Open Source Conversation is back

I lost sight of this whilst moving computers several times recently - in fact I lost many podcasts.

So I am very pleased to see this one back.

The Open Source conversation is reborn at the Watson Institute at
Brown University.

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New CEO at Red Hat

COO who is an ex-programmer.....
clipped from www.news.com

In a surprise move, Red Hat said Thursday that Matthew Szulik will step down as president and chief executive on January 1, to be replaced by James Whitehurst, Delta Airlines' former chief operating officer.

On a conference call, Szulik said Whitehurst stood "head and shoulders" above other candidates interviewed in a recruiting process. He was a programmer earlier in his career and runs four versions of Linux at home, he said.

The surprise move was announced as the leading Linux seller announced results for its third quarter of fiscal 2008. Its revenue increased 28 percent to $135.4 million and net income went up 12 percent to $20.3 million, or 10 cents per share. The company also raised estimates for full-year results to revenue of $521 million to $523 million and earnings of about 70 cents per share.

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Test post from Clipmarks 3

Testing, 1,2

Open source software developers who were active in the late 1990s might find themselves yearning for those good old days, when venture capital flowed like wine at Napa Valley party.

Open source software's fall from grace was dramatic and sobering, but it wasn't alone and it doesn't mean open source is a dead industry. In fact, while investors are magnitudes more careful than they were back in the day, money is still being offered to open source companies that meet VC's often varying criteria.

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James Robertson nails advertising

You know he is right - probably less than 1000 people in the entire world don't:
Now, imagine a company with a clue: they would have bought advertising to apear with those clips, and the ads would have been something like "Like what you see here? Visit our site to buy the concert DVD or video download".


Develop Lisp applications using the Cusp Eclipse plug-in

Lisp is an excellent programming language that allows you to expand your knowledge of programming languages due to its largely typeless nature. It can also help those seasoned in the Java™ programming language, PHP, or C/C++ think in new ways when developing applications. In addition, you can do some pretty cool things with Lisp. Find out how to develop Lisp applications using the Cusp Eclipse plug-in.

Bonus: Does your ADSF package files for you!!!


Nokia N8xx

Nokia have just announced a new model of their Internet Tablet (which is not a phone!)

I have been watching the N800 for a while and would have liked to find a store at which to give it a try. It looks cool but what can it really do?

Then the price of the N800 started to drop - so of course a new model was coming!

Here is a comparison of the N800 and the N810 to help me make up my mind as to go with a cheap N800 to try out or splash out for the latest and greatest N810.

Choices, choices!


The rules of war

From Paul Krugman(Reg. reqd):
Anyway, it continues to amaze me how the 21st century is starting to look like the 17th century with fancier technology: tax farmers, mercenaries, and now rentier cities.
Given Paul's previous column on torture, it occurs to me that the end of the 17th century marked the beginning (in Europe) of a period marked by limited wars with conventions of behaviour which limited the impact on civilian populations. The 30 Years War had been the exact opposite with many , many civilan deaths.

Anyway, I wonder if revolution at present day methods will lead to a more restrained era - perhaps we could have some conventions signed at Geneva?

It's the economy stupid

A couple of quotes fro today's Guardian:

Despite opinion poll gains by the Conservatives, Gordon Brown will make a Commons statement on Iraq on Monday, and the chancellor, Alistair Darling, will deliver the comprehensive spending review and the pre-budget report to MPs on Tuesday.


But Mr Brown was today dealt a sobering blow by a Guardian ICM poll, which showed that the two parties were both on 38% in the wake of the Tory conference in Blackpool.

Means only one thing - if they push for an election now they must be very worried about the trend in the economy.


RUP: Iteration Planning : Brian Lyons

Having found the NumberSix blogs for the wrong reason, I find this very intersting short piece on when to do Iteration Planning by Brian.

One thing that has RUP diverging from other methods is when you create the Iteration Plan. Personally, I think this causes problems.

Other iterative development methods from Scrum to Barry Boehm’s Spiral Model start each iteration with a planning session for how the team will carry out the objectives defined in the higher-level plan. RUP ends each iteration with a plan for the next one. Considering that this is a one or two day variance, does it matter? I think it does.

Intersting and subtle point.

So RUP is wrong! Whaddya gonna do about it? I’ll tell you what: fix it!

The Rational Unified Process is a set of process content that conforms to the framework of the Unified Process. With v7 of the process it is initially provided in two configurations – RUP for Large Projects and a stripped down RUP for Small Projects – and it is installed along with Rational Method Composer, a tool to modify the process. Does this sound like a process that someone is telling you that you are not allowed to modify?

And a pragmatic answer. Perhaps I'll do this work myself!!

Brian Lyons: RIP

I never met Brian Lyons face-to-face but we did have one interaction after my "CMMI Made Practical" presentation in March. It is very sad to see a relatively young person with a young family pass away, especially one who was also very highly thought of in the inustry.

By a strange quirk of fate I arrived in S. Africe on 3rd September to do another presentation on CMMI - I guess we won't be exchanging thoughts on that one :-(

Found via Grady's blog.


Do You Love IT Conversations? Show It!

From Phil Windley:

I hate public radio pledge drives. Who doesn’t. Nevertheless, I recognize the need. I hope you’ll forgive this low-key request for support for IT Conversations.

Add the button!!

Common Lisp Tutorial

Peter Siebel makes a plea:

So imagine my dismay when someone pointed out to me today the Google results for “lisp tutorial”. The top hit is a page which apparently hasn’t been updated since around 1999 and isn’t really a tutorial anyway, so much as a large list of links including a link to the Hyperspec when it was hosted at harlequin.com.1 The next few “lisp tutorial” hits are — with all due respect — exactly the sort of dated, dry tutorials that inspired me to write Practical Common Lisp in the first place and to do a deal with Apress to allow me to keep it online even after the dead tree version was published.
With that in mind I did a small bit of search engine optimization today to make sure that the phrase “Common Lisp tutorial” appears on the main page of the Practical Common Lisp web site. If you also think Lisp might be better served if PCL was at least one of the results returned to a would-be Lisper searching for a Lisp tutorial you can help out: if you have a web page where it would be reasonable to do so, consider linking to the url http://www.gigamonkeys.com/book/ with a link text of “lisp tutorial” or “common lisp tutorial”. Yes, I’m asking you to participate in a Google bombing. But it’s for a good cause. Think of the children.
You know that he is right - I remember that 1999 page from when I started with Lisp - it has had its day. And Peter's book is excellent, with the first chapters being a very good tutorial.

So if you want a good Lisp Tutorial or Common Lisp Tutorial, look no further than here:


The initial chapter of Successful Lisp is also a good place to start .


Smalltalk by Example: PDF and on Lulu

Want to get started with Smalltalk? Look no further than: Squeak by Example.

Released under Creative Commons "sharealike" license an can be used with Squeak (obviously) which is free and free!!

I have just started on it, so can't give a full review, but from a quick scan it looks very promising.


A test post from Google Docs!!

How does this go?

It works!!

I wonder how labels can be added?

Back from South Africa

Just back from a business trip; when I say S.Africa it was actually just Joburg, and apart from a few drives to customers it was entirely Sandton, a suburb.

Weather was very nice - hot but not too hot. I was there just as winter turned to summer; apparently spring no longer happens!

A nation of great contrasts - shopping malls with lots of wealth on display vs. the townships I saw going to and fro to the airport.

I attended a conference where the message was about the changes required to move SA to being a software powerhouse like India. Perhaps these efforts with the investment taking place for hosting the World Cup in 2010 will help.

Martin Fowler turns TV critic: Dr Who

Martin Fowler gives a great introduction to Doctor Who. He does a great job of pointing out the real highlights (and there are many!)

This made me chuckle:

You see Doctor Who is only secondarily about entertainment, it's primary purpose was always to scare the living daylights out of small children. I may be too old now to get behind the sofa, but I do remember how much I enjoyed it.

I remember hiding behind the sofa - I swear that a black and white TV that vibrates wit h the theme tune is ideal for Dr Who. That said my kids love the new stuff even without the hiding!


Live from Ulaanbaatar

Rob is the son of a friend of mine and is doing a year with VSO in Mongolia:

Upon arrival we made our base camp in a gir (a large tent which nomadic Mongolians use as their home). From here we went for a walk, going past traditional herdsmen and their cattle. Almost everyone I past was on horseback. It was fascinating to see the traditional, nomadic style of life still being followed in this region. Completely different to anything back in the UK!


inbox zero

Merlin Mann talks about GTD etc. at Google:


Well, I didn't know Google had bought Feedburner - time to get back under my rock!

Anyhow, I have added this blog to Feedburner so I can see what all the fuss is about.


No Dolphin Smalltalk, No Open Source Dolphin Smalltalk

There will no doubt be a number of you who would suggest that we Open Source Dolphin. Of course, you are free harbour such opinions and to discuss the idea on the newsgroup but please do not expect us to be persuaded. It simply will not happen! Both Blair and I dislike the Open Source movement intensely and we would rather see Dolphin gradually disappear into the sands of time than instantly lose all commercial value in one fell swoop.


At this point, I cannot sign off without commenting on the enthusiasm and talent in the Dolphin community that has sustained us all these years. There are people on the Dolphin newsgroup who have been with us since the early days back in 1997. There are a number of you who have supported Dolphin far beyond the call of duty and I sincerely thank you for this. I don't want to name names for fear that I forget someone but you know who you are and I thank you again. Doubtless, many of you will be disappointed by this decision but I hope that you understand now why this has to be.

Hmmm. The author seems to rule out Open Source as a viable business decision under any circumstances. Might have built a larger community around Dolphin, maybe even more profitable (especially with on-going client work)

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Getting Things Done, in Emacs

From credmp (via Sacha Chua)

A wonderful concept that has intrigued me for quite some time is David Allen’s Getting Things Done. Wikipedia has a good short story on what the process is and how it should work. This article however is about how I implement it into my daily routine at work to try and get the most out of a day. Firstly, I will introduce the software I utilize to get everything done.


In order to get my system up and running, in regards to the
Muse/Planner/Remember trinity, I have found the information and code
snippets of Sacha Chua extremely useful.

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Organisations are systems: agile or not

More wisdom from Patrick Logan:

I taught and coached agile software development a lot over the last many years. A common question was "What about metrics? I need an agile that supports metrics. Our organization does metrics. Or will." Often the people asking the question had little if any understanding of "metrics". Often they thought that "metrics" (the kind in "quotes") must be really complicated, and so this agile thing where you cheat and cut corners certainly must not "do metrics".
A focus on concrete and to-the-point metrics is so important, yet so elusive.

Do smaller (growing) companies do well until politics means that the goals of the organsiations , its sub-unts and individuals cannot easily be aligned?


Planning your future

It has been said before, but here is a great article by Erin Malone on thinking about your future:

The point is, in the big picture, no one is going to look after your career for you, but you.

Many good points and a nice outline. Also some great discussion in the comments. Read It All!(tm)

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Programmatic changing of documentation in CL

From yrk:

SETF can be used to modify documentation: (setf (documentation 'foo 'function) "Common Lisp documentation is malleable").

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Distributed Systems vs. SOA

Some interesting perspectives on SOA from Pat Helland (who seems to be getting lots of links since going back to MS):

So, the move from distributed systems (one transactional scope --> one notion of time) to SOA (independent transactional scopes --> time based on the perspective of the user) is like moving from Newton's Universe to Einstein's Universe


In SOA (again, how I think of it), we are acknowledging the existence of independent machines. This affects the transactional scope (we end up with different chunks of data which cannot be updated by the same transaction) and we end up with independently evolving schema and operations for the different systems. This is a seminally different concept than distributed systems (at least in the way I think of them).

In the presence of imperfect availability of knowledge, a business is forced to choose between closing down service (reducing availability of the service), over-booking, or over-provisioning. Indeed, if multiple systems (or humans) are extending commitments independently, they must choose between over-booking, over-provisioning, or some unknown balance between them. If I have 10,000 widgets to sell and 100 salespeople, I could allocate 100 to each sales-person and know that I have not over-booked if they go out and independently sell the widgets. To do this, though, I am almost certain to need extra inventory for the sales-people that don't sell all 100 of their widgets. Indeed, for most businesses, this is a ridiculously expensive proposition. So, an analysis is done on the statistics, a cost of over-booking is calculated, and allocations are given based on the expectations of selling the 100,000 widgets.

That is my summary in 3 quotes! Read it all to a) check on my understanding, b) to get the full subtlety

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From chromatic on ONLamp:

Confusingly, every example of a DSL I saw looked like something I would have called an API before my sudden immersive enlightenment.

If I’m confused about what a DSL is, you must be too. I took copious notes through the sessions on Friday and have devised a simple, ten-question test to help you determine whether a wad of code represents a DSL or an API.

Fun! So what is a DSL?

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about schmedley - wow!!

rich internet applications

This is what schmedley is all about

Note the OS X style "Mexican applications wave" at the bottom

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My name is on a software patent.

Mark Pilgrim:
Even our most seasoned patent writers argued against it, and we did it anyway. And for what?

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More Ubuntu - now on mobile phones?

Looks like more Ubuntu momentum according to the BBC:

A version of the increasingly popular Linux operating system Ubuntu will be developed for use on net-enabled phones and devices.

The Ubuntu Mobile and Embedded project aims to create the open source platform for initial release in October 2007.

Good free(?) publicity.

No mention of apps that I can see - seems important in this space

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Common LISP: Code Coverage in SBCL

Juho reports:

SBCL includes an experimental code coverage tool (sb-cover) as a new contrib module. Basically you just need to compile your code with a special optimize proclamation, load it, run some tests, and then run a reporting utility. The reporting utility will produce some html files.

Looks very cool.

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Dell to use Ubuntu on Linux PCs

Congratulation to Ubuntu

From the BBC article:

Michael Dell, the founder, chairman and chief executive of Dell, is himself an Ubuntu user. He has the operating system installed on a high-end Dell Precision M90 laptop he uses at home.

This refers to this link which refers to:


  • Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn
  • VMWare Workstation 6 Beta
  • OpenOffice.org 2.2
  • Automatix2
  • Firefox
  • Evolution Groupware 2.10

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Highlighting symbols in Emacs

M-x all-things-emacs

I ran across this package on gnu.emacs.sources recently. If you enable light-symbol-mode in a buffer and pause on a symbol, then Emacs will highlight all other occurrences of the symbol in the buffer. When you move point the highlighting goes away.


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Trying Clippings

Following my urge to try nearly all Web 2.0 applications, here is an entry from Clippings
clipped from clipmarks.com


Location: unknown
Member since: Today 1:26 PM
0 clips created
0 popped
0 total pops
edit my profileinvite friends
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Stufff from new gblogger install

Ubuntu Feisty beta battling

I have had exciting day battling with Ubuntu.

First off, my root partition fille up so X11 wouldn't start.  All attempts to resize the partition (qtparted, DiskWorks) failed.  What the heck, I had a new disk rive to install, so I thought I would install the lovely new beta.

Hmm, kernel panic..... OEM install isk reveale more details - all around ACPI.  Turned that off in the BIOS, on we go.  Nice looking install using Ubiquity kept freezing at 88%.  Used the naff looking OEM version, but it worked!! Finally!!!

I am now up and running, having copied over /home, some apt configs etc.

The result is good - hopfully folks using the final install will have fewer problems ( though I suspect the ACPI will never be fixed - need new mother board!!)

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isearch Word Yank

A cool addition to incremenntal search; by issuing C-w whilst in incrmental search (C-s) you can add ther next word in the buffer being searched. The C-w searches for the new extended search string.

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More Lisp fandom

From Stephen Ramsay
My experience learning Lisp and coding a few serious programs in it was deeply profound. Afterward, most of the other languages I had been using regularly seemed silly and inane. I found myself saying things like, “I’ve spent an hour on this method, and I know I could knock it off in three lines of perfectly elegant Lisp!” And what I was lacking in those languages was a whole host of programming constructs I had either never heard of or only dimly understood before learning Lisp. Passing a function into a function? Why would you ever want to do that! You wouldn’t. Unless you got seriously into Lisp, in which case you find yourself (a) doing it all the time and (b) writing much more elegant, expressive code as a result. Same goes for closures, continuations, anonymous functions, and macros.


I’ve spent the last week or so writing in Ruby. It’s a wonderful language. It’s a joy to program in it, and I’m almost always trying to find ways to overcome the various reasons not to (”that’s not the language of the project,” “there aren’t enough libraries,” etc.). I know it like the back of my hand, and I teach the language every year. It even has a number of Lispy constructs (like closures, continuations, and anonymous functions). But it ain’t no Lisp.


But last week, I was writing proof-of-concept code. There was no one telling me what language to use, no “audience” for the code, and there were good, serviceable libraries available for Common Lisp, Ruby, Java, Python and Perl. I went with Ruby.

The question, of course, is why not write it in The Greatest Language Ever?

Well, that’s a separate rant, which I’ll save for another post.

Intriguing.... is Stephen in theatre or films? The suspense is building nicely, but timing is everything!

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Fridge efficiency

£25 fridge gadget that could slash greenhouse emissions:
It is made of wax, is barely three inches across and comes in any colour you like, as long as it's black. And it could save more greenhouse gas emissions than taxes on gas guzzling cars, low energy light bulbs and wind turbines on houses combined. It is the e-cube, and it is coming soon to a fridge near you.

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From Emacs via gblogger

Hi there

Hey, it worked !!

Not sure about the Post URL part, but ther is probably a way to set a default.....

Anyway, check it out....
Emacs Client for Google

Entry titles in Blogger

I discovered that, using Performancing, I could set the title of a Blog entry, which formatted very nicely (IMHO). However, if I posted from Blogger, I could not set the title ( and so used h2 headers instead), and if I editted a Performancing entry in Blogger I lsot the title!

However, just go to Bloggers Settings -> Formatting and show the title. Now I have no excuse not to make these 2 types of entry look the same.

Lack of posts

Well, I haven't posted much recently. Partly that is due to a new job, but also the fact that BlogThis! didn't work with the new version of Blogger. Well, now the Google Toolbar does the trick..... except that using Firefox on my Windows laptop, I can't login to Blogger. The login window goes into some sort of loop.

I have (somewhat reluctantly) got it all working in IE7, but it is not my environment of choice.....

I can use the Emacs client, mentioned earlier - but so far I have only installed that in Linux, where such things are very easy. The Ubuntu apt-get is just great!!

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Google comes to Emacs

An Emacs Client For Blogger: "by T.V. Raman, Google Research Scientist" .

And you can do stuff with Calendar and Reader too - in fact I found the HTML provided for the list of current items is a really nice way to read outstanding items.

Note to self: Installs go better if you check you have the pre-reqs rather than (mis-)remembering.


Models of running code

An interesting aricle on visualising running code, with imortant insights on models in general:

Validating Dynamic Systems - Enterprise Integration Patterns
One of the key messages we are trying to highlight during our talk is the importance of mapping the captured data to a model that is suited to answering the questions you are interested in. This model can be a graph, a process or any other abstract representation of your system.

Not getting too pedantic on the exact form of model seems like good advice - what type of model answers the questions that need to be asked?


?National? Gorilla Suit Day

Today is National Gorilla Suit Day, inaugurated by Mad Magazine's Don Martin. "Every National Gorilla Suit Day, people of all shapes and colors around the world get their gorilla suits out of the closet, put them on and go door-to-door."

International Gorrilla Suit Day? Either way I missed it - maybe next year?

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Calling all UK Cyclists - fillththole.org.uk

Via the CTC:

Potholes and road defects are more than just a nuisance, they’re a danger to cyclists. They’re responsible for 12% of compensation claims by CTC members, and local Councils have a duty to fix them.

Councils can’t be everywhere, and if they don’t know about a pothole, they can’t fill it in. So if you want to get it repaired, you have to report it. Fillthathole.org.uk contacts the right people for you, to get the roads repaired quickly and easily. So you can spend your time riding, not dodging obstacles.

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Scrybe™ a groundbreaking online organizer

Scrybe™ a groundbreaking online organizer that caters to today´s lifestyle in a cohesive and intuitive way.

Looks interesting - flexible lists and diary, but the "thought-stream" idea looks ver y useful. I've signed up for a beta......

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Bye Don

Microsoft lures IBM Software architect Ferguson | News.blog | CNET News.com
Microsoft has hired Donald Ferguson away from IBM, where he was chief architect of IBM Software Group and a big thinker on Web services and service-oriented architectures.

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One Emacs to rule them all!

Via minor emacs wizardry:

Knuth’s Tex for the Math-kings of sigma, and pi,

Unix vim for the Server-lords with their O’Reilly tomes,

Word for Mortal Men doomed to die,

Emacs from the Bearded One on his Gnu throne,

In the land of Stallman where free software lies.

One Emacs to rule them all. One Emacs to find them,

One Emacs to take commands and to the keystrokes bind them,

In the land of Stallman, where free software lies.

In fact, "minor emacs wizardry" is a little too modest - some amazing emacs stuff on that blog if you are that way inclined!



From Phil Windley:

"If you use BibTeX for managing paper references (and after all, who doesn’t) and you use a Mac, then you should know about BibDesk, an open source tool for managing BibTeX bibliography files."

Well I don't have Mac OS X ( gasp!) so I went looking for Linux alternatives and came up with KBibtex. Debian and Ubuntu folks can get it via here. Looks good, but I will report back later after more use.