The Weirdness of C++

I’ve been dredging up my C++ for a class recently, and I’m struck by just how weird it feels now that I spend most of my time with Ruby. I was all proud of myself for remembering how to write a copy constructor. Then I ran into a situation like this: MyClass a = foo;… Continue reading The Weirdness of C++

Paragraph Numbering and the Semantics of BLOCKQUOTE

Continuing on the theme of HTML’s flaws, consider the humble BLOCKQUOTE. While long used simply to indent text, it has a recognizable semantic meaning: a long quotation from another work. A block quote may contain multiple paragraphs, so BLOCKQUOTE logically enough is a block-level element that contains other block-level elements like P. But suppose I… Continue reading Paragraph Numbering and the Semantics of BLOCKQUOTE

Learning to Cook With Ruby

I don’t much like programming language tutorials. They’re useful for getting the general sense of what a language is all about, but they inevitably elide too many crucial details to teach you how to write a real program. When I got interested in Ruby, I read the on-line version of Programming Ruby: The Pragmatic Programmer’s… Continue reading Learning to Cook With Ruby

HTML Footnotes

Leonard’s comment on my post about XML and footnotes got me thinking about representing footnotes in HTML. Not the visual presentation — there are lots of options for that, using CSS, JavaScript, and internal links — but the semantic one. In other words, using nothing but semantically-meaningful HTML tags (DIV, SPAN, P, A), how should… Continue reading HTML Footnotes

Where Does the XML Go?

Here’s a question that’s been bugging me for a while: what’s the best way to store information that is a mixture of highly- and loosely-structured data? For example, a collection of documents like Project Posner. Certain attributes of each document like the title, date, and citation fit easily into a normalized relational database model. But… Continue reading Where Does the XML Go?

Back to Blogging, Elsewhere

I have achieved the dream of every geek: I have become a professional blogger. Well, sort of. In February I was hired as the Assistant Director of the new Program on Law and Technology at Columbia Law School. I’ll be doing a mixture of programming, web design, and administration for … whatever we decide to… Continue reading Back to Blogging, Elsewhere

Perl, After Ruby

I used to be a big fan of Perl. It was the first programming language I really liked. I felt like it didn’t get in my way. CPAN was and still is the best collection of open-source libraries ever assembled. Then I got into Ruby, and was very happy with the way it cleaned up… Continue reading Perl, After Ruby

Academia Discovers Hit Counting

Working alongside legal academics, I hear a lot about a web site called SSRN, the Social Science Research Network. It’s a free service that hosts thousands of academic papers on law, economics, and business. It also tracks the number of times each paper is downloaded and publishes regular reports on the most-downloaded papers and authors.… Continue reading Academia Discovers Hit Counting

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Good Ideas

Sometimes I feel like every time I come up with a good idea, I read about it somewhere else a week later. It least it’s nice to have some indication I’m not a raving lunatic. This time, A List Apart suggests Paper Prototyping, just what I was talking about a week ago.