Thursday, October 8, 2009

Trouble at the mill....

This will probably prove interesting. Sueing Apple, Google, and Amazon. Somebody sure has some cojones out there.

(hat tip: Mark Nelson)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Some interesting thoughts from tim bray on 'the next java'. Having briefly played with Erlang, Clojure and Scala, it's interesting to see somebody else's take on them. Erlang was frankly just a little too out there for my tastes, although I can see the attraction (and I particularly like the assumption that everything is going to fail sometime). It just seemed like to much hard work to do useful stuff - for the things it was designed for it did seem to be excellent, though - particularly the definition of low level libraries. Maybe things have improved - I looked at it (and Mozart/Oz, briefly) about 5 years ago, and both seemed just a little too out there and difficult to integrate with anything not of their world.

Scala seems excellent, and has most of the things I look for in a language. I particularly enjoyed the Lift framework, and scalacheck. The big issue I've had is dealing with the tool support, which seems missing - although looking out there briefly now it seems like this might have improved, particularly with regards to building things. The actor framework seems nice in principle, but I haven't looked at it in much detail. It does seem relatively low level. There are some interesting changes on the horizon (continuation support as a compiler plug-in). I seem to keep getting half way through projects in Scala and abandoning them, though...

Clojure's a language I want to love, but somehow (like scheme, and common lisp), just can't manage to get my head around. Not sure if it's the size of my head, or if I just won't fit in the dimensions I have at my disposal, and I need a higher-dimensional head.... I do love the dynamic nature of it, but somehow I seem to be able to work better in rhino (javascript on the JVM).

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Human Space Flight

Reading karthik's blog post highlighted some things that I've been thinking about recently. A not-particularly-close relative of mine (Tim Kopra), who I've never met (but have heard a lot about, particularly recently), just returned from the ISS on STS-128. I've been disillusioned with the entire ISS enterprise for a long time (really since working on part of the Arianne V project back in the mid 90's - not the part that failed catastrophically, I swear!). It seemed like Columbus has discovered America, but decided to spend the time doing scientific experiments in the Azores (politically problematic at the time, but...).

Having a vague relationship with the project rekindled the old excitement I remember feeling back around the time when I told the 'careers' teacher (roughly equivalent to a US High School guidance counsellor) at my secondary school that I wanted to be an astronaut....

One of the earliest news stories that I remember was the Apollo-Soyuz mission. (That and the Cambodian Killing Fields - two extremes of human endeavor). I remember visiting my grandparents to watch their black and white television to see the footage of the astronauts and cosmonauts meeting in space. Looking up and wondering if Skylab was going to fall on my head (I recall there being a slight chance of it landing in the UK, in Cornwall, where we were on vacation at the time, but my memory is probably flawed). Staring at the dishes at Morwenstowe (Since renamed GCHQ Bude) and Goonhilly, in awe. And thinking that Clarke was way off in his predictions in 2001 - surely we'd be on our way to Jupiter way before that far-off date, when I'd be an old man of 33...... And Karthik, with half a chance, I'd be with you on Mars, if they need a aging geek (I'm sure they'd have enough) :-)...

I remember, too, Challenger. Home for lunch during high school, watching the footage rerun, feeling my heart stop. To simplify it to the point of absurdity, it was bureacracy that allowed it to happen, and the response was: more bureacracy. And I'm reminded of the post-9/11 meme (largely ignored, sadly, but one I tried to promote), that to change our ways was to let the terrorists win. Are we letting the bureaucrats win?

I hope not. Carmack, Musk, Rutan, and others like them give me some hope.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Trying scala...

... and my first problem was that I got the following error message:

scala type int in object Predef is deprecated

google didn't pull back a solution (at least not obviously), so the answer that I found instead was to use 'Int' as the type (trying java.lang.Integer, which was my first guess based on the scala doc for scala.Predef didn't work well when trying to do arithmetic expressions :-).

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The internet may harm your computer?

WTF? A google search for KDE four live returned a list of sites, all of which 'may harm your computer' according to google. A little poking around showed that seemingly every site is being returned as 'harmful' - including google itself!

Is google turning into Microsoft now? (the old customer support joke - 100% correct but 100% useless answers?)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

That time of life...

Well, I finally hit it. The time in your working life when there doesn't seem to be anybody older than you doing the same job you're doing, and most of them are significantly younger :-(...