- Data is Snake Oil (Pete Warden) — data is powerful but fickle. A lot of theoretically promising approaches don’t work because there’s so many barriers between spotting a possible relationship and turning it into something useful and actionable. This is the pin of reality which deflates the bubble of inflated expectations. Apologies for the camel’s nose of rhetoric poking under the metaphoric tent.
- Understanding Pac Man Ghost Behaviour — The ghosts’ AI is very simple and short-sighted, which makes the complex behavior of the ghosts even more impressive. Ghosts only ever plan one step into the future as they move about the maze. Whenever a ghost enters a new tile, it looks ahead to the next tile that it will reach, and makes a decision about which direction it will turn when it gets there. Really detailed analysis of just one component of this very successful game. (via Hacker News)
- The Full Stack (Facebook) — we like to think that programming is easy. Programming is easy, but it is difficult to solve problems elegantly with programming. I like to think that a CS education teaches you this kind of “full stack” approach to looking at systems, but I suspect it’s a side-effect and not a deliberate output. This is the core skill of great devops: to know what’s happening up and down the stack so you’re not solving a problem at level 5 that causes problems at level 3.
Plugin-free vector graphics are now easier than ever before
Thirteen years ago, in 2001, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) finalized the specification for Scalable Vector Graphics, version 1.0. A few months later, in early 2002, O’Reilly published the original SVG Essentials, describing both the basics and the wonderful potential of SVG. An open standard for vector graphics, with support for scripting and animation, was an area of boundless possibility.
From some perspectives, not much has changed. The official SVG specification is still at version 1.1, which was released in 2003 and edited in 2011. Neither update introduced new features to SVG, instead focusing on improving clarity and consistency in the details.
In practice, however, SVG has changed considerably. There are numerous tools for creating SVG, both full-featured graphics programs and online widgets. Most importantly, nearly every web browser out there treats SVG as a first-class citizen (some outdated mobile and Internet Explorer versions being exceptions), displaying SVG as an interactive part of your document with no need for plug-ins.
Introducing updated HTTP client support and JSON API integration.
Java 8 may only have been released a few months ago, but Oracle has already announced the first set of features that will be targeted for Java 9. On August 11th, Mark Reinhold, a Chief Architect for Java, made available an initial feature set to subscribers on the jdk9-dev mailing list.
The crop of features are being run under a relatively new process, known as Java Enhancement Proposals (JEP). This process allows new language and VM features to be prototyped and explored without the full weight of the normal Java standardization process, although the expectation is that suitable, successful JEPs would go on to formal standardization. There will, of course, be many other new features that will be introduced in Java 9, but in this post we are going to focus on two major enhancements — and examine how they relate to features added in Java 7 and 8.
Anna von Veh and Mike McNamara on the benefits of XML and the tech-driven future of publishing.
Frankfurt TOC presenters Anna von Veh, a consultant at Say Books, and Mike McNamara, managing director at Araman Consulting Ltd & Outsell-Gilbane UK Affiliate, discuss xml workflows, the (sorry) state of ebook design, and how books and the web will evolve.
Snake Oil, JSON v XML, Pac Man, and the Full Stack
Bob Boiko on why designers and programmers should converge around content.
Content creators, designers and programmers all speak slightly different languages. Bob Boiko believes that a focus on information — its structure and its delivery — can get everyone on the same page.
Training Tricks, Visualizing Code, ASM+XML=ASMXML, and Poetic License
- Training Lessons Learned: Interactivity (Selena Marie Deckelmann) — again I see parallels between how the best school teachers work and the best trainers. I was working with a group of people with diverse IT backgrounds, and often, I asked individuals to try to explain in their own words various terms (like “transaction”). This helped engage the students in a way that simply stating definitions can’t. Observing their fellow students struggling with terminology helped them generate their own questions, and I saw the great results the next day – when students were able to define terms immediately, that took five minutes the day before to work through.
- Software Evolution Storylines — very pretty visualizations of code development, inspired by an xkcd comic.
- asmxml — XML parser written in assembly language. (via donaldsclark on Twitter)
- Poetic License — the BSD license, translated into verse. Do tractor workers who love tractors a lot translate tractor manuals into blank verse? Do the best minds of plumber kid around by translating the California State Code into haikus? Computer people are like other people who love what they do. Computer people just manipulate symbols, whether they’re keywords in Perl or metrical patterns in software licenses. It’s not weird, really. I promise.
This short article outlines some ideas about an open source, online platform for making books, based on WordPress.
We've got some raw results from the StartWithXML survey in the UK, and they are very different in some respects from the US survey we did. Some salient points:48.7% of the respondents were in the STM market, followed by trade (24.4%) and college (16%).The bulk of respondents were from large houses – 50.4% – and the rest were evenly divided…
At the StartWithXML Forum in New York in January, Rebecca Goldthwaite of Cengage gave a great demonstration of how Cengage uses CSS in their XML workflow. Many publishers regard style sheets as an invitation to create cookie-cutter book production, with the fear that all their books will look the same. This is emphatically a myth. Have a look at her…