So yesterday was my birthday. As soon as my friend Bruno announced it on Twitter, fearing for my phone’s battery (considering I was going to be away from a charger for the day), I kindly requested not to receive that many notifications. As usual with these things, it had exactly the opposite effect, with him and other friends making sure that I’d receive as many notifications as possible.
I don’t usually care about in-flight entertainment, since I carefully plan what I’ll be watching, reading or working on during flights and I pre-pack my laptop and kindle with the necessary stuff. However, last week I was travelling to Angola and the plane I was in had one of those neat in-flight entertainment systems per seat and I decided to try it. It was packed full of movies, tv shows and music and since I had a few hours to kill, I decided to watch a couple of movies (and maybe doze off until arrival).
Programming is not only about knowing how to use specific words and abstract constructs to build a program. It is also about being able to design and develop complex structures of data and algorithmic workflows. And most of the time, these complex elements are interconnected, which means that when you decide to mess with one of them, you’re actually messing with several others.
The by-products (or side-effects) of some functions can affect the rest of your system. Thus, programmers generally need to keep a mental picture of the entire system to avoid creating bugs. That is why it is so important for a programmer to maintain complete focus while building such elements.
Derek Johnson sums it up:
Interruptions are to developers what kryptonite is to Superman—they kill productivity and there’s a significant recovery period.
Every time I see a video where Apollo Robbins, a well-known master pickpocket artist, shows his skills I’m fascinated by the way he manages to fool the mind of his unsuspected victims.
In this TED talk he gives us a glimpse on how this is as much a work of physical misdirection as it is of cognitive misdirection. And please watch it ’till the very end. Your jaw will drop as you yourself become a “victim” of his misdirection techniques.
If you want to know more about Apollo and how he came to be this magnificent artist, read this great article in The New Yorker.
Even if you’re not a follower of the World Cup you’ve probably heard by now of the strange appetite of a certain Uruguayan player: Luis Suárez.
If you haven’t (under which rock have you been?), here’s the juicy part:
I thought about creating different ways to control a toy car in a race track, instead of the typical handheld joystick-like device. One of those ideas was based on the use of a sonar (that measures distance to an object) as the controller for the car – the closer the hand to the sonar, the highest the acceleration.
However, considering that the sonar works through eco-location and that the track makes an infernal sound, the sonar accuracy is affected by the sound of the track, thus rendering this approach useless.
Any alternative ideas? I will try the best one (as long as it is not cost-prohibitive) 🙂
What happens when you leave 16 autonomous AI bots alone to play Quake 3 Arena against each other for 4 years? Apparently, they play the ultimate Cold War game and achieve “world peace”.
I don’t know if this story is true or not, but it actually makes sense from a purely logical self-preservation point of view. The bots were programmed to study which strategies were more efficient in guaranteeing their survival. After a few years, they probably realized that the best strategy is actually to not engage each other and they all win.
Check the story thread’s screenshot here.