On the Shoulders of Giants - Part 0 - Alan Turing

On the Shoulders of Giants - Part 0 - Alan Turing
   We are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they, and things at a greater distance, not by virtue of any sharpness of sight on our part, or any physical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size.

   The phrase "Standing on the shoulders of giants" is attributed to the French philosopher Bernard of Chartres. Although he lived in the 12th century, the truth in his words became more evident with time. "On the Shoulders of Giants" will be my series of articles about the giants of computer science and information technology.  We all know the names of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, John Carmack, Anders Hejlsberg (Hallowed be His name), Sergei Brin, Larry Page and many others. While they are undoubtedly giants of IT these series will focus on the older generation of pioneers on whose shoulders the aforementioned were standing. These giants are so ancient that they did not even refer to themselves as computer scientists because computer science was non-existent at the time. Instead they called themselves mathematicians and physicists. That being said I may one day get to the point to write an article about some of the people listed above.

   Each part will tell the story of a computer scientist and sum up his works from my point of view. The articles will not include more information than what you can read on Wikipedia and find using Google but it will be formatted as a story and will sum up more than one Wikipedia article. What is more people do not go looking for information about someone if they have never heard of him. In short I will read Wikipedia for you in the form of a fairytale. Note that I cannot promise that I will have the time or the inspiration to write more articles so part 0 may happen to be the last.

   Part 0 tells the story of the most powerful (in my opinion) of the giants. The father of computer science – Alan Turing...
Posted by:   Stilgar
20:44 16.03.2009

Upgrade 1.1.0

   Our small but evergrowing team has released a new version of the Personal Webpage Engine that powers this No-blog. The new version allows searching by multiple tags, issues a warning if someone posted a comment while the user was writing one and provides more meaningful logging. You can also subscribe to RSS feed by multiple tags but you will have to craft the URL yourself. For example if you want to subscribe to articles about music which are in Bulgarian you need the following URL http://sietch.net/Rss.aspx?Tag=bulgarian+music. OR-based search will probably come in the next version.

   I have also moved the site to a new hosting package. This one runs on Windows Server 2008, IIS7 and SQL Server 2008. Migrations are always fun and unexpected problems arise all the time. Combined with the new code it is likely that there are bugs. Please report them although most probably we do not care (the spirit of Open Source!).

   As always you can download the source code on Codeplex which for some reason lags like hell in the last two days.
Posted by:   Stilgar
18:53 03.03.2009

1 Year of No-Blogging

   Today is the first birthday of my personal website. Remember the launch? In the past year I no-blogged on many different topics which undoubtedly are important to millions of people.  Statistics:

   90 posts (including this one). This means an average of 0.246 posts per day or one post every 4.07 days.

   Over 700 comments. This means an average of about 2 comments per day or about 8 comments per article.

   About 100 unique (unique IP addresses) visits per day.

   I still do not understand how millions of readers can make just 100 unique visits per day but my guess is that most if not all ISPs in the world are caching the Sietch’s content locally so they can save bandwidth. It is a well known fact that Google Reader does that but a bug with the cache causes it to display every post twice. Or probably the guys at Google think that my website is so important that every article should be presented to the reader twice. In this case I will have to agree.

   In the past year the software that supports the Sietch received many important features. In my opinion the most important feature is the RSS feed but there are also the Pseudorandom quotes, the latest comments section (now with anchors), the HTML posts (thanks to TinyMCE which became project of the Month on Sourceforge), links in non-HTML posts (thanks to regular expressions),  comment policy and many more. Of course the thing that our team (which up to now consists of me only but you can expect new members soon) is most proud of is the "Works on My Machine" certificate. Does it work on yours?

P.S. Of course it is Open Sauce!
Posted by:   Stilgar
14:31 03.02.2009

Going Random on an Enumerable

   I have not published any programming articles recently and I know that a throng of readers eagerly await them so I decided to share an interesting task that was brought up by a guy on IRC. You have an enumerable sequence and you are required to write a method that selects a random element from the sequence with just one iteration over the sequence. This means that you are not allowed to call methods like Count because it will iterate through the sequence. You are not allowed to save the elements in another collection. Of course an even distribution of the results is required (i.e. every element should have equal chance to be selected). When you are ready look at the full text to see my solution...
Posted by:   Stilgar
00:37 26.01.2009

Upgrade 1.0.10

   Here is the latest upgrade to my personal website (which should be your homepage). This release contains only bugfixes. I believe that from now on there should be just one XHTML validation error. This error will not be removed for several reasons. First of all I will have to code for a week to recreate the wonderful ASP.NET pager control which renders it. Second it is absolutely harmless - a "disabled" attribute for a link that is ignored with no effect in every browser but IE. And finally it is a sign of defiance of W3C, web "standards" and all of that bullshit. Some issues with cache invalidatin were also fixed. The most important fix is that the Sietch now works in IE8 or at least I hope so.

   As always you can download the source code at Codeplex and even get involved in the development of this software masterpiece.
Posted by:   Stilgar
02:15 16.01.2009
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