Links for November 2019

I missed posting an October links post, so here is a ‘bumper’ edition, with lots of clickbait titles because I need that engagement.

‘Explorer takes 700 ms to put up a task-bar context menu.’ The reason is frankly terrifying, and makes me feel a lot better about all of the dumb code that I write.

A beautiful interactive graphical introduction to Fourier transforms. Now you too can make your own colossal mess of epicycles that draws a phallus!

How programming languages should report string length and the relative fairness of text encodings for different languages: much more than you wanted to know.

The expected time to check whether a list is sorted may not be what you expect.

It turns out that 1970s-era /etc/passwd files are no match for modern hardware, and it is therefore possible to crack Ken Thompson’s password.

Joanna Southcott was an 18th-century English woman who claimed to be the Woman of the Apocalypse and subsequently was allegedly pregnant with the Messiah (although the baby never actually appeared). She left a box of sealed prophecies and in the 1920s there was a major public campaign for it to be opened. The most interesting part is that she still has followers (despite her prophecy of the end of the world in 2004 manifestly not being fulfilled), although they have understandably downplayed the weird millenarianism.

‘Mordor’s dead cities, craggy mountains haunted by giant demon-spiders, black deserts, dark towers, and fiery chasms certainly intimidated foreign visitors, much like the National Mall in Washington, D.C.’

An analogy between the Trump administration and the reign of the Dark Lord Sauron.