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Showing posts from April, 2011

Pi Is Still Wrong, And Math Is Still the Foundation of Computing

We recently celebrated Pi Day to commemorate that elusive number that cannot be fully expressed. Do you know why? Because it's an irrational number. Pi is remembered on March 14. Why? Because Pi is most commonly approximated as 3.14.

(Did you know, there's also Pi Approximation Day? Can you guess when? It's July 22. Can you guess why? Because 22/7 is a common approximation of Pi.)

Most of us working in the endlessly challenging field of information technology don't often get to deal directly with math during our daily working lives. Math is that unsung hero, quietly making it all possible.

It is, however, useful (and humbling) to remember occasionally that math is, in fact, the foundation of computing. And there are so many fascinating mathematical problems still waiting to be solved.

Therefore, without further ado, let me whet your appetite with this intriguing blog post by a young mathematician at MIT, explaining why Pi might actually be WRONG!

And if you're kee…

When Should a Link Open a New Window?

I recently posted this question on Stack Exchange, a great family of websites for getting informed responses to meaningful questions. The answers I received indicate that there are broadly two use cases to consider.

One, it is clearly recommended to open a new browser instance/window/tab in certain situations. Such cases include where the link is a detour from the main workflow, e.g. print or help. In these circumstances, the new window contains no navigation. Also, the detour cannot be reproduced via use of the back button.Two, when moving to a new domain, opinion is divided on whether to force a new window (target="_blank") or let the user decide (click for the same window, ctrl+click for a new window).
Thoughts? Click on the link above to view the detailed discussion on Stack Overflow.

Twitter Switches from Ruby on Rails to Java

Twitter has recently refactored its search module to replace a Ruby on Rails solution with a Java-based framework called Blender.

Finally, Radiation Levels Explained!

The PDF link is the best way to view this infographic from Scientific American.

Agile Is Not For Everyone

Consultants and process coaches need to consider carefully whether they're forcing Agile onto organizations even when the organization's cultural leanings suggest that Agile may not be a good fit. As this article points out, often organizations are looking for results not a wholesale change of culture.

Essential Reading on HTTP and REST

Okay, so it's a bit risky to refer to this giant of contemporary computer science as a horse. But, as the saying goes, this is straight from the horse's mouth. Trust me, it doesn't get any more authoritative than this!

Roy Fielding is co-author of the HTTP specification and the ubiquitous Apache Web Server. He created the Representational State Transfer (REST) paradigm as an architectural style for the Web. Since then REST has received much well-deserved attention.

His doctoral thesis (FREE PDF!) is a seminal work that contains an excellent discussion on the following.

Software architectures in general, well worth reading for the survey and rigor contained herein, especially given the lack of consensus on what entails an architecture definition
How network-based application architectures (e.g. the Web) are unique, an impressive discourse on the nature and function of the Internet
Why Fielding proposed the REST architectural style for distributed hypermedia systems.
Finally, Fiel…

Haven't Met You Yet

Incredibly reminiscent of Bollywood, Billy Joel, and musicals in general!