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Aplus Language   25 Sep 04
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A+ is a descendant of APL (AplLanguage) and a predecessor of K (KayLanguage). Arthur Whitney developed A+ in the late ‘80s in response to employer Morgan Stanley’s need to move their APL applications from mainframes to Sun workstations. He later left Morgan Stanley and wrote K.

A+ is open source. link

Why Parrot Matters   25 Sep 04
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(Source: Manny Swedberg; ruby-talk-ML) The Parrot team’s firm intention is to have Parrot run Python and Ruby just as well as Perl6. This is helped(?) by the fact that the plans for Perl6 are so feature-rich (not to say -bloated ;) that supporting everything in it basically means supporting everything in Ruby. Things that are in Ruby, but not Perl6, like continuations are slatted to be added to Parrot anyways out of sheer good-neighborliness. It should, in fact, be possible to compile any dynamic scripting language into Parrot code: scheme, integer basic, befunge…whatever.

Because Perl6 is so far away, support for Ruby and Python is probably actually going to come first. A big test, the first major public showing of Parrot, is going to come at this year’s O’Reilly convention. Python/Parrot is going head to head benchmarking with CPython. The loser gets a pie in the face; watch for it.

Parrot matters. To scripting-language hackers generally, to Ruby hackers specifically, and to the Open Source movement as a whole.

Parrot promises to furnish a fast, portable environment for every major scripting language. This will remove one of the big obstacles to more widespread deployment: speed. Moreover, if I download a Parrot VM to run someone’s PyGame program on my machine, I already have what I need to run your Ruby or Perl program without further dependency worries: viral portability. Fast Ruby means more Ruby hackers. Fast Python and Perl means more hackers in those languages and thus more people who might take a look at Ruby; a common runtime would make the transition even easier.

For OSS as a whole, Parrot promises a rival to Java or .Net without corporate ownership, developed as open source, for languages that are open source and in which tons of open source code is already written. As the Gnome project considers a new development language, a timely Parrot implementation could mean an in for Python, maybe even Ruby. That would be awesome.

Parrot is a respectable ways along. Not by any means done, but more than vaporware. Support for objects was recently added.

Parrot page

Parrot frontend

History lesson: PRINT I -- The First Load-and-Go System   25 Sep 04
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Thanks to Stefan for forwarding me the link. I like the Java-bashing.
 This vignette is primarily about an interpretive program I created for IBM
 in 1956. In one of those "lessons lost" it has a lot to do with today's
 JAVA language, 40 years later.

 How? Well, JAVA is an interpreter, too. A form of language processor that
 was supposed to have been obsoleted by compilers like FORTRAN and COBOL.

 I had found, as the JAVA people did, that interpreters were slow, slow!
 And I created a preprocessor to modify the source so that every decision
 that would be made exactly the same would be made once and for all at
 the beginning, in the source program as modified. Hello, JIT compilers!

AltGr keys and irb   25 Sep 04
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From the Ruby-ML: I just noticed that I cannot type any AltGr character combinations on a German keyboard both on NT4 and Win2k in the current irb (ruby 1.8.2 2004-07-29 i386-mswin32).

This hurts the ruby experience a little bit, because among those characters are {}[]~\| …

and the solution

ANN: Madeleine 0.7   25 Sep 04
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  "Are you still using a database?"

    Madeleine is a Ruby implementation of Object Prevalence:
    Transparent persistence of business objects using command
    logging and snapshots.


          Just figured it was a good time to release all the good stuff I and
          Stephen Sykes have been preparing in the Madeleine CVS. YAML marshalling
          and snapshot compression should be the highlights for our existing

          Madeleine 0.7 (July 23, 2004):

         * Broken clock unit test on win32 fixed.
         * AutomaticSnapshotMadeleine detects snapshot format on recovery
         * Snapshot compression with Madeleine::ZMarshal
         * YAML snapshots supported for automatic commands
         * SOAP snapshots supported for automatic commands
         * Read-only methods for automatic commands

        If you're planning to use either YAML or SOAP marshalling, beware that
        there are objects and classes that Ruby's own Marshal can handle but
        these can't. You will have to try for yourself if your application
        works, both to make a snapshot and to read it back, with the marshaller
        you want to use.



Maybe you shouldn't ask   25 Sep 04
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I found this entry on Seth Godin’s blog
 Fast Company has a terrific cover piece this month about Jeff Bezos.
 My favorite part is when he talks about asking other people (experts, even)
 for their opinion about new projects.

 Inevitably, people say no. Don't do it. I don't like it. It'll fail.
 Don't bother.

 When I think about every successful project (whether it's a book
 or a business or a website) the people I trust have always given
 me exceedingly bad advice. And more often than not, that advice
 is about being conservative.

 The incentive plan here is pretty clear. If someone dissuades you
 from trying, you can hardly blame them for the failure that doesn't
 happen, right? If, on the other hand, they egg you on and you crash,
 that really puts a crimp in the relationship...

 I think the problem lies in the question. Instead of saying,
 "what do you think?" as in, "what do you think about Amazon
 offering 1,000,000 different titles even though some of them are really
 hard for us to get..." the question ought to be, "how can I make this
 project even MORE remarkable?"

I highly recommend you to read more of Seth Godinīs blog

PowerPoint Is Evil   25 Sep 04
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(Source: Wired, Edward Tufte) Information design guru Edward R. Tufte argues that PowerPoint style routinely disrupts, dominates and trivializes content while ignoring the most important rule of speaking: Respect your audience.

Product Pricing Primer   25 Sep 04
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Informative read by Eric Sink.

Too many cars, too few digits   25 Sep 04
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U.S. will run out of vehicle ID numbers.

The auto industrys number is almost up.

The 17-digit codes that identify the origin, make, model and attributes of cars, trucks, buses even trailers worldwide will be exhausted by the end of the decade.

And like an odometer that returns to zero and starts over again, a Vehicle Identification Number or VIN could be duplicated.

Experts say duplicated VINs would cause havoc for repair shops, state license offices, insurance agencies, law enforcement and other groups that use VINs to process warranty claims, investigate accident claims and recover stolen vehicles.

Weve been brainwashing law enforcement and the insurance community and virtually everybody that a VIN is like DNA theres one for any one vehicle, said Ed Sparkman, spokesman for the Chicago-based National Insurance Crime Bureau.

At the root of the impending shortage is the explosion of vehicle production in recent decades. Automakers build 60 million cars and trucks every year and each one needs a unique VIN in the same way a newborn is given a Social Security number. And that doesnt count heavy trucks, motorcycles and other vehicles that require VINs.


CleverCS: computer science ideas   25 Sep 04
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Thanks to Sven C. Koehler for the interesting link.


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