The pile of audio to be editing wasn't enough, so Michael, David, and I recorded a podcast last night. We spoke about the OS 8 project - actually, more on the idea of embedding some other language into VW in a similar fashion. That carried us back to IBM's VisualAge product line, and we sallied forth from there. I'm editing the audio now, and will have that and the jobs report ready later today.
When it comes to producing and, equally important, filtering and packaging creative work, the masses seem every bit as crass and conservative as the corporate overlords they're said to be replacing. Maybe more so, in fact. As Pareles writes:
The open question is whether those new, quirky, homemade filters will find better art than the old, crassly commercial ones. The most-played songs from unsigned bands on MySpace -- some played two million or three million times -- tend to be as sappy as anything on the radio; the most-viewed videos on YouTube are novelty bits, and proudly dorky. Mouse-clicking individuals can be as tasteless, in the aggregate, as entertainment professionals.
There's a phrase the two of them should read until it sinks in: One man's trash is another man's treasure. Supposedly "sappy" music is fairly harmless - why do they care? If the market enjoys music these guys don't like, it's no skin off anyone's nose. How many years has Hollywood been promoting utter dreck through the Oscars, while the rest of us go off to see movies that actually entertain us? Sometimes, escapism is all you really want.
Michael, David and I spoke late last night, on a variety of topics. We started out on modeling languages in Smalltalk (kicked off by this session from the Users Conference). From there, we ended up in a general discussion of the issues surrounding software sales.
My return from Europe interfered with this post; here it is, a day late. BottomFeeder downloads went pretty well last week - a pace of 208/day (plus the 30 or so per day I'm seeing from CNet). The details:
So that takes me to the HTML page accesses:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
Traffic dropped a bit last week, and it looks like most of the drop was from IE users - the Mozilla numbers are back on top. Finally, syndication numbers:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
|Net News Wire||8.9%|
|Google Feed Fetcher||6.8%|
|RSS 2 Email||1%|
No slacking off of tool diversity there.
Ballbug reports that the Yankees may be getting Pettite back - and possibly Clemens:
The Yankees' solution for their immediate future may come from their recent past. Andy Pettitte is committed to pitching again, and Roger Clemens could eventually join him for a reunion with the Yankees.
It's like "Back to the Future" here. I'd rather get younger arms, but those guys do know how to win.
There's going to be a break in production of Smalltalk Daily - or, if I do get to it, it will be later in the day. I have a lot of audio from the conference to deal with, and I'll be plowing through that for the next little while.
Jeff Jarvis throws out some thoughts on what internet media is and isn't - and how it relates to classic journalism. Like Jeff, I'm not sure that the old rules apply real well to this medium - it's a work in progress either way.
There's still too much hiss under Niall's talk, but you can hear the whole thing. In this session, Niall discussed strategies for porting a running system from one version (or dialect) of Smalltalk to another, while still making changes to the old stuff.
Nick Carr is suggesting that the music studios may be close to that "when all else fails, try some actual thought" moment:
Last week, I noted a Wall Street Journal article describing how online sales of digital music appear to be flattening this year. Because those sales are dominated by Apple's iTunes store, the numbers suggested that music companies would be under increasing pressure to seek strong new outlets for online sales, which would in turn likely require the sale of songs in unprotected MP3 format - in other words, without copy protection.
I predict another year or two of raw stupidity, partially propped up by the hope of device royalties (thank you, clueless chowderheads at Microsoft).
Technorati Tags: DRM
Hmm. It looks like Jason Pontin, who interviewed Bjarne Stroustrup recently, spent some time in a reality distortion field to prepare:
C++ remains the archetypal "high level" computer language (that is, one that preserves the features of natural, human language), and it is still used by millions of programmers. Many of the systems and applications of the PC and Internet eras were written in C++. For all that, the language remains controversial, largely because it is notoriously difficult to learn and use, and also because Stroustrup's design allows developers to make serious programming mistakes in the interest of preserving their freedom.
I might describe C++ in a lot of ways, but comparing it to "natural, human language" wouldn't be one of them. Stroustrup's comments in the interview are worth reading, but boy - the interviewer is living somewhere else. I wonder what color the sky is there?
Andrew McNeil, our man in Australia, has forwarded me this:
Due to public demand and the presence of a quorum there will be a xmas edition of the Sydney Smalltalk Users Group at the James Squire at Kings Street Wharf down at Darling Harbour.
Date and Time: Thursday 14th December from 6:00 PM.
No presentations are scheduled, but feel free to spontaneously break out in a demo. I should have a few CDs with me containing recordings of the Cincom Smalltalk Users Group conference in Frankfurt last week as well.
Look forward to seeing everybody there.
It's a fun group down there; enjoy!
Technorati Tags: STUG
Cees has a long post up comparing Smalltalk and Java - from the standpoint of a Smalltalker who has now spent a significant amount of time in Java. It's a long post, with fair critiques of both languages - well worth reading the whole thing. Here's the point I wanted to bring out, which I think is very important:
Ok, first what I miss - I dearly miss the image and the fact that a Smalltalk system is just always “there”, alive and waiting for your next command. In Eclipse, you will not find “Inspect” or “Debug” menu items in your pop-up, and I don’t think they are likely to ever appear. Although… Eclipse is already closer to a Smalltalk IDE than what I ever thought possible 5 years ago, so I’m not betting on it . But the system not always being alive is the biggest thing I miss - it hurts even more than the whole static typing thing.
There are a lot of benefits to having an image, and most people just don't even know what they are missing.
Here's the last session from Day one of the conference. Andreas Hiltner and Mark Grinnell went over the major differences between ObjectStudio classic and ObjectStudio 8, and what steps developers will need to take in moving to OS 8. This one is just under 39 minutes, and the noise levels aren't quite as bad as they were in the posts I put up over the weekend.
I had time to put together a Smalltalk Daily today - this is Smalltalk to Smalltalk Opentalk, using ObjectStudio to VisualWorks - and Windows to Mac. I'll be plowing forward with this example for a few days.
One thing that made me go ‘whhueungh?!?’ is the conclusion that ‘final’ is a big mistake. I thoroughly don’t get this. Personal experience and generally accepted wisdom both agree that as a rule extending classes is a bad idea unless a class was designed for it in the first place. In fact, I litter ‘final’ statements all over the place. It mostly marks a class as: Don’t try and extend this! Just wrap it - to any developers that come after me. This works out fine. Where there is a generic element to extract (e.g. The functionality conveyed by java.util.Collection and java.util.Set where a HashSet is concerned) there’s usually an interface which gives you the option of wrapping. I wonder which classes he’s so bent on extending.
This assumes that any class is ever "done". I'd argue that such a beast simply doesn't exist, and that - as developers - we have absolutely no idea how the next guy down the pike who has to look atc our code is going to use it. We can guess, we can make assumptions - but that's about it. "Final" simply bakes in our assumptions, and gives that next guy the middle finger. Not with the intention of flipping him off, no - but flipping him off nevertheless.
As I see it the [WS-*] is so large and complex, and the participants so tightly coupled, that scaling to even enterprise levels is out of the question.... you will not be able to use this technology to build a fully distributed enterprise architecture. I am shocked. I mean there is so much evidence to the contrary. Er, isn't there?
You can bet that lots and lots of enterprisey types will go with WS* though, because of the soothing balm of WS-fuscation coming from all of the analysts they listen to (along with the herd behavior they cling to) - better to be wrong as a group than to be right as an individual. When your highest desire is to sit in "low information density" meetings so that you can get other work done, it's easy to fall for this kind of crap.
Nick Carr points out one of the interesting conundrums in the free software arena: mostly, free software helps the big vendors:
IBM and Yahoo are pulling a Google on Google. The duo has announced that they'll start giving away a basic version of IBM's OmniFind software for searching corporate documents, undercutting one of the few products that Google actually charges for. Aimed at smaller companies, the free software can index up to 500,000 documents. Running on a server, it uses a customizable, Yahoo-like browser interface and integrates Yahoo web search results. Google currently charges $9,000 for a specialized search appliance - a piece of hardware called Google Mini - that can index up to 300,000 documents. The IBM-Yahoo offering undermines the market viability of the Google box in its current form, or at least at its current price, and also poses a threat to the efforts of corporate search specialists like Autonomy to expand into the small-business market.
The question you want to ask is this: were the bigger vendors generous with (hardware) license costs back when they gave away software in the early days? What makes all the advocates of free software think that the rules are different now - companies like IBM are not doing this out of a sense of altruism.
In this keynote session from the 2006 Cincom Smalltalk Users Conference, Heinz Ulrich Roggenkemper explained how SAP Development Labs are exploring the use of Cincom Smalltalk. Georg Heeg spoke briefly to explain some of the help given by his organization to this effort.
Gordon Weakliem notes that CAPTCHA is failing as a spam stopper - and that turning comments off for older posts is the best medecine:
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the only effective deterrent against weblog comment defacement is to disallow comments on posts older than a month. Sam Ruby's system seems to be effective as well, though IIRC that's a multifaceted system - forcing preview, throttling comments from a single IP, probably other things that I don't remember at the moment.
I go further; I turn comments off for any post that's off the front page (and thus, out of the feed). I can track problems as they occur that way. There are people who've been dismayed by this, but hey - it's simply part of the damage caused by the baser elements out there on the web.
Ralf Ehret of SAP Labs and Taylan Kraus-Wippermann of Heeg followed Mr. Roggenkemper's keynote with a a discussion of how Cincom Smalltalk and NetWeaver can interoperate. There was a demo in the middle of this, which showed the WS* communication. That part was not a whole lot different from the screencast I did hooking up VW to the Google API.
Mike Arrington (with other tech bloggers) met with Bill Gates recently, and posted on the meeting. Sounds like MS is starting to realize that DRM is a mistake (makes me wonder: is the royalty to the studios actually an attempt to buy a way out of DRM?). Anyway - that potential realization is good news. This was precious though - one of the things Arrington noted about the meeting:
Seeing the look on Gates’ face when he walked into the room and every single one of us had a Mac open on the desk in front of us - Niall Kennedy had also set up a makeshift wifi network using an Airport
At conferences, there are always a disproportionate number of Macs. Makes me wonder what the market numbers will look like in 2-3 years.
I was able to find time (in between audio editing - ugh) for a Smalltalk Daily. In today's screencast, we create a VW server which makes a Google API call via WS*, and an ObjectStudio client which requests spell checks from the VW server. As with the last cast, this shows interop between our two Smalltalks, and across platforms.
Suddenly and shockingly, Belgium came to an end. State television broke into regular programming late Wednesday with an urgent bulletin: The Dutch-speaking half of the country had declared independence and the king and queen had fled. Grainy pictures from the military airport showed dark silhouettes of a royal entourage boarding a plane.
Only after a half hour did the station flash the message: "This is fiction."
It was too late. Many Belgians had already fallen for the hoax.
This session from December 6th has Jochen Eckert explaining the RUT-K scheduling software built for Deutsche Bahn in Germany. There was an associated demo of the software, but I think this came across fairly well. You can find the slides here (PDF)
Another Enterprise Architect discusses why large enterprises no longer focus on productivity as there are many things much more important nowadays. I guess this leaves the Ruby on Rails and Smalltalk folks thinking we are enterprisey but in all reality, they need to start paying attention to forces that drive our economy or be doomed to derail
When you start thinking that trivia is more relevant than work, you've reached enterprisey nirvana. Filing reports may keep the regulators happy, but it won't pay any bills, or make customers happy. Somewhere along the way, an awful lot of people forgot that.
In today's Smalltalk Daily, we pick up where we left off yesterday, and add a GUI to the ObjectStudio client. This allows us to enter a misspelled word on Windows, make an St-St call over to VW on the Mac, and have the Mac send back the corrected spelling after a Google WS* invocation.
Slashdot asks "Why does everyone hate Microsoft?".
Hate is way too strong a word, I think. For an awful lot of people, it's simply a matter of seeing faults in the biggest player on the field. IBM attracted a fair bit of dislike back when they were the big guy on the block; MS is getting that now. Of course, like IBM back then, they don't help themselves much either. Consider:
- WGA: The activation scheme in Vista has the ability to disable your PC until you contact MS. Given the false positive problem, this is a PR problem waiting to get bigger
- Paying blood money to the RIAA: MS is big enough that they could have held the line with the Zune. Instead, they went along with the extortionists at the RIAA. A negative PR event was enjoyed by all
- Patch schedules: Patches to serious bugs? Monthly. Problems with DRM? Addressed immediately. Along with the above, it starts to make you wonder whether the studios have incriminating photos of someone high up the food chain at MS.
- PVP-OPM: Watch your legally owned content on any device you own? Not in Vista; again, MS sucked up to Hollywood.
For an influential company, they sure act like they are powerless in front of the studios. Most people's negative feelings come more from the constant security problems you get with Windows, along with the way you get bit rot over time. The stuff above doesn't help though; it shows a big company getting progressively stupider over time.
Vista Smalltalk is descended from a Lisp interpreter that I started working on several years ago. I switched to Smalltalk syntax when the kernel was finally able to support messaging and dynamic object creation.
Now, I have begun re-integrating the Lisp reader and some built-in functions back into the Vst package. The lisp capabilities include basic functions such as “apply”, “mapcar”, “dolist”, “dotimes” and “eval” as well as macro expansion complete with “backquote”, “comma” and “at-comma” forms.
Kind of like peanut butter and chocolate :)
Technorati Tags: lisp
Time for the weekly look at the logs - BottomFeeder downloads went at a rate of 166 per day (plus the 24 per day I'm getting from the CNet site - all Windows, that one). The details:
Who knew there were seven Dec Alpha users without an RSS reader? Anyway - off to the HTML page stats:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
Back to my normal distribution between Mozilla and IE; the traffic spike I had has fallen back to normal - and the distro has gone back with it. Finally, the syndication stats:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
|Net News Wire||7.1%|
|Google Feed Fetcher||6.5%|
|RSS 2 Email||1%|
No end of tool diversity there
Bob Lewis highlights an all too common problem in corporations: turf battles that involve IT:
I find myself in the midst of a turf war. The president of the company is battling the CIO over the issue of who should control the website. The president says it belongs in the Marketing department, the CIO says it belongs in IT.
Sometimes this is just a plain turf battle, and other times it's a sign of a much bigger problem: IT's real or perceived inability to execute. When business units start managing their own IT infrastructure, it's usually not because they have a real hankering for doing that; rather, it's because the IT department is seen as being incapable. That only leads to bigger internal turf battles - but the root probloem remains unsolved. Lewis gets to that issue here:
To the extent that the scope of the website encompasses areas beyond marketing, other areas also have content responsibilities - shareholder relations and recruiting being two of the most common. Another thought, that stems from the first, is that your president's thought process also worries me. He/she is making a common mistake - making a decision about organizational alignment based on the existence of a performance problem instead of fixing the problem. What I'm trying to say is that If IT isn't performing, keeping the website away from it still leaves the company with an IT organization that isn't performing.
Which points back to a general management failure. If business units won't utilize IT, that's a probably a sign that IT is broken. If management won't deal with that reality - and instead just tries to band-aid it by distributing responsibility (or allowing that distribution to take place) - then the root problem remains, and is a sucking chest wound for the entire organization. I suspect that this is a problem for an awful lot of companies.
If we assume Microsoft's costs per employee are about $200,000 a year, the estimated payroll costs alone for Vista hover around $10 billion. This is incomprehensible. A CEO has no idea how much his most significant product in six years cost to build.
Then the other incomprehensible "tidbit" is that it cost at least $10 billion USD. And they did not even get a new operating system out of it. The new product is really a face lift and some bug fixes on an aging infrastructure.
I'm sure someone at MS knows what the cost was; they use that for tax purposes. It's got to be an ugly number though, and it's even uglier if you ask: "Is there a truly compelling reason to move from XP to Vista?"
Technorati Tags: windows
Scoble has found a soft spot in Google's ad model:
Did you realize that over on Naked Conversations, our book blog about corporate blogging, we can’t put Google ads on there?
Why not? Well when we tried Google ads we got a ton of porn advertising (we’re the #10 result for “naked” ). Yes, we’ve out SEO’d the porn industry, but that means we can’t take Google ads cause Google ads (unlike ads, from, say, FM Media) won’t let us choose which advertising we want on our pages. So, we removed the Google ad bar from our blog.
This is what Dave Winer and I were talking about this morning. We’re looking at a lot of Google advertising on Gmail, on blogs, on Web sites, and other places and we’re unimpressed. On the main search engine it makes a lot of sense (and is why probably 98% of Google’s revenues come from advertising on Google.com). But on blogs? On Gmail? On other components? It makes a lot lot less sense.
Not everything can fit into the fully automated bin - for some things, you need some human intervention. When trying to sell an ad model to a marketing department, the problems Scoble brings up are going to be a huge smack in the forehead. There are plenty of seams to fill in Google's strategy right now.
Technorati Tags: advertising
There's almost nothing that advocates won't say about open source - here's a good example of the triumphal school of thought:
So, for example, I take it for granted that open source will be as successful on the desktop as it has on the server - with the caveat that the desktop itself may well be far less important in ten years' time. I also assume that everyone will be using ODF as the standard for document interchange and storage, and that GNU/Linux will consolidate its growing success in the field of embedded systems.
The question you have to look at is this: which open source projects have succeeded in a large way without major corporate funding? That's suddenly a thin list, isn't it? Here's another thought: had Microsoft released Visual Studio as free software 10 years ago, that almost certainly would have been seen as predatory behavior. IBM released Eclipse for free, and it's killed off all the commercial Java IDEs out there. Sure, the source is available - but why isn't that seen as predatory? The net effect has been the same.
I'm not nearly as cheerful about OSS as I used to be, and it's due to the fact that OSS in the hands of large companies is a "get out of jail free" card for what would otherwise be seen as predatory behavior.
David, Michael, and I had a wide ranging discussion of design and code "smells" last night - in particular, those that strike developers using OO languages (and Smalltalk even more particularly). James Savidge's jobs report is there at the end, around minute 42 or so. We had a great conversation - hope you enjoy this one as much as we enjoyed doing it. For feedback and/or questions, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'm sold. I was over at a friend's house this evening, and he introduced me to the Wii. What a great system! Sure, the graphics are better on the XBox 360 and the PS3; but that doesn't really matter. For me, the game play is everything, and that really came out in the Wii Sports game. The golf game was so much better than the GameCube (or PS2) one - you actually swing the Wii-mote to take the shots, and that makes it so much more fun.
I think Nintendo has a real hit on their hands. While MS and Sony fight over the same hard core fans, Nintendo is going to bring in a whole new set of casual gamers. After 30 minutes of Mario Kart, my hands hurt (GameCube). Same thing on an XBox or PS2 system (and the controllers on the new revs are the same). After 30 minutes of the Wii, I just wanted to play more :)