Finding C. S. Lewis’s Essays

I’m on a mission to acquire a copy of everything C. S. Lewis ever published. The standalone books aren’t too difficult but the essays are a different story. They have been published and republished many times in diverse and overlapping collections. Some collections are out of print. Some are available in the UK but not the US. The essays sometimes change titles as they move from editor to editor. The task of deciphering the minimum number (or minimum total cost) of books necessary to own all of Lewis’s essays very nearly requires the help of an artificial intelligence.

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An Invitation Back to Faith

I’m writing to those who, like me, would have called themselves Christian as a child but who left aside that faith in the teenage or college years.

My aim will be to show that the reasons—the doubts, the discoveries, the emotions—that led you to set aside faith as you came of age were, although probably reasonable, not ultimately correct. You will see in what I’m about to argue that the reasons that persuaded you then should not persuade you now; that in fact the intellectual insights that moved you away from faith as you came of age were tainted with a kind of naivety, and that the more sophisticated reasoning and greater experience available to a more mature adult not only warrants a return to faith, but compels it.

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In Praise of Modern Board Games

How would you like to discover an activity that will:

  • Board Gamesentertain you and your family for hours each week?
  • pull your kids off of the “screens”—TV, iPad, computer, and phones?
  • create “face time” in your family, with all of you looking across a table at each other, talking, discussing, and laughing?
  • build your kids’ brain power, their social skills, and even their ability to plan and make wise decisions?

Would you be surprised if I said that the lowly board game is the lost ticket to this kind of engagement and fun?

I am selling nothing in this post (truly!). But I believe so strongly in the modern board game, and am so convinced that playing more games will be of such benefit to modern families, that I can’t remain silently any longer. I have to tell you why you need to play a modern board game tonight.

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Keep Taking Steps Forward

In the last couple of posts I’ve talked about a programmer’s greatest enemy: getting stuck. I talked about the various levels of how stuck you can get, from getting stuck while trudging through documentation to getting stuck because you don’t have the resources—passwords, files—that you need to perform a task.

This leads me to my ultimate advice for how to avoid getting stuck and how to get unstuck.

The secret to getting and staying unstuck is to keeping taking steps forward. Simple as that sounds, it is more difficult than it seems, and many programmers never master it.

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Four Kinds of Stuck

A programmer’s worst enemy is getting stuck. Getting stuck on a problem hurts your productivity. Worse than that, it hurts your joy, your confidence, and your soul. Therefore learning how to avoid getting stuck, how to recognize when you’re stuck, and how to get unstuck is a key skill in the quest of becoming a great programmer.

One of the things that helps me both to avoid getting stuck and to get out of being stuck is understanding the different kinds of stuck.

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A Programmer’s Greatest Enemy

A programmer’s greatest enemy is getting stuck. A crucial skill in programming—and one that many of my beginning game programming students lack—is the ability to recognize when they’re stuck, to get out of being stuck, and to avoid getting stuck in the first place.

Indeed, it’s a skill I’m still learning myself, although the contexts in which I still get stuck are shrinking with time, study, and experience.

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How Siri Works

Once again someone has offered us incredible artificial intelligence, and once again we are bracing for disappointment. It happened with handwriting recognition on the Newton, which proved to be slow and clumsy. It happened with the not-as-smart-as-they-first-appeared creatures of Lionhead’s Black and White. And remember the Kinect debut video showing a kid interacting with an on-screen villain effortlessly, the AI character perfectly intoning the kid’s name? Kinect brought some of the innovations promised in that early teaser, but clearly the video implied a level of sophistication and polish that turned to vapor in the end.

But it’s Apple this time, with Siri on the iPhone 4S. And although Apple has screwed up before—witness the aforementioned Newton—if anyone has the motivation, the resources, and the smarts to get AI right, the iPhone dev team is it.

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