Category: Uncategorized

  • Will Voyager 1 and 2 come back as V’Ger?

    In Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), V’Ger was an immense alien spacecraft that threatened Earth. V’Ger turned out to be evolved form of Voyager 6, a fictional unmanned probe that in our reality has (so far) never been launched (apologies if that spoils the movie for anyone, but was more than 40 years ago, […]

  • The Footbridge Project

    I have a creekbed that runs through my yard. Most of the year it’s dry (we live in California), but it has a short span of time in the winter when water flows after the rains. Even when it’s dry, it is inconvenient to cross, because it’s between 3 – 4 feet deep, and the […]

  • Maximum Memory Warnings Are Rubbish

    Many people use MySQLTuner, as a guide to MySQL Server configuration values and they are alarmed when they see things like this: You should be aware that the “maximum memory” warning from MySQLTuner is rubbish. It is a misleading and impractical estimate, because it has no real chance of happening. The memory usage they base their […]

  • Beginner Web Programming Projects

    Can someone suggest a web application project for beginners? What would be a good project? Should I follow a how to make a tutorial or figure it out on my own? This is a frequent question from new programmers. I wrote a post in 2020 about this. Below is a reproduction of my post. It was […]

  • Why is Software So Complex?

    Q: Why is most modern software so mindbogglingly complex, with multiple layers of abstraction stacked on each other? Why do they not make simple, efficient software like they used to earlier? This question was asked on Quora recently. I answered that it is due to a few major reasons: 1. Code Maintenance There’s an old […]

  • How do Software Engineers cope with stress?

    The typical sources of stress for software engineers are not caused by technology. They’re caused by managers and projects. Work tasks are not described clearly. If I’m given unclear work requirements, I ask for more details. I make it clear that I can’t give an estimate for the cost or the time of completion until […]

  • The Private Option

    There’s a famous case of a fumbled rollout of a website:, the federal health insurance exchange used by independent insurance customers in about two-thirds of states in the USA. These days, the an updated version of functions fine, so you’re wondering what the hubbub was about when it was launched. Poor Debut Proponents said […]

  • C Pointers Explained, Really

    While I was in college, a friend of mine complained that he was confused while programming in C, struggling to learn the syntax for pointers. He gave the example of something like: *x=**p++ being ugly and unreadable, with too many operations layered on each other, making it hard to tell what was happening.  He said […]

  • How to Save $100 Million

    Last night I listened to an interesting interview on public radio, relating a story from the New Yorker magazine about Michigan Dr. Peter Pronovost saving millions of dollars and hundreds of lives of patients. How did he do it? He taught doctors and nurses to use checklists to avoid mistakes in the intensive care units […]