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Posts in the ‘General’ category

5 Jul 2007

by Noel

Of Interest 05/07/2007

There’s been a bit of a backlog building up for Untyping while I work hard on other stuff. Here’s so the of the stuff that has recently caught my eye:

  • “Show, don’t tell” is an old mantra in creative writing.
    Announcing the Business of Software Wiki is a great example of this principle in action. Note how Joel doesn’t tell you what a wiki is, which would be boring, but shows you with a brief demonstration. In addition to making more engaging prose showing conveys information on how to use the wiki, which helps bootstrap new users. Neat.
  • Facebook opened up an API recently. While Facebook could make an engaging platform for many things Jason Kottke gives a well-reasoned argument on why it probably isn’t a big deal
  • Watching without being. Just read this. Its only a short blog post but there’s too much in it to summarise here.

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5 Jun 2007

by Noel

Of Interest 05/06/2007

Just some quick links. It has been a busy day.

  • [T]he human race publishes a book every 30 seconds. If current trends continue, by 2052 the number of people writing and publishing a book in a given year will exceed the number of people who will read one.
  • From Design Observer

    Last night I had my first foray onto eBay. As I surveyed the hundreds of professional sellers my stuff would be competing for attention against I thought I’d missed the boat on this one. Looks like I have a few years yet to impress any book-length ideas on the world, but the window is closing.

  • Just everyone has linked to the Profit Calculator, which lightly skims over how a variety of NY businesses make money. Most interesting for me were the drug dealer, the yoga studio, and Nobu.
  • Mark Fletcher asks if distributed development leads to better communication. Interesting idea. So far I’m undecided on the basis of our efforts.

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19 Apr 2007

by Noel

Of Interest 19/04/2007

This is what’s caught my eye today:

  • Slideaware discuss their shift from Python to Ruby on Rails to Erlang. Tune in next time when they tell us if Erlang delived the goods.
  • I think everyone should know about Dirichlet processes. This should be a blog post of it’s own. I actually had a dream about such a post, so I guess it is destined to happen.
  • Publications from the Software Technology group at Radboud University Nijmegen are currently the only place I know where you’ll find ideas on how to capture web-based workflows in a high level manner. The basic observation is simple: given a data definition you should be able to generate most of a web site that allows you to interact with that data. The trick is making it general enough to be useful. Rails has scaffolding but it is quite limited in what it can do, so it tends to be used only for prototyping. We want to use it for production code. This area involves lots of PLT goodness: FRP, bidirectional programming, and metaprogramming all look like they’ll play a part.

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17 Apr 2007

by Noel

Of Interest 17/04/2007

  • The curious rotational memory of the Electron is sure fascinating, and makes me wish I had paid more attention in Physics 110. Read through the archives and impress your friends with the amazing Feynman plate trick!
  • If you read the archives like I suggested you are undoubtedly all excited about monads of probability, so go here and download some more reading goodness. My goodness!
  • Dave G today: “Snooze is a pro-testing library!”. Damn straight! Software has the right to testing, and that’s a right I’ll fight for. (Music, apparently, has the right to children. The implications of this are uncertain.)
  • Leo “Flapjax” Meyerovich drops by the comments to let us know he’s going to do the world’s funnest PhD (at Berkeley, no less). Maybe he can employ Ezra as a RA? This is actually worth a post on it’s own, but time is short. I’ll just say two things: servers and mixed synchronous/asynchronous signals. Might not mean much to you, dear reader, should be enough for me to remember what I want to talk about.

These quick posts are fun to write. This could be the start of something.

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16 Apr 2007

by Noel

Interesting Stuff 16/04/2007

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5 Apr 2007

by Noel

Bleep! iTunes

I’ve just received an iPod, and so the acquisition of digital music is suddenly much more interesting to me. I have the following requirements:

  • I want music
  • I want it cheap
  • I want it to work with my iPod
  • I preferrably want it without DRM

So I surely must prostrate myself before iTunes? They’re getting a lot of press following the announcement by EMI that they’re selling their entire digital catalog without DRM, and at a higher quality than was previously available. Actually, a bit of searching shows that there is some respectable competition out there:

  • 7digital offers EMI’s catalog as 320kbps MP3s (probably better than iTunes 256kbps AAC), and are cheaper than iTunes.
  • eMusic offers DRM-free 192kbps VBR MP3s on a subscription based plan that works out much less than iTunes’ per track cost. Now their selection is limited, but if you like good music (i.e. the music I like) you’ll be well covered. Catalog search and FAQ here
  • Bleep sells DRM-free 192kbps VBR MP3s. Like eMusic their selection is limited to “good music”. Individual tracks cost more than iTunes, but albums are less.

None of the above options offer the range of iTunes, but all are certainly worth considering before hitting iTunes. My main problem with eMusic is the subscription model; while 40 tracks a month is great, my monthly music budget is a less, on average, than their subscription fee. 7digital’s site is just a mess, which makes it distinctly less appealing. So it looks like Bleep is going to be my first port of call for digital music, followed by 7digital or iTunes.

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14 Mar 2007

by Noel

Four Dudes Take on the World

Inspired by a LtU post I downloaded Vendetta and, poof!, two hours disappeared as I blasted an assortment of evil bots into space dust. Vendetta looked even more impressive when I learned that the
guys who develop it number precisely four. Very inspirational!

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13 Dec 2006

by Noel

S3, SSL, and s3sync

S3 is Amazon’s rather awesome data storage service. I’ll just note that it makes a great way of backing up your data; if you want to know more read Matt’s excellent overview.

We ran into problems setting up s3sync on a client’s system. Specifically SSL didn’t work, with the handy error message SSL Error:. That’s right, we were told there was an error put s3syncwouldn’t tell us what the error was. We tried using wget which wasnice enough to tell us we had a certificate problem. An hour of Googling later and the solution was this:

  • Grab the CA Cert file (cacert.pem) from any one of the bazillion places on the Internet that mirror it.
  • Copy it to /usr/lib/ssl/certs/cert.pem
  • Set SSL_CERT_DIR and SSL_CERT_FILE to /usr/lib/ssl/certs/ and/usr/lib/ssl/certs/cert.pem respectively.
  • Nothing more to do!

I found the Lynx documentation the most useful. The OpenSSL documentation was much less helpful.

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15 Nov 2006

by Noel

Fix your Mac

If there is one downside to owning Apple hardware it’s the cost of repairs. I’ve just come across iFixit, which has excellent do-it-yourself guides to replacing all the major components in your Mac. Yay!

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6 Nov 2006

by Noel

Does engineering/math/science education in suck?

Kathy Sierra asks why does engineering/math/science education in the US suck? Nice of her to limit that to the US. I guess we’re ok here in the UK. “Education sucks” is a meme that has a lot of mileage. We’ve posted along these lines before. I’m willing to accept that the average educational experience is only average, but so is the average student. I think the passionate will always be disappointed with those who don’t share their passion. I know I have been in my time at University, but on the flip side I’ve been a pretty poor student in some classes that I found boring. However, as an engineering/science graduate I must ask “where’s the evidence” in response to this claim. There is definitely something to be said about the issues of teaching and teaching standards, but I find this post too simplistic.

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