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

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Saturday, February 07, 2004

Them's Fight'n Words

Anders Hejlsberg: There is clearly a performance aspect to it. One possible solution would be to say, "There are no value types. All types are heap allocated. Now we have representational identity, and so we're done, right?" Except it performs like crap. We know that from Smalltalk systems that did it that way, so something better is needed.

This is really one more thing generally not worth worrying about. *This* is the real lesson of Smalltalk in the real world. I have seen precious few Smalltalk (or Lisp, or ...) applications that required this kind of minutiae. Large matrices of doubles in these cases, usually, are the culprit. In these cases the work arounds are not enough to justify complicating the language for everyone.

A good 64-bit data representation will make this point moot in just that many more scenarios. But when Smalltalk and other simple dynamic languages are cruising with 64-bits, the complicated languages like C# will *still* be burdened with all their interfering mechanisms.

What to do when your language is not dynamic enough?

When a language is formed by piling feature on top of feature, you run out of gas sooner rather than later. Such is the case with "partial classes". Could one have foreseen the desire for "partial methods"?

What do you do when your language is not dynamic enough, but the next feature may be the straw that breaks the camel's back? You resort to code generators.

dotnet *demands* a good dynamic language ASAP.

Why Societies Collapse: Jared Diamond at Princeton University

If you enjoyed Jared Diamond's Pulitzer Prize-winning Guns, Germs, and Steel, you might be interested in reading this transcript of his talk on the collapse of past societies.

If Montana were an isolated country, Montana would be in a state of collapse. Montana is not going to collapse, because it’s supported by the rest of the United States, and yet other societies have collapsed in the past, and are collapsing now or will collapse in the future, from problems similar to those facing Montana. The same problems that we’ve seen throughout human history, problems of water, forests, topsoil, irrigation, salinisation, climate change, erosion, introduced pests and disease and population; problems similar to those faced by Montanans today are the ones posing problems in Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, Australia, Nepal, Ethiopia and so on.

Answering a question on whether technology is the answer to envionmental collapses of the future...

The second thing is that the lesson we’ve learned again and again in the environmental area is it’s cheaper, much cheaper and more efficacious to prevent a problem at the beginning than to solve it by high technology later on. So it’s costing billions of dollars to clean up the Hudson River, and it costs billions of dollars to clean up Montana, it would cost a trivial amount to do it right in the beginning. Therefore, I do not look to technology as our saviour.

Friday, February 06, 2004

A Good Read

The industry needs encouragement to make modest, but significant, advances, like the kind advocated for by Jon Udell.

Bravo. And encore.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

A Lesson in Rhetoric: Bush Wraps Self in Flag

Bush is speaking now in a clip on CNN. He is using phrases like, "America did the right thing."

Why defend yourself and your administration when you can defend America?

Next phrase: "I could take the word of a madman or I could protect Americans."

Is this implying George Tenant, Dir. CIA, is a madman? 8^)

Has rhetoric ever been as blunt in an administration?

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Deep Problems with Model Driven Architeture

My take on Model Driven Architecture as it is currently being defined is this:

The current definition, whether it is Microsoft's or the OMG's (PDF), is that the approach assumes no improvements on the underlying technologies. In particular, MDA assumes no *simplifications* on the underlying technologies. Rather in these approaches, MDA *is* the simplification.

The problem then is that an MDA is like a compiler in the way compilers were typically described in classrooms about 25 years ago:

  1. The compiler generates assembly code.
  2. The assembler generates binary code.
  3. The linker generates an executable.
  4. The loader loads it and initializes the PC (program counter).

The Microsoft approach professes to be more "agile" (love that word) than the OMG approach. Still it does not seem to be an attempt to improve our tools so much as contain them and force them to submit themselves to the MDA interface.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Should they be excused?

Phil Windley interprets Jim Flowers to be saying that...

Jim's fundamental point, I think, is that getting real people with real problems (i.e. elections office staff) in the debate will add significantly to level of discussion and move us closer to real solutions.

But this seems to ignore that so called real people with real problems *already* purchased and implemented unbelievably corruptable electronic voting solutions in order to replace the existing corrupted mechanical voting solutions.

Jim's position also seems to ignore that at least in some cases (e.g. in California) the use of such systems is not only deplorable, but it is explicitly *illegal*.

Yet more evidence that computer programmers are effectively writing the laws in many cases through the implementation of systems that fail to obey the law. At least in California the situation appears to be improving. Whether machines will be corrected before they're used again, and what retributions that would entail, is yet to be determined.

Monday, February 02, 2004

A Matter of Course

The state's school superintendent has proposed striking the word evolution from Georgia's science curriculum and replacing it with the phrase "biological changes over time."

Cox repeatedly referred to evolution as a "buzzword" Thursday and said the ban was proposed, in part, to alleviate pressure on teachers in socially conservative areas where parents object to its teaching.

I say why bother. Let evolution take its course.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Risk Analysis and Decision Making

Ted Neward attended a talk on risk analysis and decision making. This is the gem for technology facing (and technology fascinated) developers. Heed...

Cost-benefit analysis is a skill, not an arcane art, and more technical leads and architects need to spend more time working on it. But we don't, because it's not NEARLY as cool as working with the latest O/R mapping layer or tool, despite the fact that using the latest O/R mapping layer or tool in of itself represents a risk that should be carefully examined using a cost/benefit analysis.

If only we got as excited about adding 25 points of business value to a system.

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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.