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!
So yesterday I posted this on implementing a web service to track the current Homeland Security Terrorist Alert Level. This was after seeing Matt's post on the topic. So in my email bag today, I received this:
It's bad enough we got to see the damn "High Alert" on the bottom of every news channel. The last thing I need is my computer telling me to panic. But, then again, I'm running XP so maybe I should :-)heh. About right.....
A Smalltaker comments on .NET - Marten Feldtmann says:
Extending ClassesInteresting. Sounds to me like the C language crowd continues to relentlessly not get the power of OO and reflection. Smalltalk and Lisp developers everywhere have to shake their heads again, just like 1995....It's not possible to extend already existing classes. This seems to be very strange for me. No extensions like late asMySpecialMethod or isMySpecialTestMethod can be added to already existing classes. Other people postings in the MS groups tell me, that people consider this as bad OO style and it's good not to have it. I can not agree with that. Actually I think, that they consider it as bad OO-style, because .NET has a very limited source code management (one class must be represented by one file) and would not be able to manage constructions like this. But MS has noticed the drawback and announced to introduce late class extensions to .NET in the future. Perhaps this is then not seen as bad OO-style in the future.Compile, Run, Debug cycleThe development cycle is very short in .NET, but on the other side it's much longer compared against Smalltalk - no doubt about this. .NET is still the old way: edit, compile, test. Debugging: ok, nothing compared against the possibilities of Smalltalk.DeploymentIs this trivial ? Actually I do not know it yet, but I noticed, that I could not run several assemblies from the Internet, because it told me, that it could not resolve the version number of some prerequisites.language - or library orientedThat's interesting: Looked into several books about C#, but most of the books describe the language: syntax etc - which is essential, but the libraries are not mentioned very much. .NET seems to be a language oriented system, and not a library oriented system. Look at some books and try to find out, how to read or write a file - in several books I've not find any hints about this ! Then you must read other books.Class BrowserAgain a strange world: a very large library, but no real Class Browser for browsing around. No good tool available. Some smart guys try to write browsers, but actually they never had seen Smalltalk - what a pitty ! Because with reflection very much of the Smalltalk Browsing stuff could be done. But according to some postings, the .NET world is file oriented. Source code must be in ONE large source file, all other possibilities seems to be strange ideas.Stored ProceduresWith .NET we see a push of using Stored Procedures ! Microsoft recommend the strong usage of stored procedures (of course: SQL-server :-))) to improve the speed of the applications.The good points DocumentationSource code and documentation can be combined in one file and there's a way to create pretty good source documentation.XMLXML is very well supported. If I see all these problems we had with VAST one can see, how much power MS put behind this idea.Tools, that work togetherOne can see, that the tools within VisualStudio work together - that is nice to seeA large, large library Please take into account, these points are "fresh" impressions from a Smalltalker working in .NET for one week now and they may be simply wrong.
In building the runtime for BottomFeeder, I accidentally edited a necessary parcel out of the build script. The upshot? Lots of feeds didn't parse, due to the lack of XSL in the runtime. So I'm posting a new set of runtimes, which should be ready for download in about 2 hours.
If this rain keeps up, my new address will soon be in the Chesapeake bay, which will have expanded all the way up here..... First 2 + feet of snow, now 1 to 3 inches of rain. Feel the joy....
Looking around for new feeds while the rain pours down, I came across this. Yet another post on how to dull the pain of working in languages like C# and Java - here, just add these 10 time wasting steps, and all your troubles will be gone!. I suppose that's too harsh, but there it is. This whole Mock Objects thing is just too amusing for words:
PERFORM UNIT TESTING WITH EASYMOCK - Unit testing has grown in popularity partly due to the growth of eXtreme Programming. However, writing strong unit tests can be a boring chore. Mock objects can help reduce the tedium by faking the objects surrounding the target to be tested. The mock objects are then used to check that relevant calls were made to the target. EasyMock is a quick way to create mock objects while maintaining the power of unit testing.Those of us using Smalltalk (or other dynamic languages) just shake our heads slowly. We can write the tests that refer to non-existant objects, have them fail, and incrementally add the real objects. No time spent on bogus objects that might not accurately test out, no money spent on products to fill that gap. iMNSHO, this is a large part of the productivity gap between Smalltalk and languages like Java and C# - theres just so much extra work to do in them....
I posted my latest replay tv troubles the other day. Today, I figured I'd try one hard reboot of it to see if it would work well enough to tape a few things off of before it went back. No dice; that killed it. Soo off it goes, back to Sonic Blue. Then I had to rewire the TV, and get frustrated by that - I wanted to pipe an RCA video jack out of the VCR and an S-Video cable out of the cable box, both to the same input on the TV. I had hoped that cables would both work, based on the TV/VCR switch on the VCR. sigh No such luck. Now I just need to replay back, so that I can get a reasonable number of inputs and outputs going with high quality cables again....
On weekends, we tend to play a lot pf boardgames with friends. We used to do a lot of role playing - I have my own game system even. That gradually ended though - it turned out that most of the wives like D&D style games a lot less than the husbands did. So we took to playing board games a long while back.
For a long while, we played a lot of Cosmic Encounter. My wife especially likes this game; it's got a lot of randomness. We got tired of that though, and found a lot of other great games - we spent a long time playing Settlers of Catan and it's various variants. We still play a lot of that - it's a game that stands the test of time.
What we have been playing recently is Puerto Rico. This is a truly great game. It moves quickly, and players get an action on every turn - you never really wait for the other players. At this point, we are playing a lot because I've won the last 4 or 5 games in a row - typically by one or two points - over my friend Mike. He's vowed to keep playing the game until he wins.
I highly recommend this game - it plays well, is very well balanced - and seems to play differently each time out.