Prog/Math/Sci summary: November 2016
As always, random stuff from the past month and half, slightly late:
- A breakthrough for programmable1 matter (“… a universal programming methodology that can automatically generate the desired magnetization profile and actuating fields for soft materials to achieve new time-varying shapes.”)
- Big things in the universe are really big, such as this large collection2 of quasars
- A “code first, math second” guide3 to basic statistics
- If you think IDEs etc have been making steady progress, see this video4 from 1993
- Programming as a career is often made out to be a “young person’s game”, but it doesn’t have to be. Ben Northrop talks5 about the problems, and how to tackle them.
First, I try to take the long view. I’m more wary of roles with excessively taxing expectations and few opportunities for novel experiences. I’ve seen quite a few colleagues take the bigger pay check at an employer where there’ll be little opportunity to work with new things and learn. In 5 years, they realize that much of their valuable knowledge has evaporated and their pay is way out of whack with their actual worth. In some cases, I think making less money in the short term (at a better employer) will yield more money (and stability) over the course of a long career.
- Nice to see people view systems as IDEs, as here6 for Unix, but … if only we’d revive Smalltalk instead :-(
- Here’s a reminder that sometimes, old languages and old systems outlive everyone who worked on them in the beginning: Nuclear plants are expected7 to continue using PDPs until 2050 (!)
- I don’t personally do frontend web development, but if this guy’s8 accurate, I’m not missing much.
That’s what they call the churn.
- For the historical link of the month, a reminder that social networks9 are nothing new.
- As a follow-up, here’s an old rant10 (from 1998, on news.admin.net-abuse.usenet and net.subculture.usenet) on usenet, lamenting how it’s falling apart. Both usenet and the rant are obsolete, so you probably don’t care about it.
- Finally, here’s an interview11 with Douglas Engelbart. He died in 2013, and unfortunately only remembered as “the guy who invented the mouse”; but if you want your mind blown, search for “the mother of all demos” (or just watch this).
- Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences, ”Shape-programmable magnetic soft matter” ↩︎
- Youtube, ”Biggest Thing in the Universe — Sixty Symbols” ↩︎
- Github, ”Probabilistic programming and Bayesian methods for Hackers” ↩︎
- Youtube, ”Lucid Energize demo” ↩︎
- Ben Northrop, ”Reflections of an ‘Old’ Programmer” ↩︎
- Arabesque, ”Unix as IDE” ↩︎
- The Register, ”Nuke plants to rely on PDP-11 code UNTIL 2050!” ↩︎
- Antoine Kalmbach, ”Web development has become weird” ↩︎
- The Atlantic, ”The ruins of dead social networks” ↩︎
- Eyrie, ”A rant about usenet” ↩︎
- Youtube, ”Computer History: Douglas Engelbart Interviewed by John Markoff of the New York Times” ↩︎