Category Archives: Software Development

Stack Overflow

Stack Overflow opened its doors yesterday after a closed beta test period of 6 weeks or so. At first glance, it’s a programming support forum, but it has interesting mechanisms to ensure the signal-to-noise ratio is high.

Borrowing from the idea of XBox360 achievement points, Stack Overflow awards its registered users “badges” for partipating in the site and exploring its features. Some badges are easily won, such as “Autobiographer” for completing your profile. Others might take some time, such as “Necromancer”, for successfully resurrecting a year old question with a popular answer!

Added to that is a system of karma, or reputation, where your contributions to the site are voted on. If someone likes one of your answers, or thinks you asked a good question, they can vote you up, giving you more reputation points. If your answer is the preferred answer to a question, you get even more. It works both ways, if you post something dumb or irrelevant, it will get voted down, lowering your reputation .

The key thing is that your reputation level influences which site features you have access to. It gradually exposes more moderation features to you as you contribute more to the site. For example, earn 2000 reputation points and you get the ability to edit and delete other people’s posts.

If it works, the site will practically run itself, but it will be interesting to see how much people try to game it and abuse additional privileges. Some of these ideas might even be applicable to how Geograph’s moderation system works, so it is doubly interesting to me.

Anyway, if you have a programming question, give it a try. Most questions seem to get answered withing a few minutes, and it certainly beats Googling and getting one of those paywalled Experts Exchanges pages!

VMWare enable 100% reduction in server electricty costs from August 12th!

How? By stopping you running any virtual machines!

I’m about to evaluate VMWare ESXi server both for work and various side projects.

Sadly, VMWare tripped up today, by rendering it impossible to start a virtual machine if the date was August 12th 2008 or later. The VMWare forums are awash with disgruntled customers, starting with irate aussies as their country was one of the first to enjoy the excitement of August 12th. Aside from a short KB article, VMWare are staying tight lipped, and being a little tardy with it, promising a fix in 36 hours.

While ESXi may be free now, I’ll be taking a closer look at the alternatives. Hopefully VMWare will publish something which restores confidence…

Geohash PHP class popped up recently with a method of generating short hash codes for geographical locations. The codes have some interesting properties and the algorithm is documented on wikipedia.

I recently started doing a Project Euler problem a day as a fun diversion. I found the geohash algorithm intriguing, so it became my “Euler problem” for the day!

Having done it, I’m not sure I’ll find a use for it myself, but if anyone else finds it handy, do let me know!

Download it here.