The internet is a series of pipes…

Congratulations to the Pipes team for releasing what I think will be one of the most innovative and powerful web applications to be released this year. If they keep pushing on this front, I’m sure they will be for web publishing what Ableton Live has been for electronic music production (i.e. create an entire new class of musicians).

For those of you who haven’t read about Pipes yet, it is a visually rich application that allows you to plug streams of information together in semantically interesting ways. Tim O’Reilly has done a much better job of describing it than I can.

And seriously, the name pipes was chosen before Ted Stevens said anything about internet plumbing…

Latitude/Longitude lookup

I’ve been needing to lookup the geo-coordinates of a number of places lately, and couldn’t really find the perfect solution for what I needed; MapQuest is from 1995 and none seem to provide a bounding box. I have to say that the Yahoo Maps AJAX API is dead simple, and making my own only took a few minutes. Click the following picture to open the finder in a new window, then resize/drag/zoom to find your location:

Or, if you’re afraid that I’m making you change your popup preferences so that I’m IN UR BROWSER KILLIN UR D00DZ, you can also find the project here: http://overstated.net/projects/lat_lon. And the source.

Aural debug

Standard coding environments are fairly regular in their approach to the process of debugging, relying heavily on a programmer’s visual representation of the computational process. Research at Loughborough University suggests that using other parts of the perceptual apparatus can help coders identify and repair code in considerably less time.

Paul Vickers and James Alty have been developing a system which visualizes Pascal programs as music, and have shown considerable performance gains in bug identification. Subject’s musical knowledge did not seem to affect their results, which suggests that their aural representation takes advantage of a universally untapped cognitive resource all coders posess.

New Scientist: Musical approach helps programmers catch bugs

Research results (PDF): Musical Program Auralisation: Epirical Studies

Vicker’s PhD Thesis: A Musical Program Auralisation System…