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Like Poor Old Ollie

I was thinking some more about the new game “Shadow of Mordor” (read the review by Carolyn Petit here). I can’t really add anything to her review — she makes it sound like the plot of God of War was transplanted into an Assassin’s Creed game set among some of Tolkien’s ideas — not truly […]

Monkey-YAML (or: Reinventing the Wheel)

In theory, we’re never supposed to reinvent the wheel. In theory, we’re supposed to fix things correctly. Well, as Yogi Berra allegedly said, the difference between theory and practice is that, in theory, there is no difference… Some time ago I got involved in the Test262 project (you should too!) and, one thing leading to […]

Installing node.js 0.10 on CentOS5

I have an old stable internal server that’s running CentOS 5.10 which I want to use a staging/development server for modern node.js applications. The problem is, current prebuilt versions of node.js can’t be installed on CentOS5, since CentOS5 has GNU libc 2.5 and the prebuilt node.js RPMs are only for Fedora/RedHat/CentOS 6, and are linked […]

Chemical Structure QR

Getting from a printed chemical structure to a structure database is slow and painful. Every printed chemical structure should include a Chemical Structure QR Code with the InChIKey for the compound.


I’m starting a week-long work block today — that is, I’m planning to work from 5AM to 5PM straight every day, like a “normal person”. Danielle has graciously consented to spend one week of her vacation doing everything else that needs to get done. Since last week we had a “stay-cation” where we went out […]

Books I recommend to everyone

My friend Evan asked about design books and I spouted off a few – including The Systems Bible, which I now feel guilty about, because it’s not strictly a design book. I included it because it talks about how system design fails, and it’s humorous and I think teaches some larger truths. It was originally […]

Passing options to node on the shebang (#!) line

Someone on #node.js wanted his script to pass a command-line option on the node shebang line. When I suggested he use the “-x” hack…

Learning By Breaking It Down

When learning how to do something, it helps to break it down to irreducible subtasks. As an example, we homeschool our kids; my eldest daughter Kaija is 5th-grade age.  We want her to practice writing simple paragraphs as a stepping stone to essays.  But asking her to just “write a paragraph” can be overwhelming, because […]

Software <-> Politics

Here’s an analogy that came up this morning. Liberals (Democrats) are like new CS grads.  They are excited about writing new code (laws) and disdainful of the negative predictions others make based on their hard-earned experience (believe in the perfectibility of people/software). Conservatives are like grim old maintenance programmers.  They have seen fads and standards […]

Less Fatal: Peptic Ulcer

People don’t die of peptic ulcers so often anymore.  Here’s a nice picture: Relevant dates include 1982, which is when Marshall and Warren identified H. pylori.  It gets a bit steeper after 1994, when the CDC starts promoting antibiotic treatment of peptic ulcer disease.  By 2005, when Warren and Marshall receive the Nobel Prize, it’s […]