- Shadow Robot’s Dextrous Hand (Robohub) — The now infamous crab bisque recipe was prepared copying the exact movements of 2011 BBC MasterChef winner Tim Anderson. The robot switches on a hob, scrapes butter into the pan and adds prepared and measured ingredients – from a specific place on the worktop. But, it doesn’t do the chopping… That, says Rich, is an AI problem.
- Top 10 Most Innovative Companies Of 2015 In Robotics (Fast Company) — from exoskeletons to limbs to inflatables and toys.
- go get Considered Harmful — because it’s 2015 and we’re still trying to figure out dependency management and versioning. If you want me, I’ll be in a corner waiting for the rest of CPAN to install.
- Pathpicker — nifty utility. I can’t believe it’s 2015 and we’re still able to find useful Unix utilities to create.
Flow-based, functional, and more
“Small pieces loosely joined,” David Weinberger’s appealing theory of the Web, has much to say to programmers as well. It always inspires me to reduce the size of individual code components. The hard part, though, is rarely the “small” – it’s the “loose”.
After years of watching and wondering, I’m starting to see a critical mass of developers working within approaches that value loose connections. The similarities may not be obvious (or even necessarily welcome) to practitioners, but they share an approach of applying encapsulation to transformations, rather than data. Of course, as all of these are older technologies, the opportunity has been there for a long time.
The Return of Flow-Based Programming
“There’s two roles: There’s the person building componentry, who has to have experience in a particular program area, and there’s the person who puts them together,” explains Morrison. “And it’s two different skills.”
That separation of skills – programmers creating separate black box transformations and less-programmery people defining how to fit the transformations together – created a social problem for the approach. (I still hear similar complaints about the designer/programmer roles for web development.)
The map-like pictures that are drawing people to NoFlo, like this one for NoFlo Jekyll, show how the transformations connect, how the inputs and outputs are linked. I like the pictures, I’m not terribly worried that they will descend into mad spaghetti, and this division of labor makes too much sense to me. At the same time, though, it reminds me of a few other things.
A look back at "Unix Power Tools," "DNS and Bind," and other O'Reilly titles.
Tim O'Reilly: "It's amazing to me how books I first published more than 20 years ago are still creating value for readers."
Brian Kernighan discusses Dennis Ritchie.
I talked on Friday with Brian Kernighan about Dennis Ritchie, who sadly passed away two weeks ago at the age of 70. To a large extent, Ritchie completed what he started.
We need more people who share Dennis Ritchie's spirit.
"UNIX is basically a simple operating system, but you have to be a genius to understand the simplicity," Dennis Ritchie once said. It's true, and we need more geniuses who share his spirit.
On 10/30/11 let's remember the contributions of computing pioneer Dennis Ritchie.
I don't have the convening power of a governor, but for those of us around the world who care, I hereby declare this Sunday, October 30 to be Dennis Ritchie Day.
Steve Jobs and the App Store, goodbye to Dennis Ritchie, and an internal Google critique goes public.
Better late than never, a few thoughts on Steve Jobs. Also, a Unix pioneer leaves us, and Google's dirty laundry is accidentally hung out to dry.
Terminal Tool, Gamifying Education, Exponential Shortcut, and Kindle Spam
- tmux — GNU Screen-alike, with vertical splits and other goodies. (via Hacker News)
- Gamifying Education (Escapist) — a more thoughtful and reasoned approach than crude badgification, but I’d still feel happier meddling with kids’ minds if there was research to show efficacy and distribution of results. (via Ed Yong)
- Rule of 72 (Terry Jones) — common piece of financial mental math, but useful outside finance when you’re calculating any kind of exponential growth (e.g., bad algorithms). (via Tim O’Reilly)
- Spam Hits the Kindle Bookstore (Reuters) — create a system of incentives and it will be gamed, whether it’s tax law, search engines, or ebook stores. Aspiring spammers can even buy a DVD box set called Autopilot Kindle Cash that claims to teach people how to publish 10 to 20 new Kindle books a day without writing a word. (via Clive Thompson)