Stack Overflow: Quality by Quantity

Programmer Q&A site Stack Overflow has attracted legions of volunteer moderators (including privileged users possessing various editing capacities) with a “gamified” reputation system, but the quality of this moderation is increasingly coming under attack. A thread on Stack Overflow itself asked in April 2014, Why is Stack Overflow so negative of late? I’ve been using […]

Dell XPS 15 Review

About a year ago I switched to a stylish ultrabook hybrid, the Sony Vaio Duo 13. While I was overall quite happy with that neat little device, two of its unavoidable compromises eventually got on my nerves: the sheer lack of computational power and the cramped screen space. So after revisiting the current laptop scene […]

∞ C/C++, TypeScript & Classic Games

January brought a number of interesting software links, plus some amusing robot news. C/C++ — Alexander Stepanov, designer of the C++ Standard Template Library (STL), recently answered many questions on his life and work, together with co-worker Daniel E. Rose. And a University of Cambridge team proposes a memory-safe C abstract machine (PDF), as modern […]

Published Opinion Fractures

Le journalisme est un enfer, un abîme d’iniquités, de mensonges, de trahisons, que l’on ne peut traverser et d’où l’on ne peut sortir pur, que protégé comme Dante par le divin laurier de Virgile.– Honoré de Balzac, Illusions perdues (1843) Not only is journalism hell, it hardly pays anymore either. NiemanLab’s Ken Doctor recently published […]

Stop Automatic Execution Blocking

For years I’ve had an advisory page on a terrible Windows anti-feature I’ve dubbed “automatic execution blocking.” Windows sets a flag in files downloaded from the Internet so you cannot run them without a confirmation dialog. Worse, this flag is automatically propagated to files within downloaded archives when you use Windows facilities to unpack those […]

Statistical (In-)Significance

In 2005 John Ioannidis famously declared that Most Published Research Findings Are False. How can this be? Ioannidis refers to studies employing statistical significance testing which has become the norm in many fields, especially medicine – Ioannidis himself is an epidemiologist. Research involving only abstract reasoning (e.g. mathematics) or reliably repeatable mechanisms (e.g. engineering) is […]

Greatest Hits in 2014

Unlike earlier years where I had to guesstimate and combine statistics from multiple sources, the past year was fully covered by Google Analytics. The short version is, total Kynosarges page views nearly doubled from an estimated 95,000 in 2013 to a GA-measured 173,523 in 2014. Not bad for one sad clown amazingly interesting writer! So […]

∞ Chess, Benchmarks & Java

Here’s my end-of-year roundup of notable developer links from the last several months. First, Erik Bern has written an intriguing chess AI called Deep Pink whose position evaluation function was built by teaching a neural network from 100 million amateur games. Without any external knowledge, the learning mechanism simply assumed that each player always made […]

Of Manuals & Magazines

Remember the massive printed multi-volume documentation sets for C++ compilers in the good old days? They are long gone, and Andrew Binstock bemoans the general decline of manuals for developer tools. After an abortive attempt to move traditional comprehensive manuals from print to digital formats, documentation has generally shrunk to brief online references – if […]

Return of Patronage

Who will pay for intellectual works that are easily copied over the Internet, and why? I think the strongest component will be voluntary payment, a.k.a. patronage, and it’s already much more common than generally admitted. The core distinction is the following: People will pay after “consuming” (listening, reading, watching, playing) a work if they decide […]