Monthly Archives: January 2008

10 rules for creative thinking

Check out Sister Corita Kent‘s 10 rules for creative thinking posted on Scott Berkun’s blog. http://www.scottberkun.com/blog/2008/creative-thinking-rules/

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Posted in Creativity

Three-hour-a-week language

I listened to an interview last night with Perl guru Randal Schwartz. He said that Perl is meant for people who use the language at least two or three hours per week. If you’re not going to use it that often,

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Posted in Python, Software development

Paper doesn’t abort

My daughter asked me recently what I thought about a Rube Goldberg machine she sketched for a school project. I immediately thought about how difficult it would be to implement parts of her design. I asked her if she really

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Posted in Software development

Programming the last mile

In any programming project there comes a point where the programming ends and manual processes begin. That boundary is where problems occur, particularly for reproducibility. Before you can build a software project, there are always things you need to know in addition

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Posted in Software development, Statistics

Why Mr. Scott is Scottish

During the Victorian era, Scotland produced the best engineers in the world. It became routine for British ships to have a Scottish engineer on board. Star Trek’s Scottish engineer Montgomery Scott reflects this tradition. Source: Victorian Britain

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Posted in Uncategorized

Six quotes on digging deep

Here are six quotes I’ve been thinking about related to digging deep into whatever is in front of you, making uninteresting work interesting. Richard Feynman: … nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough … G.

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Posted in Creativity

Comet dust looks like asteroid dust

Until quite recently, astronomers thought that comets formed in the outer reaches of the solar system and then were drawn into highly elliptical orbits that pass near the sun. But samples collected from comet Wild 2 look more like they

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Posted in Science

Empirical support for TDD

Phil Haack gives his summary of a recent study on the benefits of test-driven development (TDD). The study had two groups of students write unit tests for their programming assignments. Students assigned to the test-first group were instructed to write their unit

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Posted in Software development

Shell shock may be physical, not psychological

Shell shock was identified during World War I as a condition that causes soldiers to become dazed after being near explosions. Symptoms may appear weeks after exposure and there are no outward signs of injury. Naturally, this was regarded as a

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Posted in Science

Example of the law of small numbers

The law of small numbers says that people underestimate the variability in small samples. Said another way, people overestimate what can be accomplished with a small study. Here’s a simple example. Suppose a drug is effective in 80% of patients.

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Posted in Statistics

Laws of large numbers and small numbers

In case my previous note on the law of small numbers confused anyone, I’ll compare it to the law of large numbers. The law of large numbers is a mathematical theorem; the law of small numbers is an observation about human psychology.

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Posted in Math, Statistics

The law of small numbers

The book Judgment under uncertainty analyzes common fallacies in how people estimate probabilities. The book asserts that no one has good intuition about probability. Statisticians do better than the general public, not because their intuition is much better, but because

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Posted in Math, Statistics

The excitement of not knowing what you’re doing

The following excerpt is a quote from Edsgar Dijkstra. I think it was in 1970 that I gave my first talk in a foreign country on the design of programs that you could actually control and prove were correct. …

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Posted in Software development

C# verbatim strings vs. PowerShell here-strings

C# verbatim strings and PowerShell here-strings have just enough in common to be confusing. The differences are summarized here. C# verbatim strings PowerShell here-strings May contain line breaks Must contain line breaks Only double quote variety Single and double quote varieties

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Selective use of technology

Please see the revised version of this post here.

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Posted in Computing, Creativity