Slowing down Wall Street

Wall Street, lately, has been using high-speed trading to allow insiders to front-run trades by ordinary investors. So, for example, when an outfit like TIAA-CREF (pension funds for teachers) tries to place an order to buy shares of a company they like, other investors’ computers can detect the trade before it happens, buy the shares, … Read more

Electronic type, past and future

Hail and farewell for now, Mike Parker 1929-2014! (obituary)  I met you in the 1980s. You visited Chicago Aerial Survey when you were working on better typography for maps. Thanks for your good work on behalf of readable electronic documents! Welcome to Savir Mirchanandi and his mentor Peter Pinko. Pittsburgh middle-schooler Mirchanandi figured out why … Read more

Publicly Available Datasets

Sometimes learning to use data systems like MySQL means you need to get your hands on various publicly available sets of data. Here are some sources. Pro Publica, the investigative news powerhouse, has a Data Store. It’s mostly health care related material. Not all their datasets are free, but some are. If you’re interested in … Read more

The Vincenty great-circle distance formula

This Vincenty formula is a more numerically stable version of the spherical cosine law formula (commonly and wrongly known as the Haversine formula) for computing great circle distances. The question of numerical stability comes up specifically when the distances between points are small. In those cases the cosine is very close to 1, so the … Read more

A useful tool for writing

Check this out! an online tool for looking over text we write and scoring it for readability. Try it on the next memo or blog post you crank out, and weep! When you’re done weeping, tighten up your writing!

New emailer services

Here are a couple of emailer services. This one needs investigating. This provides an API, and a WordPress plugin called wpmandrill. It’s a freemium service allowing up to 12K messages per month unpaid. It integrates nicely with WordPress, and provides pretty good SPF and DKIM email-authentication support.