An exception handling revelation
I’ve been working with exceptions offered by languages,
such as Java and Python,
for more than 20 years, invariably as their consumer:
catching them when raised by an API and then doing my thing.
For the systems I worked on, exception handling mostly involved
either quitting the program with an error or re-prompting the user
to fix some input.
Consequently, my view of them was as a fancy error handling mechanism:
syntactic sugar and static enforcement for checking a function’s
the error handling in
a library and a command-line tool providing efficient relational
query access to diverse publication open data sets.
Through this the full power of exceptions clicked for me.
I suspect that others may share my previously limited appreciation
of exception handling,
so here is a brief description of the refactoring.
Continue reading "An exception handling revelation"
Extending the life of TomTom wearables
TomTom recently announced
it would stop operating their supporting infrastructure by the end of September
following its earlier decision
to exit the wearables market.
This means that its products, such as sports watches, will become effectively
useless, as they will no longer be able to export their activities and
sync them with tracker sites.
Throwing away an otherwise fine watch only because its maker decided to
shut down its proprietary infrastructure seems like a sad waste.
Here is how you can download the watch’s data and
upload it to Strava, a popular activity tracker,
using open source software.
Continue reading "Extending the life of TomTom wearables"
How AGI can conquer the world and what to do about it
We have seen many calls warning about the existential danger
the human race faces from artificial general intelligence (AGI).
Recent examples include the letter asking for a six month pause in
the development of models more powerful than GPT-4
Ian Hogarth’s FT article calling for a slow-down in the AI race.
In brief, these assert that the phenomenal increase in the
power and performance of AI systems we are witnessing
raises the possibility that these systems will obsolete humanity.
argued that some of the arguments made are hypocritical,
but that doesn’t mean that they are also vacuous.
How credible is AGI’s threat and what should we do about it?
Continue reading "How AGI can conquer the world and what to do about it"
Many of us are worried that
Twitter’s increasingly erratic post visibility and user verification policies
will curtail our ability to disseminate our work and ideas to a wide audience.
Having spent years to attract followers on Twitter,
setting up shop on
sounds like a tough call.
anecdotal evidence suggests that dissemination via Mastodon can be
more potent than Twitter, even with a fraction of a follower base.
Continue reading "Twitter’s overrated dissemination capacity"
The hypocritical call to pause giant AI
open letter calling for a pause in giant AI experiments
correctly identifies a number of risks associated with the development of AI, including job losses, misinformation, and loss of control. However, its call to pause some types of AI research for six months smacks of hypocrisy.
Continue reading "The hypocritical call to pause giant AI"
AI deforests the knowledge’s ecosystem
Big-tech’s dash to incorporate ChatGPT-like interfaces into their search engines threatens the ecosystem of human knowledge with extinction. Knowledge development is a social activity. It starts with scientists publishing papers and books that build on earlier ones and with practitioners, journalists, and other writers disseminating these findings and their opinions in more accessible forms. It continues through specialized web sites, blogs, the Wikipedia, as well as discussion and Q&A forums. It further builds upon our interactions with these media through web site visits, upvotes, likes, comments, links, and citations. All these elements combined have yielded a rich global knowledge ecosystem that feeds on our interactions to promote the continuous development of useful and engaging content.
Continue reading "AI deforests the knowledge’s ecosystem"
How I fixed git-grep macOS UTF-8 support
As a speaker of Greek, I’ve been fixing issues in the handling
of non-ASCII characters for over 40 years, using techniques ranging from
simple lookup tables to dynamic patching of in-memory images.
Here’s how I debugged and fixed the handling of UTF-8 characters
Continue reading "How I fixed git-grep macOS UTF-8 support"
git grep command, which was broken for almost a decade.
The sorry state of software quality
Thanks to a tweet
by Aaron Toponce I learned about the Linux
Continue reading "The sorry state of software quality"
Write system calls to it always fail with a
ENOSPC (no space on device)
With it finding software that doesn’t check for failed writes is a
piece of cake.
Let’s see this in action.
Rather than alchemy, methodical troubleshooting
I recently encountered a pesky problem while trying to
build a React Native project under Apple’s Xcode.
The build would fail with an error reporting:
Continue reading "Rather than alchemy, methodical troubleshooting"
EMFILE: too many open files, watch.
Frustratingly, all available advice on the web pointed to
different (often inexplicable) directions, none of which worked.
After tormenting myself with these, I decided to troubleshoot
the problem methodically, which allowed me to pinpoint it and
solve it with an uncommon and noteworthy application of the
git bisect command.
Here’s the story.
The Evolution of the Unix System Architecture
Unix has evolved for more than five decades,
shaping modern operating systems,
key software technologies, and development practices.
Studying the evolution of this remarkable system from an
architectural perspective can provide insights
on how to manage the growth of large, complex, and long-lived software systems.
In 2016 my colleague Paris Avgeriou
and I embarked on this study aiming to combine
his software architecture insights with my software analytics skills.
Here is a brief summary of the study, which was published this month
in the IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering.
Continue reading "The Evolution of the Unix System Architecture"