I've just posted a new development build of BottomFeeder on the site - this is based on the newly released VW 7.4.1, and should support NTLM proxy servers. As well, the spell check code for the editor is now pure Smalltalk - which means that it's faster, and works on all supported platforms. The build scripts are updated as well - you should be able to build from the Public Store or from parcels.
The download site has been updated - follow the link that was sent to you in email, or register for the NC here now. VW 7.4.1 and OST 7.1.1 are ready for download. Enjoy!
Update: All the configuration file issues have been dealt with now; the new bits are ready for download
Microsoft shuffled their exec team again - it's starting to look a lot like IBM back in the bad days of the early 90's....
This is a funny story, but at the same time it illustrates a problem not addressed by the humor:
This recently hired pilot fish is trying to improve security by installing security cables to lock each laptop to a desk. That's simple enough, right?
So IT locks each laptop to a desk to prevent theft. Ok... but that also completely destroys the rationale for getting a laptop in the first place. The point is mobility, both inside the office and outside of it. If your plan is to lock them down, just get desktop machines and flatscreen monitors - it will be less expensive, and easier to upgrade.
It's things like this that lead the user community to just shake their heads at the ideas that flow down from management and IT...
Put Lessig on the list of utopians who believe that we can get neutrality legislation for the internet, but not get any of the content restrictions that have appeared on TV and Radio with it. You want the "7 bad words" banned? Then advocate for neutrality. You want the political free for all of the current blogosphere to fall under campaign finance laws? Then advocate for reform.
While you're at it, check the pile of manure - there might be a pony in there too.
Just off the top of my head, The Object People created TopLink back in the early 90's. Around 1992 ParcPlace shipped the ObjectLens. There are likely hundred of others out there; those are just two Smalltalk specific implementations that come immediately to mind. Reading through the patent, it looks like the ObjectLens should certainly be prior art.
This is yet another example of how patents and software don't mix. Copyright ought to be enough.
Explain to me again how class action suits help people?
The Summer Release of Cincom Smalltalk is officially out - upgrades are being sent to existing customers now. I'll be updating the NC download application today.
Marten Feldtmann has joined the blogging lineup here - go check out his thoughts on Smalltalk and C# over here.
James McGovern throws the gauntlet down to the Ruby crowd again, challenging them to get something published:
Folks reading this blog entry need to consider adding him to their blogroll... Awhile back I threw out the challenge to the Ruby community that if within thirty days, they could get a single Fortune 100 enterprise whose primary business isn't technology to tell a story in a public forum (conference or magazine) about how they used Ruby to develop an enterprise application (aka system of record) that I would make a sizable donation to a mutually agreed upon charity. I still have my money in my pocket.
He repeats the challenge further down in his post. The thing is, non-technology companies have no real motivation to do that. If problems are being solved, they tend not to care how it was done - at least in the corporate marketing and executive suites. In the standards/architect groups, and in IT groups, on the other hand, they tend to be overly concerned with following the herd, due to the perceived safety - see my post earlier on that.
The people who most need to wonder about potentially better ways of doing things are the architects and IT managers. Asking for case studies - which will have to flow from the Marketing group - isn't going to move the ball forward.
I had thought of maybe using it to quickly create some apps for my personal data, but found myself backing off from putting my data on their server. It appears that their focus is on SMBs, but would SMBs want to put their business data online like this? I also found myself not wanting to pay the monthly fee; I do hope they can find another business model that doesn't require the consumer to pay. Maybe they could make it free up to 10MB of data or something. Otherwise I'm concerned that they just won't get the uptick I think they deserve.
The second concern is one of those things I find fascinating - the expectation that stuff should be free. Richard Stallman may be happy with that theory, but here's the thing - it costs real money to pay a mortgage and put food on the table. Where is this expectation of free coming from? Maybe developers should stop getting paid - that may be the only way to insert some reality back into the software space.
If I doubted the need for a better deployment answer for Cincom Smalltalk, I have been being reminded all afternoon. The process of working through Runtime Packager issues on a new release (7.4.1 in this case) are never fun. It's always fairly straightforward once I get the packaging script saved with the right parameter set, but until then - utter pain. This remains at the top of my agenda for things that need to be made better in the product.
I'll be getting an initial build of BottomFeeder on VW 7.4.1 out this afternoon - the major new stuff is plumbing (we now have NTLM auth support, for instance). I'll have a summary of what's new soon - I'm hoping to release Bf 4.2 on top of 7.4.1 in the very near future.
I'll be at a customer location today, completely without network access (I know, the horror :) ). I should be back online later this afternoon.
My wife and daughter wanted to see "The Lake House" this afternoon - I went in with no expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised. The movie hung together pretty well, once you bought into the "two years apart" plot device. I did periodically think "why doesn't one of them Google the other?", but that would have destroyed the plot.
It's definitely in the "chick flick" area, but it was pretty well done. On balance, I recommend it.
Why do companies that hire only "the best" employees, and want to provide "market-leading" products or services (again, their goal is to be the "best") choose to go with average technology in implementing these products and services? And then defend that technology choice by saying that they want a bigger pool of developers from which to hire -- more people that already know that technology.
If you want the best, you won't find it in the center of the herd.
Net Neutrality went down, and I for one am glad to see that:
A U.S. Senate panel narrowly rejected strict Net neutrality rules on Wednesday, dealing a grave setback to companies like eBay, Google and Amazon.com that had made enacting them a top political priority this year.
For those of you who think this is a bad thing - Recall the FCC's actions after the Superbowl "wardrobe malfunction". If you think the US government is going to lay down neutrality rules and then keep a hands off attitude beyond that, you probably also think you'll find a pony under every large pile of manure...
I was listening to the latest Gillmor Gang, and the end of the conversation caught my attention. Someone (can't recall who) suggested that Gillmore start including transcripts of the gang podcast, as a way of increasing listenership - apparently, the opportunity to scan the transcript drives more people to listen. Gillmor was having none of that, but it got me thinking.
I listened to the podcast while I was out jogging (have to take advantage of the dry air here). If I want to take something in while jogging, audio is my only option - I can't read while I'm plodding along, nor can I watch video. While I'm in my office during the day, I can watch video, but it sucks down time - for that matter, so does Audio. If it's much longer than the average RocketBoom, I probably don't have time for it - I'd much rather read text.
During the evening, I don't want audio or video. I'll take my laptop into the living room, but my wife finds it offputting if I slap headphones on while I'm sitting with her - so again, text works best then. Now, if I drove more, that would fit in more time for podcasts - and admittedly, my low rate of driving is an anomaly compared to most people. Even so - video doesn't work for driving.
To my mind, that limits the potential reach of video blogging - it takes as much time to get through as audio, and requires a lot more attention. For me, at least (and I suspect, for lots of other people), the potential time for audio is much bigger: exercise time, working in the yard/garden, driving. Text works anytime I'm in front of a PC, and chews far less of my time than audio. Video? Beyond training and education, I'm thinking that the time allotment for professional use is pretty slim.
At the same time, I wonder about the advertising model for audio. I was just listening to the GillMor Gang, and Steve slaps a 6 minute ad at the front of the show. Zip - using fast forward on my iPod, I zoomed right past that. If he made the ad shorter - say 15-30 seconds - I might not bother. Six minutes though? You've got to be kidding.
And then there's astoundingly big. From Greg Linden:
Google reportedly had an estimated 450k machines two months ago and adds machines at roughly 100k per quarter. In 2004, each of these machines had 2-4G of memory, and, two years later, likely are up to 8G standard.
That means that Google can store roughly 500k * 8G = 4 petabytes of data in memory on their cluster.
I'm guessing that their local power company loves them, a lot.
Hat tip Patrick Logan
Ted Neward analogized the Vietnam War to O/R mapping, and now has to respond to the predictable complaints:
"The Vietnam War is a bad analogy for O/R-M." Vietnam remains, for most Americans, as the quintessential symbol for "bloody, ugly, unresolvable quagmire". And, as some have pointed out in comments on the blog post already, all analogies break down eventually, and this one is no different--as one commenter put it, nobody ever died from a bad O/R-M tool. (Though the day is not far off when such could occur, given the incredible spread of technology into all corners of our lives--it's not too hard to imagine a day when a patient dies because a doctor received incorrect information about a medical allergy from the enterprise system he/she uses to call up patient records.)
Rule number one when making an analogy: Don't pick one that will immediately drive the conversation into a ditch. It's like saying: "whatever you do, don't think of a zebra"...
Doc Searls, in the process of explaining how the non-compliance of low power FM transmitters (for the iPod, etc), gets to why I don't trust governmental regulation:
One is the fact that Congress and the FCC have done more to make "free over-the-air radio broadcast services" unattractive than a million little FM transmitters ever could. Between relaxed ownership rules and increased "indecency" fines by the FCC, the AM and FM bands have become boring beyond endurance. I have my problems with satellite radio too (for all their diversity, all the channels on both services are owned by one company apiece, and the two silo'd systems are entirely incompatible); but my Sirius radio provides infinitely more usefulness than I can even imagine getting from "free" radio today. All that's left for me on "free" radio are our local AM news station and NPR/PRI programs, most of which I get now via Sirius or podcasting.
Once the Feds define the net as a "public utility", it will go the way of TV and radio - with bozo rules like the ones Doc rightly condemns here.
Ed Bott is worried about where Microsoft is taking the WGA program, and I don't blame him. The non-denials from Redmond are none too encouraging either. The measured walk toward 1980's style IBM bureaucratic stupidity seems to be transitioning to a jog. If they actually start requiring that you have the upgrade system on, then they'll have broken into a full-blown dash.
Can you imagine the hair pulling in IT departments as they try to sort out driver problems after a blown upgrade that they couldn't test first?
We will have the Summer Release of Cincom Smalltalk shipping as of June 30th. As soon as that's done, we'll post the new bits for NC download. The details:
Release Date: June 30, 2006
The summer releases of Cincom Smalltalk are maintenance/bug fix releases. As such, you won't see any new features coming out. You will see enhancements, bug fixes, etc.
The new VMs for Mac OSX (Power PC only and intel Mac VM) will follow after the summer release, but before the Winter release). We will formally ship these new VM's in the winter release, but they will be available via vw-dev (and to other interested parties) before the winter release.
Highlights for VisualWorks
- Security - We are including an implementation of PKCS #8
- COM - The COM Automation Wizard can now save and restore settings to create a VW COM server image.
- Font Matching - on Font matching failures, the system will return the best match it can find instead of raising an exception
- WS* - Further Enhancements to various aspects of our WebServices implementation
- NetClients - We have implemented support for Digest Authentication and for NTLM Authentication
There are various other improvements and bug fixes; the file fixedARs.txt on the CD includes an exhaustive list
Highlights for ObjectStudio
- We are providing Early Access for ObjectStudio 8 by request only - please contact James Robertson if you are interested
- OLE bug fixes and enhancements
- Database bug fixes and enhancements
- Both the XML Parser and the Opentalk framework have been synchronized with the VisualWorks implementations
Looks like the hardware vendors have figured out that a Blu-Ray/HD-DVD format war isn't a great idea: there are plans to start shipping dual mode devices:
Samsung and Toshiba have joined forces to end the format wars for good. They are releasing a hybrid player that plays both Blu-ray and HD-DVD formats. But that’s not all! Sony and NEC are also releasing a dual-format player of Blu-ray and HD-DVD. This is back-up for Sony, since they did loose miserably with Beta.
I'm certainly more likely to buy one of those in the short term. My other option would be to hold off until a clear winner emerged.
In a terrific reversal of its prior stance towards the site, NBC is set to run promos on YouTube , according to AP.
Maybe they could explain it to the MPAA and the RIAA.
Looks like Avi and Andrew have decided that they need an infusion - Om Malik is reporting that they've taken $2M in venture capital:
Dabble DB, a Vancouver-based online database / hosted application creation company has raised around $2 million dollars in Series A venture funding from Ventures West, a Canadian VC fund. Paul Kedrosky, a venture partner with the fund, is leading the investment in the eighteen-month-old company. The company will also come out of “beta” tomorrow.
That's interesting, given what Avi said about venture money last April:
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. So Avi's take: Taking Venture $$ is a premature optimization
Sounds to me like they are still in late binding mode though - they held off on venture capital until they needed it. I hope they don't run into any of the classic "business optimization" scenarios that can come with funding.
Update: Mike Arrington covers the story
Update2: Tim Bray has some kind words for DabbleDB, Avi, and Andrew.
It's still raining here - if you live in the US, you've probably seen the coverage of the rain on the east coast. Heck, I had something happen this morning that I've never seen - the rain last night managed to get into my car's gas line. I had to drive my daughter to camp, and the first 2 miles was an adventure. Here's the radar map right now:
Heck, if we get another 1/2 inch of rain, we'll break the June record for rain (set by Agnes in 1972). I'm just glad we don't still live in our old neighborhood, which was on a 100 year flood plain.
Dare Obasanjo has an excellent roundup of the WinFS crash and burn - go read it.
What I'm still not buying is blogging as a tool for traditional businesses that sell traditional products and services. The people who manage these companies are going to have to cover a lot of ground to get from content blockers that don't let you visit ESPN to employees blogging on the clock. Not to mention all the corporate policies about what is and isn't fair game for blogging about that would have to be written and enforced. And then there are all the labor and lawyer problems that would arise if an employee got disciplined or fired for unacceptable content, etc.
In sum, most businesses don't trust their employees enough to allow them to blog.
Replace "blog" in that last sentence with just about anything. It goes double (or triple, or pick your multiplier) if your company is unionized - the fact that you need a union is illustration enough that there's a lack of trust.
Is this a killer? I doubt it, at least in the short/medium term. Apple apparently bans employee blogging, and they're doing quite well. Over the longer haul, I think firms that trust their employees will do better than the ones that don't - but it will likely require a new generation of management before we see that.
"Food" might be the wrong category here, but if you want hot sauce, have a look here - and take note of the special item they have at the top:
What you will find inside the Famous Reserve bottle is amazing, a 1ml pharmaceutical grade vial filled with this Pure Capsaicin Crystal.--No more than 999 Bottles will be offered
Now that's hot :)
So far, it's something like 4 inches of rain... since about 8 pm! Here's why:
It's a veritable flood out there :)
Chris Petrilli nails the difference between dynamic languages and the mainstream static ones:
I think that dynamic languages cater especially well to this issue for a few reasons. First, they do not muddle your code with non-core expressions. This means that 80% of my code isn’t spent making the compiler happy, or doing its job for it. The code that I write is focused purely on the problem domain that I’m trying to solve. This means when I go back, or anyone else does, there’s less time spent trying to understand why I marked something as final and more about what the logic does.
Couldn't have said it better myself. Who are you looking to satisfy: the requirements, or the compiler? The more of the latter that you have to spend time on, the less you end up with the former.
In the discussion it was clear that there is a coming conflict between people who "do it for love" and those who are doing video to build an audience, which presumably they are doing so that they can sell advertising or get sponsorship. In other words there are those who believe in production values and those who think that the production values advocates are missing the point: that everyday people can now use video to communicate in a new way.
I think he gets that right - it all depends on the type of information, and the target audience. If I'm doing a screencast on Smalltalk, my target audience is developers - if they are interested, then production quality has to be "good enough" - my voice has to come through, and the screens I'm showing have to be easily visible. If, on the other hand, I'm trying to produce a drama series that people will watch (like they would watch TV), then my production requirements are way up there - the last thing you want is to be seen as the next Ed Wood :)
With the news that WinFS is dead, the only really new things in Vista are:
- A new UI look, that will apparently require a bunch of video memory
- PVP-OPM, which will serve to screw customers over
- Huge memory requirements, which will help various hardware vendors
Explain to me again why I should move up from XP?
Bill Machrone of PC Magazine brings up Liberty Basic and Squeak in his latest column:
You'll also see why Augment has a die-hard core of fans intent on moving it into the open-source world. Although Augment fully embraces mouse technology and the GUI, you drive it primarily with single-key commands. This may seem primitive compared with the nearly endless capabilities of Microsoft Word, but experienced Augment users will tell you that there's no faster or better way to create a structured, internally linked document that you and others can easily expand, edit, and link to other documents.
Two main efforts to breathe new life into Augment are under way; information about them is available at the HyperScope Wiki (blueoxen.net/c/hyperscope/wiki.pl?FrontPage) and at the OpenAugment Consortium (www.openaugment.org).
You can download OpenAugment from the latter site, but to run it you'll have to download a copy of Squeak—a multiplatform, open-source adaptation of Smalltalk-80, the language that did more than any other to codify object-oriented programming and extend object management to the graphical interface.
The Liberty Basic plug:
I had used Liberty BASIC (www.libertybasic.com) some years ago as a teaching tool when I was a counselor for the Boy Scouts' computing merit badge—so kill me. Liberty BASIC works in Windows and isn't as sophisticated as Microsoft Visual Basic, but it's easier to use. It's still a great way to produce custom Windows programs.
Carl Gundel produces Liberty Basic - the current version is done with VSE, but he's in the midst of a port to VisualWorks using Pollock.
Who would have thought that my pagerank is high enough to get a mention in a splog site like this? You have to love the sheer audacity of the title that popped into my name search: "don't MAKE a blog, TAKE a blog".
Amanda Congdon jumps on the pro-neutrality side of the argument with Friday's RocketBoom broadcast. The whole argument has a premise I simply can't take - that government regulations can protect me from the predations of the ISPs. Yes, I realize that we don't have as much competition in this area as we do in, say, toothpaste. However, I've been watching Verizon lay fiber through my neighborhood (and the county) all summer. I use Comcast now - they give me 15 mbps down, and between 1 and 3 up. That's a huge improvement over what I had just two years ago, and it came in response to Verizon's move into the area - not in response to any governmental "help".
So what will happen if we get Federal "help"? I'll say it again - we'll get the net version of the FCC. The laws that have thus far been shot down (the various attempts to enforce "decency" on the net "for the children") - suddenly, with the net being a public utility, a "compelling government interest" will pop up. Boy, won't that be fun. You like the freewheeling nature of political debate on the net? Thus far, it's been left that way - but once the net is a public utility, you'll be able to say hello to the same regime that rules TV and radio. Yeah, I'll sure enjoy that.
Pitching fear of the telcos is good fun, but at the end of the day, they have to compete with the cable firms (and with IP over powerlines, and various other small time things out there). The worst they can do is charge me too much money. I also have no patience for the tiered service scare stuff - we already have that. I can buy anything from dialup to 30 mbps down (or heck, T3 service, if I really want to pay). Bottom line - we already have tiered service.
There's an example of a "protected" public market out there: radio. Anyone happy with the radio market in the US? Anyone looking for low power radio stations? Whoops - regulated out of existence "for our own good". Everyone - including Amanda - loves to rag on cable TV service but ponder that for a minute - why is it that cable give you hundreds of channels, with mostly unregulated content, while over the air broadcasts are highly constrained? If you said "public utility", you guessed right. And before you screech about cable monopolies screwing us over, go look at your state and local laws - those monopolies are a direct result of legislation, not of business connivance.
If net neutrality passes, then 5 years from now, the US based net will be a vast sea of regulated blandness, much like the broadcast TV and radio space is. Only there won't be an easy way back out of the mess, because the wires will be regulated.
Time for the weekly look at the logs. BottomFeeder downloads ran at a rate of 148 a day last week - the details:
I'm always amazed when I get a few Alpha downloads :) Off to the HTML page accesses:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
That looks fairly normal. The RSS tool distribution:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
|Net News Wire||7.7%|
|Google Feed Fetcher||3.6%|
|RSS 2 Email||1.2%|
That tool distribution isn't any different from average either. Another week ahead!
Another tool, which I found was very impressive is CodeCrawler . Basically this tool is able to analyze source code (well not directly but that's not the point) and generates a graph of the classes found. Each class is linked to others and have color, width and height corresponding to number of line of code, number of methods and number of attributes. And the whole graph is dynamic, you can move things around. Pretty impressive... alas CodeCrawler in written in SmallTalk, but if you have to audit code, that's a killer tool.
I love the way he says "alas" - likes the tool, likes the way it works, cares way too much about the implementation. You might as well pull out Emacs and say "alas, not written in Java".
Looks like Boeing is giving up on Wifi in planes because they've lost a billion and don't see that their investment will come back. Funny, didn't JetBlue just pay big dollars to add that to all their planes?
I used the Boeing service on an SAS flight to Copenhagen and loved it. The problem wasn't with the Wifi. But there was a major problem elsewhere that'll keep people from using it: power.
My batteries in my laptop (and in most laptops I see on planes) last about two hours. Yeah, some models last four to eight, if you have additional "big" batteries. But most last about two hours the way you buy them out of the store.
Hmm. Most American Airlines flights I've taken over the last few years - both domestic and international - have had power at the seats. That hasn't been true for any other carrier I fly, and it's impacted my plans for long flights quite a bit. Any carrier that adds WiFi but doesn't add seatback power is just stupid - the phrase "lost investment" comes to mind. Scoble's right - why should I buy a network connection for an 8 hour flight if I only have 2-3 hours of battery time?
Friend of mine is looking for a job, and related this exchange:
[Person1] A fund nearby got in contact with me yesterday. They're looking for someone to write a portfolio/risk management system and heard about the one I wrote. They were very excited.
[Person2] person1: In Smalltalk?
[Person1] Until I told him I did it in Smalltalk. "Don't you think it's odd to write a system in a language like that?"
[Person1] That was his response
I love group-think. Offer to solve a problem, and anything that veers from the expected path raises flags. Sure, there are times that's a valid concern. But if you find a person to help you build a business - and you found them because of their previous expertise in the field in question - wouldn't actually listening to them make some sense?
Joi Ito talks about the loss of 6 months of information from his machine, and with it his World of Warcraft stuff:
I realize this may sound a bit high drama, but I'm sure I'm not the only one whose brain shuts down to almost all outside input during a broken computer incident. Now I'm running on a fresh install with very little baggage and it actually feels quite nice. This also means no World of Warcraft and possibly more blogging. ;-)
Based on the way I've seen that game discussed, there might be a case that it's approaching "Better than Life" from "Red Dwarf". I've never played, so that might well be over the top - comments?
James McGovern is a little over the top in his title for the linked post, but I think he touches on a good point with this anecdote:
My friends thesis was based on the fact that the enterprises who go down the outsourcing route tend to lower their expectations for individual consultant productivity when pursuing outsourcing arrangements. He stated once an American company has failed at attempting outsourcing to India, he gets to come in and pick up the pieces at a higher rate. He also mentioned that this allowed his 100% US firm to staff a lot lower on the food chain that prior to outsourcing. Clients generally don't do individual interviews anymore which has afforded him the ability to place less optimal resources on projects. In the past, he worked for one of the spinoffs from the big four consulting firms who had the notion of partner. While the partner would bill out at higher rates, they wouldn't necessarily bill 100% of their time to a client. He noted that the Indian outsourcing model had the same notion of a partner only that they stayed at a single client to work on relationship-oriented issues. He believes this is another opportunity for him to take folks who are losing their technical ability to not only make them billable but to do so at extreme rates.
I'd disagree that you can get away with sending sub-standard consultants in at high rates for any period of time. Clients will notice, and that will be that. On the other hand, the offshoring experience may well lower expectations, and James touches on that with this: "He noted that the Indian outsourcing model had the same notion of a partner only that they stayed at a single client to work on relationship-oriented issues." When the consultants are 12 timezones away, that's probably most of what gets done. There's not going to be any direct technical collaboration, nor is there going to be any communication between the developers and the end users. It's a complete return to the 1970's glass house of IT approach: toss the requirements over a wall, wait N months, and see what comes back.
That approach didn't work well back then, and I see no reason for it to work well now.