Monthly Archives: April 2008

Integrating the clipboard and the command line

Two of my favorite cmdlets from the PowerShell Community Extensions are get-clipboard and out-clipboard. These cmdlets let you read from and write to the Windows clipboard from PowerShell. For example, the following code will grab the contents of the clipboard,

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Posted in PowerShell

Innovation V

About a month ago I wrote a series of four blog posts on innovation. The most important theme from these posts is the statement by Seth Godin just posted an article on his blog entitled The fibula and the safety

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Posted in Creativity

Preventing an unpleasant Sweave surprise

Sweave is a tool for making statistical analyses more reproducible by using literate programming in statistics. Sweave embeds R code inside LaTeX and replaces the code with the result of running the code, much like web development languages such as

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Posted in Computing, Statistics

How to calculate percentiles in memory-bound applications

I just published a new article on CodeProject: Calculating percentiles in memory-bound applications. Finding the percentiles of a list of samples is trivial if you can read all the samples into memory and sort the list. If the list is too

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Posted in Software development

60-second description of feeds

If you don’t know what a “feed” is, as in RSS feed etc., here’s a 60-second audio explanation. Audio clip from Sixty Second Tech Transcript

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Posted in Computing

One program to rule them all

Do you have a single program that you “live in” when you’re at a computer? Emacs users are known for “living” inside Emacs. This means more than just using the program for a large part of the day. It means

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Posted in PowerShell

How to calculate binomial probabilities

Suppose you’re doing something that has probability of success p and probability of failure q = 1-p. If you repeat what you’re doing m+n times, the probability of m successes and n failures is given by Now suppose m and n are moderately

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Posted in Math, Software development, Statistics

Fibonacci numbers at work

Today I needed to use Fibonacci numbers to solve a problem at work. Fibonacci numbers are great fun, but I don’t recall needing them in an applied problem before. I needed to compute a series of integrals of the form f(x, y)

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Posted in Math

Duct tape on the moon

Yesterday’s Science at NASA podcast had an entertaining story about duct tape and Apollo 17. (Transcript, audio) The lunar rover lost a fender and they taped it back on with duct tape. That worked for a while, then they had to

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Posted in Science

Problems versus dilemmas

In a recent interview on the PowerScripting Podcast, Jeffrey Snover said that software versioning isn’t a problem, it’s a dilemma. The difference is that problems can be solved, but dilemmas can only be managed. No versioning system can do everything

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Posted in Software development, Statistics

Four types of errors

There are two kinds of errors discussed in classical statistics, unimaginatively named Type I and Type II. Aside from having completely non-mnemonic names, they represent odd concepts. Technically, a Type I error consists of rejecting the “null hypothesis” (roughly speaking,

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Posted in Statistics

Automated software builds

My first assignment as a professional programmer was to build another person’s program. I learned right away not to assume a project will build just because the author says it will. I’ve seen the same pattern repeated everywhere I’ve worked. Despite version control systems and

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Posted in PowerShell, Software development

Cross-platform PowerShell

I just found out there’s a project called Pash to create an open source, cross platform version of Microsoft’s PowerShell. That should be very interesting.

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Database-first or object model-first software development

The most recent edition of the .NET Rocks podcast interviewed Jeremy Miller and David Laribee. They made the observation that Microsoft’s development tools are implicitly designed to support database-first development rather than object model-first development. Because they are committed to agile and

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Posted in Software development

IPv6

The most recent RunAs Radio podcast interviews Sean Siler on IPv6, the eventual replacement for IPv4, the current Internet protocol address scheme. At the current rate, we will run out of IPv4 addresses in May 2010. Previous estimated dates for running out

Posted in Computing