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The best things and stuff of 2013

Dec 27, 2013

Great things and people that I discovered, learned, read, met, etc. in 2013. No particular ordering is implied. Not everything is new.

also: see the lists from 2012, 2011 and 2010

Join in on the Hacker News discussion.

Great blog posts read

Most viewed blog posts by me (20K+ viewers)

  1. 10 Technical Papers Every Programmer Should Read (At Least Twice)My most popular post of 2011 was also my most popular of 2012 and also of 2013 — go figure.

  2. FP vs. OO, from the trenchesReally just an anecdote about where I’ve found functional programming useful over object-orientation and vice versa. For some reason it was popular for a few days — or at least controversial.

  3. Fun.jsMy announcement of my book “Functional JavaScript” made the Internet rounds. Plus the whole Fun.js series as a whole garnered a crap-ton of views and some discussion.

  4. C.S. on the CheapMy idea for a Dover-like publication run of computer science books.

  5. Scala: Sharp and Gets Things CutKind of a rant about the way that Scala is marketed that came off more critical than I wanted.

  6. Enfield: a programming language designed for pedagogyA description of a the perfect programming language for exploration.

  7. ComputeristsA bit of cynicism on my part about computer “science.”

Favorite technical books discovered (and read)

Favorite non-technical books read

  • Earth Abides by George Stewart — My favorite entry in the family of global-pandemic-centric science fiction novels.

  • The Invention of MorelA beautifully written book about an island of … I can’t say without giving away too much.

  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley — What can I add about this books that hasn’t been said 1000 times already. A fascinating life.

  • GrooksWonderful, poems… no… aphorisms… no… sketches… no… Grooks by Piet Hein

  • A Gamut of Games by Sid Sackson — The book that really kicked my recent obsession with games into high-gear.

Number of books read

a bunch

Number of books published

1 (with another due early 2014), plus a newsletter about Lispiness.

Number of books written


Number of papers read

≈ 20 (a very slow year for me in the paper department, sadly)

Number of papers read deeply


Language zoo additions


Favorite musicians discovered

Om, Alien Sex Fiend, The Fiery Furnaces

Favorite games discovered

I’ve discovered gaming at a late age. That’s not to say that I never played games. In fact, I’ve played my share of Chess, Checkers, Go, Risk, Gin Rummy, Hearts and Uno, but for one reason or another I never expanded much further than those staple games. However, now that my kids are getting older their drive to experience games and gaming is growing… and so goes mine. Therefore, below I’ll list my favorite games found in this year of discovery.

Board games

  • Cannon (PDF) — A wonderful board game with simple rules and deep complexities. A 150-year game.4

  • Mate20 cards. Perfect information. Mind games. Fun. I’m looking for people to play with via email; interested?

  • HiveA game of bug-tile placement. A 150-year game.

  • VolcanoNot only great fun, but a beautiful game to boot. My current favorite Looney Pyramids game.

  • HomeworldsAn abstract game a intergalactic conquest. A 150-year game. I’m looking for people to play with via email; interested?

Card games

  • Super NovaAn abandoned CCG that tried to gain players at the wrong time. Reading over the rules hints at a very fun game that might one day work as a LCG.

  • Magic: The GatheringAs a child of RPGs and LARPs, I’m ashamed to admit that I was a snob about Magic for many years, but I’ve come to discover a very deep and fun game 20-years later. I’m a very casual player without a drive to spend spend spend and thankfully there are movements in the MtG community to support such players.

  • HaggisThe best two-player card game since Gin Rummy.

Favorite TV series about zombies

The Walking Dead

Favorite programming languages (or related)

Clojure, ClojureScript, Haskell, Datalog, Frink, Pure, Racket, T

Programming languages used for projects both professional and not

Clojure, ClojureScript, Haskell, Java, JavaScript, SQL, Bash, make, Datalog, Zeder

Favorite papers discovered (and read)

Still haven’t read…

Snow Crash, Spook Country, A Fire upon the Deep, Programmer avec Scheme, Norwegian Wood, The Contortionists Handbook and a boat-load of scifi

Favorite conference attended

Strange Loop

Favorite code read

Life changing technology discovered

State of plans from 2012

  • Pescetarianism (redux) — huge fail (again)

  • Ariadne (the super-secret project) — eventually became my production rules system Zeder. Huge personal success!

  • More concatenative — year number two of huge failure.

  • Participate in the PLT Games — I was only able to participate once before Zeder took over my life.

  • No talks unless I have code to show — I consider this a rousing success as the few talks that I gave were code-heavy and about real projects that I was working on. I will continue this principle moving forward.

Plans for 2014


To my friend and colleague, whom I worked with for many years and learned so much of what I know about the art of programming — you will be missed. Rest in peace.


  1. As someone with a background in simulation I’ve felt that David’s idea has a real place in sim. However, I’ve not been able to put them to the test yet. 

  2. While Fielding’s post helped, working closely with unbelievable architects like Tim Ewald, Russ Olsen and Michael Nygard truly imprinted the desire to incorporate architectural thinking into my own software processes. 

  3. As a kid I vaguely remember a movie about some kid who had a computer that ran on a 9-volt battery who could write code that generated these materialized force-bubbles. He used these force bubbles for all kinds of fun activities but mostly to fly to space and visit aliens. I believe that computer ran a GreenArray and was programmed via colorForth. Does anyone remember this film? My memory and Google-fu fails me. 

  4. Games that people will be playing 150 years from now. 

14 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Adam

    Re: Footnote #3

    The movie you’re thinking of is one of my old favorites, Explorers! Starring Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix no less.

  2. Josh

    Thanks for sharing all of these. MTG + Malcom X + Programming. Saved. Happy New Year!

  3. David Edmondson

    For footnote 3, Explorers (

  4. Karl Ward

    The film you’re thinking of may be ‘Explorers’:

  5. MJ

    You’re not talking about Explorers, are you? I don’t know about the 9-volt battery or Forth, but it did have computer-generated force bubbles and aliens.

  6. I live in Pucon. Stop by and say hello on your way to Patagonia. -Tom

  7. Can you explain more about why Fitbit was so life changing. Is it the sleep monitoring? The activity tracking? Something else? I haven’t tried one yet. Thanks!

  8. Wow! Thanks for a great list of interesting stuff to read and explore!

    As for games, are you familiar with the card game Set? I became fascinated with it a few years ago after reading a blog post by Peter Norvig on it, and I can really recommend it. The rules are very simple, and it is a quick game that adults and kids can play together. I ended up writing my own program for simulating game play, and found some interesting stuff on the probabilities of not finding a set:

  9. Eric Anderson

    Fogus, your excellent blog post gives further reason to believe that I have internet addiction. Really looking forward to reading the new JoC.

  10. raphar

    Patagonia Argentina? (this side of the world) winter or summer?

  11. Patagonia is/was a project that I worked on that I would like to release some code for.

  12. raphar

    oh, my mistake :).

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