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

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Dark Pools of Finance

I am not sure "dark pools" are what's needed to resolve a crisis
worsened by, if not due to, opacity...


Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office: “Naked Home Invader Captured After Senior Citizen Grabs His ‘Cahoochies.’”

From the Portland Tribune...

Gresham resident Michael Gordon Dick (that’s right), 46, is being held on $104,000 bail on accusations of felony burglary, harassment and private indecency at the Multnomah County Detention Center.

The 88-year-old victim was in her robe at 6:30 a.m. when she confronted Dick after finding him in her home...

...the victim reached behind her and grabbed the intruder’s crotch, “giving him a good squeeze,” wrote Deputy Paul McRedmond, a spokesman for the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, in a press release titled “Naked Home Invader Captured After Senior Citizen Grabs His ‘Cahoochies.’ ”

Mr. Dick may have to stay on guard in jail once news of his crime gets around.

New Tim Riley Podcasts

Tim Riley begins podcasting on Monday:


His xmas christmas special is here:


Building Lisps

Some Lisp-related, and just compiler-related papers and things I've been digging up and enjoying all over again...

Expansion-Passing Style: A General Macro Mechanism
A simple way to implement macros (no hygiene, thank you). Moreover compared to a basic defmacro, this approach allows many more kinds of transformations, e.g. currying, call-by-name, call-by-need, macrolet, stepping inspector, etc. Without getting into anything else about compilation, you can plop this thing right on top of your current Lisp and create all kinds of new Lisps and tools.
Rabbit: A Compiler for Scheme
The original Scheme compiler where Steele put all the basic elements together for writing modern compilers for any language.
The 90-minute Scheme-to-C Compiler
This one's fairly recent and has not received enough attention. This is a concise, Cliff Notes, summary of Rabbit, for all intents. Amazingly it is a working Scheme-to-C compiler, of course without optimizations, the full numeric tower, data structures, etc.
Realistic Compilation by Program Transformation
A thesis that came out of the Rabbit, Orbit, SML/NJ, etc. school. Explains why most compilers should not be *-to-C but *-to-Lambda. The cheapest way to do this today: *-to-Gambit-to-C. Takes transformation to an extreme: ultimately the source-to-source transformations restrict the names in the program to those that can be directly mapped onto the machine registers, etc. But the representation is still essentially executable source code, e.g. Scheme code.
ORBIT: An Optimizing Compiler for Scheme (pdf)
See also the T Project. If you've made it this far you are interested in compilers, language implementations, and Lisp. Orbit is Rabbit, but way out there.
I'm not a compiler guru. I've had the courses in school, built some simple Scheme-ish systems, implemented "little languages" dragon-style for employers who had no appetite for Lisp, etc. I just love these papers listed above, among others to be listed some other time.

qotd, sign of the times

"Somebody's going to hell, is all I know."


(The great Nat Hentoff being let go from the Village Voice.)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

pdx sicp grp

Some folks in pdx are gathering to study Structure and Interpretation
of Computer Programs...


Oh My God, It's a System!

Via Andres Valloud, a list of the Madoff scheme's dupes sorted by magnitude of their losses.

What this highlights for me is that the worldwide financial system, generally, is both worldwide and a system. It's made of interconnected, independent agents, with varying motivations and levels of self-interest, all feeding back to each other filtered and transformed information, far from ideal, instantaneous knowledge.

A front page article in the Seattle Times this weekend speculated whether the regional home market would experience a rebound in 2009. The gist of the argument is that that market has been relatively untouched. I could be wrong, and whatever else, Seattle may continue to be less affected than other areas. However what I missed in the article was any recognition that Seattle is part of an overall system that continues to be sinking, and even worse: the home mortgage crisis may be not even halfway through its defaults.

Belying any glimmer of hope of a recovery, the Madoff list above provides a long list of banks and other financial institutions that clearly do not engage in sufficient diligence when investing billions of dollars. The Madoff case may be the most blatant but I imagine it is exemplary in exposing rampant negligence.


James Robertson writes about changing business models of retailers, etc.

Fuel prices are definitely a short-term issue. Moreover, on-line vendors have even more opportunities to take advantage of distribution patterns. WallMart manages their supply chain for their stores on-line. Vendors who do not require a storefront near their customers can optimize their supply chain as far down the distribution chain granularity as they desire. And they can outsource as much of the distribution as they desire.

I am continually surprised at how invisible WallMart is at least to this customer's eyes in building their on-line shopping capabilities. I see Amazon as WallMart's greatest competitor. I still say WallMart should buy Yahoo.


Steven Hall writes that he can help with WiMax in Portland...

Just call 503-516-8457 or visit

Computer Horizons

As Steve Yegge points out at the end of his recent piece on embedded systems, his piece is not really about embedded systems per se, but any system that involves humans. The best explanation of this I've found is in what should be required reading for anyone that builds anything that involves humans: Winograd and Flores' "Understanding Computers and Cognition".

Minor Lispage Love Note

See previous

Monday, December 29, 2008


(1984 Edition: Blogger Destroys Ignorance)

Before leaving on a short holiday adventure following the Northwest Snowpocalypse of 2008, I'd set out to email my blog a short love note to Lisp. After a few helpful comments, blogger destroying same, and Twitter destroying my patience for revising blog posts, I'll try rewriting with previous comments in mind...

Something I really like about Lisp and Smalltalk is the very small number of rules and the very large bang for the buck. Ioke and io fall into that same realm:

Although nothing beats Lisp for me. Consider doubling the fraction 3/2.

In ioke the following expression evaluates to the integer 3:

3/2 + 3/2

Although Smalltalk has fractions (and if it didn't you could add them), the same expression evaluates to the fraction 9/4. Why? Because Smalltalk evaluates binary messages from left to right. There are no "mathematical operators", no "operator precedence", and no syntax for literal fractions. The Smalltalk equivalent to the ioke expression above is:

(3/2) + (3/2)

Or less generally:

3/2 * 2

Smalltalk's fewer rules than the common Algol derivatives are a good thing. As Nat Pryce commented earlier, the mathematical operator precedence rules we learn in grade school are far from universal across all of mathematics anyway. Why cling to them in programming languages?

Now we get to Lisp:

(+ 3/2 3/2)

Fractions can be expressed truly as literal numbers. This evaluates to 3 and there's never any question about "operator precedence". The fewest rules of all: function application is function application. Absolutely uniform. Absolutely lovely.

Friday, December 19, 2008

OK, so it's the wiki or this

Just got an email telling me how to add some contact information stuck
in a spreadsheet on a sharepoint...

"The link below (that [some guy] sent) contains a content transmission
ID (basically giving you the view that [he] had). If you hit the link
below (also my personal view with a CTID):
and then click on "[blah-dee-blah] Documents" (on the left pane) and
then click "Contacts"
You should be graced with your own personal view where you should be
able to make a checkout on the file, save it, and check it back in.
Hope this helps."

Yeah. Or I could edit a wiki page.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

a-DOH-bee AIR 1.5 on Linux

"Today, we are very pleased to announce the availability of AIR 1.5
for Linux. Thousands of AIR applications such as Twhirl (a popular
Twitter client), AOL's Top 100 Videos, and Parleys.com, are now
available to millions of Linux users. This announcement also means
that web developers can now use the AIR SDK to create a single desktop
application that works on Linux, Mac, and Windows without any


Looks like Linux, 32-bit at least, is nearly to the point of
simultaneous releases of AIR with Win and Mac.

64-bit Linux can run AIR 1.5 as well on the alpha Flash 10 runtime.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Multi Core Programming

The presentation and discussion at pdxfunc this week was all about bytecodes, JITs, and performance of dynamic languages, in particular Javascript, in particular for Mozilla. Igal took good notes. The presenter, Jim Blandy of Mozilla, made a few corrections to the notes.

Jim's presentation was well done. Future meetings of pdxfunc may very well be video recorded. Too bad this was not... people with various levels of experience with compiler internals each expressed satisfaction.

Michael Lucas-Smith was at pdxfunc and arranged for an Industry Misinterpretations podcast with Jim. James Robertson has that up on his blog now. (Aside: MLS is a whirlwind of facts on sci-fi, astro-physics, and other brainy (literally) topics... if you ever have a chance to sit down with him at a pub.)

One of the interesting highlights of the discussion during Jim's presentation was a brief segue into language compiler and runtime characteristics that do or do not play well with modern CPU architectures, especially regarding caching and off-chip accesses. This led to a brief touch on upcoming many-core chips, and MLS mentioned Intel's Larrabee chip, which will have many cores, each essentially a simple, small-but-64-bit, Pentium plus vector processor.

Programming languages and implementations that support small, dynamic, shared-nothing (or at least shared-little), asynchronous processes stand a chance.

Friday, December 12, 2008

InexpressivenessYet World Wide Webiness

Joe Gregorio writes...

One of the reasons that I have this feeling is that after programming for the past 25 years the field hasn't really changed.
I also have the feeling nothing about programming has changed. Except when I have the feeling that a *lot* about programming has changed.

I'm now in the frame of mind that 25 or 50 years is really not that long, and already programmers have created a world-wide web of information and computation, used by a significant number of people, that seems capable of outlasting any of its current parts. That's something.

On the other hand programming is still too hard (inexpressive), still too much like it was 25 or so years ago.

a-DOH-bee *doesn't* hurt the web (mostly)

Via Phil Windley, someone (not sure who) continues to get it wrong...

The Web is under attack by proprietary platforms like Air, Silverlight, etc. They have clear and obvious advantages but they have one big disadvantage: their lack of openness. Nick says that we need to accelerate the inclusion of the capabilities of these closed platforms in open standards and browsers. "We need more stuff in the browser faster." Mike says that the competition of Web browsers has led to improvements like Javascript being 10x faster now. Joshua thinks that stories about the threat to the Web are highly overrated. The Web has made great strides over the last few years.
Adobe AIR runs webkit, javascript, etc. just like many other applications. And it has the general ability to connect to HTTP servers, mail servers, XMPP servers, etc. So to claim that "the web is under attack by proprietary platforms like AIR" makes no sense to me.

Sure, AIR is not "a browser" out of the box. That's a good thing. It is an application development platform. Browsers (in the traditional sense) are not good at that.

Clearly the browser implementers are finding ways to become more like AIR, out of necessity. Browsers are not the end of evolution, neither is AIR. They are each points along the way to whatever comes next.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Everything Becomes Lisp

"Find out how closures and lambda functions make programming easier by
letting you define throwaway functions that can be used in different
contexts. This article details how useful closures are as a functional
programming construct within PHP V5.3 code."


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

That's some damn hobby you've got there

Via Isaac Ropp...

a-DOH-bee: Please Don't Hurt The Web

From a-DOH-bee...

"Adobe(R) Wave™ is an Adobe AIR application and Adobe hosted service
that work together to enable desktop notifications. It helps
publishers stay connected to your customers and lets users avoid the
email clutter of dozens of newsletters and social network update
messages. Adobe Wave is a single web service call that lets publishers
reach users directly on their desktop: there's no need to make them
download a custom application or build it yourself."


Em, why not use atom format and atom pub?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Sucks - one media downsize too many

Tim Riley is hilarious. And the best newsman in Portland, if not the world.


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Programming Languages and Concurrency

This is in reponse to some questions from an earlier post...

I remember reading posts of yours criticizing STM in the past. Given some of the link love towards Clojure lately, have you softened on STM a bit? What are your opinions on the state of concurrency and the current crop of language out there now?
I don't know if I have softened on STM. My main concern with STM is that it is experimental, and moving it into widely used languages like Java and C# would be premature, at best. I am happy to see it in languages like Clojure and Haskell, where it can be experimented with.

Look at Clojure's ref mechanisms: there are several kinds, and now "atoms" are a kind of ref that seems intended to be used *instead* of STM. (Or maybe it is considered an alternate, atomic form of STM isolated from the previous, transactional STM?) That's all fine and good - Clojure is an experiment in concurrent, mostly-functional programming.

But where will STM bottom out? Will we end up with five kinds of refs? Ten? How many rules and exceptions to rules will we need to use them all effectively?

Having more people program more real applications with Clojure, Scala, Haskell, Erlang, and so on is great. Clearly we are just at the very beginning of a long evolution of concurrency mechanisms and how they are expressed in programming languages.

Thank goodness this is happening in widely varying languages, and not just in Java and C#. We'll certainly need multiple languages and mechanisms for addressing different kinds of concurrency problems. And many more than that to explore with enough variety to determine the better ones.

I am personally interested currently in how simple a language and its concurrency mechanisms can be for the widest variety of problems. While Haskell, Scala, Clojure, etc. are much better than Java or C#, they are still more complex than necessary for many applications.

Moreover, the "client" aspects of concurrency problems and opportunities continue to be largely negelected. However small and mobile or rich and graphical, we have to get away from the awful browser/ajax model. Yet even more clearly, there is no reason to retreat to the old desktop model per se. I'm afraid we're going to be stuck with crap for a long time here.


Clojure takes another step away from Lisp. Clojure now as "atoms" which are not to be confused with Lisp atoms. Not necessarily a bad thing. I'm just saying.

Since they are a kind of "shared reference" maybe they could have been called "arefs". Oops. No. That is a ubiquitous Common Lisp function for arrays. I guess there are only so many terms to be applied. So to speak.

Lisp is a great vehicle for language experiments. Clojure is a vehicle for that on the JVM, specifically in the area of transactional memory and coordination via shared references. I'm not a big, big fan of this scheme so far, but I'm interested to see where it goes.

Down On Main St.(ream)

Mark Watson lines them up...

Gambit-C Scheme does have the Termite package for concurrency but something more main-stream like Scala or Haskell seemed like a better idea.
Ouch. Maybe lisp won't be our overlord.

Actually Gambit does not support multiple cores in one OS process either. It has Erlang-levels for threading, and almost as good for mailboxing, but just on one CPU.

So then Clojure? Good bit simpler than Scala or Haskell. Much more expressive for symbolic programming as well.

Mark points to an impressive comparison favoring Haskell over Scala. (Assuming all things being equal.) I wonder what the learning curve is to get really good numbers for various kinds of programs in Haskell, with its laziness, etc. Especially good memory usage numbers.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

If Roundball Had Body Checking

Dwight Jaynes' opinion of Kevin Garnett...

"At some point, doesn't an elbow have to be thrown? Or can't you at
least hammer him on a shot attempt? This is enough to make you
appreciate hockey, where you can take care of things like this."



Some really nice photos from Tim Bray of one of my favorite cities,
NYC. The photos are nice, and have a different light and angle than
the images that come to mind as inner memories...


Wednesday, December 03, 2008


"Clojure actually uses fewer parentheses to call java code than java code does."

podcast: http://podcasts.pragprog.com/2008-12/stuart-halloway-on-programming-clojure.mp3

Says this may be controversial to lisp programmers. Stuart obviously
has not seen the loop macro. ;-/



Let me get this straight, just as I am acclimating myself to groovy,
the world is coming around to lisp? I'll believe that when I see it.
But 10 years from now, I can imagine a programming community that
thinks nothing of the (), which is exactly how one should feel about



Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Transition is Over?

Has there ever been a presidential transition where the outgoing president has so completely disappeared, and the president-elect has so early-on assumed such a presidential presence? Not that I am complaining, because I believe the incoming administration to be more capable. But it seems that if a Mumbai-like attack or a significant-enough non-violent event were to occur in the US between now and Jan 20, who would America expect to see at the presidential podium? Could it cause a constitutional crisis of its own?

Best Groovy Book So Far


Monday the 8th at pdxfunc

pdxfunc is meeting Dec. 8 at CubeSpace...

Jim Blandy will present trace-based just-in-time compilation techniques, how they're being used in his work at Mozilla with the SpiderMonkey JavaScript implementation, and how these can be applied to functional programming languages. Jim is a contributor to GNU Emacs, Guile, GDB, GLIBC, Mozilla SpiderMonkey, Subversion, and others.

Julian Blake Kongslie will present his efforts in implementing modern state-based search using Haskell. He'll discuss the problems of search in FP in general and/or how he implemented his present solution. Julian is a graduate student at Portland State University, and author of the Chortl register-transfer language and Riviera continuation-based web framework.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Another Smalltalk in Flash


WiMax in PDX - you can order it now

The web site is up to check availability of, and place an order for,
WiMax ("mobile broadband") in the PDX area. Retail locations to open
early in 2009.


Too much information

Interesting bit on C#'s LINQ and C#'s "Dynamic Typing" having too much
information at compile-time and not enough at run-time...


What's interesting is that none of this is interesting in simpler languages.

Winter Coders' Social II - Tuesday, December 9th, 7-10pm, CubeSpace

from pdxfunc...


Last December, many of the local software developer User Groups banded
together and had a party (instead of the regular meetings). It was known
as the Winter Coders Social. In August, we had a Summer Coder's Social
as the outdoor and sunny successor!

Now, we're having a second Winter Coders' Social. Good and geeky times
will be had by all. Come join us.

Bring yourself, games if you have them, and a dish to share.

Some beverages will be provided.
Potluck signup: http://tinyurl.com/coders-social-potluck-form
Current potluck list: http://tinyurl.com/coders-social-potluck-list

We'll be playing games, like last year, so bring 'em!

There will be a programming competition! Any language welcome, no
particular toolkits or api skills necessary. These'll be problems that
just require thought. If enough of you are interested and bring a
language that you're only vaguely familiar with, we'll have a separate
league for language newbies. Prizes? Bragging rights! Plus a surprise
or two.

Hope to see you there!

P.S.: We will need a cleanup crew immediately following the party; if
you don't have to split right away, we'd appreciate your help. :)

For more options, visit this group at

Geek Meets Art, Dec. 7, PDX

"DorkbotPDX brings you Collin Oldham, Shelly Farnham and Steve Davee

Come join us for an evening of geek meets art. The fine folks at
AboutUs will be hosting us for this event, which takes place December
7th at 6PM. AboutUs is located at 107 SE Washington St, Suite 520.

The event is free and open to the public. Feel free to bring snacks
and drinks to share. Please spread the word!"


Emacs and Clojure

Bill Clementson's got some useful info for using Emacs for Clojure...


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Leaving a Legacy

Is software the only domain where "legacy" is a bad word?

The Register wonders about "legacy" software.

Legacy as a bad word means to me "unworkable" or something nearly so... code or entire systems that you'd rather not have to work with.

Note this has less to do with age than design.

Now I have to go. My dog is leaving a legacy in my back yard.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Live, Local Radio Drama in Portland

KCMD 970am in Portland, home of some good local radio (and streaming and podcasts) like the Rick Emerson Show, is bringing back live radio drama.

The first two 25-minute plays will be Sunday, December 7th, at 6pm: A.Z. (After Zombies), and The Crimson Mist (sounds like a 1940's crime drama set in Portland).

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Try not to be that idiot

Dwight Jaynes on Saturday's Civil War football game between University
of Oregon and Oregon State...

"One other small thing: There is going to be a tremendous amount of
emotion in that stadium Saturday. It's going to be close to the
boiling point. So everyone please behave. No fights in the stands. No
stupid behavior. No riots after the game. Treat your rival and the
game of football with respect. I hate it when innocent people get hurt
because of the actions of idiots. Try not to be that idiot"


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Stone Age of the Web

Tim Bray writes...

"For actual business apps, the kind that our servers spend most of
their time running, the war for the desktop is over and the Web
Browser won. I just totally don't believe that any combination of
Flash and Silverlight and JavaFX is going to win it back. AJAX is
increasingly central and we need to make sure that our Web Suite and
its tools support it well. But as for GUIs and the client side, let it
go already."


It's early still. Observe that almost all energy for the last few
years around the web browser has been aimed at overcoming its many,
serious deficiencies and making it seem more like a desktop operating

I don't know much about silverdoodle or javafx, but "any combination
of flash" includes the AIR combination, which incorporates "the web
browser" and then some.

There are certainly great things about web browsers, html, and even
javascript. But there are great things beyond those as currently

In the history of the web, it's still the Stone Age. We have not even
discovered metal yet. We're just beginning to maybe glimpse what the
Bronze Age might be like.

The choices ten years from now will certainly be neither "2008
Desktop" nor "2008 Browser".


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Quiz: Second Degree Sprain

Sunday night update from the OS Beavers on the state of Quiz Rogers shoulder injury...

Here's what I understand about a second-degree shoulder sprain: it's worse than a first-degree sprain. I would think if Quiz Rogers plays in the Civil War he runs the risk of worsening the tear, possibly taking him out of whatever bowl game the Beavers get. (No worse than the Sun Bowl.)

I'd suppose Riley will start the game without Quiz and play him, at most, only if needed.

For all you OS fans.

Feeling Civical

The result of my civics test...

"You answered 31 out of 33 correctly — 93.94 %"

Just a Little Death - No Not That

From Jim Webber's QCon notes...

"A little part of MNot dies each time he sees an XML schema"

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Star Trek

The first Star Trek movie I've looked forward to since Wrath of Khan...

The Emacs Way

I had a good beer talk this week with Merlyn about IDEs and Emacs. Merlyn's been playing with Clojure, a Lisp for the JVM. And he was looking at the effort it might take to provide support for Clojure in IntelliJ. Our conversation started briefly before the http://xpdx.org meeting.

"Why not Emacs?", I asked.

Merlyn's face scrunched up a bit in that look that Emacs seems to cause on many programmers' faces.

"Emacs has had great support for Lisp for decades.", I pleaded. "I like that Clojure is bringing a lot of programmers to Lisp these days. You only have to learn a bit of Emacs to use it for Lisp. It's not any harder than learning Lisp itself."

"Yeah. Maybe", Merlyn told me, unconvinced. Then the meeting began.

After the meeting, over at the Side Door, with a good, draft Pilsner in hand, I was asked by Merlyn, "What's the fundamental difference between an IDE like IntelliJ or Eclipse and Emacs?"

The argument I made was this: In Emacs, everything is a buffer. If you edit a program, it is in a buffer. If you edit a directory or even just choose a file in a "dialog", it is in a buffer. Some of the functions in the directory buffer are directory and file-specific. Most are just general editing functions. If you run a shell or any subprocess, that process' input and output is in a buffer.

And across all these buffers the contents are made up of text, but also things analagous to words, sentences, paragraphs, etc. Many functions operate as expected within "text editing" even though the more specific mode is for files, or programs, or email, or whatever.

I compared this to what little I know of the Eclipse-like IDE, especially Eclipse as a framework for building extensions. In Emacs this is easy and many people build small or large extensions. In Eclipse my sense is this is relatively more complex and not as many people, as a percentage of total users, extend Eclipse in any significant way.

Here's what I think the Eclipse framework provides: an "architecture" for an editor. There is an implementation of the text editing area; there is an implementation for those tabs at the bottom where build results and test results go; there is an implementation for those trees to the left where file and class hierarchies are displayed; and there is an implementation for the pop-up dialogs that ask you to choose a file or set a property of some kind.

The problem is these are all big imposing structures with an "A.P.I." - users cannot edit their contents in general ways, and extenders cannot extend them in general ways. They a "CLASSES" which are supposed to be "ABSTRACT" and "MAINTAINABLE".

Horse hockey! The Emacs way wins even if the culture is all for IDEs as a Pascal-ish Pyramid.

Wel, I didn't explain my reasoning with that much enthusiasm, but by the end of our discussion I *think* Merlyn's willing to give Emacs a try.

Some references...

The foreward by Perlis does not address text editing or Emacs at all. It addresses Lisp. The Emacs way *is* the Lisp way. They grew up together. Neither would be as good without the other. Maybe neither could have existed for so long without the other.

From Perlis...

Algol 60, never to be an active language again, lives on in the genes of Scheme and Pascal. It would be difficult to find two languages that are the communicating coin of two more different cultures than those gathered around these two languages.

Pascal is for building pyramids -- imposing, breathtaking, static structures built by armies pushing heavy blocks into place. Lisp is for building organisms -- imposing, breathtaking, dynamic structures built by squads fitting fluctuating myriads of simpler organisms into place.

The organizing principles used are the same in both cases, except for one extraordinarily important difference: The discretionary exportable functionality entrusted to the individual Lisp programmer is more than an order of magnitude greater than that to be found within Pascal enterprises. Lisp programs inflate libraries with functions whose utility transcends the application that produced them.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Even scarier...

Maybe I am more afraid of this blog and the people who comment on it,
than I am even of Paulson...


Welcome to Y2K redux?

Hank Paulson, $700B, No Oversight, and Martial Law

We cannot get Hank Paulson out of power soon enough. Via Steve Dekorte...

"Senator James Inhofe has revealed that Henry Paulson was behind the
threats of martial law... prior to the passage of the bailout bill..."


Smalltalk and UIs

Stefan Tilkov nearly apologizes for saying...

"I can't help but wonder why VW and the apps built with it have a UI
that sucks so much. Smalltalk is pretty obviously a great language,
the development environment is great – why is there no support for
native UIs?"


First, this is nothing new. Second, don't "native UIs" generall suck,
no matter what the implementation language?

But today I believe it is possible once again to say that Smalltalk is
at the forefront of user interaction. It just has more company in the
way of other languages and frameworks.

I would off as evidence Seaside, Croquet, and even the work Michael
Lucas-Smith, et. al, are doing with VW and Cairo.

Don't expect the innovation in UIs to be happening at the level of
traditional desktop widgets. Not that there's not room for improvement
there. For my money that's happening with Flash/Flex and, ahem,
SIlverspoon. As of a year or so ago there was a Smalltalk running in
both those environments, but the blog seems to have turned its lights

VW could be a good VM / environment in competition with those in
search of a widespread audience, but that does mean it's a good use at
this time of development and marketing resources. So probably "Ho,
hum. Things are happening elsewhere for Smalltalk as they are for
other languages."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Those Crazy Patents!

A clever patent...

"A method of providing Resource-Event-Agent (REA) model based security, the method comprising: identifying an association between a first object and a second object in an REA model; creating an association class for the association between the first object and the second object, the association class defining security between the first object and the second object."


Yes, this patent (or is it still just an application for a patent?) is for associating a set of security properties to an association between to objects. Damn clever of them. Never would have thought of that.

No Silver Scrum Bullets

Bob Martin...

"Of course it's true that a two day certification course is neither necessary nor sufficient to create a good software leader. It's also true that the certificate you get for attending a CSM course is good for little more than showing that you paid to attend a two day CSM course. It's also true that scrum leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to engineering practices. But it is neither the purpose of scrum nor of CSMs to make engineers out of us, or to instill the disciplines of craftsmanship within us. That's our job!"


Yes! There is no process description for any creative, collaborative activity anywhere in the world, in any language or notation, that can make up for a lack of brain waves. Process descriptions are at best the starting battle tactics of a long, hard war.

When I taught, and now when I talk, about "agile" my key point is that these are merely tools that may help communication among collaborators who have (or should have) a shared objective. The tools will not do the thinking or the communicating for you.

15 Helpful In-Browser Web Development Tools


Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I attended the second of seven intro to improv classes at the Brody
Theater tonight. Last week was mostly group games - improv in a big
circle, mostly actions, some sounds and words. Tonight we transitioned
from whole-group action games to small group emotion and scene
games... limited to sounds and/or gestures still. A lot of good
lessons learned both classes - I won't write those here - the
instructor is emailing them and I may list them or pick a few out in
more detail if the mood strikes me.

Several of the games have involved quite a bit of movement. I have an
injured right shoulder from an accumulation of abuse, the least of
which is not my physical enthusiasm at the Oregon State game Saturday.
But I played through the pain tonight, and now I am in continuing
discomfort - and I fear a good deal of pain in the night and the
morning. I need heat.


A lot of these games are very, very easy and fun - e.g. for an improv
session at an open space conference.

Caching and the Tool What Drew It

Nice article on HTTP caching...


Handy tool that draws the diagrams...


Saving for a Rainy Day

Oregon didn't. We loved our kick back a year ago though. Spent it
on... well, we spent it.


Now we've got 7.something unemployment, crumbling bridges, and a
crumbling economy.

Didn't some god tell some ancient people some time long ago to save up
your food store for the lean times?

Monday, November 17, 2008


ScalaCheck is derived from, and expands on, QuickCheck for Haskell.
Similar kinds of tools have been developed for Erlang, etc. Seems to
be useful for Java and other languages as well. I've not tried it yet,
but plan to.

One thing to note - I don't see these xCheck tools as replacements for
TDD and unit tests per se. Rather they are an addition to them, and
are more of a functional test tool. But I've not used any of the
xChecks for more than kicking the tires so far.


Nothing New

What Jim is observing is a problem, but I don't see this as a decline
from a previous position. This has been a problem all along...


"James Shore has declared agile to be in decline. He cites the many
teams doing 'sprints' and stand-up meetings, without adopting any of
the technical practices necessary to produce high-quality software
over the long-haul. In his estimation, this has led to thousands of
Scrum teams doing agile so poorly that they will almost certainly
fail, and possibly take the agile movement with them.

James lays a large portion of the blame on Scrum, and the
misapplication of Scrum. He compares Scrum with Extreme Programming
(XP) and notes that Scrum intentionally leaves out the engineering
practices that XP includes. Scrum is silent on topics such as pair
programming, test driven development, continuous integration, and test
automation. Without such practices, a team can quickly build a large,
buggy, and unmaintainable code base. This then becomes a weight around
the neck of the team, preventing them from responding quickly to
change, as an agile team should.

James thinks it's not all the fault of Scrum, however, as each team
must take responsible for its own success or failure. Many are
choosing to adopt only the superficial, and easy, parts of Scrum such
as short development sprints and daily stand-up meetings, while
ignoring harder, yet critical practices such as reflecting and
improving. Via this process, teams are empowered to identify and adopt
the engineering practices that they need to deliver shippable software
every iteration. Unfortunately, many teams fail to take this step."

Friday, November 14, 2008


Back a long time ago when I'd just started my full-time professional
programming career I was using Common Lisp and a couple of different
Modula-like languages. My employer, Data General, also had an Ada
compiler which I dinked around with. And we had a home-grown
compiler-compiler and a home-grown Ada-ish like language. Not long
after the Mac 512 was out and I had ExperLisp, MacScheme, Manx C, and
who can remember what else.

I was immersed in languages. Reading the journal "Software Practice
and Experience" I believe was the first time I encountered Per Brinch
Hansen's language, Edison.


"The Design of Edison" (pdf): http://brinch-hansen.net/papers/1981b.pdf


I absolutely fell in love with Edison for many months. I built a
mini-Edison compiler and run-time in Common Lisp. The Edison book had
all the source code, in Edison.

Edison is Brinch Hansen's really nice attempt at a minimalist
Concurrent Pascal. If you can imagine a Pascal that is more Pascal
than Pascal, then you've imagined Edison.

"In designing the programming language Edison I tried to do two things:
(1) to achieve simplicity by questioning the necessity of a number of well-
known language concepts, and (2) to gain new insight by deliberately ap-
proaching language design with a philosophy that is completely different
from the spirit in which Concurrent Pascal was designed."

"The first viewpoint gradually led to the omission of many language fea-

subrange types
variant records
unnamed types
goto statements
case statements
repeat statements
for statements
with statements
cycle statements
init statements
multiple class instances
parameterized classes
process modules
process queues"

Ultimately Edison did not hold my attention as a minimalist language.
I was discovering Scheme as a minimalist Lisp about the same time, and
Scheme did hold my attention. I never had a full Edison running, but I
still think building something large-ish in it would have been time
well spent.

I've been building a very simple, minimalist Lisp in ActionScript 3
based on a renewed interest in building simple operating systems in
Lisp. I started re-reading "The Design of Edison" from SP&E, and I
just ordered the Edison book, as it's been 15-20 years since I sold my


Good times.

Service Frame-querks

More from Patrick Mueller's sudden blogginess...

"The level of functionality we have today, provided by the browsers, for components/modularity of javascript code is <script src="">. Basically, all the power, flexibility, and functionality of the C preprocessor's #include statement (good and bad). But I'm looking at my calendar to see what year this is again. Doh!

The big JavaScript frameworks build their component stories on top of this, and the whole thing just gives me the willies looking at it."


Patrick also mentions Java's service frame-querkiness with class loaders, jar files, etc. I don't know much about OSGi - which he and others suggest plugs some holes.

Dang. I agree these are issues. I am wondering though how simple a language can be, and fill the service frame-querkiness some other way. For one thing, language-level frame-querks don't play well together across multiple languages. Unless you cram them together into a single VM and make them all conform to some base-level language concepts.

Patrick heads in this direction when he writes about GoogleGears WorkerPools as a potential mechanism for better service isolation...

The great thing about the WorkerPool stuff is that it brings another dimension to the JavaScript story - separate environments / contexts / spaces. The ability to have a bunch of code running, separated into protected object spaces, with very explicit communication channels open between these spaces.
There is little that's language-dependent about that. And this lowers the burden on what must be "in" the language per se.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

We Have A Problem: Citi

From portfolio.com...

"America, we have a problem. Citigroup is the largest bank in America,
with a balance sheet of over $2 trillion -- and it's also the most
dysfunctional. Since Vikram Pandit took over, Citi has lost not only
$20 billion but also more than 70% of its market capitalization,
making it now worth significantly less than, say, Genentech.
Citi might well turn out to be Hank Paulson's largest and biggest headache."


IntelliJ now supports Flex


Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Patrick Mueller writes...

It's time to stop thinking we can apply bandages to the status quo and make everything better. We want to believe. Just another gadget or framework is going to make everything better! We've brainwashed ourselves.

Big Picture: A+

Big Picture honors Veteran's Day and current military with an incredible sequence, including the following...

What struck me most are the A+ marks on this soldier's boots.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Instant Runoff Elections

(Now with correct spelling of the Democratic party. Surry.)

Oregon said no the measure for "open primaries". I was mixed on this
measure. I joined the Democratic party this year specifically to vote in
the primary. I have yet to drop my party affiliation, although I still
consider myself an independent. And in spite of the fact that I vote
Democratic nearly 100% because the few politicians I actually believe in
are Dems, and because the others tend to come across to me as the
better of bad choices.

I voted no on the measure for two reasons: I'd heard mixed reviews for
open primaries run in other locations, so on that count I decided to
be conservative by keeping the current closed primary. My ultimate
reason for a no vote: I am more interested in "instant runoff"
elections than "open primaries". I believe if we had passed this
measure then the odds of getting a measure for instant runoff passed
in the next few years would be significantly lower.

From Blue Oregon, "it's time for instant runoff"...


Instant runoff seems to provide a means of encouraging "third party"
candidates, and of supporting voting for those candidates without
"wasting" a vote.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Cool For A Day

"For a day, at least, newspapers were cool again."


I stopped at a store early Wednesday evening to buy a paper, for
reasons unrelated to the election. I was surprised to hear the clerk
say they were sold out, and she said so was the drugstore a block down
the street.

A President's CTO?

From Bob Warfield...


I don't think a single CTO or CIO, whatever that would mean in the
context of an administration, makes sense whatsoever.

What would make more sense to me would be a collection of people
meeting peridoically in a "roundtable" like format for ongoing general
topics a president should be aware of. Or perhaps a "technology
council" to address specific issues that would benefit an
administration by producing a "recommendation" on that specific issue.


New PC Business Model

From James Robertson...


I wonder when Apple will be forced into that market. I'm sure it will
be distinguished nonetheless.

The business model is interesting. If these boxes will come with a
WiMax antenna, then a contract with ClearWire / Sprint / whomever
would be interesting.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Oregon's Two Dem Sens: Go Mount Hood!

Oregon now has two Democrat senators.


It's not easy to replace a senator, especially in Oregon. Now there
are two Democrats. The pair are both relatively young and could remain
in office together for many terms.

Not so long ago Oregon had two fairly moderate Republicans who did
very well serving together for a long time. Mark Hatfield served five
terms and especially stands out for me as a true "maverick". He stood
up to his party and the senate generally on several military issues
including the Vietnam War.


Bob Packwood had his share of problems, but all in all was on the
better side of the senator scale.

Wyden and Merkly can do good things for Oregon and the country. For my
own interest, we should get a decent wilderness bill passed. Oregon is
woefully low on land actually designated as wilderness. In the
Portland area specifically they should come up with a better Mount
Hood Wilderness act than Wyden could get with Smith. And they should
be able to get it passed through a Democrat Senate and House.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Feeling Like Joe Berkovitz

I read Joe's blog for Flex/Flash information. But he captured my
position well this morning...

"I don't know who Barack Obama really is, or what he will do about the
dire place our country has been taken to. All I know is this: for a
change we elected someone who is candid about our problems, and is
obviously an intelligent and kind person. In America, something as
simple as this is something to be proud of: look at where we've been.
Elections are in the realm of appearances, but we are emerging from an
era in which we have both appeared and acted monstrously, to others
and to each other. So, for a moment, I'm celebrating this result.
And hoping for some real action to follow."


It's going to be a tough row to hoe. Obama seems to have the
leadership skills and disposition to make good things happen. Put
working across the aisle aside for a moment... the Democrat party in
and of itself is extremely diverse. Even with decent majorities in
Congress this will be a fair bit like herding cats. Tigers and lions


From a tweet by Patrick Mueller...

Our Westford, MA office actually has a building named "WTF4"? Is there a WTF1..3 also? WTF?

California Prop 8

California Prop 8 is leading. Sorry California - you seem to have as many ignorant asses as the rest of the country.

Do we get to keep the married friends we've already gathered?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

To LtU w/Love

"Via Patrick (who was once a LtU contributor), two interesting blog posts:..."


Still an avid reader - just had to drop off some extra-curricular
activities a while back.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Word Play

Please to be explaining this one to me from the Financial Times...

In recent days, lawyers for the nine banks that received the government funds held talks over how to respond to calls for pay restraint from Congress and state regulators, according to people familiar with the situation.

The companies – Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, State Street and Wells Fargo – said they would not spend public money on compensation, the people added. Wall Street executives say that banks will pay bonuses from earnings and existing cash resources, like in previous years, and use the government capital for acquisitions and to replenish their depleted balance sheets...

The banks declined to comment on the conference call. Wall Street executives say that after one of the worst years for the industry, average bonuses will be down sharply this year.

However, they argue that they will still have to pay substantial compensation to star bankers and traders in order to avoid a brain drain from the industry into rival sectors such as private equity and hedge funds.

Let's say I have $100 and the government bails me out with another $100 and says, "You cannot spend this on booze." But then let's say I spend $100 on booze, saying, "I used my own money."

Did I follow the instructions of my benefactor?

For crying out loud. I think we can afford to let these folks go, or live on a few billion less in bonuses.

Open Source Bridge in PDX

Here's a presentation from the first meeting of folks organizing the Open Source Bridge conference for Portland next summer...

A blog and etc. is in place.

Friday, October 31, 2008

NPR's Slip of the Pen

Hilarious slip-up...

Former Reagan chief of staff Ken Duberstein tells Fareed Zakaria that he will vote for Barack Obama. Duberstein lambasted McCain for selecting Sarah Palin on MSNBC today.

Yesterday on Talk of the Nation, Lawrence Eagleburger -- Bush 41's Secretary of State -- said he will vote for McCain even though he does not believe Sarah Palin is "prepared to take over the brains* reins of the presidency." He added that, given some training, she would be "adequate".

*We apologize for the error. NPR's rush transcript was inaccurate.

Not to mention thsi makes two more less-than-ringing endorsements of McCain's leadership.

Why the hell would we want these people anywhere near our elections?

From Blue Oregon...

There's some REALLY weird shit happening here in Oregon.

Here's an email from Evergreen Defense and Security Services Inc. to the Douglas County Clerk offering their services to prevent violence at "voting centers" throughout Oregon. EDSS is based in McMinnville, but apparently they don't know that we vote by mail here.


Evergreen is one spooky (literally) company. I've been reading stories
of their various CIA-related misadventures for 20 years.

You see them on the way to Lincoln City from Portland, near the
McMinville airport.

Don Ross & Andy McKee - Ebony Coast

The older one sent me this nice guitar duo performance...

...soothing music, even for a scary Halloween.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Amazing Journey

I love watching Keith Moon play lead guitar lines on his drum set...

McCain - getting Alzheimer's before our eyes?

Campaigns take their toll, I'm sure...

"You're all the Joe the Plumber, so stand up..."


AIG - Where did the cash go?

"Regulators are now looking into whether AIG knew it was coming in for
major losses months ago -- losses that weren't apparent on the
company's balance sheet."


Um. Gee. Yes. Hey, regulators, there's this thing that's been around a
while now called "off-balance sheet" items.


Companies have been pushing the limits on those for years. AIG is just
one of the more extreme examples.

Oh Dear - "Dynamic Declarations"

Jim Hugunin writes from the MSFT PDC...

"Anders Hejlsberg delivered an amazing talk on the Future of C# which
he shows for the first time how we've added dynamic typing to that
language with a static type called 'dynamic' – yes, you read that


Pull the plug. This show is over.

Growing Up

Scott Simon of NPR writes...

"Spokane, a handsome and civilized city, is not a border town like San
Diego, a port city like Seattle, or a commercial crossroads like
Chicago. And yet, like so many other medium-sized Americans cities, it
has become internationalized.

Seeing that woman reminded me of something I never tire of observing
as I am fortunate enough to make appearances in support of our local
stations. The diversity of America is deep and amazing. It now reaches
into all states, all kinds of places, large and small communities,
from Washington State to the Florida Keys. The faces of America come
from all over the world."


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

StAX(Mate) and WAX

I'm experimenting with StAX(Mate) for reading and WAX for writing some
largish, uglish XML. If you have any thoughts...

Why StAXMate?


Why WAX?


They both seem to be simple and yet potentially relatively efficient.
I just hope they work without the usual disjointedness at the config
level that seems inherent in many XML librees.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Emacs Rectangles

emacs rectangle commands: list them like this... "control-h a" runs the "apropos" command. Then type "rectangle", and see the list.

A rectangle in emacs is defined just as a "region" is: between the "mark" and the "point". Set the "mark" using control-space. Then navigate the cursor to some other character. The location of the cursor is the "point". These two locations are the beginning and end of the region, and they are also the opposite corners of the current rectangle, for rectangle commands.

The two I use most are "kill-rectangle" at "control-x r k" and yank that back in over and over with "yank-rectangle" at "control-x r y".

Em, but maybe you need to store a number of rectangles and yank them back in randomly. well...

"copy-rectangle-to-register" at "control-x r r". what? you do know about emacs registers, right? super-cool... next time.

How to (count) votes

From the Register...

"With just a week to go before the US presidential election,
academics, politicians, and voters are voicing increased distrust of
the electronic voting machines that will be used to cast ballots.

In early balloting in West Virginia, Texas, and Tennessee, voters
using e-voting machines made by Nebraska-based Election Systems &
Software (ES&S) have reported the "flipping" of their vote from the
presidential candidate they selected to the candidate's rival. In some
cases, voters said their choice had been changed from Democrat Barack
Obama to Republican John McCain while others reported just the


This is ridiculous. Here's how you do it: you should put a piece of
paper with your vote on it in a box. At all times that box is being
observed by someone from the Democrats and someone from the
Republicans. Those two take the box to a central or regional center
for counting. The counting is performed simultaneously by the
Democrats and the Repuiblicans.

Who cares if we get the results the same night or several days later?

Noonan, er, Time

Peggy Noonan, who I admire more now than I ever did when she was in
the Reagan administration, writes...

"More than ever on the campaign trail, the candidates are dropping
their G's. Hardworkin' families are strainin' and tryin'a get ahead.
It's not only Sarah Palin but Mr. McCain, too, occasionally Mr. Obama,
and, of course, George W. Bush when he darts out like the bird in a
cuckoo clock to tell us we are in crisis. All of the candidates say
"mom and dad": "our moms and dads who are struggling." This is Mr.
Bush's former communications adviser Karen Hughes's contribution to
our democratic life, that you cannot speak like an adult in politics
now, that's too austere and detached, snobby. No one can say mothers
and fathers, it's all now the faux down-home, patronizing—and
infantilizing—moms and dads. Do politicians ever remember that in a
nation obsessed with politics, our children—sorry, our kids—look to
political figures for a model as to how adults sound?"


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Dan Carlin's Hardcore History


I'm really enjoying this podcast. It's like having the best of the
History Channel on in the background while working away.

Time Sharing

From Lispy at the Lisp at 50 conference last week...

"Steele asked what's his one idea that could have had the most
practical impact if it had actually gotten implemented. McCarthy said,
if IBM had taken his ideas about time sharing… then things would have
been quite a bit better in the 1960's. At this point, JonL stood up
and started clapping."


(I think we still may be paying for that gaff in many data centers.)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Factor Talk at Galois

From the pdxfunc email list...
Factor is a programming language which has been in development for a little over 5 years. Factor is influenced by Forth, Lisp, Smalltalk. Factor takes the best ideas from Forth -- simplicity, short, succint, code, emphasis on interactive testing, and meta-programming. Factor also brings modern high-level language features such as garbage collection, object orientation and functional programming familiar to users of languages such as Lisp, Smalltalk and Python...

In this talk, I will give the rationale for Factor's creation, present an overview of the language, and show how Factor can be used to solve real-world problems with a minimum of fuss. At the same time, I will emphasize Factor's extensible syntax, meta-programming and reflection capabilities, and show that these features, which are unheard of in the world of mainstream programming languages, make programs easier to write, more robust, and fun.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Enterprise 2.0

Bob Warfield writes...

"Very little in the way of Enterprise Software has properly understood
the potential impact the web has on that niche or how to even begin to
respond to it."


Every success I have seen in enterprise IT has been based on making
essential data better, and/or making the technology of getting to that
data simpler. Web 2.0, and by extension Enterprise 2.0, is about
"social" computing. The societies withing and around an enterprise are
by necessity based on the core information of that enterprise.

The web now *is* the way to make data better and accessing it simpler.
If the future of your enterprise IT is not making it more like the
web, what the heck *is* the future of your enterprise?

Intel p0wned by Apple


Smalltalk and CPUs

Interesting stuff from OOPSLA 2008 re: Smalltalk and CPUs -
historical, and multiple.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Antennae for Flex

If you're doing Flex then try Antennae esp. if you like the SDK more
than Eclipse. Provides a lot of tools, templates, utils. Ant-based.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Facts, More or Less

From the Oregonian today (surry, no link)...

* 12 - percentage of Republicans who believed in June that Obama is a Muslim
* 14 - percentage now

* 90 - perentage of the human brain that consists of fat.

Can't we just get the election over with?

Somebody's really going to F something up in the next two weeks...


Monday, October 20, 2008

Smalltalk Superpowers

Michael L-S's report out on the Smalltalk Superpowers day at OOPSLA...

"After each snippet, the group would give it thumbs up or thumbs down.
Thumbs down meaning it's evil and thumbs up meaning it's good. We
generally judged by whether we would want to use this technique for an
actual production system.. it's a sign of success if you get all
thumbs down in my opinion :)...

When we have an evil talk, we dim the lights. When we have a "for
good" we turn the lights back on. It adds to the atmosphere."


Sunday, October 19, 2008

P&G Goes Direct, More Or Less

Financial Times on Proctor and Gamble's moves toward direct-selling products over the web...

Procter & Gamble is testing its ability to use the internet to sell its toothpaste, household cleaners and nappies directly to US households, in a potential long-term strategic challenge to its retail partners...

In another indication of the flux, Wal-Mart, P&G’s largest customer, is hiring a strategy executive whose tasks include assessing the potential effect of direct-to-consumer sales by its own suppliers.

Nappies? Oh yeah... Financial Times is a UK publication.

Emacs: Query Replace Over Multiple Files

I've received a number of comments on my earlier Query Replace post. Today Kaom Te asked about query replace over multiple files.

One of my favorite shell commands is "find" and in particular, emacs supports "find" as part of its "dired" mode. (dired == directory editing)

Type "meta-x find-dired" and emacs will prompt you through the arguments to "find" multiple files in various ways. The result is a dired buffer listing all the matching files, which you can operate on as with any dired buffer, including query/replace.

The other common way to query and replace over multiple files is to use "tags". Tag files are like indexes you build over various kinds of sources. Tag files can be built for multiple source directories and files in C, Java, Lisp, Erlang, HTML, etc.

Then, of course, there is an emacs function called "tags-query-replace" which will perform a query/replace over the files in your TAGS file with fewer steps than using "find-dired". Tags have many other uses as well since they understand the definitions of the source format, e.g. "meta-." can be used to open a buffer on the definition of the name currently under the cursor ("point" in emacs).

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Chris Buckley Loses Job

From the Christian Science Monitor...

"Buckley, the son of famed conservative icon William F. Buckley Jr.,
this week lost his job as a columnist at the National Review, the
magazine his father started, over a blog he posted on the Daily Beast
endorsing Barack Obama.

(The blog's title: "Sorry, Dad, I'm Voting for Obama.)

Buckley offered to resign when, as he put it, "It became clear that
National Review had a serious problem on its hands." The magazine
accepted his resignation.

Today, in a followup post on the Daily Beast, Buckley says his
original post has prompted a "tsunami" of response.

Response at the Daily Beast has been running 7-to-1 in favor of his
post, says Buckley. But at the National Review Online, according to
Buckley, "That's been running about, oh, 700-to-1 against.".

"In fact," he adds, "the only thing the Right can't quite decide is
whether I should be boiled in oil or just put up against the wall and
shot. Lethal injection would be too painless."

Yet despite the charges of patricide being hurled at Buckley
(literally), he points out that, "My father in his day endorsed a
number of liberal Democrats for high office, including Allard K.
Lowenstein and Joe Lieberman. One of his closest friends on earth was
John Kenneth Galbraith…. He liked to mix it up.""


Are politics in the US divided forever?

Agile Means Truthfullness

"true agility is really less about process and more about principle"


A Bit of History - Smalltalk and Java Edition

Interesting story behind IBM's VisualAge for Smalltalk and Java, and
what became Eclipse from Rick DeNatale...


via Randall Schwartz...


The Big Xfer

Gotta love McCain's rhetoric about Obama's tax plan as a
"redistribution of wealth".

Um, John - have you heard about this Wall Street bailout thing? Buy a paper!

Oh, and please, "Joe the Plumber" - apparently your plant is also a
racist. "tap dancing better than Sammy Davis Jr."???

What did Dylan write about getting out of the new world if you can't
lend a hand?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


"Planning to use this Friday's poker winnings to buy Iceland"


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

From Powells

Two nice finds browsing the shelves at Powell's over the weekend.

  • "Concurrent Euclid, The Unix System, and Tunis", (1983) - $5.50, used, very good condition.
  • "Modeling Reality - How Computers Mirror Life", (2004) - $17.98, new.
More as I read through them.

The Development of Chez Scheme

Kent Dybvig...

"Chez Scheme Version 1 was completed in 1984 and released in 1985. I am amazed to find myself working on it still more than two decades later. If asked in 1985 to look forward twenty years, I would have said that Chez Scheme and Scheme itself would have long since found their way into the bit bucket of history. After all, the oldest languages then were no older than Scheme is today, and many languages had come and gone. Many languages have come and gone since, but Scheme, with its roots in the circa-1960 Lisp, lives on. The user community now is larger and more diverse than
ever, so with any luck, the language and implementation will last at least another two decades. It's a scary thought."


I started using various Lisps in school, but my first taste of Common Lisp was the one being developed by Data General in 1984 in DG's RTP facility. I was up in Masachusetts, but a few of us there started prototyping CAD applications with DG's Common Lisp. And we went to AAAI and the L&FP conference in Austin in 1984 right when AI was booming and the DG compiler folks were debuting their CL.

Around that time I learned from the RPT folks that their Common Lisp was derived from Dybvig's PhD work on Scheme n RTP at UNC. At which point I wondered how great it would have been to preserve Scheme in the system as well as CL.

The paper above from Dybvig explains more of what was happening, especially from his POV. Interesting reading from back in the early days of Scheme.

Days of yore.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Web Velocity

Web Velocity is looking nice.


Dynamic Languages on the the Desktop

Ted's looking for examples of popular (for some definition of popular)
desktop applications written in dynamic languages...


Certainly emacs.

I've used several Smalltalk desktop applications over the years. The
one perhaps most in the mainstream would be James Robertson's Bottom

There are a number of Adobe AIR applications available now.

Would this also include AJAX applications like gmail? Certainly gmail
is popular.

Oregon State - We're Number 17

Oregon State is #17 in power rating...


...and they beat power rated #2, USC.

Shaping up to another good year. But oh, what could have been, had
they won at Stanford and Utah.

WiMax Will Be Great - Can We Get It Now Please

Still waiting on WiMax in Portland - still by the end on the year, said hopefully. Meanwhile Jason Hiner of TechRepublic...

What Sprint has launched in Baltimore is the first U.S. deployment of Mobile WiMAX, based on the 802.16e protocol. This version of WiMAX can be used for stationary modems, but it can also provide roaming Internet access across large areas and at highway driving speeds. So if you have Xohm WiMAX as your Internet service in Baltimore, your connection is good not only in your office or your house but anywhere you go in the city and throughout most of the metro area. It’s like combining your Cable Internet account with a 3G broadband account.

The limitation, of course, is that it is only in Baltimore for now. However, Sprint is preparing to launch its next two Xohm networks in Washington, D.C. and Chicago before the end of the year. Then it plans to light up Philadelphia, Dallas/Fort Worth, Boston, and Providence, Rhode Island. Meanwhile, Clearwire is prepping Mobile WiMAX networks in Portland, Atlanta, Las Vegas, and Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Sprint and Clearwire networks will interoperate...

Ultimately, both Sprint and Intel want to replace the current cellular model with a platform that is open to devices and applications and ties into all of the development that is already happening on the Internet.

Now, to start, Sprint’s first Xohm network in Baltimore does not expressly try go after telephony. That would be silly to do since the coverage is so limited at this point. However, I have seen prototype WiMAX phones from Motorola and others, and there are even reports that the Google G1 will eventually include a WiMAX chip or be released in a WiMAX version.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Arab v. Family

"At a town-hall event Friday in Minnesota, McCain took the microphone
from a woman who had called Obama an Arab. McCain said, "No, ma'am,"
and he called Obama "a decent, family man.""


Somewhere around half the US voters want this person to lead the free world.

Friday, October 10, 2008

TriSano at GOSCON

Mike's speaking at GOSCON...


This looks like a good time for government agencies, local, state, and
federal to become more collaborative and open.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Lightroom and Lightweight Languages

Interesting write up on Adobe Lightroom, written largely in Lua, via
Ted Leung...


The Open Source Conference Dance

Er, shuffle, *they* call it...


Newspaper Woes

The Oregonian's been laying people off and offering early retirement,
etc. Apparently, not surprisingly, advertisement revenue is way, way,
way down.

Now from across the river comes news of Chapter 11 from the Vancouver,
WA paper, the Columbian...


First the Internet, now the economy.

Pot Meets Kettle Big Time - 2008 Edition

Via Tim Riley

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Optimistic Networking

"In the last few weeks of financial crisis many of us have discovered
that the powers-that-be are just making it up as they go along and the
emperor really doesn't have much to wear. But out of this crisis in
confidence something new and potentially powerful is rising: the
networked public sphere is turning its attention to how Washington
actually works (or fails to work). Powered and connected by the
Internet, a critical mass -- in both senses of the word -- is forming
around what we can do to fix both our political and economic systems."


Maybe. That would be a good outcome.


I'm listening to talk about the coordinated rate cuts, ongoing bailouts, etc. People are speculating whether or when these actions will help. Very little of what I've heard or read addresses what seems to be at the heart of getting credit flowing - whether or not my organization knows what our true assets are worth, why would we extend anything to yours, not knowing what yours are worth either?

That seems to be at the heart of the Fed going straight to dealing commercial paper - eliminate the middlemen, because the middlemen have essentially eliminated themselves. This seems like the ultimate race to the bottom. But no one knows where the bottom is.

It is kind of an interesting time, as long as the basic supply chains remain functional. Huh.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Fed now buying commercial paper

So now the Fed is directly responsible for ensuring companies can make
their payrolls. Hmm.


Monday, October 06, 2008

The Keating Five: Hey, John McCain - I *thought* I recognized you!


Finally people seem willing to call BS on McCain. The only problem is how far the Republicans are will to go to smear the opposition when the Republicans' backs are up against the wall. There is a lot at stake in this to the rich and powerful who feel entitled to remain rich and powerful.

Big Bottom

"Just talked to trader in Brooklyn who says he's hopeful we're near
the bottom. And why not, you know?"


An entertaining activity may be to go back through the last six months
or so of financial news to find all the predictions about having hit

No. We will know we've hit bottom as we are on the way *up*. There are
still far too many people claiming no one knows who owes what to whom
in order to even guess where the bottom may be.

This seems to be far deeper than any first level financial system
apologist could fathom. They will not know where bottom is.

BTW, Here's your man for leading the bailout...

Yes, he is from Goldman Sachs. But you can trust him. Certainly.

I mean, there's a flag right there, behind him.

I bet he's even a Republican.

The Art of the Interpreter

Another classic came to mind this week, The Art of the Interpreter (PDF) (PS). Steele and Sussman, 1978.

We examine the effects of various language design decisions on the programming styles available to a user of the language, with particular emphasis on the ability to incrementally construct modular systems. At each step we exhibit an interactive... interpreter for the language under consideration.

Update: an anonymous commenter is looking for a non-broken link. Here's one I just succeeded with...


Here comes the BS

If she can't win on truth, maybe the fundamentalist christian can win on lies.


How revealing.

Economist.com - "Economists are overwhelmingly pro-Obama"


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Money Talks

As Steve Dekorte writes, we now know who our members of congress truly
represent. I've not been a fan of direct democracy. The idea of a
deliberative body of representatives appeals to me. I'm rapidly
becoming more favorable toward direct democracy. Not that that would
bring perfection, but at least that would bring direct responsibility.

Direct democracy as most anything though would work better in a
decentralized system. There are no easy answers but over and over the
primary lesson is smaller is better.

As it turns out overwhelmingly those who voted yes are those who
receive the most money from the banking lobby. Although the law that
passed gives the administration the _option_ of taking part ownership
of the institutions it bails out, what is the likelihood of Paulson,
an owner, siding with the taxpayers over his best buddies, also
owners? Zero, that's the likelihood. These are crooks and they've
taken us to the cleaners.


Required listening and reading

This American Life's episode this morning was on the debt crisis. I'll
listen to it at least a couple more times I am sure.

The reporters also have a blog and twitter thing...


This is excellent background for everyone to understand how we got
here, how bad it is, and what actions could help going forward.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

You Too Can Debate. You Betcha!

Voodoo Donuts

I tend to stay away from Voodoo Donuts. But I dashed into Coffee Time on NW 21st yesterday to get out of the rain, and there they were in the case. Just above a tray of so-called healthy, peanut-cranberry "cookies". If you've never had the pleasure of a Voodoo donut...

They are kind of the culinary equivalent of that Neil Young performance I just blogged about. Coffee Time's a good place though, in spite of some of their choices in pastries and cookies.

Worst. Idea. In. Music. Ever.

I'm crazy about the Beatles and really like Neil Young. However will I ever be able to remove this performance from the recesses of my mind? Ever?

Oh dear.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Fools Errand

Says the Motley Fool...

"The genius financial products that kept your eyes deep in Cristal and
vacation homes nearly caused the global financial system to seize up."

(via Steve Dekorte... http://www.dekorte.com/blog/blog.cgi?do=item&id=3619)

But, hey. There's still time for the whole system to seize up. $700b
is just used grease to try keeping the gears spinning a while longer.

Oh, yeah. Anyone thinking this is going to do any significant, lasting
good doesn't understand:

* the financial system (which I *don't*), or...
* how the US Congress works (which I *do*, sorta-kinda)
* human nature (ditto).

How Oregon voted in the massive debt giveaway

It's about time to get rid of Wu anyway. Now that he's voted yea on
the bailout, all the more reason.

Defazio and Blumenauer vote no. Thanks for trying!


You're Darn Right

Tim Riley, funniest newsman on the planet after Jon Stewart...

"84% said Palin did better than expected.

"Yur darn right," "Doggone it," "say it isn't so Joe," "Ya" instead of
you were just of few of the folksyisms used by Palin to appeal to the
Tonya Hardening crowd. It had no substance. Therefore, it worked
flawlessly as planned. Her base ate it up like a heapin' bowl of
mashed 'taters.

Proving one needent wear red high heels to run a household, modern man
Joe Biden teared up like a woman."


What's On The Cloud Vs. What The Cloud Is On

No one but Microsoft would *run* their cloud on Windows. That's a big
distinction. Amazon will run Windows for you. On their
non-Windows-based cloud.

Meanwhile Microsoft will come up with a new OS for their cloud. Will
that be for everyone's cloud. Or just their cloud? Is this another
attempt to carve out a proprietary product that no one else can
(easily) emulate? As in "my code is written for Microsoft's
proprietary Windows Cloud OS. It won't run on the Windows Server that
Amazon supports."


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

This Is Science

""When I teach about messenger RNA carrying information from the cell
nucleus to sequence enzyme production," Borass added, "I could care
less what you feel about it. I want you to learn it. The issue is how
well does theory account for observable phenomena and so far nothing
better than evolutionary science has emerged to explain biological


What About The Whips

Phil Windley...

"I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist, but I find it hard to believe
that Pelosi is stupid or naive. That leaves me wondering why this came
up for a vote today if she thought it would lose."


I'd say she either knew it would lose (if so, good for her) or she
thought the vote would pressure enough fence sitters to land on the
yea side.

I'm not sure why Phil's putting this all on the Dems though. There
were more Republicans voting no than Dems. And there are majority and
minority whips whose job it is to ensure they have the votes from
their own members.

Either way though, good for each of them for voting no.

At Least REST / Atom Is Now A Marketing Ploy?

Roy Fielding...

"REST (as in Representational State Transfer), happens to be defined
by my dissertation. I am getting tired of big companies making idiotic
claims about REST and their so-called RESTful architectures. The only
similarity between CMIS and REST is that they both have four-letter

REST is an architectural style, not a protocol, and thus announcing it
as a protocol binding is absurdly ignorant behavior for a group of
technology companies. The RESTish protocol binding actually being
proposed by CMIS is AtomPub, or at least it would be if not for the
huge number of unnecessary protocol extensions that tunnel the Web
Services interface through fake-Atom and fake-HTTP... Are there any
REST constraints that this binding doesn't violate?...

It is obvious that the SOAP binding was designed first and the AtomPub
binding added for marketing reasons."


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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.