Commentary Responses: 1/15/2008 Edition

A couple of people have left comments that definitely deserve response, so here we go: Glenn Vanderberg comments in response to the Larraysaywhut? post, and writes: Interesting post, Ted ... and for the most part I agree with your comments.  But I have to ask about this one: Actually, there are languages that do it even worse than COBOL. I remember one Pascal variant that required your keywords to be capitalized so that they would stand out.

Java: "Done" like the Patriots, or "Done" like the Dolphins?

English is a wonderful language, isn't it? I'm no linguist, but from what little study I've made of other languages (French and German, so far), English seems to have this huge propensity, more so than the other languages, to put multiple meanings behind the same word. Consider, for example, the word "done": it means "completed", as in "Are you finished with your homework? Yes, Dad, I'm done.", or it can mean "wiped out, exhausted, God-just-take-me-now-please", as in "Good God, another open-source Web framework?

Of Fibers and Continuations

Dave explains Ruby fibers, as they're called in Ruby 1.9. Now, before I get going here, let me explain my biases up front: in the Windows world, we've had fibers for near on to half-decade, I think, and they're basically programmer-managed cooperative tasks. In other words, they're much like threads before threads were managed by the operating system--you decide when to switch to a different fiber, you manage the scheduling, the fiber just gives you a data structure and some basic housekeeping.


Larry Wall, (in)famous creator of that (in)famous Perl language, has contributed a few cents' worth to the debate over "scripting" languages: I think, to most people, scripting is a lot like obscenity. I can't define it, but I'll know it when I see it. Aside from the fact that the original quote reads "pornography" instead of "obscenity", I get what he's talking about. Finding a good definition for scripting is like trying to find a good definition for "object-oriented" or "service-oriented" or...

So the thought occurs to me...

After pulling down the Solaris Developer Express 9/07 VMWare image, that it would make just too much sense to install Mercurial, grab the OpenJDK sources, and get the OpenJDK build going on that VMWare image and re-release the image back to the world, so those who wanted to build the OpenJDK and have an out-of-the-box ready-to-go experience could do so. (I'd love to do the same for Windows, but there's obvious licensing problems there.) Then, because the VMWare image would already have the Sun Studio 12 and NetBeans IDEs on it, one would have a complete debugging and profiling platform for spelunking the OpenJDK code base.

And now, for something completely different...

My eight-year-old son, a few months ago, asked me what it is I do. I tried to explain to him that Daddy works as a consultant, teaching people how to build computer systems that help people do things. He thought about it a moment, then said, "So you build robots and stuff?" No, not exactly, I build software, which controls the computers. "So you program the robots to do things?" No, I build software like what runs Amazon or eBay.

I Refused to be Terrorized

Bruce Schneier has a great blog post on this. I'm joining the movement, with this declaration: I am not afraid of terrorism, and I want you to stop being afraid on my behalf. Please start scaling back the official government war on terror. Please replace it with a smaller, more focused anti-terrorist police effort in keeping with the rule of law. Please stop overreacting. I understand that it will not be possible to stop all terrorist acts.

2008 Predictions, 2007 Predictions Redux

As has become a tradition, 'tis time to offer up my predictions for the technical year 2008, and, more importantly, revisit my predictions for the technical year 2007 and see how close to the mark I was. (As usual, I'll simply offer up commentary and my own opinion--you're free to draw whatever conclusions you like about my abilities as a prognosticator.) First, the predictions from 2007, in retrospect: THEN: General: Analysts will call 2007 the Year of the {Something}, where I bet that {Something} will be either "ESB" or "SOA".

Let the JDK Hacking Begin...

OpenJDK, the open-source JDK 7 release (and no, I don’t know if there’s any practical difference between the two) has officially opened for business with the promotion of the “real, live” Mercurial repositories. These are the real deal, the same repositories that Sun employees will be working on as they modify the code… which means, in all reality, that there is a very tiny window of opportunity for you to check out code between changesets that are dependent on one another due to the way they’ve got the forest set up–if you get weird build errors, try re-fetching… but more on that later.

Them's fightin' words

From the cover of Dr. Dobb's Journal (Jan/2008): PHP: The Power Behind Web 2.0 The article goes on to take a much less aggressive tone, simply saying that PHP is a good language for building web sites/applications that make use of Ajax and Web services, but let's be honest: you walk into a bar anywhere in the San Jose, Burlington or Redmond areas and say that kind of thing out loud, yer gonna get tossed out on yer keester.