How JavaScript Works

How JavaScript Works, Douglas Crockford, Virgule Solidus, 2018

You will remember Douglas Crockford, creator of the JSON Data Interchange Format, the world’s most loved data format, and the jslint utility to help you debug your code. He is an opinionated JavaScript expert who wrote “JavaScript: The Good Parts” . The book rightly suggested that you just use the good features of JavaScript, and shun the bad ones.

His new book, How Javascript Works is not for beginners. It is scathingly critical of JavaScript, though the language is clearly the author’s favourite. It explores cases where JavaScript does unexpected things, or things which are clearly incorrect. It compares features with how they work in other languages. For an example of a questionable design decision, numbers are stored as floats. This has implications which can trip you up and we learn all the details.

Crockford devotes a few chapters to discussing the libraries he created to support big numbers and a rational data type. This is an opportunity to learn how to write great code.

A humorous book, net weight 1 pound (it says so on the cover), publisher name is Virgule Solidus. That is printed on the cover in a slanted font with the l’s aligned vertically, and Crockford has explained that in latin both the words mean forward slash. (as you no doubt know, slashes start a comment in Javascript). Crockford has started to correct the English language, and as a first step he has changed the spelling of ‘one’ to ‘wun’. Very good!

The book is clearly self published. I wish O’Reilly had edited it!

Vulkan Programming Guide

Vulkan Programming Guide –
The Official Guide to Learning Vulkan
by Graham Sellers, Addison-Wesley, 2017

This book on 3d graphics programming might be the most complex book on the subject in OPL. Think OpenGL but much more detailed. If you want to get your high-end graphics card busy, for complex graphics or video transformation or bitcoin, this book can help you. But it is not a book for beginners. Vulkan is more verbose than OpenGL, and lower level. The book explains the performance reasons why you would use Vulkan not OpenGL.

The Longest Bike Trail in the Gatineau

Here’s a great place to ride a bike. It used to be the railway from Ottawa north to Maniwaki, but now it is a ‘linear park’. Kazabazua had the longest bar in the Gatineau, I suppose it should have the longest park too. Start in a little village named Low, which is a bit north of Wakefield. The starting spot in Low was not easy to find, it did not jump out at me. Look for a lumberjack’s boat resting until the end of its days in the park parking lot. (I parked at the hockey arena before seeing the park parking.) Do not attempt to bike on the roads up to here from Ottawa, it would be quite dangerous.

The parking at the start in Low

From Low north, the trail is gently uphill (the railway grade). In places the trail follows a contour through the woods, with the hillside dropping off steeply on one side. Further on, you find it level for miles. Once on the trail, expect some easy riding. Bring a bike with wide tires, because the surface is soft sand in places. My 1.5 inch wide slicks worked fine. If it is too easy for you, you could explore the side roads around Low.

In Low there are many anglophones, but Quebec is mostly francophone. Try your best to speak French, it is a great chance to practice, and in any case it is only decent to try.

It was a railroad many years ago

The trail is restricted to bicycles and hikers in the summer, and snowmobiles in the winter. Horse riding is for some reason prohibited. I for one would not mind sharing the trail with horse riders.

Is it a park .. or a bike trail?

This is a very quiet trail, there was hardly anyone enjoying it on a May 24 weekend. One couple brought a music system with them. Pack some supplies with you, it is a long ride to Maniwaki!

There are lots of birds along the trail, all the common types, bluejays, gold finches, warblers, and also several that I could not name. What is the same size and shape as a Pileated woodpecker but mostly coloured in shades of brown? What has yellow on the back of the head, and a white rump?

Venosta Station!

The railway station at Venosta is a bit run down these days.


Venosta also has a government office, a church, and a few houses.

Some natural attractions include the gorge at Kazabazua, and the flatlands with sand ridges left by the ice age glaciers. Happy trails!

Marine Fishes of Arctic Canada

A Spotted Wolffish on the cover of Marine Fishes of Arctic Canada. 
© Candaian Scientific Submersible Facility/DFO, 2014

Coad, Brian W. and Reist, James B. (Edited and authored) with contributions by Peter Rask Møller, Claude B. Renaud, Noel R. Alfonso, Karen Dunmall, Michael Power, Chantelle D. Sawatzky, Fikret Berkes, J. Brian Dempson, Les N. Harris, and Heidi K. Swanson. 2018. Marine Fishes of Arctic Canada. Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa and University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Buffalo, London. xiv + 618 + pp., 521 figures, 219 maps, 182 colour figures.

This large format book will tell you everything you want to know about Arctic fishes. Up until now, information on Arctic fishes was relatively difficult to find because the Arctic is remote and scientific studies on fishes were more likely to be done closer to home. Museum of Nature researchers have been changing that and documenting new species in the north. Here is their announcement of the book

It was awarded the Dartmouth Medal.

A few years ago while the book was being written, a blog post (link to gave us some background.

Now you can read the book at OPL. Their description and summary of the book:
“Because of its wide geographic scope and harsh conditions, Canada’s Arctic presents many challenges for researchers and biologists. In this book, scientists from the Canadian Museum of Nature and Fisheries and Oceans Canada present a guide to the marine fishes found in Arctic Canadian waters and featuring up-to-date research on 222 species. Each of the 58 families is described in a general account followed by species accounts comprising common name, taxonomy, physical description and identification, habitat data, biology, distribution, commercial importance, and traditional knowledge. Many of the species are known only to scientists and come from the deeper waters of the Davis Strait while others have been important food sources for Indigenous peoples for millennia. A wide-ranging general introduction looks at the history of research, fish habitats, climate, fisheries, fish structure, and the collection and preservation of fishes while an essay on traditional ecological knowledge provides an important perspective. Exquisite black-and-white drawings of each species complement colour photos and illustrations. Finally, new range maps showing distributions across Arctic Canada were created for this volume. The book will be a welcome reference work for Northern residents, biologists and ecologists, environmental groups, and resource extraction companies operating in the North, as well as commercial and amateur fishers in Canada and in other circumpolar countries.”

A review by Betty Galbraith, Washington State University:
“Marine Fishes of Arctic Canada is a beautiful book. It is the first encyclopedia dedicated exclusively to the Arctic fishes of Canada and contains 222 species organized by 58 families. Each family of fishes is introduced with an overarching description of the biology, life cycle, behavior, and specific habitat. This family section is followed by accounts of each species within the family, including common name, taxonomy, physical description, biology, life history, distribution, commercial and cultural importance, and a short bibliography of sources. Each species also has a map of its range and beautiful line drawings. An introduction to the subject covers the history of research, fish habitats, climate, environment, and more. The book also contains a glossary of terms and a bibliography. Coad (emer., Canadian Museum of Nature) and Reist (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) both bring considerable expertise to this subject, having written several articles and bibliographies on Arctic fishes. A must-have book. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers.”