"Stand back! I know regular expressions!"

For the last few days I’ve been taking part in the Advent of Code. Each day there are a couple of small programming problems to solve in your choice of language. There’s a Reddit community where people discuss the problems and their solutions. After solving the Day 5 problems pretty quickly, I went to the discussions and was a bit surprised to find that everyone was talking about regular expressions.…

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Go: Preliminary verdict

So, how do I feel about Go, now that I know it better? The good On the whole, I like it. Some high points: It’s reasonably terse, and there’s not much syntax to remember. Like Ruby, you can do a lot in not much code, and unlike (say) Java there isn’t really a big need for an IDE. It inherits from Modula-2 a focus on compile-time efficiency. No header files, a compact grammar, and rigid dependency declaration make for rapid compilation times.…

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Review: "The Go Programming Language"

“The Go Programming Language” by Alan A.A. Donovan & Brian W. Kernighan Addison-Wesley Like many other programmers, I learned to write C by reading “The C Programming Language” by Kernighan and Ritchie, the book known to hackers everywhere as “K&R”. I confess that I was initially drawn to “The Go Programming Language” out of sheer Kernighan brand awareness. Would it be the K&R of the Go world? I certainly hoped so, as I have strong preferences when it comes to programming language textbooks.…

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Go

Back when I was 17, I thought C was the greatest programming language in the world. I had started programming in BASIC, messed with assembly language, then discovered Pascal. Both BASIC and Pascal were interpreted, at least in the implementations I had, so C was my first compiled language. Being able to produce machine code without writing assembler was a revelation. Sure, C had rough edges here and there — the type declarations often needed careful thought to decode — but it did the job like nothing else.…

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The worst mergers and acquisitions

ZDNet ran a story in the week before Halloween about the worst tech mergers and acquisitions. Here are my thoughts on some of them. Caldera and SCO Xenix was the first Unix I ever used. It’s how I ended up using the C Shell — I remember the Xenix box as only having csh, though it’s possible that it also had a really feature-poor version of sh. Either way, csh was the only sane option for interactive use.…

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Engage!

makeitso New in the POWER8 processor, this instruction allows data to push out to the coherence point as quickly as possible. An attempt to run the makeitso instruction provides a hint that prededing stores are made visible with higher priority. — Performance Optimization and Tuning Techniques for IBM Power Systems Processors Including IBM POWER8…

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On ad blocking and ethics

Apple’s introduction of an API for browser content blockers on iOS has reignited the debate over ad blocking on the web. While Apple have promoted the feature as something aimed at improving the mobile user experience, others have pointed out that it’s transparently an attempt to harm Google. In truth, it’s both of those things. The mobile web experience without a content blocker is wretched. Just yesterday I attempted to read an article on the New York Times, only to have it forcibly scroll my tablet to the top of the page in an endless loop to try to force me to read the ads.…

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Hypertext and software patents

While I was visiting my family in the UK recently, I went through some old paperwork. One of the documents was my undergraduate dissertation from 1989⁄1990. My project was to build a graphical hypertext browser and editor which could link existing text files. I’d been experimenting with hypertext on and off since the mid 80s, when I had learned about it from Ted Nelson’s book “Dream Machines”. My browser used a two-pane interface resembling a frameset, with links in a list on the right of the document being viewed.…

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Security practices: experts vs non-experts

Google recently published the results of a survey of computer users to see what security practices they follow. The paper splits the users into two groups — security experts (people who deal with computer security for a living as part of their job, like me), and non-expert users. For each of the two groups, Google assembled a list of the top five security practices followed. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that the two groups had almost completely different lists.…

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Why the mobile web sucks

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Over at The Verge, Nilay Patel writes: I hate browsing the web on my phone. I do it all the time, of course — we all do. Just looking at the stats for The Verge, our mobile traffic is up 70 percent from last year, while desktop traffic is up only 11 percent. That trend isn’t going back; phones are just too convenient, beckoning us to waste more and more of our time gazing at their ever-larger screens.…

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