Ada Lovelace day

Posted on 25 March 2009 in Programming

I'm a day late, but having just heard about Ada Lovelace day I couldn't but help make a slightly schmalzy post.

The aim of the day is to celebrate women who excel in technology, and while I've worked with some great women developers over the course of my career, there's one who stands out. Yes, it's my mother :-)

Back in the 60s, Yvonne Thomas was one of the first women to do Electronic Engineering (or Electron Physics as it was then called) at Southampton University, and she went on to work at various defence-related companies (that being the best place to be in tech back then). By 1974 she was working on ALGOL compilers at (I think) ICL, and then she decided to pack it in to raise her unruly -- but generally grateful -- offspring. Von, thanks for doing that, and for bringing me up to be technically able. There are few coders out there who can honestly say that they had programming fed to them in the womb, and I'm glad to be one of them.

She's still coding, and is now happily building an ever-expanding web application that links together all the information she's found in her genealogical researches.

Right, enough sentimentality. Back to our regularly-scheduled gadget- and business-of-software-related blogging...


Posted on 18 March 2009 in Gadgets

I'm very tempted to switch to SSDs for my home machines' boot drives. Videos like this aren't entirely representative of what's easily affordable, but it's pretty impressive...

One-day discount

Posted on 17 March 2009 in Resolver Systems

We're running a one-day discount at Resolver Systems today -- you can get an unrestricted copy of Resolver One for $75! There's more about Resolver One here.

Click-through ratios

Posted on 16 March 2009 in Meta, Blogging

Shortly after writing about the correlation between music copyright and composers in England, I read one of Mike Masnick's thought-provoking anti-copyright posts over at Techdirt, and thought he might be interested in the book review that had prompted my post. I dropped him a line, and last Thursday he wrote an article which mentioned it.

He was kind enough to include a "hat-tip" link to my post as well, so I prepared for a spike in visitors here. After all, Google Reader says that Techdirt has 750,000 subscribers to its RSS feed; allowing for other aggregators, that means that maybe 800,000 people would have read Mike's article, and although there was no particular reason for them to click on the link to this site, I figured idle interest would probably lead to a few. The question was, how many?

Resolver Systems' banner ads tend to get three or four click-throughs per thousand impressions, and Google Adwords one or two per thousand. I figured that a hat-tip would be less effective than either of these, and might get one click-through in every two or three thousand, leading to maybe 300 visitors. On Friday I asked the people I know on Twitter what they thought I might expect, and their guesses ranged from 200 to 10,000.

The actual number was two. Not two hundred, but two visitors. When I mentioned this on Twitter, I discovered that they were both people who knew me anyway (presumably wondering if the "Giles Thomas" in question was the one they knew).

That's really quite a surprising data point.

(BTW, if you were interested in the music-related posts here, and were wondering when the next one was coming, I've moved that side of my blogging over to a new site: the Baroque Project.)

R in Resolver One (and perhaps IronPython generally)

Posted on 2 March 2009 in Programming, Python, Resolver One

We've just announced the winner of this month's round of our competition at Resolver Systems, and it's a great one; Marjan Ghahremani, a student at UC Davis, managed to work out how you can call R (a powerful statistical analysis language) from our spreadsheet product Resolver One. You can download a ZIP file with a detailed PDF describing how it works and a bunch of examples.

If you're not interested in Resolver One, but want to use R from your own IronPython scripts, you may be able to do that too, using her instructions as guidelines -- I've not tried it myself, but there are no obvious blockers. If you do try it out, I'd love to hear how it goes.