I've been going off on Microsoft's DRM (PVP-OPM) for awhile now, and this morning's news from Boing-Boing is just icing on the cake. Their rationale for why they need to implement things this way? It's just too hard to keep up:
A Microsoft spokesman has described their DRM licensing scheme as a system for reducing the number of device vendors to a manageable number, so that the company doesn't have to oversee too many developers.
Oh, but it gets better:
The bombshell was Amir's explanation of the reason that his employer charges fees to license its DRM. According to Amir, the fee is not intended to recoup the expenses Microsoft incurred in developing their DRM, or to turn a profit. The intention is to reduce the number of licensors to a manageable level, to lock out "hobbyists" and other entities that Microsoft doesn't want to have to trouble itself with.
The specific quote, according to this post:
"We don't want this technology to be available to every hobbyist. We need to keep the number of licensees down to a manageable number. We charge a license fee to keep the number of people we have to deal with down to a level we can handle."
So those of us with older devices and content we paid for? We just have to suck it up. This is not an *cough* upgrade *cough* that MS is pushing with Vista. Forget all the happy talk from Scoble; there's not a whole lot of beneficial new stuff here; that all got jettisoned back when Vista was well over a year late. The interesting aspect is what they decided to keep: updated file system? Nah. DRM that hoses off people with existing display devices and legally owned content? Yeah, that needs to stay in.
Sure, Apple has DRM included in the iPod/iTunes system - they aren't a white knight. On the other hand, they aren't telling me to bend over either.
Microsoft can take their shiny Vista and (insert nasty comment here). I'll stay with XP, and make sure my new x86 hardware isn't running Vista.
I love these guys. A group of newspaper publishers is lashing out at Google (and other search companies) over supposed violations of copyright:
The Paris-based World Association of Newspapers, whose members include dozens of national newspaper trade bodies, said it is exploring ways to "challenge the exploitation of content by search engines without fair compensation to copyright owners."
Web sites like Google and its specialized Google News service automatically pull in headlines, photos and short excerpts of articles from thousands of news sources, linking back to the publishers' own site. Google News does not currently carry advertising.
"They're building a new medium on the backs of our industry, without paying for any of the content," Ali Rahnema, managing director of the association, told Reuters in an interview.
If this were actually about controlling content, these publishers would have solved it already - by blocking the various search bots in robots.txt. Since they haven't, we know it's not actually about copyright. Instead, they want (just like the telcos!) to find a way to get deep pocketed Google to make charity payments to them. Since Google's not biting, they hope to get what they want via rent-seeking.
There's a strange bug in BottomFeeder - if you hit F12, the application locks up. The reason for that is that the system tries to pop up a class that's not in the runtime. That would be ok if I hadn't aliased the name - I did that sometime last year, because of some other problem.
In other words, the dreaded "bug fix that creates another problem" :)
Anyway, there's an update available that fixes that - grab it if you've run into this.
Has MP3 killed the radio star?
A number of youth-oriented radio stations around the world have reported falling listenership.
Ironically, the rising popularity of music through MP3 may be the cause. (Someone told me today that some radio stations have a playlist as short as 25 song that they play in different order, so not surprising if they are losing listeners to an iPod with more songs.)
Years ago, when FM receiver prices came down, FM radio just killed AM radio in the music business. When I was a kid in the late 60's and early 70's, AM radio was filled with pop music. By the end of the 70's, FM owned the dial, and AM was in free-fall (it later recovered with talk radio).
Why did that happen? Because FM delivered a better music experience. Less static, lack of interference when you drove under wires/bridges - it just sounded better. Now music players are doing the same thing to FM radio. No loss of signal at all (until the battery runs down, anyway :) ), and no annoying chatter from the "personalities". For all the nostalgia you hear for local dj's, I've always found them annoying - if I'm listening to the FM dial, I want music, not talk. If I want talk, I'll tune to the AM dial (or grab a podcast).
You can also ensure that your player is filled with music you like - you don't get interrupted by the occasional tune that just grates on you. On the other hand, that illustrates an issue - where do you find new tunes without radio? Peer recommendation, I suppose - but someone has to be hearing the new stuff somewhere. Other than that though, a music player delivers a better experience. If FM radio wants to survive, it's going to have to do better than limited playlists.
AR50145: VW Internet Explorer Plugin broken in 7.4
Starting any of the plugin demos and examples raises an exception MNU: #urlDecode
The ar50145.zip download contains a complete replacement for the VisualWorks \plugin directory. The Plugin parcel, as well as the distribution units for deployment, and the example html pages have all changed. The ActiveX Control DLL has not changed.
To update the plugin test samples, simply open the \plugin\examples\index.html and select one of the samples to run. This will update the VisualWorks plugin installation on your machine.
If you have deployed a VisualWorks Plugin application, please consult the \plugin\deploy\readme.txt for instructions to rebuild and redeploy your application. You will need a new plugin image (containing the new Plugin parcel) and new CAB deployment files. It is also critical that the OBJECT tags in your HTML pages be changed to reference vwpluginax.cab#version=-1,-1,-1,-1 so that Internet Explorer will download and install your new CAB files. If you explicitly reference the version of the VisualWorks Plugin ActiveX Control (which did not change) IE will not install the new VisualWorks components.
Some security breaches are just caused by raw stupidity at work. For instance - look at how the Boston Globe managed to give out personal info for a bunch of subscribers:
Credit and bank card numbers of as many as 240,000 subscribers of The Boston Globe and Worcester Telegram & Gazette were inadvertently distributed with bundles of T&G newspapers on Sunday, officials of the newspapers said yesterday.
The confidential information was on the back of paper used in wrapping newspaper bundles for distribution to carriers and retailers. As many as 9,000 bundles of the T&G, wrapped in paper containing subscribers' names and their confidential information, were distributed Sunday to 2,000 retailers and 390 carriers in the Worcester area, said Alfred S. Larkin Jr., spokesman for the Globe.
In addition, routing information for personal checks of 1,100 T&G subscribers also may have been inadvertently released.
One word for these guys: Shredder.
It's been a very mild winter here on the east coast - the ski operators on this side of the continent must be crying in their cocoa. Have a look at this picture I snapped yesterday, January 31st:
I took that shot while getting my car inspected. See those trees covered in red buds? Strange weather pattern this year.
Now AT&T is showing how stupid they are - here's CEO Whitacre:
AT&T's CEO Ed Whitacre is once again crowing about his company's plans to extort money from Google and other Web sites who want to be able to reach AT&T customers. "The content providers should be paying for the use of the network," he told the Financial Times, and added that they shouldn't "expect a free ride."
Hmm. Two things come to mind. First, the pipes are being used by people who use Google (et. al.). So the proper charge point is - wait for it - the consumer end. Second - there's this line item that comes in on my cable bill every month - I bet Google gets one just like it, but with more zeros at the end - it's my internet access charge. In other words, AT&T (and the rest of them) are being paid. If he thinks that we aren't paying our way, then he should be more honest, and advocate a rate increase.
Instead, he might start supporting truth in advertising, and call himself Tony - as in Soprano.
Heh. This will teach me to read dates carefully. This only just showed up in my aggregator, but it's 2 weeks old. Dohh.
Learning Seaside announced a Seaside talk by Lukas Renggli, the author the wiki system described below. Sounds interesting, and Annecy is apparently just 30 minutes by car from Geneva.
Where: LISTIC - ESIA
LISTIC - ESIA
5, chemin de Bellevue
Domaine universitaire d'Annecy-Le-Vieux
When: Mercredi 18 Janvier 2006 a 18h
Un petit apero sera servi donc envoye un mail pour dire si vous comptez venir a firstname.lastname@example.org
Pier -- A Meta-Described Collaborative Content Management System
Wikis are often implemented using string-based approaches to parse and generate their pages. While such approaches work well for simple wikis, they hamper the customization and adaptability of wikis to the variety of end-users when more sophisticated needs are required, such as different output formats, user-interfaces, wiki management and security policies.
Pier 2 (smallwiki.unibe.ch) is the second version of a fully object-oriented implementation of a wiki. Pier is written with objects from the top to the bottom and it can be customized easily to accommodate new needs. In addition, SmallWiki is based on a powerful meta-description called Magritte that allows one to create user-interface elements easily. In this talk I will present some of the unique features of Pier, such as how pages can be composed and integrated into other web-applications. Furthermore I will create a small extension to demonstrate how to customize and add new functionality easily
When the subject of timing came up, I didn't look at the calendar - so I'm flying out to California on Sunday during the Superbowl, for meetings that start Monday. Next time, I'll examine the calendar. I'm heading to Cincinnati first, tomorrow, for related meetings. If you have ideas/thoughts/criticisms/praise for the products - ObjectStudio or VisualWorks - now would be a great time to let me know - I'll be meeting with the entire engineering group.
Brandon Werner checks out Cincom Smalltalk, and likes what he sees:
Needless to say when I first downloaded it from Cincom’s website after playing with Squeak a great deal, I had no idea I was downloading what amounted to a complete J2EE-like application environment. I didn’t even know it existed. There is a lot to play with, and I’m impressed Cincom has done so much work on the Smalltalk platform.
I highlight this product not only because Smalltalk is a great language and has a nice following (especially with the explosion of Ruby, which uses much of Smalltalk as it’s inspiration) but because I wanted to highlight on this blog what a company like Cincom in Cincinnati is doing. Admittedly, Cincom, even in Cincinnati, has a low profile vs. other large companies headquartered in Cincinnati (Convergys, Kroger, 5/3rd Bank, ect.) , and in an industry where if you’re not where the action is you’re not noticed, this company deserves some more respect for it’s work.
You can check it out as well; grab the non-commercial product here.
Morgan McLintic doesn't sound completely sold on this idea, but it seems natural to me - most press releases are ads, and we might as well treat them as such:
PRWeb, an Internet newswire service, has teamed up with Pheedo, an RSS advertising network, to deliver press release headlines in RSS ads. Pheedo already provides context-based RSS ads. Now it will draw content from PRWeb press releases and display the headline and subdeck in those ads. So basically your press release turns into a direct-to-end user advert. The releases selected are context-based around categories such as entertainment, mobile, technology and small business. The theory is that RSS feed subscribers will read the press release headlines and visit the PRWeb site to learn more.
Blaine has details on the first meeting of the merged Smalltalk and Ruby groups in Omaha:
Check out the details at: http://www.blainebuxton.com/odynug.
If you have a laptop, please bring it! Cafe Gelato doesn't have a place to project the screen so we thought it would be cool to allow everyone to VNC into Brent's machine while he gives the talk. This is the first time that I'm trying something like this. We tried it the other day and it worked wonderfully.
There's always a new moron on parade. Take John Kiel Patterson, for instance - he's suing Apple, claiming that the iPod can cause hearing damage. I have a tip for this idiot - so can anything that makes sound and has volume control. Headphones can be plugged into nearly every A/V device on the market - so why is Apple uniquely at fault?
The right answer here would be to fine this guy for whatever time of the court he's wasted thus far. How do we know this guy is just looking for a payoff? Well, this graf is telling:
Patterson does not know if the device has damaged his hearing, said his attorney, Steve W. Berman, of Seattle. But that's beside the point of the lawsuit, which takes issue with the potential the iPod has to cause irreparable hearing loss, Berman said.
Now, if I could just find my cluestick...
I am no longer stuck in the house during the work day - my car is back. A couple of weeks ago, the engine dropped dead, and it took my mechanic longer than he thought it would to find a good replacement. That's done though, and the car is functional again. With any luck, I'll get a lot more life out of this car - I only drive about 3000 miles a year :)
I've been busy on the prototype replacement for the main Smalltalk site recently - that's why I haven't had much to say about BottomFeeder. So what do I have planned? Well, first thing is to get a development build out that's based on VW 7.4. I got a working one up this afternoon, but I wasn't completely happy with how many things I left in; I want to try and make it smaller. That's a technical detail though; what's on the slate:
- NTLM support. The application already supports Digest and Basic Authentication schemes; I intend to add NTLM shortly
- Some kind of support for OPML reading lists. What that'll likely entail is an overhaul of how Feedlists currently work.
Well, other things as well - but my cab just pulled up - so I have to dash out.
memerocket asks when a full blown IDE will be delivered in a browser:
Smalltalk's browser paradigm will not be bound to an aesthetically-impaired user interface technology. Like Crichton's Raptor, it has found a way out. It has broken free into the (web) browser. For now, this has resulted only in a marginal usability improvement — LiveWeb has about the same Aesthetics as Squeak's browser. But how long will it be before LiveWeb gets its face lift? If Avi Bryant and friends can create a web application as visually striking as dabbledb, it's only a matter of time before they, or someone else applies the same level of care to LiveWeb.
How long will it be before a complete IDE is delivered as a web application? To varying degrees, Eclipse and IntelliJ IDEA are stuck on the same island that Smalltalk was. They're all trying to be graphically rich and run on many platforms. They're all expending lots of resources maintaining UI toolkits (think of Eclipse's Rich Client Platform ). And the resultant UI technology, while often innovative and sometimes pleasing, suffers a “credibility gap” when compared with platform-specific technology on the Mac or Windows. When will the IDE's throw their weight behind the DHTML+AJAX crowd and embrace the “third platform”?
Well, there are still - even with help from Ajax - fairly severe restrictions on the level of usability you get from a browser. As well, I'm not sure I want to be debugging over the wire regularly - it's cool for a test server environment (or even for a deployed server) - but I'd rather have direct access for normal use, thanks - dropped network connections can just ruin your entire day.
Having said that, the tools that Seaside ships with are very cool, and make for a heck of a demo of Smalltalk's capabilities. Which you can find in Cincom Smalltalk, btw - there's a Seaside port to our VisualWorks environment.
When I was growing up, I had an allergy to dust. That got treated, but I think some of that has resurfaced. Last night at the hotel, I was allergic to something - I think it was the pillows - in my room. I ended up having to take two bendryls to stop the cough. That made waking up this morning a real joy.
Ahh, the joys of travel...
I'll be speaking in NYC on March 1st at the NYC STUG - I'll be going over what's new in ObjectStudio and VisualWorks, and what's on our roadmap. Have a look here for information and directions.
The main reason I am so irritated by IE 7's lackluster user experience around RSS is that you only get one chance to make a first impression. Using IE 7 will be the first time millions of people will be introduced to RSS and it would be unfortunate if they come away from thinking that is potentially transformative and liberating technology is simply a kind of "bookmarks that nag you all the time" feature.
Looks like I should download the beta and have a look myself.
I've been engaged in a planning meeting most of the day, so posting has been pretty light. I've flagged a bunch of stuff for comments in BottomFeeder though, and there are over a 100 feeds in there with unread items - a lot to look at on my flight home :)
Never used a computer before, much less downloaded music? Not a problem - the RIAA is very equal opportunity minded that way - they'll sue you anyway:
"Marie Lindor, a home health aide who has never bought, used, or even turned on a computer in her life, was sued by the RIAA in Brooklyn federal court for using an 'online distribution system' to 'download, distribute, and/or make available for distribution' plaintiff's music files. She has requested a pre-motion conference in anticipation of making a summary judgment motion dismissing the complaint and awarding her attorneys fees under the Copyright Act."
Yeah, these clowns are all about improving my music experience...
Tim Marman notes that offshoring to save money is like chasing your own tail - the costs always rise, and then it's time to look for another low cost provider. The world isn't infinite though, and the list of viable low cost providers is shrinking:
It's the Hyundai Effect : Not so long ago, Hyundai was seen as an inferior product compared to competitors Toyota and Honda. In order to lure that portion of the market, they had to offer something different, and the easiest way is value: give the customer just as much, or in some cases more, for a nice discount. As people become comfortable with the Hyundai in the same breath as those competitors, you no longer need to rely solely on a discount to make people notice. (In some cases, higher prices are actually better because many - perhaps rightfully - believe that too cheap equals poor quality).
Going further back, I recall the phrase "cheap Japanese products" from my childhood in the 60's. When was the last time you heard someone describe anything from Japan as "cheap"?
This news from the IEBlog is welcome - a lot of moves to comply with the existing CSS standards - which will make for less hackery going forward. Good job by Microsoft's IE team, who also admit that there's more to be done.
Ok, this is truly apropos of nothing, but it's kind of cool - a slow motion movie of a water balloon popping. The cool part? How the water retains the shape of the balloon in the instants after the pop.
Time for that weekly log post: This week's Bf downloads went at 217 per day, which is in line with the (now corrected) numbers. The details:
On to the HTML page accesses for the blog:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
That looks about the way it usually does. Finally, the RSS tool accesses:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
|Net News Wire||10%|
I broke some detail out of the "Other" category this week, and discovered that a fair bit of the traffic is coming from the Google RSS reader.
From what it looks like, the German websites of car maker BMW have been kicked out of the Google index. BMW.de at this time has a PageRank of 0. A search for BMW Germany, which only days ago yielded BMW.de as a top result, now doesn’t show any sign of BMW.de at all. Instead, BMW.com BMW’s international site is on top for this search.
There are a lot of marketing departments that will want to pay attention to this.
This was inevitable - email "stamps" that will let senders bypass spam filters. AOL and Yahoo are both doing it:
The Internet companies say that this will help them identify legitimate mail and cut down on junk e-mail, identity-theft scams and other scourges that plague users of their services. The two companies also stand to earn millions of dollars a year from the system if it is widely adopted.
AOL and Yahoo will still accept e-mail from senders who have not paid, but the paid messages will be given special treatment. On AOL, for example, they will go straight to users' main mailboxes, and will not have to pass the gantlet of spam filters that could divert them to a special bulk e-mail box or strip them of images and Web links.
There are a couple of downsides to this approach though. First, the initial stages of this will likely see multiple "pay to send" implementations, which will be a pain to deal with. That won't be easy to solve, either - email (unlike postal mail) isn't run by governments, so getting a single, unified system that works across borders won't be easy.
The second problem is bigger, IMHO. These fees guarantee that mail will bypass the filters of the provider (Yahoo, AOL) - but not that the email will bypass any client filters in place. You can get a Yahoo address and have it forwarded to another personal account, or use POP to get your mail downloaded outside a browser. At which point, a client side filter could ensnare the email. For example, mail sent to my cincom address has to first get past the corporate filter, and then past the client side filter on my end. I've had mail get snagged by one and not the other, as well as by both.
The upshot: the fee you pay does not actually guarantee delivery. Which is going to be a problem.
We've received a lot of interest to host the 2nd annual Smalltalk Coding Contest at Smalltalk Solutions 2006. The current plan is to hold the contest on the final day of Smalltalk Solutions in Toronto, April 26, 2006. As is the theme for Smalltalk Solutions 2006, all Smalltalk dialects are welcome. There will be prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.
More details will be released on March 1st. If you are interested in participating, please contact Michael Lucas-Smith
We have a prediction of a $200 price point for the Nintendo Revolution:
Another analyst prediction to throw into the pile, this one a glimmer of hope for those who are a little short on cash. Perennial US analyst PJ McNealy predicts that the Nintendo Revolution will hit shelves at a modest $200 price tag.
Of course we all know the official announcement that the Revolution will retail at "less than $300." But surprising is the $100 drop that McNealy predicts to be the edge over the Revolution's competitors, the Xbox360 and the Playstation 3.
Of course, it's all speculation right now - but if that's true, Nintendo will stay near that all important "impulse buy" price point.
The "Alien" series of movies was creepy, not least because of the way the larval aliens used humans as a womb. It turns out that such parasitic behavior is not unknown (or even rare) in the insect world - have a look at this story about a specific kind of wasp:
As an adult, Ampulex compressa seems like your normal wasp, buzzing about and mating. But things get weird when it's time for a female to lay an egg. She finds a cockroach to make her egg's host, and proceeds to deliver two precise stings. The first she delivers to the roach's mid-section, causing its front legs buckle. The brief paralysis caused by the first sting gives the wasp the luxury of time to deliver a more precise sting to the head.
The wasp slips her stinger through the roach's exoskeleton and directly into its brain. She apparently use sensors along the sides of the stinger to guide it through the brain, a bit like a surgeon snaking his way to an appendix with a laparoscope. She continues to probe the roach's brain until she reaches one particular spot that appears to control the escape reflex. She injects a second venom that influences these neurons in such a way that the escape reflex disappears.
The roach is "owned" after that sting - the wasp leads it, like a dog on a leash, to a lair - which it seals the roach into. The effects of the sting are nothing short of astonishing:
The zombie roach crawls where its master leads, which turns out to be the wasp's burrow. The roach creeps obediently into the burrow and sits there quietly, while the wasp plugs up the burrow with pebbles. Now the wasp turns to the roach once more and lays an egg on its underside. The roach does not resist. The egg hatches, and the larva chews a hole in the side of the roach. In it goes.
The larva grows inside the roach, devouring the organs of its host, for about eight days. It is then ready to weave itself a cocoon--which it makes within the roach as well. After four more weeks, the wasp grows to an adult. It breaks out of its cocoon, and out of the roach as well. Seeing a full-grown wasp crawl out of a roach suddenly makes those Alien movies look pretty derivative.
Ampulex does not want to kill cockroaches. It doesn't even want to paralyze them the way spiders and snakes do, since it is too small to drag a big paralyzed roach into its burrow. So instead it just delicately retools the roach's neural network to take away its motivation. Its venom does more than make roaches zombies. It also alters their metabolism, so that their intake of oxygen drops by a third.
Especially since this is actual behavior, not a Hollywood special effect. The scary part of the whole thing is the that the wasp manages to completely subvert the will of the roach. It loses any instinct for self preservation, and just waits patiently to be eaten alive. Absolutely terrifying, when you sit back and think about it.
This NYC based VC has doubts about RSS being a viable replacement for email marketing, because he says it's still too hard to use:
Well I wish I was in charge of the business models on the Internet, but I am not. And as much as I'd like to see RSS replace email, it's just not going to happen overnight. RSS has to become brain dead simple to use.
When the soccer moms, myspace kids, construction workers, and grandmothers can use RSS, commercial email will give way to RSS. Because RSS is a lot better.
Hmm. With IE bringing up the rear, all the major browsers now have built in support for RSS/Atom. Which, to my mind, makes it easy enough for anyone to use. Email marketing is already dead, by the way. Spam filters - those at the ISP, corporate, and personal level - killed it over the last couple of years. Heck, I don't even read the email newsletters I asked for anymore - the spam filter eats them, and I can't be bothered to go dig them back out. I rather suspect that this is true of most people, and I think that highly touted "hundreds of thousands of subscribers" claims for email newsletters are so much whistling past the graveyard. No one is listening to that channel anymore.
The nice thing about syndication is who's in charge of it - the person who gets the message. Sure, you can opt out of email lists - but it takes work. Typically, a message sent to a specific address (not necessarily the same one you receive the mails on), in a specific format. Like me, most people just yawn and let the spa,m filter grab it instead.
With RSS, you simply delete the feed from your subscription list if you don't want it anymore. This ceding of control is what scares marketers - they think they have something of value with an email address. Here's a big whack with the cluestick - you don't. I have multiple email addresses, and new ones are free. Heck, I can give myself a new gmail address anytime I feel like it, and just never check it. That gives me a perfectly valid address for any form I need to fill out online, and one from which I'll never be bothered again. The bottom line is, you now have to actually earn the attention of people. Truth be told, you always did - marketers just preferred to lie to themselves about it.
Scoble is correct about RSS: it's already broken through. With support in both major browsers now, the large group of people who haven't actively gone after RSS are starting to subscribe to it as they see it come at them.
I don't often agree with Jonathan Schwartz, but I think he's got the right idea in his post today. He's talking about how making software freely available leads to wider adoption - and ultimately, payments for licenses and/or support:
The central topic of my presentation was free software - trying to answer the questions, especially from among the financial community, surrounding its impact on our financial results. Some still believe "free" can't be good for business - despite a rush of businesses predicated upon free . My point was that free software doesn't decrease revenue - it amplifies adoption. And radically simplifies customer acquisition and qualification.
That's exactly right, and it's what we do with Cincom Smalltalk non-commercial. Now, I differ with him as to whether or not completely free, open ended use works - the available evidence for that is pretty slim. It's very hard to build up a support-only business, as JBoss has been finding out.
The basic idea though - make it easy for people to get ahold of your software, so that they can see the value for themselves - is important. Sales forces are expensive, as are large scale cold calling operations. They are also extremely inefficient - targeted marketing campaigns tend to have dismal success rates. Far better to allow your prospects to select themselves, and have a heavily pre-qualified set of leads on your hands.
Dave Buck and Blaine have a couple of good posts up on the whole getter/setter issue (are they good/bad/indifferent). In the two projects I run - BottomFeeder and Silt - I tend to always have getters for instance variables. The rationale for that is pretty simple - I update both applications on the fly.
Silt is the server that runs this blog, and I patch it with bug fixes and new capabilities on the fly. Just recently, I added some information for the writers - the current number of pageviews that have been requested. I have the basic log scraping done by a cron job, and the specific count parsing done when it's requested. That's a somewhat expensive operation, as it involves dealing with large external files. So, I have the results cached, and the cache tossed whenever the file is updated.
I added the cache as an update - which means that direct variable access would be problematic. When you add a new instance variable to a class in Smalltalk, it gets added to all the extant instances as well - with a value of nil. Sure, I could write a script that makes sure they all get the right values. Or, I could do what I've been doing - make the getter a lazy initializer, and just have all accesses go through the getter.
I have similar reasons for doing this in BottomFeeder. I allow updates on the fly when new components are available on the download site. That means the dynamic reloading of a parcel, which gets into all the same issues I just went into above. So - lazy getters.
Which is why I said that I have getters for all new variables for pragmatic reasons. It just makes my ongoing maintenance job a whole lot simpler. Depending on how your application works, and whether it can get updated on the fly, your needs - and your code - may well vary.
I'll be in a planning meeting all day, so posting will probably be light.
I figured I'd miss the whole game yesterday, but I got lucky (after a fashion :) ). My flight from Dallas to San Jose got delayed, so I had some time in the terminal. It was late in the third quarter, heading towards the fourth. I caught the interception while Seattle was driving, and then wham - that gadget play for what turned out to be the put-away score. That had to be the play of the game, based on what I read this morning. So I missed the super bowl party back home, but at least I saw the coolest play of the day.
SCI FI Channel announced that Lucy Lawless joins the cast of its original series Battlestar Galactica in the upcoming third season.
Maybe "heads will roll". Heh.
Here's an interesting thing I didn't know - much of the worldwide telephone/internet traffic still flows through undersea cables. I kind of had it in my head that most of that had moved to satellites. There's a nifty map showing the flow on CNet news:
Say you read a lot of blogs and you're a compulsive commentor (commentator?) on said blogs. You start having difficulty keeping track of which entries you've vastly improved by adding your witty or poignant prose in the comments section. You may be in need of a tool like coComment.
Here's another, from the same blog, next post:
Let's face it. Blogs aren't a conversation. They're a soliloquy. It's just that, sometimes, the audience yells back at the actor.
We have a conflicted view in the blogosphere over this. On blogs with a low flow of comments, they tend to be useful - but as the volume of comments increases, the ratio of signal to noise just gets worse - just as it did on Usenet, Slashdot, and Digg. Pretty much, it's just the way online communities operate.
Javier Grillo-Marxuach, who is currently a writer and supervising producer on ABC's hit SF series Lost, told SCI FI Wire that the current season will end with more than the standard 22 hours of TV.
Time to keep the ReplayTV healthy :)
Ever since HP instituted its no-recovery-CD policy for some PCs, one thing has always puzzled me. Why would HP do it when any money saved on its Windows OEM deal with Microsoft would surely be spent several times over on the additional support costs, not to mention the bad will of frustrated customers? Recent gripes suggest that one answer might be that HP thought it could charge customers for that support.
"I had to pay HP for system recovery CDs because I wanted to reload everything when my computer was malfunctioning," one reader wrote. "My computer is over four years old, so of course it is no longer under warranty. I could not get the computer to recognize the recovery CDs that HP sent me, so I had to call the HP tech number again. Now HP wants to charge me $45 to tell me how to make the recovery CDs they sent me work. They said this happens a lot with these CDs."
This is an attempt to build out revenues from a perceived cost center - support. The difficulty is, it actually breeds resentment, angry customers - and, with the ability of the net to amplify word of mouth - lost future sales. The question management needs to ask itself is the one that can't be easily quantified: how many future sales are you willing to sacrifice in order to generate a few pennies in support? Sure, the pennies are quantifiable. They are also irrelevant to your long term health.
Chris Anderson says that the blockbuster movie is dead, because people are watching in more niches:
It's not that people aren't watching films and listening to music, it's that they're watching different films and different music--we're just not following the herd to the same hits the way we used to. I'd guess that most of the decline in box office is due to the rise of the DVD, not a loss of interest in movies. Likewise for music, where the ubiquitous white earbuds suggest that music has never been a bigger part of our culture, despite the fact that CD sales are back to mid-90s levels.
Well, there's definitely some truth to that - there are a larger variety of entertainment choices, and they've been expanding for years - TV, video games, DVD's. However, I think he's calling death prematurely. There have been some actual "everyone goes" blockbusters - The LOTR movies and the "Harry Potter" flicks, to name two. "Chronicles of Narnia" comes to mind as well. The issue, I think, is that Holywood doesn't seem to want to make the kinds of movies that will break out big. Which is fine - it's their money, not mine. I think there's a path to success they could take more often though, and they simply don't want to.
I received a suggestion from Alan on speeding up parcel loads for BottomFeeder awhile back. I hadn't had time to look at it until just now, but I just tossed together some simple tests. Mind you, I haven't done a solid test on this yet, but the initial results look promising. Here's what a basic parcel load looks like:
Parcel loadParcelFrom: 'someParcelFileHere.pcl'.
Now, in my tests, I used the BGOK parcel (not for any specific reason; it was just a parcel that I didn't have loaded already). So, here's the small script I used for testing. I used code I already had in the PatchFileManager package so that reload exceptions were already caught. The basic code there looks like this:
[[Parcel loadParcelFrom: parcelFile] on: Parcel parcelAlreadyLoadedSignal, CodeStorageError do: [:ex | ex resume: true]] on: DuplicateBindingsError do: [:ex | ex resume]
That handles the kinds of exceptions that come up on parcel reload, and normally result in a dialog box. With that said, here are the actual tests, with timings:
mgr := UpgradeManager new. one := Time millisecondsToRun: [Parcel loadParcelFrom: '$(VISUALWORKS)\parcels\BGOK.pcl']. wrappedInitialLoad := Time millisecondsToRun: [SystemUtils modifySystem: [Parcel loadParcelFrom: '$(VISUALWORKS)\parcels\BGOK.pcl']]. reload := Time millisecondsToRun: [mgr actuallyLoadParcelFrom: '$(VISUALWORKS)\parcels\BGOK.pcl']. reloadWrapped := Time millisecondsToRun: [SystemUtils modifySystem: [mgr actuallyLoadParcelFrom: '$(VISUALWORKS)\parcels\BGOK.pcl'.]].
The initial load took between 650-680 milliseconds (labeled "one" above). I ran that a few times on clean image starts. Trying the clean load wrapped with SystemUtils modifySystem: , I got runs that varied between 450-470 milliseconds. Not tons faster, but if you start a system by initially loading a bunch of parcels, it would add up to real savings pretty fast.
Then there's parcel reload - the one labeled "reload" above, which is the way I deliver upgrades in BottomFeeder. That ran around 1600 milliseconds each time I tried it. That's a lot slower than clean load (you have relinking of the system, so that's not unexpected) - but the win came on the wrapped reload - that dropped down to around 1300 milliseconds. Again, not tons, but it adds up if you have more than one incoming update.
With these results in mind, I'm going to create a 7.4 based build of BottomFeeder, and do some testing with these changes. Looks like I could get a cheap win.