Christopher
Stoll

Steve Jobs

I am not the type of person who is normally enthralled with famous people whom I do not know, but I am truly saddened by the passing of Steve Jobs. It could just be that I am huge fan of his company’s products, after all some of those products led me to where I am today. The first computer I used was an Apple IIe (for playing the Oregon Trail), and HyperCard on the Macintosh is what sparked my interest in computer programming. Of course I know that Steve Jobs could not have create these products without teams of intelligent and dedicated individuals, but based upon the history of Apple it seems that Steve provided the environment which allowed these people to excel.


k-D Tree Nearest Neighbor Search

Yesterday I posted a simple demonstration of the kD tree data structure, today I am posting an animation of the nearest neighbor search algorithm for it. The tree itself should be very straightforward for any one familiar with trees; the nearest neighbor search is where things get a little tricky. I looked up the nearest neighbor algorithm on Wikipedia and was not entirely clear how it worked. I suspect that most people would not understand the description there unless they already understood the algorithm, which is probably why you are here. So, I created an animation that hopefully makes things easier to understand.

k-D Tree

For my current algorithms class I am working on a program that demonstrates the power of k-D trees, but before I implement any new data structure or algorithm I have to completely understand how it works. So, I created an animation that shows how a k-D tree is constructed. Later I will create an animation explaining the nearest neighbor search of a k-D tree.

Apple Mobile Devices are 'Unstoppable' in the Enterprise

That was fast, I called for a change and it happened overnight. Or, maybe, I just observed what was already happening. According to ApplerInsider 91% of Fortune 500 companies are testing the deployment of iOS (iPhone and iPad) devices, and 40% of organizations support employee owned devices.

The AppleInsider article is here: Employee-owned iPhone, iPad an 'unstoppable train' in the enterprise

Are Tablets and Smartphones Too Insecure for the Enterprise?

In major businesses today users are asking their IT departments to allow them to use tablets and smartphones, modern computing devices, to make their jobs easier. The advantages of mobile computing seem clear, it is easier to take your work with you on a tablet or smartphone, yet IT departments are resisting. The top concern that IT departments seem to have is "security."

It often seems that "security" is the talisman of IT people. Whenever a new technology is introduce which the IT staff is unsure of they instinctively pull out the sacred word "security" to subdue users and management. The old shamans may not have had to worry about skeptical, young college graduates, but modern IT managers should. IT departments may not be able to placate their user populations with the mystical "security" totem once the number of young people in their organizations reaches a critical mass. So, it may be time to drop the security fetish and put a critical eye toward the problem. Security is a very real concern, but using it as an excuse for inaction is not tenable in the long-run.

mapMapper: A Web App for Mashing Maps Together

I just finished the first beta version of a small web application that allows people to easily place a static map on top of Google Maps and then share the results. This concept might not sound intriguing to everyone, but to a historian, researcher, or teacher this could be an invaluable tool.

A historical researcher might need to plot the locations of related historic events or determine the modern location of historic places. This can actually be quite difficult to do; the location of roads and other structures have changed, sometimes significantly, over time.

The Ballpoint Pen

Although their use is slowly fading due to society’s increased reliance upon computers, the ballpoint pen is still used on a daily basis by most people in the United States. What is now an inescapable piece of disposable technology began its life as nothing more than an expensive and seemingly short-lived fad. Popular media accounts from the mid-1940s track the ballpoint pen’s rapid initial increase in popularity followed by its similarly precipitous drop. After this initial popularity spike the media chronicled the ballpoint pen’s gradual rise from novelty to ubiquity.

On a trip to Argentina in the summer of 1945 a businessman from Chicago named Milton Reynolds discovered a fascinating pen that he was certain could be a commercial success in the United States. Reynolds brought some of the pens back to the United States with him, and within a few months they were being mass produced by his newly formed company.


JavaScript Sprite Class for the HTML5 Canvas - V1

When I began experimenting with the HTML5 canvas I decided that I might learn more if I actually wrote a program that took advantage of the functionality. This led me to create a clone of the classic Space Invaders game. Since I was primarily concerned with learning the canvas element, the Space Invaders clone was written as a monolithic application. Upon completing Space Invaders I wanted to create another game and further refine my abilities. However, in order to take advantage of the code that I wrote for the Space Invaders clone I would have first had to perform significant refactoring, so I decided to just start from scratch and write generalized classes that I could easily reuse.