The Lines of Code That Changed Everything

To shed light on the software that has tilted the world on its axis, [Slate’s] editors polled computer scientists, software developers, historians, policymakers, and journalists. They were asked to pick: Which pieces of code had a huge influence? Which ones warped our lives? About 75 responded with all sorts of ideas, and Slate has selected 36. It’s not a comprehensive list—it couldn’t be, given the massive welter of influential code that’s been written. (One fave of mine that didn’t make the cut: “Quicksort”! Or maybe Ada Lovelace’s Bernoulli algorithm.) Like all lists, it’s meant to provoke thought—to help us ponder anew how code undergirds our lives and how decisions made by programmers ripple into the future.
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File or Path Name Too Long? Find out before you do your backup

Those of us who back up our devices sometimes get a message that some file couldn’t be backed up because its name — more likely its file path name — is too long. Lim Electronics‘ website offers a free, small, easy-to-use program called, appropriately enough, FindLongNames, that lets you check your Windows machine for files whose name or pathname is longer than some number of characters you specify, so you can do some adjustment beforehand and hopefully not have to deal with the long-name problem after your backing up procedure has run. Their page of free software includes other programs you may want to check out.

Learn and see some Internet history

The million dollar homepage is still online, a snapshot of the internet circa 2005, but many of its links are dead, or point to different websites, their owners reaping the rewards of prior investments. captured some iterations of the website, and the linked sites from there, and Web has been capturing UK sites since 2004, but not all sites are so lucky, either predating Internet Archive’s start in 1996 (the first webpage exists only as a copy, reposted a year after the first one went up in 1991), or missed by web crawlers (Wikipedia). These are some of the reasons why there’s so little left of the early internet (BBC). “

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It’s Your iPhone. Why Can’t You Fix It Yourself?

Excerpted from Go there to read the whole article, and comments.

“A giant John Deere tractor and a pocket-size Apple iPhone have something important in common: The cost of repairing either one is too high.

The two companies, and many of their peers, use a variety of aggressive tactics, including electronic locks and restrictive warranties, to push customers with broken equipment to seek help from their authorized repair facilities — or to give up and buy a replacement.

This is unfair to consumers who might be able to obtain, or perform, lower-priced repairs. It’s unfair to independent businesses that might do the work. And it’s bad for the environment, because the high cost of repairs leads people to toss devices that might have been fixed.

Late [in March 2019], Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, proposed a national right-to-repair law for farm equipment. The idea is based on a 2012 Massachusetts law that requires carmakers to provide the information necessary to perform repairs and to sell any special tools needed to do the work. The law also phased in a requirement that new cars be compatible with generic diagnostic tools.

Ms. Warren has the right idea, but she did not go far enough. The owners of consumer electronic products deserve the same protection as farmers.”