Monthly ArchiveJanuary 2007

Programming Languages &Software 31 Jan 2007 12:59 pm


Links is Philip Wadler‘s language project designed for the purpose of building web apps and overcoming the impedance mismatch of carrying semantic information across all the necessary tiers, e.g., javascript -> appserver -> database.

Given that he is one of the icons of the functional programming world, it is of course a functional language. The backend generates code targeted at specific frameworks in each of the tiers of the web app.

It looks very promising. The idea that the compiler could reason about the whole stack, and that the developer could reason about the whole application in one language seems really appealing. I wonder how well the Link language will match the tasks done in each tier? That is, SQL is a very expressive way to query a relational database. Will Link be as intuitive?

I don’t so much care as long as it is successful and moves us more towards functional languages 🙂

Language &Miscellaneous &Philosophy &Science 29 Jan 2007 12:08 am

Links to free educational resources

free educational resources online.

(Via jennawrites.)

Humor &Programming Languages &Software 25 Jan 2007 12:26 pm

Floyd’s Turing Lecture on Paradigms in Software

So, I posted this on the blog as well, but I am not sure that everyone reads that one. So sorry for the repeat.

In light of the recent conversations about the adoption of developer testing on the junit list and Artima, this Turing Award lecture by Robert Floyd seems particularly appropriate. I thought others might enjoy it. There’s a particularly valuable quote where he is quoting Thomas Kuhn’s, “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.”

“Again from Kuhn:

“The older schools gradually disappear. In part their disappearance is
caused by their members’ conversion to the new paradigm. But there are
always some men who cling to one or another of the older views, and they
are simply read out of the profession, which thereafter ignores their work.”

In computing, there is no mechanism for reading such men out of the profession. I
suspect they mainly become managers of software development. ”

I suspect a large number of the adoption problems for developer testing are in organizations where the old boy at the helm is clinging to an outmoded paradigm of software development. Perhaps those guys would listen to Floyd — (Robert, not Pink.)

History &Miscellaneous &Philosophy &Politics 13 Jan 2007 12:10 am

“Live or Dead”, as Bush says

Today — this morning — something happened that I didn’t understand until tonight. I was doing my commute from the Santa Cruz Mountains to Mountain View. I was already over the hill and on 85. It was about 9:10 and I was listening to Democracy Now on KPFA. The news, delivered in Amy Goodman’s even voice, was of the 15 Republican congressmen standing with the new Democratic majority against Bush’s plan for escalation in Iraq– the “surge” as he spins it. I had, without much deep consideration, signed a petition the day before to congress expressing my feelings against the escalation. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, as I listened to the report, I started feeling happy, like it was going to be a good day. Normally, Democracy Now kills my mood, but this morning I felt some spirit. As I drove down 85 towards Moffett Field, I felt good, maybe even like I should have a funny joke to tell, or a prank to play at work. I wasn’t really sure why. I was glad that the Congress was finally standing up to the president, but I didn’t think too much about why I felt good.

When I got home tonight, it was kind of exciting. One, because it was Friday, and two, because the weather was getting really cold. So cold that the night sky becomes crystal clear and you can see twice the number of stars as usual. I watched the outside temperature reading on the Prius’ screen drop as I headed over the hill. 45 in Mountain View. 41 in Los gatos. 39 climbing the Summit. 37 coming down the hill. 41 in Scotts Valley. 39 in Felton. The second time it dropped to 37, the screen actually popped up a special message saying, “Outside temperature: 37 degrees.” It seemed to notice that something was unusual. Finally, it was 36 degrees on our street as I pulled up the driveway. It almost never gets that cold here.

When it does get that cold here, it’s an event. You build a big fire, drink warm drinks, and hang out close to the fire. It’s too cold and too rare an event to waste the evening watching TV. So, we made a good dinner, and then listened to the Simon and Garfunkel box set we got for Christmas. I realize now how little I knew Simon and Garfunkel’s work. The box set has 5 albums spanning the 60’s. The early stuff is pure folk, but with really rich harmonies and inventive songs. It seems also inspired by Bluegrass and gospel music. As they progressed into the 60’s the songs got more political and more edgy, sometimes even angry. The late 60’s songs were sometimes downright strange, but still beautiful.

While listening, I got the same feeling I had back in music appreciation class hearing chants from the middle ages. Though the music sounds really foreign, it speaks to something universal in you in a quiet, hallowed way. The composer is removed by centuries of history, yet, it comes through that at some level they had to deal with some of the same problems you have, and they might have even felt the same way about some of them.

Tonight, I realized that, for the first time in a couple of years, I have some renewed hope for the future. I hadn’t really realized it had departed; I knew something was wrong for the last several months, but I didn’t know what. I thought it was just the rigors of stretching myself trying to write good research papers, or getting ready for the holidays, but that wasn’t it. I realize I had come to feel that the government was beyond redress and that the powers that be were hell bent on destroying the world and that nothing could stop them.

Tonight, I realized that it might be possible, once again, to be heard. That, once again, getting involved might actually help things get better. I don’t know what the answers to Iraq are, but I think it might be possible to find something better. I don’t know what to do about our national debt, but surely with the riches we have we can find a way to become solvent again. For all the people without health insurance, this time we need to make it happen. For the masters of war, I hope your time will end soon.

The hope makes me want to get involved again. Tonight I wanted to call my friends and family and talk about the cold spell that we are sharing all over the western United States. Even the ones who aren’t out west, I wanted to call up and tell them about what was happening here. It felt important to share and talk, even about small events. It feels important to get involved in a way that it hasn’t felt in a long time. It’s a pretty good feeling that I didn’t even realize I was missing until tonight.

(Oh, I think there’s going to be an anti-war rally in San Francisco two weeks from tomorrow, to mirror the one scheduled for D.C. I can’t wait.)

Miscellaneous 03 Jan 2007 11:22 pm

New Blog Software


Should old blog software be forgotten!

I finally bit the bullet and switched to WordPress. I like that the majority of the export in my blog was PING trackbacks from various slimy enterprises. Once I edited those out (thank you emacs macros!) I was able to upload the exported data in 7 or 8 fell swoops.

Now, after deleting 50,000,000 comment spams, and several trackbacks, I have set moderation on for comment posting. So, don’t be surprised if it takes a moment for comments to arrive.

I am also toying with the notification plugin. Anyone tried it? Experiences?

There is a lot that has happened in the last month of no-posting, I shall proceed in future posts to catch up.