Knowing Where To Bang

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Sometimes ya gotta laugh. I just spent nearly an hour chasing one of those bugs that “can’t be happening” because “the code looks absolutely correct (as far as I can tell).” Of course, the bug, once you find it, was always hiding in plain view.

This time the fix involved adding just two characters, incidentally improving the program semantics, and very much reminded me of the old joke about the huge cargo ship that breaks down at sea…

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Aside

Update July 2017

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In the unlikely event anyone is reading this, and, more in the original spirit of “web logs“, as much a diary entry to record both the passing of time and the moment, after a long period of quiet, and in the long-winded run-on way that I sometimes have, a post.

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Iteration versus Recursion

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When it comes to what makes a computer (or any other) language a programming language, there are three characteristics usually required:

  1. Saving state (variables)
  2. Selecting a code path (if-then)
  3. Iteration or recursion (or equivalent)

This post is just a brief note (for a friend) about the third item and why it allows three distinct options.

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The Thing About Constants

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Along with “always use less-than” is another great piece of always advice, except this one is a prohibition, a never rather than an always (same thing, really, from a programmer’s point of view).

It has to do with never having literal values embedded in your code!

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Counting From Zero

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In his brief 1982 essay (EWD831), computer science giant Edsger Dijkstra examines a topic that (inappropriately, as it turns out) vexes some programmers: Why in the world do computer people count starting at zero? Everyone knows that counting starts at one!

As it turns out, there are two very good reasons for counting from zero!

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Rare Languages

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Cleaning out some old boxes of papers, I came across one of those humor bits that circulate in any profession. Back in the day, it was usually by fax. Then it was email, and now Tweets and other social platforms. (The song remains the same.)

This one concerned “rare” (i.e. made up) languages loosely based on existing languages. The humor depends, mostly, on recognizing parodied languages and certain other topical references (like “Valley Girls”).

In other words, a lot of the funny has sailed, but I found parts of it cute enough to record here…

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Blast From the Past #1

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In the process of cleaning out boxes of old paperwork, I found this company memo, circa early 1980s, that describes a “simpler” way to send email. At the time, email systems were mainframe-based text systems you logged onto and typed at — actually not terribly unlike the web-based email systems today.

The memo reminds me of how it was back then and of how far we’ve come since. Here it is, reproduced as is:

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