One more barrier to getting a Mac for the office just fell: you can get your Mac with XP pre-installed now:
MacMall is offering configured bundles pre-loaded with Microsoft Windows XP Home or Pro software on new Apple MacBooks, MacBook Pros, iMacs, Mac Pros and Mac minis. The bundles are available with either Nova Development’s Parallels Desktop for Mac or Apple’s Boot Camp Public Beta.
That looks very, very cool. Now if I could just get my IT group to approve one...
It's not enough to pay extortion to the music industry - no, MS had to be even stupider. On the hit parade of "how many dumb things can we do at once", there are these two:
- The Zune introduces a new DRM scheme that is unrelated (and incompatible with) PlaysForSure. Using the old MS standard? You're screwed
- On Windows, and used to Windows Media Player? Too bad for you - it doesn't work with the Zune, either
Or, as the NY Times put it in a review:
Microsoft’s proprietary closed system abandons one potential audience: those who would have chosen an iPod competitor just to show their resentment for Apple’s proprietary closed system.
To make matters worse, you can’t use Windows Media Player to load the Zune with music; you have to install a similar but less powerful Windows program just for the Zune. It’s a ridiculous duplication of effort by Microsoft, and a double learning curve for you.
So how is the Zune? It had better be pretty incredible to justify all of this hassle.
On that score, the review sounds positive - it looks like the Zune hits the usability mark well. On the other hand, the WiFi thing is just weird: it allows song sharing with other Zunes, but not with anything else:
It all works well enough, but it’s just so weird that Zunes can connect only to each other. Who’d build a Wi-Fi device that can’t connect to a wireless network — to sync with your PC, for example? Nor to an Internet hot spot, to download music directly?
That's a feature that a dominant player like the iPod could make use of, given the ubiquity. The Zune? Putting in WiFi drains battery life and adds a feature that's just stupid. It would be truly cool to be able to buy new stuff w/o having to lug my laptop around - but no, couldn't have that. Most likely, MS' pals at the RIAA had a fit over the idea. The way the sharing feature is implemented is bound to irk anyone who uses it, too:
This copy protection is as strict as a 19th-century schoolmarm. Just playing half the song (or one minute, whichever comes first) counts as one “play.” You can never resend a song to the same friend. A beamed song can’t be passed along to a third person, either.
What’s really nuts is that the restrictions even stomp on your own musical creations. Microsoft’s literature suggests that if you have a struggling rock band, you could “put your demo recordings on your Zune” and “when you’re out in public, you can send the songs to your friends.” What it doesn’t say: “And then three days later, just when buzz about your band is beginning to build, your songs disappear from everyone’s Zunes, making you look like an idiot.”
That's not the way to build interest in a cool feature - it's a way to convince people that your device is broken, because a feature that looks like it should work won't. At a high level, this demonstrates how DRM is a bug, not a feature. At a usability level, it's a flood of user reported errors waiting to happen, all of which will have to be answered thusly:
"No, really - it's supposed to work that way"
Yeah, that will make customers happy. This also sounds like a problem for a second mover attempt:
The Zune store is also missing gift certificates, allowances, user-submitted playlists and so on. And believe it or not, the Zune store doesn’t let you subscribe or download podcasts. (Maybe Microsoft just couldn’t bring itself to type the word “pod.”)
Most likely, Apple's bozo attempt to own the term "pod" is getting in the way. However, it's a hole for customers looking to buy a Zune to replace their iPod. Listen to podcasts? You're on your own again, copying mp3 files from the net and hand pushing them. That's a lot of things, but useful isn't one of them.
Perhaps, as per common MS form, when they get to Zune 3.0, they'll have a real competitor. For now, I think I'll stay with the iPod.
The news that MS is going to pay "protection money" to studios on every sale of the Zune doesn't make me happy:
The New York Times reports that Microsoft has cut a deal with Universal Music Group which will allow the music giant to get a percentage of the sale of its upcoming digital music player, Zune. The report says that the amount being paid to UMG is going to be at least $1 per $250 device. Microsoft is going to extend the same deal to others in the music business.
This will keep the studios in the extortion racket, and ensures that DRM stays on the industry's agenda. Apple isn't perfect here, but this will ensure that I won't be buying a Zune.
Technorati Tags: DRM
James McGovern on slide decks:
I wonder if the Web 2.0 folks have ever considered that their presentations are also information dense? Many corporate folks aren't used to such density and they may be overwhelmed with such tight delivery. In overload situations, folks will also revert back to the desire of reading things later even if they were in attendance which you now have robbed them of this chance.
This is in the middle of a riff about how "Web 2.0" companies in particular fill their presentations with too much information. In my experience, small companies tend to do the best job of keeping presentations shorter and to the point. When you find a wordy, rambling presentation, there's a very good chance that it came out of a large bureaucracy.
Now, bad presentations exist everywhere - I've put together plenty of them myself. I will say this though - if you rely on powerpoint decks for documentation, then you are dying the death of a thousand horrid practices.
Technorati Tags: management
Nick Carr has a long post up pursuing the idea that computer usage is bound to follow the model of electricity usage: moving from all DIY to a mostly metered model, due to the overhead and waste:
The energy-inefficiency of the machines themselves is compounded by the way we’ve come to use them. The reigning client-server model of business computing requires that we have far more computers then we actually need. Servers and other hardware are dedicated to running individual applications, and they’re housed in data centers constructed to serve individual companies. The fragmentation of computing has led, by necessity, to woefully low levels of capacity utilization 10% to 30% seems to be the norm in modern data centers. Compare that to the 90% capacity utilization rates routinely achieved by mainframes, and you get a good sense of how much waste is built into business computing today. The majority of computing capacity -- and the electricity required to keep it running -- is squandered.
Well, this needs a big "it depends". For large companies, with thousands of employees (or, millions of users, like Google), there's certainly going to be pressure to wring inefficiency out of the system. However, there's a simple reality: most outfits simply aren't that big. If your business is small, and the biggest use of a PC is to keep the books, then you really don't see those costs. The problem Carr outlines is a real one, but it's limited to a certain segment of the business population. With power, it makes a lot of sense to centralize - the mom and pop shop can't afford to build a coal fired plant in the basement. They can afford the 1-2 PCs they might need though, and selling them on a centralized vision is going to be hard.
Analogies are useful, but they only take you so far.
Technorati Tags: management
I really like the "I'm a Mac/I'm a PC" ads, but it seems that the Mac guy (Justin Long) comes across as smug for too many people:
Apple's "I'm a Mac" campaign is almost perfect: It's funny, memorable, and efficiently lays out the advantages of Macs over PCs. Its only defect: Virtually everyone who watches it comes away liking the "PC guy" while wanting to push the "Mac guy" under a bus.
I can see that, but it never hit me that way. However - if it's not working, it's not working.
Technorati Tags: advertising
Apparently, Vista has gone RTM - and my question is, why? MS missed the holiday PC buying season, so it would have been smart to give testing another couple of months. There were nasty bugs discovered and patched a short while back; why not give it another 1-2 months? What's the upside to a January general release, as opposed to March?
Proving that US lawmakers are not the only ones who have no grasp of the internet, Australia and Belgium are flirting with some truly stupid law: they want to force search engines to get opt-in approval before they index any pages (as opposed to respecting robots.txt). Here's the AP story:
"Given the vast size of the Internet, it is impossible for a search engine to contact personally each owner of a web page to determine whether the owner desires its web page to be searched, indexed or cached," Google said Tuesday.
"If such advanced permission was required, the internet would promplty grind to a halt," Google's senior counsel and head of public policy Andrew McLaughlin told the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee.
Can you imagine how badly search would work if this were the case? I wonder whether the rights holders have really thought this one through - how would I read content if I have no idea that it exists?
Just as application startup time matters, web page load time matters: if you go beyond about 4 seconds, you enter loser territory:
Four seconds is the maximum length of time an average online shopper will wait for a Web page to load before potentially abandoning a retail site. This is one of several key findings revealed in a report made available today by Akamai Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: AKAM), commissioned through JupiterResearch, that examines consumer reaction to a poor online shopping experience.
This isn't a huge surprise - it tracks well with anecdotal experience I already have. Having good data might help convince recalcitrant web developers though.
Technorati Tags: user%xperience
The LAStug is meeting on November 13:
Date: Monday November 13, 2006
Time: 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
This event repeats on the second Monday of every month. Location: High Tech High, Los Angeles - Meeting Room
Street: 17111 Victory Blvd
City State Zip: Lake Balboa, CA, 91406 Map
There is usually an after meeting at Jerry's Deli on Ventura and Petit in Van Nuys that goes on to an indeterminate time.
If there is a problem getting there call Darius Clarke, Mike Klein or John Dougan for assistance. The phone numbers are in the LASTUG contacts database on Yahoo! .
Technorati Tags: smalltalk
Bruce Tate has another articel up on the "Crossing Borders" site hosted by IBM. In it, he discusses the advantages of dynamic typing, and contrasts it with static systems. Part way through the article is this description of Smalltalk, which is a great summary:
The whole Smalltalk language is built on the premise of delayed binding. Smalltalk developers build onto a continuously running application called the image. Because the image is always running, any addition, deletion, or update of a method in any class occurs at run time. Delayed binding lets Smalltalk applications keep running throughout the development cycle.
This is the thing about Smalltalk that differentiates it from other languages. It's always runtime in Smalltalk - the divide between development and deployment is very, very blurry. In fact, my test server for this blog is usually just sitting on my old Linux box, waiting for me to do something with it. When I have new code, I export it, toss it at the server, and load it into the running server.
Those changes often involve shape changes to live objects - including ones that are being used by requests to the server at the time of the code change. I don't shut the server down; heck, I don't even turn the listener off. I just use an administrative interface I set up to tell the server to look in the update directory for new code - and it loads it. This all works because of the lackof a full divide between development time and runtime in Smalltalk.
That leads right into something Bruce says further down in his article:
They [ed: dynamic languages] provide techniques that the Java language doesn't, such as overriding the behavior that happens when a method is missing. Remember, the Java language requires methods to exist for compile-time binding. Other languages allow open classes -- classes that can change based on a developer's needs. When you look long and hard at the evolution of frameworks, you find an increasing need for delayed binding, leading to increasingly unnatural bolt-ons in the Java language that complicate and obfuscate the language. Meanwhile, other languages sit ready and waiting for us to build just the sorts of frameworks that can lead to radically higher levels of abstraction, and much better productivity. The benefit to you is clear: you have a language that's more expressive and more productive.
The runtime/development time divide is something that grew out of a world of limited computing resources: memory and diskspace used to be expensive. At this point, they're cheap (and only getting cheaper. Inertia is the main force that keeps that divide around. having dynamic binding adds other possibilities as well:
Message passing takes on another dimension when you throw method_missing into the mix. Remember, this capability is open to dynamic languages, but completely closed to languages that bind at compile time to a type. The benefit of the early binding -- enforcing that the method must exist -- also turns out to be a core weakness. Ruby lets you override the method_missing behavior to invoke behaviors for methods that might not exist at run time. Active Record associates a class with a table and dynamically adds an attribute to each class for every column in the database. Active Record also automatically adds finders for each column, or combination of columns! For example, for a Person class mapped to a people database table having first_name and last_name columns, person.find_by_first_name_and_last_name is a legal Active Record statement, though no such method exists. Active Record simply overrides method_missing and parses the method name at run time to determine whether the method name is valid. The result is an extremely productive framework for wrapping database tables -- one greatly simplified through the power of late binding. But so far, I've only explored the invocation side. It's time to push forward into adding behavior.
One of the nicest things about having easily modified MNU (method missing) behavior is proxies. In Smalltalk, setting up proxy behavior (for lazy fetching from a database, or for over the wire method invocation) is trivial - the proxy overrides the default MNU behavior, and does the appropriate action (fetches the db data, sends an RPC message, what have you). In Distributed Smalltalk, a CORBA implementation for Cincom Smalltalk, MNUs raised remotely result in bringing up a debugger locally - the remote side handles the exception the same way it normally would, but with the debugger coming up locally. That debugger is a full Smalltalk debugger as well - it's not the "forensic pathologist" kind of debugger that you get in more traditional environments.
The funny thing is, the Java world is headed this way, but at the cost of ever spiralling levels of complexity. Trying to add dynamism to the static world of Java is a little like handing a bicycle to a fish:
The Java community's obsession with static type checking is curious because Java developers are now spending an ever-increasing amount of energy looking for ways to delay binding. Sometimes, the approaches are successful. Frameworks such as Spring exist primarily to delay binding, which loosens the coupling between client and service. Aspect-oriented programming allows delayed binding by providing services that extend a class beyond its current capabilities. Frameworks like Hibernate delay binding, adding persistence capabilities to plain, ordinary Java objects (POJOs) at run time through reflection, proxies, and other tools. Popular books teach developers how to program with POJOs, often moving beyond reflection with increasingly complex techniques essentially used to open up a class and delay binding, effectively sidestepping static typing.
When you start down that path, you might want to consider using a language and environment that were developed with that stuff in mind - right tool for the job and all that. Put another way - come on in, the water is fine.
Today is election day in the US, so I'll be headed out to vote soon. Unlike a lot of people, I don't think everyone should vote. If you don't know who your local representative is, if you don't know who your local council members are - then do us all a favor, and stay home. The rest of you - go vote.
Technorati Tags: news
Robert McLaws noticed the Microsoft announcement of a new video (tv/movie) store for the XBox - you cab buy stuff and download it to the console. That's cool, but here's the first thought I had: why isn't the Zune mentioned anywhere? Is it just something Robert missed, or is MS off in left hand/right hand displacement mode again?
Side note which is disappointing: it looks like DRM is fully in play - I gathered that from this video of the features.
Jason Calacanis dpesn't think much of the "Spike the Vote" effort that's targeting Digg (and maybe other similar services soon):
As you may know, there has been an algorithm change at Digg. Now it takes about 60-100 Diggs to hit the front page depending on your category. Please note that you will only be able to spike a maximum of 50 votes for each story you submit. The spiking is meant to give your story a kick start; it's not meant to spam Digg. If your story has any legs at all, it should have no problem making the front page after 50 spikes. Spike the Vote is offering 250 points for $50 to a limited number of spikers to get the system started. Please respond to this message if interested.
Sometimes I wonder whether any of the people hosting free services have ever heard of "the tragedy of the commons". My first thought on reading about this effort was "well, duhh'.
Let's see: popular usenet groups tend to devolve into crap over time. So do popular mailing lists. Why would anyone think that social media sites are magically immune? There's a reason that I have spam filtering on, and trackbacks off. Open systems that don't have some kind of barrier are going to get gamed. If you don't get that, look up "human nature" until it sinks in.
This is probably the best news I've seen out of the Yankee camp in a few years - the Yanks picked up Sheffield's option so that they could trade him: for pitching:
The Yankees completed the first step toward trading Gary Sheffield yesterday, announcing that they have picked up the slugger's $13 million contract option for next season.
While Williams believes there is a chance Sheffield remains with the Yankees, the club wants to move him for young pitching. But Sheffield is coming off a season in which he played only 39 games because of wrist surgery, which may reduce his trade value.
Young pitching! It's almost like someone flipped a light switch over there, or something.
Things are getting complicated (legally speaking) on the internet. The Spamhaus/e360Insight mess opened a window into just how messy things can get - and how much worse they could become.
In that case, e360 sued Spamhaus in Illinois. Spamhaus didn't even bother to show up - being a UK based outfit, they told the court, in effect, to suck eggs. The court eventually ruled in favor of e360 (good luck collecting). It's at that point that things got messy. e360 noticed that the suit had had no impact, so they went to a Federal court and asked a judge to force ICANN to toss Spamhaus off the net. Now, ICANN said that they couldn't do that even if they wanted to (the domain registrar in question is Canadian based).
Right now, Spamhaus has lawyered up in Illinois and is appealing the case. This isn't the end of the problem though - Jim Rapoza of eWeek notes that things could (and probably will) get worse:
For example, European executives of online gambling companies have been arrested when they've traveled to the United States for breaking U.S. gambling laws. It probably won't be too long until we see an executive from a prominent American Internet company arrested while abroad for something that wouldn't be a crime here (for, say, selling books or movies online that are banned in certain countries).
The problem is that the web oozes right past national jurisdictions. The US can outlaw online gambling, but a European site (globally accessible) can still offer it. Likewise, free speech here in the US protects various odious things which are illegal in Europe. Those things are accessible online though (hello, Google book indexing). I think Rapoza's right - at some point, a US exec will deplane in Europe and get arrested for illegal content, in the same way that the US Dept of Justice has gone after gambling execs - and the stunned incomprehension of the Dept. of Justice will be the only entertaining part of that.
I don't pretend to have an answer to this, but an escalating stream of arrests in airports isn't it.
Technorati Tags: web
Ready or not: Windows 3.11 running on modern hardware. It's enough to make you wonder what MS is actually doing with all those CPU cycles in XP, never mind Vista...
Michael has an answer for everyone who has ever been lost in a sea of tiny little methods, all alike:
This time we're looking at the Defactoring Tool - a novel idea that if you can refactor things in to lots of small methods, then surely you can defactor all those small methods in to one giant blob of code. And you can
Dare Obasanjo didn't manage to convince his girlfriend to get a Zune - apparently, the iPod enablement of her car provided a lot of motivation to stay with the iPod. That's where things got interesting:
When we went to the mall, the Apple store was busy so we got her new iPod from the iPod vending machine at Macy's instead. I'm not sure which was the most mind boggling thing about the purchase. The fact that iPod vending machines exist? The fact that there was actually a line at the iPod vending machine? Or that the machine seemed to be getting enough regular usage to be sold out of iPod Nanos ? Wow.
I've read about those vending machines, but never seen one myself. As Dare says, this definitely shows how far MS has to go in order to make the Zune successful - Apple has managed to make the iPod the "default" answer.
Technorati Tags: iPod
The basic idea is that incredible advances in technology have driven the cost of things like transistors, storage, bandwidth, to zero. And when the elements that make up a business are sufficiently abundant as to approach free, companies appropriately should view their businesses differently than when resources were scarce (the Economy of Scarcity). They should use those resources with abandon, without concern for waste. That is the overriding attitude of the Economy of Abundance -- don't do one thing, do it all; don't sell one piece of content, sell it all; don't store one piece of data, store it all. The Economy of Abundance is about doing everything and throwing away the stuff that doesn't work. In the Economy of Abundance you can have it all.
Dare does a great job of driving trucks through the holes in that argument:
All this talk of Abundance being the new Economy misses the point that Scarcity is still what drives all economic endeavors. What has happened with the advent of the Web is that certain things that were traditionally considered scarce are now abundant (e.g. shelf space, editorial content, software, etc) which means that the new economic lords are those that can exploit scarcity along another axis.
Read the rest of his post; it uses the iPod/iTunes store as a good example. There's another thing Hornik misses though, and that's quality of service. If any business attempts to "do it all", the end result will be a complete lack of focus. Laura Ries does a great job of explaining the flaws in that theory on a regular basis; I'd recommend nearly any post she's ever made for guidance there.
The short answer is this: those who try to be all things to all people typically end up being nothing useful for anyone.
This year's Halloween party came a week late, and it was at a friend's house, instead of here - we are still bogged down planning for a large family event later this month. I took this photo of the host tending to a cauldron of punch - sadly, my phone camera didn't catch the dry ice smoke (which was pouring all around it). It was a cool effect, and went well with her costume:
Engadget speculates that Sony won't even hit the reduced PS3 ship numbers they've promised:
If you haven't managed to procure a good, solid pre-order yet from a credible retailer, you just might want to take a good hard look at those unboxing pics we shared last night, 'cause it could very well be as close as you're getting to a PlayStation 3 in 2006. See, despite Sony's repeated reductions to the launch quantity predictions, EA thinks they're still "exaggerating" a bit, and we might actually end up with around 500,000 to 800,000 units by year's end in North America -- as opposed to the 1-1.2 million currently being predicted by Sony.
The Wii and XBox 360 are looking like better bets all the time.
James McGovern illustrates why many large companies spend most of their time standing still. In response to the idea that analysts like to pass information by phone, he says:
Hmmm. So I guess you are saying that we must resort to establishing dialogs via phone calls? Have you ever considered why enterprises prefer documents? Maybe it is because we do a lot of work at home on our laptops after hours. Maybe by having printed material we can multi-task. If you have ever been in corporate America for any extended period of time, you would understand that there are lots of low density information oriented meetings which serve as an opportunity to do multiple things. Many people pretend to take notes when in all reality they are reading documents.
Well. I wonder if it ever occurs to him that those "low denisty information oriented meetings" are an utter waste of everyone's time? or that - realizing this - analysts like to get people on the phone so that they can get some level of assurance that attention is being paid? If you spend time multitasking in meetings, then the correct answer is that you don't need to be in those meetings. Full stop, period.
Time for the weekly look at the logs. BottomFeeder downloads proceeded at a rate of 197 per day, which looks good. The details:
Next, HTML page accesses:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
Well, it certainly looks like IE 7 is having an impact on browser usage amongst my readers. Let's take a look at the syndication stats:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
|Net News Wire||7.6%|
|Google Feed Fetcher||6%|
|RSS 2 Email||1%|
That looks fairly normal, and on the syndication side, IE usage isn't rising that much
Michael, David, and I recorded episode 8 last night - we continued our conversation about image based development, and then went into Vista Smalltalk - the Ottawa STUG got a presentation on it last week, and David recorded a screencast. From there, we discussed debugging techniques, and how Smalltalk makes that very different (and more powerful).
We were doing some server maintenance - we have a second server now, and it was time to shuffle files around. That caused an outage for about a 1/2 hour, but it's all back now.
Sir Tim believes devotees of blogging sites take too much information on trust: “The blogging world works by people reading blogs and linking to them. You’re taking suggestions of what you read from people you trust. That, if you like, is a very simple system, but in fact the technology must help us express much more complicated feelings about who we’ll trust with what.” The next generation of the internet needs to be able to reassure users that they can establish the original source of the information they digest.
How is that different than traditional media? I read a story in the NY Times, where the major source is some wire service. Other than age, what tells me I should trust that wire service? Especially given all the recent stories about photoshopping and staged photos?
With the net, there's some possibility of fact checking. With the old model, there was the "letter to the editor" that found the circular file. With all due respect to Berners-Lee, I'll take the new model, thanks.
I like Scoble's "engagement" idea, but I see no good way to measure it:
I’m trying to come up with new ways to measure audience that goes way beyond whether someone downloaded my content to their machine. I have tens of gigabytes loaded here that I haven’t watched or listened to, and I bet I’m not the only one.
I’d rather go with engagement than just downloads. I believe advertisers will eventually get wiser and pay for audiences that’ll do things, not just download files with an automated client.
There are onerous methods, of course - the "phone home" kind of monitoring. No one wants that, so what else is there? All I can think of are indirect measures - emails sent as feedback, comments left on the posts, that sort of thing. Not exactly enough meat for advertisers to sink their teeth into. It's a good question, and I wish I had an answer.
Technorati Tags: statistics
Patrick Logan likes the Wii:
All I can say is, well, the kids took to the Wiimote controller like they'd been playing for years. I took a little more effort because I don't really play many games even with today's controllers. But the Wiimote controller really is going to make me want to play more games.
The Wii is definitely going to be the system to have this holiday season.
That's good news for Nintendo - they are going after the casual gamer with this system, and it sounds like it hits the target.
Via CNet, I see reports that hell is freezing over: Microsoft is going to work with Novell in support of SuSe Linux:
Microsoft is entering into a technical and business collaboration with rival Novell, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced Thursday. The two software makers have made a set of agreements to bridge the gap between proprietary and open-source software, he said.
Microsoft will offer coupons for maintenance and support of Novell's Suse Linux Enterprise Server and Desktop (SLES and SLED) products.
That's interesting - Scoble is speculating that it has to do with patents that could cause MS some trouble down the road. Hmm. I think I'll reserve further comment until I see more details.
A friend of mine who worked in a Smalltalk and Java shop shared these quotes from the Java trenches:
- “Java development expends a great deal of effort managing the integration of software components. Where as Smalltalk development can focus their energies better on addressing the business problems.”
- “Typically, a Smalltalk developer will spend most of their time thinking about the problem than coding when compared to Java developer. Not surprisingly, the over-all development effort is faster in Smalltalk, and the code is smaller and more efficient and maintainable.”
- “When development projects get under pressure, naturally developers take short cuts. When thought both Java and Smalltalk have refactoring browsers, it is much harder to refactor Java projects than Smalltalk projects. As a result, over time, my experience has been that a Java software project becomes hard to support, maintain, and enhance than a Smalltalk project.”
- “For new developers, it is much easier to learn proper OO development techniques using Smalltalk than Java. Proper techniques are a investment that will save you money by giving the project large returns in development time, effectiveness and efficiency. “
- “My current experience with source code management software is that the Smalltalk tools are much better at identifying the changes so that the core software “
There was also this humorous statement that I rather liked:
Java is kind of like kindergarten. There are lots of rules you have to remember. If you don't follow them, the compiler makes you sit in the corner until you do. There are 59+ reserved words. Everything is not an object. There are primitives, and your classes are not first class objects. And you have to remember that there is no "this" in a static method (in Smalltalk calling self in a class method would return the class itself). You have to remember to tell the compiler things several times so it knows what you're talking about (Date date = new Date()).
Jon Udell notes an all too common problem in screen sharing software: an attempt to solve too many problems:
There's one thing I wish screensharing systems would do well: screensharing. I watch a lot of demos projected to my computer. It's always a struggle, both for the presenter and for me. Windows or Mac? IE or Firefox? Who has the latest version of the client? Who's the host? Which application is shared? Can you see my screen?
While we answer these questions, the first five or ten minutes of every meeting swirl down the drain. I've used every screensharing system and, from this perspective, they're roughly the same. None performs its basic function simply and well. All are determined to add whiteboards, chat, and filing systems. In principle these are useful features. In practice, for most people most of the time, they're just not usable.
This is a classic product management/marketing issue. You always want features that differentiate you from the competition - but at the same time, too much of that gives you MS Word - an application for which most people barely touch 10% of the available power. It's a problem across the industry, and not just in this product area.
You may have noticed that the Cincom Smalltalk Wiki has been up and down the last few days. I finally sat down and looked at the issues, and it was all about the memory policy. WikiWorks loads all wiki pages into memory by default, and that was causing a few problems with the policy that the server was using. I inserted the CraftedMemoryPolicy (Thanks Terry!) with some reasonable defaults, and the memory issues went away on my test server. That's all in place on the server now, so things should go better.
Via Tim Bray, I see that the all too common air of superiority in the Smalltalk community is hardly limited to the Smalltalk community. At a PHP conference Tim attended, this came up in Q&A:
In the plenary Q&A, one question was “ActiveRecord for PHP?” and another was “What do you think of Rails?” The answer to the first was more or less, “We’re not convinced that’s an appropriate direction” and to the second was frankly snotty: “Ruby is appropriate for computer-science-loving people who have a puristic [sic] attitude”.
I'm starting to think that the only difference between the "Smalltalk arrogance" people sense and the arrogance of other communities is the number of people involved.