Joy of Computing
May 31, 2022 4:55 AM   Subscribe

"Joy of Computing is here to remind you that computers can be both useful and fun": one new link to a technical project posted each day -- blog posts, toys, tools, games, and more. There's now an archive going back to 2018 ("a bit like a big group Tumblr"). Everything from a mathematical expression generator ("Do you want to say '1' as inscrutably as possible? This web app will generate a complicated mathematical expression for the integer of your choice.") to "an interactive tool that invites you to play and experiment with DNS to understand how it works" to a book about how WebRTC works.
posted by brainwane (11 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
 
I haven't clicked any links but the first sentence has triggered a core memory.

Years ago an ex and I used to play 20 questions a lot waiting in line/on transit/etc. It was his turn to serve, and I was asking questions, had sorted the answer into tool/device, and about four questions deep asked "is this something that's used for fun?" He said "no." And I proceeded to burn up all 20 questions without guessing the thing.

Turns out the answer was "keyboard."

"Like a computer keyboard?"
"Yeah."
"In what world would a computer keyboard not be used for fun???"
"I only use a computer for work."

It was that moment specifically that cemented for me that he and I were on fundamentally different life paths.
posted by phunniemee at 5:19 AM on May 31 [16 favorites]


Yes! We can use keyboards for fun! For instance without keyboards we would not have these rotating 3D pasta shapes.
posted by brainwane at 5:30 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


This is great and much-needed. I don't know about anyone else but my childhood sense of computers as joyful rather than awful has been severely tested by recent world developments.
posted by johngoren at 6:07 AM on May 31 [3 favorites]


If anyone doesn't know, these are dispatches from participants in Recurse Center in Brooklyn: an educational retreat for programmers who want to become dramatically better with a community of peers doing the same. RC is based in New York City and currently operating online. (RC is free.) Go back a ways and you can find something from me.
posted by little onion at 6:34 AM on May 31 [2 favorites]


Everything from a mathematical expression generator ("Do you want to say '1' as inscrutably as possible? This web app will generate a complicated mathematical expression for the integer of your choice.")

This is evocative of the Inverse Symbolic Calculator, which lets you supply a number and it tries to figure out mathematical expressions that get close to it. So if you numerically calculate (e.g.) a bunch of terms of some infinite sum and you think it might be related to known constants, the Inverse Symbolic Calculator will tell you how your numeric result may be generated from e, pi, etc.
posted by Jpfed at 7:57 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


This is evocative of the Inverse Symbolic Calculator, ...

Welp, that's just saved me a whole lot of time. I was planning to create a huge table of the "interesting" fractions one tends to generate in geometric patterns, but this already does that. Thanks!
posted by scruss at 10:09 AM on May 31 [2 favorites]


Play and experiment with DNS to understand how it works

Welcome to the first few years of my career! I'm not sure how the IT infrastructure for any of those companies stayed working. The server rooms looked like the messy parts of the Millennium Falcon. I unfortunately did not look like Han Solo.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 10:17 AM on May 31 [3 favorites]


Play and experiment with DNS to understand how it works

It's not DNS
There's no way it's DNS
It was DNS

posted by charred husk at 11:32 AM on May 31 [3 favorites]


Mess with DNS
made by bork
aka Julia Evans, who is one of the greatest active voices in technology education. (see also: Wizard Zines.)
posted by zamboni at 1:04 PM on May 31 [7 favorites]


charred husk, welcome to my life.
great post btw.
posted by capnsue at 1:09 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]




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