March 7th, 2014

# The downside of Unit Testing

Interesting:

I’m back in Java-land these days, which is culturally very pro-unit testing. After getting exposed to it again for a few months again I’ve come to side with the author here. I’ve never really been comfortable with the amount of time certain people dedicate to unit testing, especially the TDD crowd, but in my hiatus something has arisen in popularity which has made it all the worse: mockito. Prior to mockito, unit testing was (more or less) limited to testing that ...

March 4th, 2014

# Darren Holloway walks through the philosophy of Ring/Clojure

Darren Holloway has written a post that should be added to the wiki on Github where Ring is hosted. He covers all the stuff that had me the most confused when I started doing web development with Clojure. He offers easy examples in pseudo-code to get the basic ideas across. I wish every project on Github had an introductory tutorial written in this style.

An excerpt:

Ring Conceptually

Technically, Ring isn’t a framework or an application, but rather a specification ...

March 4th, 2014

# What it is like to think you are talented when you are ignorant

Despite the “worst practices” approach, the thing worked.

I like this story very much. My own story is a bit different, circa 2000-2005 I built a CMS out of PHP, and I did eventually find good ways to structure it, and I remain an opponent of “object oriented programming”. But other than that, a lot of this story overlaps my own.

Despite what I now refer to as my “worst practices” approach, the thing worked. Every bad tutorial, every anti-PHP ...

March 3rd, 2014

# Emotional intelligence and success with Bitcoin

Or rather, maladaptive ways to deal with stress:

After Mt. Gox was hacked for the first time in summer of 2011, a friend asked Powell to help out, and soon, the San Francisco entrepreneur found himself on a plane to Tokyo. After landing, he rushed to Shibuya station, where he was met by his friend, Roger Ver, one of the world’s biggest bitcoin supporters who just happened to live across the street from Mt. Gox. Without bothering to drop off ...

March 3rd, 2014

# The difference between database indexes and database histograms

Several things occurred to me when I read this, some of them off-topic, including my use of MongoDb, and how I have been unthinkingly re-creating histograms without even giving them that name. I do not regard that as a problem with MongoDb, it gives flexibility by doing very little itself, everyone using it is hopefully aware of the need to re-create database functionality within one’s own app.

Then I asked myself the question: how does Oracle estimate that there are ...

March 3rd, 2014

# I still don’t get PAAS

This is the problem for me:

In my ideal world, deploying my apps wouldn’t require any platform-specific code, or if it did, that code would be portable between platforms.

If I have to be aware of my servers, at all, then I’m still doing sysadmin, and if I have to do sysadmin, I want all the tools of sysadmin. I don’t want to do sysadmin on a crippled account that limits my options. Maybe someday there will be a real PAAS such ...

March 2nd, 2014

# The many problems with Bitcoin

Interesting:

I’m actually shocked that Mt. Gox did not lose money to a database screwup. There are so many flawed NoSQL databases out there that, if you adopt the technologies advertised as “hip” on techcrunch, you’ll most likely end up with a broken exchange (more on this in subsequent blog posts, because there are many funny examples that deserve their own discussion). It is quite easy for well-meaning developers to build an exchange on a database that loses transactions, or to ...

March 1st, 2014

# The new Formal blogging

Like Chris Bertram, I have a certain nostalgia for the world of blogging that existed during the years, roughly, 2000-2008. I sad that the conversational aspects have moved to Twitter, and now the blogs are mostly op-eds, rather than conversations. I am also surprised to see it now being treated as something to be done formally.

To be fair, may of the new initiatives, such as The Conversation, Politics in Spires, and the LSE Blogs are great, content-wise. But they ...

March 1st, 2014

# Russia mobilizes troops to occupy parts of the Ukraine

Russia mobilizes troops to occupy parts of the Ukraine.

I am speculating. What could Putin really hope to accomplish? And at what expense?

I am looking at Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukraine

Ethnic groups (2001)

77.8% Ukrainians

17.3% Russians

4.9% others / unspecified

The Russians are concentrated in the eastern-most provinces, and also in the Crimea.

Russia has 145 million people, the Ukraine has 46 million people, so in terms of the ratio of people, Russia invading the Ukraine would be a bit like the USA invading Mexico. Russia also has a ...

March 1st, 2014

# What is correct HTML syntax?

Matias Meno of Colorglare asks the question “TO CLOSE OR NOT TO CLOSE?”

This is from Ian Hickson in 2006, regarding the emergence of HTML5:

Regarding your original suggestion: based on the arguments presented by the various people taking part in this discussion, I’ve now updated the specification to allow “/” characters at the end of void elements.

To which Sam Ruby responded:

This is big. PHP’s nl2br function is now HTML5 compliant. WordPress won’t have to completely convert to HTML4 before people who ...

February 25th, 2014

# Greedy bankers, the lazy poor: moralizing wealth

Interesting:

Sadly, Mr Rooney did not respond in the manner of one of his celebrated predecessors. But he should have, because the chant is wrong. Mr Rooney is not getting £300,000 a week because he is unusually greedy: in the improbable event of being offered such money, who among us would turn it down? He is getting it because he is unusually powerful – a power which is not entirely due merely to his exceptional skill.

Palace fans, then, are committing ...

February 25th, 2014

# Corporate welfare in the USA, from state and local numbers

$110 billion just from state and local governments. And of course the Federal government adds in a lot more. State and local governments have awarded at least$110 billion in taxpayer subsidies to business, with 3 of every 4 dollars going to fewer than 1,000 big corporations, the most thorough analysis to date of corporate welfare revealed today.

Boeing ranks first, with 137 subsidies totaling $13.2 billion, followed by Alcoa at$5.6 billion, Intel at $3.9 billion, General Motors at$3.5 ...

February 25th, 2014

# Assortative Mating plays no role in current income inequality

Rarely does one see such blatant lying. Here a group of economists post a graph that very clearly contradicts everything they say, yet they go ahead and say it anyway.

The authors conclude that “rising assortative mating together with increasing labour-force participation by married women [emphasis added by me] are important in order to account for the determinants of growth in household income inequality in the US.” So, right out of the gate, a key influence not trumpeted in the headline ...

February 11th, 2014

# Who should be in charge when policy actually matters?

Take the title of this post and change it so it is about technology:

Who should be in charge when technology actually matters?

I am intrigued by a Paul Krugman post in which talks about policy mattering.

Change the word “policy” to “technology” and this gets at my complaint about many of the tech disasters I’ve seen in recent years, from the companies I worked for, to stuff I read about such as the roll out of the website for Obamacare.

So ...

February 9th, 2014

# The culture of girls and computers

Interesting:

It Really Is about Girls (and Boys)

Twelve-year-old girls today don’t generally get to have the experiences that I did. Parents are warned to keep kids off the computer lest they get lured away by child molesters or worse—become fat! That goes doubly for girls, who then grow up to be liberal arts majors. Then, in their late teens or early twenties, someone who feels the gender skew in technology communities is a problem drags them to a LUG meeting ...

February 9th, 2014

# Bloated software promises a stability which might be a liability

Interesting:

IT organizations are facing accelerating pressure to support companies’ growing need for business agility, innovation, customer responsiveness, and adaptability. This pressure doesn’t stop with so-called systems of engagement. It goes all the way back to systems of record. In fact, the distinction between the two is starting to erode. Enterprises are responding to this pressure by upgrading application architectures within and around the system-of-record tier. They are starting to view the “stability” of their legacy applications as a liability rather ...

February 9th, 2014

# Drupal is bloated software

Stuff like Drupal offers ease of use for standard operations, and yet, when I work with clients, I find they have very few “standard” operations. Everything needs to be customized, and that is where Drupal becomes difficult:

Drupal, much like many other CMSs, follows a development methodology that I call reverse development. It is the simple idea that the most fundamental moving parts of the technology have been already built for you, or are modifiable using a trivial UI, and ...

February 9th, 2014

# What is a Spruce Goose software project?

I have worked on software that was just like this:

Now the Spruce Goose was trying to fly. People couldn’t take their eyes off it. Who could comprehend its size! Three hundred-foot wingspan, seven-story tail, 200 tons of plane with room for 700 soldiers. It upstaged even the ocean liners lounging nearby. There it was, $25 million worth of prototype seaplane, skating along toward take-off, engines cackling and fuming. Howard Hughes, America’s most publicized aviator, designed it, swore by it, ... Read More Source February 9th, 2014 No Comments # Getting useful info out of git logs Interesting: git churn It’s possible to get valuable insight from history of a project not only by viewing individual commits, but by analyzing sets of changes as a whole. For instance, git-churn is a simple but valuable script that wraps git log to compile stats about which files change the most. For example, to see where the development of an app was focused on in the past 6 months:$ git churn –since=’6 months ago’ app/ | tail Incidentally, such analysis also highlights ...

February 7th, 2014

# The most difficult thing about programming

Everything is working, then it breaks, and you never know why. The technologies we rely on are too numerous and complicated for us to understand them all — this is disempowering. I find this the most difficult thing about being a programmer: the surprise that even we can not understand all the technologies we use.

When I’d finished this article, I wanted to spell check the content. emacs-ispell mode decided to go on strike. It could not find aspell, the ...

February 5th, 2014

# Trying to use the Formative library

This is an interesting problem. I have records in a MongoDb database. Every record has a “created-at” field, stored as a datetime. This is a screenshot of the value:

When I load this value via into a form via Formative, all the values fill in except for the year. Check out the screenshot:

I wonder if this is a bug or if I have to reformat the datetime?

Source

February 5th, 2014

# Working with Clojure and Dire

Here is a puzzle. I had a function “fetch” in namespace “controller” and it calls a function in namespace “secretary”. The secretary stores documents away, and then later gets them back, or it might return nothing, if there is nothing to return. I have a query “paginate-items” which on some pages correctly returns nothing, because on some pages there is nothing to paginate. But this function has been giving me problems. I decided to split my “fetch” function into a ...

February 4th, 2014

# Git is complicated because there are 5 places content can go

Interesting:

Why do these Places Exist? These places are part of the power and flexibility of Git over other systems.

With an index, we can choose how to commit a multitude of changes, without having to commit to all our changes at once. This is a great flexibility. With the local repository versus the remote repository, we turn Git into a distributed version control system, where each repository is conceptually just as equal to the next one. With stash, ...

February 3rd, 2014

# Lisp as a mathematical formalism for recursive functions

Very interesting:

One of my favorite classes in school was 15-453: Formal Languages, Automata, and Computation, which used Sipser’s Introduction to the Theory of Computation:

One aspect that I really enjoyed was that there was a narrative; we started with Finite State Automata (FSA), analyzed the additional power of Pushdown Automata (PDA), and saw it culminate in Turing Machines (TM). Each of these models look very similar and have a natural connection: they are each just state machines with different types ...

February 1st, 2014

# Why government spying matters

Interesting:

I live in a country generally assumed to be a dictatorship. One of the Arab spring countries. I have lived through curfews and have seen the outcomes of the sort of surveillance now being revealed in the US. People here talking about curfews aren’t realizing what that actually FEELS like. It isn’t about having to go inside, and the practicality of that. It’s about creating the feeling that everyone, everything is watching. A few points: 1) the purpose of this surveillance ...

My name is Lawrence Krubner. I run WP Questions .

January 10, 2012 1:09 pm

"Thank you, Charlotte. But what is the main advantage of Kachingle for you? You could perhaps find a more direc..."

January 9, 2012 2:29 pm

"I love your thoughtfulness and tone, however, I have questions about the "Community" of voters you mention. I ..."

December 14, 2011 10:58 am

"Thank you all. I look forward to seeing the emergence of an innovative startup that is able to find the new mo..."

December 14, 2011 9:25 am

"Thank you, Lawrence, for that insightful and balanced review. I am a Kachingler, and I support its business m..."