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.
Bethesda MD, actually. Tonight there's a blogger meetup in the area - I'll be attending and taking notes. Should be interesting to see other people in the area, assuming that their streets have been plowed.
The blogger meetup was pretty cool. There were only 4 attendees (including myself), but it was agood crowd. It was also neat that the Lehrer Report (PBS) had a crew there to interview us - they are doing a story on bloggers, and wanted to talk to us about what we do and why we do it. They got the crowd they wanted - none of us do political blogs - there's mine (Smalltalk), an economic blogger, and one on web advertising. So why do I do this? Heck, damned if I know ;-) I guess I just like to be able to spout off to an audience....
I've posted new BottomFeeder dev parcels on the site - just put the unzipped parcels in the "app" directory. Zoom has been fixed, and a problem with updating the read/unread status of feed list items has been addressed as well. Now, I've got to get back to real work - a Smalltalk and .NET white paper.....
Apparently Scott Knowles takes better notes than I do. Check out his blog on web advertising; he seems a whole lot more reasonable on this topic than the people placing the web turds I see a constant stream of. Also check out John Iron's economic blog - Not sure I agree with his take, but he writes well, and he's thought provoking - both on the blog and in person.
Here's an interesting take on Web Services and IT vendors:
Can big vendors give up tight coupling? For all the lip service they pay to web services, it may not be in the best interests of big vendors to encourage their customers to move to a more loosely coupled IT architecture. This was an idea that came out quite strongly during the preparation of this week's article on web services integration by enterprise software vendors. Having assembled the research, it became quite evident that established vendors are just adding a web services veneer to their products, but they'd still much rather have customers base their IT around a single vendor's suite. Therefore, any enterprise that really does want to realize the benefits of web services will have to turn to a web services integration and management platform from one of the specialist startups, rather than relying on companies like SAP or Oracle to pave the way for themI thought that was perfectly clear - this is just the latest iteration on "open systems" to come down the pike. Nothing much has changed, other than the acronyms (X/Open, anyone?). Same game, heck, some of the same vendors. The more things change, the more they stay the same....
The Packager took out some code that the Smalltalk runtime needed, so I'm in the process of uploading new ones. If you are using a BottomFeeder dev build, then grab the full distro again in about two hours.
I was thinking about creating a web service that would spew out the current terrorist threat level. When it got to the implementation phase, I decided that it was probably not wise to poll a web site at whitehouse.gov in order to parse out the current threat level. I thought about it, did it a few times, got it right, and decided not to deploy it. Secret Service Agent: "Can you explain why a machine on your network has polled the whitehouse.gov exactly every hour for the past two weeks?" Matt: "Uhh..."Heh. Maybe I should build one as a BottomFeeder Plugin.....
There was an interesting bug in the last set of parcels related to the UI layout change. The current dev parcels should be downloaded and replace what was uploaded last night....
So my new tv arrived today. This was cool - another toy to play with. Well, that's what I thought. The reality was way uglier. First, a valve in the out pipe from my sump pump burts - I found this out while pulling audio cables in the basement. Joy, there went a call to the plumber and a few hundred bucks. Went quick though - the guys I called were really fast. Ok, on to the tv. Move the cables, get the Replay reattached - oops, no network connection. No network! Check the cables, boot the notebook off it - comes up, sees the network. Oh joy, back to Sonic Blue tech support. I've dealt with them before, and I dreaded the talk. Sure enough: Me: The replay isn't seeing the network Them: Have you turned your firewall off? Me: My other Replay sees the net just fine Repeat until truly annoyed Sigh. I finally cadged an RMA number out of them. Customer service. Hah!