Water on the Moon? NASA thinks there may be some there, which would make moonbases a whole lot easier.
The Register has the details. I'm not the only one who gets snarky when the subject is Sun :)
Every so often I run across well meaning people that need to be slapped with a huge clueByFour. Here's an example from the "My Turn" column in Newsweek. The author is one of those parents worried about excessive candy intake:
Regardless of the example my wife and I attempt to set, we're working against a lot of variables. So why don't we just grin and bear it? Well, because we understand what's at stake. According to a sobering report that recently appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine, the rapid increase in childhood obesity may cause today's children to have a lower life expectancy than I do—shocking in an age of so many advanced health-care techniques. It was only by explaining the risk of type 2 diabetes to my daughter that I was able to coerce her into eating her vegetables—at least for one night.
Looking at the picture in the story, I'd guess that the kid in question is between 8-10. Yeah, a deep explanation of Type II Diabetes is a great way to encourage eating of vegetables. I've never really had that problem with my daughter. Why? Well, we've made sure that fruits and vegetables are available at every meal, and - more importantly - we haven't gone into hysterics at the site of candy. The guy who wrote that piece sounds like the kind of self righteous a****** that everyone else in the neighborhood hates, because every encounter with him leads to a lecture on healthy living. Bah.
Set a good example, make good food available, and don't get all paranoid about candy - your kids will get the message just fine. Or you can do what this guy does, and have every meal turn into an epic battle.
Those funny guys at Gartner sent me a link to a survey they wanted me to take. I figured it couldn't hurt, so I clicked the link. Here's what I got in Firefox:
Microsoft OLE DB Provider for ODBC Drivers error '80040e10' [Microsoft][ODBC Microsoft Access Driver] Too few parameters. Expected 1. /survey/Include/SurveyUtility_inc.asp, line 307
So I tried it in IE, and it worked fine. Even better - if I toggle a plugin setting so that Firefox reports itself as IE, it works fine in Firefox. So Gartner's inept web gnomes specifically look for the Agent String and die on non IE ones (with a stupid looking error message). Explain to me again why anyone takes their advice seriously?
We lovers of bad movies have a full plate coming from Sci Fi Channel. I mean, how can I go wrong with this:
Squid/Tentacles (working title), a creature feature starring a giant squid which attacks the crew of a treasure-hunting expedition.
Here's today's spotlighted presentation:
Home grown relation database mapping and management system used with large real life Oracle 9i database application
Jamrich, Jozef: Prescient
Monday 9:15 am to 10 am
Abstract: This presentation will concentrate on the following.
- explanation of the basic design of the mapping and management system
- explanation of the performance issues experienced
- explanation of the solutions
The system is currently used in real life application with over 300 tables with as much as 900 mil record per row. The daily data feed includes files from Auto-Zone, Target,... with 100,000 rows and more of data to process.
Bio: Jozef Jamrich is a system architect at Prescient.
See you in Orlando!
A very high percentage of the spam blogs that we process at PubSub.com also come from blogspot. We’ve got more serious “problems” in Japan and China, however, for the English language, blogspot is pretty much “spamspot.” It is, as always, disappointing to see people abuse a good and free service like that offered by Google/Blogspot in such a way.
And then there's:
All Blogspot blogs right now are included in every Feedster search by default. And now, due to the massive problems with spam on Blogspot, we're actually at the point of saying "Why don't we make searching Blogspot optional for all Feedster users". What's going on is that spammers have learned how to massively exploit Blogspot -- to the point where at times 90% of the blog traffic we get from Blogspot is spam. Now that's bad. Actually this spam issue just plain sucks. And its starting to ruin the user experience that people have with Feedster.
If Blogspot supported categories, Dare's right - things would be even worse. Here's a question I have - what's Microsoft doing to combat this with Spaces? I can see where combatting spam blogs would be pretty hard with a free service. IMHO, this falls back to a very old adage: You get what you pay for. If the service is free, you pay one way or another...
If you updated BottomFeeder yesterday for a non-Windows platform, or via the baseapp-*.zip file, then you didn't get a few important files - my packaging script didn't include them. Just grab the appropriate baseapp-*.zip file now, and unzip it in the Bf directory. Let it replace everything (after quitting BottomFeeder), and restart. The missing stuff? A few icons, and the latest message catalog.
Matt Croyden notes that Comcast was having problems last night - DNS lookup was broken (again). It was fairly widespread (again) - I spoke to a friend in LA via IRC, and he was out as well. Either there's a sustained attack hitting Comcast, or they are doing something very, very wrong...
I've been reading "Krakatoa: The day the Earth Exploded" recently - it's a fascinating summary of the huge volcanic explosion of 1883. Apparently timely as well - take a look at these two stories of an eruptions on Sumatra - here and here. These things can be nasty - the Pinatubo eruption in 1991 cooled the planet for a few years, for instance.
Nothing in modern memory compares with the "year without a summer" - 1816. It was popularly known as "Eighteen hundred and froze to death". Here's some basic info from the Wikipedia page:
The unusual climate aberrations of 1816 had the greatest effect on the American northeast and northern Europe. Typically, the late spring and summer of the American Northeast are relatively stable: temperatures average about 20 25 °C (68 77 °F), and rarely fall below 5 °C (41 °F). Summer snow is an extreme rarity, though May flurries sometimes occur.
In May of 1816, however, frost killed off most of the crops that had been planted, and in June two large snowstorms resulted in many human deaths as well. In July and August, lake and river ice were observed as far south as Pennsylvania. Rapid, dramatic temperature swings were common, with temperatures sometimes reverting from normal or above-normal summer temperatures (as high as 35 °C, or 95 °F) to near-freezing within hours. Even though farmers south of New England did succeed in bringing some crops to maturity, maize (corn) and other grain prices rose dramatically. Oats, for example, rose from 12 cents a bushel the previous year to 92 cents a bushel.
All of that was caused by a large eruption in - you guessed it - Indonesia (then the Dutch East Indies). It's too far back to know the cause for sure, but something very similar happened in 535, as recorded by Byzantine historians:
In the years 535 CE and 536 CE, several remarkable aberrations in world climate took place. The Byzantine historian Procopius recorded of 536 CE, "during this year a most dread portent took place. For the sun gave forth its light without brightness ... and it seemed exceedingly like the sun in eclipse, for the beams it shed were not clear.". Tree ring analysis by dendrochronologist Mike Baillie, Queen's University, Belfast, shows abnormally little growth in Irish oak in 536 CE and another sharp drop in 542 CE, after a partial recovery. Similar patterns are recorded in tree rings from Sweden and Finland, in California's Sierra Nevada and in rings from Chilean Alerce trees.
If one of those volcanos in Indonesia goes in a similar fashion, we could have a very nasty couple of years in front of us. Let's just hope that they don't - The people of that region have suffered enough, and the modern world is less well prepared for that kind of disaster than the early 19th century world was, IMHO.
Adam Connor asks a fair question about complexity in development languages:
Java’s generics don’t have anything like C++’s power — beyond hiding casts, I’m not sure I see much benefit at all — so they aren’t used this way. But Java abounds with other features that are used and abused: classloaders, reflection, dynamic proxies, aspect-oriented programming, and now annotations. Again, the core problem is that the language wasn’t really designed for this level of dynamic behavior, so features such as reflection or dynamic proxies are hard to read and understand. (That is not to say that Java isn’t an advance over C++, where such features are so hard that they simply wouldn’t be attempted.) Again, it’s obvious that more dynamic languages have existed for years, e.g., Smalltalk. Ruby seems like a new language in this vein.
Is every language fated to push at the complexity barrier until it falls over in a heap?
Until people stop trying to recreate dynamic features in rigid languages, yes. Watch Java and C# get more and more baroque over the next couple of years, as "power" gets added to each...
Doc and Dave Winer dislike the "It's a Small World" ride at Disney. I've always rather liked the ride - iirc, it originated at the Worlds Fair in New York City. My daughter loved the ride when she was little. It's no thrill ride (lol), but it's not horrible either. I think they complain way, way too much :)
Even Scoble has cut back on the scope of his reading:
I've noticed something. I haven't been reading my feeds very regularly for the past couple of weeks. I feel more ignorant. But I'm happier. The neat thing is that my aggregator continues to gather weblog posts and whenever I have time, I can read a feed or two. But not putting the pressure on myself to read 1,300+ feeds every night sure is making life more enjoyable.
I always thought 1300 feeds sounded like too many - but I'm sure the amount you can read varies by person (and the level of other responsibilities). For me, I've noticed that I start to feel overloaded every time I get near 300 feeds. I've been holding at just under 270 for a few weeks now.
I just love this sort of story (from MSNBC) - a "what are the blogs saying" segment. I'd quote it, but it's a video segment. The upshot - it's the new "man in the street" segment, with MSNBC peddling the notion that the view from a handful of blogs (never mind the subject) is somehow meaningful. This is every bit as meaningful as Jay Leno's "Jaywalking" segments. There are (quite literally) millions of blogs - would it be too hard for the mainstream media to accept the notion that it's impossible to distill that all down into a 5 minute "what the blogs are saying" segment? Looks like it's about as hard as getting pizza with extra sauce...
The showstopper bug turned out to be a configuration issue. In early builds of 3.9, we had turned spell checking off. It should now work in the XML editor, so it got turned on again. That's when I started having bizarre crashes. I didn't put the two together until Michael gave me a hand with it this morning - I had never copied the various pieces of the spell check system to my 7.3 development directory, and that was the source of the problem. I bundle all of that with the builds, so it wouldn't have actually affected the runtime - but I never got that far.
So, the upshot is - candidate build time...
Sam Ruby gives a nice summary of them - especially useful for people who aren't that familiar with Smalltalk or Ruby.
I have no illusions about Verizon DSL - I've heard friends complaints, and read plenty of others. On the other hand, after the last couple of weeks of Comcast flakiness, I think some local competition would have to help. Last week's outage looked an awful lot like a large scale DNS attack (Comcast has not said anything to that effect). Things were flaky last night in exactly the same way, which started me thinking that the earlier outage may have been less harm and more foul. Now there's an outage just in my node. Sigh.
I've just updated Silt - there's a web interface for updating posts now. The files are in the public Store, along with the new code. The new behavior is active on this server
Read this post, and you'll understand why the CLR isn't really ready for Smalltalk. Heck, I can grab the call stack from inside BottomFeeder - a running Smalltalk application.
Janko Mivsek just announced a new version of AIDA-Web, the web application framework he's been using (and developing) for quite some time now. It's a mature, robust product:
AIDA/Web is standalone web server and framework for complex web applications, with rich collection of web components to build web pages programatically, MVC-like separation of presentation from domain, fully REST-aware with automatic and persistent url links, with integrated session and security management and many more...
It took whole 2 years since last public release and here is newest Aida: ftp://ftp.eranova.si/aida/aida-4.0.4.tar.gz
...with a lot of new stuff:
- CSS support
- nicer graphical design, some demos added
- smarter components like ViewTabs, WebMenus,
- much easier work with tables with WebGrid (see demo)
- support of Wiki syntax in any text
- help support added to every view, can be edited online
- images as methods, so that you don't need separate image files
- web clipboard to cut/copy/paste url links around
- object versioning support
- easier programing of view and action methods
- reorganization of packages, refactoring of WebElement hierarchy
- file upload support
- load parcel Swazoo.pcl (0.9.96 !)
- load parcel AIDAWeb.pcl
- doit SwazooServer demoStart
- in web browser open http://localhost:8888
The SwS guys addressed the insertion point issue in the editor (a problem only for the post/comment tool), and that was the last thing I was waiting for. Rich sent me the updated docs yesterday, and I've got all of those posted. The builds are done, and I'm in the process of uploading 3.9 to the server. Once that's done, I'll post another announcement - and it'll be time to move on to the next release.
Update: Looks like I have a potential show-stopper in the post tool. So, this will just be another dev upload.
I'm going to start posting some details on StS 2005 daily - here's some details on one of the talks you can see by attending:
Knight, Alan: Cincom Systems
Monday 8:30 am to 9:15 am
Abstract: Abstract: Few areas arouse as many different opinions as storing objects in relational database. There are some fundamental issues in doing this efficiently. Also, we often don't have the luxury of designing our own schema, but have to deal with one that does not correspond well to our object model. This presentation outlines some of these problems and the way they are addressed in the open-source GLORP framework (http://www.glorp.org), as well as how we plan to move forward on database mapping software in future releases of VisualWorks.
Bio: Alan Knight is the lead on the GLORP project, and has worked in relational persistence for many years. He was previously the chief architect for the TOPLink family of products, and was a member of the Sun expert groups on EJB 2.0 and JDO. He is co- author of Mastering ENVY/Developer (Cambridge, 2001) and has written and spoken extensively on a variety of topics. He is program chair of Smalltalk Solutions 2005.
I'll have more every day. See you in Orlando!
Slashdot has fresh things you can't possibly do anything about to keep you up at night :)
Best of all, the content that's sent down, while smaller, remains valid Atom XML, so no real change is needed on the client side other than sending the new headers. All you need to do on the server side is compile and install the module, it works as a filter so any content that's served up with an application/atom+xml content type is automagically effected.
So to get this working, you need:
- A patched version of Apache so that you can support a new status code
- Changes on the client side to send the new headers
Exactly what is my motivation (for a tool like BottomFeeder) to support this? Only a handful of servers are going to support this in the short term - and, unless the Apache Foundation decides it's a good thing, only a handful of servers will ever support it. In other words - I have no motivation.
Here's another question though - what real benefits does this approach offer over mod-gzip? Most tools already support that, it works with arbitrary (Apache and others) servers, and XML text compresses remarkably well. Sometimes the flood of strange ideas is just amazing...
This season of "24" has jumped the shark so many times that you can hear the ocean when you hold the scripts up to your ear. Not only are the plotlines impossible - but the writers have succumbed to "no idea Star Trek mode". What does that mean? Well, you remember how on NextGen, when they ran out of ideas there would always be a Holodeck episode? Well, on "24", they keep going back to the "secreet government conspiracy" plotline. Whoo boy - I sure didn't see that coming.
Here's some information on a couple of the talks coming up at Smalltalk Solutions this summer - register now!
Smalltalk Solutions 2005 will be here before you know it. Make sure you sign up early to take advantage of the savings. Visit www.smalltalksolutions.com to register. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to be removed from this list. Thanks!
Here are a few samples of what you can expect from this year's show in Orlando.
Number Crunching Smalltalk
Poon, Dan: Romax Technology Ltd.
Monday 2 pm to 2:45 pm
Abstract: For over 10 years, Romax Technology Ltd. have pioneered the use of Smalltalk in Engineering Design and Analysis, a numerically intensive domain and traditionally the preserve of FORTRAN and more recently C and Matlab. Many vehicles on the roads today have benefited from Smalltalk analysis.
Smalltalk was initially used for product modelling and visualisation - its uses now includes number crunching where it performs along side FORTRAN.
Smalltalk's USP is that it is such a simple language that, when supported with pair programming between numerical analysts and Smalltalk coaches, it quickly becomes a lingua franca, enabling esoteric numerical algorithms and domain knowledge to be melded with production software skills.
Once captured in Smalltalk, a numerical model is much more malleable than its FORTRAN counterpart, meaning we can easy parameterise the model and apply optimisation techniques such as genetic algorithms.
We will also discuss the political implications of getting engineering analysts and computer scientists to work in pairs, the strong business case for doing so, and how our org chart has evolved with it.
Bio: 16 years of OO development experience from the early days of version 1.0 C++ to OODBMS. From the early attempts at OO methodologies to Agile. Worked within Telecommunications, Foreign Exchange Options Trading, and now Engineering Design Analysis.
Putney, Colin: Quallaby
Tuesday 2 pm to 2:45 pm
Abstract: In the last 2 years Monticello has emerged as a viable tool for source code management and versioning of Squeak applications. Having accumulated some real world experience with Monticello, we've designed a next-generation versioning engine which will form the core of Monticello 2.0.
This talk will examine three hard problems in versioning software, and explore Monticello's unique approach to solving them. Along the way, we'll also see comparisons to other versioning systems, including Store, ENVY and Monticello
First is the "repeated merge" problem. This occurs when we have two (or more) parallel lines of development. Repeatedly merging code back and forth between the two lines can create artificial conflicts during merges, forcing developers to explicitly avoid conflicts as they work. A good versioning tool allows developers to save or merge their work at any time, and records enough history information to prevent spurious conflicts from arising.
The second problem is also one of spurious conflicts. Often, during a merge, we want to apply only some of the changes implied by the merge. But this "cherry picking" of changes introduces a risk that either spurious conflicts will be interoduced to future merges, or genuine conflicts will be missed. Again, the challenge for versioning tools is to record enough history information to allow developers to work naturally, while still doing merges accurately and automatically.
The final problem is so difficult that most versioning tools don't even attempt to solve it. Only Smalltalkers would demand to be able to update a running program with new code, including the kernel on which the versioning tool its self is running! Though still quite experimental, Monticello 2 attempts to solve the "brain autosurgery" problem as well.
Bio: Colin Putney is a software developer at Quallaby Corporation, writing on network monitoring software in VisualWorks Smalltalk. He the author of OmniBrowser and co-author of Monticello, both open source development tools for Squeak Smalltalk. Though he has been programming for many years, he began working in Smalltalk in 2002.
Stephen Sommers, director of The Mummy and Van Helsing, will write and direct a remake of the classic 1951 SF film When Worlds Collide for Paramount, Variety reported.
Mind you, I enjoyed "The Mummy" and "Van Helsing" well enough - based on the plotline of the '51 flick, I'd expect some Armageddon style effects.
I hadn't noticed that the logging on the server had changed - all the blog requests and feed requests are being logged separately, so as to make various results easier to find. The upshot is, referers weren't being updated over the last few days. That's all working again, and I can see where inbound links are coming from again. It's always something...
And speaking of it always being something - the grass needs cutting. Sigh...
Again, my purpose here isn't to play gotcha with the News-Press. The paper needs constructive help, not rebukes. It's a good paper. I read it every day. I'd like us to help make it better. So here are three suggestions for the paper: 1) Reach out to, and take advantage of, local bloggers, friendly and otherwise; 2) Encourage blogging by your own staff (no need to host, as the Scripps papers do - too complicated, and not necessary); and 3) Open those archives - not just to subscribers (registered or otherwise), but to Google and other search engines. Search engines are the reference sections of the world's new library. Excluding your work from that library reduces the paper's authority. For more and more of us, if you're not on the Web, it's like you don't exist.
Just to be clear, that added emphasis is mine. I know why papers hide their archives - they want revenue opportunities for that data. The trouble is, by hiding them they bury them down the memory hole.
Jonathan Schwartz explains Sun's stance on Open Source pretty clearly. Agree or disagree, this is good information, delivered without any caveats or lawyer-speak.
Cyrus doesn't much care for tabs in browsers:
Ok, i seriously don't get tabs on Windows. Hell, i don't get tabs on OSX either. In the latter there's a great system called Exposé for that, and in the former the task bar does the job just great. Once i start using tabs though things go all to hell. On OSX i can't tell which FireFox/Safari window has the tab i want (since it's too small), and similarly in windows i find myself scanning the taskbar for a site i was looking at, but i can't find it because the task bar entry only lists the site that is the currently active tab. This makes it so difficult to actually find the site i want and it ends up being far slower than just having a window available for each site.
Umm - maybe there's a way to change the default, but - On Windows XP SP2, if I have more than one IE window open, I don't get any useful information at all from the taskbar at the bottom of the screen - it shows the not so helpful tooltip "Internet Explorer (2)". I fail to see how this is better than tabs - heck, it's worse, IMHO. Is there something I'm missing here?
Doc Searls points to the simple errors of a Santa Barbara (CA) news outlet decrying the "lack" of local bloggers. Every so often there are "why don't they trust us" articles in the press - the thing is, if they can't execute a simple web search, what can they do?
I've been reading up on the history of WWI lately - check the last few posts in the "books" category to see what I've been reading. After the last post on this subject, I got a number of recommendations:
- 1919: Six Months That Changed the World
- The Guns of August - this one is a classic, and it's been on my list for awhile
- Not WWI related, but deals with the issues of the preceding century: The Congress of Vienna: A Study in Allied Unity, 1812-1822
- While buying the first two, the Borders clerk recommended another book to me: The
- Illusion of Victory: America in World War I
- Finally, I got this recommendation: A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East
I was able to buy the first 2 and the fourth; looks like I'll have to order the others. This only adds to my impressive reading backlog - who knows when I'll catch up. I started reading the first book immediately, and it became clear in the first 100 pages that the conference was very much a work in progress - they had few examples to draw on (The Congress of Vienna had been a long time ago, and it was a simpler Europe then). The confused handling of Russia alone was fascinating reading.
The more I read about that era, the more I see where the world we live in now came from...
I finally sat down with Turbo-Tax to deal with my tax returns (I know, timely of me). Anyhow - it seems that I had archived my 2004 returns off to a CD that's currently in an undisclosed location, and the only electronic copies I had for the app to pick up previous data entry from was the files for 2001, 2002, and 2003. Stupid app complained, saying it wasn't a "valid 2003 form".
Sheesh - it's not like previous versions of the save file should be an utter mystery to Turbo-Tax. Fortunately, I had paper copies filed away. Stupid app.
At this point I'm waiting on 2 things for the 3.9 release of BottomFeeder:
- There's a word wrap bug in the posting tool. Since the posting tool is one of the biggest changes in 3.9, and since it works with multiple APIs now, it's a stopper
- One more piece of Doc from Rich - which he's got coming shortly.
The code is pretty much frozen at this point - the only change I expect to see is the fixes for the posting tool. Stay tuned
You know your need for coffee is high when you end up chugging your first mug of the morning the way a college student approaches a beer on Friday night :)
WonderBranding has a post up decrying the declining state of service on a particular airline (I've never flown that airline, so I'm not going to mention the name - follow the link). The point I wanted to raise is the reach of unintended marketing. What's unintended marketing? It's what people say about your product or service after they use it (both positive and negative).
Word of mouth has always been critical for local businesses (restaurants, for example) - but less relevant for the bigger outfits. The easy spread of communication - most especially personal websites and blogs - has given word of mouth a huge megaphone. Tick off the wrong customer (i.e., one with a decently well read blog) and you could end up with a negative review that has a Google Rank as high as your own website(s).
And that's where we really get to find out which are the smart outfits, and which are the stupid ones. The stupid ones will deploy lawyers to shut the negative word of mouth down. The smart ones will recognize a problem and strive to fix it. This is exactly why I have RSS searches for the name of my company (Cincom), my name, and the name of the products I work with (ObjectStudio and VisualWorks) tracked in BottomFeeder. It's my way of staying on top of the commentary.
I've got the semi-weekly log results to look at again - this time I've got the results analyzed for the period between March 29 and April 8. There are three sets of results below:
- BottomFeeder Downloads sorted by platform
- General HTTP access to all parts of the cincomsmalltalk site
- Accesses to the XML feeds on cincomsmalltalk
BottomFeeder Report, April 9 2005
So the interesting thing to me there - there's apparently interest in getting an aggregator on a CE device - but the ARM based devices are more common. I find it interesting that the rate of downloads for Linux on Sparc outweighs the rate of downloads for Solaris. Next, the General HTTP accesses by tool:
HTTP Log Report, April 9 2005
|Net News Wire||6.8%|
Notice how there's far more Mozilla access than IE? That's not the case in the general browser population, but it certainly is in the developer space. Finally, here's the accesses if we look only at the XML feeds:
XML Only Log Report, April 9 2005
|Net News Wire||14.3%|
XML accesses are just under 50% of the traffic for the site right now - it's been hovering in that neighborhood for awhile now. The interesting thing is that the rate of Mozilla usage stays fairly high - Sage must be pretty popular. The analogous IE plugins don't look nearly as popular. One thing I'd be curious about from other blogs - the rates of usage of paid aggregators vs. the free ones. As you can see above, only one paid aggregator (the Mac based NetNewsWire) breaks out of single digits.
Next time you go to Best Buy, make sure you don't use any $2 bills. Sheesh.
I've been wondering if the major thing propping up the commercial Unix implementations is inertia; I got an email today that added a data point in that direction. I've had numerous people tell me that Linux on x86 hardware tends to be faster than either Solaris or HPUX - this email snippet goes into that. The first comment was mine, in response to a thread in vwnc on the startup time for VisualWorks applications. The response came from a customer:
"(b) Your Sun boxes are pretty slow/overloaded"
Definitely (b). We have a lot of ~450MHz Sun boxes and the latest generation of Sun hardware is only ~1GHz. We commonly see the same code run 4-6x faster on a cheap Linux box. We would love to support Linux, but our customer base just isn't very interested. Also note that these are server machines that are usually doing other things, so we don't have 100% of the machine at our disposal.
Which is in line with what other people tell me. It's likely the case that Solaris (et. al.) can scale to higher levels than x86 Linux - based on how many CPU's can be slammed into them, if nothing else. That advantage won't hold up much longer.
My local news reports that Maryland shares a dubious honor with New York - the longest average commute times in the US:
The latest U.S. Census study finds Maryland residents have one of the longest commutes to work in the country. Maryland and New York drivers spend 30 minutes on average traveling to work, according to the study.
In fact, residents of Queens County, N.Y., spend the most time on the road at 41 minutes.
In Maryland, Prince George's County drivers have an average 35-minute commute. In Montgomery County, it's 32 minutes; in Howard County, it's 30 minutes; in Baltimore City, it's 29 minutes; and in Anne Arundel County, it's 27 minutes.
The study also found that Maryland is one of three states with the highest percentage of workers who commute more than 90 minutes to their job.
Thank goodness I commute all the way from the bedroom to my first floor office, with a short side trip to the coffee maker :)
Paul Graham has put out a number of essays on hacking and development, relating them to art. Here, for instance, is a link to his Hackers and Painters essay. That one flew around the blogosphere, mostly with positive commentary. Not everyone agreed though - here's a dissenting view from Maciej Ceglowski. First, from Graham:
" The point of painting from life is that it gives your mind something to chew on: when your eyes are looking at something, your hand will do more interesting work."
"Hackers need to understand the theory of computation about as much as painters need to understand paint chemistry. You need to know how to calculate time and space complexity and about Turing completeness. You might also want to remember at least the concept of a state machine, in case you have to write a parser or a regular expression library. Painters in fact have to remember a good deal more about paint chemistry than that."
And the observations:
All of these statements are wrong, or dumb, or both, and yet they are sprinkled through various essays like raisins in a fruitcake, with no further justification, and the reader is expected to enjoy the chewy burst of flavor and move on to the next tidbit.
I am not qualified to call bullshit on Paul Graham when he writes about programming, history, starting a business, or even growing up as a social pariah, but I do know enough about art to see when someone is just making s*** up.
In Paul Graham's world, as soon as oil paint was invented, painting techniques made a discontinuous jump from the fifteenth to the twentienth century, fortuitously allowing Renaissance painters to paint a lot like Paul Graham. And the difficult problems the new medium supposedly helped painters solve just happened to resemble the painting problems that confront an enthusiastic but not particularly talented art student. I hope I am not the only to find this highly suspicious.
I had my doubts about his essay at the time it flew around - in particular, I thought his description of the sort of "great hacker" you want was exactly the kind of obnoxious prima donna that I could do without, thank you very much. But wait, there's more! I like the next paragraph in his post, but then again - I have a soft spot for rants:
I blame Eric Raymond and to a lesser extent Dave Winer for bringing this kind of schlock writing onto the Internet. Raymond is the original perpetrator of the "what is a hacker?" essay, in which you quickly begin to understand that a hacker is someone who resembles Eric Raymond. Dave Winer has recently and mercifully moved his essays off to audio, but you can still hear him snorfling cashew nuts and talking at length about what it means to be a blogger . These essays and this writing style are tempting to people outside the subculture at hand because of their engaging personal tone and idiosyncratic, insider's view. But after a while, you begin to notice that all the essays are an elaborate set of mirrors set up to reflect different facets of the author, in a big distributed act of participatory narcissism.
Now, it's not all hits - Maciej points out that the analogies between art and software development have validity, and that Graham has written very well on other topics - he just doesn't think much of this essay (or others like it from Graham). Go ahead and read the whole thing - it's worth the time
This post targets Sun with questions, but the same questions could be asked of tons of companies in the software field: How hard should it be to get support?
So you have support plans. WHY ISN'T IT IN MY FACE? Sun - don't you want to make money? Support is a major component of income for many product vendors - and an even bigger component of income for the open source market. If you don't push it, no one is even going to know about it! It should be on your Java home page, your documentation home page, the API page. A small link, no one will care about it if they aren't looking for it, anyone wanting support will see it quickly.
Sun is hardly the only vendor that makes this hard.
Looks like Comcast suffered a general outage last night. I suspect thhey have some kind of VOIP solution for their phones as well - their phones were all weird too.
This is a weird sounding thing: blogging bootcamp:
The high octane blogging bootcamps help participants use emerging Internet tools like blogging, RSS, and RSS analytic services to improve their business's effectiveness in its online communities.
The first high octane blogging bootcamp will start May 14 at University of Michigan's Ross School of Business. The bootcamp immerses students in blogging so that they have a practical basis for assessing three elements critical to the newly emerging face of the Internet: pushbutton web publishing, xml syndication, and mass interaction. In combination, these elements allow companies to more easily discover and engage their online community, with potential to influence key customers and opinion makers.
Those aren't the hard parts. The hard part is writing content that people want to read on a regular basis. For that, a creative writing course might be more valuable. Seriously. Most of the people who ths course is aimed at don't need to be immersed in the technical details.
Well, sometimes the sort of connectivity issue I just talked about can be resolved by rebooting the cable modem. Bad idea. Now I have no connectivity at all (which means that this will only be visible later, when I have it again :) ). Anyway. I can't call the local Comcast number - I still get "all circuits are busy". I tried their 800 number - I got there, made a few jumps through the phone system, and then the phone system had trouble and told me it had to disconnect me. Now all I get from them is a busy signal. Sheesh - this is just bizarre...
And it comes back at bedtime :)
This is a really bizarre network situation. Comcast must be having some oddball issue with their systems. I can resolve the site that runs this blog (obviously, or I wouldn't be posting :) ) - but I can't resolve Google, or even Comcast's own sites. So I have connectivity to a handful of things, seemingly. And when I try calling them, I get "all circuits are busy". Very odd...
Scoble has way too much faith in technology. Witness this:
"Technology is too expensive," I can hear lots saying. Well, how expensive is a malpractice lawsuit? I just watched a blood transfusion. What if a doctor wrote the wrong blood type in the patient's chart? Why are we still doing things in an analog fashion? Why isn't there a video camera here to verify what was done to a patient? Why isn't RFID being used to verify that the right medication is being distributed to the right patient? Why doesn't each room have a monitor for nurses to watch so that they can check on the patient's vital signs without entering the room? That'd make them far more efficient, remove waiting times for really serious mishaps (the machine putting fluid into a patient makes the same beep whether it's out of fluid or has a blockage in the line).
Have a look in any corporate database - where all the data was entered via one application or another. Quick: How much of it is accurate? A keyboard or tablet is no more (or less) error prone than a pen and paper. I don't disagree that automation would help in the area Scoble brings up - I simply don't think it's a panacea. Bad data entry happens.
Jon Udell would like to see less coupling between languages and environments - he gives a few examples of the problem - the need to use Ruby on Ruby on Rails extensions, for instance. To some extent this comes down to being an LCD question. If I pull Smalltalk out of the environment, for instance, I lose a goodly portion of its power. There are pros and cons to that, and I guess where you sit determines where you stand on that. So far as I'm concerned, having the full power of Smalltalk available to me - even in a runtime - makes things a lot easier. I'm not sure about this conclusion, either:
While environments may not need to evolve as rapidly as languages, though, they certainly need to evolve more rapidly than the Java and .NET environments do. That's why I've always been so keen to see dynamic languages integrate deeply with the JVM and CLR.
Jim Hugunin, who created first Jython and then IronPython, may be the world's foremost expert on this topic. When I met with him recently, I asked if he thought we'd see official .NET Framework classes written in IronPython. He said that, although dynamic languages will accelerate the development of the framework, extensions written in Python will likely be rewritten in statically-compiled languages for production use. To some dynamic-language advocates that may sound old-fashioned, but to me it sounds pragmatic.
Actually, that sounds like a huge waste of time to me - I take the stance that rewrites (pretty much without regard to what is being ported to what) are almost always a waste of time. You end up right back where you started, and there's a non-zero opportunity cost imposed on the developers you had doing the port - what valuable tasks could they have been up to instead? You'll never know; that time is just gone down the post hole.
Moreover, the fact that MS (and Hugunin, for that matter) perceive a need to rewrite those things tells me that MS isn't really serious about dynamic languages - at least not yet. Until that changes, any dynamic language running on the CLR will be a second class citizen. Which is where things are on the JVM as well.
I was just informed that one of the icons in the editor toolbar might have license issues - so I've replaced it. If you download the latest posting tool (via the Bf update mechanism - 3.9 stream only), you'll see the default balloon replacing the link button. To get the new icon, download this file, and unzip all the contents into the 'icons' directory in your BottomFeeder distribution.
Clicking on the orange RSS button or the "Syndicate" link above will no longer spit out raw XML to your readers using a modern browser. Instead, they will see a "pretty printed" RSS feed with a link to learn more, subscribe in My MSN, or subscribe in an aggregator supporting one-click subscription (feed://)