No matter how much Schadenfreude this gives me, this CNET Report on the ongoing DDOS attacks on SCO aren't a good thing. It doesn't make thos who oppose SCO look reasonable in anyone's eyes...
If the last post wasn't enough information on what's up with CST, check out the proposal from our documentation team
If you are interested in the ongoing development of Cincom Smalltalk, point your browser here for details. We are just wrapping up our planning meetings, and that's a brief snapshot of what's coming.
The formal announcement:
Sorry for the delay, we know you have been waiting to hear
Smalltalk Solutions 2004 is Coming Soon!
We've been to the East Coast.
We've been to the Midwest.
And we've even been to Canada...
So this year lets head out west! We're going to Seattle!
What: Smalltalk Solutions 2004 Conference Where: Crowne Plaza Seattle When: May 3-5, 2004
To become an exhibitor or a sponsor, contact Joy Murray
For more details make sure to visit our website
See you all in Seattle!!
Miguel Icaza talks about scripting support (Python, in this case) on .NET. The question isn't scripting languages; it's dynamic languages, and certain specific things:
- DNU (doesNotUnderstand) - very, very useful for Proxying
- #perform type behavior
- changing classes and/or other objects at runtime (#become: and friends)
Generally, it's not whether a language is a 'scripting' language - it's how dynamic a language is. For instance, #Smalltalk (an implementation for .NET) - does not support the last item on the list above.
From the VW Wiki:
It's always going to be hard for something new to get a look in. There is, of course, the economic reason that, for example, C/C++ guys are two a penny but Eiffel and Smalltalk guys aren't.
This is one of the most misleading abuses of statistics around. Just because the probability that you hit a C++ programmer if you throw a rock into a crowd is very high, does not mean that the probability that he can replace _your_ C++ programmer is any higher than finding a replacement Eiffel or Smalltalk programmer. Because you have to weed through tons of idiots who only _claim_ they know C++, the effort required to find a real replacement may be significantly lower for Eiffel or Smalltalk. Besides, if you can find a good programmer, chances are very good that he will be able to learn any programming language you use reasonably well in the time it would take to find a good C++ programmer. And learning from the sources of the previous programmer is a lot easier than learning the language from scratch in a general, application-independent way.
I have actually witnessed this. A company I worked for got a new manager level that was completely superfluous, so the new manager had to prove to herself that she had a real job, and spent a lot of time arguing against using languages that were not mainstream, and basically made it hard to use anything but Java, and many good people quit. Then a Java man got seriously ill. She was unable to replace him in the 5 months he was away. The other Java men could not do his work. To her amazement, choice of language mattered less than the other skills the programmers had. The conclusion from this story that this manager actually arrived at was that it was bad to have skilled programmers -- she alone should make the design decisions and programmers would simply implement them. She could now return to her policy of using only mainstream languages and hire only unskilled programmers who lied about knowing a language. As far as I know, nothing interesting has happened at that company for a long time.
This is actually just common sense. Unfortunately, it's all too uncommon in this industry.
We are pleased to announce Smalltalk Solutions 2004. This year's event will be in Seattle, Washington, May 3-5. For exhibitor information, contact Joy Murray. If you are interested in submitting a proposal for the technical program, contact Alan Knight. Get your reservations made! Participation information may be found here
Significant progress has been made in 2003 and the company has made a strong commitment to improve the security situation in 2004. "Microsoft knows exactly what it needs to do to improve the security of its products. The main challenge is one of discipline"enforcing a consistent set of patch technologies and procedures across traditionally independent product groups," said Michael Cherry, Lead Analyst, Operating Systems at Directions on Microsoft
Microsoft clearly has no idea. The biggest problems are far simpler. Enable the damn firewall by default. Ship Outlook (etc) with all the scripting stuff off by default. Stop trying to have mondo fixes - do the simplest things first.
Scott Johnson relays a story on a mysterious Outlook problem:
I just got a call from a good friend who is running Outlook 2000 on Windows 2000 and their PST file has just, plain, **poof** disappeared. Very odd. I confirmed that the file wasn't there but I'm looking for options / answers. Anyone have any thoughts? And, no, the person's company doesn't backup individual machines. Madness I say, just madness.
I'm wondering if the PST file hit 2 gigabytes and just vanished. I know that PST files automatically corrupt at 2 gigabytes but I didn't think they disappeared.
Wow. If I lost my Eudora files I'd have huge, huge problems
I added support for news headline feeds (dynamic searches) awhile back in BottomFeeder - now today, I just learned that Yahoo News supports search feeds. So, I've extended the news feed support, allowing you to select either the headline service or Yahoo for topics of interest. The latest development stream supports this now.
Jeremy Zawodny has an interesting scenario laid out:
One day Bob has a great idea in the restroom and rushes back to his desk (after flushing and washing his hands, of course) to jot some notes on his weblog before he can pitch the idea to the board of directors. However, what Bob doesn't realize (or even understand, really) is that MovableType had TrackBack auto-discovery enabled. As part of that blog entry, he links to a post on Scott's Feedster blog (like I did just now). MovableType happily sends Scott's blog a TrackBack ping with the title and an brief excerpt of the entry (like mine did just now).
Bottom line - if you adopt internal blogging, make sure you understand the way it's configured.
Watch this not work. As much as we want to limit spam, legal remedies aren't going to work for a global internet - a spammer using a server in Asia, who resides outside the US. Sending email through that server is not under the jurisdiction of the US in any way shape or form. It's time to face up to the reality that free email is the problem....
The Register reports that the Segway could be the birth of the robot as foot soldier. Give them red eyes and cue Hollywood....
Jeremy Zawodny says that RSS is "good enough":
Remember when you first starting seeing URLs appear on billboards and at the end of movie trailers? So do I. It's going to be like that. One day we're just going to look around and realize that RSS is popping up all over the place. And a couple years later, we'll all wonder how we ever got along without it.
Forget Atom/Pie/Echo/whatever. It will be RSS. RSS may not be perfect, but it's good enough. That train left the station quite a while ago.
Atom may well work for a posting API (although, with the number of "angels on the head of a pin" arguments that take place on the Atom list, I have my doubts about that) - but as a syndication format, it's just not going to happen.
Here are some interesting thoughts on why internal blogs are less successful than public ones at Microsoft - and quite possibly elsewhere.
As part of the Java settlement with Sun, MS is dropping support for a number of products as of December 15 of this year (2003):
The products targeted for phase-out are those that embed Microsoft's Java Virtual Machine technology.
Other products on the Dec. 15 phase-out list include: Office XP Developer and Office 2000 Developer editions; Office 2000 Premium Service Release 1; BackOffice Server 2000; Internet Security and Acceleration Server (ISA) 2000; Internet Explorer 5.5; and Visual Studio 6 Microsoft Developer Edition.
This blog entry discusses making an application look more like standard applications on a platform - like Windows or Mac - where that matters. While the discussion is on Swing and Java, it's relevant to VisualWorks developers as well.
Bossavit points to the all to common game of blockhead in development. Run in fear when you see it!
Ed Foster details an inexplicable message Network Solutions just sent to all (or most) of their customers:
The last time we saw Network Solutions/VeriSign harassing its customers this way, a spokesperson described the message as a "friendly reminder." But those were e-mail messages designed to get customers to log into their online account managers. What's different about this latest snail mail is that it only provides a toll free phone number as a means of contacting NetSol to update your supposedly invalid account information. No wonder callers encountered long hold times.
So let me get this straight - they send out a vaguely worded, but threatening sounding mail, requiring customers to call a toll free number to respond. Since the mail sounds odd, many customers call to find out what's up - and encounter long wait times, further enraging them. Now that's how to make customers happy
Scoble rhapsodizes about handwriting recognition on the Tablet PC. Yes, this is cool, and yes, it will have a lot of utility - within some market niches. For most people using a computer - who have access to a keyboard all the time (I am writing this in the O'Hare airport, for instance) - it's pretty much a yawner. I don't really touch type, and I still type way, way faster than I write. By a lot. To me, this all still falls into the nice to have, but not a reason to buy bucket.
Michael Lucas-Smith has noticed that the ECMA implementation in VW can directly access Smalltalk object now. What does that mean? Well, it means that you can add scripting to your Smalltalk application
- In a scripting language that lots and lots of non-Smalltalkers understand
- That exposes as much of the power of your domain model as you want
And all in a way that doesn't require you to create the scripting implementation. Very, very cool! Check it out in the public store
The Western States Infomration Network (WSIN) is using blogs to share information. WSIN shares crime information across several western states and their associated law enforcement agencies. Until recently, they shared this information via email and normal web pages. The difficulty was simple:
- There was lots of duplicate email
- Getting something on a website was a chore
Enter blogs - they found a way to allow any authorized user to quickly push information to their servers, in a way that any authorized user could easily check. I wonder if they use RSS internally? This is a very cool use of blog software, IMHO
Some of the ESUG folks are setting up a mailing list for Smalltalkers in Romania:
I'd like to tell you that LRG is ready to host the Romanian Smalltalk Users Group. If you'd like to try the system, send an email to email@example.com containing the command "subscribe rsug [your email]". To unsubscribe, use "unsubscribe rsug [your email]". To send a message to the list, just send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ryan Lowe quotes Beck on testing:
"You should test things that might break. If code is so simple that it can't possibly break, and you measure that the code in question doesn't actually break in practise, then you shouldn't write a test for it. If I told you to test absolutely everything, pretty soon you would realize that most of the tests you were writing were valueless, and, if you were at all like me, you would stop writing them."
He brings this up as part of this discussion from last week on testing. I'm not sure that this makes the point Ryan wants it to make; seems to me it's just a bit of pragmatism. People, (being people), are not going to engage in activity they see as value free (see any of the heavily paper driven methodologies, for instance). It all depends on how you interpret "code that is so simple that it can't possibly break". Unfortunately, lots of people are going to classify things that way that they shouldn't (for the same reason that so much code out there doesn't check to see if a file i/o operation worked). If this is what Ryan meant, then sure, it's a call for caution - but it's also a call to apply common sense
Dare Obasanjo explains many of the issues surrounding one click subscribing to RSS or Atom - and why the Atom effort is increasingly tending towards irrelevance:
Using MIME types to solve the one click subscription problem is more difficult for weblog tools to implement than the other two approaches favored by news aggregators and requires changing web server configurations as well which while the other approaches do not. Although the architecture astronauts will rail against the URI scheme based approach it is unlikely that anyone who looks dispassionately at all three approaches will choose to use MIME types to solve this problem.
Of course, since one of the main forces behind the ATOM movement has stated that MIME types will be the mechanism used for performing one click subscription to ATOM feeds this just seems like one more reason for me to be skeptical about the benefits of adopting the ATOM syndication format.
Pretty much sums it up
Alan Green passes on some humorous office stories. The Outlook 'help' is classic :)
Other people seem to think even less of the Newark airport than I do. Read here for tips on the skytrain
One of our doc guys has been talking about modes for the development tools for quite awhile (basic, expert). Here's a guy talking about it in the context of VB. I'm not a great fan of the idea, but would be interested to know what people think of the concept
SCO has 30 days to reveal its infringement claims in their case with IBM:
U.S. District Court Judge Brooke Wells made the ruling after hearing arguments from lawyers representing SCO and IBM, each with motions to compel the other side to provide more information for discovery.
What's more, the judge ordered a suspension on all discovery motions until SCO provides all the information required. In essence, if SCO doesn't give up all the information it's required to provide, IBM will not have to, either.
Maybe the rubber will finally meet the road?
CNET reports that Darl McBride - SCO's CEO - is wrapping his fight against Linux in the mantle of patriotism now:
"In the past 20 years, the Free Software Foundation and others in the open source software movement have set out to actively and intentionally undermine the U.S. and European systems of copyrights and patents," McBride wrote. "Red Hat's position is that current U.S. intellectual property law 'impedes innovation in software development' and that 'software patents are inconsistent with open source/free software."
No word yet on when he'll identify the software Axis of Evil....
Scoble says he reads 640 feeds? I'm subscribed to 180 right now, and I can't see how you would do more than headline scanning with 640. Heck, with 180 I mostly headline scan....
The bottom line is that way too many of the J2EE applications deployed in enterprises today have absolutely dismal performance. To put it bluntly, our applications stink! You can completely forget all the haughty talk about "five nines" reliability. The average availability of the J2EE applications referenced in the survey is just 88%. That's right - we're talking the fabled "five eights" of J2EE availability. Half of the responses show overall app availability (an application's ability to service user requests) below 96%, which means almost seven hours of downtime per week! That's seven hours of pain, lost revenue, confusion, and bad news for Java. Not only that, but half the responses are indicating even less than 96% availability.
This is the logical result of running with a new technology - with staff that did not have time to learn it - and rushing to eliminate the existing (i.e., working) infrastructure in favor of the new stuff. Add in the overwhelming complexity of J2EE, and these numbers are not terribly surprising. Kind of makes you wonder whether the various analysts that have pushed their customers to move to J2EE have any credibility at all. Makes me wonder if J2EE is a solution in search of a problem...
Daniel Steinberg talks about dynamic changes at runtime as if it's never been done before.
Imagine adding methods and variables to objects at runtime. Seems odd - how do other objects know what methods they can call. Seems scary. Seems kind of cool.
This is all in the context of an interview with Yukihiro Matsumoto, creator of Ruby. We see the usual kinds of questions:
Venners asks Matz about whether Ruby is lest robust because it lacks the static compile-time type checking found in Java and other languages. Matz answers that his goal is to "try to make the interpreter robust, but the language itself in its design does not care about robustness for two reasons. First, you need to test the system anyway to be robust. So we encourage unit testing using a testing framework to help achieve robust systems. The second reason is that programs written in dynamic languages are very easy to run and check."
It's great that Ruby is getting noticed by some of the Java folks; maybe they (and the .NET crowd as well) will start to see the kinds of shackles they are wearing. They should also take a look at Lisp, Smalltalk and Python - and realize that the kind of functionality being discussed in that interview is nothing new
You can argue over the order, but this list of top ten monologues from Buffy gets all the good ones.
Years ago, the Smalltalk development team used a tool called Scopus (long since chewed up by Siebel) for bug tracking. Engineering was never happy with that, and built a homebrew system called MARS (Minimal Action Request System). It was first deployed back around 1995, right after VisualWave was developed - as a web application. This was nifty - it was easily accessible to any of the development staff that needed to get to the bug system, and ran in any browser. The only problem was speed - things like Query By Example were none too speedy when the steps included:
- Send the query
- Server processes the query
- Client browser has to render the query results
For a long time, we just put up with this. Then a few months ago, I hacked together a simple UI client that hit the back end (query by AR number only) via a servlet. Interestingly, getting results displayed outside a browser was much, much simpler. I integrated the simple client tool as an internal plugin for BottomFeeder. A couple of our engineers ran with this idea, and started working on a more capable client using Opentalk - our Smalltalk-Smalltalk distribution framework. Now, using an ssh tunnel or VPN connection, any of the internal users can query and update the system much more easily.
This is interesting because it represents a move away from a browser based interface and over to a smart client - back to the future, as it were. Using this approach, using the bug tool is far less painful, because the roundtrip communication with the server is so much faster. MS is moving this way in LongHorn; I wonder how many other people are doing similar things?
Word comes of more Babylon 5. I wonder if they'll bring that into the "Crusades" timeline?
The Register reports on a new revenue stream for MS - licensing FAT. Here's the skinny:
So if we understand this correctly, Microsoft would like manufacturers of removable solid state storage to give it 25c a pop for the privilege of preformatting their devices with FAT, and while it's about it, the company intends to extend its IP tentacles into a wide variety of up-and-coming consumer electronics devices, with lawyers shuffling behind it.
Anyone want to speculate on whether or not this idea cropped up after some MS manager watched what SCO is doing?
CNet Reports another Linux hit, this time against a Gentoo project server:
The maintainers of the Gentoo Linux distribution have released a statement which describes the incident: "One of the servers that makes up the rsync.gentoo.org rotation was compromised via a remote exploit," it reads. "The compromised system had both an IDS and a file integrity checker installed and...we are reasonably confident that the portage tree stored on that box was unaffected."
Microsoft security flaws get more airtime, but there's plenty of explouts to go around.
In 7.2, we released (in Preview) better application level support for Unicode - but limited to Windows. What this does is display a character properly, assuming the proper font is installed on the Windows box in question (as opposed to older revs of VW, where the proper font would not necessarily be found). Here's my question: In the short term, we can go slowly on this, striving to create a better cross platform (i.e., all supported VW platforms) solution. Or, we can get better Unicode support for the Mac done sooner, at the possible cost of delaying a cross platform solution. What do people think?