November 2005

 

How to Sort Three Numbers

Quick: how do you sort three numbers in ascending order?

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Supporting Java's Foreach Construct

Java 1.5 supports a new foreach construct for iterating over collections. The construct can be used on arrays and on all classes in Java's Collection framework. I searched the internet for an example on how to make my own classes iterable with this construct, but could not find an example.

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US Military Removes Word Documents from the Web?

On August 25th 2004 the comp.risks forum run an article I submitted regarding the large number of Microsoft Word documents available on US milatary sites (sites in the .mil domain) through Google searches (23.50 "U.S. military sites offer a quarter million Microsoft Word documents"). The article documented how such documents could lead to the leakage of confidential data. A week later I setup a script to watch the number of Word documents available through Google searches to see if and when the military would recognise the threat those documents posed and remove them.

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Working with Unix Tools

A successful [software] tool is one that was used to do something undreamed of by its author.

— Stephen C. Johnson

Line-oriented textual data streams are the lowest useful common denominator for a lot of data that passes through our hands. Such streams can be used to represent program source code, web server log data, version control history, file lists, symbol tables, archive contents, error messages, profiling data, and so on. For many routine, everyday tasks, we might be tempted to process the data using a Swiss army knife scripting language, like Perl, Python, or Ruby. However, to do that we often need to write a small, self-contained program and save it into a file. By that point we've lost interest in the task, and end-up doing the work manually, if at all. Often, a more effective approach is to combine programs of the Unix toolchest into a short and sweet pipeline that we can run from our shell's command prompt. With the modern shell command-line editing facilities we can build our command bit by bit, until it molds into exactly the form that suits us. Nowadays, the original Unix tools are available on many different systems, like GNU/Linux, Mac OS X, and Microsoft Windows, so there's no reason why you shouldn't add this approach to your arsenal.

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Become a Unix command line wizard
edX MOOC on Unix Tools: Data, Software, and Production Engineering
Debug like a master
Book cover of Effective Debugging
Compute with style
Book cover of The Elements of Computing Style
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