thoughtful and well balanced education. I really want public schools in this country to be not just good, but great! When we moved to Corvallis, OR, I felt that some things slipped. While most of the educators in our school here seem good, there seems to be less unity of curriculum, and during the 2nd grade, my daughter slipped in math.. basically, she learned more advanced stuff in the 1st grade in Seattle and was considered gifted! Anyway, my point is that the public school system seems to vary a lot around the country, or even around a single city. My opinion is that having the money to have enough teachers to keep class sizes low is the single most important thing that would help. -- Ron Jandrasi

Ron, the "Public School" system that we have is flawed in fundamental ways. The system was adopted from the Prussian model, with the purpose of creating skilled-but-manageable drones. That hasn't been always the purpose of the teachers, parents, or students (certainly not the students) but with time, and the liberal application of more and more of the psych "sciences" we've achieved a system that conditions and indoctrinates more than it educates. The parents and students still resist that model, but the teachers have become (largely) assimilated into the psych-borg. I worked as a consultant with the NEA (National Education Assn) over a four year period, and I can tell you with certainty, they are not your friends. The system is rotten from the top down. The only answer is to be better at educating your kids than the system is at indoctrinating them. -- gh

You may notice that I don't air everything I know/believe/understand in public. Public can be a bad place for that. Certain paradigms really threaten certain sacred conventions of today's "enlightened" academia, so if you flash too much of that stuff around, the "enlightened" crowd will stone you to death to prevent contamination of the sacred "truths" they so cherish. So some of this stuff I reserve for quiet, private conversations. I had an experience with a "guru" who allowed me to thrash around for weeks before I finally asked him what to do. The answer was (for him) simple and well known. I asked him indignantly why he let me waste so much time thrashing. His answer was, "I don't dispense advice or knowledge unless it's asked for." I've had a hard time with that lesson, since I keep hoping that certain knowledge will register with some people if I give it freely. I'm nearly always wrong. But I'm always happy to convey what I know to anyone who asks. Sometimes what I know is even useful. And that makes it worthwhile. -- gh

Was television mentioned? Why let a young child know about television when they could be learning?

Television is quite possibly the greatest communications failure of modern record. Because of all that it could be, what it actually is falls tragically short. As political manipulators have discovered that TV provides a direct conduit for data (or a "message") modulating a "carrier wave" of entertainment, what TV has become is an indoctrination platform. Cute/fun/hillarious/emotional programs carry embedded social/political messages. You're talking to your kid one day and realize that he/she is spouting the most absurd social engineering crap you've heard. You ask where they got this from. They can't tell you. "Everybody knows" it's this way or that way. Occasionally, they'll identify the TV as source. But the real damage happens when 200 kids all get the same message from the same TV program, then get together and laugh/joke/discuss and agree about the message content.

Here's a question for you: is there anything at all that you've seen on TV - ever - that was so important that you couldn't have a) gotten it somewhere else b) done without it entirely? This does not count all the programming that people use as social shorthand in intra-office collisions - [Hey, Bob, how's it going? Hey, Tom, live long and prosper!] or [Oh, Dude! That was such a Tool Time moment!] - and my personal answer to this is no, TV just lets me turn off my mind and coast. Yes, I love a good story. I even like a good movie. But the packaging of television is wrong.

My parents, on seeing what TV was doing to our family, traded it in for a stereo. They didn't own another TV until I was over 30. I've gone for years at a time without one, and suffered not at all. The most damaging social content requiring the most repair and intervention in our family has come from a) television and b) schools. If I can ever get my wife to agree to it, we will purge our household of the damned things. Which means it's not likely to happen.

-- gh

Garry, if you like board games, maybe you'll enjoy the ancient Game Of Go; very simple rules, yet an astonishingly complex philosophy behind it. Du kannst uebrigens auch gerne deutsch mit mir sprechen. -- Philip Busch

Philip, thanks. I've recently added Game Of Go to my cabinet of games. Very pretty. Next, I'll have to read the rules. In my spare time. Meine deutsch ist forchtbar gr´┐Żslich, so we'll have to stick to English. I can manage Danish, but I'm pretty rusty. -- gh

A novice can learn the rules and start playing in 5 minutes, expertise in the game is a life-long process. Suggest to try it as an alternative to cross word puzzles on a 9x9 board. And some players with skills light-years ahead of me still enjoy occasional 9x9 games -- dl

Can you please show me the example with pentagram and blue mud?

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