Monthly Archives: May 2012

Writing software for someone else

One of the differences between amateur and professional software development is whether you’re writing software for yourself or for someone else. It’s like the difference between keeping a journal and being a journalist. People who have only written software for

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Posted in Software development

Free Bach recordings

James Kibbie has recorded Bach’s complete organ works and Kimiko Ishizaka has recorded his Goldberg Variations. Both artists have made their recordings free for download.

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Posted in Music

Why read and write tech books?

Now that we have Google, countless blogs, and Stack Overflow, why should anyone buy technical books? And why should anybody write them? Charles Petzold’s answer is that books provide a narrative in a way that the web cannot. Books about

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Posted in Software development

Unix doesn't follow the Unix philosophy

The Unix philosophy is a noble idea, but even Unix doesn’t follow it too closely. The Unix philosophy, as summarized by Doug McIlroy, says Write programs that do one thing and do it well. Write programs to work together. Write

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First changes to a new computer

Here are the first three changes I make to a new computer. Remap Caps Lock to be a control key. Delete all icons from the desktop. Mute the sound. Related posts: Why and how to remap Caps Lock (Windows, Linux,

Posted in Computing

The Book of Inkscape

When I first started using Inkscape, I read Inkscape: Guide to a Vector Drawing Program by Tavmjong Bah, 3rd edition. It’s now in its 4th edition, which I have not seen. I received a copy of The Book of Inkscape

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Posted in Graphics

Should you walk or run in the rain?

One of the problems in X and the City, a book I mentioned the other day, is deciding whether you’ll get wetter by walking or running in the rain. The author takes several factors into account and models the total

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Using SciPy with IronPython

Three years ago I wrote a post about my disappointment using SciPy with IronPython. A lot has changed since then, so I thought I’d write a short follow-up post. To install NumPy and SciPy for use with IronPython, follow the

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Posted in Python

The 1970s

Here’s a perspective on the 1970s I found interesting: The decade was so embarrassing that climbing out of the ’70s was a proud achievement. The 1970s were America’s low tide. Not since the Depression had the country been so wracked

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Differential Equations and the City

This afternoon I got a review copy of X and the City: Modeling Aspects of Urban Life by John A. Adam. It’s a book about mathematical model, taking all its examples from urban life: public transportation, growth, pollution, etc. I’ve only

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Posted in Math

Castles and quantum mechanics

How are castles and quantum mechanics related? One connection is rook polynomials. The rook is the chess piece that looks like a castle, and used to be called a castle. It can move vertically or horizontally, any number of spaces.

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Posted in Math

Mars, magic squares, and music

About a year ago I wrote about Jupiter’s magic square. Then yesterday I was listening to the New Sounds podcast that mentioned a magic square associated with Mars. I hadn’t heard of this, so I looked into it and found

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Posted in Math

Machine Learning in Action

A couple months ago I briefly reviewed Machine Learning for Hackers by Drew Conway and John Myles White. Today I’m looking at Machine Learning in Action by Peter Harrington and comparing the two books. Both books are about the same

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Posted in Python

Criteria for a computing setup

“My setup” articles have become common. These articles list the hardware and software someone uses, usually with little explanation. The subtext is often the author’s commitment to the Apple brand or to open source, to spending money on the best

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Posted in Computing

Solutions to knight's random walk

My previous post asked this question: Start a knight at a corner square of an otherwise-empty chessboard. Move the knight at random by choosing uniformly from the legal knight-moves at each step. What is the mean number of moves until

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Posted in Python