Five short links

Photo by Brian Gurrola

How removing one data field saved $12m – A perfect example of why testing against reality is so important. It’s like code profiling, you never know where the bottlenecks are until you measure. via Felix Salmon

Ack – I’m doing a regular series over at ReadWriteWeb, trying to cover some of the folklore that’s typically passed down informally through the programmer ranks. I did one on using grep to search your source, and forgot to mention Ack, despite having used it and loved it with Textmate. Luckily the commenters kept me honest, so check it out, it really is better than grep for source code searching.

Google Refine – A very tasty looking open-source project from Google, designed to make it easy to import semi-structured data. Alex Dong has got my hopes up that it might be the missing tool for data scientists that I keep dreaming of, so I’ll be testing it out as soon as I have a chance.

GISCloud – The GIS world is one of the last holdouts where desktop software still rules. It’s inevitable that the tools will migrate to the cloud, so I’m excited to see how this progresses. via Andraz Tori

What Killed Aiyana Stanley-Jones? – This story is important because it builds a rounded picture of the factors that led to the death of a little girl in Detroit. Whatever your political persuasion, there will be parts that will back up your existing views, but other sections that may surprise you. With everything from reality TV crews to corrupt judges playing their part, there are no easy conclusions. It’s the sort of article that we need more of, exploring the problems rather than just cherry-picking them as evidence to push a solution.

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