I was driving to my daughter's school, listening to my iPod, set to shuffle my music, and "Code Monkey" came up. Imagine my surprise when I had a sudden epiphany on a longstanding bug in the blog server.
I had noticed that whenever I pushed a new post up, if I wanted the category specific feed to update, I needed to manually force that to happen. This was irritating, but I hadn't figured out why it was happening - the order (update the cache, then update the feed) looked right. What I hadn't done was delve into the process of cache updating. Here's what that looked like:
... self categoryCache add: category. [self cache cacheForCategorySearch: aBlog] forkAt: Processor userBackgroundPriority. ...
You might see the problem - the cache update code is forked, and at a lower priority than the active thread. Given the Smalltalk Process Model's operation, that thread is guaranteed to not run before the main thread does - which meant that the category specific feed was getting dropped before the cache got updated. I just made sure that the feed gets dropped within that fork, after the cache update - which solves the problem.
So what does it say about me that I came up with this during that song :)
Technorati Tags: smalltalk
Microsoft tries to explain why the customers screwed by the pending shutdown of PlaysForSure shouldn't be blamed on them:
"Had we had the ability to deliver DRM-free tracks at the time, we absolutely would have done that," Bennett said. "We talked to the labels at the time about that. As a company, we have continued to push for this. Zune has a subset in their catalogue of DRM-free Mp3s. Now, the industry is making progress. The labels are understanding the down side of DRM when its used the way they wanted to use it, they end up punishing the users who bought music legally more than those who want to circumvent the system."
Umm, right. Poor little Microsoft, unable to take a stand against the record labels. Right. Wal-Mart can push down CD prices, but MS can just sit there and take it. I'd mention something that Bennett doesn't seem to have, but this is a family friendly site....
Mathew Ingram notes the twitter storm around one of Twitter's prominent guys leaving - and notes that a lot of the problem is likely the premature claim that the scaling issues there were a thing of the past:
As support for this argument, Mike uses a presentation that Blaine made at a conference last year, in which he claimed that scaling applications that use Ruby on Rails is “easy” and suggested that Twitter’s problems were mostly behind it. As anyone who has been using the service much over the past year knows, that statement was… well, overly optimistic. Is that Blaine Cook’s fault or is it that Rails doesn’t scale? There’s no question that Twitter usage has skyrocketed over the past six months or so. For his part, Blaine says the departure was amicable and that it was just time for him to move on.
The upshot of this is worth remembering for PR purposes: don't make technical claims that you aren't absolutely certain you can fulfill. I know this one personally; we spoke way too often and way too early about Pollock, and look where that got us.
The first talk listed on the summary page should be of interest to a lot of people: Using Store to manage Gemstone code. I've had a lot of questions come to me on that topic, and it looks like Paul Baumann has some answers - all you need to do is come to the show!
GemKit is an open-source tool that was first created by GemStone Professional Services. Intercontinental Exchange has fixed and enhanced the original Store port of GemKit and is releasing these improvements to the community. Anyone interested in managing GemStone source code using Store will be interested in this technology demonstration. The demonstration will extend beyond GemKit into automated release tools and code management practices.
At least the stupid machine isn't smoking this time - it's just not draining. Seriously though: are the dishwasher gods just out to get me, demanding that I learn to wash everything by hand for some reason?
Cincom Smalltalk won the last shootout sponsored in Europe (by a Java magazine, no less) - here's another chance to show people how cool Smalltalk is. C't magazine is sponsoring a contest (the site is in German) - the goal: develop an application that reads in screens from the classic "Asteroids" game (that will come in an emulator) and responds with appropriate key presses to play the game. The prizes are pretty cool:
- Full-HD-Beamer Panasonic PT-AE2000 and PlayStation 3
- 30" Monitor Dell UltraSharp 3008WFP
- A 1000 Euro laptop
The contest ends on June 30th - they are providing an example C++ program to show you what they expect.
The only way Microsoft could play down the Mesh announcement more would be to release it on a Friday. As it is, sending the news out on a Tuesday (and one that has major primary news to boot) at midnight eastern time is as good a way of saying "pay no attention" as I can think of.
Update: As I expected, a major snoozer. Here's Scoble trying to explain it:
It's very hard to explain it all in a few words. It took 1.5 hours this morning for them to peel off the covers and show me all of Mesh's feed goodness and start to explain what's coming. What Mesh is today is mostly some end user functionality that looks like Plaxo Pulse done right, but if you stop right there and either get excited or dismiss it, you'll miss the point entirely.
Here's a hot tip: If it's supposed to be game changing, but it takes 1.5 hours to explain, it's not. Apparently, there's a whole lot of stuff about synching syndicated data and pushing it around. My question at that point: "This is what Ray Ozzie has spent the last three years pushing Microsoft to?"
Joe Wilcox explains in depth why DRM sucks: Microsoft switched from PlaysForSure (ironic name now, eh?) to whatever scheme the Zune uses - and after August of this year, you're pretty much screwed (yes, you can downgrade your music by burning a CD - but that's stupid). Here's MS' explanation:
"If you intend to transfer a previously downloaded song to a new computer (or an existing computer with a new operating system, such as an upgrade from Windows XP to Windows Vista) within the maximum allowed limit of 5 computers, please do so before August 31, 2008. You will need to obtain a license key for each of your songs downloaded from MSN Music on any new computer, and you must do so before August 31, 2008. If you attempt to transfer your songs to additional computers after August 31, 2008, those songs will not successfully play."
Given the replacement rate on home PCs, that's a pretty lame policy. MS has the muscle to stand up to the RIAA, but I guess they don't have the courage. Much, much easier to just screw their customers...
From a Product Manager perspective, the following comment from Gilad, highlights why VMasDLL, and DLLCC tools & improvements, are on our list of work in progress, for future product improvements.
"I think that the reason the world lives in ignorance and uses the kind of languages it does instead of using something beautiful like Smalltalk, is because of all the pragmatics of interacting with the rest of the world."
So based on Microsoft's dealings with web applications to date, anyone want to bet on whether the Mesh stuff they are announcing at 9 PM PDT will be useful or not?
I'm already skeptical based on the announcement time; what rocket scientist picked midnight east coast time for a major announcement? Not to mention that the news will be filled with the PA primary results then. Call me skeptical, but I see "pre-bury" written all over this...
I have to do something I don't normally do today: drive to work. We have a customer just south of DC that I'm meeting with later this morning, so I have to brave the DC area traffic. It's been quite awhile since I've done that, and I suspect that things haven't improved since then...
Now this is funny - news seems to break mostly where the reporters happen to be.
|I finished a great little book by Tuchman on my way back from Cincinnati last week: The Zimmerman Telegram. It covers the backstory behind the infamous telegram that precipitated US entry into WWI.|
I knew the basics of the topic before I read the book, but I really hadn't known just how much meddling Imperial Germany had been up to in Mexico. I highly recommend this book to anyone who thinks they know this subject, but would like to know more.
There's a techmeme storm about the latest issues with Twitter, but I'm baffled as to why anyone thinks this is new. I've been running Twitterific regularly for a couple months now, and I get this all the time:
The only thing that varies is the text for the error - I get failure notices multiple times a day, and have been getting them since I started paying attention to Twitter again. Why is anyone acting like this is a new problem?
Nick Carr notes that most Linux kernel work (and I would suspect a lot of the rest as well) is now paid effort:
A new report from the Linux Foundation reveals the extent to which the most famous and successful open source software project - the development of the Linux operating system - has shifted from being a volunteer effort to being a corporate initiative. Of the many thousands of changes that have been made to the Linux kernel over the past three years, fully 73.2% came from employees working on behalf of their companies.
I like his comparison of the distribution of Kernel work to the Visa consortium.
I took a fair amount of video and a lot of photos during the planning meetings last week; I put together a brief montage of the whole thing. I've got available in 4 formats:
You can grab the full quality video via the linked image below, or visit YouTube (also below)
This week we decided to try some organization. The podcast has a number of segments:
- Smalltalk News, with James, David, and Michael
- Seaside News, with James, David and Michael
- Industry News, with James, David, and Michael
- James interviews Kimberly Thomas and Deanna Simpson from Cincom Smalltalk support
The whole thing ran pretty smoothly, and we intend to use this kind of format from here on out. If you have comments or concerns, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also subscribe on iTunes, or vote for the podcast at Podcast Alley. We also have pages on Facebook and Ning.
The problem with Hulu - which seems pretty cool, with the wide range of content available - is the complete lockdown. I can watch a huge range of stuff (even old stuff) - but I can't take it anywhere. I can sit in front of my Laptop and watch it (hello, HD tv in ther other room) - but I can't transfer it to my iPod, I can't save it to my laptop to watch later (like, say, on a plane). So sure, it looks cool. Bottom line though: utterly, totally, and completely useless.
The one man dynamo known as Randal Schwartz has gotten the Smalltalk community a big coup:
But the biggest news is that based on the preliminary interest in Seaside because of my talk, the FISL conference organizers offered an entire room for next years conference (the full three days with 12 hours per day), as well as four or five main-track hour talks, if I could help organize the subconference details! This is quite a gift, because it will mean that we can expose the 7000 conference attendees to a variety of Smalltalk programs, without paying for rooms or badging or promotion. The conference asked if I could get some corporate sponsors on board, and I immediately fired off email to James at Cincom and Monty at GemStone, and thank goodness they read email on Saturday, because they offered their support quickly. Of course, we have many details to work out, but everyone agrees that we will move forward!
I've been to Brazil before, and loved it. This sounds really, really cool.
Tim Bray tries to break down the value of travel in a way that would allow you to make an up front "will that trip be worth it?" way. I might have to apply that to some of the trips I take :)
We're trying something new with the podcast - organization :)
We have been doing ad-hoc talks that ramble a bit, and we think we can structure things a little. This week is our first take on that, with:
- a Smalltalk/Seaside news segment
- a general industry new segment
- an interview segment
- Dave's design minute
- James' jobs report
The main difference you'll hear is that we are introducing each segment and trying to stay more on topic within those segments. We'll see how it goes; I expect to get the latest edition out this weekend.
Charles Miller shows how some companies (Comcast) are trying to fake their way through customer service.
Looks like NBC is still on the stupid train - they say they want to be back on iTunes, but only if Apple lets them do stupid stuff - like jack up the prices and prevent shows from playing on iPods. Yeah, there's a plan: disable all of the useful functionality and charge more! If Zucker has learned anything, it's not obvious :)
Joe Wilcox reports that Ballmer has finally admitted the obvious: Vista isn't done. The problem is, this admission came after SP1 shipped:
Today, in a speech to MVPs (Most Valuable Professionals), Microsoft's CEO acknowledged that "Windows Vista [is] a work in progress." As bad as that might sound, timing makes it worse. Ballmer's admission comes weeks after the formal release of Windows Vista Service Pack. And Vista's still not finished.
I have no idea what MS is doing with Windows 7, but here's what they ought to do: cut the team down to something small, on the order of 2 dozen people. Tell them to ignore Vista, and base their work on binary portability with XP. Don't give them access to the rest of MS; cut them off from the Borg and let them build something useful.
Sadly, that's not how it will go. I think MS is on the peak of the same cliff that IBM was staring over back in the late 80's, and the next few years are going to be very painful in Redmond.
Patrick Logan notices that Microsoft still doesn't get Open Source:
Ray Ozzie speaks, and he speaks about Open Source Software. I don't even know what to quote from his statement. They're just not in the right ballpark. The only thing Ozzie communicates here is that he just does not understand the open source community, which _is_ the community for building out the internets.
I have some familiarity with what Ozzie's problem is. Like MS, Cincom is an intellectual property company that has always made its money from licensing software. The Smalltalk community, strong though it is, has always been fractured across multiple non-interoperable dialects. So yes - I understand the problem Ozzie sees, because his is a much, much larger version of what we see.
The similarity ends there, though. Look at how we are responding to this sea change. Our major change going forward is support for Seaside (open source, cross Smalltalk) and GLORP (open source, cross Smalltalk). Our take is that we can continue to make money in much the same way we have, but only if we can add value around open software that enables complete portability of applications between Cincom Smalltalk and other Smalltalks. We believe that you'll get better support and better performance using Seaside on Cincom Smalltalk, but we aren't trying to lock you down to that - unlike the past, your UI level work and your database level connectivity will all be via fully open and portable code. We simply believe that you'll happily choose Cincom Smalltalk on the merits.
Going back to MS, examine Ozzie's comments on open - it's clear that he means "open" in the same way that Unix vendors meant "open systems" back in the 80's. You can see how well that worked out for them :)
Technorati Tags: open systems
We got the word earlier this week that ObjectStudio 8.1 received Vista Certification; with that, the final obstacle to shipping our release vanished. Today, Cincom officially released the product suite for delivery, which means that customers will start seeing CDs and DVDs arrive next week. What's coming?
- ObjectStudio 8.1, Vista Certified
- ObjectStudio Classic 7.1.3
- VisualWorks 7.6
A side note - that also means that the product will be available for download off the website shortly. I will be turning VW 7.6, OST 7.1.3, and OST 8.1 NC back on sometime next week.
It's early days in this evaluation at IBM, but I think it represents a huge win for Apple to even be considered by IBM as a viable option in the "default platform for employees" sweepstakes:
The pilot programme was launched in October 2007, to check out the options and feasibility of moving a few of IBM's 300,000 employees to the Mac platform. Unsurprisingly, Cupertino is rubbing its hands in glee, and is doing its utmost to step up its level of Mac support for IBM's business applications.
This is the kind of "bake off" that Apple simply wasn't considered for until very recently. Here at Cincom, the Smalltalk team has been moving heavily in the Mac direction for awhile now. We use Parallels and/or VMWare for Windows and Linux on those systems, and it's been working out great.
Lukas Renggli will be presenting Seaside in Hamburg, Germany on May 28th:
I will be giving another Seaside presentation Monday, May 28, at the Arbeitskreis Objekttechnologie Norddeutschland in Hamburg, Germany. The talk will start with a short introduction to Seaside and present some of the key features that can't be found in any other web framework. Furthermore I will present the advantages of using Seaside in the context of several industrial projects. The talk will be in English, even if the summary is in German. Hope to see you there.
Technorati Tags: smalltalk
Thursday morning, and it's deep into planning breakouts - here's the VM team talking about their issues:
And the ObjectStudio 8 work that's being discussed:
And the large talk on build/deployment issues:
Technorati Tags: cincom smalltalk
We had a nice dinner at PF Changs on the 15th; here's a snapshot looking down the table:
Technorati Tags: cincom smalltalk
In both the laptop and desktop showdowns, Apple's computers were the winners. Oddly, the big difference didn't come in our user ratings, where we expected the famously friendly Mac interface to shine. Our respondents liked the look and feel of both operating systems but had a slight preference toward OS X. In our speed trials, however, Leopard OS trounced Vista in all-important tasks such as boot-up, shutdown and program-launch times. We even tested Vista on the Macs using Apple's platform-switching Boot Camp software -- and found that both Apple computers ran Vista faster than our PCs did.
Simply put, Vista proved to be a more sluggish operating system than Leopard. Our PCs installed some software faster, but in general they were slower in our time trials. Plus, both PCs showed weaker performance on third-party benchmarks than the Macs. Our biggest surprise, however, was that PCs were not the relative bargains we expected them to be. The Asus M51sr costs the same as a MacBook, while the Gateway One actually costs $300 more than an iMac. That means for the price of the Gateway you could buy an iMac, boost its hard drive to match the Gateway's, purchase a copy of Vista to boot -- and still save $100.
has certainly been my experience. With a Windows box, it gets slower over time, as they pre load of apps (which is how MS makes things like Office seem faster) generates more and more of a boot time penalty. A year in with my MacBook Proo, it's still snappy - a year in with my old ThinkPad (meaning, a year after I initially got it) - it had degraded significantly. Buy the Mac :)
You may not be able to consolidate all your content in one place, but it looks like Six Apart is trying to make it easier to broadcast your stuff all over the place with a new Facebook app:
Blog It allows you to compose and post updates within the Facebook interface and have them simultaneously appear on any one of the ten supported services, including Movable Type, TypePad, Pownce, Twitter, Blogger and WordPress.
The idea behind Blog It is to simplify the process of updating all the various sites and services you use, offering a single interface for updating all your sites. It's a bit like turning Facebook into a fire hose that sprays your thoughts across the web.
There's got to be a huge demand for this kind of thing; I end up going through a lot of hoops to post podcasts (or links to them) across my site, Facebook, Ning, and a few other places. More of this faster, please :)
I have a few more photos of the Smalltalk team - here's Arden talking about our plans for the Modeling Tool work being done in OS 8:
Here's Travis leading a discussion on our Font system:
Suzanne and Georg Heeg having a discussion:
John Sarkela involved in a talk about some VM issues:
It's been a productive week so far - great news for all our customers and interested developers!
Randal Schwartz is becoming a one man PR shop for Smalltalk and Seaside:
I was interviewed by noted futurist Stephen Euin Cobb for his podcast, The Future And You. If you skip ahead to about the fifty minute mark, you'll hear me rave about Seaside and describe my recent activities.
Technorati Tags: seaside
Yesterday, I got a photo of the support group - these are the people you talk to when you call with issues:
The woman standing is Kim THomas, who manages that group. Going around to the right are: Deanna Simpson, Sean Glazier, Janos, Kazsoki, Dennis Gagne, Prasad Payyavula, Janardhana Manne, Chowdari Chiratla, and Ralf Propach (Heeg).
Technorati Tags: smalltalk