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Push-Button Books

Instant printing--and a hoped-for deal with Google--will remake book publishing

3 min read

11 November 2009—We're an on-demand culture, accustomed to fast-food speed, drive-through convenience, and the virtual world's unlimited choices. And if a New York City–based start-up has its way, a 16th-century innovation with a 21st-century twist will soon satisfy those tastes. This summer, the company, called On Demand Books, released the latest version of the Espresso Book Machine, which can turn out a factory-quality softcover book in the time it takes a barista at Starbucks to whip up your favorite fancy coffee drink.

While the pages are printing, a separate full-color inkjet printer processes the cover on thick paper stock. The machine then glues the pages together, which are then pressed to the cover and held in place for a few seconds until the glue sets. Finally, drawing on metadata included with the book's digital file, the machine automatically positions a robotic arm to cut the book to the exact trim size called for by the original publisher.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
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A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar
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You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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