Monthly Archives: July 2010

Weekend miscellany

How data travels from phone to computer Relativity in words of four letters or less How to fool yourself — and others — with statistics Open source biology software from Microsoft Research Farmers

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Peripeteia

I was looking at a word-of-the-day calendar the other day and the word was peripeteia. I didn’t remember what the word meant, but I remembered that I heard someone use it in a presentation. Eventually I remembered that Mike Rowe

Posted in Business

Three surprises with bc

bc is a quirky but useful calculator. It is a standard Unix utility and is also available for Windows. One nice feature of bc is that you can set the parameter scale to indicate the desired precision. For example, if

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Posted in Math

Trading education systems with China

American creativity is declining according to a recent Newsweek article. The article says that America is embracing rote learning just as China is embracing creativity. In China there has been widespread education reform to extinguish the drill-and-kill teaching style. …

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How many errors are left to find?

There’s a simple statistic called the Lincoln Index that lets you estimate the total number of errors based on the number of errors found. I’ll explain what the Lincoln Index is, why it works, give some code for playing with

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Posted in Python, Software development

Fortune cookie

This was my daughter’s fortune cookie from lunch yesterday: Digital circuits are made from analog parts.

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Weekend miscellany

Water towers Derek Sivers’ big loss How to lose time and money SciPy 2010 presentations Turning a sphere inside-out part I: Part II

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Replacing Mathematica with Python

Everything I do regularly in Mathematica can be done in Python. Even though Mathematica has a mind-boggling amount of functionality, I only use a tiny proportion of it. I skimmed through some of my Mathematica files to see what functions

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Posted in Python

Total cost of software ownership

A decade ago, commercial software vendors would claim that their products were cheaper than open source alternatives when you considered the total cost of ownership. Free software was free to obtain, but difficult to install, configure, maintain, and support. A

Posted in Computing

Geek fatigue

I heard a great term the other day: geek fatigue. Being a geek often means doing things the hard way, at least in the short term. There’s usually some long-term advantage, real or imagined, to justify doing things the hard

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Four out of five dentists surveyed

Years ago, Dentyne chewing gum ran an advertising campaign with the line “four out of five dentists surveyed recommend sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum.” Of course there’s no mention of sample size. Maybe “four out of five”

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Posted in Science

Endless preparation

In his book Made by Hand, Mark Frauenfelder quotes Peter Gray on what’s wrong with contemporary education. Gray says that school is about always preparing for some future time when you will know enough to actually do something, instead of

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Posted in Creativity

Weekend miscellany

How Google works Somewhere between Paris Hilton and Socrates Research-driven startups Carnival of Mathematics #67

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Volumes of Lp unit balls

The unit ball in n dimensions under the Lp norm has volume I ran across this formula via A nice formula for the volume of an L_p ball. That post gives an even more general result that allows different values

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Posted in Math

SciPy and NumPy for .NET

Travis Oliphant announced this morning at the SciPy 2010 conference that Microsoft is partnering with Enthought to produce a version of NumPy and SciPy for .NET. NumPy and SciPy are Python libraries for scientific computing. Oliphant is the president of

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Posted in Python