Blog Archives

The most fearless and the most fearful people

While I was in Europe, someone commented to me that Americans are the most fearless and the most fearful people on Earth. We put men on the moon, and we walk around with hand sanitizer. We start bold business ventures

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Where else you can find me

In addition to this blog, you can find me on Twitter and Google+. I occasionally blog at Symbolism, though that site is mostly a paste bin for the DailySymbol Twitter account. I’ll be speaking at the Snow Unix Event in

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Writing down an unwritten language

In this post I interview Greg Greenlaw, a friend of mine who served as a missionary to the Nakui tribe in Papua New Guinea and developed their writing system. (Nakui is pronounced like “knock we.”) JC: When you went to

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Jon Bentley’s design principles

Design principles from Programming Pearls by Jon Bentley: Work on the right problem. Explore the design space of solutions. Look at the data. Use the back of the envelope. Build prototypes. Make tradeoffs when you have to. Keep it simple.

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Theory and practice

Nice line from Erik Meijer via Twitter: Happiness is when you drill a tunnel from two completely different sides (theory <–> practice) and then they line up *exactly*.

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Quality over quantity

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” — Philippians 4:8 “Ninety percent of

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Photos from Santa Barbara and Seattle

I was in southern California a couple weeks ago to help teach a class in Azure for researchers in Santa Barbara and to visit a client in Thousand Oaks. This week I was in Seattle to give a talk at

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Probability is subtle

When I was in college, I overheard two senior faculty arguing over an undergraduate probability homework assignment. This seemed very strange. It occurred to me that I’d never seen faculty argue over something elementary before, and I couldn’t imagine an

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Giving away classic probability book

I was culling out books, mostly obsolete technical books, and I remembered that I have an extra copy of Feller’s classic probability text. It’s volume 1, second edition. If you’re a student and would like the book, please send me

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Braille, Unicode, and Binary

Braille characters live in a 4×2 matrix. This means there are eight positions where the surface is either flat or raised. You can naturally denote a Braille character by an 8-bit binary number: the bit for a single position is

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Hum-drum fairy tales

The subtitle of That Hideous Strength is “A Modern Fairy-Tale for Grown-Ups.” C. S. Lewis explains in the preface why the book begins with mundane scenes even though he calls it a fairy tale. If you ask why—intending to write

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Most popular posts of 2013

These posts have been the most popular this year: Hacking debt (about not enough time spent hacking, not about financial debt) Subscribing to a Twitter account via RSS The weight of code Extreme syntax Which Unicode characters can you depend

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New blog: Symbolism

I’ve started a new blog called Symbolism. Each post will take a symbol and say a few words about it. So far I’ve written about the equal sign, the chi-rho, and the long S. I’ve also started a Twitter account

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A strange mixture of luxury and squalor

The second chapter of Out of the Silent Planet opens by describing a room as “a strange mixture of luxury and squalor.” It gives examples such as the room as having fine armchairs but no carpets or curtains, strewn with

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Endeavour shuttle

Now and then someone will give me Endeavour stuff, such this coin and photos of HMS Endeavour. The other day Mark Jones sent me this photo of Space Shuttle Endeavour.

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