Monthly Archives: June 2012

Installing R and Rcpp

Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote about my frustration calling C++ from R. Maybe this will become an annual event because I’m back at it. This time my experience was more pleasant. I was able to install Rcpp on

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Simplicity is hard to sell

People say they want simple things, but they don’t. Not always. Donald Norman argues in Living with Complexity that people really want things that are easy to use, not things that are simple. They want things that are familiar, even

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Posted in Business

Shell != REPL

A shell is not the same as a REPL (Read Evaluate Print Loop). They look similar, but they have deep differences. Shells are designed for one-line commands, and they’re a little awkward when used as programming languages. Scripting languages are

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Posted in Python

Learn PowerShell as a shell first

When I was learning PowerShell, I thought of it as a scripting language that has a shell. But the right way to think of it may be the opposite, a shell that has a scripting language. Apparently others have followed

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Crayons to Computers

I saw a daycare named “Crayons to Computers” recently. I assume the implication is that crayons are basic and computers are advanced. Programming a computer is more advanced than writing with crayons, but surely their clients don’t learn to program

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Window dressing for ideological biases

From Russ Roberts on the latest EconTalk podcast: … this is really embarrassing as a professional economist — but I’ve come to believe that there may be no examples … of where a sophisticated multivariate econometric analysis … where important

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Posted in Statistics

Methods that get used

I have a conjecture regarding statistical methods: The probability of a method being used drops by at least a factor of 2 for every parameter that has to be determined by trial-and-error. A method could have a dozen inputs, and

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Relearning to type

I’m starting to feel some strain in my hands, so I’m going to take Vivek Haldar’s advice: Act like you do have RSI, and change your set up right now to avoid it. For one thing, I bought an ergonomic

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Posted in Computing

Institutional mediocrity

Here are a couple quotes I’ve run across lately. Both say that attempts to filter out the low end of human thought inevitably filter out some of the high end too. First, from Doug Gwyn: Unix was not designed to

Posted in Business

Root-finding with noisy functions

Suppose you have function g(x) and you want to find x so that g(x) = 0. However, you don’t have direct access to g(x). Instead you can evaluate f(x) which is g(x) plus random noise. Typically f(x) would be an

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Posted in Python, Software development

Unhappy programmers are all alike

A recent pair of articles from Dr. Dobbs reminded me of a famous line from Anna Karenina: All happy families are alike, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Paul Johnson argues that Tolstoy had it backward,

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Technology hype curve

via Wikipedia

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Making a singular matrix non-singular

Someone asked me on Twitter Is there a trick to make an singular (non-invertible) matrix invertible? The only response I could think of in less than 140 characters was Depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. Here I’ll give a

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Obsession

Obsession has come to have a positive connotation. Individuals and companies brag about being obsessed about this or that. But obsession is a psychosis, and the original meaning of the word is still valid. Obsession, according to the canons of

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Running Linux on Azure

Microsoft began offering Linux virtual machine hosting on its Azure platform this week. I created an Ubuntu 12.04 server this morning and everything worked smoothly. I found it much easier to create and connect to a virtual machine on Azure

Posted in Computing