Donald E. Knuth talks about New The Art of Computer Programming Book Chapter

Donald E. Knuth Talks about SAT SolversIn his latest talk about SAT solvers at the Johannes Kepler University Linz (JKU), Computer Science pioneer Donald E. Knuth gave a deep and quite emotional insight about his life-long, epic work on the book ‘The Art of Computer Programming’. The Art of Computer Programming, aka TAOCP  represents the one and only global reference on algorithms, their analysis and computer programming in general and is the standard work for all computer scientists worldwide.

Donald E. Knuth talked about his recent chapter within TAOCP on SAT solvers and how fascinating these satisfiability problems as well as the derived problem and number patterns are. Knuth invited the audiance to ask all kind of questions, which span detailed explanaitations on his love for TEX as well as for his CWEB language, to quite personal topics, such as Prof. Knuth’s love for organ music and that he might also write down his own organ composition. During his trip through Austria, Prof. Knuth also had the chance to play on famous local organs, such as the organ within the monastry of St. Florian where Anton Bruckner was playing in 1850.

To summarize, Prof. Knuth gave a fascinating and very inspiring talk about his actual work and it seems as if there will be a lot of topics and chapters within the coming years!

He also shared an interesting advice with his audience: “If you are not fascinated and interested in what you are doing, then you are the only person to blame for!”


Radio Shack Hackerspace Challenge

In the spirit of friendly competition, RadioShack challenged two DIY enthusiast groups known as hackerspaces—one on each coast—to build something cool out of everyday stuff. The rules were simple: use parts from RadioShack, including an Arduino (an inexpensive programmable device that can be used for all sorts of interesting interactive projects).

Our two teams come from the Ace Monster Toys hackerspace in Oakland, California, and Artisan’s Asylum in Somerville, Massachusetts (just outside Boston). Each team was given a $250 RadioShack gift card and one month to dream up, design and build their project. They both did an amazing job and used parts they found at RadioShack in unique and creative ways…. The winning team will receive $1000 and one lucky voter will receive a $1000 RadioShack Gift Card!


Modkit: A visual programming language for Microcontrollers

Modkit Micro is a graphical programming environment for microcontrollers. Microcontrollers allow programmers and engineers to add behaviors to everyday objects and electronic gadgets.
Modkit Micro helps almost anyone to make almost anything smarter through a simple, yet powerful visual programming interface. Modkit Micro is based on years of research at the MIT Media Lab including the popular Scratch project, so it will look familiar to the over 1 million kids and novice programmers who have already been introduced to Scratch.
They’re launching Modkit Micro on Kickstarter to produce copies of the desktop version on a flash drive and to provide early access to the online version to our supporters.

littleBits – Building blocks that blink, beep and teach

image taken from

littleBits, a set of electronics as easy to play with as Legos. TED Fellow Ayah Bdeir introduces littleBits, a set of simple, interchangeable blocks that make programming as simple and important a part of creativity as snapping blocks together.

littleBits are an open source system of preassembled, modular circuits that snap together with magnets – making learning about electronics fun, easy and creative. An engineer, inventor and interactive artist, Ayah received her master’s degree from the MIT Media Lab and undergraduate degrees in computer engineering and sociology from the American University of Beirut. Ayah has taught graduate classes at NYU and Parsons and taught numerous workshops to get non-engineers – particularly young girls – interested in science and technology. She is also the founder of karaj, Beirut’s lab for experimental art, architecture and technology. littleBits was named Best of Toyfair, has won the editor’s Choice award from MAKE magazine, and has been acquired by MoMA for its collection.

“Instead of having to program, to wire, to solder, littleBits allow you to program using very simple intuitive gestures.” (Ayah Bdeir)

CodeNow! Build, share & discover source code online

Today i read about a new startup company, called CodeNow, which offers an online platform for coding and compiling for different platforms.

As i expected it long time ago, the Web is also the future platform for coding, compiling and running source code! In my job i have to code for many different platforms and it got even worse with the increase of different mobile platforms, such as Android, Windows Phone 7, iOS, Symbian, Windows CE, Windows Mobile, …

So i already thought about, why not setting up a central Web platform/server for automatically compiling for all these platforms. As i am a heavy user of Google Docs, i also thought about the possibilities and advantages of using a shared online editor for coding source code with a distributed team of programmers. A central coding server could also include state-of-the-art continuous integration tools, such as build and release management, source code management, unit test management and deployment management for the different marketplaces.

A central platform could also provide a collection of connected virtual machines or real devices (iPhones, different Android devices, …) for integration testing on real devices, as this is quite a problem for freelance programmers who cannot afford to buy a large collection of test devices. I also read about programmers from Africa who are programming and publishing iPhone apps from internet cafes by using a very simple online iPhone simulator.

So for me the Web is the future development machine to code and compile for different platforms without the need to setup different compilers, enviroments and deployment environments.

screenshot taken from CodeNow webpage