Here's an entire family that's been issued tinfoil hats :)
I've updated the server and the posting tool to support hot swapping of CSS files. It's not a complex thing, and I probably should have done this earlier. In any case, there are only two styles available at the moment, but others should be easy enough to gin up if you know CSS. Submissions welcome :)
Dave Winer is still stumbling in the dark, wondering where he might find a clue - this is in reference to some paranoia he's posted about Google along with his obsession with AutoLink:
They can just cut off our air supply. How could they do that. How how how? Well, remember we decided it was okay for them to modify our content way back in 2005. They didn't even have to ask our permission. Not only that, if we said no, they could ignore us. They're just giving the users what they want, and we believed them.
Gee, I sure hope he doesn't use any client side tools that modify content - like, say, ad blockers. Heaven forbid he were to muck with the revenue model of the site's authors, who depend on that advertising revenue. I sure hope he doesn't ever say anything nice about GreaseMonkey either. I certainly hope that he never used a pen or a marker on a textbook, and then passed it on to another student - by gosh the content was marked up in ways that the original author didn't intend! The horror!
I've got an update on Troy's surgery:
Troy’s surgery has completed, and it went very well. They were able to do the surgery lapropscopically, so Troy’s recovery should be shorter and less painful than otherwise feared.
He is still coming out of the anesthesia, and is on a ventilator as a precaution until he is fully awake. But the Dr. said that all went well.
James Governor thinks the "unthinkable" about Google:
See that mountain in the background that looks so small? Well if the economy suffers a really bad shock, hedge fund collapse, $70 a barrel, or whatever it is, then suddenly the mountain comes to the fore, and the perspective shifts. Could another firm buy Google outright? Lets say the bottom falls out of the advertising market, taking Goog revenues down to $3bn a year (currently doing 1.25 a quarter). Combine that with a major fall out on share price- say take P/E to a more realistic, yet still outrageous, 15. Who could afford $45bn?
Why not buy all the cool technology and brand and fire those expensive PHDs with their 20% own time who don't seem to be generating any cash yet? Why am i thinking about Google in this way? Partly because i have a post on the way about IBM's decision to give Google enterprise props. I am not a financial analyst, as you can doubtless tell from the proceeding commentary. But i just wanted to check myself and think whether Google is buyable/rideable.
Hmm - Which companies have piles of cash available that might be burning holes in their pockets under those circumstances?
James Governor makes some good points about where to go for information on RSS/Syndication/Blogging (etc):
I am skeptical News Corp is doing the right thing in bringing in McKinsey for its attempt to get it. How many McKinsey bloggers can you think of? Better to beg Udell to come along. And far more economical, i should think. You just know McKinsey now has a huge team of new MBAs (trawling the web to "get" RSS and all, probably with sex on the brain). They are being paid by Rupert to find knowledge that others have. Aggregating sure, but very top down and priced accordingly. So why not "view source" instead? Oh yeah- because McKinsey, like a premium beer, is reassuringly expensive. So Where are the McKinsey bloggers?
Pointing to Jon Udell is spot on - he not only follows this area, he lives in this area. Governor's points about equating expense with quality are spot on as well. News Corp is paying filet mignon prices, but is probably getting ground chuck level information...
Funny thing about that last post - immediately after I made it, I ran across this story on Sun's acquisition of Tarantella:
Tarantella Inc. is losing money and customers, but its thin-client technology found a potential savior last week in Sun Microsystems Inc., which is acquiring the Santa Cruz, Calif.-based company for $25 million in cash.
Kind of makes my point, I think. Sun is blinded by their vision of thin network appliances, but the market simply isn't that interested. Full bore PC's are too cheap, and they can function as either network clients or standalone systems.
Frank Hayes of ComputerWorld is debunking Nicholas Carr's latest attempt to define the end of corporate IT. In the process, he makes an interesting side point:
Users are the ones who experiment and create business innovation. So the most important place to put computing, and control of that computing, is in users' hands. Everything else -- networks, data, back-end applications -- is there to support those users. They do corporate computing. We in IT just help.
And if we replace their flexible, too-cheap-to-meter computing with thin clients and a fixed-cost, fixed-services utility, as Carr recommends? IT gains manageability, centralization and higher utilization. Business users lose the ability to innovate
This might be why Sun has had such trouble with the whole network computer thing. CPUs, disk space, and memory have been getting cheaper, so it makes less and less sense to centralize. The only cross current is the difficulty inherent in backing up so much data.
Sean Malloy passes on some news about Dolphin's plans for the product:
Andy Bower mentioned a while back, that Object Arts were toying with the idea of releasing a free version of Dolphin at the same time they released the full version of 6.0.
While they still haven't decided just what version of Dolphin they will be releasing into the wild, but they have now definitely decided that a version of Dolphin Smalltalk, will be available for free under the name of Dolphin Community Edition.
This is pretty exciting news for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Dolphin Smalltalk is the best pure Windows Smalltalk. If you are interested in developing applications on Windows, then it is without a doubt the version to use. Secondly, with a free version of Dolphin, it sets the entry level to a point where people who may not have checked it out before will definitely look into it now.
This is not official news yet. I knew about it for a while, Andy linked to the new Object Arts site in the beta test newsgroup, and it was mentioned on the new site. I asked if I could write something about it, and he didn't say no. So while I don't think that they are going to change their mind about a free version now, they may change their mind about what exactly a free version contains.
Interesting news, and it should help spread the use of Smalltalk.
Tim Bray asks some incisive questions about the terms for Google's AdSense for RSS Feeds:
What’s a Feed User? For a real dose of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt, check out the “Terms and Conditions” language. Uncharacteristically for Google, it’s a bad piece of legal drafting; you have to agree that “You will ensure that each feed user complies with, and each feed user’s display of AFF Ads is in compliance with, all of the terms and conditions of the amended Agreement applicable to the Site in the same manner that such terms and conditions apply to You and the Site.”
Huh? What’s a “feed user”? I’m pretty sure it doesn’t mean a person-or-program-reading-the-feed, but I’m also pretty sure that I don’t understand what it is they mean. And until I do, I’m damn well not going to sign up for “You agree you will be responsible and liable for any and all use of the AFF Ads by any feed user and will indemnify Google for any lawsuit or proceeding (a) relating to or arising from any feed user’s use of AFF; (b) relating to or arising from Your failure to ensure any feed user’s compliance with the terms of the amended Agreement; and/or (c) brought by a feed user against Google that arises from or is related to Your provision of AFF Ads to such feed user.”
This has the look of another license released by the lawyers without any "real people" having been consulted.
Let's wish Troy luck and a speedy recovery from his surgery. A friend of ours locally got the same surgery a few months ago, and he looks great - hopefully, things will go as smoothly for Troy.
Darren Oakey, commenting on David's post, has not only drunk the koolaid, he's swimming in it. To wit:
Static typing makes life easier because it SIMPLIFIES the decisions you have to make. Then it makes life orders of magnitude easier because it allows the IDE to provide useful and high quality information about what you want to do - there without changing context, without looking a different IDE. Final classes, checked exceptions make life EASIER because you don't make mistakes. The protect you from both misuse, and the far more common programmers affliction of stupidity - and that protection makes programming EASIER because your program works. First time and every time.
Yep, "final" makes things easier, IF the original designers thought of every possible contingency that I as a developer might ever run across, anytime, anywhere. Static typing makes it so easy that developer never, ever have to use casts. Not once - it simply never happens.
The last part of his comment is the telling part - he wants these things in order to protect the developer from his own stupidity. Just remember that the next time you use one of the mainstream languages - many of the "features" were designed with the idea in mind that you, the developer, are a moron.
As to his last comment, that these things ensure that your program works right the first time and every time? Pardon me while I go have a giggle fit...
Commercial Machine Control using Smalltalk: An experience report from the Semiconductor Industry. experience report Raabe, Thor: Unaxis Wafer Processing Monday 9:15 am to 10 am Abstract: Unaxis has been shipping production equipment for Semiconductor Manufacturing for almost a decade with control systems based on ControlWORKS, a commercial framework written in VisualWorks Smalltalk. This presentation will describe the equipment, its capabilities, the use of Smalltalk and the ControlWORKS framework, and some experiences gathered while developing and supporting these products.
Bio: Thor Raabe is a Lead Software Engineer at Unaxis Wafer Processing where he has been developing semiconductor manufacturing equipment automation software using Smalltalk for 9 years. He has a full range of expertise ranging from troubleshooting hardware and driver code to system architecture and framework development.
See you in Orlando!
Slashdot reports that the MPAA thinks that digital piracy is costing Lucas money:
MPAA President and CEO Dan Glickman: 'There is no better example of how theft dims the magic of the movies for everyone than this report today regarding BitTorrent providing users with illegal copies of Revenge of the Sith. The unfortunate fact is this type of theft happens on a regular basis on peer to peer networks all over the world.'"
Earth to Dan Glickman: Sith has broken the single day record for movie revenues - so far it's raked in $50M. The entire set of films to date has brought in $5.7B in revenue.
So if this is the "best example" of how piracy costs film makers money, I think we can stop worrying. Is Glickman really this stupid? Does he have any idea how much of a moron this makes him appear to be?
David Weinberger lets the Boston Globe (and by extension, the entire MSM) have it with both barrels:
Note to Globe: You, Huffington, Walter Cronkite, the NY Times and the Mayor of Reading are all welcome in our blogosphere. But your concern that your high-toned bigness might just drown out our wee voices is misplaced. The blogosphere isn't a town the professionals can buy up; it's an infinite landscape that will have towns of every sort. We little, irresponsible bloggers are going to continue to find one another and delight in one another. And now and then we're also going to drop in on the upscale respectable towns — well, not the gated ones, of course — and, yes, sometimes we'll be carrying cans of spray paint. But we damn well will not be daunted.
Unlike radio and TV, the net isn't a place that can be bought out by a few gatekeepers - the barrier to publishing has been reduced to a simple desire to be heard. As I said in my last post, the only value-add that the MSM is now capable of adding is in actual, honest to goodness reporting. The kind that costs time and money.
Rogers Cadenhead hits the bullseye on the problems faced by the old line media as they try to adapt to the changed landscape. He first notes that Paul Ford tries to analogize from the cable tv experience - to wit, HBO managed to add value, why can't the Times? To which Rogers points out:
Interesting comparison, but I think it's far easier for HBO to beat network TV than for the Times to beat a horde of free online papers and bloggers.
That's a very good point. Consider cable TV, like HBO - they have more leeway than the free competition, as an artifact of FCC regulation. They can air content that simply can't make its way to the networks. You may agree or disagree with those restrictions, but nevermind - they exist, and they allow HBO (et. al.) to shift the playing field.
Now consider the plight of the Times. Straight news? There's tons of free content out there, from Google News and tons of other sources. Opinion, from their op-ed folks? I can find scads of free opinion pieces across the blogosphere, covering a much more intellectually diverse range than the Times op-ed page allows. What does that leave? It leaves real reporting. It leaves investigative pieces that bloggers don't have the resources to engage in, and that cable news nets won't air, for the most part.
Can the Times add enough of that to justify their subscription costs? I don't know, but the legacy of the Jayson Blair incident certainly doesn't help their cause. It's going to be a tough row to hoe, that's for sure.
I'm slightly more than halfway through "The Birth of the Modern", by Paul Johnson. It's a social/cultural/scientific history of the period between 1815-1830, when Johnson posits that the modern West was born. It's a fascinating book - kind of like the old PBS series "Connections" in the way it bounces from topic to topic, but in a more restricted time interval. Here's where the title of this post comes from - in a section on the rise of the Scientific method, Johnson writes:
In the years after Waterloo, scientific invention was of passionate interest to a rapidly expanding British and international public. That was the most important new factor. But it was still possible for a moderately well educated man or even a woman - a manual on chemistry was specifically written to appeal to ladies - to grasp the latest scientific developments. Indeed, an empiric engineer like Stephenson, who had no schooling, worked at the frontiers of technology alongside scientists like Davy. Physics and chemistry, science and engineering, literature and philosophy, art and industrial design, theory and practice - all constituted a continuum of knowledge and skill, within which men roamed freely. The notion of separate, compartmentalized "disciplines", later imposed by universities, did not yet exist.
Before someone gets their shorts in a bunch over the way he wrote about women there, recall that this is the early 19th century being discussed, not the modern era. The fascinating bit to me is that anyone with enough sense and curiousity could work at the bleeding edge back then - if modern knowledge is a staircase, people were still standing at the lower landing, peering up. It's certainly not like that now.
That's why the 19th century has such a romantic allure to it - it was, by and large, a time of piece in the West. Certainly there were large disruptions - the Civil War in the US, the revolutions (mostly abortive) of 1848 in Europe, the Franco-Prussian war. None of them swept the world though - there was nothing as huge as the wars or Napolean, or as large as WWI became. That meant that people were free to spend time, energy, and money on scientific and cultural pursuits. That's what happened.
There's a notion that science is advancing faster than ever before, but it's really not the case - the technologies introduced through the course of the 19th century and into the early 20th were far, far more disruptive. Consider communications technology, for instance. In reading about the negotiations at the Congress of Vienna, it was clear that the world hadn't changed yet - the ministers sent were mostly on their own, as dispatches from Castlereigh (of the UK) back to London took weeks going back and forth. Skip a few years forward and you had the telegraph - which brought instantaneous communication to the world. In 1815, it took months for the news of the volcanic eruption (which caused "the year without a summer") to reach Europe and the US. By 1883, when Krakatoa went up, it took a day or so. It's faster now, but not dramatically so.
Look at transport - with bad roads and horse drawn conveyances, it took days to travel from New York to Albany. With the introduction of the railroad, that dropped to hours. Sure, planes sped that up even more, and removed the need for the high cost railbed. The disruptive change in circumstances came with the rails though. Word of a news event could travel instantly (telegraph), and people could journey to and fro in hours, or days - instead of weeks and months. The coming of the steamship in the latter half of the century collapsed sea travel in the same way.
Now consider the changes we've faced since the 1960s, for instance. Computers and the internet? Well, computers existed back in the 60's, and we (at least in the West) were already attuned to the idea of changing technology. What we got was better and faster, not completely new. The PC and the laptop were incremental improvements, not wholly disruptive events. In the grand scheme of things, the telegraph was a bigger shock to the system than the internet was.
In the whole hullabaloo about Ballmer's alleged RSS comments (the original poster makes it clear that what he posted is not a verbatim transcript), I missed the most relevant tidbit - one of my readers pointed this out in email:
A. We believe RSS is important and will be around for a while but it is not going to change the world. It is a little too simple, that is also the reason everyone’s using it. We are working on more existing powerful stuff, around XML/web services [sic] that will address many issues beyond RSS. RSS will be around, but whatever we are working next will be cooler and more prevalent.
Emphasis added by me, btw. It's a little too simple? Right there, I think this speaks volumes about the corporate culture at Microsoft (not that it's absent elsewhere) - simplicity is bad - complexity means we accomplished something. Complexity means it's powerful.
In a nutshell, that's what's wrong with the IT sector as a whole.
Well, it seems to be time for my weekly log report - here are the results for the last week:
Platform BottomFeeder Downloads Windows 775 Mac 8/9 480 HPUX 349 Sources 335 Linux x86 318 Mac X 241 Update 133 CE ARM 122 Windows98/ME 62 Linux Sparc 21 Solaris 20 AIX 14 Linux PPC 9 SGI 3 ADUX 1 Source Script 1
That's a total of 2884 over the last 7 days, for an average of about 412 a day - not bad, seems to be holding steady. I still don't get those HPUX numbers :) Let's have a look at the feed access:
Tool Percentage of Accesses Mozilla 20.5% BottomFeeder 20.5% Other 21% Net News Wire 14.9% NewsGator 4.4% SharpReader 4% BlogLines 3.9% Internet Explorer 2.8% Planet Smalltalk 2% Liferea 1.8% Feed Demon 1.6% RSS Bandit 1.1% JetBrains 1.1% Feed Reader 1% Shrook 1% Java 1%
Those numbers don't look too different from the last log check. Finally, a look at the straight browser accesses to the html pages:
Tool Percentage of Accesses Mozilla 42.2% Internet Explorer 31.8% Other 15.0% Java 3.5% BottomFeeder 2.8% Net News Wire 2.7% BlogLines 1% Opera 1%
Looks about the same as last week, although the aggregator accesses are a bit higher. Then again, the tested interval is shorter.
I was going to see The new Star Wars flick this afternoon - but the rain/wind storm knocked out power in one place in Columbia - the shopping mall where the theater we went to is! So instead, we had lunch (thus the title :) )
One of the cool things about BottomFeeder is that it's wide open to ad-hoc extensibility. I made a post about this 10 days ago - finding related content. This morning I thought I'd do a short screencast on the topic. The quality of this one might not be as good as the last few, but it's way, way smaller - the wmv file comes in just under 2 MB for 3 1/2 minutes. I'll muck around with the audio and video settings and see what I can do with the output in the future, but it here it is.
Here's an interesting tidbit from an impromptu interview with Steve Ballmer of Microsoft:
Q1. How important is RSS? A fad, important, huge or will replace the web/html dominance of the internet?
A. We believe RSS is important and will be around for a while but it is not going to change the world. It is a little too simple, that is also the reason everyone’s using it. We are working on more existing powerful stuff, around XML/web services [sic] that will address many issues beyond RSS. RSS will be around, but whatever we are working next will be cooler and more prevelant.
This touched off a mini-flurry of posting - Dave Winer assumes that it means MS is going to try to bury RSS. Scoble responded with a "look at all the cool RSS stuff we're doing!" post. Steve Rubel noticed the whole thing as well.
Here's the thing - all these guys assume way, way too much. You want to consider what kind of answer you would get had Ballmer been asked "Compare and contrast RSS and Web Services?" He's not a technical guy. He's a manager who was technical a long, long time ago, and I'd bet good money that his grasp of RSS and WS* stuff is limited at best. All this really demonstrates is that Ballmer should defer most of these sorts of questions down to knowedgeable staff instead of trying to answer them.
I've always wanted a Smalltalk balloon, and now I've got one!
Thanks to Jason Jones at STIC!
Ted Leung has a good observation about the Star Wars flick (which I haven't seen yet):
As for the movie itself, it's hard to say. Both the beginning and end were predetermined, so there was a limit to what could be done. Certainly there was plenty of action, and most of that was pretty good. The dialog was pretty bad, as expected. It certainly wasn't as bad as Episodes I or II, but I'm having trouble deciding whether it was good enough to edge out Return of the Jedi. Regardless, after 28 years, Star Wars is done.
The lack of any real mystery in where the film will end up certainly does limit the attraction somewhat. It comes with the territory, having been set in the past of the "first" three films. To some extent, that was the problem "Enterprise" had as well - you knew that it had to end with the founding of the Federation, just like you know that "Sith" has to end with the rise of Vader and the Empire.
Having said all that, I'm sure I'll go anyway.
You can register for the Smalltalk Solutions tutorials now:
Tutorials are now available for signup at:
Each tutorial is $100 USD
Tutorials available are
- A Seaside tutorial by David Shaffer
- Web Services by Allen Davis
- Domain-Driven Design by Eric Evans and Ralph Johnson
- Smalltalk Garbage Collectors by John McIntosh
Early registration for the conference ends May 26. After that, conference registration increases by $100 USD. Sign up today at http://www.smalltalksolutions.com/registration2005.htm
See you in Orlando!
I'm not sure that this is what the Discovery Science channel was going for - they were doing a segment on the dangers of driving while tired, and this is what popped up on screen - if it's not clear, that smoky area is a nasty car crash. This happens as the show - "Understanding" (an episode on sleep) was talking about how many people die in car crashes due to falling asleep at the wheel. Then we get this:
If you can't read the text in orange, it says: "They've gone places we've only dreamt of... capturing worlds beyond our imagination". Whoo boy :/
The process we used to get this image to my blog was a story in itself. First, my wife captured a few minutes of the show in our ReplayTV. Then we used DVArchive version 2.1 to download the show to her PC. Then she played the show on the PC until the relevant segment (above), and screen captured it. From there it went to my PC, where I cropped the rest of the screen, resized the image, and sharpened the text rendering a bit. Whew!
As per usual, if it's not Dave's idea, it's no good. Oddly enough, people differ in their viewing preferences - esle we wouldn't need more than one TV channel...
Nu Cardboard notes that even with IGB of RAM in their PC's, the Java apps they run eat the machines alive. The Eclipse IDE alone chews 300MB!
Now, contrast that with the Smalltalk system I use:
- A full development image running the blog server, the survey application, and a few other things: 142 MB of RAM. That's a full bore development image, btw - I have full access to all development artifacts there, on the remote server in Cincinnati
- The test server, which I run on a PII 400 - 63 MB. Go ahead, try running Eclipse on a PII 400.
- My BottomFeeder runtime application, with most of the development tools retained (I can open workspaces and write Smalltalk against the running application!): 110 MB
I think those guys made a sub-optimal choice in terms of development/deployment tools. The development image I use to work on BottomFeeder only chews 56 MB, and that's with all the code for it loaded into memory. The bottom line is, those of you who still think Smalltalk is "bloated" - you need to look again. There's bloat alright, but it's not over here...
The CEO of Bloglines (now a division of AskJeeves) says that his company will release a blog search engine this summer which will surpass the likes of Technorati, Feedster, and PubSub. "The challenge," he says, "is to create world-class blog search, which we don't think exists now."
AskJeeves knew that direct competition with Google wasn't working out, and figured that a sidestep into a related field would be a better tack. Now let's see if they can be faster than PubSub, arguably the fastest search/match system for blogs out there right now.
I really, really hope they don't let Joel anywhere near development tools anymore. He made asinine comments about exceptions awhile back; now he's decided to remove all doubts about his lack of comprehension:
Now, when I’m writing a dinky script to gather up a bunch of data and print it once a day, heck yeah, exceptions are great. I like nothing more than to ignore all possible wrong things that can happen and just wrap up the whole damn program in a big ol’ try/catch that emails me if anything ever goes wrong. Exceptions are fine for quick-and-dirty code, for scripts, and for code that is neither mission critical nor life-sustaining. But if you’re writing an operating system, or a nuclear power plant, or the software to control a high speed circular saw used in open heart surgery, exceptions are extremely dangerous.
I know people will assume that I’m a lame programmer for failing to understand exceptions properly and failing to understand all the ways they can improve my life if only I was willing to let exceptions into my heart, but, too bad. The way to write really reliable code is to try to use simple tools that take into account typical human frailty, not complex tools with hidden side effects and leaky abstractions that assume an infallible programmer.
That's right Joel - we should always return error codes instead, passing them up through 10, 15, 20 (insert your own value here) calls until we get back to the point in the code where the problem can be handled. All because Joel is deluded, and thinks that an exception handler is the same as a goto.
In his preferred world, when a problem crops up deep in the bowels of the app, how does he propose to deal with it? Damned if I know; I'm not sure he knows either. I'd go through all this again, but I already did - read this, and this.
I'll make one other point - in Smalltalk, you can resume execution from the point where things blew up - because the stack hasn't been tossed by the time you get to the exception. Maybe what Joel needs to do is learn a programming language that doesn't suck.
Please, take his code editor away. Quickly.
Blaine Buxton explains why resumable exceptions are a good thing:
Time for another "this is why Smalltalk is cool" post, but this one also holds true for Ruby And Lisp as well. So, it's a "why Smalltalk, Ruby, and Lisp kicks mucho booty" so to speak. OK, enough of the back patting and let's get down to business. Today's topic is resumable exceptions. It has a nice geeky ring to it doesn't it? The first thing you might ask yourself is, "Why in the world would I want to resume an exception? It's an exception! Dead programs tell no tales!" True, true. Normally, you want an exception to send your program down in flames because you had a mechanical glitch that you didn't expect. Better stop everything before the propeller goes slashing through your data unkindly! But, what if we had exceptions that were good that could notify us of potential bad things or even enumerate potential bad things?
I use resumable exceptions quite a bit in BottomFeeder - they allowed me to create a customized RSS/Atom handler that could deal with many of the trivial issues in feeds (like bad characters) without having to create more own "tag soup" parser. The lack of them in the maintream languages (Java, C++, C#) explains why every time I bring this up in a forum with people involved in the syndication space, they assume that I had to roll my own regex based tag soup parser. But hey - all those extra libraries must be making them more productive... somehow.
The next time someone in management asks "why do you spend time monitoring the blogosphere?", point them to this post by Steve Rubel. The next thing you'll want to figure out is "what would our response be in a similar situation?"
Is Gosling really this stupid?
The "clear need" that Magnusson cites is anything but clear to Gosling, who says Sun has received negative response from the enterprise development community regarding the idea of open-source Java. "We've got several thousand man-years of engineering in [Java], and we hear very strongly that if this thing turned into an open source project—where just any old person could check in stuff—they'd all freak. They'd all go screaming into the hills."
I don't know James - has it been a problem for NetBeans? Is the Apache project in chaos? Is Eclipse? If you don't want to open source Java, that's fine, and believe me, I'd understand. What I don't get is why you have to make crap up instead of just saying no.
The question is, how does an old dog such as myself get immersed in the gospel of yet another language? You can say all you want about Microsoft but you have to admit their developer tools are solid if nothing else. I know IronPython exists for the .Net framework but what about Ruby and Smalltalk implementations? I'm spoiled to Visual Studio.Net, it's so nicely integrated, and just works. I've really come to appreciate VS.Net now that I'm spending my days on a Linux box, you have no idea how pathetic the tools are on Linux.
Well, here's what I used to do, fwiw: I'd take a problem I had solved in my first programming language (Basic) and write the same application in the new language. That way, I wasn't trying to understand the domain problem, I was just learning the new language. It wasn't a hard problem it was a manual cryptogram solver (for the puzzles that still appear in some newspapers). I wrote that in Basic, in UCSD Pascal, in a proprietary language at the DoD, in C, and finally in Smalltalk. I stayed in Smalltalk after I finished the problem in less time than it had taken me to go over syntax in the other languages I had learned :)
As to the question about .NET integration - there are no shipping Smalltalks on that platform - a large part of the problem is that the CLR just isn't ready for a language like Smalltalk (at least not yet). As to tools sucking on Linux - that's not true if you use something like VisualWorks - which is binary portable across every platform we support :) I do my BottomFeeder work mostly on Windows, but I do all the blog server development on Linux - and on an old PII 400! Try running any of the supposedly "modern" development systems on that :)
Lenny Hoffman, Objectivity engineer. Current query support added in 1992, and hasn't evolved a lot. Not initially a problem - most people were using the product as a persistent store. Customers who need query support either built their own or ran back to an RDBMS. The issue - sheer inertia held this areas back.
The big problem is that data size is growing. There's a growing demand from their customers for out of the box query support - they want the scalability that they've come to enjoy with the OODB, but with the kind of query support they know is available with an RDBMS.
- Higher Fidelity - relationship properties as query values, Set qualifiers, path based queries
- More customizable - Application defined calculated values, Application defined indices
- Better performance - primarily optimization
- Open - publish a public OQL with an independent predicate equation tree. Add a listener interface for monitoring, logging, and tuning
[ed] - interesting bit about OQL - will that be truly open, such that other ODB vendors could adopt it? Or is open in this sense just about having a defined API?
The Path query support is somewhat inspired by XPath, but without the reliance on an XML structure. This looks a lot like what you would do with a Smalltalk collection and one of #select:, #collect:, #reject:, or #detect:.
Calculated Values - this is what you get with Gemstone by having the code execute in the database instead of in the client, or in an RDBMS via stored procedures. With Indexing, the big changes are extensibility and the addition of a public API.
In summary - this is an enhancement to the existing query engine by opening it up and making it easier to access and extend. Another note here - this is not part of the current release. In answer toa question, it's not clear which release it will be part of.
Today's keynote is being given by an FBI CTO who spent most of his career at NSA - interesting cross over. He made an interesting observation about how line workers view updates from IT - they fear that new technology coming from IT will be less capable than what they have now. That's hardly unique to FBI - and it's part of a large scale issue in IT shops: there's a lot more slavish following of analysts (especially the useless ones) and fads than there is examination of actual needs.
One item I noticed he hit on as being important to him - SOA. The thing about SOA that makes me skeptical is that it means all things to all people. It's like OO 15 years ago, or the visions being pushed by the OMG a decade ago. Universal answers never are - but C level IT folks always seem to be willing to drink the koolaid.
Oof. In a discussion of network security we just got treated to "buzzword bingo", where the buzzwords are all security agency specific. There's a real issue afoot there though - in any secure environment, how do you make data available to people in an appropriate manner? For instance - some data might need to be shielded for reasons having to do with trial rules. Others might have to be shielded based on which foreign governments are or are not allowed to have access. That all sounds like "why do I care?" for business folks but - with the advent of SarbOx rules, it actually has deeper meaning than a lot of us might like.
Here's another issue that will resonate with business people - the simple volume of structured (and unstructured) data washing though systems. Consider a product marketer or product manager - how the heck do you figure out what the competition is up to? For that matter, how do you figure out who the competition even is? Unlike the FBI/NSA problems, it's nearly all open data - but the fact that it can be found doesn't mean that it will be found. And here's where the FBI guy relates it to his problems:
When the military captured Hussein, they used social (or network) analysis to do so. The tools were pretty simple - large sheets of paper and markers. Now consider a hostage taking (something the FBI deals with). In such cases, they don't have a long time to find the person - it's literally life and death, and time matters a lot. Being able to drive that kind of analysis quickly using decent tools would help them a lot. To relate this back to what seems to be a trivial issue (at least when compared to kidnapping), consider a product team trying to determine which of a set of desirable features to implement for the next release of a product. There may be (say) 10 possible features of interest, but - given the size and capability of the team, combined with the desired delivery schedule, only (say) 3 can be delivered.
How do you make those calls? Market research to determine sales impact? Interviewing existing customers in order to extrapolate general market demand? What about extending the delivery time out so that more could be done? What about hiring more staff so that we could accomplish more? These are all calls that are made with insufficient data, and they need to be made decisively. In my work, I make those sorts of calls all the time, and I'm never entirely certain that I've made the right ones.
Interesting tidbit just came out at the tail end of the talk I just made it to (blasted beltway traffic!) - Objectivity now has a Python binding. That's pretty cool - they also support Smalltalk, of course. This means that you can be productive with Objectivity, instead of falling down into the endless complexity provided by C++ and Java. The presenter pointed out how much more difficult it is to do prototyping against Objectivity with C++ or Java. They plan to release official support for Python later this year - the binding itself has been around since 2000.
most popular desktop aggregators on the Windows platform will now have a richer synchronization story with its most notable competitor. It also puts pressure on other desktop aggregators to figure out a strategy for their own synchronization stories. For example, I had planned to add support for synchronizing with both services in the Nightcrawler release of RSS Bandit but now it is unclear whether there is any incentive for Newsgator to provide an API for other RSS readers. Combining this with the fact that the Bloglines API isn't terribly rich means I'm between a rock and a hard place when it comes to providing synchronization with a web-based aggregator in the next version of RSS Bandit.
Ditto for BottomFeeder. Right now, BottomFeeder can synchronize itself with another running instance of BottomFeeder over HTTP, or via file import (i.e., you export a synch file from one copy, and then import it into another). Until there's a useful server based API, I don't see anything happening here on my end. I don't really see what incentive the NewsGator guys have for playing nice, either. That's not a shot at them - far from it. I just don't see why they would worry about it...
Steve Rubel points out an evolving phenomenon:
People now put the same degree of trust in me (and other reputable bloggers) that they might normally only reserve for analysts and journalists. There's a big difference between these influencers, however, and bloggers. With press/analysts you have a safety net. If they leak, you have options for recourse. With bloggers you really don't.
Well, I'm not clear on what safetly net exists with analysts either (unless you have a contract with them). Ultimately, you're making a trust call, and the person you confide in is going to either be trusted in the future - or not - depending on their behavior.
The more interesting aspect of this is that you could be "on the record" at any time now - whether you are giving a formal presentation/speech or not. That's going to be a rather large change as realization starts settling in.
Darren Hobbs wonders about the new method of class creation in VisualWorks (new since 1999 - which is to say, not that new :) ):
Hmm. VisualWorks has namespaces, which Smalltalk-80 does not, and they seem to have changed the way subclasses are defined. According to my copy of the purple book, a subclass is created by sending a class the message 'subclass:'. It should be possible to implement a version of subclass in the Creature class that adds the extra code.
However, VisualWorks wants me to send 'defineClass:' to a namespace. Problem with that is I want to change the way subclasses of a particular class are defined. If I change the code in the NameSpace class that will affect every class that is ever created thereafter.
How is this different than before? Prior to namespaces, if I modified the class creation method in class Behavior, I ran into the same issue. Nothing but the message recipient has changed, IMHO...
Douglas Barry, David Caplan, Leon Guzenda, Richard Winter. First up - DBMS market shares. "Other" is 9% - which encapsulates OODBs, XML DBs, etc. Interestingly enough, the dbms market is still growing, even though it's fairly mature. There were 10 commercial RDBMS systems, and 5 OSS ones. 7 commercial OODBs, 6 OSS ones. 20 XML DBs, and 10 OSS ones in that area. There are also a number of specialized products in various niches.
The mainline dbs (Oracle, et. al.) are fighting for the enterprise space - file and data. The ORDB and XML db corps are consolidating. XML and XQuery are growing in popularity. JDO is struggling. Recently, a few OSS ODBMS systems have popped up. Objectivity sees this as a good thing, with these systems doing "missionary" work.
What about the specialized dbms systems? Accelerators, in memory db systems of various types (eg, GemFire). Real time embedded systems (eg, Matisse). Objectivity says: "We can compete against any and all of these".
Next - Douglas on when to consider an OODB: when you have a business need for high performance and/or complex data. Complex data? Looks like a graph. Often lacks unique, natural identification. Often has significant number of many to many relationships (joins in a relational environment). Often requires traversing a graph structure. The big win for an ODBMS - no impedance mismatch. The data is stored in the same way that it's used. You don't have to build a mapping between the way it's used and the way it's stored.
"Data tends to stick where it lands" - but we continue to have use cases popping up that want to use this data in unexpected ways. Now we've got a complex diagram that - boiled down - says that an OODB in the middle can mediate between your applications (especially those with WS* needs) and the legacy data stores.
Next - Richard Winter on db scalability challenges. The big challenges: rapid growth in the sheer size of the data sets being stored. User populations are growing, and queries are becoming more complex. Users expect data to be up to the minute, and they expect to get near instantaneous answers ([ed] - this is a Google effect. Users have learned that search engines give them answers immediately...).
- direct, natural modelling of data semantics
- parallel operation
- advanced indexing -the basics (btree) were invented 30 years ago, and a "big" db had 100 records. Things are a trifle different now.
- sophisticated access technique
- query planning and optimization
- highly concurrent operation
- provision for application specific solutions
Demand is rising because the sheer volume of potential data is growing - and the availability of "always on" connectivity is growing. For many purposes, the scaling problem is proportional to the size of the largest partition.
Principal: The db engine should "know" the true structure of the data and optimize around that data. Most of the scaling work has been done on the relational dbs like Oracle and DB/2 - but that still doesn't help whhen you force a graph/network strcuture into a set of tables and rows. That removes knowledge of the structure from the db, and "outsources" it to the application(s).
Question - what about a standard API (i.e., OQL) - this from the OMG guy. The ODMG (now defunct) was working on this, and the files from that group have gone back to the OMG. Beyond the current efforts there, just stuff in the JCP (i.e., proprietary). One thought is that JDOQL may be adopted as a "standard".
Question - what is Objectivity doing with regard to JDO and XQuery? They mentioned that JDO is struggling, and XQuery is getting more popular. Objectivity now has XML import/export, and is planning to expose their internal API's via XQuery. It may be that XQuery ends up being a sort of default OQL.
Question - Compare and contrast Sybase IQ with Objectivity/DB. Sybase IQ is an innovative product for Sybase - uses column storage instead of row storage - in a conventional db, all data for a person goes in a table with multiple columns. With this they use data compression and bitmap indexing. Works for tabular data that fits the relational model ([ed] - I need to look this up). The view here - Objectivity works better for complex data that does not necessarily fit the relational model, and when you are going to tie the db and the app more tightly together (i.e., embedding).
I'm here at the Objectivity WorldView 2005 User's Conference. It's in Bethesda Maryland - looks like a large government audience. The first thing is the stock "Here's the Company" talk from the CEO. I suppose I shouldn't sound so jaundiced, but there it is :)
Here's the interesting piece of information - since 2001, the size of the average database has quadrupled. "Data is the capital of the new economy". We'e now into exabyte databases [ed] -can relational really scale to handle that if you have to do anything that resembles a complex join? I suppose Alan knows better than I do :)
He's focusing in on the audience (in particular, the security audience) with the "need to sift out the wheat from the huge piles of chaff" bit.
Ok, here we go with some of the examples/target markets:
- Security agencies (pattern detection across multiple disparate data sources)
- Investigation (FBI, et. al.) doing much the same thing
- Environmental control (lots of disparate data coming in from various sorts of sensors [ed] - here's where manifest typing just gets in the way.
- Telecommunications - usage of Objectivity here tends to be embedded in other apps. Pros touted here: reducing time to market, simplifying complex data types, OO reuse
- Scientific applications - genomics, bio-informatics. Dealing with huge volumes of data
Key areas targeted: Customer focus, innovation, platform for growth, drive increased adoption of OO (and OODB) technology. One of the things being touted is what they might call "mass customization" of the product within their customer base. Put another way, this is services led product direction. On the performance side, they've been focused on enhancements to their query engine - seems to be customer/service led. Heavily focused on bringing in additional partners who add value in various niche areas.
Here's a new thing - they are about to introduce a rental (subscription) license in order to lower the barrier to entry to their technology. Subscription plans are breaking out all over.The other big take away here - Objectivity is profitable and growing.
I've been at the Objectivity User's Conference all day, and there's no WiFi there - so I'm just getting back online. I'll have some notes from the sessions posted in a bit
The Yanks have won 9 straight - maybe they are getting serious, and maybe they have just enough pitching to make a run this year. Crossing fingers....
Dave Winer speculates about the FeedDemon/NewsGator thing:
Chris Pirillo has an interview with Nick Bradbury about the deal with Newsgator. I guess it's official now. I was briefed on the deal by Nick Bradbury a couple of days ago. I understand that the motivation was to allow FeedDemon to tie into the subscription-sharing network Newsgator is building. It seems inevitable that they'll buy a Mac news reader product, they would probably like to buy NetNewsWire, and it would be hard to imagine Brent wouldn't take a reasonable offer (I have no inside knowledge). This is venture capital at work, not sales revenue. I imagine that Newsgator will roll up with Feedburner (they share an investor), and Technorati may become part of this deal too. The goal? Get large enough to go public or merge with something going public (SixApart) or get bought by Microsoft.
If it actually goes like that, I'd expect a lot of infighting and chaos. Why? You'll have a lot of strong willed developers trying to build some kind of coherent, common client platform to go back to the shared NewsGator server. I already fully expect either FeedDemon or NewsGator (client) to disappear (and my money would be on FeedDemon).
Never mind what they said in the interview - there's venture money behind these guys, and the very first thing out of the money guys mouths will be something like "we only need one client - pick one, or merge them". I expect that the codebases aren't that similar, so an announced merge of the two would mean either lots of floundering, or the death of one product with a few of its features added to the other.
WonderBranding talks about the circulation numbers for newspapers, focusing on the loss of female readers:
A recent post addressed the news that women are abandoning newspapers like rats a sinking ship. They feel disconnected and ignored when it comes to content, which is 70-80% male-oriented.
Interestingly enough, my wife's comment when I mentioned this wasn't the male oriented stories - it was that men take newspapers to the bathroom, and woment are happy with reading on a PC. Now, I'm not sure how this actually works out - men have always taken papers to the bathroom, and it's not as if there was some golden age when there were more stories focused on women either.
Bottom line? I suspect that the dropping circulation is simply part of the larger trend, unrelated to any kind of latent sexism thing.
Tomorrow, NewsGator will formally announce that it has acquired Bradbury Software, which makes the popular FeedDemon RSS aggregator, and TopStyle, a CSS/xHTML editor for Windows. FeedDemon will integrate tightly with the NewsGator Online synchronization platform and come bundled with all of NewsGator's paid subscription plans. Nick Bradbury, the developer behind both those products, will be joining NewsGator as well. This is a smart move by both companies. RSS is growing fast and the smaller players will need to combine to compete with more capitalized players, such as Yahoo, Ask/Bloglines/IAC, Microsoft and others.
Interestingly, this was the combination I was thinking of when I posted this. I didn't verbalize it then, mostly because I didn't want to look too foolish if I made the wrong guess :) Looks like Rob Fahrni sort of gets his wish.
The real question is, which codebase dies? They won't need two clients, and the code bases won't be that similar (especially given the fact that NewsGator lives inside Outlook). My guess? Sayonara FeedDemon.
Julia Lerman gives us a dog's eye view of what's wrong with the world :)
I have to give credit where it's due - after the last Comcast guy came out last week and replaced the outside line, they set up another appointment for today when I still had problems. The tech who came out - guy named Kevin - was very professional, got a new cable modem installed, worked through a provisioning problem on the phone, and then called me back just now to check on the problem - which seems to have cleared up - I haven't had an outage since he left. So my hat's off to the local Comcast tech folks. As much as I've complained, they were right on top of this one.
Lileks has a post that's fit for both critics and fans of the various Trek series. Take this, for instance:
One of the good things about the End of Trek: I’ll never have to listen to the bitching of fans. The more I troll the message boards and forums and Usenet groups, the more I’m convinced that the entirety of Trek Fandom is made up of people devoted to proving the inadequacies of the thing they supposedly love. Oh, that episode was horrible. Worst season ever. That show wasn’t anything like the wonderful perfect original series remember that show where the computer ran the entire planet? No, not the one where the planet looked like the backlot for an Old West movie. No, not the one where the planet was some sort of jungle with Caucasian Polynesians who shoveled fruit into the mouth of a big computer-god. No, not the one where the planet was actually an asteroid. Oh wait, yeah, that one. No wait, the one where the planet was full of Indians, and the computer saved them by pushing away an asteroid a different one than the one where McCoy was dying and fell in love with the priestess, because it was turn to get some - and Kirk was like a big war brave chief or something. Miramanee! Man, he knocked some moccasins that one. Yes, the new Trek sucks, there’s nothing like that Nazi planet episode well, except for the Nazi planet two-parter. (Which sucked!) There was nothing that had Q in it, like in Next Gen, when he would take them all back to Robin Hood times and it wasn’t even a holodeck because he used his Q powers. For that matter, where were the holodeck stories on “Enterprise”? Not one! Okay, in the last one, but you know what I mean. You want to talk Trek, you talk Next Generation, and that means Whoopi Goldberg in a cardboard hat and a warship with a daycare center.
Heh - there's a lot more there :)
Good TV returns - Sci Fridays are back July 15:
Stargate SG-1 returns for a ninth season with new cast members Ben Browder (Farscape), Emmy winner Beau Bridges, Oscar winner Lou Gossett Jr. and former The X-Files star Mitch Pileggi. Bridges will also appear in several episodes of Stargate Atlantis. Gossett and Browder's Farscape co-star Claudia Black join the cast of SG-1 in recurring roles, and former Baywatch star Jason Momoa joins the cast of Stargate Atlantis.
Battlestar Galactica comes back for a second season, with the entire ensemble cast returning: Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Katee Sackhoff, Jamie Bamber, James Callis, Tricia Helfer and Grace Park. Also resuming their roles are executive producer and writer Ronald D. Moore and executive producer David Eick.
Very good news!
Scoble's been tipped off about a pending deal in the syndication space:
Want a rumor? Come back tonight. I hear that one news aggregator company is acquiring another and tonight I'll have the details. It's going to be a big week for syndication.
There aren't that many commercial aggregators - and of them, Newsgator is the one that just received another round of funding. Is it them, or two of the others trying to build up for a server side move? I guess we'll find out later today.
Tim Bray explains what actual interop between MS and Sun would look like. But then again, this alliance is all about Sun finally noticing that Linux thing eating their low end server market away, so why should MS care?
I guess it’s good that Steve and Scott made nice, and there’s no doubt that when the customers tell you to interoperate, then you bloody well interoperate, so it was a good piece of work (see Pat Patterson’s take in a comment on his own blog). But this glue for linking to Microsoft’s WS-Federation is a second-rate solution at best. Among other reasons, WS-Federation is yet another WS-backroom spec that might change (or go away) any time the people in the backroom want it to; not something I’d advise betting on. If you have products from any two vendors that implement Liberty Alliance specs properly, well, they interoperate.
Here's an interesting tidbit - some larger data centers are moving to DC power in order to cut down on heat inside the datacenter:
A typical power supply, which converts AC power into the various DC voltages required by individual server components, has an efficiency range of just 65% to 85%, vendors say. Just one 1-kilowatt power supply may generate 300 watts of waste heat, and today's blade servers can consume more than 14 kilowatts per rack.
Some data center managers have responded by using DC-based power distribution systems, eliminating the need for AC power supplies for server racks. IBM and HP both offer servers that can accept bulk DC power from a centralized, telecommunications-grade -48-volt DC power distribution unit (PDU) and then step it down to the voltages required at the server level.
Since no one actually produces DC power anymore (although, it's been produced more recently than I thought - witness this Boston story), these firms are doing the conversion temselves, just outside the data center. That way, the heat dissipation occurs in an area that doesn't need massive AC.
Looks like IBM is pushing employee blogs - James Snell has posted the guidelines they are following. The interesting part?
So with IBMers blogging both inside and outside our Intranet environment, recognizing full well that it was time to formalize their support for what many of us had been doing for quite some time, the corporate communications and legal teams worked collaboratively with the IBM Blogging Community to draft the Corporate Blogging Guidelines copied below. The core principles -- written by IBM bloggers over a period of ten days using an internal wiki -- are designed to guide IBMers as they figure out what they're going to blog about so they don't end up like certain notable ex-employees of certain notable other companies. They're also intended to communicate IBM's position on such practices as astroturfing, covert marketing, and openly goading or berating competitors -- specifically, don't do it. As these guidelines were being drafted, we drew heavily upon our own experiences as bloggers and the excellent prior art in this space graciously provided by Sun, Microsoft, Groove and many others who have drafted policies and guidelines for their employees.
That's one way to get buy-in to a set of policies - have open participation in the drafting of the policies.
My saga with Comcast continues. This morning, I have no DNS service. The cable modem had all the right lights on, but I couldn't get DNS lookup. Rebooting the modem didn't help, so I figured I'd go the all out - unplug the modem, unplug the router, and then replug. Well. That resulted in a cable modem that just wouldn't synch with the network at all. Sigh. This is what I should expect in the absence of local competition, I guess - Comcast doesn't have to care...
Figures - it all came back to life nearly the nano-second that I saved this post as a draft.