18 MAY 2017 by ideonexus

 Programming as a Way of Thinking

Running programs is the whole point of programming, of course, but there is more to it. The ability to execute code makes programming a tool for thinking and exploring. When we express ideas as programs, we make them testable; when we debug programs, we are also debugging our brains.
Folksonomies: programming thought
Folksonomies: programming thought
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21 APR 2017 by ideonexus

 Code is Not Literature

Code is not literature and we are not readers. Rather, interesting pieces of code are specimens and we are naturalists. So instead of trying to pick out a piece of code and reading it and then discussing it like a bunch of Comp Lit. grad students, I think a better model is for one of us to play the role of a 19th century naturalist returning from a trip to some exotic island to present to the local scientific society a discussion of the crazy beetles they found: “Look at the antenna on this...
Folksonomies: programming coding hacking
Folksonomies: programming coding hacking
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Seibel's observation that reading code is less like literature and more like science is dead on. No matter how readable the code is, when I'm confronted with 10,000 lines of it spread across numerous encapsulated functions, I must tackle it very differently from how I read prose. With a complex literary text, I can just read it in linear fashion with occasional segueing to look up words and concepts, with well-engineered code I must follow numerous cases into different flows of logic. These aren't the same at all.

I appreciate that he's trying to dispel the idea that we "read" code as we read for pleasure, I learn from code by experimenting with it. I open up the debugger and step through it, watch the variables change and see where it goes when I execute it. Most of all, I learn by changing that code and trying to build on it. I have enhanced my javascript skills immensely in recent years by cloning various projects on github and trying to expand on them or adopt them to my own purposes. I don't recommend opening up a code base and just reading it, actively engage it, break it, and enhance it.

03 JUN 2016 by ideonexus

 Liberal Arts Majors in Technical Professions

While we’ve hired many computer-science majors that have been critical team members, It’s noncomputer science degree holders who can see the forest through the trees. For example, our chief operating officer is a brilliant, self-­taught engineer with a degree in philosophy from the University of Chicago. He has risen above the code to lead a team that is competitive globally. His determination and critical-thinking skills empower him to leverage the power of technology without getting bo...
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Reminds me of my own career graduating with an English Degree and going into Computer Programming.

13 MAR 2014 by ideonexus

 Humans Are Abstraction Masters

What distinguishes us from cavemen is the level of abstraction we can reach. Abstraction enabled humans to move from barter to money, and from gold coins to plastic cards. These days, what's left of "money" is often just an account record we read on a computer screen, and soon it could just be a line of code in a bitcoin ledger. Today, abstraction is all around us — and math is the language of abstraction. In the words of the great mathematician Henri Poincare, mathematics is valuable beca...
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The level of abstraction we can master distinguishes us from other life.

11 MAY 2013 by ideonexus

 Can All Computer Code be Reduced to Pure Logic?

As we move from the "low" level to the "high", say from the domain of machine code all the way up to, for instance, a rich, expressive Ruby DSL, the question arises, as it does for all language: have we acquired a surplus of content that cannot be simply reduced to core rules? At this point things get less Wittgensteinian and a little more late-Heideggerian, i.e., less analytic and more eidetic/phenomenological. To remove the fuzziness from this notion, think of how, for instance, a first-pe...
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Everything in a computer program is built on low-level binary operations, but at the higher levels we deal with fuzzy objects. Does the fact that those fuzzy objects are built on concrete logic mean they can be understood concretely?

03 APR 2013 by TGAW

 Beware of Software Engineers Who Do Not Maintain Their Ow...

If an engineer is not tasked with the long term maintenance of the systems they build, view them with suspicion. 80% of the blood, sweat, and tears of software occurs after its been released—that’s when you become a world weary, but wiser “professional.”
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06 JUN 2012 by ideonexus

 Ignorance is God

Our ignorance is God; what we know is science. When we abandon the doctrine that some infinite being created matter and force, and enacted a code of laws for their government ... the real priest will then be, not the mouth-piece of some pretended deity, but the interpreter of nature.
Folksonomies: science religion
Folksonomies: science religion
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Knowledge is science. Priests should be interpreters of nature.

08 JUN 2011 by ideonexus

 Mnemonic Device for Avoiding BPA

anything labeled with the recycling code three, six, or seven goes into the trash. (In my research on BPA, I encountered a mnemonic device with the lilt of a nursery rhyme: “Four, five, one, and two/All the rest are bad for you.”)
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“Four, five, one, and two/All the rest are bad for you.”

02 JUN 2011 by ideonexus

 Royal Society's Code of Ethics

The proposed code Rigour, honesty and integrity · act with skill and care in all scientific work. Maintain up-to-date skills and assist their development in others ·· take steps to prevent corrupt practices and professional misconduct. Declare conflicts of interest · be alert to the ways in which research derives from and affects the work of other people, and respect the rights and reputations of others. Respect for life, the law and the public good · ensure that your work is lawf...
Folksonomies: ethics codes conduct
Folksonomies: ethics codes conduct
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Focuses on the effects of research, enlightening the public, and keeping skills up to date.

21 APR 2011 by ideonexus

 Are Programming Solutions Inherent?

If you give two programmers the same problem—it depends on the problem, but problems of a more mathematical nature, they can often end up writing the same code. Subject to just formatting issues and relabeling the variables and the function names, it's isomorphic—it's exactly the same algorithms. Are we creating these things or are we just pulling the cobwebs off?
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Joe Armstrong suggests that programming solutions are isomorphic when tackling the same problems.