History of Libraries

This post is for resources from a talk I gave at Write the Docs 2021 Portland (held online). The talk description was:

Why do we care about libraries? Why are they so special? What makes them feel like secular sacred spaces? How do we capture and preserve that feeling? How do we recreate it? 

This session explores what’s so special about libraries, and unpacks the layers behind what makes a library a library. Open data wasn’t invented in the age of the computer!

In this session, from a computer scientist with a history degree, you will learn such things as:

  • why and how traditional Jewish law says that no writings with the name of God on them can be discarded, and how this led to treasure troves of resources on medieval Jews (as it turns out, people in that era who could write, would barely write anything without referring to God, so if you want a medieval shopping list, I’ll tell you where to go!)
  • how craftspeople in the Renaissance would use old books, and scraps of paper, to make boxes. This preserved writing never intended for posterity (posterity in the form of a box, no less!) What can we learn from this? Come and find out!
  • what’s the use, in 2021, of what is effectively a medieval sticky note saying “Could you please get me some wild roses? But make sure to include some that are not yet flowering!” Why do we have a 600 year old sticky note, much less care what it says?

Find out how we can create future libraries, and what we can do to preserve the libraries we have now. What even is a library? This will be a fast-paced history lesson, relating everything you hear to the modern day. Find out what’s next, from the past.

Sources

  • The Library: A Catalogue of Wonders by Stuart Kells (2017)
  • Encyclopedia of Library History by Wayne A. Wiegand and Donald G Davis Jnr (2015)
  • Ancient Libraries by Aikaterini Oikonomopoulou, Greg Woolf, Jason König, and Katerina Oikonomopoulou (Eds.) (2013)
  • History of Libraries: Ancient Mediaeval by D N Marshall (1983)
  • Libraries, Books, and Collectors of Texts, 1600-1900 by James Gregory (2018)
  • Lost Libraries: The Destruction of Great Book Collections Since Antiquity by J Raven (Ed.) (2004)
  • … and more which I’ll post soon once I export my bibliography.

Video link to come after event.

Practical Machine Learning for iOS

This post serves as a collection of follow-up resources for my AppBuilders 2020 talk, Practical Machine Learning for iOS. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me (via Twitter is preferred). 

If you want a full transcript, the script for this talk is available here as a PDF.

Here’s some useful links, roughly in the order they might interest you related to the talk:

  • CreateML — Apple’s easy to use tool for creating machine learning models based on tasks
  • CoreML — Apple’s framework for using machine learning models that are in the CoreML mlmodel format

Building a Sound Classifier:

Building a Caption Generator:

Some additional links that might be of interest:

And finally, we have a GitHub repository with the code that was shown in the talk, as well as the code repository for our book, Practical AI with Swift, that has a whole lot of great activities for you to use (even if you don’t have the book) across sound, vision, text, and more.

An update on 2020

Well, 2020 has gone in interesting directions so far! 🤷🏻‍♂️

I’m writing this from Hobart, where I live, and am currently self-isolating, after we returned home early from the USA a few weeks. We finished two events — including O’Reilly’s Software Architecture Conference (more on that in a second). After the second event, we found ourselves in Miami with the news that both the Game Developers Conference 2020 and O’Reilly’s Strata Data+AI conference (our next two events) were both cancelled.

With news that the COVID-19 virus was spreading, we sat in a Starbucks and worked with Virgin Australia to get us home. We landed in Melbourne early in the morning of 12 March 2020, arrived in Hobart a few hours later. We’ve been voluntarily self-isolating since then, out of an abundance of caution.

It’s already a bit stressful, but it doesn’t seem like the end is in sight.

A few days ago our publisher O’Reilly Media announced that they were shutting down their in-person events business, and wouldn’t be running conferences any more. This coincided with the positions of many of our friends at O’Reilly being made redundant. We’re pretty shocked, and sad. We’ve been to many, many O’Reilly conferences over the last 15 years, so this is very much the end of an era.

This week also coincides with the end of Jon and myself being employees of Secret Lab for 2 months! We made the change, after planning to do so for more than a year, because of all the upcoming travel we’d had planned, and the amazing opportunities we could see ahead if we worked in the business a little more and differently (more announcements soon!) Well, the travel didn’t pan out, but the employment is going well.

More, hopefully more cheerful, updates soon.

SA Conference 2020 NYC

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We’ve just finished speaking at the O’Reilly Software Architecture Conference 2020 in New York City. It was, as always, a fabulous event, and we had a great time! In a few weeks we’ll be speaking at O’Reilly’s Strata conference in San Jose, as well!

At Software Architecture in NYC we spoke about entity component systems, in a talk entitled “Entity component systems and you: they’re not just for game developers“.

Below are some of our favourite links relating to ECS. We hope you find them useful!

You can also find a slightly earlier version of the talk (from last year’s conference) on YouTube:

Software Architecture NYC was fabulous, and we can’t wait for the next one! We really enjoyed seeing our friend r0ml give an amazing talk (as usual), and signing copies of our Unity Game Development Cookbook!

Catch us next at the O’Reilly Strata Conference in San Jose!

🧶 Yarn Spinner 1.0

The popular open source narrative game development framework, Yarn Spinner, which is maintained by Secret Lab and a fabulous community, has reached version 1.0. As part of our 1.0 release, we’ve debuted 5 exciting new features:

  1. Compiled Scripts — Yarn Spinner now compiles to a binary format.
  2. Automatic Compiling — In Unity, your Yarn scripts will automatically be compiled when they change.
  3. Line Tagging — You can automatically add unique tags to lines of dialogue, and generate a .csv file to send to translators with the click of a button.
  4. Code Extension — There’s a syntax highlighting extension, available from the marketplace, for Visual Studio Code.
  5. No more .yarn.txt — The file extension is now .yarn! It was time.

We want Yarn Spinner to be the best tool that it can be. As part of that, we’ve launched a Patreon page, and we’d love for you to help support its development!

We’ve got big plans, so please check out the website, follow us on Twitter, support the Patreon if you can, and join our Narrative Game Development Slack. And we’d really appreciate it if you shared the news!

Finally employed after all these years

Secret Lab

The year 2020 will mark the 12th year of the “Secret Lab” name existing.

It initially started as a vehicle for three University friends to do cool things and make stuff, but in 2010 we turned it into a company. So it’s the 12th year of the name, and it’s the 10th anniversary for the “real thing”: the company.

In that time, like most of Australia’s small businesses, we’ve paid other people more than we’ve paid ourselves, and we’ve paid ourselves (Jon and myself) as “Directors Fees”. This made sense, and was the easiest way to do things, but times change.

Starting this year (in fact starting in a few short weeks at the beginning of February, just before we start a whole lot of travel for conferences and events, representing the company) Jon and I will both finally be employees of the company that we founded.

This doesn’t actually change much: the company still has to pay us superannuation, but now we’ll be paying ourselves every month, instead of at the end of a financial year, and now our income will be a wage, instead of directors fees.

We made this change to make it structurally easier to pay ourselves, and to make things a little clearer as we plan to travel to represent the company so much this year. If anyone has any tips on running a small business, 10 years in, I’m all ears!

Either way: from February 2020, I have a new job! It’s very similar to the old one, but I’ll be doing more than just managing the company, as now I’ll be working!