31 May 2011

No argument here

Andrew Binstock rues that, 33 years after the first edition of The C Programming Language, Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie's approach to teaching a language is still the gold standard.

The second thing K&R omits is spoon feeding. You have to think as you work through it. All the information is there, but you're forced to engage the language through the examples to get what you need. The authors expect you to be an attentive reader. As a result, you can move quickly through the language because the book supports you, rather than forcing you to read pages that add little to your comprehension.

30 May 2011

A great day in Arlington

reunionThough it lacks a lot of the swing of the original, 'twill serve. Gary Long and Greg Lupfer rounded up two dozen of their former staff for a reunion. These are folks that worked for Lupfer & Long, Inc. and/or L&L Software and/or L&L Products in the late 1970s into the mid 1980s. The various companies operated out of McLean, Va., and Hanover, N.H., providing professional services and off-the-shelf software products for accounting and general database applications. Our computing platforms included the mainframes of the day under timesharing; in the 1980s, we moved onto minicomputers from Digital Equipment, Prime, Wang, and Hewlett-Packard. Remnants of the companies made the transition to desktop computing and PCs toward the end of the decade.

Top row, L-R: Louise, Ceil, Peter (seated); next row: Steve, Ken, Anne, Susan; next row: Eric, John, Jenny, Gary, Hao; next row: ?, Joanne, Amy, Dave J., Donna, Bill; next row: Elizabeth, Julia, David G.; bottom left: Greg; bottom right: Aubrey.

29 May 2011

Shades of gray

Marcin Kozak proposes a hybrid design for scatterplots, using the best ideas of Edward Tufte and William Cleveland. Kozak's improvement really shines when applied to multipanel plots.

27 May 2011

Fonts for coders: 3

Dan Benjamin updates his top-ten list of monospaced fonts for coding work. I rather like the swingin' look of Monofur.

Benjamin is more interested in how fonts work at small point sizes than I am. The smallest type that my tired old eyes can tolerate, for reading the excessively wide log files that this project generates, is Bitstream Vera Sans Mono at 8 points.

(Link via The Code Project.)

18 May 2011

What? no man pages?

Farbice Bellard has built a Linux emulator in JavaScript. One dependency: the draft Typed Arrays feature, supported by Firefox 4 and Chrome 11.

(Link via ReadWriteWeb.)

16 May 2011


Colleague Todd directed our attention to the CSS word-wrap property. On newer browser platforms, it solves the problem of long unhyphenated words set in a narrow inset column or sidebar.

09 May 2011

Not to mention Rosalind and Grace

...you don't become great by trying to be great. You become great by wanting to do something, and then doing it so hard that you become great in the process.

xkcd offers Mother's Day wishes.

05 May 2011

Not just slinging rivets

Steven Cherry interviews LeAnn Erickson, director of Top Secret Rosies: The Female Computers of World War II. The difference engines that were used to compute artillery tables were cranked by workers of the feminine gender. Something as regrettable as waging war, throwing projectiles at people, at least had the favorable side effect of providing a few brain-job opportunities for women.