Category: Writing


“HAL proceeds to kill the crew of the spacecraft, as science fiction computers are wont to do, until the last remaining astronaut, David Bowman, debugs the computer into submission by physically removing HAL’s modules from service, one by one…. As every programmer knows, real computers do attempt to kill you, only more slowly and less dramatically than their science fiction brethren. A recent software development project reacquainted me with this characteristic when, like Bowman, I faced my own homicidal HAL.”

That’s veteran PragPub author James Bonang, introducing his delightful article in the next issue of PragPub, in which “the unexpected discovery of a venerable artifact leads Jim to examine tools and techniques that can help you eliminate memory errors in C++ code.”

It’s a wide-ranging and deep-digging article, which touches on Tutankhamen’s tomb, the HAL-9000 computer, an old issue of Dr. Dobb’s Journal extracted from the garage, life expectancy in the Middle Ages, failure prediction for Hubble gyroscopes, and the art of finding memory leaks in C++ code.

In the May PragPub, coming out on Wednesday, May 3.

In the April PragPub

What if you could get the same work done with a tenth the coding effort?

Low-code is an increasingly popular approach to programming that leverages visual development tools and third-party infrastructure so you can focus on the ten percent of your app that is unique. A low-code development platform bundles together all the tools you use into a unified experience that lets you build your application visually. Then once it’s built, the platform handles the full lifecycle, through test, production, and ongoing maintenance. It’s especially appealing for mobile app development, where time-to-market is king.

This month in PragPub we explore the low-code experience in two articles. First, Matthew Revell details just what low-code is and how you work in a low-code environment. Then Stanley Idesis walks you through a full hands-on example of mobile development on a low-code platform. Is low-code right for you? At the end of these articles you’ll know all you need to know to decide whether you need to give it a try.

Get it here.

Columns of Numbers

I like columns about numbers. My new favorite columnist is Walter Hickey, who writes Significant Digits for He tweets here and here’s more about him.

Hickey’s list is, of course, one more variation on the classic Harper’s Index list. But he makes it his own. If you aren’t familiar with it, Harper’s magazine crafted the perfect number list feature, with subtle connections between items.

I like columns of numbers, but I even more like math columns, especially math puzzle columns, and the best forever is the “Mathematical Games” column in Scientific American by Martin Gardner. Now you can get all of them on a disc!

Then there’s Dennis Shasha, or Dr. Ecco, whose math puzzles appeared in Dr. Dobb’s and elsewhere.

And keeping us mathematically honest is John Allen Paulos, the tireless campaigner against mathematical illiteracy.