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

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Friday, April 25, 2008


I am sure I give plenty of people good reasons not to read this blog. One positive attribute I generally try to hold to is brevity. (Let me know if I don't meet that criteria in your book.)

And so I agree with Steve Dekorte's assessment of bloggers that write entries that are just too long for my patience. Steve names one blogger in particular who I unsubscribed a good while ago after a brief trial period. There are a couple others I could name.

I'm not saying they have nothing worthwhile to write about. The people who come to mind for myself do tend to write interesting entries, do tend to have those entries much more widely quoted than anything I've ever written.

All I am saying, before this gets too long, is that I cannot take the time to read long entries that stay on target, let alone long entries that take too long to reach a point or even a subject. And if I don't stop now...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Video: Introduction to Erlang

Bob Ippolito at the C4[1] conference a while back, introducing Erlang and how his company is using it...

Simple is as simple does or some such.

Open Is As Open Does Or Some Such

At ONLamp, Todd Ogasawara points out some potentially harsh consequences associated with, if not attributable to, Sun's $$$ purchase of MySQL...

If the model of selling services does not justify something like a billion dollar price tag, what then? For MySQL and Sun, the answer is to provide more value-added features for a price and closing the source.

Am I happy about this? Not hardly! But, I saw this coming and have been preparing for it. I’ve been looking at PostgreSQL since the day Sun announced buying MySQL. And, recently, it was pointed out to me that Ingres (which I used back in the 1980s) is now an Open Source product. I’m not going to suddenly stop using MySQL or recommend that people switch away from it. But, I think it is prudent to take a look at alternatives.

Simple Works Best

Dustin Puryear on memcached at ONLamp...

memcached was written to serve one basic role: cache database request. It wasn’t written to provide a massively redundant service. Or to distribute load across memcached nodes. Or to provide a secure proxy to a database service. It just takes a query and returns whatever is in the cache. And this is done using a simple hash, meaning that at its core memcached uses a set of algorithms that you’ll find on every second year Computer Science exam in college.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Microsoft's Mess

Readers of this blog could have predicted my title, I'm sure. But I have support from Joe Wilcox...

Live Mesh is so messy to explain, I can't cover everything in this post...

It's the most anti-Web 2.0 technology yet released by any company. Microsoft is building a services-based operating system that transcends and extends Windows and also the function of Web browsers. It's bold, brilliant and downright scary.

Actually, it's typical and to be expected. Microsoft regularly comes out with huge proposals to own everything, world wide.

Meanwhile Google, Amazon, and others nibble off bits and pieces of the world-wide web without altogether hurting the web. That is, they *get* the web, and they *get* how to contribute to and profit from the web. They continuously and incrementally add more to the web. Microsoft periodically says, "Here, swallow this huge horse tranquilizer and you'll be all right."

Ozzie apparently sees the web as a "given", but not something to embrace. Rather he apparently sees the web as an inhibiter to the success of Groove. And so his grand design seems to be to wrap the web inside of Groove. Consider Ozzie's own terminology: the web to him is "a hub".

Good luck with that.

Or go back to implementing WinFS, that should keep you busy while the internets slip further from your grasp.

Read BobWarfield in-depth analysis at SmoothSpan. Especially if you are from Microsoft. Especially if you are Ray Ozzie...

There are 100 engineers at work on Live Mesh already, and lots of key functionality (like version control) nowhere in sight. Aside from the Tactics of Monopoly, the other Fail mode is creating a giant monolith of software. Vista is a painful example of how far things can go wrong. Mesh is, at its core, another attempt to rework the document and folder file system. Microsoft promised this in Longhorn for years but never delivered.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

My clojure talk at pdxfunc

Amy Farrell wrote up some impressive notes from a talk last week that Adam Jones and I gave on the clojure programming language to the pdxfunc functional programming interest group in Portland. My part of this was presented as a long-time Lisper but new to Clojure. I'm not sold on Clojure yet - I like the idea of a mostly functional, concurrent Lisp, and I like the idea of Lisp for the JVM. But is it a better choice than JScheme or SISC or the other more (IEEE and ANSI) standard Lisps? Maybe for those reasons above, but it also seems gratuitously unlike the standard Lisps.

(Update: Rich Hickey (Clojure's author and impressive dynamic force when you consider what he creates per unit of time) responds in the comments here to some of my observations in my talk. I should also say when you consider a new Lisp for the 21st century, Clojure is probably the better fit than Arc. Probably a better fit than Scheme or CL per se. Although Gambit Scheme and an evolution of Termite would be up on my list.)

This talk was patterned after the BOF on Erlang I held at last year's OSCON -- I like talking through things while evaluating them "live". At OSCON I typed everything live and that went fine. Last week I had a new laptop, and even though I like the keyboard very much (MacBook), I thought I might fumble-finger too much. So I set up all the expressions in a file beforehand and using emacs all I did was talk and type c-x-c-e to evaluate each expression in the clojure sub-process.

Not sure what's in store for the May meeting but in June pdxfunc may have a good discussion on a new set of open source web libraries for Haskell from Galois. Several Haskell enthusiasts (or more) attend pdxfunc, so maybe I'll get back into that whole typing, lazy functional thing, and learn from experts at some point.

Decentralization at a Cross Roads

Linux Journal has a great interview by Doc Searls with Bob Frankston in the May edition. From Searls' introduction...

"Telecom and the internet have always been strange bedfellows... we have an industry that's been around for 171 years... and... we have... an "end-to-end" model that doesn't require telecom... carriers only want us to think only in terms of familiar and expensive services such as television."

On a seemingly unrelated note, NPR had a radio piece this morning on solar power. A couple large companies are trying to build giant plants in the desert to boil water, to turn large turbines, to sell the electricity over the grid. Another tendency of large corporations wanting us to think only in familiar, hugely expensive terms. At least they're not trying to sell the idea of splitting atoms to boil the water.

Not to mention we're running out of water, another problem that can only be solved on a massively small scale. Certainly boiling water in the desert in huge quantities is not inline with our water future.

If any one thing will save civilization that thing will be drastically decentralized. I'm not convinced we have good odds to pull that off. I think our psychology and sociology is not adapted to the level of our IQ.

Watch out for big. We are at an interesting cross roads, and the big organizations are not going to make the right decisions. They are not designed to. It's not their fault, they're just dinosaurs.

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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.