Excellent explanations of some complex math & programming topics. My favorite: An Interactive Guide To The Fourier Transform.
Amazing multimedia (that word is so 90s, but nothing more appropriate comes to mind) story of a fatal avalanche at Stevens Pass. Just look.
John Hammond was responsible for discovering and promoting some of the greatest musical talent of the 20th century: Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Pete Seeger, Aretha Franklin, George Benson, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Bruce Springsteen, among others. He was also responsible for introducing the world to the music of the great blues man Robert Johnson, who was the focus of the Radiolab piece.
On top of that, he was a civil rights pioneer, playing a large role in integrating the music industry.
Nice summary of issues with running MongoDB at scale.
Software engineering tools from Microsoft Research.
"Research strongly suggests that people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption."
I fairly quickly found a bunch of annoyances in python that I carped about frequently. Can't resolve circular references? Ruby has no problem with that. Class and static methods tacked on via decorators? Those should be first-class concepts in any modern programming language. Not to mention that the python style of programming (and the circular reference issue) encouraged having multiple classes in a single file, or even files with bare, classless functions (i.e. modules). And what kind of crap is "
if __name__ == '__main__':"? Yeah, I did a lot of grumbling.
But a funny thing happened. I kept working with it, learned to do things the "python way," and most of these things turned out to be not such a big deal. I found a lot to like about python. The lack of extraneous characters for defining blocks (a.k.a. significant whitespace) was refreshing, and made for more readable code. It has a deep and well-documented standard library, and the quality of external libraries I've come across has generally been extraordinarily high. I had come to enjoy writing python.
When learning something new, the natural reaction is to compare it to what we already know. That's how the brain works, by making associations. The easy trap to fall into, however, is jumping to the conclusion that because it doesn't quite fit the patterns that you've learned–because it is different–it is inferior or broken. This is often compounded by the normal frustrations any beginner encounters, especially when you're in an environment where you're expected to hit the ground running.
I believe this is related to what Sigmund Freud termed the narcissism of small differences, the idea that people with relatively minor differences in viewpoint tend to be more combative than those with major differences.
Over time, as you learn and start to see more of the whole picture, those annoying differences become smaller and smaller, often disappearing entirely. In fact, you'll likely come to appreciate some of those differences.
It takes effort to fight those initial narcissistic tendencies. The next time you're thrown into a foreign environment, make a conscious effort to keep an open mind, and bite your tongue until you've given it some time. After you've mastered the subject, then you're entitled to bitch about it.
"To be the father of growing daughters is to understand something of what Yeats evokes with his imperishable phrase 'terrible beauty.' Nothing can make one so happily exhilarated or so frightened: it's a solid lesson in the limitations of self to realize that your heart is running around inside someone else's body. It also makes me quite astonishingly calm at the thought of death: I know whom I would die to protect and I also understand that nobody but a lugubrious serf can possibly wish for a father who never goes away."
– Christopher Hitchens, "Hitch-22"
A recent article by Mikeal Rogers about the Apache Software Foundation's outmoded idea of open source contributions struck a chord with me.
Some time ago I submitted a pull request to Flume, making a very minor change to get something to compile again after code reorganization had broken it. About a week later, I got a comment from one of Cloudera's engineers saying that the patch looked good, but that since they were in the process of moving to Apache Incubator, could I follow some extra steps. The extra steps (create an account on Cloudera's JIRA issue tracker, create an issue for the bug, generate a patch for my change and attach it to the issue) weren't terribly onerous, but considering I had already moved on (and in fact had decided not to use Flume for my project), and had real work to get done, I put it on the back burner and eventually forgot all about it.
The genius of git and GitHub is how easy it is to contribute to projects. Fork, fix, submit. I submit patches to projects all the damn time because barrier to contribution is so low. Like most developers, I've got a job that keeps me busy, and any roadblocks big enough to take me out of my flow are usually going to stop me.
Someone more patient than I submitted a "proper" patch for my Flume issue about a month later, so my conscience is clear. I hope, however, that the ASF eventually embraces the new open source reality. Their software will be better for it.
Interesting post from Andy Baio about tracking down an anonymous blogger via Google Analytics, and the trickiness of remaining anonymous in general.
In about 30 minutes of searching, using only Google and eWhois, I was able to discover the identities of seven of the anonymous or pseudonymous bloggers, and in two cases, their employers. One blog about Anonymous' hacking operations could easily be tracked to the founder's consulting firm, while another tracking Mexican cartels was tied to a second domain with the name and address of a San Diego man.
Reverse-engineering Siri's wire protocol.
Interesting approach, showcasing the power of open source machine learning and computer vision libraries.
Someday I'll write my own take on parenthood, and I hope it's half as good as Jeff Atwood's.
As an aside, as the parent of twins, that pie chart is still pretty accurate—only it's twice as big.
Proof-of-concept out of Georgia Tech using the iPhone 4's accelerometer as a keylogger.
This is a special collection of problems that were given to select applicants during oral entrance exams to the math department of Moscow State University. These problems were designed to prevent Jews and other undesirables from getting a passing grade. Among problems that were used by the department to blackball unwanted candidate students, these problems are distinguished by having a simple solution that is difficult to find. Using problems with a simple solution protected the administration from extra complaints and appeals. This collection therefore has mathematical as well as historical value.
Dart is a new web programming language from Google. See also the blog post introducing Dart.
“Market research is what you do when your product isn’t any good.”
My first home computer was an Apple IIe, in 1984. I had already started learning to program (on a TRS-80 Model III), but that IIe was where I really got excited about computers and programming. I wrote utilities and games in BASIC, then 6502 assembly language (I would write the assembler instructions down on paper, then translate those by hand to the byte code), hacked games (Bard's Tale character editor, anyone?), and even taught programming classes to other kids.
The Steves, Jobs and Wozniak, were always heroes of mine, although it wasn't until I was older that I truly appreciated Jobs' brilliance. I always thought that Woz, the engineer, was the one who made the magic happen, but if it weren't for Jobs, Apple could well have faded with Beagle Bros into obscurity.
Like a majority of people I know, I use Apple products daily, for work, entertainment, and communication. I can't think of another company that puts as much thought into the quality of their products, both in terms of construction and user experience, and there's no doubt that Steve Jobs is the one to thank for that.
I still have that IIe, in a suitcase in my garage. I think I'll boot it up tonight in tribute. Thanks for everything, Steve. Rest in peace.
See also OWASP's Cheat Sheet Series.
Mentioned previously, O'Reilly's Open Feedback Publishing System is a great resource for developers, and a brilliant move my O'Reilly to get early feedback and corrections on their books before they go to print.