Technobabble: Spaces beat tabs, at least where salaries are concerned

Also, AI makes a waka waka stride and Marissa Mayer wants to use Gmail again

Technobabble is our look at the more colorful aspects of technology and the tech industry. Be sure to check out last week's edition about how there's "no fuzz" about Russian hacking

Opinions about the proper way to code can:

A) Ruin relationships

B) Manifest in financial advantages

C) Don't always matter

D) All of the above

Take the debate around spaces vs. tabs. While some have a blasé attitude and don't think one or the other matters, some take other programmer's coding preferences personally.

Immortalized in season 3 of "Silicon Valley," software designer and creator Pied Piper Richard Hendriks ends a budding relationship because his love interest uses spaces, not his preferred tabs.

While the show portrayed a comical characterization of coding preferences, there really is a widespread debate in the coding community over whether developers should use spaces or tabs. Some even refer to the debate as a "holy war" for software programmers, Stack Overflow notes.

But the debate can now come to an end. In a survey of 28,657 professional developers, Stack Overflow found 40.7% use tabs and 41.8% use spaces — a pretty even split.

Here's the kicker: 12,426 of those survey respondents also provided salary information. So, Stack Overflow put the two together and found that coders using spaces to make indentations earn higher salaries than those who use tabs. 

Stack Overflow

You might think perhaps it was a random correlation, but David Robinson, a data scientist with Stack Overflow, went one step further and found that even within subgroups of developers — such as programming languages used or job type — spaces beat tabs.

Using spaces, however, won't guarantee you a higher salary. After all, "correlation is not causation, and we can never be sure that we've controlled for all the confounding factors present in a dataset," Robinson said.

Maybe, just maybe, Stack Overflow's analysis will allow the great debate rest. Or not.

One macro thing

A lot has been made of Marissa Mayer's time as CEO of Yahoo. She was widely criticized for the way she managed the company, predicting the end of her leadership long before rumors of an acquisition surfaced or the revelations of the mega breach.

Mayer resigned Tuesday as the $4.48 billion acquisition from Verizon closed, leaving her with a $23 million payout. Even with all the flak, Mayer highlighted just how difficult her job was, while speaking at the AccelerateHer event in London, Business Insider reports.

While at the helm of Yahoo, her job was to "get out of the way," Mayer said. While she tried to reinvent Yahoo as a publisher, rather than a company leftover from the internet boom, Yahoo teams continued to build products and commence business as usual.

It's hard to come into a company and shake things up. She said while it may not be possible to change a company's long-standing culture, she tried to make Yahoo the best version of itself.

But what's next? Mayer has not said, however since she no longer has to use Yahoo products, she welcomes using more Google products.

One micro thing

Another week, another advancement in artificial intelligence. This week Maluuba, a Canadian deep learning startup acquired by Microsoft this year, announced it had conquered Ms. Pac-Man, the Atari 2600 version.

Employing reinforcement learning, Maluuba achieved a maximum possible score of 999,990, according to a Microsoft blog post. It was a true case of divide and conquer: To master the game, the team divided the large problem of winning Ms. Pac-Man into smaller pieces and gave it to AI agents.

Those 150 different agents worked together to master the game. Many researchers use videogames to reinforce learning, but Ms. Pac-Man offered a wide variety of situations players could encounter, making it one of the more difficult games for machines to beat.

One last thing

Do you prefer Apple products? Are you a brand loyalist who can trace your technology collection through an archeological layer of retired products in your basement? Well then we've found just the thing for you. 

For $18,750 you can own a pair of sneakers, size 9½, produced exclusively for Apple employees in the 1990s.

That's right, Heritage Auctions will begin accepting offers for the sneaks on June 26. StockX authenticated the sneakers are legit and are valued at $30,000.

Heritage Auctions


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Filed Under: Software Leadership & Careers
Top image credit: Marcin Wichary