Hans's blog

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The state of the art of programming

Wed, 2010-12-22 15:39 by Hans

I've increasingly begun to worry about the general state of the art of programming, in JavaScript and in any other programming language. Sometimes I believe that the only language many programmers really liked and kind of mastered was BASIC (the closer to Dartmouth, the better—I'm just hoping that the readers of this message still know what Dartmouth BASIC was).

When I look through the Java programs I have to work with right now, I keep seeing things like this:

if (x == false)
  return true;
  return false;
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New Android smartphone

Sat, 2010-08-21 13:59 by Hans

HTC Nexus One
HTC Nexus One

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Super-cheap, super-modern Android phone

Fri, 2010-07-30 17:20 by Hans

[Please check the important Update 2013 below first.]

I've finally jumped and ordered an Android smartphone. After all the comparisons, the Nexus One is still the best-suited for me as a developer phone, because it is effectively the most open and most well-known of the bunch.

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The rat effect

Sat, 2010-04-03 09:18 by Hans

People are like rats. If you offer them a perfect solution on a silver platter, but there is a garbage heap nearby, they instantly dive—rat-like—for the garbage.

Perhaps in today's world of unfulfilled promises and widespread low quality people have developed a general mistrust of the silver platter. They have stopped to believe that it exists.

Nowhere is this more true than in computer software. I'm not sure why. Perhaps there just is more garbage or perhaps the difference between perfection and garbage is, for many, not easy enough to see.

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ViewSonic VP2130b slow self-destruction

Wed, 2009-11-18 22:52 by Hans

Two years ago I bought four of these, then pretty expensive, 1,600 x 1,200 pixel flat screen monitors.

They are wonderful and about perfect for all purposes including the difficult tasks, for different reasons, of photo retouching and gaming.

However, after this time the first one showed a strange defect. After switching on power, they drop dead for several minutes, the time getting longer and longer by the month.

The symptom is that the monitor drops dead entirely. The green light goes off, the monitor does not react to any key press, and the screen is totally black.

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Judging a company by its web site

Sun, 2009-10-11 08:21 by Hans

How can an ordinary customer judge a company, particularly its commitment to quality and good products? That's a very difficult undertaking, and analysts spend a lot of time and earn a lot of money for this, some of it probably undeserved.

However, there is an easy substitute for judging an entire company—judge only its web site. Everybody can do that, it doesn't take very much time, it can even be entertaining and fun.

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Telly - turn telephone numbers into words

Mon, 2009-09-14 20:14 by Hans


Telly is a computer program that finds real words for telephone numbers that can be typed into a phone instead of the number and that may be easier to remember. It currently covers two languages—English and German. Try it, you may like it.

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When to sell your old car

Wed, 2008-01-16 14:45 by Hans

These are a few thoughts from the point of view of a hobby economist and friend of old cars. (I have a 1970 Jaguar E. :-)

Read the complete article

[Article has been relocated.]

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Spam-fighting content filters

Tue, 2008-01-15 15:08 by Hans

I just received an email bounce with an error message saying:

Error 554 – Message could not be sent due to inappropriate content

It was an important email. I had worked into the night to prepare some source code from a programmer in Nigeria for somebody else to work on. I was not amused to be told that my email was "inappropriate".

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E.W. Dijkstra 1972: The Humble Programmer

Fri, 2008-01-11 10:13 by Hans

Read the complete lecture

ACM Turing Lecture 1972

The Humble Programmer
by Edsger W. Dijkstra


As a result of a long sequence of coincidences I entered the programming profession officially on the first spring morning of 1952 and as far as I have been able to trace, I was the first Dutchman to do so in my country. In retrospect the most amazing thing was the slowness with which, at least in my part of the world, the programming profession emerged, a slowness which is now hard to believe. ...