Making it stick.
Saturday, December 20, 2003
  Where's IBM's Linux Desktop? From consultingtimes...

Have you noticed that the most likely source of technology expertise, IBM has simply refused to provide a Linux Desktop? With all of their Lotus applications neatly running on their own UNIX products, they won't let you have them on Linux. Instead, they suggest you purchase Windows XP Professional.

The internal strife existing at IBM over producing a Linux desktop has the potential to hurt IBM's business model. A powerful internal software organization wants to grab server market share from Microsoft without disturbing Microsoft's desktop. Anyone inside IBM that mentions a Linux desktop has the potential for losing their job. While few people at IBM know what exists outside the company, the powerful software group may have top executives walking the same plank as the rest of us if Microsoft remains the only Intel desktop platform.

While the software people at IBM have their heels dug in, they may find out that their Web Services strategy based on Java has no place to go. Sun may not have put IBM in "Check," as Scott McNealy has put it, but Sun's Java Desktop System definitely places IBM in a Microsoft dilemma. IBM will have to decide if they'll continue to provide Java Web Services and find a desktop to accommodate it, or watch their Java developers transfer their code to Microsoft's Java Language Conversion Assistant. 

  I used Don Box

It's true, and in the morning I felt kind of bad. But it was for the good. I've done it in the past, but this time it was coldly calculated. Please read on...

Actually when it comes right down to it, I don't care what happens to Visual Studio. I also don't care what happens to Emacs. VS will continue to improve, but moreover it will continue to be hugely popular no matter what. Emacs has the audience it does, and will probably not improve beyond its current state, because it is in itself an axiom. Probably it's appeal and usage characterisitics will remain about where they've been for the last twenty years.

So why did I use Don Box?

More people than I could ever hope to draw on my own have had a chance at least to read the story about Emacs and the secretaries in the 1970s. Was this story really intended to promote Emacs and to benefit VS?

Not really. I saw the opening and ran for it. Here's the message: the Longhorn preview takes over five gigabytes to install. How much of that is for the typical user?

Very good arguments could be made that all of it will eventually trickle down to the non-technical user. There is no way I could or would argue against that.

But in the 1970s a few typical secretaries had a simple tool for helping themselves, the same tool most programmers have intimidated each other from using even as an influence. In the 1980s typical non-technical users were building multimedia applications using Hypercard. Emacs and Hypercard together take a miniscule fraction of the installation space and still a small fraction of the intellectual power required for computing with XML, DOMs, XAML, and WS-xxx. Are the secretaries going to be doing this in Info Path?

In all of these five plus gigabytes of impending computations, what are we doing for the typical user or even the non-technical MBA? Maybe this was an inappropriate way to use blogspace. 

Friday, December 19, 2003
  On just one difference between Emacs and Visual Studio Dot Net (besides the length of the name)

Don Box wishes he could be disagreeing with James Robertson's observations on Visual Studio Dot Net, but apparently can't. Here's what makes the difference.

I would consider any advice Don brings from Emacs an improvement for VSDN. But the fundamental difference is also the fundamental failing of not just VSDN but practically every IDE I have seen including the vaunted IDE for Java using Eclipse.

The irony is the term "Visual" because VSDN is a visual nightmare. The beauty of *most* uses of Emacs (remember Emacs is a flexible tool-building platform like Eclipse, except simpler and more expressive) is the visual simplicity and just-in-time functionality. Where VSDN gives you panels, panels, everywhere panels of things to do and be concerned about, Emacs gives you an editing buffer. Everything else is a keystroke or menu click away. All the power of VSDN and more is waiting for your call to action, but visually you are "just editing".

Let's recall this story from the 1970s about secretaries (as they were called then) using Emacs, essentially the same Emacs you're using today. (You *are* using Emacs, aren't you? For shame!)

...programming new editing commands was so convenient that even the secretaries in his office started learning how to use it. They used a manual someone had written which showed how to extend Emacs, but didn't say it was a programming. So the secretaries, who believed they couldn't do programming, weren't scared off. They read the manual, discovered they could do useful things and they learned to program.

Would we ever read a similar story about VSDN? For want! Not by the 2070s.

One ring to bind them all. Emacs Semper Virens. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2003
  Game Programming with Python and PyUI

I just picked up Game Programming with Python by Sean Riley. Sean is also the author of the PyUI user interface framework. He explains and uses PyUI in the book as well.

Just thumbing through the book, I would give it a thumbs up. It looks good and I hope it pans out. No pun intended.  

Sunday, December 14, 2003
  Are we moral relativists?

Before we get too caught up in the capture of a dictator we (the U.S.) supported for decades, let's take a tally of the others still in our (the U.S.) favor.

In two fine speeches recently, President Bush made it clear that autocratic regimes in the Middle East, including U.S. allies Egypt and Saudi Arabia, need internal reforms to stop churning out terrorists. Somehow, though, he forgot to mention Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan.

If the president's ratings go up based on the recent capture of a former ally now out of favor, should that be considered a mandate to terminate relations with these others? Or does the administration itself suffer from "moral relativism"? 

Patrick Logan's weblog.

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