"I have a mind like a steel... uh... thingy." Patrick Logan's weblog.

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Game Changer

David Berlind on "Why IBM’s patent suit against Amazon could be bad news for the entire Web"...

IBM's patent infringement suit against Amazon is the equivalent of Big Blue saying "Excuse me everyone, we've got something very important to say." Very important indeed if you own or operate a Web site with advertisements on it.
One way or another this deal seems destined to change the game. Which game?

It could change the Internet or at least "internet commerce".

Or it could change the patent game by realizing programmers do nothing *but* innovate and we are bound to invent very similar, very basic mechanisms for a world which has never been inhabited.

Could a patent have ever been granted for "the wheel"? Under current law, apparently. But isn't "the wheel" considered a fundamental concept, almost a law of nature in the physical world?

Shouldn't "online advertisements" be considered a fundamental concept, almost a law of nature of life online?

Computer Science Doldrums

Andres Valloud writes...

Roger teaches Smalltalk at SDSU (as you can see from his link). Here are some interesting things I did not know...

Enrollment is way down, there are 4,000 students for about 10,000 places. Computer science, in particular, is down 40% since the dot com bubble bust. This figure is consistent with other campuses.

I can back this up with a recent visit my son and I made to another university's CS department. At least in some cases, CS appears to be in the doldrums. At this point my son is considering a CS minor, probably not a major.

For someone considering "applied computer science", i.e. programming, I think a minor is probably a good choice. Way back when I was in school programming had yet to make a wide and visible impact in most other disciplines. Programming has always embraced people from other backgrounds. I think the minor approach is an extension of that, and an acknowledgement that application in some domain is at least as dependent on domain knowledge as on programming knowledge.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Comment Moderation

I just noticed a backlog of comments to moderate going back to early October. I thought I'd checked since then. Anyway, I've been through the list. I apologize to folks who left comments several weeks ago, only to have them stall in my queue.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Ruby Might Be Sucking Less?

Update:

Ruby's primary new implementation may simply(?) have continuations temporarily out of order. I'm not sure that's a good sign, but OK.

Better to build continuation support in from the beginning, I'd think. There are more than 25 years of good papers discussing various strategies, and plenty of good implementations to borrow from.

End Update

I've heard some horrendous things about the current implementation of Ruby. But there is a new implementation more or less underway. But, yeah, let's don't do continuations. They're hard. And besides those VMs for real languages like Java's and C#'s don't do them. (Nothing to see here!)

And then Matz and Koichi dropped the bomb: Ruby 2.0 would support neither continuations nor green threads.
Besides what are continuations good for? Piffle.

And green threads? That just sounds sick. Who could imagine anything running well using non-native threads?

Seriously, Ruby is in dire need of a decent implementation. The JVM and the CLR are fine for what they are, old legacy. But Ruby needs its own *modern* implementation.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Lisp on the DS

A really interesting thread on the Gambit Scheme mailing list. Andrew Lentvorski is porting Gambit to the Nintendo DS handheld. He has a way to go, working on interrupts and threading. But the signs of life so far are really surprising to me at least.

Gambit ports fairly easily to Unix-like systems. The Nintendo DS does not strike me as a Unix-like system. Actually it turns out Marc Feeley has abstracted more than Unix out of the runtime system. He's had bare metal somewhat in mind but not much actual porting before this.

Something like Squeak Smalltalk ports to bare metal fairly deliberately. The core of Squeak is written in a subset of Squeak and implements a VM. Gambit on the other hand is a fairly aggressive optimizing compiler (and interpreter) written in C and Gambit Scheme and generates C.

The excercise is sure to enable other bare metal or nearly so ports of Gambit down the road. Which paves the way for anything riding on top of Scheme as well. As Andrew points out that includes Termite, but could go far beyond that over time.

Andrew has designs on using the Nintendo DS wifi capability. Gambit serializes continuations for the network. The possibilities multiply.

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About Me

Portland, Oregon, United States
I'm usually writing from my favorite location on the planet, the pacific northwest of the u.s. I write for myself only and unless otherwise specified my posts here should not be taken as representing an official position of my employer. Contact me at my gee mail account, username patrickdlogan.