Hello, Disqus

I've decided to switch to Disqus for comments on this site. I've gotten more than a little tired of all the spammers trying to create accounts, bots with fantastic names such as drugs4less, fred945willaams45, and qoxmncberuy. I'm going to be making an effort to post more often on my side, and hopefully this will increase audience participation.

Please let me know if you have any trouble attempting to comment using Disqus. I looked into Facebook comments, which I think would reduce spam even more, but there were a lot more hoops to jump through, and unlike Disqus, there is no direct Drupal integration.

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Two More Think Like a Programmer Videos

Okay, I think I may be getting that hang of this, although making these videos still takes a lot longer than it probably should. Anyway, episode 3 is about the "blank screen," trying to get off the ground with a new problem.

Episode 4 is about recursion. Note that this is based on chapter 6 in the book, which you can read for free over at the book's page at No Starch Press.


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Today in Oddball Amazon Pricing

If, like me, you do a good bit of purchasing, or at least browsing, at Amazon, you'll often find examples of pricing that make no sense. Many of these are violations of the volume-purchasing rule. For example, I've seen mp3 (downloaded) music priced this way, where buying the whole album in one go was more than buying the songs individually.

So today I'm looking at the magazines (don't ask me why, I haven't bought a magazine in years), and I see that Popular Mechanics can be purchased as a 6-month auto-renewal for $5, or for a 12-month (1 year) auto-renewal for $12. What am I missing here?


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Try to Remember Something

I'm reading that Dwight Freeney won't be re-signed by the Indianapolis Colts, and the following jumps out at me:

Freeney won battles on the line of scrimmage with his blazing speed and spin move, something teammates and opponents continue to try and emulate.

There are three problems in that sentence. The first one should have been an easy catch, either by the author or the editor. For some reason, in speaking, people sometimes say try and when of course they mean try to. The author doesn't mean that teammates and opponents both try and emulate, he means the emulation is something they try. While no one should feel ashamed for saying try and, no one should write it, either.

Problem two is not as easy to see. The world of computing is to blame for this problem, I think, because in computing, an emulator is a program that simulates the operation of another operating system or set of hardware. For example, you can get a Commodore 64 emulator for your PC and run all the old great C64 games (like Wizard, Lode Runner, etc.). But emulate actually means to try to meet or surpass. In other words, if you emulate a person, you are trying to do as well, or better, than that person did in a particular field. It makes no sense to try to emulate someone, because the word emulate already includes the idea that you are making an effort that might fail.

The third problem is something. This word is effectively some thing written as one word. If opponents and teammates are emulating Freeney's spin moves and speed, those are two things, not some thing.

Reading a sentence like that reminds me of a sad truth: writing well is hard work!


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Think Like a Programmer: The Movie

Ok, not quite. But I did decide to make a few videos explaining what the book is about and offer a few tips to get people started who are struggling with the problem-solving part of programming.

This first one is the intro:

And the second one demonstrates a concept fromthe first chapter, that solving puzzles is a lot like solving problems with programs:

If you have any suggestions for future videos or questions about the book, head over here for my contact info.


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