Monday, July 21, 2008

Building a New Computer

Although many people are already experts when it comes to building a new computer from scratch, many others are still a bit intimidated by the concept of looking for each component, and putting everything together. For those who actually want to know how to build a computer, the computer help website "The How-to Geek" has put up an excellent tutorial about building a computer from scratch.

The tutorial is mainly divided into five parts (the titles are self-explanatory):

The tutorial is very thorough, and full of pictures and screen-shots which makes it even easier to read and follow. If you are interested to learn about building computers, make sure to check it out.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The History of Programming Languages

For 50 years, computer programmers have been writing code. New technologies continue to emerge, develop, and mature at a rapid pace. Now there are more than 2,500 documented programming languages! O'Reilly has produced a poster called History of Programming Languages (PDF: 701K), which plots over 50 programming languages on a multi-layered, color-coded timeline.

How It Started

We first saw the "History of Programming Languages" diagram, created by Éric Lévénez, while visiting our French office. We were so taken with the level of detail and the visual impact of viewing 50 years of programming history that we wanted to come up with a way to share it more widely. We started big. We printed it out full-size, all 18 feet of it, on our plotter and ran it along a wall at our Mac OS X Conference last fall. So many people came by to make notations on the diagram that we knew there would be a lot more interest and discussion if we could only get it in a more manageable format. With Éric's permission, we collected comments from our authors, editors, and friends, and rebuilt the file so we could print it at its current dimensions, 39" x 17". Éric maintains a site with his original diagram, change logs, an explanation of how he creates his charts, and links to additional resources such as Bill Kinnersley's Language List of over 2,500 programming languages. Éric also has Windows and Unix historical diagrams that he makes available for non-commercial purposes, all at

About the O'Reilly Poster

"Cool" is generally the first thing we heard from people who reviewed our poster. Then came reams of suggestions for additions to the diagram. We made only a small number of changes--in order to keep the file in a relatively manageable state that enables us to print and share the poster--but there is a high level of historical knowledge and personal experience of the events in this poster among our friends, authors, and editors. We hope to inspire and capture your comments and discussion here in our History of Programming Languages Wiki. Please note, however, that we do not intend to update the poster. Our walls aren't big enough.

Getting Your Copy

The poster is available online in PDF format (701k). You can also find full-size copies, while they last, at O'Reilly conferences (

Special Thanks

Thanks to all who reviewed and commented on this poster along the way, including Éric Lévénez, Mark Brokering, Mark Stone, Daniel Steinberg, David Flanagan, Ian Darwin, Tim O'Reilly, Mike Hendrickson, Laurie Petrycki, Geoff Collyer, and Mark Brader.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008


HTML 5 is the next planned revision of the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), which is a set of markup symbols or codes that can be inserted in files intended for display on Web browsers. In 2007, HTML 5 was adopted by the new HTML working group of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). This group published the first public draft of HTML 5 in January 2008. Refinements may continue for years before HTML5 becomes a formal recommendation.

HTML 5 is expected to offer numerous improvements over HTML 4, including:

  • New parsing rules for enhanced flexibility
  • New attributes
  • Elimination of outmoded or redundant attributes
  • Immediate-mode drawing
  • Drag and drop
  • Back button management
  • Timed media playback
  • Offline editing
  • Messaging enhancements
  • Detailed rules for parsing
  • MIME and protocol handler registration

HTML 5 will be designed so that older browsers that do not support it can safely ignore the new constructs, producing legible Web pages in most cases even if the syntax is not compatible.

Elliote Rusty Harold, an Adjunct Professor at Polytechnic University, wrote on IBM's developerWorks pages that HTML 5 will be:

...instantly recognizable to a Web designer frozen in ice in 1999 and thawed today. There are no namespaces or schemas. Elements don't have to be closed. Browsers are forgiving of errors. A p is still a p, and a table is still a table. At the same time, this proverbial unfrozen caveman Web designer would encounter some new and confusing elements. Yes, old friends like div remain, but now HTML includes section, header, footer, and nav as well.

> The W3C has published the technical details of HTML 5.
> The W3C also explains the differences between HTML 4 and HTML 5.
> There's a handy linked index to elements and attributes in the HTML 5 specification.