27 October 2014

Any color is a good choice, so long as it's black

Nicolas P. Rougier et al. offer "Ten Simple Rules for Better Figures." The one that I tend to forget: Captions Are Not Optional. And the TL;DR version of the paper is captured by the first two rules: Know Your Audience and Identify Your Message.

24 October 2014

Blame Charlie Chaplin

Steve Henn makes a provocative hypothesis. He notes the time-correlation between the dropoff in women majoring in computer science, which began in about 1984, and the rise of home PCs, marketed predominantly to men and boys.
In the 1990s, researcher Jane Margolis interviewed hundreds of computer science students at Carnegie Mellon University, which had one of the top programs in the country. She found that families were much more likely to buy computers for boys than for girls — even when their girls were really interested in computers.

This was a big deal when those kids got to college. As personal computers became more common, computer science professors increasingly assumed that their students had grown up playing with computers at home.

20 October 2014


A nice interactive visualization of how basic logic gates work, and how they can be combined to make a simple computer. And now I think I understand why we call it a latch.


13 October 2014

About time

Gillian Jacobs is working on a documentary about Grace Hopper, for online release in February 2015; Selena Larson has an interview.

19 September 2014

I'm hot, what are you?

I'm not exactly sure where Matt Asay wants to go with his snarky post about COBOL. Citing various relevance rankings, including Twitter mentions (Twitter being the first place I look to for career advice), he concludes:
In sum, COBOL won't get you a date. And it probably won't get you a job, either.
He then circles back and grudgingly admits that the language still has a role to play in the marketplace, but without using the N-word. In other words, what he wants to say is, "my trendy language with arcane syntax is a niche language; your established language with arcane syntax is as useful as learning Attic Greek."