I first had a blog when they were still called “web logs” (yes, kids, that’s where it comes from) – I never thought it would take off, though I also thought it was one of those ideas (like intranets – remember them?) that were so beautifully simple that I wish I had thought of it. So, what do I know anyway?
This site has an extensive online quiz on computer languages.
I managed just 11/75 (actually it was 12/75 but I pressed the wrong key when typing ‘Java’): a miserable 14.67%.
I missed some of the languages I use regularly yet got some I have never used, or maybe not used for close to 30 years (though I did, relatively recently, translate the Reingold-Tilford algorithm for drawing Red-Black trees from the original Pascal into C++, so maybe that helped.)
I imagine in Michael Gove‘s world, this has been a good week. The UK’s secretary of state for education has been in the news a lot this week, and that seems to be the key metric for him – after all his qualifications for the job essentially seem to be that he was once a journalist (and a militant and active trade unionist – a friend who worked with him at the BBC once told me he was deployed to ensure that “the Tories all came out” during disputes at the Corporation in 1994.)
The two equal pinnacles of Mr Gove’s week would appear to be his writing a preface (!) to the Bible that he is sending to all schools (he doesn’t seem to understand that Catholic schools – of which there are rather a lot – will not use the text he is sending them, never mind the questions of what the state-maintained Jewish and Muslim schools will think) and a speech he gave to Cambridge University earlier in the week where he waxed lyrical about high literature but seemed to have nothing or next-to-nothing to say about engineering, maths and science.
I have just written that amount of code in what I persist in thinking of as a toy language (it was actually somewhat longer until I refactored the code to group some common functions together),
At the end my conclusion is that I don’t really see why anybody would want to write that much client code if they could possibly help it. Of course it transfers the computational burden to the client – but at the cost of hundreds of lines of interpreted code which is essentially under the control of the people who write the engines in the Firefox and IE browsers. In the real world that points towards a support nightmare.
Having written a fair bit of Perl (and AJAX) stuff in the past the whole thing felt unnatural – dozens of lines, much of it designed to handle the differences between the browser engines, that could have been handled simply on the server side.
One thing that I was convinced of was the potential power of XSLT: though I was not quite prepared for the revelation that it is Turing complete (ie it would be possible to write some XSL that would process any algorithm/task solvable through a finite number of mechanical steps). Though I shudder to think of how big a stylesheet would be required to handle all but the smallest of task.
But the potential power of XSLT is not the same of thinking of many practical uses for it!
If you have then chances are you are working on some XSL/XSLT (the above comes from a piece of coursework I am working on which manipulates an XML representation of data from the CIA World Fact Book).
The error indicates that your XSL is broken and non-compliant and the problem is that Firefox/Mozilla is much stricter about what is broken than it is likely your command line XSLT processor is: the piece of XSL which generated the above message seemed to fly through xsltproc on my Linux box.
The best way to fix this is to take out the lines, one by one, from your XSL and look for the one that breaks the transformation. To avoid being inadvertently tied up in some issue of plagiarism later on I cannot post the XSL I was working on when this came up, but I had a line like this:
It also took me a while to find an online explanation, so I wrote this.