The curious case of the switch statement

The curious case of the switch statement” is a nice historical perspective on the switch statement in most modern programming languages, where it come from, and how it transformed over the years.  It starts of with ALGOL 58 (yes, a programming language from 1958), and traces the history down to the modern reincarnation of the statement to BCPL (1967!), where it looked like this:

switchon EXPR into {
    case CONST:

Apart from the historical perspective, there is an interesting discussion about how different languages approached the statement, how it varies, and what are some of the benefits of each implementation.

Kids react to Metallica

This video made me feel very, very old.  Ancient almost.  I grew up with Metallica and it is shocking to realize that kids these days don’t even know the band.  Apart from that, the reactions are funny.  New generation …

By the way, there are more videos in that YouTube channel (see the Windows 95 for example).   Radio Nostalgie … :)

The History of the URL

The History of the URL is a brilliant compilation of ideas and resources, explaining how we got to the URLs we use and love (or hate) today.  In fact, the article comes in two parts:

  1. Domain, protocol, and port
  2. Path, fragment, query, and auth

Read them in whatever order you prefer. But I guarantee that you’ll have a number of different responses through out, from “Wow! I never knew that” and “I would have never thought of that!” to “No way! I don’t believe it“.

And here is one of the bits that made me smile:

In 1996 Keith Shafer, and several others proposed a solution to the problem of broken URLs. The link to this solution is now broken. Roy Fielding posted an implementation suggestion in July of 1995. The link is now broken.

Rejected Princesses

Rejected Princesses is a series of illustrations of women whose stories wouldn’t make the cut for animated kids’ movies, illustrated in a contemporary animation style. Women too Awesome, Awful, or Offbeat for Kids’ Movies.

Lyudmila Pavlichenko

Love the website! All of it – the design, the content, the idea, the stories, the illustrations!  Found it by following the link to Lyudmila Pavlichenko story – the deadliest female sniper ever lived.

Latency numbers by year

Last year I came across a nice chart of latency numbers every programmer should know.  Today, I saw this page, which shows you the same latency numbers, but also provides a timeline from 1990 to 2020.

For some operations, latency is constant, because it’s based on things of nature – speed of light, distance between continents, etc.  For other operations, latency can be decreased through better technology and algorithms.

The timeline clearly shows the mind-blowing advance we’ve experienced in technology over the last three decades.

The Rise and Fall of .Ly

Jon Postel

The Rise and Fall of .Ly” covers some of the not so widely known Internet history, including The God of the Internet, Jon Postel:

Until 1998, the Internet had a “God.” His name was Jon Postel.

Postel was a computer science student at UCLA in the late 1960s. In 1969, he got into the Internet more or less on the ground floor, when he was part of the team that set up the first node of the ARPANET — which would lay the technological groundwork for the modern Internet.

In these early days, computers would refer to each other and the files on them by IP address. The earliest web addresses were strings of numbers, like: If you wanted to reference, access, or communicate with a computer, you’d type in its numerical address. As the ARPANET grew, its moderators compiled a single file mapping memorable names, often pronounceable strings of characters, to IP addresses. This file was named “HOSTS.TXT”, and it was like a giant phone book with every computer’s name and number in it. Hosts made copies of the master HOSTS.TXT. This system got more and more cumbersome as the network got bigger and bigger.

In 1983, ARPANET became a subnet of the early Internet. At around the same time, Postel, along with computer scientist Paul Mockapetris, devised a new system to name the various places of the web. Their invention, called the Domain Name System (DNS), took the role of the HOSTS.TXT file and distributed it across an eventually vast, multifaceted network of servers.

Celebrating Columbus Day …

Just in time for the celebration of the Columbus Day in the USA, links to a few sources (one, two, three) that suggest that the guy was not worthy:

Population figures from 500 years ago are necessarily imprecise, but Bergreen estimates that there were about 300,000 inhabitants of Hispaniola in 1492. Between 1494 and 1496, 100,000 died, half due to mass suicide. In 1508, the population was down to 60,000. By 1548, it was estimated to be only 500.

Understandably, some natives fled to the mountains to avoid the Spanish troops, only to have dogs set upon them by Columbus’s men. (Bergreen, 205)