Programming as a social activity

Frank Shearar wrote “I realised tonight something that I’d forgotten. We’re usually so busy knocking out code to fulfil our timebox coomitments that it’s perhaps easy to forget something very important: to have fun. I went to the local Smalltalk user group tonight where Jason Ayers gave a talk on simplicity: do our tools help us make simple…”

Emacs versus Vim

Frank Shearar wrote “Here at LShift we take our programming pretty seriously. Which is why we now warm up properly before discussing important topics like static versus dynamic typing, tabs versus spaces and other such crucial aspects of our craft. An Emacs operator preparing for a discussion with a vim user about text editors.”

Profiting from Agile

Mike Rowlands wrote “In September we sponsored the Agile Conference and while it was held prior to the global meltdown, the turn-out was not great. Certainly attendance at the event does not seem to be growing at anything like the pace that Agile is being adopted. Is this because it’s now ubiquitous amongst the type of organisations that…”

Toy raytracer in Python

Tony Garnock-Jones wrote “I spent a few days in Wellington recently with my 12-year-old brother. We somehow got to talking about ray tracing, and so we ran through a bit of linear algebra (vectors, normals, and dot products, basically) and built ourselves a raytracer in Python as a lark. We collaborated on the Vector and Point classes, and…”

Ubuntu on EeePC is fairly slick

Tony Garnock-Jones wrote “The instructions were pretty easy to follow (admittedly, after 10 years, you learn where the awkward spots are in linux installations) and the result is a tiny, snappy, fully-working Ubuntu machine, complete with webcam and wifi. The only bit I haven’t got working yet is microphone input to Skype; my bet is that it’s a…”

iPlayer: needs RSS

Tony Garnock-Jones wrote “The BBC’s new iPlayer service is great. The only thing that I’ve missed so far is RSS or Atom feeds: it’d be nice to be notified when a new episode of Favourite TV Show X turns up (and when it’s due to expire, too).”

XML CDATA and escaping

Tony Garnock-Jones wrote “XML’s syntax for CDATA looks like this: <![CDATA[some text]]> Tag syntax within a CDATA section is suspended, so this is well-formed XML: <![CDATA[some <more> text]]> even though it looks like the “<more>” tag is unclosed. There’s only one thing you can’t say in a CDATA section: “]]>”. But there’s a trick to save us, even…”

Your very own 32-way SIMD machine

Tony Garnock-Jones wrote “What’s a good way of counting the number of bits set in a word? The obvious answer, adding the low bit to an accumulator, shifting right, and repeating, is O(n) in the number of bits in the word. This is a sequential approach – and we can do better, complexity-wise, by using a parallel algorithm.…”

kill daemon from Planet -9

Michael Bridgen wrote “Someone has put programmers’ fridge magnet poetry on our fridge. I suspect it was a well-targetted marketing freebie, like the beanbag penguin that sits looking out onto Old Street. In any case, it has already attracted the attention of several clearly very talented individuals: gorgeous dangling cyberspace whisper foo and this ironic gem greasy hacker…”

Pub quiz triumph

Michael Bridgen wrote “We started attending the Tuesday night pub quiz at the Reliance a while back, and won a few bar tabs and jackpots. Most weeks someone-or-other has something on and can’t come along, and we end up either half-strength or giving it a miss; so, we’ve struggled to continue our winning ways, even to the low…”

An Alphabetical Google Zeitgeist

Tony Garnock-Jones wrote “I’ve installed Firefox 2.0 on most of the machines I work on daily now. Its use of google suggestions surprised me when I first saw it, but I’ve grown to find it somewhat useful on occasion now. It suggested the following experiment (not in so many words, of course): assuming that the suggestions it supplies…”

Busy busy

Michael Bridgen wrote “There’s been nothin’ doin’ blog-wise at LShift for the past week or so; we all seem to be wrapped up in projects. Briefly though, collectively we’re – Tickling Erlang – Thinking about what direction to lead Icing in – Finding all the best documentation the Web has to offer on ASP.NET 2.0 – Getting intimate…”