jm + coding   201

A causal profiler for C++.
Causal profiling is a novel technique to measure optimization potential. This measurement matches developers' assumptions about profilers: that optimizing highly-ranked code will have the greatest impact on performance. Causal profiling measures optimization potential for serial, parallel, and asynchronous programs without instrumentation of special handling for library calls and concurrency primitives. Instead, a causal profiler uses performance experiments to predict the effect of optimizations. This allows the profiler to establish causality: "optimizing function X will have effect Y," exactly the measurement developers had assumed they were getting all along.

I can see this being a good technique to stochastically discover race conditions and concurrency bugs, too.
optimization  c++  performance  coding  profiling  speed  causal-profilers 
19 hours ago by jm
Working Effectively with Unit Tests
$14.99 ebook, recommended by Steve Vinoski, looks good
unit-testing  testing  ebooks  jay-fields  tests  steve-vinoski  coding 
yesterday by jm
Java for Everything
Actually, I'm really agreeing with a lot of this. Particularly this part:
Programmers will cringe at writing some kind of command dispatch list:

if command = "up":
elif command = "status":
elif command = "revert":

so they’ll go off and write some introspecting auto-dispatch cleverness, but that takes longer to write and will surely confuse future readers who’ll wonder how the heck revert() ever gets called. Yet the programmer will incorrectly feel as though he saved himself time. This is the trap of the dynamic language. It feels like you’re being more productive, but aside from the first 10 minutes of a new program, you’re not. Just write the stupid dispatch manually and get on with the real work.

I've also gone right off dynamic languages for any kind of non-toy work.

Mind you he needs to get around to ditching Vim for a proper IDE. That's the key thing that makes coding in a statically-typed language really pleasant -- when graphical refactoring becomes easy and usable, and errors are visible as you type them...
java  coding  static-typing  python  unit-tests 
22 days ago by jm
ExecutorService - 10 tips and tricks
Excellent advice from Tomasz Nurkiewicz' blog for anyone using java.util.concurrent.ExecutorService regularly. The whole blog is full of great posts btw
concurrency  java  jvm  threading  threads  executors  coding 
27 days ago by jm
Flow, a new static type checker for JavaScript
Unlike the (excellent) Typescript, it'll infer types:
Flow’s type checking is opt-in — you do not need to type check all your code at once. However, underlying the design of Flow is the assumption that most JavaScript code is implicitly statically typed; even though types may not appear anywhere in the code, they are in the developer’s mind as a way to reason about the correctness of the code. Flow infers those types automatically wherever possible, which means that it can find type errors without needing any changes to the code at all. On the other hand, some JavaScript code, especially frameworks, make heavy use of reflection that is often hard to reason about statically. For such inherently dynamic code, type checking would be too imprecise, so Flow provides a simple way to explicitly trust such code and move on. This design is validated by our huge JavaScript codebase at Facebook: Most of our code falls in the implicitly statically typed category, where developers can check their code for type errors without having to explicitly annotate that code with types.
facebook  flow  javascript  coding  types  type-inference  ocaml  typescript 
4 weeks ago by jm
How “Computer Geeks” replaced “Computer Girls"
As historian Nathan Ensmenger explained to a Stanford audience, as late as the 1960s many people perceived computer programming as a natural career choice for savvy young women. Even the trend-spotters at Cosmopolitan Magazine urged their fashionable female readership to consider careers in programming. In an article titled “The Computer Girls,” the magazine described the field as offering better job opportunities for women than many other professional careers. As computer scientist Dr. Grace Hopper told a reporter, programming was “just like planning a dinner. You have to plan ahead and schedule everything so that it’s ready when you need it…. Women are ‘naturals’ at computer programming.” James Adams, the director of education for the Association for Computing Machinery, agreed: “I don’t know of any other field, outside of teaching, where there’s as much opportunity for a woman.”
history  programming  sexism  technology  women  feminism  coding 
5 weeks ago by jm
How I reverse-engineered Google Docs to play back any document's keystrokes « James Somers (
Excellent write-up of this little-known undocumented GDocs behaviour, an artifact of its operational-transformation sync mechanism
operational-transformation  ot  google  gdocs  coding  docs  sync  undocumented  reversing 
6 weeks ago by jm
Please grow your buffers exponentially
Although in some cases x1.5 is considered good practice. YMMV I guess
malloc  memory  coding  buffers  exponential  jemalloc  firefox  heap  allocation 
6 weeks ago by jm
A Teenager Gets Grilled By Her Dad About Why She’s Not That Into Coding
Jay Rosen interviews his 17-year-old daughter. it's pretty eye-opening. Got to start them early!
culture  tech  coding  girls  women  feminism  teenagers  school  jay-rosen  stem 
7 weeks ago by jm
a new "types for Javascript" framework, from the team behind Angular.js -- they plan to "harmonize" it with TypeScript and pitch it for standardization, which would be awesome.

(via Rob Clancy)
via:robc  atscript  javascript  typescript  types  languages  coding  google  angular 
7 weeks ago by jm
Cuckoo Filters
'In many networking systems, Bloom filters are used for high-speed set membership tests. They permit a small fraction of false positive answers with very good space efficiency. However, they do not permit deletion of items from the set, and previous attempts to extend “standard” Bloom filters to support deletion all degrade either space or performance. We propose a new data structure called the cuckoo filter that can replace Bloom filters for approximate set member- ship tests. Cuckoo filters support adding and removing items dynamically while achieving even higher performance than Bloom filters. For applications that store many items and target moderately low false positive rates, cuckoo filters have lower space overhead than space-optimized Bloom filters. Our experimental results also show that cuckoo filters out-perform previous data structures that extend Bloom filters to support deletions substantially in both time and space.'
algorithms  cs  coding  cuckoo-filters  bloom-filters  sets  data-structures 
7 weeks ago by jm
Falsehoods programmers believe about time
I have repeatedly been confounded to discover just how many mistakes in both test and application code stem from misunderstandings or misconceptions about time. By this I mean both the interesting way in which computers handle time, and the fundamental gotchas inherent in how we humans have constructed our calendar — daylight savings being just the tip of the iceberg.

In fact I have seen so many of these misconceptions crop up in other people’s (and my own) programs that I thought it would be worthwhile to collect a list of the more common problems here.

See also the follow-up:

(via Marc)
via:marcomorain  time  dates  timezones  coding  gotchas  calendar  bugs 
9 weeks ago by jm
Move Fast and Break Nothing
Great presentation about Github dev culture and building software without breakage, but still with real progress.
github  programming  communication  process  coding  teams  management  dev-culture  breakage 
10 weeks ago by jm
"Quantiles on Streams" [paper, 2009]
'Chiranjeeb Buragohain and Subhash Suri: "Quantiles on Streams" in Encyclopedia of Database Systems, Springer, pp 2235–2240, 2009. ISBN: 978-0-387-35544-3', cited by Martin Kleppman in as a good, short literature survey re estimating percentiles with a small memory footprint.
latency  percentiles  coding  quantiles  streams  papers  algorithms 
10 weeks ago by jm
Validate SQL queries at compile-time in Rust
The sql! macro will validate that its string literal argument parses as a valid Postgres query.

Based on , which links the PostgreSQL server code directly into a C extension. Mad stuff, Ted!

(via Rob Clancy)
macros  postgres  compile  validation  sql  rust  coding 
11 weeks ago by jm
A Linear-Time, One-Pass Majority Vote Algorithm
This algorithm, which Bob Boyer and I invented in 1980, decides which element of a sequence is in the majority, provided there is such an element.
algorithms  one-pass  o(1)  coding  majority  top-k  sorting 
september 2014 by jm
Alex Payne — Thoughts On Five Years of Emerging Languages
One could read the success of Go as an indictment of contemporary PLT, but I prefer to see it as a reminder of just how much language tooling matters. Perhaps even more critical, Go’s lean syntax, selective semantics, and cautiously-chosen feature set demonstrate the importance of a strong editorial voice in a language’s design and evolution.

Having co-authored a book on Scala, it’s been painful to see systems programmers in my community express frustration with the ambitious hybrid language. I’ve watched them abandon ship and swim back to the familiar shores of Java, or alternately into the uncharted waters of Clojure, Go, and Rust. A pity, but not entirely surprising if we’re being honest with ourselves.

Unlike Go, Scala has struggled with tooling from its inception. More than that, Scala has had a growing editorial problem. Every shop I know that’s been successful with Scala has limited itself to some subset of the language. Meanwhile, in pursuit of enterprise developers, its surface area has expanded in seemingly every direction. The folks behind Scala have, thankfully, taken notice: upcoming releases are promised to focus on simplicity, clarity, and better tooling.
scala  go  coding  languages 
september 2014 by jm
on using JSON as a config file format
Ben Hughes on twitter:

"JSON is fine for config files, if you don't want to comment your config file. Which is a way of saying, it isn't fine for config files."
ben-hughes  funny  json  file-formats  config-files  configuration  software  coding 
september 2014 by jm
CLion – Brand New IDE for C and C++ Developers
JetBrains (makers of the excellent Intelli/J) have come out with a C/C++ refactoring IDE which looks utterly fantastic. If I wind up hacking on C/C++ again in future, I'll be using this one
c  c++  refactoring  ide  intelli-j  clion  jetbrains  editors  coding 
september 2014 by jm
"Invertible Bloom Lookup Tables" [paper]
'We present a version of the Bloom filter data structure that supports not only the insertion, deletion, and lookup of key-value pairs, but also allows a complete listing of the pairs it contains with high probability, as long the number of key- value pairs is below a designed threshold. Our structure allows the number of key-value pairs to greatly exceed this threshold during normal operation. Exceeding the threshold simply temporarily prevents content listing and reduces the probability of a successful lookup. If entries are later deleted to return the structure below the threshold, everything again functions appropriately. We also show that simple variations of our structure are robust to certain standard errors, such as the deletion of a key without a corresponding insertion or the insertion of two distinct values for a key. The properties of our structure make it suitable for several applications, including database and networking applications that we highlight.'
iblt  bloom-filters  data-structures  performance  algorithms  coding  papers  probabilistic 
september 2014 by jm
3 Rules of thumb for Bloom Filters
I often need to do rough back-of-the-envelope reasoning about things, and I find that doing a bit of work to develop an intuition for how a new technique performs is usually worthwhile. So, here are three broad rules of thumb to remember when discussing Bloom filters down the pub:

One byte per item in the input set gives about a 2% false positive rate.

The optimal number of hash functions is about 0.7 times the number of bits per item.

3 - The number of hashes dominates performance.

But see also , (thanks Tony Finch!)
bloom-filters  algorithm  probabilistic  rules  reasoning  via:norman-maurer  false-positives  hashing  coding 
august 2014 by jm
Collection Pipeline
a nice summarisation of the state of pipe/stream-oriented collection operations in various languages, from Martin Fowler
martin-fowler  patterns  coding  ruby  clojure  streams  pipelines  pipes  unix  lambda  fp  java  languages 
july 2014 by jm
Metrics-Driven Development
we believe MDD is equal parts engineering technique and cultural process. It separates the notion of monitoring from its traditional position of exclusivity as an operations thing and places it more appropriately next to its peers as an engineering process. Provided access to real-time production metrics relevant to them individually, both software engineers and operations engineers can validate hypotheses, assess problems, implement solutions, and improve future designs.

Broken down into the following principles: 'Instrumentation-as-Code', 'Single Source of Truth', 'Developers Curate Visualizations and Alerts', 'Alert on What You See', 'Show me the Graph', 'Don’t Measure Everything (YAGNI)'.

We do all of these at Swrve, naturally (a technique I happily stole from Amazon).
metrics  coding  graphite  mdd  instrumentation  yagni  alerting  monitoring  graphs 
july 2014 by jm
"Pitfalls of Object Oriented Programming", SCEE R&D
Good presentation discussing "data-oriented programming" -- the concept of optimizing memory access speed by laying out large data in a columnar format in RAM, rather than naively in the default layout that OOP design suggests
columnar  ram  memory  optimization  coding  c++  oop  data-oriented-programming  data  cache  performance 
july 2014 by jm
a C++ library adding some modern language features like Option, Try, Stopwatch, and other Guava-ish things (via @cscotta)
c++  library  stout  option  try  guava  coding 
july 2014 by jm
Google's purify/valgrind-like concurrency checking tool:

'As a bonus, ThreadSanitizer finds some other types of bugs: thread leaks, deadlocks, incorrect uses of mutexes, malloc calls in signal handlers, and more. It also natively understands atomic operations and thus can find bugs in lock-free algorithms. [...] The tool is supported by both Clang and GCC compilers (only on Linux/Intel64). Using it is very simple: you just need to add a -fsanitize=thread flag during compilation and linking. For Go programs, you simply need to add a -race flag to the go tool (supported on Linux, Mac and Windows).'
concurrency  bugs  valgrind  threadsanitizer  threading  deadlocks  mutexes  locking  synchronization  coding  testing 
june 2014 by jm
How to make breaking changes and not break all the things
Well-written description of the "several backward-compatible changes" approach to breaking-change schema migration (via Marc)
databases  coding  compatibility  migration  schemas  sql  continuous-deployment 
june 2014 by jm
quotly/test/acceptance/adding_quotes_spec.rb at master · cavalle/quotly · GitHub
Decent demo of acceptance testing using rspec (and some syntactic sugar to make it read like Steak code, I think)
rspec  acceptance-testing  bdd  testing  ruby  coding 
june 2014 by jm
Scala's BDD approach -- very similar to Steak in Rubyland I think
scala  testing  bdd  acceptance-testing  steak  coding  scalatest 
june 2014 by jm
cavalle/steak · GitHub
a minimal extension of RSpec-Rails that adds several conveniences to do acceptance testing of Rails applications using Capybara. It's an alternative to Cucumber in plain Ruby.

Good approach here to copy, but very tied to Rails.
rails  ruby  testing  acceptance-testing  steak  bdd  rspec  coding 
june 2014 by jm
A good example of "raw" BDD, without using a framework like Cucumber, Steak etc.
bdd  testing  csharp  acceptance-tests  coding 
june 2014 by jm
Cap'n Proto, FlatBuffers, and SBE
a feature comparison of these new serialization formats from Kenton, the capnp dude
serialization  protobuf  capnproto  sbe  flatbuffers  google  coding  storage 
june 2014 by jm
#AltDevBlog » Parallel Implementations
John Carmack describes this code-evolution approach to adding new code:
The last two times I did this, I got the software rendering code running on the new platform first, so everything could be tested out at low frame rates, then implemented the hardware accelerated version in parallel, setting things up so you could instantly switch between the two at any time.  For a mobile OpenGL ES application being developed on a windows simulator, I opened a completely separate window for the accelerated view, letting me see it simultaneously with the original software implementation.  This was a very significant development win.

If the task you are working on can be expressed as a pure function that simply processes input parameters into a return structure, it is easy to switch it out for different implementations.  If it is a system that maintains internal state or has multiple entry points, you have to be a bit more careful about switching it in and out.  If it is a gnarly mess with lots of internal callouts to other systems to maintain parallel state changes, then you have some cleanup to do before trying a parallel implementation.

There are two general classes of parallel implementations I work with:  The reference implementation, which is much smaller and simpler, but will be maintained continuously, and the experimental implementation, where you expect one version to “win” and consign the other implementation to source control in a couple weeks after you have some confidence that it is both fully functional and a real improvement.

It is completely reasonable to violate some generally good coding rules while building an experimental implementation – copy, paste, and find-replace rename is actually a good way to start.  Code fearlessly on the copy, while the original remains fully functional and unmolested.  It is often tempting to shortcut this by passing in some kind of option flag to existing code, rather than enabling a full parallel implementation.  It is a  grey area, but I have been tending to find the extra path complexity with the flag approach often leads to messing up both versions as you work, and you usually compromise both implementations to some degree.

(via Marc)
via:marc  coding  john-carmack  parallel  development  evolution  lifecycle  project-management 
june 2014 by jm
"Taking the hotdog"
aka. lock acquisition. ex-Amazon-Dublin lingo, observed in the wild ;)
language  hotdog  archie-mcphee  amazon  dublin  intercom  coding  locks  synchronization 
may 2014 by jm
The programming error that cost Mt Gox 2609 bitcoins
Digging into broken Bitcoin scripts in the blockchain. Fascinating:
While analyzing coinbase transactions, I came across another interesting bug that lost bitcoins. Some transactions have the meaningless and unredeemable script:


That script turns out to be the ASCII text script. Instead of putting the redemption script into the transaction, the P2Pool miners accidentally put in the literal word "script". The associated bitcoins are lost forever due to this error.

(via Nelson)
programming  script  coding  bitcoin  mtgox  via:nelson  scripting  dsls 
may 2014 by jm
BPF - the forgotten bytecode
'In essence Tcpdump asks the kernel to execute a BPF program within the kernel context. This might sound risky, but actually isn't. Before executing the BPF bytecode kernel ensures that it's safe:

* All the jumps are only forward, which guarantees that there aren't any loops in the BPF program. Therefore it must terminate.
* All instructions, especially memory reads are valid and within range.
* The single BPF program has less than 4096 instructions.

All this guarantees that the BPF programs executed within kernel context will run fast and will never infinitely loop. That means the BPF programs are not Turing complete, but in practice they are expressive enough for the job and deal with packet filtering very well.'

Good example of a carefully-designed DSL allowing safe "programs" to be written and executed in a privileged context without security risk, or risk of running out of control.
coding  dsl  security  via:oisin  linux  tcpdump  bpf  bsd  kernel  turing-complete  configuration  languages 
may 2014 by jm
Teaches the basics of computer science - K-8 Intro to CS, 15-25 hours. Introduces core CS and programming concepts, with lots of nice graphics, scenarios and characters from games to get the kids hooked ;) Recommended by Tom Raftery; his youngest (7yo) is having great fun with it.
education  programming  learning  coding  kids  k-8  games 
may 2014 by jm
Exceptional Performance
Good benchmark data on the performance of JVM exceptions
java  jvm  exceptions  benchmarking  performance  optimization  coding 
may 2014 by jm
Mock Boto: 'a library that allows your python tests to easily mock out the boto library.' Supports S3, Autoscaling, EC2, DynamoDB, ELB, Route53, SES, SQS, and STS currently, and even supports a standalone server mode, to act as a mock service for non-Python clients. Excellent!

(via Conor McDermottroe)
python  aws  testing  mocks  mocking  system-tests  unit-tests  coding  ec2  s3 
may 2014 by jm
"A New Data Structure For Cumulative Frequency Tables"
paper by Peter M Fenwick, 1993. 'A new method (the ‘binary indexed tree’) is presented for maintaining the cumulative frequencies which are needed to support dynamic arithmetic data compression. It is based on a decomposition of the cumulative frequencies into portions which parallel the binary representation of the index of the table element (or symbol). The operations to traverse the data structure are based on the binary coding of the index. In comparison with previous methods, the binary indexed tree is faster, using more compact data and simpler code. The access time for all operations is either constant or proportional to the logarithm of the table size. In conjunction with the compact data structure, this makes the new method particularly suitable for large symbol alphabets.'

via Jakob Buchgraber, who's implementing it right now in Netty ;)
netty  frequency-tables  data-structures  algorithms  coding  binary-tree  indexing  compression  symbol-alphabets 
may 2014 by jm
Oisin's mobile app release checklist
'This form is to document the testing that has been done on each app version before submitting to the App Store. For each item, indicate Yes if the testing has been done, Not Applicable if the testing does not apply (eg testing audio for an app that doesn’t play any), or No if the testing has not been done for another reason.'
apps  checklists  release  coding  ios  android  mobile  ohurley 
may 2014 by jm
'Pickles & Spores: Improving Support for Distributed Programming in Scala
'Spores are "small units of possibly mobile functional behavior". They're a closure-like abstraction meant for use in distributed or concurrent environments. Spores provide a guarantee that the environment is effectively immutable, and safe to ship over the wire. Spores aim to give library authors some confidence in exposing functions (or, rather, spores) in public APIs for safe consumption in a distributed or concurrent environment.

The first part of the talk covers a simpler variant of spores as they are proposed for inclusion in Scala 2.11. The second part of the talk briefly introduces a current research project ongoing at EPFL which leverages Scala's type system to provide type constraints that give authors finer-grained control over spore capturing semantics. What's more, these type constraints can be composed during spore composition, so library authors are effectively able to propagate expert knowledge via these composable constraints.

The last part of the talk briefly covers Scala/Pickling, a fast new, open serialization framework.'
pickling  scala  presentations  spores  closures  fp  immutability  coding  distributed  distcomp  serialization  formats  network 
april 2014 by jm
vim-flake8 is a Vim plugin that runs the currently open file through Flake8, a static syntax and style checker for Python source code. It supersedes both vim-pyflakes and vim-pep8. Flake8 is a wrapper around PyFlakes (static syntax checker), PEP8 (style checker) and Ned's MacCabe script (complexity checker).

Recommended by several pythonistas of my acquaintance!
vim  python  syntax  error-checking  errors  flake8  editors  ides  coding 
april 2014 by jm
OpenSSL Valhalla Rampage
OpenBSD are going wild ripping out "arcane VMS hacks" in an attempt to render OpenSSL's source code comprehensible, and finding amazing horrors like this:

'Well, even if time() isn't random, your RSA private key is probably pretty random. Do not feed RSA private key information to the random subsystem as entropy. It might be fed to a pluggable random subsystem…. What were they thinking?!'
random  security  openssl  openbsd  coding  horror  rsa  private-keys  entropy 
april 2014 by jm
A sane Google Protocol Buffers library for Ruby. It's all about being Buf; ProtoBuf.
protobuf  google  protocol-buffers  ruby  coding  libraries  gems  open-source 
april 2014 by jm
Shuffle Sharding
Colm MacCarthaigh writes about a simple sharding/load-balancing algorithm which uses randomized instance selection and optional additional compartmentalization. See also: continuous hashing, and
hashing  load-balancing  sharding  partitions  dist-sys  distcomp  architecture  coding 
april 2014 by jm
Why no SSL ? — Varnish version 4.0.0 documentation
Poul-Henning Kemp details why Varnish doesn't do SSL -- basically due to the quality and complexity of open-source SSL implementations:
There is no other way we can guarantee that secret krypto-bits do not leak anywhere they should not, than by fencing in the code that deals with them in a child process, so the bulk of varnish never gets anywhere near the certificates, not even during a core-dump.

Now looking pretty smart, post-Heartbleed.
ssl  tls  varnish  open-source  poul-henning-kemp  https  http  proxies  security  coding 
april 2014 by jm
Here’s Why You’re Not Hiring the Best and the Brightest
Jeff Atwood's persuasive argument that remote working needs to be the norm in tech work:
There’s an elephant in the room in the form of an implied clause: Always hire the best people… who are willing to live in San Francisco. Substitute Mountain View, New York, Boston, Chicago, or any other city. The problem is the same. We pay lip service to the idea of hiring the best people in the world — but in reality, we’re only hiring the best people who happen to be close by.
recruiting  remote  hiring  business  coding  work  remote-work  telecommuting  jobs  silicon-valley  jeff-atwood 
april 2014 by jm
Transitioning to Scala
Advice from a developer who helped rebuild with Scala and Play

This is really good advice.
walmart  scala  java  languages  coding  relearning  play  akka 
april 2014 by jm
Efficient substring searching
This is a couple of years old, but I like this:
Turbo Boyer-Moore is disappointing, its name doesn’t do it justice. In academia constant overhead doesn’t matter, but here we see that it matters a lot in practice. Turbo Boyer-Moore’s inner loop is so complex that we think we’re better off using the original Boyer-Moore.

A good demo of how large values of O(n) can be slower than small values of O(mn).
algorithms  search  strings  coding  big-o  string-search  searching 
march 2014 by jm
A cool-looking new debugging tool for C/C++ from Mozilla.
Many, many people have noticed that if we had a way to reliably record program execution and replay it later, with the ability to debug the replay, we could largely tame the nondeterminism problem. This would also allow us to deliberately introduce nondeterminism so tests can explore more of the possible execution space, without impacting debuggability. Many record and replay systems have been built in pursuit of this vision. (I built one myself.) For various reasons these systems have not seen wide adoption. So, a few years ago we at Mozilla started a project to create a new record-and-replay tool that would overcome the obstacles blocking adoption. We call this tool rr.

Low runtime overhead; easy deployability; targeted at 32-bit (?!) Linux; OSS. (via Bryan O'Sullivan)
via:bos  mozilla  debugging  coding  firefox  rr  record  replay  gdb  c++  linux 
march 2014 by jm
The Stony Brook Algorithm Repository
This WWW page is intended to serve as a comprehensive collection of algorithm implementations for over seventy of the most fundamental problems in combinatorial algorithms. The problem taxonomy, implementations, and supporting material are all drawn from my [ie. Steven Skiena's] book 'The Algorithm Design Manual'. Since the practical person is more often looking for a program than an algorithm, we provide pointers to solid implementations of useful algorithms, when they are available.
algorithms  reference  coding  steven-skiena  combinatorial  cs 
march 2014 by jm
Good explanation of exponential backoff
I've often had to explain this key feature verbosely, and it's hard to do without handwaving. Great to have a solid, well-explained URL to point to
exponential-backoff  backoff  retries  reliability  web-services  http  networking  internet  coding  design 
march 2014 by jm
IntelliJ IDEA 13.1 will support Chronon Debugger
This, IMO, would be a really good reason to upgrade to the payware version of IDEA - Chronon looks cool.
Chronon is a new revolutionary tool keeping track of running Java programs and recording their execution process for later analysis, which can be helpful when you need to thoroughly retrace your steps when dealing with complicated bugs.
chronon  debugging  java  intellij  idea  ides  coding  time-warp  time 
march 2014 by jm
ImperialViolet - Apple's SSL/TLS bug
as we all know by now, a misplaced "goto fail" caused a critical, huge security flaw in versions of IOS and OSX SSL, since late 2012.


1. unit test the failure cases, particularly for critical security code!
2. use braces.
3. dead-code analysis would have caught this.

I'm not buying the "goto considered harmful" line, though, since any kind of control flow structure would have had the same problem.
coding  apple  osx  ios  crypto  ssl  security  goto-fail  goto  fail  unit-testing  coding-standards 
february 2014 by jm
java - Why not use Double or Float to represent currency?
A good canonical URL for this piece of coding guidance.
For example, suppose you have $1.03 and you spend 42c. How much money do you have left?

System.out.println(1.03 - .42); => prints out 0.6100000000000001.
coding  tips  floating-point  float  java  money  currency  bugs 
february 2014 by jm
Girls and Software
a pretty thought-provoking article from Linux Journal on women in computing, and how we're doing it all wrong
feminism  community  programming  coding  women  computing  software  society  work  linux-journal  children  teaching 
february 2014 by jm
Git is not scalable with too many refs/*
Mailing list thread from 2011; git starts to keel over if you tag too much
git  tags  coding  version-control  bugs  scaling  refs 
february 2014 by jm
Hero Culture
Good description of the "hero coder" organisational antipattern.
Now imagine that most of the team is involved in fire-fighting. New recruits see the older recruits getting praised for their brave work in the line-of-fire and they want that kind of praise and reward too. Before long everyone is focused on putting out fires and it is no ones interest to step back and take on the risks that long-term DevOps-focused goals entail.
coding  ops  admin  hero-coder  hero-culture  firefighting  organisations  teams  culture 
january 2014 by jm
Coders performing code reviews of scientific projects: pilot study
'PLOS and Mozilla conducted a month-long pilot study in which professional developers
performed code reviews on software associated with papers published in PLOS
Computational Biology. While the developers felt the reviews were limited by (a) lack of
familiarity with the domain and (b) lack of two-way contact with authors, the scientists
appreciated the reviews, and both sides were enthusiastic about repeating the experiment. '

Actually sounds like it was more successful than this summary implies.
plos  mozilla  code-reviews  coding  science  computational-biology  biology  studies 
january 2014 by jm
Some basic succinct data structures. [...] The main highlights are:
a novel, broadword-based implementation of rank/select queries for up to 264 bits that is highly competitive with known 32-bit implementations on 64-bit architectures (additional space required is 25% for ranking and 12.5%-37.5% for selection);
several Java structures using the Elias–Fano representation of monotone sequences for storing pointers, variable-length bit arrays, etc.
Java code implementing minimal perfect hashing using around 2.68 bits per element (also using some broadword ideas);
a few Java implementations of monotone minimal perfect hashing.
Sux is free software distributed under the GNU Lesser General Public License.
sux  succinct  data-structures  bits  compression  space  coding 
january 2014 by jm
Branchless hex-to-decimal conversion hack
via @simonebordet, on the mechanical-sympathy list: ((c & 0x1F) + ((c >> 6) * 0x19) – 0x10)
hacks  one-liners  coding  performance  optimization  hex  conversion  numbers  ascii 
january 2014 by jm
Don’t get stuck
Good description of Etsy's take on continuous deployment, committing directly to trunk, hidden with feature-flags, from Rafe Colburn
continuous-deployment  coding  agile  deployment  devops  etsy  rafe-colburn 
january 2014 by jm
stereopsis : graphics : radix tricks
some nice super-optimized Radix Sort code which handles floating point values. See also for more info on the histogramming/counter concept
sorting  programming  coding  algorithms  radix-sort  optimization  floating-point 
december 2013 by jm
On undoing, fixing, or removing commits in git
Choose-your-own-adventure style. "Oh dear. This is going to get complicated."

(via Tom)
via:tom  cyoa  git  fixing  revert  source-control  coding 
december 2013 by jm
Virtual Clock - Testing Patterns Encyclopedia
a nice pattern for unit tests which need deterministic time behaviour. Trying to think up a really nice API for this....
testing  unit-tests  time  virtual-clock  real-time  coding 
december 2013 by jm
[JavaSpecialists 215] - StampedLock Idioms
a demo of Doug Lea's latest concurrent data structure in Java 8
doug-lea  concurrency  coding  java-8  java  threads 
december 2013 by jm
HdrHistogram by giltene
A Histogram that supports recording and analyzing sampled data value counts across a configurable integer value range with configurable value precision within the range. Value precision is expressed as the number of significant digits in the value recording, and provides control over value quantization behavior across the value range and the subsequent value resolution at any given level.
hdr  histogram  data-structures  coding  gil-tene  sampling  measuring 
october 2013 by jm
Toyota's killer firmware: Bad design and its consequences
This is exactly what you do NOT want to read about embedded systems controlling acceleration in your car:

The Camry electronic throttle control system code was found to have 11,000 global variables. Barr described the code as “spaghetti.” Using the Cyclomatic Complexity metric, 67 functions were rated untestable (meaning they scored more than 50). The throttle angle function scored more than 100 (unmaintainable).
Toyota loosely followed the widely adopted MISRA-C coding rules but Barr’s group found 80,000 rule violations. Toyota's own internal standards make use of only 11 MISRA-C rules, and five of those were violated in the actual code. MISRA-C:1998, in effect when the code was originally written, has 93 required and 34 advisory rules. Toyota nailed six of them. Barr also discovered inadequate and untracked peer code reviews and the absence of any bug-tracking system at Toyota.

On top of this, there was no error-correcting RAM in use; stack-killing recursive code; a quoted 94% stack usage; risks of unintentional RTOS task shutdown; buffer overflows; unsafe casting; race conditions; unchecked error code return values; and a trivial watchdog timer check. Crappy, unsafe coding.
firmware  horror  embedded-systems  toyota  camry  safety  acceleration  misra-c  coding  code-verification  spaghetti-code  cyclomatic-complexity  realtime  rtos  c  code-reviews  bug-tracking  quality 
october 2013 by jm
How to lose $172,222 a second for 45 minutes
Major outage and $465m of trading loss, caused by staggeringly inept software management: 8 years of incremental bitrot, technical debt, and failure to have correct processes to engage an ops team in incident response. Hopefully this will serve as a lesson that software is more than just coding, at least to one industry
trading  programming  coding  software  inept  fail  bitrot  tech-debt  ops  incident-response 
october 2013 by jm
NCCA Junior Cycle - Programming and Coding Consultation Page
the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment are looking for feedback on adding programming to the junior cycle (ie., early secondary school) in Ireland. Add your EUR.02!
ireland  programming  coding  education  schools 
october 2013 by jm
'A Ruby gem providing "time travel" and "time freezing" capabilities, making it dead simple to test time-dependent code. It provides a unified method to mock,, and in a single call.'

This is about the nicest mock-time library I've found so far. (via Ben)
time  ruby  testing  coding  unit-tests  mocking  timecop  via:ben 
october 2013 by jm
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