08 July 2014

Compare and contrast

Luke Vnenchak gives us an update on Scoop, the in-house CMS in place at the New York Times. It's really interesting to see how (or even whether) a CMS solves certain problems. Among them:
  • Scoop provides for multiple versions of draft/published stories: this blows the doors off CQ5's simple (but effective) author instance/publish instance model.
  • Automatic smart cropping of images, given a master and a thumbnail. I've had clients that would love a feature like that.
  • Locking body copy independently of assets like images and multimedia. Yep, that's also something that my guys demand.
  • Tagging to an open standard: I haven't built any production code to support this, but it's something we have explored. Generally the stumbling block is the question of who owns the tags.

01 July 2014


Product owner Patrick Cooper considers, then puts aside, a Wilderesque spin on an end-of-sprint demo for last year's project.
Serri wakes up all the stories… or something.

10 June 2014

Nothing without Googlé

Michael Kleiman and Michael Pertnoy, in an Op-Doc for the Times, document the ups and downs of getting communications connectivity to a remote village in Peru.

Students in the school at the hamlet of Palestina had been issued OLPC XO laptops, but securing internet and wireless connectivity was difficult.

Palestina is a 10-hour boat ride on the Purus River from the nearest airstrip. A local carpenter says that the village needs a road more than it needs cellphone coverage. He's probably right.

05 June 2014

No ideas but in things

Jordan Ellenberg is perhaps the only mathematician to quote William Carlos Williams in order to make a (debatable) point about mathematics: that it is all about assertions that refer to the world.

I agree with him completely about the value of doing your homework:

Getting these rules in muscle memory is what you need if you want to get fluent in algebraic computations.

There’s just one thing missing, but it’s a big thing: the fact that algebra is made of sentences, that it means something, that it refers to something outside itself. An algebraic statement isn’t just a string of symbols with an x stuck in there somewhere. It’s an assertion about a relationship between quantities (or, when you get to more advanced algebra, between functions, or operations, or even other assertions.) Without that animating idea, algebra is a dead and empty exercise....

Computation is important! We lose just as badly if we generate students who have some wispy sense of mathematical meaning but who can’t work examples swiftly and correctly. A math teacher’s least favorite thing to hear from a student is “I get the concept, but I couldn’t do the problems.” Though the student doesn’t know it, this is shorthand for “I don’t get the concept.”

17 May 2014


A charming series of videos that visualize various simple sorting algorithms via Eastern European folk dance. Perhaps the Székely folk dance shellsort is the most lively, as well as the optimal algorithm. But using 4-1/2 minutes to sort 10 elements is still somewhat poky.