From the long-running-but-probably-worth-the-wait-RPG-dept

"The Deryni Adventure Game is on its Way!"

I'm sure it will be worth the wait! Just in time for Xmas (hint).

Lisp Newbie makes good

"All of sudden everything was working within a try or two (and, sometimes, even on the first try), rather than with several attempts and debug sessions."


The new literate programming?

Sean McGrath, CTO, Propylon: "Why not make import statements in programming languages smart enough to recognise zipped XML Office notations when they see them?"

Minority Language Report

OK, a couple of posts rattled my cage today:

  • Finding Lisp:
    He sums up with a nice indictment of Common Lisp's freeze-dried-since-1994 state:

    Fun Fact about Common Lisp: standard Common Lisp has no networking libraries at all, but it does have a built in function to print integers as Roman numerals , using either the new style (14=XIV) or the old-style (14=XIIII) Roman numerals. Huh.

  • The Geek Guy Rants
    : In the pros department: itÂ's a great programming language. Ruby, python, perl, java can'?t really compete as languages. HTML and symbolic expressions are almost a one-to-one mapping, so generating HTML is a breeze. It'?s great fun to work in, and I'?ve certainly learned a good deal about programming in general just for using it.

    Having a Lisp process I can manipulate on a live server has been very handy for updating small changes and debugging as well.

    The drawbacks all basically stem from the same problem. Since very few people actually use Lisp, we can'?t take advantage of the tremendous community support the other languages have. There are few libraries, few implementations, and little real-world examples of building large-scale websites in Lisp. The language itself (ANSI Common Lisp) hasn?t changed much since it was standardized, which was about 20 years ago.

They are right - and I have seen this before: Eiffel and Smalltalk. In both these cases there seems to be a few small vendors and a small but very passionate groups of developers, but too much diversity of effort.

In the Eiffel case, the heavyweight vendor (relative to the minnows) decided to make friends with Microsoft and go it pretty much alone on another round of standardisation. In the Smalltalk arena, some are celebrating the exit of IBM from that segment; again the are several vendors. Squeak is interesting as a nice environment,open source - this could be the future there - or not - who knows.

For both languages, grouping together in the face of competition from other languages would be sensible ; how about a common Open Source base platform with charging for specific add ons, or services (I believe Dolphin Smalltalk pursues its on environment and does services) ?

And what about Lisp? Even more fragmented - why do so many rebuild basic Lisp compilers/interpreters? Are Franz and LispWorks going to thrive by doing it all? Hell, is Lips going to thrive? What would it take to get a 2nd round odf standardisation going, so that Lisp has the range of standard libraries that Java and C# have? Then others could focus on better environments and pushing ahead in more new areas.

Come on guys, don't let the bad guys win!

Phew this ranting is tiring - I'm off for a lie down


John Vlissides, RIP

Grady puts this simply and well:

developWorks: Blogs: Grady Booch: "It is with great sadness that I report the death of John Vlissides who passed away last Thursday, having been diagnosed with brain cancer in early 2004. John was one of the Gang of Four and a brilliant researcher, but above all a kind and gentle man. He will be missed.


Software from the Future

Rainer Joswig: "KEE was a very expensive environment for developing expert systems. It had quite a few features that are hard to find even nowadays. It is really from the future."


Oh, those sorts of barriers

Many thanks James Governor for this URL in the comments of my rant on barriers to entry:tecosystems: It's All About Barriers to Entry:

"One of the more common refrains our clients - as well as all of you folks too, I suppose - are hearing from me these days is 'lower your barriers to entry.' The basic premise behind the thought is simple: if one accepts (as I do) Jonathan Schwartz's contention that we've entered the Participation Age, barriers to entry that throttle that participation become a critical concern."

The examples in the post by Stephen O'Grady are more "barriers to participation" than what is conjured up in my MBA-trained mind; perhaps that would be a better phrase? Don't get me wrong, "barriers to entry" could ( logically) refer to the examples Stephen gives, but the phrase is loaded for what i imagine is a large chunk of his audience.

Just a thought!


More barriers being broken

db4objects - native Java and .NET open source object database engine: "'With Version 5, db4objects is pushing the seamless object-oriented development experience even further,' says Stephen O'Grady, senior analyst at Redmonk. 'When developers are not required to transition out of an object oriented environment and the language of their choice, they're likely to be far more productive. Consequently, several vendors - including Microsoft with its LINQ project - are seeking to break down the barriers between non-native APIs and the programming language on top of it, by allowing querying in native language - an approach that could become popular to access databases from OO programming environments.'"

Looks interesting, but unfortunately there doesn't seem to be support for the new, intersting, dynamic languages.

Good analysis, interesting terminology

Via a piece of (well-deserved) congratulation of a colleague On MySQL props for Stepho, and Open Source Business models we get the folowing:

tecosystems: Attack of the Open Source Databases: The (Brief) Q&A:

"Well, I hate to say that it's all about barriers to entry, but it's all about barriers to entry"

and this...

Q: So how have the commercial suppliers responded?
A: By reducing one barrier to entry: making or considering making their products free.

Well, if I understnd the point being made, then this isn't how I would use the term "barrier to entry". To me a barrier to entry was something which prevented competition; thus the (high) cost of developing a full-featured relational database was a barrier to entry for MySQL, PostGres etc. But since Open Source development is a disruptive technology it first established a low cost, low function version of the database, and is now performing a segment invasion of the market segment of higher-function databases. Thus the commercial suppliers are not removing a barrier to entry (from this perspective) but responding to a breach of a barrier to entry. If Open Source Databases are a disruptive technology then other issues than function and cost will come into play. For example, the encumbents may not be able to alter their support or channels structure to the new competitive environment.

So, picky, picky, picky (that's me!) ; otherwise an excellent piece. I have enjoyed James' pieces for sometime, but am just getting started with his colleague - keep going, if only to keep me on my (MBA) toes!!


Poor reasoning alert

If you have time and want to wonder at a really poorly constructed argument, take a look at this article:
Why IP owners should worry | Perspectives | CNET News.com:

"It reflects the currently fashionable idea that confiscatory government policy must be used to even the score (whatever that means), thrusting highly demanded, privately risked IP out of the hands of legitimate property owners and into the hands of other, favored actors to further 'develop' it.

A recent court decision in the U.S. (i.e., the Supreme Court's eminent domain decision in Kelo); regulatory and legislative actions in the EU (i.e., the EC's stance on interoperability, and failure by the EU Parliament this summer to pass patent legislation); and rampant piracy, not just in the developing world but here on these shores, buttress this supposition."

See any real connection between the assertion and the evidence cited? Rampant piracy is an example of the sovereignty/IP conflict?

Oh and the article also starts by dragging in the ODF saga, which is a contest betqeen 2 pieces of IP.

BTW I would assert that the Open Source community is also part of the IP community - it just chooses to be more liberal with its IP - and it depends on IP law too. Now file sharing of protected materials is something else, as is the demand to control hardware, infect computers with rootkitspolice everything just in case there is illegal file sharing going on.


Horror - SuSE doesn't run Firefox, so Linux not ready for the desktop!!

Still Looking for a Desktop Linux | Bayosphere: "So I just loaded Novell's SuSE Linux version 10 on my Thinkpad. All went well until I ran the online updates for the OS and various applications on the machine. That's when Firefox started popping up an error message box every time it loaded a new page. Reinstalling Firefox didn't help.

Someday -- maybe someday -- desktop Linux will just work. Not yet."

If the definition of "ready for the desktop" is a single app not working after install, then there is no OS ready for the desktop. I have had the misfortune of reinstalling a few OSs in my time, and they are all subject to problems, often a lot more severe thhan this example. I have to say that Firefox not working, is not a problem I have had ( so far).


CLiki : Exscribe: "Exscribe is a document authoring tool in the spirit of Scribe.

I (Fare Rideau) use Exscribe for all the pages I was writing: unlike most other document authoring systems, Exscribe is programmable: I casually compute content on-the-fly within documents. However, unlike the only widespread programmable document authoring system, namely LaTeX, it's programmable in a decent language, namely Lisp."
Finding Lisp: "You just need to find what people need."


KR Washington Bureau | 11/16/2005 : "In challenging war's critics, administration tinkers with truth"


franklinmint.fm: Jeremy Zawodny, Paul Graham, Lisp, and Yahoo 2.0: "Coincidentally, I've been reading the online version of Paul Graham's book, On Lisp. In it, he makes a convincing case for little languages (or Domain Specific Languages) as a style of programming. You may have heard OOP gurus spouting off about these lately, since they must be quite bored with Java/C#, but also with Python and Ruby. "


Peter Drucker

I missed this one: The Doc Searls Weblog : Saturday, November 12, 2005: "Now I have to add Peter Drucker to the growing list of gurus I always wanted to meet, but never will. He died yesterday in Claremont, California, at 95."

I enjoyed his writings. I recall reading his book "Management" not long after I started work; then the company I worked for got a new Managing Director - he basically worked his way through that book to improve the firm.


Stay at your posts!

Which Lord of the Rings race do you come from? Me, I'm a......

To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?
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Time for another photo - Staghorn Sumac in our garden Posted by Picasa

Very encouraging!

"Blogger's spam-prevention robots have detected that your blog has characteristics of a spam blog."

I now have to type in a "Word Verification" for any post; I hate to think what characteristics they mean:-( I would have thought the frequencies of posts would be too low.

Hopefully their human reviewer will see some other characterstics.

ECMDA 2005, Nuremberg

I just got back from attending the ECMDA conference. The city of Nuremberg is lovely ( well, I only saw the centre) - there is a walled city (much of it recently restored) , impressive Churches, and an Imperial palace. Much history - had a bad foot but managed to hop round the town once, but had to miss the official guided tour ( 90 minutes).

The conference was well organised and the conference hotel was very nice. No free wi-fi though:-( Some very interesting papers and workshops, and some not .... as with most conferences.

A good crowd of people, some to meet for the first time, some to meet again, some to meet for the first time face-to-face.

Good fun - looking forward to next years in Bilbao.


What will coaching do for me?: "What will you think if someone says 'you need a coach' !"



Alloy Homepage: "The Alloy Analyzer is a tool developed by the Software Design Group for analyzing models written in Alloy, a simple structural modeling language based on first-order logic. The tool can generate instances of invariants, simulate the execution of operations (even those defined implicitly), and check user-specified properties of a model."

Melted Cheese

Melted Cheese.

I love the analogy, and am always keen to see applications of contracts.

What is TDD?

Steve Eichert's Blog - TDD is about design: "I’ve noticed lately that test driven development is now being called test driven design. I think the change is a good one since TDD is really about design, not testing. It just so happens that you end up with some good tests when you do TDD."


When the carer snaps

A very sad situation:Britain, UK news from The Times and The Sunday Times - Times Online: "Jo Williams, Mencap's Chief Executive said: 'It is hard for anyone to imagine the extent of the caring role that families face. It goes above and beyond what anyone would consider acceptable. But, they do not want praise or rewards - just appropriate help and support to enable them to go on caring.

'We want local authorities to urgently address families' needs; planning services with families themselves, deciding how to spend money on short breaks and monitoring the impact on families. We want the government to do more to monitor what local authorities are doing and to respond to growing demand by putting more money into services.'"

I wonder why this case had to come to court? To even imagine that a custodial sentence was appropriate beggars belief. And why, in a country which spends so much on care, do some people just get left to struggle on alone?

Ted Leung on the Air: Languages and communities: " The culture of a community is a powerful influence on what it chooses to pursue, and the means by which those pursuits are undertaken."


Exploration Through Example: "I think it's because in the Microsoft Research world, we're observers, consumers, secondary participants in an experience someone else has constructed for us. In Alan Kay's vision, we're actors in a world that's actively out there asking us to change it."