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Land of Lisp is finally out...and has a music video. (landoflisp.com)
398 points by drcode on Oct 27, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 108 comments

Hi HNers- I'm Conrad (aka drcode) the author of said book. Thanks guys for helping build the buzz around LOL! (I should also thank pg for getting me into this stuff in the first place.)

I'll be lurking in this thread today and tomorrow... feel free to post any questions about the book or about Lisp in general and I will answer them.

Here's the only coupon code currently for the book. I'm posting it exclusively on HN and proggit: 76738380768586 (ASCII for LISPLUV :-)

It gives a 35% discount on the Book+eBook combo on the No Starch site (http://nostarch.com/lisp.htm). It expires 11/3. (FYI- If you just want the eBook, No Starch already has a 50% off sale right now across the board. If you only want the print copy, Amazon has a heavily discounted price already, for reasons that are mysterious to me. Oh, and if you've already pre-ordered, just cancel and reorder to get the discount.)

Congrats on the release. I'm excited to finish reading the book. I just thought you should know, however, that there's a minor mistake (I think) in some of the walkthrough stuff in the pdf. On page 56:

  >  (defun pudding-eater (person)
      (cond ((eq person 'henry) (setf *arch-enemy* 'stupid-lisp-alien) '(curse you lisp alien – you ate my pudding))
  	    ((eq person 'johnny) (setf *arch-enemy* 'useless-old-johnny) '(i hope you choked on my pudding johnny))
  	    (t '(why you eat my pudding stranger ?))))

  > (pudding-eater 'johnny)

  > *arch-enemy*
arch-enemy at this time should hold the value 'useless-old-johnny, not 'johnny

Yes, you are right- You found the first errata!

At least the intent of the code is still clear.

It seems to work for me.

  CL-USER> (defvar *arch-enemy* nil)
           (defun pudding-eater (person)
             (cond  ((eq person 'henry)(setf *arch-enemy* 'stupid-lisp-alien)'(curse you lisp alien - you ate my pudding))
           	    ((eq person 'johnny)(setf *arch-enemy* 'useless-old-johnny)'(i hope you choked on my pudding johnny)) 
          	    (t'(why you ate my pudding stranger?)))) 

  CL-USER> *arch-enemy* 
  CL-USER> (pudding-eater 'johnny) 
  CL-USER> *arch-enemy* 

But LISP is immune to bugs!?! What gives??

You've also put together an amazing site for the book! Both the video and comic are hilarious and top notch. I'd send anybody curious about Lisp to your book site in a heartbeat.

Long Live Lisp.

Hah this is awesome. Not only from a coding perspective, but from one artist to another - congrats. I really enjoyed that comic about Lisp fleet. Comic also exposes one nasty thing about it - there is no single implementation that has all of the fleet's features. Do you recommend some specific implementation to go with your book? Anyways, first check that comes in November and I'm buying. Congrats on your project once again, really looks like something special!

I think Common Lisp, Scheme, and Clojure each have a lot to offer. I wish there was one perfect Lisp :)

I think it was Appel who had a funny proof for the non-existence of the Perfect Compiler, it can be applied to Lisp quite easily.

FWIW, the proof used the halting problem and went like this. Assume there is a an unoptimized program that, when ran, would go through a series of motions but ultimately halt without any useful output or side-effect. Assume there existed a perfect compiler, PC; that compiler would need to be sufficiently smart enough to translate the problem to a single HALT instruction (or "Label X: goto X".) But since the halting of programs can not be proven analytically, it stands to reason that PC does not exist.

Actually, this could be done if the program didn't use any print or input commands. In general, it still cannot be done.

I said "without any useful output or side-effect". I/O falls under those categories.

I should mention that the book primarily uses Common Lisp.

What a wonderful step in the direction of making Lisp "cool." The site is great, the comic is witty and wonderful, and — after meeting the No Starch guy a few years ago — you chose a great publisher.

Thanks for this wonderfull book! I have just bought the printed book with the pdf. Very very good!

This might be just the perfect companion to "Pratical Common Lisp" by Peter Seibel. I always thought PCL is an excellent book for someone who already knows some Lisp. With these two books, I believe you really achieve a powerfull combo to start learning and using Lisp!

And the music is very cool too :-)

Firstly, congratulations on completing the book.

Will this book be available for Kindle by any chance?

My understanding is it will appear on the kindle in the near future (though I don't know the process for this 100%)

If your contract with NoStarch permits, my startup (http://fifobooks.com/) could do this for you.

I.e., we could produce a native ebook (not pdf) file for the Kindle, iPad, Nook, Sony, and a bunch of other dedicated e-reader devices.

Thanks for the discount code Conrad, I just used it to buy the print+PDF book.

Also: I have really enjoyed your writing on the web for a long time!

I enjoyed the comic. There is a typo in the last panel. It says "Doug the developer and and the others could now return to their programming, no longer in fear of bugs." The word "and" is repeated.


And you found yourself a happy customer. You had me at balancing weasels on a rake. (Or, well, at the discount. Hard to fight against my poor German genes.)

Sweet! Your Casting SPELs in Lisp was one of the things that first got me interested in Lisp years and years ago. :)

Just ordered. (The ebook seems to be working fine now.)

Hey I just bought a copy of the e-book but I can't download it yet there's only a dummy file.

Hi- I just talked to my No Starch contact and they said the PDF should appear any moment- apologies... a little glitch on take-off.

Great, thanks!

Hi- The glitch is fixed- You should have just received the correct PDF... Email me at lisperati@gmail.com if this is not the case.

Congratulations on getting the book out (and for the 30% off you gave me)! My only question so far is about the comic...what's the point of the 3 panels in the training facility? Is the 'hug' joke supposed to be funny?

I was trying to make fun of the Wii controller... oh well, you can't win them all...

Oh, OK. I think I got the joke and then thought 'oh, that can't be it'. It did give a nice break to the pacing of the story, though.

awesome! I was putting off ordering this while I finished reading Joy of Clojure, but the coupon code forced my hand. Thanks - Looking forward to the print copy arrival.

Thanks for the book, and the discount. I've never took the time to really learn Lisp, even though I took a class on it in college. Excited to dig in to Land of Lisp!

Thanks. I had been waiting for this book for a long time.

After some 3 attempts of download, I could download the book. All I can say is that this book is really awesome!

Greetings from India. Just purchased eBook + Print. Thanks a bunch for discount. I look forward to become a LISPer. Cheers!

Will there be a Kindle version of the ebook?

yes- takes a couple more weeks to get the mobi file, free with pdf purchase.

I'm really glad you made an mp3/ogg version of the song available. It's been on repeat all morning.

Awesome!! Congratulations - I know it was a long haul, but it looks like it was well worth it.

Any plans for a epub version? :)

Yes- I believe it will show up in a week or two.

Will it be available if I purchase the PDF or should I wait?

Someone else asked this... I'll let you know as soon as I find out.

Please do lets us know about this, I read PDFs on my computers and ePubs on my portable devices.

And thank you for the book and the awesome video and comic! :-)

Yes, it'll be free to download a couple of weeks after you buy the PDF.

Conrad, this was awesome! Excellent work! Ordering...

I preordered your book, can't wait for it to come!

purchased, looks fun!

How fabulous. I smiled all the way through that video. There is something so happy about exuberant, unrepentant nerdery.

Hey, super stoked for this so I just went to check my amazon order history and discovered my order was no longer there? So I checked my gmail account and in my spam found:

"Hello from Amazon.com.

Due to a lack of availability from our suppliers, we will not be able to obtain the following item(s) from your order:

Conrad Barski "Land of Lisp: Learn to Program in Lisp, One Game at a Time!" http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1593272006

We've cancelled the item(s) and apologize for the inconvenience. We must also apologize for the length of time it has taken us to reach this conclusion. Until recently, we had still hoped to obtain these item(s) for you.

Your credit card will NOT BE CHARGED for this item because you only pay for items when we ship them to you."

I am just bummed I did not notice sooner but glad I caught this thread so I can re-order! SO excited - just wanted to give a heads up in case other people were under the impression that they should be seeing it arrive on their doorstep.

update: per the authors comment below I have used the promo code to order directly from no starch so I can read the digital version while I wait for the lovely physical copy.

Yes, you probably ordered early this year or late last year. Some pre-orders were cancelled because of the delay of the book at that time- apologies. You will see a reference to that in the music video on landoflisp.com.

Right now you can order on Amazon without difficulty.

This has set the bar very high for Lisp book marketing. I am stunned. My plans for a Clojure Lucha libre exhibition look lame by comparison. I need a bowl of parentheses to help me think.

Hi fogus -Sorry I couldn't make it to Clojure Conj... liked your slides.

My philosophy of marketing is that you need to do something different that no one else has done before to attract attention. There wasn't a programming book with a music video yet, so I exploited that fact :)

But of course, there's still plenty other ideas that could be used to market other books/sites...

You're doing a great job. I can't wait to see what you come up with next. I hope to see you at a future Captial Area Clojure UG (http://www.meetup.com/Cap-Clug/). Do you think you would be up for discussing the Clojure-bits (well, all and any bits are just as good too) of your book one day?

Yeah, I was there last month- Will try to come again tomorrow.

Happy to talk about Lisp/Clojure anytime. (with a little notice)

Sorry, won't make it tonight- next month should work though.

Conrad, absolutely loved your video. My 6yo will pore over your comic and Ill no doubt see land-of-lisp refs crop up in his battle scenes.

This all got me thinking about developing interactive stories and the ideal lisp game development environment...

I hear from people who want to create interactive books and lessons for iPad. I recommend they prototype things in PowerPoint or Keynote first, then hire a developer to turn it into a cocoa app or a HTML5 web app with webkit animations. Its too hard.

If the ideal tool was a web app, you could develop games and interactive lessons for iPad and other tablets directly on the device.

You'd want a DSL for standard slide/rotate/scale animations, and write code in lisp for game logic. This would bypass expense of developing native cocoa apps yet reach nice platforms.

Ideally you'd prototype quickly and be led gently into the best language. I guess mobile is the primary computer for most young people, so would be ideal to take a lisp environment to them.

That video just made my day - awesome! Can't wait to get the book. I also realised when browsing the Amazon page that the author is the same guy who wrote 'casting spels' (http://www.lisperati.com/casting.html) which was also great.

If your reading this Conrad do you mind me asking you about your art work? It's, hands down, some of the best cartoon drawing I've seen on the web. I'd love to know what tools you use to do the drawing and make the animations, and what process you go through when developing them.

Seriously? Best cartoon drawing on the web? I doubt that :)

I used to do all the artwork in ink and then scan it. Now I do it all on my iPad with SketchBook Pro (took me a while to figure out how to get decent quality this way- At first, I didn't think decent drawing on an iPad was possible)

The animation was all done by importing bitmap artwork into Toon Boom animation. It's a cheesy Windows program (i.e. save your work every 30 minutes, or else...) but is feature rich.

Thanks for the reply. I asked about what you are using because I have recently tried doing some drawing with a Wacom graphics tablet and am having trouble (I have one of the cheap ones where you draw on the tablet whilst watching the screen - the disconnect between hand and eye makes it difficult).

I'll look at some of the things you mentioned and see about trying them.

(thanks again!)

Yeah, I found Wacom tablets to be no good for me, for the reason you describe. The iPad is definitely a better drawing device, as long as you don't care about pressure sensitivity.

(Hope they release a large-screen iPad soon :)

Not the same thing, but the Cintiq is a monitor you can draw on, which is pressure sensitive and lets you use whatever desktop-grade software you want. I enjoy your drawings and explanations quite a bit; you'd probably find a Cintiq, even the smaller (awesome) one, to be the most natural drawing experience a computer can currently give.

FYI, the Homebrew formula to install CLISP on Mac OS X is at http://github.com/mxcl/homebrew/pull/2707

If the formula works well, please comment there and suggest the authors accept my pull request. (If not, I ll be very happy to help.)

It depends on 'libiconv', which is not part of master.

Sorry, my bad. I added the keg-only dependency libiconv. Is it working for you now?

I'm excited to finally be getting the book...I just wish I had read comic books as a kid so that I didn't have to struggle with picking up the proper 'comic reading flow' in my thirties ;-)

(BTW, Conrad, I think you meant to say 'geezer' instead of 'geyser' in the comic adapted from your epilogue...?)

I'm hoping I can use the book to teach lisp to some junior high kids in a disadvantaged youth program. Is it appropriate for that, or no?

Thanks- I think I accidentally used an old bitmap- That typo is fixed in the book.

I'm not sure the book can really take someone from zero programming experience and teach them Lisp- It assumes at least some programming background. It would be fine for junior high kids if they already know a bit of programming, but I suspect they may not.

The website totally convinced me. I'm buying the eBook now!

Ditto. And it's so awesome to see the author's whimsy pay off so well, judging by the overall response here.

same! glad you wrote that book!

The comic on the Land of Lisp page is so well done. Click on the blinking words.

I'm speechless...

Agreed... It takes a highly technical subject and makes it wonderfully accessible. It reminds me of _why's work, or Scott McCloud's Google Chrome comic.

However, I was amused to read: "Continuations are such an awesome feature that they don't really have a downside." Personally, I find that continuations are utterly mindbending. While the comic says carelessly applied DSLs can make it hard to understand code, I think continuations can make it downright impenetrable.

I love this little continuation brainteaser: http://groups.csail.mit.edu/mac/ftpdir/scheme-mail/HTML/rrrs...

Clicking on them doesn't do anything for me (Safari), what do they do?

Anyone else with Safari having a problem? Please reply here so I know if a fix is still needed.... Clicking on the "throbbing text" should pop up a window.

It's fixed for me now, it may have just been my net connection. The descriptions are awesome!

Hmm... I tested on Safari yesterday, seemed fine... I will test in the morning again.

They explain the ships in detail. Nicely done.

Holly shit!~

(piano solo)

"balance weasels on a rake .."

Too funny .. :-P

Conrad, you're awesome!

Bought it, I can't wait. I'm trying get my colleagues to try lisp, but I didn't have the marketing tools necessary to convince them Now i do, the music video gives a lot of personification to world (land) of lisp, thank you!

Congratulations Conrad on finally getting the book out! I just got my copy from the No Starch website and am reading the ebook now. On first blush the layout looks awesome. I'm looking forward to digging into it.

Also, your video on landoflisp.com reminds me of the music video John Carpenter produced with his band for Big Trouble in Little China (I mean that as a compliment): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D03E9kUTTtQ

Not sure I see the connection, but thanks :P

Are the comic and game examples inspired by _why? (also reminds me of http://learnyouahaskell.com/)

I think my comics at lisperati.com predate all of these, clearly inferior, rivals. (kidding- both are great)

Conrad has been at it since ~2002, IIRC.

GTW? LOL! Seeing Hunt the Wumpus referenced brings back memories of my TI-99/4A and makes this a must buy. This book reminds me of the magazines/compilations I have with programs and games in TI-BASIC/Assembly Language.


Congratulations on the release! Music video and the comic (Continuation guild reminds me of Arilou ships from StarControl II) are AWESOME and made my day. I'm currently trying to get money for paper version of the book.

By the way, I've shown the music video and the comic to friends of mine, and two of them actually got interested and started to ask questions about Lisp. Their positive reaction makes me think that those materials could be good to show to people to get them seriously interested in parenthesis-oriented-programming ;).

I'm learning LISP through this book, and it's fun!

On p.42, when explaining the c*r functions, I found it easier to just read the "sequence" right-to-left.

For example:

  (cadadr '((peas carrots tomatoes) (pork beef chicken) duck))
Read as "rest, first, rest, first" of the cons cells, where "a" means "first" and "d" means "rest of the cons cell(s)".

Aside: I am now beginning to appreciate Clojure more. :P

I bought the print and eBook bundle and so far I'm really pleased with it. I'm at Chapter 3 already and it's an easy read; the author explains things in simple English that's very easy to follow. The illustrations help in clarifying concepts and also serve up some humor that keeps things interesting. Kudos!

Hi Conrad - glad to see this available now - I saw your preview at the DC HN Meetup. I love all the art!

Conrad, I also met you at the DC meetup. Congrats!

Looks like the "HN Effect" is making the site unavailable. Saw it briefly earlier and looked great!

Nope- Just a random major outage at dreamhost- now fixed (hopefully)

I bought Land of Lisp as soon as I became aware of it. Every time I hear a truck out front I think, its here. Looking forward to total Common Lisp immersion. Thanks for all of your contributions past and present to the Lisp community and of course for the book.

Been waiting for this book for a long time, glad to finally see it out. Already bought my copy, will be downloading it tonight to start working through it.

Congratulations on finally getting it out! :)

Thanks for creating this book! I just picked it up, and everything I've seen so far from the website and the first chapter has been a blast so far. I'm excited to dive into the rest.

If you'd like a video addendum, courtesy of @lisperati and @johnclaus (the videographer), to this post http://bit.ly/cjDWg5

Thank you for an excellent way to introduce such a powerful language (that I've been longing to learn, I must add!)

Game programming + Lisp! That's some winning combo! :D

I love this so much.

Nice, Conrad! I haven't tried to balance weasels on a rake in a while. I'm looking forward to seeing how you did it. SMILE

Thanks for writing this! I also enjoyed the same game code books as a kid - looking forward to learning lisp.

When I got to the meowing cats in the music video I knew I had to have a copy of the book. :-) Congrats!

Page 194: "Hey Buddy! Why don't you try to prove the correctness of this!" - LoL

Sorry for the OT question, but what tools did you use to make that video?

OT, but check out Digicel Flipbook if you're seriously interested in 2D animation - http://www.digicelinc.com/ it will make your life easier.

Am I the only one having problems downloading the ebook after purchasing?

It seems to be working fine for others right now- Please let me know at lisperati@gmail.com if you continue to have problems.

It's seems to be fixed now and I could download the eBook after logging in to NoStarch. Thanks for the book!

Probably the most fun computer book ever released.

Conrad, you are my hero!

the video is a little annoying but the comic is amazing.

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