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Four short links: 6 August 2009

Ancient Language, NoSQL, Molecular Gastronomy, SQL Weirdness

  1. Computers Unlock More Secrets of the Indus Valley ScriptFour-thousand years ago, an urban civilization lived and traded on what is now the border between Pakistan and India. During the past century, thousands of artifacts bearing hieroglyphics left by this prehistoric people have been discovered. Today, a team of Indian and American researchers are using mathematics and computer science to try to piece together information about the still-unknown script. The team led by a University of Washington researcher has used computers to extract patterns in ancient Indus symbols. The study, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows distinct patterns in the symbols’ placement in sequences and creates a statistical model for the unknown language. (via ACM TechNews)
  2. NoSQL: If Only It Was That Easy — war stories of the problems with nosql systems to handle big throughput. We liked Tokyo Tyrant so much, we put it in production. In fact, every request to AboutUs.org hits Tokyo. One of the uses is as a persistent memcached replacement for caching 10 million+ wiki pages (as a json document of all the pieces of our page, which comes out to around 51gb(edited) of data), and it works great. It runs on a single server, it serves up a single type of data, very quickly, and has been a pleasure to use. We keep other ancillary data sets on some other servers too, and it’s great for this. Tokyo Tyrant is a great example of very performant software, but it doesn’t scale. (via straup on Delicious)
  3. WillPowder — Specialty Powders and Spices from Chef Will Goldfarb — molecular gastronomy products from “the golden boy of pastry”. (via joshua on Delicious)
  4. What is the Deal with NULLs?In the past, I’ve criticized NULL semantics, but in this post I’d just like to explain some corner cases that I think you’ll find interesting, and try to straighten out some myths and misconceptions. [...] I believe the above shows, beyond a reasonable doubt, that NULL semantics are unintuitive, and if viewed according to most of the “standard explanations,” highly inconsistent. (via bos on Delicious)
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