Why it’s so Important to Just Start

Jason Calacanis of of Mahalo.com (a human-powered search engine) wrote an interesting post about why it’s so important to just frackin’ start. One of the things he says that really struck me is “if you don’t start you can’t iterate”.

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Einstien on Computers

“Computers are incredibly fast, accurate and stupid. Human beings are incredibly slow, accurate and brilliant. Together they are powerful beyond imagination.”

-Albert Einstien

But what would be the computers’ motivation to cooperate?

Donald Knuth Quotes

A collection of Donald Knuth quotes at BrainyQuote.com

Computer Science Quotes

An excellent collection of CS quotes compiled by Jennifer Seitzer.

Databases, Storage

“If wealth is lost, nothing is lost

If health is lost, something is lost,

If character data is lost, everything is lost”

-Anonymous

A great playwright with a Shakespearean name once said, “All the world’s a database, And all the men and women merely records”.

Data[bases] drive[s] the world. They are the sum of human knowledge, and all around the world many an overworked DBA (DataBase Administrator) spend endless, sleepless nights just keeping these things running. There is currently talk going on of Transforming the Web into a database.
Here is the sum of my database knowledge, starting with ACID:

A single logical operation on data is called a transaction. The ACID set of properties guarantee that database transactions are processed reliably:

  • Atomicity
  • Consistency
  • Isolation
  • Durability

(Reference: ACID at Wikipedia)

References:

Resources:

  • Fundamentals of Database Systems (4th Edition), By Ramez Elmasri and Shamkant B. Navathe (Addison Wesley, 2003)

Operating Systems

There are two categories of Operating Systems. The first, like Linux, manage system resources and provide an interface between the user and the underlying hardware/software, enabling humans to effectively use computers.

The second, like Windows, basically look good and pretend to do a million different things, but can’t do any of them correctly or efficiently. As is the case with everything else in life (such as music, for example – think Britney Spears vs Pink Floyd), the second category has a much larger and much more visible fan following (ahem, sorry, “user base”*).

*I’m referring to Desktop Operating Systems

All that apart, Operating Systems pose the ultimate technical challenge in computer programming, and that’s the reason I’m writing about them here.

“UNIX is an operating system, OS/2 is half an operating system, Windows is a shell, and DOS is a boot partition virus.”

-Peter Coffin

Resources:

References:

  • Operating System Concepts (6th Edition), By Abraham Silberschatz, Peter Baer Galvin, Greg Gagne (Wiley, 2001 )

XML

“It would be hard to predict now what kinds of libraries might be needed in a hundred years. Presumably many libraries will be for domains that don’t even exist yet. If SETI@home works, for example, we’ll need libraries for communicating with aliens. Unless of course they are sufficiently advanced that they already communicate in XML.”

-Paul Graham, The Hundred-Year Language

XML has emereged as the de facto industry standard for specifying how to store almost any kind of data, in a form that makes it incredibly easy to interchange between applications running on different platforms.

Resources: