One of the hazards of working in the web biz is impulse-buying domain names. Back in the Web 2.0 boom days, there were a lot of “social” web plays with silly names. I thought I’d satirize this by registering numbr.com and making a social site where you could “friend” the number 7 and that sort of thing. I never got around to building that site. However I did get a curious email one day from “Joe” who wanted to know if I’d sell the name.
I really do like Quora (you may have seen my SadQuora tweets, a side effect of the time I spend there). But when somebody asked, “What are the most annoying types of questions on Quora?” I couldn’t resist. Maybe it’s just my feed, but I see things like these a lot: I’m 23 years old, am I too old to learn programming? If a self-driving car had to either hit and kill a cow in the left lane, or hit and kill a horse in the right lane, which would it choose?
How do you comprehensibly explain to non-programmers the challenges of programming? Why can’t you “just tell the computer what you want it to do”? A classic teaching tool for this is the “make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich” demo. Put out on the table a jar of peanut butter, a jar of jelly, a loaf of bread, and a knife. Tell them you are a robot (computer) that is physically capable of making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but you need instruction (programming).
Once in a while I look at a sampling of recent dpaste activity. Partly I do it so I’m not totally out of touch with what my site contains. Partly I do it because it’s just interesting. And I do it to confirm that the site is actually used by people who want to share code snippets, not just spambots who fire their cannons into every porthole. I just sampled 10 random items from the last week.
I’m still loving my iPod touch. It’s really a great little handheld computer. I’m able to do almost everything I need with the stock apps, but there are a couple free third-party apps that have earned a permanent place on it. One is the game Chess With Friends from NewToy. This is a version of what is also known as “postal” or “correspondence” chess. You make a move and send it to your opponent; your opponent makes a move and sends it back to you.
Greetings from Boston – specifically, BarCampBoston. My first “unconference”. Nerds galore. The format is (mostly) half-hour talks from attendees on whatever subjects interest them – as long as other attendees have also expressed interest. It’s all tracked on a big board in the lobby. So far I’ve been in discussions involving localization, designing for technophobes, cloud computing, physics simulation in games, and Lisp. The level of interactivity is high – as is the collective expertise brought by the participants.
This post is not about any of my usual software or hardware topics, but it still is nerdy. The flashlight. Parliament’s classic song on the subject tells us that “everybody’s got a little light under the sun.” It’s good to have a little light, especially when the sun isn’t around. But some little lights are better than others. The best thing that has happened to flashlights in recent years, especially little ones, is the rise of the LED.