Is Algebra Necessary?

I would like to say "Unbelievable!", but alas, I cannot. I wonder if this political "scientist" (and IMHO, that title is an oxymoron itself) realizes how utterly foundational to rational thinking mathematics truly is? Heinlein said it best, I think:

Anyone who cannot cope with mathematics is not fully human. At best he is a tolerable subhuman who has learned to wear shoes, bathe and not make messes in the house.

A typical American school day finds some six million high school students and two million college freshmen struggling with algebra. In both high school and college, all too many students are expected to fail. Why do we subject American students to this ordeal? I’ve found myself moving toward the strong view that we shouldn’t.

(link) [New York Times]

12:26 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link

Easy 6502

Nice to see a simulation of the first language I learned. And still a good tool to learn programming in my not so humble opinion.

In this tiny ebook I’m going to show you how to get started writing 6502 assembly language. The 6502 processor was massive in the seventies and eighties, powering famous computers like the BBC Micro, Atari 2600, Commodore 64, Apple II, and the Nintendo Entertainment System. Bender in Futurama has a 6502 processor for a brain. Even the Terminator was programmed in 6502.


07:19 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link

10-year-long video game creates 'hellish nightmare' world

Wow. Just wow, on so many levels. Kudos to the developers - I played Civ 2 back in the day, and it's not exactly a trivial bit of code.

A member of the social news website Reddit who goes by the name Lycerius posted his results from a decade-long game of "Civilization II," a turn-based strategy games in which players build their own society. His epic struggle pushed the game to its limits, further than developers ever imagined or planned for.

(link) [CNN]

21:43 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link

Your E-Book Is Reading You

I'll stick to paper for now ... for as long as I can...

Digital-book publishers and retailers now know more about their readers than ever before. How that's changing the experience of reading.

(link) [Wall Street Journal]

20:27 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link

Oh, You Wanted "Awesome" Edition

Meet the marketing weasels, the bane of tech companies...

Already, I'm confused. Which one of these versions allows me to use all 48 GB of my server's memory? There are no less than six individual "compare" pages to slice and dice all the different features each version contains. Just try to make sense of it all. I dare you. No, I double dog dare you! Oh, and by the way, there's zero pricing information on any of these pages. So open another browser window and factor that into your decision making, too.

(link) [Coding Horror]

21:16 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link

Fire in the Library

Another emerging aspect to the oncoming Digital Dark Age ...

Until a few months ago, Poetry­.com held more than 14 million user-submitted poems, some dating back to the mid-1990s. The site existed to make money: it had ads and at one point sold $60 anthologies to fledgling poets who wanted to see their work in print. But to the users, was much more than a business. It was a scrapbook, a chest for storing precious emotional keepsakes. And they assumed, perhaps naïvely, that it would always be there.

(link) [Technology Review]

09:58 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link

The Personal Computer Is Dead

Good analysis.

The PC is dead. Rising numbers of mobile, lightweight, cloud-centric devices don't merely represent a change in form factor. Rather, we're seeing an unprecedented shift of power from end users and software developers on the one hand, to operating system vendors on the other—and even those who keep their PCs are being swept along. This is a little for the better, and much for the worse.

(link) [MIT Technology Review]

08:35 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link


An appreciation of the greatest video game ever.

In 1992, game developer id Software needed something special to follow up the hit that was Wolfenstein 3D. What could be a better denouement to my battle with Hitler than an alien world full of demons and zombies where I get to don my space marine outfit?

(link) [The Register - Hardware]

09:47 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link

7 reasons the stock market is so volatile

Well, seven reasons are listed, but in the humble opinion of this observer, all but number 6 miss the mark completely: Computer trades are destabilzing.

Well, yes, they are. But why? There's only one reason and that's speed. When you have algorithms firing on the millisecond and trading millions of shares, you will have volatility, no way to avoid it. If the market really wants to stop this insane roller coaster, it needs to set rules to slow stuff down. No doubt they would be derided as "old fashioned" and inconvenient, but that's the point. Faster is not always better, and sometimes speed kills. Let's hope it doesn't get going fast enough to do in the whole economy.

Plunge! Rebound! Crash! Rally! Plunge again! That's been the depressing story line of the stock market the past five trading days, a gut-wrenching, confidence-testing, wealth-destroying bout of volatility that has put investors on edge

(link) [USA Today]

21:53 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link

Dead Souls

It's virtually living - and dying ...

In a world of dwindling resources, where each person's share of the physical realm decreases over time, it is no wonder that physical reality fails to satisfy. But thanks to the new, intimate, glowing handheld mobile computing devices, the unsatisfactory real world can be blotted out, and replaced with a cleansed, bouncy, shiny version of society in which little avatars utter terse little messages. In the cyber-realm there are no sweaty bodies, no cacophony of voices to suffer through—just a smooth, polished, expertly branded user experience.

(link) [Club Orlov]

via Laudator Temporis Acti

08:53 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link

Attack of the computer mouse

Now this is an interesting choice of attack vector! Who'd have thunk it? Read the article for details on the deployment - getting in was surprisingly easy.

Security firm Netragard has described an attack during which a modified computer mouse was used to infiltrate a client's corporate network. For this attack, the security experts equipped the mouse with an additional micro-controller with USB support (Teensy Board) to simulate a keyboard, and added a USB flash drive to the setup.

(link) [H-online]

08:00 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link

Little things Delphi gets right

Having spent my entire working time in the last decade coding in C, C++, Objective C and Delphi (in the broadest sense - Objective Pascal), I can only say that this essay is spot on. It is vastly easier for any coder, at any skill level, to write readable and secure code in Pascal than in any dialect of C.

He makes several good point on syntax, too. How many C programmers have been bitten at one time or another by making an assignment in an if statement without the compiler saying a word? It's also true about hassle free linking - I have code where the main program is in Pascal and several routines were written in C. It was simple to accomplish this. On the other hand, trying to get a C program to link in a Pascal lib or object file can be like pulling teeth.

So for those of you who still labor under the delusion that Pascal is a dead language, washed away by the superior tides of C, read this and weep. Then fire up Delphi or Lazarus and write some clean, secure code for a change...

For those who haven’t seen it yet, due to popular demand, the StackOverflow people created a new site called, a site for the more subjective questions that StackOverflow isn’t really designed for. Someone recently set up a poll: What’s your favorite programming language. You can probably guess what my answer was.

(link) [Turbu Tech]

20:16 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link

Silicon Valley’s Dark Secret: It’s All About Age

I ran into this somewhat in my recent job search - but not enough to knock me completely out of the market. Then again, I'm in the Midwest, not California. And I've heard horror stories out of the Valley about the near impossibility of getting a decent gig if you're over 50.

An interesting paradox in the technology world is that there is both a shortage and a surplus of engineers in the United States. Talk to those working at any Silicon Valley company, and they will tell you how hard it is to find qualified talent. But listen to the heart-wrenching stories of unemployed engineers, and you will realize that there are tens of thousands who can’t get jobs. What gives?

(link) [Tech Crunch]

22:21 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link

The Secret Histories of Those @#$%ing Computer Symbols

What better way to get back to posting than with this bit of history? Especially interesting are the bind rune and the symbol of Satan that's destined to give the P&G logo a run for it's money.

They are road signs for your daily rituals-the instantly recognized symbols and icons you press, click, and ogle countless times a day when you interact with your computer. But how much do you know about their origins?

(link) [Gizmodo]

21:31 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link

Why Crunch Mode Doesn't Work

Interesting article, but I have a few quibbles. First, there are times when crunch mode is justified, even required. There are deadlines in the real world, and they have to be met. But it's certainly true that trying to maintain insane schedules over a long period of time is detrimental - I've been on the proverbial software Death March, and it isn't any fun at all. I barely remember that we even had a summer in 1997. While we made our deadline, and the product shipped by Labor Day (how appropriate), departmental productivity was simply crushed for the next six months.

Lately I've been experimenting with the Pomodoro Technique - it seems that frequent (every 25 minutes or so) breaks really does improve productivity, especially when doing intense mental tasks. Don't know if it'd work when setting fence, but it sure does when writing code.

All that being said, the conditions described in this piece (apparently common in the game development industry) are appalling. Insane. And should be illegal.

When used long-term, Crunch Mode slows development and creates more bugs when compared with 40-hour weeks.

(link) [IGDA]

07:27 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link