I've put up a Wiki Page with the links (in order) to the two screencasts in this series, and I'll be keeping it up to date as I go along. I'm also posting links to ancillary files (workspaces now, parcels, etc. later) on that page.
Patrick Logan on using lots of processes in Smalltalk:
I’d thought a little about this for Smalltalk when I worked at Gemstone. I don’t know enough about the Squeak VM to talk about it. Like Erlang’s and Gambit Scheme’s VMs, it would require the ability to create many 1000’s of non-OS threads very quickly and run them all fairly. I think Cincom’s commercial Smalltalk VM might approach these numbers.
VisualWorks can most certainly handle that. In BottomFeeder, the default update loop spawns a process (Smalltalk) per feed, and executes an HTTP query for it (assuming, based on various update algorithm parameters, it should). I have 318 feeds in my Bf right now, and it does just fine spinning that many off.
Read the rest, where Patrick points out how Smalltalk processes and Erlang ones differ - but in terms of what Smalltalk can handle, lots of processes isn't a problem.
Seaside is a somewhat heretical web framework. They generate their HTML. They don't embrace meaningful URLs. They use Smalltalk, of all things.
Of course, by making these crazy choices, they get insane amounts of power. When we were building Jifty, we stole liberally from everything that had good ideas. We dragged Rails down a dark alley and rifled through its pockets. We grabbed Catalyst's wallet.
But really, Seaside's killer features like Continuations and Halos...just stopped me in my tracks. Once we got them into our grubby little perlish hands, I realized: This is the way development is supposed to be.
Come on in, the water's fine :)
Following on from yesterday, I put together another screencast - this one is on simple File/IO. I've got two workspace files I mention in the screencast:
- The configuration workspace, which I use to load parcels
- The workspace with the simple file examples
To save those files, you should probably right click and pick the "save to disk" option that comes up in the browser you use. The screencast itself is here; it's 5:40 long, and just under 21 MB.
Update: A note Bob makes in comments - the configuration script uses Windows specific path separators. You'll have to modify them for other platforms
I see that one of the professionals doesn't like it when the little people get involved in journalism - opinion or otherwise. Here's The Washington Post's Gene Weingarten, warning a bunch of J-School graduates about the dangers they face:
My point is, this is a challenging time for journalists.
And because you are word people, you understand that "challenging time" is a euphemism often used to describe disasters of epic proportions. For example, Richard Pryor was facing a "challenging time" when he ran down the street half-naked and on fire.
What are your challenges, specifically? Let us begin with, quote unquote, getting a job. Good jobs in journalism have become scarce as newspapers shrink and die, broadcast media fragment to smaller niche audiences and the public appears more and more willing to receive its "news" online from nincompoops ranting in their underpants.
Now, Weingarten is a humorist for the Post, so some of this is tongue in cheek. A lot of it likely isn't though - people in his position - i.e., those who are paid to produce interesting opinions - are the ones facing the "nincompoops", as he puts it.
This is an area that vast swaths of the media haven't really grasped yet - punditry is no longer an exclusive little club. The op/ed page of a major daily was a major perch a decade ago - now, not nearly so much. It turns out that there are a lot of people willing - and happy - to produce opinion pieces regularly, and do so mostly for the satisfaction of making their point publicly. That's a major problem for those paid to produce 1-5 columns a week. Many bloggers put out that much content every day. Opinion journalism has shifted.
Why do I say that a lot of the media hasn't gotten that? Well, look at the New York Times. What do they charge for? Access to their pundits. Why they think those people are worth charging for is a mystery to me - and it has nothing to do with their politics. I can find equally (or more) incisive content freely available, from exactly the same political perspective. Why would I pay to read it?
Then there's the all too common practice of locking the archives behind a pay wall. The net result of that is to make anything in the Times (or other pubs with the same policy) effectively unlinkable. Why should I link to something that will disappear within a few weeks? If someone finds a link to one of my posts 3 months from now, any link over to a Times article lwill lead to a black hole. I don't know if this is a generational problem, or just a refusal to grasp the obvious. Either way, it's a problem.
Going back to the humor piece, here's the advice I'd give the J-School types - get a real job first. Learn something about how the world works before you try to be an observer of it.
With cheap hosting and inexpensive, but powerful video cameras, something new is starting to appear: individual news services. I've seen a couple of examples of this, across a fairly wide spectrum of interests and politics:
- Regular Podcasts - Gillmor Gang is a good example of this
- Regular Video blogs - RocketBoom and HotAir's Vent are good examples
Heck, there's the whole iTunes podcast and videocast section, the things above are just examples. The thing about video is this: just as blogs have been able to dissect print media - video blogs are able to dissect regular newscasts. The cost of running a network made video prohibitive until recently, but now it's in the hands of anyone who wants to jump in.
The media landscape is rumbling. I expect that the next few election cycles here in the US should be absolutely fascinating because of all this.
Bureacracies can come up with the most insanely stupid answers. Which is where this gem of a story comes from. When explaining why New York City is getting less anti-terror funding next year, a Dept of Homeland Security spokesman explained:
New York has no national monuments or icons, according to the Department of Homeland Security form obtained by ABC News. That was a key factor used to determine that New York City should have its anti-terror funds slashed by 40 percent--from $207.5 million in 2005 to $124.4 million in 2006.
Heh. I wonder if if they've seen this:
Ironically, the Statue of Liberty is listed as a National Monument. It's things like this that prevent me from believing in conspiracies. Large organizations - public or private - are just too stupid to manage a good conspiracy :)
One of the things I've brought up a few times is the problems with the current advertising models - and I mean all of them. TV ads? Defeated by the bathroom and DVRs - not to mention the dreaded remote control. It's my belief that the entire TV advertising model is built on air, and everyone involved has agreed not to question it. All it's going to take is one kid to come along and ask about the emperor's lack of clothes, and *poof* - up in smoke it'll go.
Then there's the online model, which doesn't even have age to recommend it. Today, Mark Cuban brings up something I've mentioned a few times - the click fraud thing is far bigger than anyone is willing to comtemplate. The money is too good, and the chance of being punished too small - it's the perfect storm for massive fraud:
The number of splog/fake websites being created EVERY HOUR is exploding. Based on the comments Im getting on my blog from what must be legions of boiler rooms creating marginally understandable comments , with links back to “affiliate websites” and legit email addresses in an effort to legitimize those sites. There must be just as many more in place to sign up those sites for ad publishing networks.
Now i have no idea how much money is being lost to click fraud. All i know is that when the black hat hackers see easy money, they take it. I also know that they are greedy and a jealous bunch. The more they see the more they take, so you can pretty well bet that the amount of click fraud is going up by the minute.
Heck, there are dirt cheap products that enable this - you don't even need to be a hacker. Even more than the TV model, this whole thing is a house of cards, but without any actual supports. Eventually, a reality check will stumble by, and the advertisers - the ones paying the money - will start to question the value. At that point, Google and Yahoo are going to be dealing with sucking chest wounds, and Microsoft - a company that has actual products - will be laughing all the way to the bank. Again.
I was flipping channels this evening, and ran across the Yankees/Tigers game in the 7th - Yanks up 6-5. I watch Proctor on (in relief) setting the Tigers down without difficulty. On to the ninth inning - Rivera is unavailable this series, but by gosh, it's the ninth inning - we just have to take the effective pitcher out and slap in a closer. It's Farnsworth, he of the erratic control and high ERA.
Sure enough, he gives up a walk and three hits, losing the game. The question I have is, why the heck was he in there? Proctor was pitching well, and it didn't look to me like the Tigers were able to hit him. Torre just followed the baseball bible: "Ninth inning, must bring in new pitcher in a one run game".
Bah. Farnsworth lost the game, but Torre's following of orthodoxy was the root cause.
Troy isn't happy with the editing quality of a few recent tech books he's bought
I've decided to do a few "getting started with Cincom Smalltalk" screencasts, and I've just uploaded the first one. This one is focused on "what do I need to load". When you start VisualWorks, there are a number of packages you can load - which ones should you load if you want to have a decent beginners set? I won't claim that the set I came up with is definitive, but it's a start. Next time, I'll walk through what these packages do, and then I'll move on to some simple development problems. Here's the screencast - it's just over 5 minutes, and a trifle over 21 MB.
I went for a run of the mill checkup a few weeks ago, and my doctor didn't like the cut of my cholesterol and tryglyceride levels (the latter was very high). So, she slapped me on medication and sent me to a cardiologist. I had that visit today, and thankfully, nothing's wrong - ticker is in good shape. I'll say this though - if I never have another stress test, it'll be too soon.
The test was easy enough - walking and jogging on a sloped treadmill. The heart monitor stuff was a real pain though. First, they had to shave part of my chest - I now look like someone has run a bunch of miniature lawn mowers in circles on my chest. That should look great at the beach :)
The upshot of all this is, my days of throwing caution to the wind and having as many fries as I want look like they're over. The good news is, I actually like fruits and vegetables - I'd just gotten into bad eating habits. The even better news is, simply changing my eating habits resulted in a drop of 8 pounds over the last 2 weeks. Yes, I was eating a lot of crap :)
An innovative way to "fix" an iPod - drop it from a 3 story height:
You might recall my little bit of fun with my 4th Gen iPod and its fun little trip off my balcony to test out the iFrogz case. For those too lazy to click the link, the gist is that my iPod was already dead from Ye Old Click O' Death, so I decided to give the iFrogz a rigorous drop test... twice, from three floors up. What I hadn't counted on was that the darned thing would start working again following the drops.
Of course, the drop didn't really fix it - but it led him to the diagnosis - go check it out.
NOAA's tropical storm feed is live again, as the official season has opened.
It wouldn't be surprising if it were hard to reproduce in other countries, because you couldn't reproduce it in most of the US either. What does it take to make a silicon valley even here?
What it takes is the right people. If you could get the right ten thousand people to move from Silicon Valley to Buffalo, Buffalo would become Silicon Valley.
He then goes on to say that you need two types of people: nerds and rich people - nerds to build stuff, and rich people to fund them. There's a lot of truth to what he says, but I wonder what he'd make of Avi's path to starting up - something he spoke about with Andrew Catton at Smalltalk Solutions. My notes on what Avi said then:
DabbleDB came out of their experience in consulting - the ad-hoc spread of semi-shared data that really should have been fully shared (eg - emailed spreadsheets). Had they tried this a decade ago, they would have gone the whole VC "take the money" route. That's not the way they went - they believe in a "late binding" approach to business planning. Once you take venture money, a lot of options get closed off - you are committing to a specific set of plans.
"Taking Venture $$ is a premature optimization"
It's certainly easier to try what Avi and Andrew have done now, than it would have been a few years ago. They mentioned that they did most of their communication through IM chat and email at first, and managed to build up the core of DabbleDB while they were working elsewhere. In essence, they traded sweat equity (extra hours) for venture capital.
It's not limited to the US, either - the Software With Style guys started out inside another firm, and are only now venturing out - as Avi and Andrew did, with a services contract in place.
Will the ability to create "virtual" Silicon Valleys replace the need for the real thing? I doubt it, but it should make it possible for a lot of people to get involved in the business without their having to relocate. I'd much rather live here in suburban Maryland, for instance. Further down, he gets into what makes for an area that will attract the right kind of people:
The exciting thing is, all you need are the people. If you could attract a critical mass of nerds and investors to live somewhere, you could reproduce Silicon Valley. And both groups are highly mobile. They'll go where life is good. So what makes a place good to them?
What nerds like is other nerds. Smart people will go wherever other smart people are. And in particular, to great universities. In theory there could be other ways to attract them, but so far universities seem to be indispensable. Within the US, there are no technology hubs without first-rate universities-- or at least, first-rate computer science departments.
He hasn't said it, but there's another piece there - most "highly mobile" people are young. Now, it also happens to be the case that most people willing to burn the candle at both ends are young, so it works out. However, there are plenty of great people you can get - but only if you don't demand that they relocate. We (the Cincom Smalltalk team) hired a number of great Smalltalkers a few years back, and only one of them moved (his choice) to California. The rest of them stayed where they were - they had families, many with children, and were established where they were.
It's harder to get people to move as they age - we lay down roots, we make friends, our kids go to school. Taking a kid out of school is a very hard thing to ask, and it's also very hard to drop friends who who've spent a lot of time with. Sure, you can "keep in touch" - but keeping in touch is not the same as the weekly game night, to use my example.
The bottom line is, I'm not sure that the future is in Silicon Valley, or places like it. It's on the network, and wherever people want to live. The limiting factors of time dilation still exist; it's possible to have constant communication with people a few timezones away. Once you get out as far as 5 or six though - it's a near impossibility. You have to be virtually close, but not necessarily physically close.
I touched on the VC need earlier, and Graham goes back to it at the end of his essay:
Venture investors, however, prefer to fund startups within an hour's drive. For one, they're more likely to notice startups nearby. But when they do notice startups in other towns they prefer them to move. They don't want to have to travel to attend board meetings, and in any case the odds of succeeding are higher in a startup hub.
I'd be very, very interested in hearing his toughts on the style of startup I brought up earlier. There are problems with VCs - they exert control, and they enforce othodoxy on your firm (I saw this at ParcPlace). Graham extolls the need for the nerds to be in control, and if there's one thing that VCs do, it's prevent that. I expect to see less centralization like what happened in Silicon Valley, not more.
Looks like the CompUSA guy's theory was bad. I brought the Mini back this afternoon, just got it set back up, and had an email back from Apple on re-downloading purchased music - and the machine started to get flaky. Menus disappeared, applications misbehaved, and then it wouldn't reboot. Suspiciously like the other day. So, I think the HD is just toast. Back it went, and now I wait for the call from them.
In the meantime, not all was lost - Borders is next door to CompUSA here, so I waled over and got a book that was recommended to me (via email): "TWO QUEENS IN ONE ISLE: The Deadly Relationship of Elizabeth 1 and Mary Queen of Scots"
I may give Sun and Schwartz a lot of crap over their business model, but I have to admire the openness and transparency they are using to carry it forward. Take note: this is the new PR and management model you're seeing.
Chris Pirillo on the O'Reilly matter with "Web 2.0"
As has been stated by both Dave Winer and Jason Calacanis , Tim and his partners were 110% justified in protecting their conference brand. Anybody and everybody who holds a trademark on something profitiable (or, as is the case for O’Reilly, ungodly profitable) understands and supports the decision that was made - not necessarily in how it was handled, but certainly the reasoning behind it. I respect Tim’s personal and professional position in the matter, having a few not-quite-as-profitable brands of my own to protect. Anybody who’s ever owned a trademark [read: profitable brand] should wholly understand. That’s the kicker, underscored by Dave’s editorial: O’Reilly is NOT a non-profit organization.
As I said the other day, the biggest part of this has nothing to do with the law. O'Reilly and CMP have filed for a rademark, and they have all the legal rights they want to assert it. The question is - given the way PR now works, was it a good idea to have the lawyers charge out before they talked to PR? A few years ago, that would have been a stupid question. Now it's anything but, as Tim is rapidly finding out. O'Reilly has branded itself as a champion of open source, which means that this effort actually harmed their brand.
The rest of it - all the legal stuff? Utterly irrelevant. A "valuable mark" has little value after you step in it.
The Mini is back, but we lost all the data - thus the network drive that I bought for automated backups :/
Anyway - recreating my entire music library was going to be a royal pain in the butt - and even though Apple's DRM is (relatively) unobtrusive, it prevents one from getting songs off the iPod and over to a computer. Not a problem - shareware to the rescue. There were a number of applications mentioned on this page, and I grabbed "iPod Liberator". As I write this, my music library is being pulled off the iPod and back to the Mac. I'll still have to contact Apple support - my daughter lost her stuff as well, and the iPod doesn't have her library. We did make backups of all the music to CD though, so there's no actual lossage.
The upshot - all the DRM has done is make things less convenient - not impossible. Eventually, this will be seen as a bad marketing move.
Oh, and the "long tail" reference? I had a number of people point solutions out to me via my blog. Thanks to all!
Indian public sector employees are realizing that outsourcing doesn't all flow to the shores of India:
According to India's Economic Times, Indian workers employed by the country's reserve bank this week held demonstrations to protest possible plans by the bank to outsource some routine jobs to the private sector. The Times provides the following quote from K K Sharma, secretary of the All India Reserve Bank Employees Association: "We have two main demands--implementation of the revised pension scheme and no outsourcing of jobs from RBI."
The article makes it sound like the jobs are likely just being privatized, but from there? Who knows? I've seen other reports of jobs moving from India to China, Vietnam, (etc).
None of this is new, of course - textile jobs migrated from France to England, then on to New England. From there they went to the US south, and then migrated to Asia (and South America). Heck, even the patent/copyright fights aren't new - English manufacturers complained bitterly that New England plants were stealing their patented designs. Everything old is new again...
I've been thinking of doing a few "Intro to Smalltalk" screencasts, and I'd like some suggested topics. I'm thinking of some basic stuff - file i/o, creating a simple GUI, etc. Anyone have any other suggestions? Bear in mind that I don't want to create an overly long thing. Either leave a comment here, or drop me a line.
Instantiations is channeling the marketing team from DarkPlace-DodgeyTalk - I just saw this in comp.lang.smalltalk:
I'm trying to figure how Instantiations did subscribe me (and some fellows smalltalkers) to a Java newsletter, when the only thing I did is register to download some goodies and documentation of *Smalltalk* more than a year ago.
I received the following mail (snipped):-- BEGIN OF MAIL Subject: Last Chance to Register: Bring Java Back to the Desktop From: Instantiations Inc. <newslet...@instantiations.com> To: <me> *Eclipse RCP Webcast **LIVE From Times Square Wednesday May 31, 2006 2:00 - 3:00 PM EDT Registration Closes Tuesday -- END OF MAIL
How to believe them when they say they will improve VAST? :-(
Heh. Know your audience, and all that :)
Head on over to Donny's blog and find out how the piracy from one torrent site is of more value than the GDP of France. Oh, the humanity...
Gamers still mulling their options following the unveiling of cool new consoles from Nintendo and Sony at the recent E3 2006 conference might want to take a closer look at the Wii, given that Nintendo has formally priced the machine well below the competing boxes.
The price, $250, is half the cost of Sony's $499 PlayStation 3 console and considerably less than Microsoft's top-end Xbox 360 that sells for about $400.
It's now a matter of which games they have ready at the point of release.
CMP let us know recently that they were worried about potential dilution of the conference brand by other companies putting on Web 2.0 related conferences using the same name, and I agreed with them that it was an issue that we needed to deal with. I was not aware, however, that CMP intended to send out cease and desist letters to anyone in the short term, let alone to a non-profit organization with whom I'd previously corresponded about the event they were putting on. (Gina Blaber, the head of our conference team, was aware of the letter, however, and approved it, and that's why Sara Winge, in her postings, did not disclaim O'Reilly's responsibility.)
At this point, lawyers are in the PR business as well as the legal business. I'm sure they don't like that - it's not something they aimed for, any more than PR people aimed for law. Be that as it may, that's the way it is. The mistake here was in PR terms - CMP's lawyers did exactly what Warner Kremer Paino did when they sued Lance Dutson - they created a negative PR event. Sure, there are difference. CMP has a valid trademark, and they sent a letter rather than a lawsuit.
In PR terms, none of that matters. The end result is, they made O'Reilly look bad, and did potential harm to the business. Tim states that people piled on prematurely, and that may well be the case. I'd argue that CMP's lawyers prematurely sent their letter as well. Not on legal grounds, but on PR grounds. It used to be that PR and marketing had to run things by legal first, to check for potential trouble. Now it runs the other way as well. I'm not sure that Tim fully gets that, because he states:
Just to be clear, neither CMP or O'Reilly is claiming the right to all use of the term Web 2.0, as some of the posters assert. We just want to keep other conference companies from putting on on events that trade on the name and concept that we created. And don't tell me it's not possible to have a Web 2.0-related conference without using Web 2.0 in the name! Microsoft's Mix 06, Google's Zeitgeist, the Ajax Experience -- these are all web 2.0-related conferences that don't use the name.
The question he's got to ask himself is, was the standard legal treatment of a cease and desist letter worth the PR nightmare it caused? I think a phone call to IT@Cork first, followed by a letter if that had been unsatisfactory, would have worked a whole lot better. It's a new ballgame out there for PR - and if O'Reilly wants to surf the Web 2.0 wave, he's got to deal with that reality.
I've had an "I'm not impressed" incident with the Mac - the HD just went and died. It's unclear whether the filesystem went bats, or whether the drive is bad - it's under warranty, so the Apple tech at CompUSA is dealing with. The data on the drive is a total loss though. So now comes the fun part - getting back the stuff I bought off iTunes. Ideally, I could just copy it off the iPod. But noo.... the ugliness of Apple's DRM concessions to the RIAA kills that.
I received confirmation from the law firm representing Jason Tomczak in the Nano scratch case - they are representing him, and he does say that the lawfirm that brought the case never had him down as a formal plaintiff. I'll post the email they sent me if I get their permission to do so. In the meantime, maybe it's time to contact the firm that claims to represent him, and get their side of the story.
Update: I called the law firm that claims to represent Tomczak, and left a voicemail. We'll see if they have anything to say.
Update 2: Here's the note that Cameron Totten, of Sherman & Nathanson, sent me:
The facts as stated in the open letter are correct and alleged in the lawsuit we filed on behalf of Mr. Tomczak against the Hagens firm and the Meyer firm. I am interested in learning more about the blogger in Maine. Can you provide me more information or direct me to some links on the topic? If you need any more information from me, please feel free to contact me.
He's referring to the infamous Warner Kremer Paino thing, which I mentioned in my mail to him.
David Weinberger points to this amusing imagination of a town that ran sidewalks like ISP's want to run internet access. There's a simple problem with the whole scenario though: Sidewalks are generally city (or county) property, which means that they are a "public utility". As such, the city can regulate usage, and not allow any specific private interest to do so.
The internet though? Some parts are owned, other parts are public, still others live in some quasi-public status. It's really not the same thing at all. Not to mention that various municipalties do, in fact, regulate usage of the sidewalks. You can't set up a business on one, and in many places, you can't (legally) ride a bicycle on one either.
My problem with the net neutrality debate is the apocalyptic tones being used by everyone involved. The telcos and cable providers would like me to think that video is going to overwhelm limited bandwidth - yeah, right. I've seen various doomsday predictions of a bandwidth crisis for years, and it never seems to materialize. On the other hand, we have other people telling us that the ISP's are entities of raw evil, ready to slice up bandwidth into tiny little chunks and screw us all over.
Neither of these dark visions represents reality. We've had a mostly unfettered net for a long while now, and I seriously doubt that consumers will be willngly led to gated communities of crappy service - with or without regulation. Likewise, I seriously doubt that video is about to kill the internet star. In general, I trust the market to deliver reality far, far better than I trust government. When we invite government in to "give" us net neutrality, there's going to be a price. That price would probably involve content restrictions "for the children", along with a raft of other "good stuff" that would end up limiting my freedom of expression. To the people calling for net neutrality laws, I say this: be very, very careful what you ask for. You might not like the form in which it's delivered to you.
I've been doing this blog since June of 2002 - if you go back to that first post, it's clear that I had no idea where I was going with the blog - I started it up as a multi-author blog (yes, the Silt server has support for that). Since then, I've been posting regularly - it's been 1459 days, with 8254 posts - that's between 5 and 6 posts a day over that time period.
The interesting thing (to me, at least) is that I'm not tired of it, and I don't see it as a chore. It's still fun, and I'll keep posting as long as it's fun. Besides, there's always something new showing up in my aggregator that makes me want to go off on a rant...
AllYouCanUpload is a site that makes uploading photos as easy as it can possibly get. They’ve removed all of the friction. You do not need to register for an account. You just use the uploading tool and you are shown the image along with codes to post the photo on sites like Myspace, ebay and others (I’d also like an option to have the image links emailed to me). Unlike Photobucket and Imageshack, AllYouCanUpload is completely free, and no advertisements appear on the uploading areas of the site (there are ads on the hosted part of the site, which you see if you click on a hosted image). There is no limit to the number of photos that can be uploaded or the total amount of storage that may be consumed. There is no limit on the size of an image, and images are not resized unless you request it. And possibly most importantly, there are absolutely no bandwidth restraints.
What struck me is something else, and it's a trend that started with gmail - storage space is now so cheap that companies aren't even bothering to charge for it. How cheap? Well, I was at CompUSA two days ago, and ran across this drive: a one terabyte Maxtor drive. It's being marketed as a one touch backup solution, and it's being sold for $899.
I still recall buying my second 40 MB hard drive back in the 80's, and thinking to myself that I was set - no way I'd need more space than that :) Now I have a 256 MB USB keychain lying around, and there are things like the Maxtor drive for sale. With storage effectively unlimited, all we need now is reasonably fast (and bi-directional) network access. At that point, "the network is the computer" may actually be true.
The 14th ESUG Conference is taking place in Prague in September (4-8) - and they want student volunteers:
Are you a student, and do you want to attend ESUG (the premier European Conference on Smalltalk)? This year, ESUG again has a student volunteer program you can apply for. Your duties will be few, and you will have to help the local organizers.
ESUG does not pay travel costs, but the conference will be free. Depending on the number of students the hosting will possibly also be free. To volunteer, follow this link.
The program is now available here
I'll be coming to the conference, so I hope to see you there
I've gotten some very nice recommendations on books via this blog, so I'll make a request - I'm looking for some good books on the 17th century in England - specifically, the English Civil War and the periods immediately before and after. Either leave a comment, or drop me a line. Thanks!
I've mentioned the game "Caylus", which is our current favorite. We had somehow messed up one of the rules - at the start of each turn, we were distributing 3 coins o each player, but the actual rule is 2. It seems like a small change, but it really affected play on Friday night. Suddenly, a bunch of buildings that hadn't seemed relevant to us (ones that deal with money rather than goods) got played - and consequently, there were far fewer resources available. I don't know if that style of play will stick with our group, but it certainly shook things up.
My grandfather fought in WWI - he was one of the lucky ones, who only came away with nightmares. My father in law fought in the Pacific campaign in WWII, and was on Iwo Jima when they raised the flag on Mount Suribachi - he doesn't recall seeing it tough - I expect he was too busy trying to stay alive. In honor of their service, and that of every other American who has served - and who is serving now - I offer up this:
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Chris Pirillo explains how and why DRM sucks eggs:
Now, I’ve already downloaded Pearl Jam’s new album through Napster. I can’t listen to it in either Rhapsody or URGE. I’ve paid for it already! So, let’s say I turn off Napster and switch to URGE. I’d have to download the album again. What’s more, Windows Media Player / Windows Explorer doesn’t tell me where the album came from - I have to guess. I have to play (by trial and error) to see which albums are supported by which service. THIS IS MADNESS! Why can’t the individual file detect which service I’m paying for and then adjust itself accordingly? Why must I maintain three DRM’ed versions of the same song?
It's as if you needed a different CD player for each label you bought a CD from. That's probably something the labels would have liked, but it simply wouldn't have washed with the public.
Oracle's chief security officer farted in public the other day:
Things are so bad in the software business that it has become "a national security issue," with regulation of the industry currently on the agenda, she said. "I did an informal poll recently of chief security officers on the CSO Council, and a lot of them said they really thought the industry should be regulated," she said, referring to the security think tank.
Oooh, regulation of the industry. There's a thought. Pray tell, what "best practices" are you planning to recommend? The ones espoused by the CMM advocates? Or perhaps the Agilists? Maybe something else entirely? There's nothing even vaguely resembling consensus on this stuff. We can't agree on what kind of development tools or methodologies to use, and this clown wants to warn us about regulation? Here she is again:
Davidson also hit out at the "hacking mentality," and the incidence of exploits that could cause "a million dollars worth of damage...passed around freely at conferences." She said there was a major difference between people working in the software business and engineers who "are trained to think in terms of safety, security and reliability first."
Those engineers have recognized standards to follow, you bloviating moron. Software developers simply don't. Not even close. Of course, if you want to realize just how big of a jerk this woman is, you need only read the last quote:
She claimed that the British are particularly good at hacking as they have "the perfect temperament to be hackers--technically skilled, slightly disrespectful of authority, and just a touch of criminal behavior."
There's a way to improve sales and motivate people - be condescending and oafish all at once. I think Davidson needs a vacation - a very long vacation.
Sam Ruby on "Share your OPML", after some subscribe/unsubscribe changes:
While the intentions behind this particular change are innocent, the fact remains that SYO in its current state is essentially un-auditable.
Dare Obasanjo objects the objection:
Doesn’t this apply to pretty much every online service? Or do you have the audit records for the Technorati Top 100, Feedster 500 or TechMeme’s current hot stories of the day?
Your comment seems pretty inflammatory given that this is the status quo in the online world today.
I think the difference is this: Technorati, Feedster (et. al.) are not playing at being our pal - they are businesses, and quite obviously so. Dave Winer likes to play at being "above the fray", which invites comments like Sam's.
One of the servers that hosts the Smalltalk IRC channel went offline, but there are other access points. If you got tossed off, see the IRC page on the VW Wiki - I'm using the second one in the table.
Yet another theft oriented solution has appeared on the market - BlogSolution, the easy way to scam your way to page rank without working. It's not as if the people behind this are trying to hide what they do, either. Here's how they describe what the rest of us do:
But normally, it takes months of work, time, exasperation, irritation, probably even a little heartache to get a site to PR6 and ranking well for good keywords. And for good reason there's a lot of money in it.
Yeah, that's just teh suX0r, having to create content for a period of time, before someone notices. That work thing, day in, day out - it bites the big one. Instead, just steal it:
BlogSolution creates 100 blogs per second. It doesn't use Blogger. It doesn't use Wordpress. BlogSolution creates blogs with it's own CUSTOM blogging platform. And it's the fastest on the planet.
BlogSolution handles the WHOLE enchilada for you. It creates. It updates. It pings. It posts one way links to your sites. It cloaks. It interlinks your sites. Using "Smartjobs" it creates blogs when you're not around. It puts every job on autopilot. It dominates your competition.
This is the digital equivalent of copying content from books, pasting the pages together, and calling it your own work. The people behind this are content thieves - pure and simple. They and their users are making the internet a little bit worse, every day.
Here's the link to their site - go ahead and send them a note to let them know what kind of tools they are.
The biggest supposed trend in electronics over the last few years has been convergence - we would be seeing the phone, the PC, the TV, the music player (etc., etc.) converge into a smaller set of gadgets that do multiple tasks. "everyone" has been talking about this, from Bill Gates to the telcos - try this Google search for an idea of the buzz.
Now along comes this story in Wired, which seeks to throw some cold water on the idea:
Nathan Bales represents a troubling trend for cellular phone carriers. The Kansas City-area countertop installer recently traded in a number of feature-laden phones for a stripped-down model. He said he didn't like using them to surf the internet, rarely took pictures with them and couldn't stand scrolling through seemingly endless menus to get the functions to work.
"I want a phone that is tough and easy to use," said Bales, 30. "I don't want to listen to music with it. I'm not a cyber-savvy guy."
I think the problem extends beyond the non-savvy. I have a camera phone, and I generally like it - it's nice to have a small camera that I can take anywhere. On the other hand, getting the pictures off of it is insane - I have to type in the email address to send to for each pic (there seems to be a way to save and retrieve that, but believe me, it's not obvious). The method I'm presented with for inputting the address is nuts - the default is numeric, as they assumed I'd want to beam my photo to another phone number (never mind that I've never seen that actually work). The second choice isn't alpha-numeric - it's "t9-word". WTF is up with that?
So this weekend, we bought an inexpensive 5 megapixel digital camera. It can store hundreds of pictures (and video), and download via USB. It's smaller than my phone, and takes much better pictures. It's not trying to be two things at once, so it's far easier to use. Hmm. Guess which one I'll be using more of to take pics with? It sounds like I'm not the only one with these issues:
Consumers last year paid $8.6 billion for so-called data applications on their phones, up 86 percent from the year before, according to wireless trade group CTIA.
But they've also shown a growing frustration with how confusing those added features can be. A J.D. Power & Associates survey last year found consumer satisfaction with their mobile devices has declined since 2003, with some of the largest drops linked to user interface for Internet and e-mail services.
Well duhh. Anyone who's tried to type on a phone keypad knows that it's a really horrible way to enter text. Anyone who's thought about the problem knows that making the keypad bigger, in order to fit in a keyboard, is asking for trouble. The keys are still too small to type properly, and the phone gets to be too big to carry comfortably. There's actually a lesson in this quote, for anyone paying attention:
Coffey said the testing is worth it because ease-of-use can be a competitive edge.
"IPod was not the first MP3 player on the market, but once they figured it out (the user interface), they became the predominant one overnight," he said. "Whether you make it a marketing message or not, the public will discover that usability and choose your product over a competitor's."
How many things did the iPod do? Is it trying to be a phone, email device, and media player, or just one of those? Sure, there's the iPod phone - anyone notice just how successful that was? I don't think most people want a brain dead, converged device. Sure, they'll tell market researchers that they do, because ideally, we would all like to carry fewer things in our pockets. Our actual behavior says something different though.
We headed down to Annapolis for a girl scout outing today - it was beautiful weather, so being a chaperone was a pleasure. We started the day with a walking tour of the downtown area. My wife had set up a guided tour, which was very nice. We went by the harbor, the state capital, and into the kitchen of one of the historic buildings - set up as it would have been back then. The capitol is quite nice - it's the oldest, in continuous use capitol in the US. Here's a picture I took, looking up the street towards the capitol dome:
The harbor is quite nice too - you can't see it in the low res camaera phone shot I took, but the Bay Bridge is off in the distance here:
It was cloudy for a bit while we were there, but it cleared off and got quite warm. We headed up the street from here to the Paca house. William Paca was one of four Marylanders who signed the Declaration of Independence; he had a house with a view of the Severn River built in the 1760s. It's no longer got that view; the Naval Academy is in the way (along with a bunch of filled land). Here's a view of the Paca house from the garden:
And a a view from the house, looking down at the "summer house" on the far end of the garden:
The house has an interesting history. It was privately owned until the turn of the 20th century, when a hotel company took it over. They left the house mostly alone (although they modified the bedrooms to add bathrooms, so they could be sold as suites). The garden was paved over and the bulk of the hotel was built there. It stayed that way until the early 60's - at which point the entire structure was nearly levelled for a parking garage. Fortunately, a foundation managed to raise money and buy the house and land, and then spent a number of years in restoration. It's a beautiful spot now - well worth visiting if you happen to be in Annapolis.
It's nearly June, and the 2006 hurricane season (for those of of us in the eastern US) is upon us. I thought I'd take a look at the historical trends for hurricanes, and there's a lot of data out there. This site has a nifty table of frequencies (up to and including 2004) - and it illustrates something interestesting: notice how frequency had a local peak in the 1941-1950 interval, and then started to drop? That coincides with the end of WWII, and the rise in prosperity in the US. It also coincides with the spread of inexpensive air conditioning.
What does that mean? It means that people started to move south in large numbers. In particular, coastal development ramped up - along both the US east coast and along the gulf coast. It almost certainly seemed safer - the table tells the story. According to that data, the annual hurricane frequency has been below average since about 1950.
Mind you, the data only goes back to 1851, and that's a very short time in climate terms - the "average" for such a short time span could well be meaningless. In behavioral terms though, it's not. The building boom along the coasts coincided with a period of lower activity, and people didn't remember that really bad storms (1935, for instance) were not just possible, but highly probable. We tend to completely ignore things that we don't have personal experience with.
So, have a look here; while there were two absolutely awful hurricanes last year, the raw numbers were 15 storms of category 1 or higher (storms get names if they hit tropical level - category one is much stringer). In 2005, 15 storms hit category 1 or higher. And out of that 15, you have to drop the ones that never got to the US mainland in order to fithem into that table. That data is further down in the second tabll, and it was 5 storms. So from 2001-2005, that gives us 14 storms that got to level one or above, and also hit the US mainland.
Which means that we are back into the kind of active period that we last saw (again, here in the US) back in the 1940s - before the current buildup on the coasts happened. What does all that mean? Darned if I know - in looking at the data since 1851, it looks like we've been in a relatively quiet period since 1950. As I said above though, this is such a short interval in climate terms that it may be meaningless. The only real conclusion I can come to is this: it was probably a mistake to build as much as we have near the coasts. I'm guessing that insurance rates will reflect that pretty quick.
If you want to track these storms yourself (I do, since my parents live on the east coast of Florida), then you should subscribe to the NOAA tropical storm feed.
Bloggers won a round against Apple - Wired reports that Apple could not compel PowerPage to reveal their sources for a story they posted on (then upcoming) Apple plans. To boil it down, the court said that it was journalism in action, and that Apple couldn't stop bloggers any more than they could stop mainstream publications:
A California appeals court has smacked down Apple's legal assault on bloggers and their sources, finding that the company's efforts to subpoena e-mail received by the publishers of Apple Insider and PowerPage.org runs contrary to federal law, California's reporter's shield law, and the state Constitution.
This is good, but it's not the full extent of rights that we ought to expect, at least here in the US. Right now, if you post on politics, and you use AdSense (or accept any other type of ads), you could conceivably run afoul of various campaign finance laws - which have the effect of muzzling what you might want to say. The big media needn't worry about that; they have their press exception. The thing I've always wondered about that is simply this: why does a big outfit like GE (owners of NBC) get more rights than I do?
Anyway, this Apple decision is a good thing - but it's cause for a satisfaction, not joy. At least IMHO.
It's that time again - Saturday morning. I'm off to Annapolis with my daughter's girl scout troop today, but I've got the weekly numbers first. BottomFeeder downloads proceeded at a rate of 144 per day - down from last week, but in the normal range. I think the bump from the slashdot effect has disappeared:
On to the HTML page accesses - towards the end of the week, the total pageviews tailed off, while the number of unique pageviews (by IP address stayed about the same. More RSS? Fewer scripts trying to leave spam? The tools:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
Interesting that Safari doesn't show up at all in the HTML accesses, but in the RSS accesses, Mac tools figure so prominently. Speaking of which, those numbers:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
|Net News Wire||8.2%|
|Google Feed Fetcher||3.5%|
And I'll be back later, after the day trip
"XMen: Last Stand" was ok, but nothing special. It took an awfully long time to get going. By 30 minutes in, I was waiting for the ending which - while it was entertaining - went down pretty much the way I expected it to. It also felt choppy at times, as if large pieces of characterization had been left on the cutting room floor. It's a decent enough "popcorn" movie, but don't go expecting to be awed.
One thing I will say - stay in the theater all the way to the end of the credits. There's a scene that's shown then, and if you get up as the credits roll - no final tidbit for you :)
The mini seems to have died. I turned to put some music on, and it was locked up. Couldn't get in via ssh, so I turned it off. Now, it won't boot. Won't boot from CD, even. Guess it's off to CompUSA. Sigh.
Here's an interesting paper that comes from No Fluff, Just Stuff (PDF) - I particularly agree with this summation towards the end:
I predict that we’ll see the increasingly wide adoption of dynamic languages, metaprogramming, and agile design and development practices over the next few years. In spite of many naysayers, momentum seems to be building in this direction.
I don’t think it will stop with Ruby, Python, or any of the other new old languages that are gaining popularity. Although those languages borrow extensively from their progenitors, they stop short in some other ways. I love programming in Ruby, but occasionally I find myself needing some of the features of Smalltalk or Lisp that Ruby doesn’t have -- true macros, for instance, or the ability to easily pass multiple blocks to a single method (with appropriate cues as to their distinct roles). And don’t get the idea that I’m an old Smalltalk or Lisp programmer! I come from a C, C++, and Java background. But I’ve recently begun to understand some of the subtle strengths of languages that I used to think were weird.
You have nothing to lose but your lower levels of productivity :)
There's video of some of the sessions online here. The keynotes from Doc Searls and Dan Gillmor are there, as well as the session with Dave Weinberger. I haven't sat through them (I was there when they happened), but the quality from the bits I sampled looked pretty good.
Thank goodness we have smart folks like Nick Gall over at Gartner - otherwise, a term many of us have become familiar with - REST - wouldn't be pushed aside for an enterprisey acronym like WOA. Without the extra buzzwords, how would enterprisey architects, and the analysts who support them, ever manage to validate their existence?
We've posted another white paper - this one is on the Security Libraries that ship with Cincom Smalltalk. Download the PDF here.
Looks like O'Reilly and CMP recognize a PR problem when they see one coming down the pike - they've called the dogs off of the IT@Cork conference. They still insist that they own the "Web 2.0" moniker though, and state that it's like the term "LinuxWorld" - a stock use of a trademark:
O'Reilly and CMP co-produce the Web 2.0 conference. "Web 2.0" was coined when we were brainstorming the concept for the first conference in 2003. As noted in the letter to IT@Cork (sent from CMP's attorney, but with our knowledge and agreement), "CMP has a pending application for registration of Web 2.0 as a service mark, for arranging and conducting live events, namely trade shows, expositions, business conferences and educational conferences in various fields of computers and information technology." To protect the brand we've established with our two Web 2.0 Conferences, we're taking steps to register "Web 2.0" as our service mark, for conferences. It's a pretty standard business practice. Just as O'Reilly couldn't decide to launch a LinuxWorld conference, other event producers can't use "Web 2.0 Conference," the name of our event. In this case, the problem is that it@cork's conference title includes our service mark "Web 2.0," which the law says we must take "reasonable steps" to protect. We've also contacted another group that has announced a "Web 2.0 Conference" in Washington, DC this September.
Here's the problem - the term "Web 2.0" is way, way too widespread for them to claim ownership. Here's a Google search on it - see what I mean? The law may well be on their side, but common sense very much isn't. If they think they're being harmed when others use that term, then they need an appointment with a cluestick.
The pixels on my monitor nearly revolted after I browsed this page:
Operate All Revenue Generating Channels in a Web 2.0 Architecture by 2008. Enterprise architects must act as catalysts that speed the formation of unified business technology strategies and their execution. The enterprise architecture process must shift gears from limiting complexity by limiting choices to accelerating innovation and execution by coordinating complexity through unified business and IT strategy, decentralized execution and loose coupling among all related stakeholder disciplines.
That's, umm, something from a Gartner analyst at the recent ITxpo in San Francisco. I wonder if the participants were aware of just how much oxygen was being wasted. With luck, the room had some plants so that something benefited.
Hat tip Stefan Tilkov.
Update: Heh. In the IRC channel, one of the regulars had this comment: "It says that the enterprise architect shouldn't just limit choices, but decide for others too. Lend your business to the architect, so he can ruin it more quickly."
I think the problem is simple - developers don't know when to stop, and management doesn't want them to stop. Office is a huge chunk of MS' revenues, and there's a corporate need to drive upgrades. That's why management wants churn. However, take a look at what is, for the most part, a mail client. Is there really that much more it needs to do? Is the complexity inherent in making it a combined PIM, email client, and RSS reader worth it?
Based on what most users of Outlook seem to say, I don't think so. It's too big, too bloated, and too unfocused on any of the things it does. What I think MS really needs is 3 smaller, lighter tools here that can communicate in some fashion. That's not going to happen though - instead, the suckage will just increase.
The RIAA is just amazing. First, they say that suing 12 year olds and grandmothers is just peachy:
When asked if they regret suing people like 12-year-old girls and grandmothers, Sherman says no, and that they're "feeling pretty good", then goes on with some lines that pay lip service to the idea that they're interested in coming up with new business models, rather than just using litigation as the cornerstone of their strategy.
That's bad enough, but then they whipped out what techdirt refers to as an attempted jedi mind trick:
The most egregious comment, though, comes from Bainwol, who says "nobody" has any problem with DRM and copy protection. While consumers might not know what DRM is, they know when they songs they've purchased won't play on their new MP3 player, because it's not compatible, or when they can't burn a CD to their computer because a record label thinks they're a criminal, or when the copy protection on a CD opens their computer up to hackers.
Sheesh. I think Tony Soprano would be ashamed to be in the same room with these clowns.