Posts Tagged poem

Every iOS developer take-home coding challenge

I can load and parse your JSON.
I can download icons async.
I can show it in a TableView
just to show you that I’m able to.
I’ll go old school if you like it;
I can code it in UIKit.
I can code Objective-C,
if that’s what you expect of me.
You can catch { me } if you try;
I can code it SwiftUI.
I can code it with Combine:
receive(on: .main) and then assign.
I can read it with a Codable,
Local resource or downloadable.
I can code a search bar filter
or reload; I have the skill to!

I can code it every way
to go from model into view
But I have loads to do today
Can we just code things in an interview?

I’ve been looking for a new job lately, and I’ve found that about 80% of the take-home coding challenges I’ve been given amount to ‘Write an iOS app that reads the JSON from this URL or file, and displays it in a list, including the icons from the URLs in the JSON. There should be [some additional controls on the list and/or a detail screen shown when a list item is selected]. You may use [specific language and/or UI framework] but not [some other technology, and/or any external libraries].’

It’s time-consuming, and gets a bit boring after a while, especially when the requirements are just different enough that you can’t reuse much code from the previous challenges, but not different enough that you can learn something new. One company even had me do the whole thing twice, because they’d neglected to mention which UI technology they preferred the first time. Luckily, by then I had existing code for almost every combination, so I didn’t have to waste too much time on it.

This poem is meant to have a ‘Green Eggs and Ham‘ vibe, though I couldn’t come up with a good ‘Sam-I-Am’ part. The best I can do is:

I do not like this soul destroyer;
I do not like it, Sawyer-the-Employer!


I do not like this coding prob’,
I do not like it, Bob-the-Job!

I did have a few take-home coding tests that were more interesting. One company had me implement a data structure I was not familiar with, so I got to learn about that. Another asked me to make specific changes (and any others that seemed necessary) in an existing codebase — a task much closer to what I’d likely be doing in an actual job.

Having also been on the hiring end of a JSON-to-TableView experience (it was not my choice of challenge, but I had no objection to it as I didn’t know how common it was at the time), I know how difficult it is to come up with ideas for such challenges, and I’m not sure what the solution is. I most enjoyed talking through problems in an interview, in pseudocode so there’s no pressure to remember the exact syntax without an IDE or documentation to help. This takes a clearly-defined amount of time, gives the interviewer a better idea of how I think, and gives me an idea of what it would be like to work with them. There’s also more immediate feedback, so I don’t waste time working on a detail they don’t care about, or just trying to convince myself that it’s good enough to submit. I realise that some people might find this more stressful than the take-home test, so ideally the companies would give the choice.

I am now at the point of my job search where I don’t think I’ll need to write any more JSON-to-TableView apps🤞🏻which is just as well, as I wouldn’t be inspired to do a great job of one.

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GloPoWriMo 2019

Last November, instead of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) I created NanoRhymo, where I wrote a tiny poem every day inspired by a random rhyme from my rhyming dictionary, April was GloPoWriMo (Global Poetry Writing Month — NaPoWriMo/National Poetry Writing Month to people from unknown nations who think ‘national’ gives their invented holidays a more realistic sheen) so I decided to do the same thing. Here are the poems I wrote.

Day 1, inspired by the rhyme propounds and zounds:

I see the news, and holler ‘Zounds!
That’s downright nuts! That is not cool!’
To see the thoughts that he propounds
I *hope* it’s all an April fool.

Day 2, inspired by the rhyme shenanigan and Flanagan:

There once was a rascal named Flanagan
who magnified ev’ry shenanigan
and when they were caught
repented, quite fraught,
then made their escape and and began again.

Day 3, inspired by the rhyme excavations and replication’s, and also a line from Jurassic Park:

After careful excavations,
came some reckless replications,
running rife, now run away!
Cunning life, uh, finds a way.

Day 4, inspired by the rhyme mutuality’s and theatricality’s, and the idea that the then-imminent Brexit needs to be summarised as a comic opera:

As now we face with Brexit
an end of mutuality,
I need theatricality
to show what’s going on.

It’s really quite complex, it
must be faced with joviality;
I can’t take the formality
or show-stopping fatality…

Before my poor brain wrecks it
by facing the reality
I need some musicality —
the show’s still going on!

Day 5, inspired by the rhyme asylum and subphylum:

This spineless chipolata
brings disgrace to Vertebrata!
I wish to seek asylum
in a different subphylum.

Day 6, inspired by the rhyme while I and styli:

Some scoff at using styli.
I’m not so highfalutin’,
so please excuse me while I
tweet from my Apple Newton.

Day 7, inspired by the rhyme lawmen and for men:

There’s no need to call the lawmen
and exclaim “Oh no! Us poor men!”
when things aren’t tailored for men.
Cast aside “misandrist” strawmen.
Watch how much you hold the floor, men.

Day 8, inspired by the rhyme airway’s and their ways:

I don’t agree with their ways!
Why can’t they learn new skills?
Their ‘breathing’ thing is hokum!
I won’t pay for their airways!
Why can’t they just use gills?
They’ll learn to if I choke ‘em!

Day 9, inspired by the rhymes ineffectually and intellectually, deficiency and inefficiency, and ineffaceable and untraceable:

If you’re ineffectual, although you’re intellectual,
then your inefficiency might stem from some deficiency —
memories ineffaceable which should be made untraceable,
ineffable reverberations crowding useful thought.

Day 10 (a day late), inspired by the rhyme detectable and connectible, and of course the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration’s announcement of the first image of a black hole:

Eight radio telescopes, made connectible,
made a black hole’s light detectable.

Day 11, inspired by the rhyme mending’s and endings, and of course the Beresheet lunar landing:

One small stop, and mission’s ending.
One giant lapse, no lunar mending.
Look at what you learn and hail your
huge success you earn through failure.

Day 12, inspired by the rhyme unlabelled and disabled:

While some propound that we transcend
ignore the boundaries to end
discrimination: life unlabelled
as woman, Asian, bi, disabled,
how you see me, and I myself,
still have myths attached we fell for,
still affect what we expect
to be, or see, and left unchecked
this blinding to the groups we see just
lets those stealthy fictions lead us.

Day 13, inspired by the rhyme reupholstering and bolstering and definitely referring to gunshot rather than immunisations:

If the shot in your arms is a killer,
you’ll find yourself bolstering the holster,
but if what’s in your arms is a pillow
you’d best be reupholstering the bolster.

Day 14, inspired by the rhyme planetesimals and hexadecimals (best read in a non-rhotic accent):

Previous dates say you’re lesser? Miladies,
we all start out infinitesimal.
Growing from dust we become planetesimals;
now you’re sixteen out of ten, hexadecimal.

Day 15, inspired by the rhyme deSitter and bitter:

I’m just very old; I’m not bitter.
I don’t care I can no more transmit a
request that will pass the de Sitter
horizon and get to your Twitter.

Day 16, inspired by the rhyme cassava’s and guavas, and a true story involving Joey Marianer and I hearing Beth Kinderman’s ‘Stop Covering “Hallelujah”‘ at MarsCon, visiting a ball of twine but not a furniture shop, noticing many other phrases that could scan to Hallelujah, and later writing a song to that tune about the ‘purple guava’ meme on JoCo Cruise. This poem is, of course, to be sung to the tune of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah:

At MarsCon just before the cruise,
we heard some Hallelujah blues,
saw Minnesotan places, but not Marva’s.
Beth Kinderman was in our head,
but thanks to Paul we wrote instead
A song like Hallelujah about guavas.
Purple guavas, not cassavas, purple guavas, not cassavas.

We ended up writing and rewriting many songs to that tune, and Joey has been going through our growing list of Hallelujah parodies and singing them on YouTube.

Day 17, inspired by the fact that it was National Haiku Day in some nation or other, and I indeed wrote a Haiku Detector app for macOS a while ago:

Haiku detector
is an app that finds haiku.
I wrote it myself.

Day 18, in reply to a friend who was surprised to have missed that I wrote a haiku detector:

And a robot choir,
a rhyming dictionary,
and an insult app.

Day 19, inspired by the rhyme surviving and depriving:

Let us watch the rich contriving
ways they can continue thriving,
cunning tricks to keep deriving
profits from their deeds depriving
others of the means of striving
for a life above surviving.

On day 20, I considered my post on unintentional haiku in the Mueller report to be my poem for the day.

Day 21, inspired by the rhyme nonvital and recital:

Some may say that art’s nonvital —
mere indulgence for the idle.
But while we breathe with no recital,
without reprieve, we’re suicidal.

Day 22, inspired by the rhymes (in non-rhotic accents) Larousse’snooses, and seducer’s, and some of the dictionary brands in my language bookcase:

In my bookcase of seducers:
Collins, Van Dales, and Larousses.
Some who judge not right from wrong,
Some who tighten grammar’s nooses.
Come to my Chambers, Roberts, Pons,
and I will Reed you all night long.

Day 23, inspired by the non-rhotic rhyme PDA to and cater:

Avoiding PDA to
abstemiously cater
to those who’d subjugate a
self you’ve not revealed
may further make the straighter
subconsciously equate a
same-sex love display to
a sin that’s best concealed.

Day 24, inspired by the rhyme dipterocarpaceous and veracious, to be sung to the tune of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious:

My dictionary says some plants are dipterocarpaceous,
even though it sounds like that is doubtfully veracious.
Lots of plant clades sound like this; it’s really not fallacious!
Caryophyll- amaryllid- hamamelidaceous!

I then got distracted by life for a while and wrote more poems in May, but let’s pretend they correspond to days in April.

Day 25, inspired by the non-rhotic rhymes intersectedunexpected, and sectored:

In a culture split and sectored
sometimes came the unexpected
when two groups who both were hectored
saw their interests intersected.

Day 26, inspired by the rhyme anaphylactic and intergalactic:

In an immune system intergalactic
dark energy swells in repulsive analogy
for self-versus-self, a matter of allergy,
and the Big Rip apocalypse anaphylactic.

Day 27, inspired by the rhyme subsistence and coexistence:

Species risk extinction and your
stocks deplete if you seek grandeur.
If instead you seek subsistence,
you might sustain that coexistence.

Day 28, inspired by hearing about someone being asked this question, to be sung to the tune of Tom Lehrer’s song L-Y:

You love with your minds and hearts
but also have matching parts.
“How do you two have sex?” acquaintances pry.
Consensually, consensually, consensual-L-Y.

Day 29, inspired by the fact that May 12 was both Mother’s Day in America and the first Women in Mathematics Day:

Today’s the day we stand beside
the women who have multiplied,
divided, added, and subtracted,
extrapolated, and abstracted
such that all of us were raised
to heights and powers that amazed.

Day 30, written as I was compiling this post, inspired by the rhyme mallets and ballots:

Some pound pavement swaying ballots,
Some pound foes, build walls with mallets
Some pound notes are worth less… well it’s
some pound of flesh to buy and sell us.

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May the Fourth Be With You

I’ve published both of these things before, but not both on May the Fourth. Here’s a video of the poem that I wrote about Star Wars before I saw it, along with a wrap-up of what I thought about the poem after seeing Star Wars:

And here’s a musical version of that poem, set to music and sung by Joey Marianer:

I’ve just noticed that the automatically-generated closed captions on that one say ‘sorry Bingley Lloyd’ instead of ‘stars were being made’, which is hilarious, but if you’re hard of hearing you’d be better off reading the text of the poem here instead. I don’t think I’ve added proper closed captions to my video of it either yet, sorry; I should have thought about this before today.

May the force be with Peter Mayhew always.

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My Performances at MarsCon 2019

I’ve been going to MarsCon, mainly for the Dementia Track of comedy music concerts,  whenever it’s convenient for me to get there before or after the JoCo Cruise. I’m a fan of most of the acts from The FuMP and other sites, and have contributed some of my own creations to The FuMP Sideshow.

This year, I finally had the nerve and the organisation to ask to perform at MarsCon in the two concerts where people not doing a main stage set can perform. In the FuMP Jukebox concert, where artists can each perform one of their original songs, I sang ‘Why I Perform at Open Mics‘, slightly censored as it was a daytime show:

I didn’t have the best breath control, as is often the case (and I was cold, which didn’t help) but I didn’t make any major mistakes, and Devo Spice complimented my rhymes later, so I’m going to count that as a huge success.

Then, during the Dementia Smackdown concert, where each artist covers another artist’s song, I sang the only cover song I know how to do — Chicken Monkey Duck, by Mike Phirman. Mike had kindly provided me with the accompanying video without his vocals, the same one he uses for his performances, so that I could perform it at open mics, so I used that at MarsCon as well.

Perhaps I should work on not staying at the back of the stage next to the exit, but otherwise, I did okay. Since this made me officially a performer in the Dementia Track, I was included in the Dementia Smackdown Wrestling. This is a simulated wrestling match between Dementia Track artists put together by JP Tuesday — my only input was providing a picture to model my avatar after. I won’t reveal how I did — watch it and see!

I also got a snazzy certificate for participating in the Dementia Track, which is currently tucked away safely in my luggage. All in all, it was a great experience.

After that I visited The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota, Kennedy Space Center, and of course, the JoCo Cruise, where the real Mike Phirman was a performer, for the third time — and if you think my performance of Chicken Monkey Duck was impressive, just wait till you see his sets on the cruise! I’ll upload my footage of it, and perhaps recount my other adventures, some time after I get home; I’m currently visiting the San Francisco Bay Area for a few more days.

In unrelated news, taking a job at a too-small-to-not-fail company has once again bitten me in the duck, so I’m looking for work again. If you’re at a reasonably stable company that needs a programmer with mathematics and linguistics training who can also sometimes write and perform weird things, let me know!

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In which I appear content with content in which I appear

I’ve been having a pretty relaxed month, but my life is ridiculous, therefore so far in September I have appeared in a music video, a radio broadcast, and a podcast.

The music video is Molly Lewis’s ‘Pantsuit Sasquatch‘, for which I recorded my feet walking up to a tortoise sculpture on a playground:

This joins the six other official music videos I have contributed to, and five unofficial music videos I’ve made. I guess I just like being in music videos.

The radio broadcast (which you can also listen to online) was episode #9 of the Open Phil Broadcast on Radio Orange. The broadcast mostly features regulars at the Open Phil open mic in Vienna. Each episode features an interview with and performance by two acts; I shared this one with Adrian Lüssing, also known as The Cliff.

It was an honour to be invited to participate in the broadcast, and it was made extra awesome by the fact that it happened while Joey Marianer, who has been setting a lot of my poetry to music, was visiting Vienna, so he participated too. I recited They Might Not Be Giants, then he sang his version of it, then we sang I Love Your Body, with Joey singing the first part and me singing the second part. Yes, me singing. This is about the first time I’ve sung for an audience, and the third time Joey and I had sung that song together, and it went on the radio. I think it went pretty well, though! We performed it again a few days later on the Open Phil stage, and I’ll post video of that once I’ve uploaded it.

The podcast was episode #60 of Wrong, but Useful, a recreational mathematics podcast by @icecolbeveridge (Colin in real life) and @reflectivemaths (Dave in real life). I was invited to be a special guest cohost. I’m not sure I contributed very much, but I once again recited They Might Not Be Giants, because the hosts had heard me perform that at the MathsJam Annual Gathering last year. I have to admit, I had not actually listened to the podcast until I was invited to be on it — podcast listening is something I usually do while commuting, and lately I’ve been noncommutative. However, before episode #60 was recorded, Joey and I listened to episode #59 together, and I’m happy to report that the answer we came up with for the coin-flipping puzzle was correct.

In hindsight, I wish I’d mentioned my linguistics degree while we were chatting about English and poetry and such. I also wish I’d said something about the fact that nobody on episode #59 noticed that the diameter of the Fields medal in millimetres happened to round up to the number of the podcast (that is, 64, not 59. You don’t expect mathematicians to give each podcast episode only a single number do you?)

This reminds me, I need to register for the MathsJam Annual Gathering soon. You should too, if you can get to it. It’s a lot of fun! And who knows? Maybe if you go, you’ll end up co-hosting a podcast.

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Negative Return (a poem about a Space Shuttle launch and/or a breakup)

Well, it’s Global Poetry Writing Month again. I can’t promise to blog a poem every day, but I have a few I prepared earlier. Here’s one called Negative Return, which I wrote in 2015 in order to have an excuse to wear my flight suit on stage. It’s about a Space Shuttle launch, or a breakup, or a breakup in which the person breaking up with you is leaving in a Space Shuttle (my preferred way of breaking up with someone.) It was inspired by something a tour guide at Kennedy Space Center said, which I happened to record audio of.

This particular performance is from the open mic on the 2018 JoCo Cruise, even though on the JoCo Cruise, no excuse is needed to wear a flight suit at any time.

I’ve performed it a few times in Vienna, with slightly different wording, though I’d never actually posted about it here before. Here’s a playlist of the recorded versions of it.

Immediately before me at the open mic, Joey Marianer, who follows me around singing everything I say, sang my parody of Jonathan Coulton’s ‘Glasses’:

As I’ve previously mentioned, he’d sung it before on YouTube, but I think this live performance was even better.

I’m still processing, uploading, and getting the performers’ permission to post my video from the rest of the open mic.

I recommend watching the video if you can rather than just reading, as there are some added sound effects, but here are the words to Negative Return:

Read the rest of this entry »

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They Might Not Be Giants video

When I commissioned Len Peralta to illustrate my poem They Might Not Be Giants for a poster, I paid a little extra to get a speed-paint video of its creation. This was partly because I love watching how Len draws things, but also because I wanted to make a video that would showcase both the poster and the poem. Well, I finally got around to making that video. Here you can watch Len illustrate the poster (sped up, but probably not by as much as you think, because he’s pretty fast) while listening to me read the poem:

I’ve also collected all the videos I have of this poem (my performances, and Joey’s song) in a playlist, in case you’d like to hear the same words several times, or see how it’s changed over time, or whatever. I just like making playlists, okay?

If you’d like a copy of the poster, check my Things to Buy page for information on how to buy it. Or, if you happen to live in Vienna, catch me at one of the open mic nights some time; I usually have posters and bookmarks with me.

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I made a bookmark!

photoI’ve been meaning to put a revised version of the poem The Bookshop on a bookmark for a while, but put it aside as I didn’t have the tools to do it the way I wanted. Motivated by the recent Christmas shopping edition of the Open Phil open mic, I finally bought the app I needed, finished the design, and had some printed, so now you can buy them on my Etsy shop. They may be a little late for Jólabókaflóðið, but you were going to read all year anyway, right? These are considerably cheaper to post worldwide than my posters (fun falsehood: posters are call that because they’re more post), and while the postage still costs more than the thing itself in most cases, you can save on postage by ordering more than one at once.

If you’ve ever started casually reading something in a bookshop and then looked up and realised the sun has gone down, you’ll understand the generally timey-wimey nature of books and bookshops shown in this poem. Admittedly, when this happened to me shortly before I wrote the poem, I was in Stockholm on the shortest day of the year, but it can happen on longer days too. The background shows a sky slowly darkening and becoming a sunset as you read through the poem. The reverse of the bookmark has the name of the poem and author, on the same sky as seen facing away from the Sun.

It occurs to me that a customised version of this poem bookmark might be useful to promote an actual bookshop, so if you’d be interested in that, let me know.

Much thanks to my friend Grace Bridges for her advice on the design of the bookmarks; I would recommend her books to use the bookmark on, but they’re mostly on Kindle, so I’ll just recommend them whether you still use physical bookmarks or not. She also has some posters and T-shirts available on Teechip. I am now considering putting some things up on Teechip myself, since it would be better value than either Zazzle or Etsy for getting posters and T-shirts to people around the world. I’ll also publish a book some day. I’m also working on a few videos and apps and version two of the rhyming dictionary I’m not officially publicising (don’t tell anyone I just linked to it! It’s our secret) until I’ve finished version two. But one thing at a time.

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I Love Your Body (now a song!)

My friend Joey Marianer used his brain to come up with a tune for I Love Your Body, and then he used the rest of his body to turn it into sounds! Isn’t this great?

I’ve been thinking this could be turned into a longer singalong by having the same thing repeated with ‘I love my body…’ etc., and then maybe ‘We love our bodies’. It would remove one of the few rhymes (‘brains need ATP/and there’s no ESP/that would show you to me’ would become something like ‘there’s no ESP to show myself to you’ or ‘there’s no ESP to show ourselves to each other’) but the cool thing about songs is they can sound good even when they don’t rhyme.

In any case, those lines should perhaps be changed. Mentioning ATP (a chemical that transports energy that cells can use) is a little too scientific for this song, and I’m no biologist so I’m not sure it’s the best chemical to mention anyway. (Edit: The obvious substitution, which I didn’t think of until far too late, is simply ‘energy’.) Most of what I know about ATP comes from songs. If you want a song that explains how ATP is made by mitochondria, try Come On Down (The Electron Transport Chain) by Science Groove:

Or Oxidative Phosphorylation, also by Science Groove:

Back to ‘I Love Your Body’, I’ve found that I’ve ended up with a completely different musical version of it in my head. I can’t transcribe the tune, but the words go something like this:

I love your body
The way it keeps you ali-i-ive
I love your body
The way it has a you inside
I love your body
How it allows communications
I love your body
The way it gives you sweet sensations

That’s all from me. Use your body to make somebody happy today!

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I Love Your Body

I love your body
The way it keeps you alive
The way it lets you touch me
The way it lets us communicate
The way it gives you pleasant sensations

I don’t love its flaws
The way it hurts you
The way it makes you sick
The way it makes you tired
The way it can’t do the things that you want it to

But I love
that you have it
so that I can have you,
because brains need ATP
and there’s no ESP
that would show you to me.

I love your body
I hope it takes care of you
and you of it
for a love-filled lifetime.

I wrote this in a couple of minutes a few nights ago because I was sick of how much of even ‘body positivity’ seems to be focused on embracing how unfashionably-shaped bodies look, thus lending credence to the central tenet of body negativity and body shaming: that a body’s appearance is its most important attribute.

On the other hand, perhaps it is sometimes a good idea to pay attention to appearance (as with race, gender, etc.) in order to actively counteract subconscious or institutionalised biases. I am not sure. It’s probably not my place to say, since it’s been a long time since I had any body image issues of my own or paid attention to other people’s issues with my body’s image.

I wasn’t sure whether to post this already, but some very powerful people have been making unsolicited comments about the appearances of people’s bodies lately, and also a friend who hadn’t read it encouraged me to post it. I’ve dusted it off a little but not as much as I usually would. Perhaps some day I’ll craft it into something fancier, choose some better words, some rhymes, or make it into a parody of some well-known ‘I love your body; it has comfortable places for me to put my genitals’-style pop song (any suggestions? I don’t know very many songs that aren’t already funny), but for now I’ve at least ticked off the recurring ‘write something’ item on my to-do list. Have a great time consensually touching the universe with your meat-suit!

Also, about an hour from the time I post this, there’s a live stream of CERN’s doo-wop band, and the first band on the web, Les Horribles Cernettes (LHC). If you read this in time to watch that, I recommend it! I’ve had the privilege of seeing several of their shows in person, as well as meeting them, and they’re nowhere near as horrible as they claim.

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