Posts

Einstein meets Homer Simpson

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Einstein: So Mr. Simpson, what makes you say the universe is shaped like a doughnut and is expanding?  Homer: Mmmm, expanding doughnut. Einstein: Do you think the expansion is due to dark matter and dark energy? Homer: Dark matter? Oh, you mean chocolate. There's lots of energy in chocolate. Einstein: Hmmm, chocolate? Homer: Mmmm, chocolate.

Pi and Free Will

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Pi day (3/14) was 10 days ago, and my blog post is late.  Modern scientists tell us, however, that there is no such thing as free will, and that my lateness was pre-determined, unavoidable, and thus arguably, "not my fault."

The "no free will" thought experiment goes as follows: imagine we are all physical systems where every interaction can be known and measured.  Given enough data and computational ability, identifying cause and calculating effect delivers predictable outcomes with 100% accuracy. 

If we accept determinism, that our lives from birth to death have already been set, where does our moral responsibility go?  Why try at all?

The Atlantic wrestles with these questions in There's No Such Thing as Free Will (But we're better off believing in it anyway). The sub-heading gives it away, indicating that scientists have publicly walked back their argument, "Ha ha, we were just trolling all of you," but privately still think we have no free wi…

Bookshelf Classic: Programmers At Work

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Where did that idea come from? How difficult was it to bring the idea into reality? What does it feel like to develop a major program?

Susan Lammers interviewed 19 programmers along these lines to capture and understand what spawned the microcomputer industry.  With such an eclectic group (click on cover image), Lammers touched on the popular platforms, languages, and applications of the day, including CP/M, BASIC, and VisiCalc.  She also explored the boundaries where programming met music, mathematics, and gaming.

One of my favorite quotes in the book came from the  conversation with Bill Gates where he talked about "technical inversions":

GATES: The old rule used to be that a manager of a programmer was always a better programmer, and there were no what we called "technical inversions," where a programmer works for somebody who doesn't know how to program. We still follow that philosophy: At certain levels we've got business managers, but we don't have…

Limit Up Limit Down Calculator in Beta

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Limit Up Limit Down Calculator in Beta Luldcalc is an iOS app I wrote to calculate price bands in accordance to the rules put forth by the LULD Committee: http://www.luldplan.com/index.html

In addition to being a basic calculator, there are buttons to select tier 1 or tier 2 stocks, and also buttons to double the bands for market open and close.
For Testers A public beta is now available at:

https://testflight.apple.com/join/gWOth57S

The link will introduce you to Apple's TestFlight app which is used to gain access to the beta version of LuldCalc.  You'll need an iPhone running iOS 8 or later.

Install the TestFlight app and you'll find an icon that looks like this:



Open the TestFlight app, and you will be presented with a screen to redeem LuldCalc:



Have fun and let me know your thoughts. Privacy Policy It is more than rude to sell information about you without your permission.  We don't do that and we'll find another way to make a living.

Google FiPhone

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When Google Fi first rolled out, what was notable was its pricing scheme.  Paying only for bandwidth you use, the plan was well suited for light to moderate data consumers.  Unfortunately, Google Fi was exclusive to select Android phones, and as an iPhone user, I could only look on with envy... until recently.  Sometime around November or December 2018, Google Fi became available for iPhones, and I was ready to switch from my current carrier, VirginMobile.

When I signed on with VirginMobile, it started out as a great deal: "unlimited data" for $1 per month for the first 6 months, and then $50 per month thereafter.  The average monthly price over the course of a year came out to $25.50, but the longer I used VirginMobile, the higher the average price would be, and what began as a great deal would eventually become a bad deal, especially for someone who doesn't use much data.

Moving to Google Fi was mostly a matter of ordering the sim card, having an unlocked phone, and c…

The 2012 Acura TSX Wagon

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It's not unusual for computer people to also be car guys and gals.  Cars are another form of hardware to explore, test, optimize, and modify.  My TSX Wagon review below first appeared on Edmunds' enthusiast car website under "InsideLine: Readers' Rides."  Edmunds have long since changed their format and the article is no longer there.  I am republishing it here with a few updates.






First Impressions
My wife tells me the first thing women notice about men are their shoes. Shoe size not withstanding, she explains that the kind of shoes, and the condition they're in, say a lot about who a man is, and hint at what he hopes to be.

The shoes on our base trim 2012 Acura TSX Sport Wagon are 17 inch Michelin Pilot HX MXM4. In the Michelin lineup, these tires slot between the MXV4, which lean toward comfort, and the Pilot Sport A/S, which are geared for performance. Does this wagon live up to its luxury sport aspirations?

On the outside, the wagon's overall look is s…

Alternatives to the Whiteboard

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Quincy Larson, a teacher at freeCodeCamp, wrote an excellent post on Medium, Why is hiring broken? It starts at the whiteboard

Inspired, I wrote my own essay about the whiteboard problem and shared it on Medium back in May 2016.  I've reproduced it here partly for posterity, and partly because hiring software developers is still a broken process and worthy of discussion.  See my December 2018 post The Best Selling Tech Book on Amazon Is ... for more thoughts about this.



A long time ago, when I applied for my second software development job after college, I was thrust in front of whiteboard and asked to code a rudimentary strcpy() function. I felt uncomfortable, with one hand grasping a marker, and the other hand — fingers really — improvising as an eraser.

I wasn’t doing very well, as one interviewer looked unimpressed. The other, however, apparently saw something more in me, and put me in front of his PC and fired up the editor. I took to it like a fish took to water. And I got th…