August 2004

 

U.S. military sites offer a quarter million Microsoft Word documents

I was Google-searching for the Air Force Operational Test & Evaluation Center publication "Software Maintainability - Evaluation Guide". To make my search more efficient I restricted it to military (.mil) sites, using the Google keyword "site:.mil". I was not able to find the publication I was looking for, but was surprised to see a number of Microsoft Word documents in the search results.

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Continous Bookmarking

When editing documents or code, my not so agile fingers, often trigger a movement or search command that accidentally throws me to a random location in the text I am editing. How can I return back? Amazingly, I noticed I am using exactly the same trick for returning back on both the vim editor I use for most of my editing tasks, and Microsoft Word I use for collaborating with many colleagues.

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Detective Work and Dropped TCP Connections

I had problems with TCP connections (mostly long-lasting ssh sessions) getting dropped on my ADSL line. In the end, I found that the problem had two different roots. The detective work behind establishing them is, I believe, interesting. It also shows how accessible source code, and the will to use it, can be a tremendous boost to difficult system administration problems.

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The hypot() Mystery

I was writing a section for the Code Reading followup volume, and wanted to demonstrate the pitfalls of using homebrewn mathematical functions instead of the library ones. As an example, I chose to compare the C library hypot(x, y) function, against sqrt(x * x, y * y). I created a plot of "unit in last place" (ulp) error values between the two functions, which demonstrated how the error increased for larger values of y.

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Patching Framework III

Time warp. I needed to read some old files I wrote in 1992 using the Ashton-Tate Framework III program. Unfortunately, trying to run the program under Windows XP resulted in a "Divide overflow" error. A bit of searching on the web revealed that the problem was related to the system's speed (1.6GHz). Apparently, Framework tries to calculate the speed of the machine by dividing a fixed number with a loop counter; on modern machines this results in the overflow.

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