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The Other Side of Digital Preservation

We often grumble that digital preservation is risky, and that modern storage technologies and file formats quickly become outdated destroying the record of our past. What we don't appear to appreciate is how much more data we are able to preserve, thanks to digital technologies.

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Slashdot Story: The Future of Windows Software Distribution

Earlier today I posted on Slashdot a story describing Microsoft's new third-party software distribution approach.

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Information Kiosk

The inclined panel is indeed a computer screen, and, of course, it is not working. Another, more reliable, technology has prevailed.

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Preparing for the Exams

The (retake) exam period has started. At the metro the passenger sitting opposite me is obviously a student frantically sorting the cards containing a 6%-reduced photocopy of her forensic psychology textbook.

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Version Control Talk Demystified

One indication of the importance an endeavor has in our lives is the vocabulary associated with it. If developers employ a tool or a method, inevitably they will come up with words to describe their corresponding work in an accurate and concise way. I recently heard a colleague describe version control systems (also formally known as configuration management tools) as boring. I hope that this dictionary will dispel this myth by documenting a rich technical and social vocabulary. If you donít work with a VCS I believe this list will give you plenty of reasons to look at what these systems can do for you and your projects. On the other hand, if you already use a VCS I hope you will find ideas on how to use it more productively and how to improve your configuration management process. And, no matter to which group you belong to, I am sure youíll find here some new words worth knowing.

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Version Control Systems

A source code control system [is] a giant UNDO key—a project wide time machine.

— A. Hunt and D. Thomas

Sane programmers don't write production code without the help of an editor and an interpreter or a compiler, yet I've seen many software projects limping along without using a version control system. We can explain this contrast if we think in terms of the increased startup costs and the delayed gratification associated with the adoption of a VCS. We humans typically discount the future, and therefore implementing version control in a project appears to be a fight against the human nature. It is true that you can't beat the productivity boost that compilers and editors have provided us, but four decades after punched card programming in assembly language has gone out of fashion we must look elsewhere to reap our next gains in efficiency. And if you or your project is not using a VCS, adopting one may well be the single most important improvement you can undertake.

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Creative Commons License Last update: Monday, February 17, 2020 5:56 pm
Unless otherwise expressly stated, all original material on this page created by Diomidis Spinellis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Greece License.