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Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.
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Culture whytheluckystiff.net

_why's Estate

whytheluckystiff.net is back online and now hosts links and mirrors to everything the man published on the internet during his illustrious career.

It works sort of like a museum that sells maps.

If you’ve never heard of why the lucky stiff, click through to get acquainted. If you were fortunate enough (like myself) to be around when he was actively creating things, click through for some top notch nostalgia.

History blog.tdwright.co.uk

FizzBuzz is FizzBuzz years old

Tom Wright:

This year marks 15 years since FizzBuzz was popularised as an interview tool for developers. I’m a big fan and have watched over 100 candidates try their hand at my version of the task. In today’s blog post I’d like to take a moment to celebrate what makes FizzBuzz so helpful, discuss some common patterns I’ve observed in the many attempts I’ve witnessed, and finally explore some tweaks that can be deployed to keep the challenge fresh.

Tom’s version of FizzBuzz is a pair programming task that follows strict TDD:

In proper pair programming style, the candidate is encouraged to discuss their approach with the interviewer. Likewise, they are free to use any online reference materials if they forget a method name or some syntax.

In this post he shares 3 common variants of the challenge including one that requires a pair of Azure Functions?!

History dev.jimgrey.net

Working in the software industry, circa 1989

Gather round while Jim Grey tells a (long) tale.

My 33rd anniversary in the software industry was the Sunday that just passed, July 3. I remember the date because my second day on the job was a paid holiday!

I want to show you just how far our industry has come and how much we’ve learned.

The more things change:

Lots of things we all take for granted didn’t exist. The Internet existed but not the Web. Software was delivered to customers on tapes or floppy disks. The CD burner was still a few years in the future. Java didn’t exist, JavaScript didn’t exist, .NET didn’t exist.

The more they stay the same:

There was a holy war over text editors. IDEs weren’t a thing yet, so we all coded in a text editor. I was firmly in the Emacs camp, but most of my co-workers loved vi.

Gaming lunduke.substack.com

The computers used to do 3D animation for Final Fantasy VII

There’s a lot going on in that picture. Let’s take a closer look at exactly what computers and gear they were using to do the 3D animation for this game.

Why? Because, Final Fantasy 7 is a true classic. When the game was first released in early 1997, for the Sony PlayStation, it took the RPG gaming world by storm. To this day, many consider it the greatest entry in the franchise.

I remember getting this game for Christmas and playing it nearly non-stop until school started again after the new year. Greatest entry in the franchise? Easily!

The computers used to do 3D animation for Final Fantasy VII

The Changelog The Changelog #484

Wisdom from 50+ years in software

Today we have a special treat. A conversation with Brian Kernighan! Brian’s been in the software game since the beginning of Unix. Yes, he was there at Bell Labs when it all began. And he is still at it today, writing books and teaching the next generation at Princeton.

This is an epic and wide ranging conversation. You’ll hear about the birth of Unix, Ken Thompson’s unique skillset, why Brian thinks C has stood the test of time, his thoughts on modern languages like Go and Rust, what’s changed in 50 years of software, what makes platforms like Unix and the web so powerful, his take as a professor on the trend of programmers skipping the university track, and so much more.

Seriously, this is a must-listen.

The New Stack Icon The New Stack

Margaret Hamilton recalls her life as a programming pioneer

The New Stack overviews a recently published 2017 (3-hours long) interview with the living legend, who rarely speaks publicly about herself:

Hamilton remembered being the only woman in her college physics class — “And at the time, I think the professor thought women should not be taking physics because he … well, you have to know the times.”

She added, “That was the only time somebody in college questioned that that might not be something I would be able to make use of.”

But Hamilton remained undeterred: “I just said, ‘Because I want to take it,’ you know.”

Ars Technica Icon Ars Technica

A brief tour of the PDP-11, the most influential minicomputer of all time

Ars Technica takes an epic stroll down memory lane:

In their moment, minicomputers were used in a variety of applications. They served as communications controllers, instrument controllers, large system pre-processors, desk calculators, and real-time data acquisition handlers. But they also laid the foundation for significant hardware architecture advances and contributed greatly to modern operating systems, programming languages, and interactive computing as we know them today.

We were just discussing this machine on our upcoming episode with Brian Kernighan.

A brief tour of the PDP-11, the most influential minicomputer of all time

Smashing Magazine Icon Smashing Magazine

Thoughts against Markdown

Knut Melvær with a thoughtful attack on one of my all-time favorite tools:

Markdown is a signifier for the developer and text-tinkerer culture. But since its introduction, the world of digital content has also changed. While Markdown is still fine for some things, I don’t believe it’s should be the go-to for content anymore.

There are two main reasons for this:

  1. Markdown wasn’t designed to meet today’s needs of content.
  2. Markdown holds editorial experience back.

Now, I did say it’s a thoughtful atttack and it’s also a long one (30 minute read). Knut does the work, diving deep into Markdown’s history and John Gruber’s desires for it:

I want to build my advice against Markdown by looking back on why it was introduced in the first place, and by going through some of the major developments of content on the web. For many of us, I suspect Markdown is something we just take for granted as a “thing that exists.” But all technology has a history and is a product of human interaction. This is important to remember when you, the reader, develop technology for others to use.

Microsoft b13rg.github.io

The life of MS-DOS

A brief (6 minutes to read) history of MS-DOS:

First released on August 12, 1981, MS-DOS became the foundation for business computing for almost two decades. MS-DOS stood for Microsoft Disk Operating System and was often referred to simply as “DOS”. It is the software that helped build Microsoft, becoming the foundation Microsoft built the Windows operating system on. It went through 8 (and a half-ish) major revisions, with the final version being shipped with Windows ME in September, 2000.

The life of MS-DOS

History blog.archive.org

Reflections as the Internet Archive turns 25

Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive:

As a young man, I wanted to help make a new medium that would be a step forward from Gutenberg’s invention hundreds of years before.

By building a Library of Everything in the digital age, I thought the opportunity was not just to make it available to everybody in the world, but to make it better–smarter than paper. By using computers, we could make the Library not just searchable, but organizable; make it so that you could navigate your way through millions, and maybe eventually billions of web pages.

See also the website they made to virtually celebrate their 25th anniversary. I love the tagline: From Wayback to way forward

History whyisthisinteresting.substack.com

The history of regular expressions

Buzz Anderson lays out the history of one of the most beloved/hated tools in every developer’s tool belt:

The concept of a regular expression has a surprisingly interesting history that dates back to the optimistic, mid-20th Century heyday of artificial intelligence research.

The term itself originated with mathematician Stephen Kleene. In 1943, neuroscientist Warren McCulloch and logician Walter Pitts had just described the first mathematical model of an artificial neuron, and Kleene, who specialized in theories of computation, wanted to investigate what networks of these artificial neurons could, well, theoretically compute.

History matthewgerstman.com

History of the web: part 1

Matthew Gerstman:

I’ve been tasked with leading frontend. As a result, I’ve been teaching a whole lot of people about the web.

Knowing where we came from can help us figure out where we should go. It’s also a mountain of technical debt, and we’re collectively building on top of it.

Forgive me if I skip the wonderful stories of Macromedia Flash, Java in the browser, or whatever other detour you can think of. While those were important to development of the web, most of us will never run into them again.

The first Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) spec was released in 1993 as a way to represent web pages, then documents….

A sweeping history (replete with screen shots) that ends with a peek into the potential future.

Data visualization schleiss.io

Plotting the source code "TODO" history of the most popular open source projects

It’s fun seeing the proliferation of TODO comments over time on these bastions of open source. One not-surprising (but still unfortunate) trend: they all pretty much move up and to the right 📈, but a few have had some dramatic reversals 📉 at certain points in time. Go had a crazy month in April 2018 & TypeScript’s TODOs exploded in the Spring of 2018.

The New Stack Icon The New Stack

Remembering Dan Kaminsky

David Cassel, on The New Stack:

Widely-respected security expert Dan Kaminsky passed away on April 23 from diabetic ketoacidosis at the age of 42. His considerable legacy went beyond expertise with a rare and memorable kindness.

I met Dan very briefly at ShmooCon back in 2004. His kindness was memorable, for sure, but the thing I remember most was just how larger-than-life he was to me at the time. The guy contributed so much to the infosec community and yet remained humble and kind despite it all. It was striking.

By the age of 22, he was giving talks at Black Hat himself, as well as at other tech conferences around the world. Kaminsky told the site he was thrilled to be interacting “with the smartest people I’d ever met in my life.”

Oddly enough, that’s how I felt when I interacted with Dan. It’s a tragedy that he died so young.

Remembering Dan Kaminsky

Miroslav Nikolov webup.org

The Emerging Ship

Miroslav Nikolov:

I want to tell you the real story behind an ambitious two-month project my team completed, with a huge impact on our organization. A very stressful, challenging, and full of surprises journey, marked by developers being the leaders. I intend to reveal why things went bad and how with a proper smart set of decisions the front-end team managed to navigate its boat.

Stick around to the end for his best practices summary.

The New Stack Icon The New Stack

Microsoft Excel is now Turing-complete

Microsoft’s researchers believe they’ve now finally transformed Excel into a full-fledged programming language, thanks to the introduction of a new feature called LAMBDA. “With LAMBDA, Excel has become Turing-complete. You can now, in principle, write any computation in the Excel formula language,” a Microsoft blog proclaimed.

Two questions:

  1. What’s the most influential consumer application history and why is it Excel?
  2. Can we please stop naming things Lambda?
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