Programmer proverbs that all of us can live by

Thursday, 19 February, 2015

The first symptom of stagnation is preference, by Futurice

Not just for programmers, I don’t think, these programmer proverbs, from Finnish software development company Futurice.

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Would you care for a small game of BootChess?

Wednesday, 11 February, 2015

Developed by Olivier Poudade, with the assistance of Peter Ferrie, BootChess, weighing in at a mere 487 bytes, may just be the smallest yet chess computer program.

Poudade is hopeful his accomplishment will encourage more developers to think about the size of the applications that they create:

“[It] demonstrates why assembly language is still the language of choice to excel [at] in programming,” he said. “[And it] reminds others that optimising in computer programming is not only about speed, but also about size.”

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Does the code we see at the movies work in the real world?

Tuesday, 14 January, 2014

British programmer John Graham-Cumming collects examples of snippets of code as seen in movies, which are more often than not displayed simply for show, and then figures out what the programming actually does.

Clearly the code executes whatever is required of it on a movie set, but your mileage may vary, considerably in some instances, in the real world.

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A picture could paint a thousand lines of code with MS Paint

Monday, 11 April, 2011

I’m no code monkey, so I’m only calling this one as I see it, but MS Paint, a basic graphics creation application that ships with Windows operating systems, can be used to write snippets of code, as this GIF animation presentation shows.

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How Agile development methodologies almost saved an empire

Tuesday, 29 March, 2011

Darth Vader took a few leaves from Agile software development methodologies in order to ensure that the second Death Star (in Return of the Jedi) was operational, according to the Emperor’s specifications:

Enter Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith and Project Manager. He is here to put this thing back on track. The Client (in this case, the Emperor), doesn’t want to hear any more excuses. They want results, and they wanted them yesterday. So, Vader takes an Agile approach. He prioritizes the features list (“Look, we really need the big laser thing; our customers will just have to come to us at first.”), and he works in vertical slices. At the end of the movie, it seems to have paid off. There are still huge pieces missing and construction is nowhere near complete, but “Those weapon systems are operational!”

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Remember when writing Facebook code wasn’t a process?

Thursday, 20 January, 2011

Based on observations and comments made by Facebook programmers, Yee Lee has listed key aspects of the social network’s code development process… it’s sure come a long way since Mark Zuckerberg toiled in a university dorm room writing it by himself.

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What happens after “to hell with it, let’s do it” actually happens

Monday, 15 November, 2010

Formulating a set of contingency instructions – that are a little like if-then scripting statements – to be adhered to should we choose to do something rash, hasty, or otherwise unwise (such as say, hack all the protected images from the facebooks of Harvard University’s colleges), could help us apply the brakes before our hot-headedness really gets the better of us.

You’re probably familiar with what could be called the ‘to hell with it’ effect. It’s when (as demonstrated by lots of research) a bad mood causes us to take risky decisions or engage in risky behaviour. Like when you’re feeling down and you drive home dangerously fast or go out and get drunk. Now a team led by Thomas Webb at the University of Sheffield says that we can protect ourselves from this effect by forming ‘if-then’ implementation decisions in advance. These are self-made plans which state that if a certain situation occurs, then I will respond in a pre-specified way.

I’m no programmer but did develop this little snippet of self-help script… feel free to use it:

[IF] action = stupid [THEN] stop

A form of precognition perhaps?

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Get with the program, Inception in an executable file

Thursday, 22 July, 2010

Right about now the first screenings of Christopher Nolan’s new film Inception will be starting in Sydney, and with any luck I’ll be at one of them. If you’re a programmer who has yet to see Nolan’s latest work, this code snippet by Marke Hallowell makes for a fine substitute for the trailer, if you’re yet to see that also.

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The secrets of creating and selling smartphone apps successfully

Thursday, 8 July, 2010

Seven British smartphone app entrepreneurs discuss creating and selling apps for the iPhone. If you can strike upon the right idea you could do well as an app developer…

Thanks to the relative ease of fashioning an app (using a dedicated “developer’s kit”, which makes programming reasonably pain-free), around 15,000 are submitted to Apple every week for approval and sale through its App Store. The majority are created not by traditional software giants, but by individuals, working from home.

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Will computer applications become grandmasters of chess?

Friday, 21 May, 2010

Computer programs, if they are ever to truly master chess, must become capable of anticipating play ten plus moves ahead, in same way as the (human) grandmasters.

Often but not always, as shown by today’s climactic game in which Viswanathan Anand of India won with Black to defeat challenger Veselin Topalov 6½ – 5½ . At Move 40, Anand calculated 11 moves ahead to realize that a position after Move 50 with only a King and three Pawns left for each side would be winning for him. Many computer programs seeing only yea-far for minutes thought Anand’s move was a blunder allowing a draw, causing their owners to express consternation on numerous chat channels and blogs. Thus, sometimes the programs are wrong.

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