My favorite TV night, Tuesday. Both Buffy and 24 are on, and both were very good again. 24 especially - it had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. The story line connecting the elements working against the President (Palmer) and the terrorists (Ali) look to be converging. They've done a great job of relentlessness so far. I'd be looking forward to Angel tomorrow, but my local WB station insists on showing ACC basketball. As if I care about that....
I had a problem the other day packaging a BottomFeeder build with ResHacker. It had been working fine under Windows ME, but did not seem to work after I upgraded to XP Pro. I got things going by grabbing a newer release of ResHacker. Now I get word from Anthony Lander that the version on the CST CD works fine in XP if you first delete the executable file that will be created when you use it. So either download the newer version - I found it here, or delete any old executables before you use the old version.
I finally discovered how some people thought they were getting registered, but had not, in fact gotten registered. The Registration process is a two step thing - first you register, and get sent an email. Then you login, and get sent to the download page. The problem was on that login page - some people apparently hit the "I forgot my Password" button by mistake, and the application was not dealing with that properly - it was simply sending an email, without ever checkking to see whether the user in question was activated or not. That's now handled - such inadvertant mistakes will now be far more gracefully handled. I apologize for the confusion...
Gordon Weakliem has an excellent post on software development up today. He links to Jon Udell, who makes the assertion that "the film industry's project-oriented, just-in-time assembly of resources and talent":
This is really interesting because I was talking to a friend who is both a software engineer and an amateur filmmaker, and he was drawing paralells to software and filmmaking; for example, a filmmaker shoots a lot of film, but doesn't really know how things are going to turn out until the editing process. Which is a lot like software, where it's even more difficult to see where you're going until you get to integration. What's funny is that last night, we were talking to a mutual friend who's a project manager for a construction company. He described his job as "protecting his boss' money", in that the builders will come up with a proposal for how to complete part of a project, and he's the guy who tells them to come up with a cheaper solution. My filmmaker friend exclaimed, "you're the producer!", as in a film producer, who's supposed to rein in the director and the people involved in actually making the film. So I had the realization that the construction industry works this way as well: a builder or developer generally doesn't build anything, they hire people to build it for them. So somebody gets the job of contracting and scheduling the work of concrete workers, drywallers, plumbers, electricians, painters, etc.That's a great analogy, IMHO. Gordon makes a number of other good points as well, relating all of this to the industry's "standardization" trends - J2EE yesterday, .NET today, gosh knows what tomorrow. Go read his whole post - I'm not going to be able improve on what he has to say.
This is just funny. Linux Today quotes Sun's CEO:
"Industry analysts and others who suggest otherwise are plain wrong", Sun CEO Scott McNealy said at a news conference in San Francisco yesterday at which the company unveiled a flurry of new products and services. "They just don't get it. That's all right, they haven't for 21 years," McNealy said. "Right now, HP and IBM are reading the analyst reports and saying Linux is going to happen and they're abandoning their Unix customers..."Hmm. I guess McNealy didn't notice this. And speaking of not getting it, there's the entire Java language - a prime example of utterly ignoring the prior art in Smalltalk and Lisp, and shoving out a half baked implementation. Not to mention that in doing so, they handed large checks to IBM and commoditized their entire product line. There's someone that doesn't get it, alright. McNealy needs a mirror.
If you use VisualWorks, run - don't walk - to the public store and load the RBCodeHighlighting package. It is configurable via the system settings, and does the coloring/highlighting as you type. Highly recommended. Kudos to John Brant, Anthony Boris, and Holger for collaborating on this!
So yesterday I posted some on the tense 24 episode and the latest Buffy offering. This yielded this message from an Australian associate:
And on a different but vitally important note - please be very very careful not to give away any plot for 24, Buffy and Angel on your blog. They have only just started running the new series of each in Australia this week so we are somewhat behind.Heh. I'll do my best.
The rush towards Web Services is interesting. Here's a brand new, text (text!!) based RPC mechanism that is being touted as the interoperability miracle. Wasn't that CORBA once? Yes, there's one big thing that Web Services has that CORBA does not - UDDI, a lookup service. In theory, one can query for existing services in a public registry, and then go use one. That's the theory However, the reality is just a trifle different. Let's take a really simple example - RSS. There are thousands of blogs out there (as well as news sites, etc) syndicating their content via RSS. You would think that this would be a natural for UDDI and SOAP - register yourself as an RSS feed with a registry, along with some keywords on the type of content you provide. Voila, easy to find. Go ahead and do a SOAP query for RSS Feeds - BottomFeeder implements one. Exactly three feeds come back, all from Microsoft. Now go to Syndic8.com - there are tons of feeds there, available directly or via OCS or OPML. This is just an example - here's a widely used service, and one where you would think that UDDI and SOAP would be highly useful - but no one is using it. Heck, these technologies are highly attunded with the Blogosphere, and the API of choice for using Blogs is the Blogger API, an XML-RPC thing. Sound and Fury, signifying nothing? Perhaps. The good part for Smalltalk is that Web Services are (relatively) easy to support. VW, VA, and Dolphin all have support, so the level of "buzzword compliance" is high. Is it more than buzzwords though? So far, no.
Brian Livingston's InfoWorld column is just wild:
Users' ability to remotely use applications through the browser gets creamed, however, if they happen to install Service Pack 1 for Windows XP or various patches for IE 5.0 and 6.0. Breaking this ability was intentional. Microsoft designed the new patches to disable ActiveX controls that have security holes. Unpatched versions allow a malicious person to gain control of a PC when it views a specially crafted Web page or e-mail message. This is all described by Microsoft at http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=328002. In a related document, Microsoft explains how to restore remote access to users (see http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=327521). First, the company's terminal server must be updated with new software. Then, the relevant .asp files are edited to refer to a new class ID and file: CLASSID="CLSID:9059f30f-4eb1-4bd2-9fdc-36f43a218f4a" CODEBASE="msrdp.cab#version=5,1,2600,1095" Unfortunately, Tierney says, this change makes it impossible for users to print to a local printer, which is usually connected to their LPT1 port. The problem must be fixed by further of your affected .asp or .htm files. For example, you need to add a line to each file to re-enable printer redirection. Other commands also must be invoked to re-establish drive redirection under Windows XPWow. Wow. Applying a patch can leave you broken in ways you'll barely understand unless you read all the relevant files carefully. Simply amazing
Awhile back, I opined that a DC area blog meetup might be interesting. It turns out that there's a blog meetup clearing house. The next DC area meeting is February 19:
The Bloggers have spoken... The Weblogger Meetup in Washington, DC will be:Interesting. And email I've gotten indicates that the PBS' Lehrer will be covering this meetup.Wednesday, Feb 19 @ 7PM Dave & Busters White Flint Mall, Wisconsin Ave Bethesda, MD 20895 301-230-5151
It's funny living here after having grown up in New York; the ability to deal with snow and get schools open is so different. In that vein, two things struck me recently: the weather channel is predicting more snow Sunday into Monday, and the school year here has already been extended a week. My daughter is not happy about that. In fact, she's now asking my wife to stop every time she sings "Let it Snow".....
I've been migrating BottomFeeder to VisualWorks 7.1, which is due to be released at the end of March. I've run into some kind of RuntimePackager issue. Once I work through that, a new build will be posted.
From Alan Knight:
Smalltalk Solutions is a primary venue for Smalltalk professionals, regardless of dialect, to meet and exchange ideas. This year's conference is taking place in Toronto, Canada, July 14-16 2003. The program committee isGo ahead, volunteer!!Vassili Bykov - Cincom Systems Eric Clayberg - Instantiations Steve Cline - Knowledge Systems Alan Knight - Cincom SystemsPresentations involving Smalltalk technology, are requested in the areas of
The focus areas of this year's conference are business issues and internet applications. Presentations on these areas are particularly of interest, but submissions need not be limited to these topics. Presenters receive a free conference registration (one per presentation). Tutorial speakers will also receive a small stipend. To submit a proposal, please go to http://www.smalltalksolutions.com/participate/participate.htm Proposals should be received by March 15, 2003.
- Experience Reports
- Technology Demonstrations
- Technical Presentations
I've moved BottomFeeder to VisualWorks 7.1. This allowed me to get rid of most of the extensions and overrides, and also enabled a more responsive application. The tree view in 7.1 is far better, and we have enabled the +/- controls for it. The latest DEV build is a 7.1 build.
The weather channel is now telling us to expect a pretty hefty amount of snow. i just shopped two days ago, so I'm in no mood to head down to the Giant - it will be packed with the "bread and toilet paper" crowd - whenever snow predictions come for Maryland, it seems that everyone is convinced that this is it - the snow storm that will leave them housebound for weeks. So I was looking forward to not going, but it seems that my wife - a native Marylander - has succumbed to the local affliction. So off I go to brave the crowds....
There is a new version of the Pongo IM client available as a BottomFeeder plugin. Anthony has been doing quite a bit of work, and addressed some bugs. Pull down the Plugins--Available Plugins menu and download it now!
New S# Language Adds Capabilities for .NET Developers In an interview with David Simmons, CTO of SmallScript Corp., we learned about a new .NET language about to debut, the ins and outs of its gestation, as well as some insider history behind the creation of the .NET platform. ... Think way back-back in the ur-ages of OOP development-and one language probably comes to mind before any other: Smalltalk. Even though it was one of the world's first true object-oriented programming systems, Smalltalk's technical underpinnings have survived to the present, and you can see its influence in the object models of both Java and .NET. For example, Smalltalk introduced the idea that all data types in a programming environment are objects, including even base scalar data types, such as Integers and Strings. In an exclusive interview with DevX Wednesday in San Francisco, David Simmons, SmallScript Corp.'s Chief Technology Officer, chief architect of S#, and a seminal force in the Smalltalk community, related the story of the ups and downs of Smalltalk in the 90s as well as the creation of S#. He has been building commercial Smalltalk implementations since 1981.Always good to see mainstream notice of Smalltalk!
Even Java is becoming superfluous. Java is the Dan Marino of software. Just as the former Dolphins quarterback, Java affected the world so much that history cannot be written without its mention. But nonetheless, neither Java nor Dan ever won the big one. So here is the prognosis. Sun lost $2 billion last year and will probably lose another $2 billion this year. At that rate, the company has at most five years to live. They have just renewed a commitment to the Solaris operating system, which is no longer really viable from an economic standpoint. I know, I know, Solaris users love Solaris, but they don't love Solaris prices. And with a falling market share, Sun can't afford to make Solaris any cheaper. Sun is having the same problem in hardware where their SPARC architecture is falling behind, and -- worse still -- has lost nearly all of its manufacturing support in Japan. Both Solaris and SPARC will absorb vast sums in the coming years and yield absolutely no increase in Sun's market share as a result.There's more in the piece, but those posted losses are the interesting part. No company can sustain those sorts of losses for long, and if that trend continues, I give Sun a lot less than 5 years. The interesting part will be th expression on the faces of all the Java true believers when they realize that the JCP is merely a nicety - and that Sun falling will make for changes in the Java world. Even if it gets Open Sourced - hello, code forks.
There's an interesting article over on the O'Reilly net, making some points about comment sections and websites:
There's a very interesting trend happening in the arena of micro-publishing. And it's one that, I believe, is connected to the idea of Communities taking place at < 150 people: the death of the 'Comments' section on websites. People don't like to make comments on websites like they used to. Instead they make comments on their own website where they have a voice. I'm not going to tell you that blogging is a new phenomenom (no kidding?!). But what is new is that people aren't just using them for their own original publishing, but are replacing the beloved 'comments section' of popular websites. Think of it this way. Let's say that there is a really interesting story on Slashdot about a subject close to your heart. You wish to contribute to the conversation taking place, but have not commented in the first 200-300 comments. You're voice is generally lost among those already written. Not a terrible thing, but just the way it is. Who is heard among a mob? (I use slashdot only as an example of a mob. Webloggers are out scooping slashdot on a regular basis.)Slashdot is a great example of this. So many people read and comment that it's hard to keep up, and hard to tell whether any comment you make was heard at all. One of the nice things about running a web log is that you get your own megaphone. Sure, it's smaller - My readership counts in the hundreds (daily), not the thousands. But any comment I make here has a decent chance of generating a comment and/or an email - i.e., a conversation. Any comment I make on slashdot is simply lost in the haze. I'm sure that the same thing happens with the larger and more popular blogs - in the political realm, Instapundit doesn't have comments at all, and Little Green Footballs often has comments numbering in the hundreds on individual posts. In the technical realm, Sam Ruby has a wide enough readership that he started a comment RSS feed - and it tends to be large. What I notice in my own reading is that as the number of items in a feed (or comment thread, etc) grows, the liklihood of my doing a 'mark all read' action increases. There are only so many hours in the day....
Picked up a Smalltalk book the other day, I do intend to learn Smalltalk so that I can research its use in .NET and see what changes it has in its OOP support. I have heard great things about Smalltalk so this going to be one heck of a journey :)This relates to this post from earlier today. Looks like Smalltalk is getting more notice from the .NET crowd!
Today I added support for the Google Web Services search API to BottomFeeder. So now you can execute Google searches without leaving the tool.
Chris Double is looking for a Linux news aggregator. Well, all he needs to do is browse here.
I added two new BottomFeeder features after nearly killing myself on a toboggan earlier - I don't think my daughter's knee did a whole lot of good when it landed in my ear... Anyway, I added two new things:
- A Google Search interface. The Search Tool now has Google as a search option
- IE Favorites Import - You can import IE FaVorites into BottomFeeder. This is a Windows specific feauture.
whether BottomFeeder can use the same data files across platforms. Mostly, yes. The btfSettings.ini file actually stores directory separators - soomething I need to fix. The actual data files themselves are easily shared - and in fact, that was the point of the FTP save/restore feature. Since I'm looking at 3 feet of possible snow today, I probably have time to address this issue....
Look at all the platforms that BottomFeeder, an RSS Aggregator, supports. You'd be hard pressed to get that sort of portability with Java even. Cincom Smalltalk seems to be very portable. I'm assuming there is no platform specific code in there?There's no code that forces platform specific versions. There are some additional features on Windows - using the registry, it's possible to use an existing browser to launch an URL, whereas on other platforms, I have no idea how to do that. We just launch a new browser on other platforms. But there's nothing that ties an existing image to a platform - the image is portable.
Everyone else has commented on the news that Google bought Pyra, makers of Blogger - so I may as well add my two cents as well. Looks to me like validation of a market.
Take a look at the snow hitting the east coast. We've had more than a foot so far, and it's still coming down - the local forecasts are telling us that it will get heavier later. I took some shots with my webcam - if I had a digital camera, I could do a lot better:
|Yes, that's my car over there. The side facing the yard is completely packed in - gosh only knows how I'll get in the car when I finally get a chance to get out.|
|Those are my neighbors. Having the snow blower has made me very popular this winter ;-)|
|Another shot of my car|
I've decided to change the way I deliver BottomFeeder. Up to this point, I've been delivering monolithic builds with the application and the runtime packaged together. What I've been working on today (in between snow clearing) has been a new packaging scheme. When the 2.8 release comes out, you'll see this:
- Tar gzip file for each platform. These will contain the directory structure, the base Smalltalk runtime, and the VM, along with the application. The application will be shipped as a parcel which loads at startup.
- Updgrading to a DEV build or a new version will be as simple as downloading the parcel - the only time I expect to be shipping a new runtime and VM is on new releases of the base VisualWorks product
It snowed all night and into the morning here (with about 1/2 inch worth of ice in there for fun). I spent a good long time clearing that this morning - it was hard even with the snow blower. The plow came by (which baffled me - we live on a street with no outlet, I95 has one lane open, and my street gets plowed. Go figure), and that made it harder - I had a drift about 3 feet high to deal with. That had to be chopped down before the blower could even go after it. To give you some idea of how much snow we got, here are some more pictures:
|My daughter gets started on a snow fort|
|My neighbor's kids building a fort|
|My daughter and the neighbor contemplate the job in front of them. Meanwhile, I'm stuck on a conference call....|
Yes, we are pathetic here in Maryland. Schools are closed tomorrow, as are the local (and federal) governments. Word is that side streets won't be plowed for 1 or two days. At least the power stayed on. In the meantime, I posted the new DEV builds for BottomFeeder. Over the next few weeks I will likely be building new runtimes fairly often (VW 7.1 is still under development). However - once VW 7.1 ships, the runtime should stabilize, and updates will mean just a download of the application parcels. In this case, that's BottomFeeder and Twoflower, and compressed, that's less than 250k.
Yes campers, it's snowing again! The forecast says it's just a tail end dusting - I'm crossing my fingers. Meanwhile, no sign of the 51 inch TV we bought last week. It was supposed to be delivered today - but that kind of assumes roads you can drive on....
Yesterday, I posted on the new deployment process. I'm uploading the first attempt at that now. I re-arranged the download pages as well - DEV builds have their own page now. There will be some shaking out of this over the next few weeks - for one thing, VW 7.1 hasn't shipped yet, and we are now based on VW 7.1. That should stabilize within a few weeks, as we get closer to the VW release date.
Here's one I see in the news every so often - the impending outage of phone numbers. The culprit used to be fax machines, then cell phones. Now, it's VOIP:
Someday soon North American telephone numbers might add up to 12 digits, including area code, instead of the current 10. Verizon, Qwest and BellSouth have urged the Industry Numbering Commission, which regulates the distribution of telephone numbers in North America, to "be proactive" about what the phone companies see as the newest threat to the dwindling supply of available phone numbers: voiceover Internet protocol, or VoIP.I'm sure that phone numbers will run out eventually. The problem with the frequent alarms is the very real "little boy who cried wolf" problem. Yell about every time a new trend comes along, and no one will pay any attention at all...
Buffy and 24 were on a roll again. 24 especially - it's reminding me of how I felt the first time I saw Terminator - it just keeps coming at you, head on, no stop. Barely time for air. i'd go into details, but I've been asked not to. Suffice to say, another good Tuesday of TV
If you visit the download pages for Cincom Smalltalk NC, you'll see a better layout. The downloads are grouped in a way that should make it easier to find things. Download NC Now.
I'm not going to pass comment on this here - but it is an amusing parody of a 404 page. Skewers everyone
Schools are closed again tomorrow (Thursday). The news this morning showed road crews still clearing lanes on the beltways (which explains the lack of cleared snow on the secondary roads around here). I must have some important politico on my street - it was plowed the first day!
I've been unhappy with the layout of various web apps that I manage on this server for awhile now, and I finally decided to do something about it. The survey app, the download pages - they were all sharing a template that I got from marketing awhile back. The tabular layout pushed all the content way, way over to the right, and wasted a lot of space. So I changed all of them - they are far, far simpler now - which means that they should load faster and be easier to view. Let me know if there are any problems.