I've got a VW 7.5 based development build (i.e., a runtime) posted on the download page - scroll down to the dev links to grab it. If you have Bf installed, you can just grab the latest runtime (baseapp*.zip) link and replace the files you have with the ones in the archive. Enjoy, and let me know if you run into problems.
Update: Hold off on this until I update the post again :/
Update2: You can safely grab it now.
Jon Udell spoke to Allen Wirfs-Brock recently - Allen is now at MS:
More than 25 years ago, Allen Wirfs-Brock created one of the early implementations of Smalltalk. He was working at Tektronix at the time, as was Ward Cunningham who became the first user of Tektronix Smalltalk. Allen later served as chief scientist of Digitalk-ParcPlace and CTO of Instantiations, then joined Microsoft four years ago. His original charter was to work on future strategies for Visual Studio, but recently in light of growing interest in dynamic languages at Microsot he's returning to his roots.
Here's a link to the mp3 - now I know what I'll be listening to during tomorrow's workout :)
I see there's some confusion over the BottomFeeder build script I posted - centered around the reference to "repositories.xml" in it. Since I'm not about to post my own Store connection info, here's how to create that file. Open an existing VW image - a non-commercial image will be fine, since it has read-access to Store. In the launcher, save the repository info as shown below:
Now you might need to go into the file and modify the connection name - see this line:
"load from Store - connect to public store first" profile := Store.RepositoryManager repositories detect: [:each | 'cincomsmalltalk' = each name] ifNone: [nil]. profile ifNil: [^self]. Store.DbRegistry connectTo: profile.
I used the name 'cincomsmalltalk' - change that to match the name you use to connect to the public repository.
Technorati Tags: smalltalk
SciFi Wire reports that "Jericho" is dead - and fans don't like the way it closed out:
CBS, which canceled the post-apocalyptic series Jericho last week, posted a statement in response to fan outcry that the show ended on a cliffhanger and promised it would wrap the show up in some fashion.
I don't think "Jericho" merits that level of outcry, this is an "own goal" kind of problem. Whedon always wrapped a storyline at the end of a season to avoid this problem - and it looks like "Heroes" is doing the same. Other writers could learn from that.
Today we discussed "Less is More" in the context of software development and Smalltalk. That led into a discussion of language features and what kinds of development that leads to. We covered a number of topics, and eventually mentioned a few news items relating to Squeak.
For decades we've been buying albums. We thought it was for artistic reasons, but it was really because the economics of the physical world required it: Bundling songs into long-playing albums lowered the production, marketing, and distribution costs because there were fewer records to make, ship, shelve, categorize, alphabetize, and inventory. As soon as music went digital, we learned that the natural unit of music is the track. Thus was iTunes born, a miscellaneous pile of 3.5 million songs from a thousand record labels. Anyone can offer music there without first having to get the permission of a record executive.
He goes through a long explanation of how the LP came out of a desire to accommodate classical music, and not as a way to force people to buy lots of tracks they didn't want. What he conveniently skips over is what happened with the introduction of the CD: With the LP, we had both long form if you wanted it, and singles (45s) if you wanted a track. During the 50's and 60's, and into the 70's, the single was a great way to get a few tracks inexpensively. Then along came the CD, and the music industry did exactly what Weinberger says above: they tried really hard to kill the single. I bought tons of CDs during the 80's and 90's where I recall thinking "but I only wanted 2 tracks"
Well - I can get that now. As to this, from Carr:
But it's the middle tracks of the platter that seem most pertinent to me in thinking about Weinberger's argument. Between Keith's ecstatic, grinning-at-death "Happy" and Mick's desperate, shut-the-lights "Let It Loose" come three offhand, wasted-in-the-basement songs - "Turd on the Run," "Ventilator Blues," and "Just Wanna See His Face" - that sound, in isolation, like throwaways. If you unbundled Exile and tossed these tracks onto the miscellaneous iTunes pile, they'd sink, probably without a trace. I mean, who's going to buy "Turd on the Run" as a standalone track? And yet, in the context of the album that is Exile on Main Street, the three songs achieve a remarkable, tortured eloquence. They become necessary. They transcend their identity as tracks, and they become part of something larger. They become art.
For the three of you who care, sure. For the rest of us? We're quite pleased to ignore the utter dreck and buy the handful of tracks we want. I just recently avoided the "filler" songs on a Beach Boys collection and picked up the 15 or so tunes I actually like. I can almost hear Nick Carr screaming about that, but hey - he's free to buy the whole thing, and I'm free to buy a few tracks. Back when CD's ruled, I had no real choice in the matter - if I wanted one song from a CD, I either bought the CD, recorded it off the radio, or did without - and mostly, I did without. Now? I actually pay someone real money. Let Carr try to wrap his head around that idea for awhile.
Technorati Tags: marketing
I'm getting ready to push another version of BottomFeeder out - the new features will be limited, but I'm adopting some "less is more" approaches to the UI - by cleaning up settings and menus. The goal is a somewhat sparer, easier to deal with interface.
It's hard enough to get a Wii that I've now subscribed to the Wiitracker site to get tips. Thanks to my friend Mike for the tip - but no joy yet :)
It's been another good week for BottomFeeder downloads: 297 per day:
Another big week of Windows downloads; The CNet site is also picking up a fair number. On the HTML page accesses:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
Finally, the Syndication accesses:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
|Net News Wire||3.8%|
|Google Feed Fetcher||3.6%|
|Feed On Feeds||2.6%|
It looks like consolidation in RSS/Atom consumption is happening, driven by IE7 adoption.
Here's a question that came up in comp.lang.smalltalk - it comes up about Smalltalk fairly often, actually:
For me the problem is knowing where to get started, how to move around the environment (the IDE), finding/searching for items of interest (eg. methods, classes), how to start building a small self-contained application, etc.
Can anyone recommend how to get started, or suggest an online reference?
For Cincom Smalltalk, there are two things we've set up to make getting started easier:
The screencasts are flash movies that explain various aspects of the environment; you can view them in an ad-hoc' fashion or in order (which might be useful for complete beginners). Enjoy - and send feedback my way!
Tim Anderson notes that Visual Programming seems to be making a comeback:
The first true visual programming environment I used was IBM’s VisualAge Smalltalk. I liked it and thought it was a shame when IBM reverted to pure code-based development with Eclipse. Admittedly, complex applications got fairly confusing, with lines everywhere.
From a parentage standpoint, IBM was copying the functionality in PARTS, which came out of Digitalk's Visual Smalltalk. The problem was always the level of granularity - if you use a tool like that to lay out a UI and connect widgets and domain models, you get what we used to call "green haze" - too many lines on screen to see anything at all. I said then that I thought such connectivity might be a good idea if it was used at a higher (component) level - and that's what Tim notes is happening now:
Now it seems visual programming is back. The other day Scratch hit the news, a cool visual programming environment for kids. I like the way that jigsaw-like shapes are used to indicate whether or not two blocks can be fitted together.
Yahoo has Pipes, drag-and-drop RSS feed combination and transformation.
Now here comes Microsoft PopFly, online visual programming for Silverlight.
I suppose I really ought to play with Pipes, since it's living at the level I always thought might be useful (although - the catch is creating components that have useful connecting points). I'm still a bit skeptical about all of this, but it's nice to see an old idea being tried again, at what I think is a more appropriate level.
This is kind of cool - Avi Bryant gave a keynote talk to the Ruby folks at RailsConf - and 3 weeks ago, Chad Fowler gave a keynote to us Smalltalkers at Smalltalk Solutions. I guess the dynamic language crowd just gets along :)
I finished my meetings up early in Cincinnati, but not quite early enough - I was back at the airport 15-20 minutes too late to catch the early flight home. So - I wait until 6, which is my scheduled flight.
This would be more pleasant if the network connections here at Dayton were better. On the positive side, it's free. On the negative side, they have some network filter for web pages (it blocked a Smalltalk Wiki page as porn - go figure), and they blocked both my IRC client and my VPN. Boy, this is going to make for a fun few hours :)
There's another interesting lesson out of the bogus iPhone story from yesterday - you have to get out in front of a breaking story fast. Here's Ryan Block of Engadget explaining how the story got posted in the first place - they tried to get a statement from Apple:
So after verifying that the email was indeed sent to internal Apple email lists -- but before publishing anything -- we immediately contacted Apple PR, trying to reach our contacts on their PR team that handles iPod / iPhone matters. It was before business hours on the West coast, though, so we even called an Apple PR manager via their private cellphone in search of a statement. When no one was immediately available, we left voicemail and email.
After some agonizing over the story - and taking into account that Apple often goes with "no comment" - they posted the story. Inside of the two hours, the email they relied on was debunked (but it was a very well done fake).
I don't really cast any blame on Engadget here - they had what looked like a hot story that checked out, and they tried to get Apple to comment. Well, you might say, it wasn't business hours in California yet - cut Apple some slack. I sympathize with that, but the rules of the game have changed. Just as your network administrators have someone on call 24/7 to handle emergencies, any company in the public eye needs PR people who are on call 24/7. It's unpleasant, but less unpleasant than having your stock take a hit on a rumor that runs wild (or worse - a real story that breaks before you were ready for it).
Technorati Tags: marketing
It's been a weird travel day. I got to the airport (BWI) with 45 minutes lead time to see huge lines at the AirTran counter - turns out their computers were down. It moved fairly quickly though, because they just called out flights as they got close, checked you off on a printout (probably faxed from somewhere), and issued a hand written boarding pass. Weird - but oddly efficient (makes you wonder about automation).
So I got through that, got to my hotel. I'm about to head to bed, and the TV - inside the closed armoire - decides to turn on. Hmm... I hope tomorrow isn't downhill :)
Steve (he knows who he is) will pay for sending me this. I'll have to enter therapy...
If you lose money on every single transaction, then volume doesn't help you much - unless you can sustain that push long enough to drive the competition out of your space, of course. In the video game business, it's becoming increasingly clear that the PS3 isn't doing that:
On Wednesday, Sony reported that losses for the January-March quarter widened from the same period a year ago to 67.6 billion yen (563 million) in red ink, largely on launch costs for the PS3, or PlayStation 3, which went on sale in November in Japan and the U.S., and in March in Europe.
The funny thing is this: they are selling plenty of units, even with the high costs - more than I would have thought, honestly:
Sony shipped 5.5 million PS3 machines in the fiscal year through March 31, fewer than the 6 million the company had targeted. Nintendo shipped 5.84 million Wii machines worldwide during the same period.
So contrary to the conventional wisdom, they aren't doing so badly in volume terms - the problem is in the price point and design. Nintendo is demonstrating that you can do just fine without high end graphics (and with units that actually sell for a profit all by themselves) - while Sony is hemorrhaging money. They have other problems at Sony too - problems which stem, IMHO, from the fact that the hardware division and the software division (music/movies) are often at odds in terms of how to serve consumers.
Meanwhile, Sony seems to think that they'll break even in games next year:
Earlier this year, Yuhara had said Sony plans to break even in fiscal 2007 in the gaming business. On Thursday, he said he hoped Sony's game operations will turn a profit by fiscal 2008.
Based on those losses, I'm not sure how. The PS3 must still be very, very expensive to manufacture. To make up that deficit, they'll have to sell an astonishing number of games. Now - if Nintendo could just get sufficient stock of Wiis in the retail channel, I'd buy one...
"English doesn't BORROW from other languages. English follows other languages into dark alleys, beats them up for their words and goes through their pockets for loose grammar."
My wife wanted to extend the gardens in our back yard - so this morning I headed outside with a shovel to get the grass up. I did that rather than rent a turf cutter because:
- My car is way too small to carry one
- Getting them to deliver it would have been $50 each way, plus the cost of actually renting it.
So, four hours later, I had this:
Now I'm thinking that the $100 would have been totally worth it - and my back will be only too happy to second that tomorrow...
This is interesting - even as asinine new copyright proposals get floated, there are signs that DRM for audio is dying the death from a thousand cuts: Amazon is joining the party:
"Our MP3-only strategy means all the music that customers buy on Amazon is always DRM-free and plays on any device," Jeff Bezos, Amazon's chief executive, said in a statement. Users will be able to play their music on virtually any device, including PCs, iPods, Zunes and Zens, as well as burn the songs on CDs for personal use.
Someone explain this to the CTO of HBO - but be sure to use small words.
The ESUG guys have some advice for getting to Lugano, the location for ESUG 2007. Timing for me is bad this year, which is a shame - I'd love to visit Lugano :(
The more I think about the proposed copyright law, the dumber it sounds. Wired weighed in this morning:
The bill would also make it a criminal act to export pirated materials, as opposed to merely importing, and would grant the feds wiretapping authority when investigating copyright and trademark cases, a power the government does not currently have. Thanks to a new "attempt" provision that wouldn't require the actual commission of a violation, the bill could conceivably be expanded, in an extreme case, to interpret a computer full of music next to a spindle of blank CDs as an act of piracy.
You might say that such an intepretation sounds nuts, but consider how far the push against tobacco has gone since the early 1960s (and never mind what you think about that - just consider where things were then, and where they are now. Then look at the proposal on copyright again).
So along those lines - based on the way the RIAA sees the world, owning CD's and having software like iTunes installed could easily be construed as an attempt to infringe copyright.
Technorati Tags: law
It was bound to happen sooner or later - what's a cross between Twitter and Digg? Why, Truemors - a site for posting "rumors" in Twitter style. Perfect for hit and run trash...
Matthew Ingram notes that the newspaper moguls are still in complete denial:
“Don’t believe all you’re being told about the death of the press: more people all over the world are reading newspapers. What’s more, they’re still a powerful medium for advertising,” he says in a piece for The Independent. In other words, just ignore the dramatic declines in readership and the stories of newspapers laying off thousands of people or putting themselves up for sale. Just a flesh wound.
Someone needs to ask these guys a simple question: How many people 25 or under do you ever see with a newspaper?
Technorati Tags: newspapers
Ahh, Disney - Lileks is writing about his family's trip to DisneyWorld. Makes me wish two things: first, that I could turn a phrase like he does. Second, that I was in DisneyWorld right now :)
Technorati Tags: DisneyWorld
While reading this CNet story on a proposed extension of copyright law, I flashed on the scene in the original Star Wars flick where Leia first learns about the Death Star - right after she explains that more oppression will only lead to more rebellion.
That's about how I feel about the RIAA's and MPAA's latest wet dream - some of the provisions are just insane:
Criminalize "attempting" to infringe copyright. Federal law currently punishes not-for-profit copyright infringement with between 1 and 10 years in prison, but there has to be actual infringement that takes place. The IPPA would eliminate that requirement. (The Justice Department's summary of the legislation says: "It is a general tenet of the criminal law that those who attempt to commit a crime but do not complete it are as morally culpable as those who succeed in doing so.")
How do you define "attempted" copyright infringement? My guess is that this is an attempt to get rid of all "fair use" rights in one fell swoop. Just consider what the goons at HBO have to say about HD content, and you'll understand what they're playing at here. Amazingly enough, it gets worse:
Create a new crime of life imprisonment for using pirated software. Anyone using counterfeit products who "recklessly causes or attempts to cause death" can be imprisoned for life. During a conference call, Justice Department officials gave the example of a hospital using pirated software instead of paying for it.
That example is so contrived as to be nonsense. I'm hardly in favor of copyright infringement (heck, Cincom sells copyrighted software!) - but life imprisonment? But wait - there's more:
Allow computers to be seized more readily. Specifically, property such as a PC "intended to be used in any manner" to commit a copyright crime would be subject to forfeiture, including civil asset forfeiture. Civil asset forfeiture has become popular among police agencies in drug cases as a way to gain additional revenue, and is problematic and controversial.
Oh boy - a local cop overhears you at the grocery store, talking about a song that a friend mailed you. Next thing you know, they're breaking down your door and taking away all of your equipment. Is it just me, or are music and movie folks suffering from a completely overblown sense of their own importance?
This is the kind of problem you run into when you put live object systems onto dead VMs: people start trying to fix the wrong things. Here's Charles Nutter, complaining about ObjectSpace (which is apparently how Ruby manages "all instances") - he wants to get rid of it for JRuby:
There are no plans currently for ObjectSpace to be removed from Ruby in a future version. But there's a problem...in addition to being pure overhead in JRuby (which you can turn off completely by using the -O flag), ObjectSpace limits evolving development of the Ruby garbage collector, breaks heap and memory transparency, and poses yet more problems for threading.
There are many issues here. First off, the JRuby thing. By having to add ObjectSpace governors for all objects in the system, JRuby pays a very large penalty. We're forced to do this because the JVM (and most other advanced garbage-collecting VMs) does not allow you to traverse in-memory objects nor retrieve the object that is associated with a given ID. In general this is because the JVM does all sorts of wonderful and magical things with objects and memory behind the scenes, and the ability to ask for all objects of a given type or pull an object based on some ID number at any time cripples many of these tricks.
The base problem is that the JVM sucks for hosting dynamic languages, and this is just one of the many ways it sucks. Before Charles tosses this feature overboard, he might want to have a look at my last post for an idea as to why such functionality is valuable. Here's a thought - add proper support for dynamic languages to the JVM.
Tossing the baby out with the bathwater isn't really an answer - at least, not a serious one. Down that road you get Java with Ruby syntax, which just doesn't sound that interesting.
Technorati Tags: live objects
Here's a nice post explaining one of the ways that Smalltalk's live object model helps you out in ways you might not think of: ad-hoc testing - just grab the models directly. This is from a post that goes into testing a new part of a web app:
So I have two choices: (1) I can create the whole GUI that lets one enter data or (2) I can put some extra code in my program to populate the data, for testing.
The problem with 2 is not big, just that I'm wasting time writing stuff I will have to take out later, just so I can test. Choice 1 doesn't have that problem, but it does break my focus. I have to stop working on what I am really interested in: the display pages, to work on a data input page(s).
But Smalltalk has another option (my favorite in fact): I can simply navigate through the live web site objects (via 'find instance of') until I find pages and insert the model data directly.
There are so many little ways like this that Smalltalk just saves you time and trouble.
Technorati Tags: development
I've been sitting on this post for awhile; I forgot that I had flagged it as something worth noticing. I think James Governor is correct though: most marketing and PR departments are wasting time and resources, pumping out information no one cares about (or reads). Most of the websites they maintain are all about "being sticky", having people fill in forms in exchange for downloads (etc). Instead, you want to offer information with plenty of linkage outside your site - if you have good information and products, people will come back for more. You also want syndication (RSS/Atom) everywhere, because the highly connected influencers all use syndication technology - if you don't offer your content that way, they simply won't bother with you - and make sure it's full content, too!
Anyway, go read James Governor's thoughts on PR/Marketing and IT - I think it makes a lot of sense.
I just about fell off my chair when I saw Forrester predicting the death of online video sales:
"In the video space, iTunes is just a temporary flash while consumers wait for better ways to get video. They're already coming," said Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey, the author of the study, who also called the paid download video market a "dead end."
Umm, sure. Let's see... I can watch free content streamed on my PC with ads, or I can buy an AppleTV or an XBox360 and watch on that big screen I invested in. Furthermore, I can carry the video content with me that way (iPod or Zune, respectively). With the free services? I get to watch on my PC, not transfer it anywhere, and have the devil's own time getting it to display on my big TV.
There's also a cultural shift this guy isn't noticing - my daughter and her friends seem much happier to download video (and watch on their iPods) than to stream the video (with ads). The other thing missed by Forrester: the iTunes model has much better support for narrow-casting than does the broadcast ad supported one. I expect to see things sliding toward subscription and away from the broadcast ad model over time - simply because the generic ads are so poorly targeted. I expect to see ad supported subscriptions via iTunes (and similar services) winning, and the broadcast model losing.
I'd recommend this podcast by Glenn and Helen Reynolds for more on this topic.
Leading AV researchers at Kaspersky have now identified three criminal gangs which are participating in an increasingly desperate battle of the botnets. This turf war is, as all turf wars have a habit of doing, turning nasty and it is the average computer who is getting caught ion the crossfire. No longer are the gangs happy to settle for a slice of the spam pie, they want it all. And that means control over as many compromised third party computers to create the biggest of mega zombie botnets. To accomplish this, the gangs behind the Bagle, Warezov and Zhelatin worms are turning their attention to ridding those compromised computers of rival gang malware infections in order to install their own and gain that control.
I can't tell whether life is imitating art, or whether it's the other way around...
Even the mainstream content owners realize that they're losing the PR war over DRM; witness HBO's CTO Bob Zitter, who wants to find a friendlier sounding acronym:
Speaking at a panel session at the NCTA show in Las Vegas Tuesday, Zitter suggested that "DCE," or Digital Consumer Enablement, would more accurately describe technology that allows consumers "to use content in ways they haven't before," such as enjoying TV shows and movies on portable video players like iPods.
When you have to replace the original term with a euphemism, it's not a good sign for your side of the argument. But hey - here's a question: If DRM is now "Digital Consumer Enablement", what should we do with the loaded term "piracy"? I rather like "User Friendly's replacement: "Consumer Choice Enhancement"