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

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

John McCarthy

Paul Graham describes John McCarthy as one of his heroes. Hopefully computer science will remember certain people like McCarthy the same way we remember the significant contributions of scientists from other disciplines.

John McCarthy

John McCarthy invented Lisp, the field of (or at least the term) artificial intelligence, and was an early member of both of the top two computer science departments, MIT and Stanford. No one would dispute that he's one of the greats, but he's an especial hero to me because of Lisp.

It's hard for us now to understand what a conceptual leap that was at the time. Paradoxically, one of the reasons his achievement is hard to appreciate is that it was so successful. Practically every programming language invented in the last 20 years includes ideas from Lisp, and each year the median language gets more Lisplike.

In 1958 these ideas were anything but obvious. In 1958 there seem to have been two ways of thinking about programming. Some people thought of it as math, and proved things about Turing Machines. Others thought of it as a way to get things done, and designed languages all too influenced by the technology of the day. McCarthy alone bridged the gap. He designed a language that was math. But designed is not really the word; discovered is more like it.

Several other of Graham's hero biographies are worth reading too.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Standards: Take Your Pick

I don't know much about this process or its result. I've seen bad
standards for no good reason. This sounds like enough money may have
been scattered around to "buy" a standard.

I don't really care too much. Even as standards, the days of MS-Office
formats are numbered, even of those numbers can seem large.

John Dowdell (of Adobe, to be sure) writes: "One of the most shameful
things I've ever seen in technology."


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Modular Data Centers

James Hamilton of Microsoft Research writes...
Over the last couple of years, the modular datacenter approach has
gained momentum. Now nearly all data center equipment providers have
started offering container based solutions

* IBM Scalable modular data center
* Rackable ICE Cube™ Modular Data Center
* Sun Modular Datacenter S20 (project Blackbox)
* Dell Insight
* Verari Forest Container Solution
Link: http://perspectives.mvdirona.com/2008/04/02/FirstContainerizedDataCenterAnnouncement.aspx

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

AIR Linux

From Adobe regarding AIR for Linux...

We have posted the first publicly available alpha build of the Adobe AIR runtime installer and SDK for Linux. In addition, we are linking to several sample applications that currently run on AIR. You should consider these builds only alpha quality and not yet feature complete...

It is our intention to release future versions of Adobe AIR simultaneously on Linux, Mac and Windows

As chromatic pointed out in a comment to a previous blog post, this is not completely open, and the term "linux" will probably continue to mean x86, 32-bit, and certain distributions of Linux selected for testing. But we'll see. Maybe that should be submitted as a bug?

But there's more to read about, e.g. this from Artima...

Adobe also announced today that it is joining the Linux Foundation with the aim to make rich user experiences easier to develop and deploy on Linux desktops. Among the initial platforms that will see the benefit of Adobe's contributions in this area is Ubuntu, already among the most UI-rich and user-friendly Linux distros.
Artima referred to the release notes which in turn refers to a discussion forum for AIR for Linux.

I'll tuck this tidbit down here at the bottom of the post: Wrox has some AIR books coming out. The Beginner AIR book is already shipping from Amazon.

Monday, March 31, 2008

The 60's

Following snow at the _beach_ this weekend, and more snow at home this morning, temperatures are getting back into the 60's this week. No fooling.

My last weather report for a while, we hope.

Malaysia's Web Lesson

An AP report (link TBD) quotes the Malaysian PM... "a serious misjudgement" to rely on government-controlled press in recent elections. Opponents used open blogs, texting, etc.

Let's hope the National Front has decided to be open, and that they've decided not to attempt shutting down the internets.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Made to Stick

I've been making it stick all these years, and now I find it's already been Made to Stick!

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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.