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GIF creator has died

GIF creator has died

In 2013, Steven Wilhite told The New York Times, “The Oxford English Dictionary accepts both pronunciations. They are wrong. It is a soft ‘G,’ pronounced ‘jif.’ End of story.”

Steve Wilhite was best known for inventing the GIF file format in 1987 – and he even won a Webby Award. “It’s been an incredibly enduring piece of technology,” said David-Michel Davies, the executive director of The Webby Awards. “Even as bandwidth has expanded it has been very exciting to see how much cultural cachet the format has gotten.”

Mr. Wilhite, then working at CompuServe (the nation’s first major online service) knew the company wanted to display things like color weather maps. Because he had an interest in compression technologies, Mr. Wilhite thought he could help.

Steve Wilhite was featured in an October 1987 issue of the CompuServe magazine, "Online Today" for inventing the GIF.
Steve Wilhite was featured in an October 1987 issue of the CompuServe magazine, “Online Today” for inventing the GIF.Credit

“I saw the format I wanted in my head and then I started programming,” he said in an e-mail. (He primarily uses e-mail to communicate now, after suffering a stroke in 2000.) The first image he created was a picture of an airplane.

The prototype took about a month and the format was released in June 1987.

“I remember when other people saw the GIF,” he said. Colleagues abandoned work on other black and white formats, he said, as graphics experts began to spread the GIF online. A triumph of speed and compression, the GIF was able to move as fast as Internet culture itself, and has today become the ultimate meme-maker.

Questions to ask during a job interview

Questions to ask during a job interview

Most people prepare for interviews by practicing their responses to the most common questions. It is obviously critical to demonstrate you are qualified for the job, but one largely overlooked fact is that job satisfaction and the reasons that people leave jobs is often related to the work environment, team dynamics, and management of the position. Right out of college, I know I was just happy to get a job. As you move through your career and as stakes go up for switching jobs (having to move, family, etc), you should also be taking the time to see if you actually want to work for and in this job.

So how do I as a candidate interview the position to see if I like it? There are a number of resources out there, but here are some really good questions you could be asking your future coworkers/employer. During most good interviews, the interviewer should give you a few minutes to ask your questions. Time is limited, so you should have your questions already. Also, you should likely have different questions for team members, management, and leads so you can cover as many bases as you can.

Some great ones to start with (with follow up questions if you want more info):

  • What does a typical day on the job look like?
  • What are the main duties/examples of the kinds of projects I would do for this position? Do you anticipate them to change within the next year?
  • What is turnover like in this role? What’s the previous person who held this role doing now?
  • What other countries do you regularly work with and how often?

For fellow team members:

  • How long have you been with the company? What’s motivated you to stay? 
  • What’s your favorite thing about working for this company/group?
  • What’s the hardest thing about working at this company/group for you?

Company/team:

  • How would you describe the company/team culture? What kind of person tends to be happiest here?
  • How did the company handle the COVID-19 pandemic? What (other) recent challenges have the company/team faced, and how has it handled them?
  • What does the company/team do or offer to help employees achieve a work-life balance?

Manager:

  • How is performance assessed for someone in this position?
  • What would a successful candidate be able to do in the first month, 6 months, year?
  • Who would I be directly reporting to in this role? 
Free on your birthday

Free on your birthday

Freebies on your birthday are always a nice perk but sometimes hard to find.

In recent years, restaurants that offer freebies on your birthday require you to sign up to their mailing lists the month BEFORE your birthday (before the 1st of your birth month). They then email you coupon codes once the month starts. On a more positive note, most of these new coupons give you the whole week of your birthday, and increasingly even the whole month of your birthday to cash them in.

So, where can you find such freebies?

Awesome puzzles

Awesome puzzles

Do you enjoy those little brain teaser puzzles made out of wood, metal, nails, horseshoes, and other everyday objects?

Puzzle Master is an amazing website with all kinds of puzzles. Everything from simple $10 packs full of wire puzzles, up to multi-thousand dollar works of art. Give it a look.

Incorruptibility

Incorruptibility

Let us drive another nail in the tired and completely false Hollywood/pop culture trope of science vs religion shall we? Because, in case one forgets, a huge number of the world’s greatest scientists, mathematicians, and Nobel Prize winners were Christians that saw no conflict of science and religion but as two paths equally seeking truth. One path via the created world, and the other path via divine revelation of the human condition – and not in conflict but in harmony with each other.

Delayed Decomposition

“It’s definitely happening, and it’s definitely weird”. Scientists are increasingly agreeing something is going on, but in the centuries it has been happening, no science has come forth to explain it. Most recently, scientists have noted that after the death of some Tibetan Buddhist monks, their bodies remain in a meditating position without decaying for an extraordinary length of time, often as long as two or three weeks. A fascinating account of the phenomenon was written by Daniel Burke for the publication Tricycle.

The Thukdam Project of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Healthy Minds is now studying the phenomenon. For Buddhists, thukdam begins with a “clear light” meditation that allows the mind to gradually unspool, eventually dissipating into a state of universal consciousness no longer attached to the body. Only at that time is the body free to die. Neuroscientist Richard Davidson first encountered thukdam after his Tibetan monk friend Geshe Lhundub Sopa died and then saw him five days later: “There was absolutely no change. It was really quite remarkable.”

But this isn’t a new phenomenon, incorruptibility and long delays in decomposition of particularly holy individuals has been well known in the Christian world for centuries.

Faith and Science together – as they always have been.

As Fides Et Ratio and other Catholic documents point out, faith and science are two sides of the same coin of seeking truth. This isn’t just a Catholic idea, here’s a particularly interesting quote from Dalai Lama from the article:

What science finds to be nonexistent we should all accept as nonexistent, but what science merely does not find is a completely different matter. An example is consciousness itself. Although sentient beings, including humans, have experienced consciousness for centuries, we still do not know what consciousness actually is: its complete nature and how it functions.

Dalai Lama

Links:

Corpus Christi – A local film

Corpus Christi – A local film

Today is the Feast of Corpus Christi, and what a perfect moment to mention an energetic young local lady from Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church near Seattle produced this short film Faith Prevails: The Miracle of Bolsena about the Eucharistic Miracle of Bolsena-Orvieto in 1263. She was inspired to make the film after she participated in a play about the event written by her local pastor. Over 1800 volunteer hours were logged from the 20+ individuals who participated as cast and crew.

The film follows the story of Fr. Peter of Prague, a priest doubtful of the Real Presence. After a pilgrimage to help his unbelief, he was celebrating Mass in the tiny Church of St. Christina when the consecrated Host began to bleed. It is said that this miracle, in conjunction with the visions of St. Juliana of Liège, caused Pope Urban IV to institute the Feast of Corpus Christi for the universal Catholic Church. The feast has been celebrated ever since and the corporal that held the host can still be seen on public display in the Duomo di Orvieto.

Playing music together – on the internet

Playing music together – on the internet

Covid lockdown has had some surprising side effects – especially to musicians. It turns out playing music or singing together on the internet is much, much harder than you think. In some situations, it is likely impossible to overcome the lag issues due to the basic laws of physics (unless we get quantum entanglement communication systems)

Turns out, JackTrip and Jamulus (free) has been able to solve some of these issues. I’m going to have to read more about it.

Beyond ECS for game design

Beyond ECS for game design

ECS (Entity-Component-System) has been the staple of game design since the 90’s. Unfortunately, it isn’t great in some ways – especially for the naïve implementations. While it sounds very object oriented to create objects for all the monsters, characters, rooms, and so forth – it turns out that the object classes usually become unmanageably huge, become overly complex when adding new functionality (duplicating functionality across types, start having multiple inheritance problems, etc), and often perform poorly once you get large numbers of assets.

Text roguelike games are great microcosms of game design. Because they don’t have fancy graphics – you can quickly learn good and bad patterns of game engine design.

Here Bob Nystrom, the author of Game Programming Patterns (free and worth checking out), describes some of the classic ECS issues he ran into when he built his roguelike game and how he used design patterns to solve some of them. Definitely worth the 20 minute listen as a good introduction to game engine issues.