Posted on Leave a comment

WordPress, other CMS or code yourself

Content management systems (CMS) changed the face of internet. WordPress is clearly the leader here. But, is there no role for self coded website today?

The main benefit of CMS is the ease of use. No coding experience required. And, the result is a professional looking site with no or very little cost. Unfortunately, just like any other large system, CMS is slower compared to self coding in two ways. First, it takes time to connect to all it’s plugins and process internal databases. Second, it constantly requires security and other updates.

The benefits of learning to build websites yourself are complete control on how things will work on your website, and knowledge of where to find specific customizations without reading through wiki-s and docs. Takes more time upfront, takes more time if a major upgrade is needed, but the final result is a unique site that looks like no-one else’s. Also, if you coded it from scratch, you know exactly where things are if something needs to be fixed. May be there is a role for doing your own coding today.

Posted on Leave a comment

Archaea – New Branch in Tree of Life.

Think life is simple. “Yes,” you say – “those with nucleus are eukaryotes, and those without are bacteria.” But, not so fast. A domain of single cell organisms that used to be called archaebacteria is now a whole new branch in the tree of life. We now give it its own name, “Archae”. Archae posses properties that separate them from bacteria and higher life forms. What makes Archae different? Their living conditions, energy sources and cell membrane lipids make them unique.

Archaea – new branch of life tree
Posted on Leave a comment

Correct action needs to be taken before it is too late.

Articles that describe plane disasters commonly talk about a pilot’s reaction that results in opposite course from what would have been a way out of a difficult situation. For example, when an airplane is loosing speed and starts nosediving, trying to pull it’s nose up only reduces the airspeed further and compounds the problem. Right action seems to be to nosedive and gain some speed and then have options at doing other things. Obviously, the correct action needs to be taken some distance before the ground.

Now, lets imagine a complicated situation of two planes on a collision course that simultaneously loose power and ability to maneuver right and left. The planes can adjust some altitude by using the nosedive maneuver to gain speed. So, there is some ability to move slightly up and slightly down while the airspeed still allows for gliding. If communications between the two planes occur ahead of time, there is a chance to agree on different altitudes to avoid collision. But, once the airspeed is near critical for one of the plains, the chances of positive outcome are diminishing exponentially. The results will be disastrous even if the second plane still has an option to nosedive to gain some speed. At late points, it would be impossible to avoid the collision because nosediving for the second plane only result in collision with the first plane that has not other course, but down.

Similarly, two people or two groups of people on a collision course have only a certain amount of time before collision is unavoidable. Communication ahead of time is the only solution to avoid a disaster. Don’t forget that we still did not figure out how the planes will land safely without the power.

Posted on Leave a comment

Old News are Hard to Find

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” said George Santayana. It is too bad that a few decades old news articles are very hard to find by searching the internet.

Surely, if someone is looking for a specific article and knows the exact date of a publication, there is a reasonable chance that something useful will come up, either in text search, or possibly in image search. But, if someone is looking for a broad topic that was potentially covered by major newspapers of 1920s or 1930s, good luck.

Google made an effort in the past to digitize historical content. For some reason, this effort was abandoned. Currently, the chance of findings anything useful becomes exponentially lower with each added decade prior to 1970s or so.

This most likely reflects popularity contest that even history has to compete in today’s world. Google’s services are designed to engage as many people as possible. It is completely reasonable to concentrate on the current history and data. Most people will search for recent events and opinions. Just like it is unlikely that thoughts of lonely shepherd who lives in high mountains will not be found at the top of search results, it is unlikely that there is enough interest to justify expense of digitizing every article ever written.

Another way to look at this is a “doughnut hole” perspective, similar to Medicare not covering certain expenses of a sub-segment of population. If we count old philosopher’s writings as “news articles” we can say that it is really easy to find old writings that survived the test of time. But, millennia between 300AD to 1970AD gets left out. So, online new version of “history” only reflects the very old and the very new. Since the majority of searchable text is very new, even this result is heavily skewed to the more current event. The “doughnut” is not even symmetric.

For now, the only solution that a lonely shepherd has to find whether a topic was covered in the news of early twentieth century is to travel to a large city, visit a library, and read the paper version of the old news. Let’s hope that Fahrenheit 451 does not happen to those.

Old news are hard to find
Posted on Leave a comment

Object Oriented Programming OOP – a misnomer?

Programming has been somewhat of a hobby. It is sometimes useful to find a computational solution to otherwise tedious task. Some say that today, programming is becoming almost like a writing/reading skill. The concept of Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) is not straight forward to explain without a video or a few examples to someone who has never encountered it before. Briefly, “containers” or “prototypes” of sort are created in computer code and later modified for a particular purpose.

Typical example involves an explanation that “car” is an object and models of cars are sub-types of objects, all based on that main “car” object. So, a programmer writes a few lines of general code that are later re-used for a more specialized task. But, is “object” a good word to describe this concept? Dictionary definition of an “object” is that “object” is a material thing that can be touched, seen, smelled, pushed, pulled, etc.

“Object” in OOP is not really that material, unless we want to consider that potential energy of 5V to create “0s” and “1s” is somewhat material. In reality, the “object” in OOP is nothing more but a collection of logical and data states in computer memory.

Would “Logical Construct Oriented Programming” (LCOP) be better? Sounds a bit complicated.