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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…

Donald Ka-NOOTH and the Art Of Computer Programming

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Anyone involved in computer programming should be familiar with the works of Donald Knuth (the K is hard and the name is pronounced Ka-Nooth).  If not, the New York Times can remedy that, having recently published a profile on Knuth titled The Yoda of Silicon Valley.
Wise he is.  Show he does, the dark and light arts of algorithms:
Volume 1: Fundamental Algorithms Volume 2: Semi-numerical Algorithms Volume 3: Sorting and Searching Volume 4A: Combinatorial Algorithms
A very important concept, however, can be found in the title.  While students study computer science, Knuth reminds us it's still an art.  In that sense, I would compare his books to the collected works of Shakespeare -- creative, insightful, but difficult to read and better understood in a study group or book club.  Whether Knuth or Shakespeare, their works are rarely read in their entirety, but their impact can still be felt throughout society.
Programming is a science, but it is apart from the natural sciences like…

A New Battery for an Old MacBook

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The trackpad felt firm and did not click readily.  Channeling Sherlock Holmes, I deduced the culprit was a slightly swollen battery pressing up from underneath.  Well, that and an alert ⚠️ on the menu bar clued me in that it was time replace the battery.

A trip to the local Apple Store confirmed my findings.  But Apple couldn't replace the battery because they didn't work on machines older than five years (something about keeping parts in stock).  My MacBook Pro was a late 2012 model, or six years old.  The Apple Tech referred me to a third party authorized repair center, but in that moment, I decided to try the DIY route with iFixit.

On their website, I looked up my model and purchased the appropriate battery, along with the Apple specific tools I needed to complete the swap.  I also found well written tutorials, a difficulty rating, and feedback from other do-it-yourselfers.  This battery replacement was easy and at $102.89, cost effective.

My MacBook Pro now has power to w…

Holiday Borg

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The Borg were a fearsome adversary introduced in Star Trek: The Next Generation.  With a collective hive mind, they assimilated entire worlds, stealing their technology and enslaving the population to serve as drones.  Able to adapt to and neutralize any defense thrown up by their victims, the Borg were relentless.

While much has been written about the Borg, here are some little known facts about them.

Earth's first Borg was Earnest Borgnine. His name should have given him away, but he looked human and was very likable.


A very distant descendant of his was Annika Hansen, better known as Seven of Nine.

Earth did eventually succeed in capturing and containing the Borg.  Below is a monument to this achievement.

And turning the tables, we see Christmas has assimilated the Borg.

Happy Holidays!

The Best Selling Tech Book On Amazon Is ...

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After reviewing some books I considered classics¹, I wondered what tomes were popular nowadays.  I was disappointed to learn the #1 best seller on Amazon, in the category of data structure and algorithms, was Cracking the Coding Interview.
Was this a direct result of raising students on "teaching to the test?"  Were companies so confused about hiring, they needed to administer a programming puzzle to find a suitable candidate?
The reviews ranked Cracking the Coding Interview highly, and the contents were substantive, not fluff.  Yet, glancing over to my bookshelf, I would want candidates to be acquainted with titles like these: More Programming Pearls by Jon Bentley, The Cathedral & The Bazaar by Eric S. Raymond, Algorithms in C by Robert Sedgewick, and a classic-to-be, Joel On Software by Joel Spolsky.

When software development was novel (circa 1980), a popular notion was that the skills required for programming were similar to the skills needed in music and chess.  Fi…

Bookshelf Classic: Byte Magazine - Inside The IBM PC

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While not a book, it is a classic. Published November 1983 with 720 pages, the magazine featured articles describing the innards of the IBM Personal Computer. The clever cover art shown here was created by Robert Tinney.  Byte's Robert Tinney era spanned from the mid-70s to 1990, and his covers showed an uncommon thoughtfulness.  Think vinyl record album sleeves of the day, where the artwork could have meanings on multiple levels.

Inside, you can find an interview with Philip Estridge, president of IBM's Entry Systems Division, and it included a discussion about keyboards. IBM was renowned for building high quality keyboards, and the unique tactile and audible feedback carried over to the keyboard for the IBM PC.  But the atypical placement of the left shift key and the return key, along with the function keys being on the left instead of across the top, prompted Byte to remind Estridge that "some customers were upset."  The layout didn't match the keyboards of …