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Choice Bits

Hot Books, Deep Tweets, and The Talk of the Tech

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  Now with extra talk.  

What’s Hot

Top-Ten lists are passé—ours goes to 11. These are the top titles that folks are interested in currently, along with their rank from last month. This is based solely on direct sales from our online store.

1^3Practical Vim
2^NEWCore Data
3^NEWBuild Awesome Command-Line Applications in Ruby
5^6Agile Web Development with Rails
6^NEWPractical Programming
7v1The Pragmatic Programmer
8^NEWThe Developer's Code
9^11The RSpec Book
10v7Programming Ruby 1.9
11^NEWTechnical Blogging

The Talk of the Tech

Curiosity is in his title. John Grotzinger, NASA’s Curiosity project manager, has a pretty cool job. He gets to direct the research efforts of NASA's Curiosity rover. He and his team have already demonstrated evidence of liquid water on ancient Mars, and they are now in hot pursuit of measurable methane on the planet. Even if Grotzinger’s team find methane—and convincingly confirm that finding—it still won’t be unequivocal evidence of microbial life. But it will be tantalizing enough that their next step will be to focus on tracking down the source.

Not-so-fine Corinthian leather. Reacting to Scott Forstall’s abrupt exit from Apple, John Pavlus at Technology Review gives an impassioned argument for not throwing the skeuomorphic baby out with the Scott Forstall bathwater. Thankfully, Pavlus doesn’t go so far as to defend the Corinthian leather look of some iApps. As streakers at football games invariably learn, the natural look can be taken too far.

The best thing on Facebook? If you’re on Facebook, skip this item, because it’s old news to you. But if you’re not on Facebook, congratulations. You have more time than the rest of us. Use it wisely. On the other hand, I have to inform you that you are missing out on George Takei’s wonderful stream of found digital objects. Right, the actor who played Sulu on the original “Star Trek.” He’s found a new career, or maybe it’s a hobby.

Getting the picture. Looking at a few examples very often clarifies a confusing problem. Here’s a math problem presented in words: If n is an even integer, there is a function f(i,n) that produces, for values of i from 2 through n-1, a sequence of integers the last half of which counts down from n/2 - 1 to 1. What is f? Chances are the answer is not immediately leaping out at you. But if you write down the values of f(i,12) for i from 2 to 11, paired with the corresponding values of i, you’ll may see it immediately. If not, the answer is below.

C++ waking up? C++ is not a sexy language these days, but it is an important one. Peter Bright at Ars Technica is reporting that the future of C++ is getting—well, not sexier, but let’s say brighter. Microsoft, Intel, Google, IBM, and several other companies are committing to doing something about the doldrums the language has been in. They aren’t going to make it any sexier to program in C++, but they are talking about faster updates to language standards and more conformance to those standards.

Easy come, easy go. Sometimes we could benefit from communication media that forced us to slow down a little. News comes out that George Lucas is selling LucasFilm to Disney for four billion dollars. There follows a flurry of sniping and grumbling. (“George Lucas sold my childhood!”) Then comes the announcement that Lucas is giving the entire four billion to charity. Ulp.

HTTP headers, in bed. Thanks to @snipeyhead, here’s a full list of HTTP headers as fortune cookies. In bed. Some particularly apt ones: 405, 411, 412, 417, 429, 451, and the reassuring 200.

Just for you. If you’re a Pragmatic Bookshelf author and haven’t checked your Author Dashboard lately, you’ll find that we’ve made some changes. Nothing drastic, just some tweaks that should make it easier to get to the information you’re looking for. Also some nifty Buy-Now widgets for your website. Hope you like it.

Answer to math problem: f is n mod i.

Debris from the Twitterstorm

Please tell us what you’ve been up to lately.

Thinking about Literate programming. Trying to write my code as more of a story, but it feels more like a “choose your adventure.” — @dalmaer

Writing rebase jokes for parody lyrics to “call me maybe,” designing an API for db migrations, drinking coffee. — @selenamarie

Kind of a November tradition—I’m blogging encouraging tips for writers every day in parallel with NaNoWriMo at — @dimsumthinking

Torn between the desire to suck out all the marrow of this trip, and the desire to be chill about it cuz i can & will come back. — @amyhoy

For those wondering if I was interviewing for a job today: if I have to wear a suit to interview, that’s not a job I want. — @chadfowler

I said that whichever team increases code coverage the most gets to pick my next hair color. — @pamelafox

Do share your protips and truefacts.

Pro tip: always add a phone number in your e-mail signature, so that the conversation could move to the next level any time. — @afilina

You'd be surprised how many “highly performing teams” are really just a number of self-esteeming individuals who self-promote. — @tottinge

There are countless ways to express an idea. This makes it quite interesting and challenging at the same time. — @venkat_s

True fact: @jimweirich walks up to little kids and pulls Y-combinators out of the ears instead of nickels. #rubyconf — @therealadam

OH: “If Steve Jobs was still in charge Mobile Safari on iOS6 wouldn’t fire duplicate onreadystatechange events!” — @dalmaer

“After you've been tased, the world is new.”-@BecomeUseful — @thisisstar

And just ask, because somebody must know.

Why do all English hotels seem right out of Fawlty Towers? Seems there must be a training program for the proprietors. — @jwgrenning

How can we see light from the early universe arriving just now? How did we outrun the light in the first place? @StarTalkRadio — @jeffcohen

Isn’t there a word for when you’re on a ship and you have to dump heavy things in order to go faster? — @amyhoy

Talked to a software developer who had never heard of Dropbox. How is that possible...? — @PragmaticAndy

Who Are Those Guys?

First, they’re not all guys. Second, we have to confess that we cleaned up their punctuation and stuff a little. OK, who they are: Dion Almaer, Jeff Cohen, Selena Deckelmann, Anna Filina, Chad Fowler, Pamela Fox, James Grenning, Amy Hoy, Andy Hunt, Adam Keys, Tim Ottinger, Star St. Germain, Daniel Steinberg, and Venkat Subramaniam.

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