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Alan Kay's talk at O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference 2003   25 Sep 04
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(Source: Cory Doctorow) Notes from "Daddy, Are We There Yet?"

The last 20 years of the PC have been boring. PC vendors aim at businesses, who aren’t creative in their tool-use. They’re adults: they learn a system and stick to it. We should think about children. The printing revoltuion didn’t happen in Gutenberg’s day, it happened 150 years later, long after Gutenberg was dead, when all the pople alive had grown up with the press.

A small minority of Gutenberg’s contemporaries got the printing press, but it wasn’t until they were dead that the children who grew up with the press were able to put the ideas into practice.

James Licklieder: in a couple of years, human brains and computers will be coupled. It hasn’t happened yet. Except in science, where scientists and computers are indeed thinking as no human brain has ever thought before. .. craphound.com/kayetcon2003

Using the right hammer ..   25 Sep 04
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(Source: Robert Martin (UncleBob) in the pragprog-list) As a contractor you must do the best job you can for your client. This includes picking the best language for the situation. I agree that there are situations in which Ruby might be the best technical solution, but the worst political solution. In that case, you cannot use Ruby — you must use a technically inferior, but politically preferable language. There are other situations — more and more of them — in which Ruby is politically acceptable, and technically superior.

DE: Squeak Artikel C't   25 Sep 04
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In der C’t 7/2004 erschien ein Artikel ueber Squeak. Programmieren lernen mit Squeak: Von kleinen und grossen Erfindern. pdf

Smalltalk isKindOfLike: Yogurt   25 Sep 04
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(Source: Stefan, comp.lang.smalltalk) Smalltalk is like an Apache hellicopter. Java is like a B52 bomber with pretty heavy duty jet engines.

Smalltalk is very well thought out, extremely well engineered, very flexible, and generally gives quite good performance in a multitude of situations. It’s very adaptable to many different situations, and has lots of tricks up it’s sleeve. Driving it is a bit of a paradigm shift from driving your average plane, it has some new fancy controls, but once you get the hang of it, it can be totally amazing and really fun. Even if you don’t totally know what you’re doing you can still get yourself out of a jam. Given that you’ve got a good pilot you can launch off to a quick start and really do some very heavy and impressive damage in a very short time. It also tends to perform quite impressively if you’ve got a few of them around, and easier to coordinate an army of them.

Java is pretty difficult to drive, and once you get it going in a certain direction it’s pretty hard to get it going somewhere else. It has a few turbo buttons on it so that if you really know when and where to use it, it can fly pretty well. You can surely get it going really fast if you fly it high enough and then point it straight into the ground. It’s generally not very flexible and often a real pain to deal with, but overall once you’ve got a flightplan fixed in stone you can fly it reasonably well and run it reasonably efficiently. If you are meticulous in your planning and implementation, it can really deliver the goods. If you make some mistakes, things can go very wrong that may become almost impossible to correct. Don’t count on any big changes, quick maneuvers, or any sort of fancy tricks that just might save the day, and leave yourself a good bit of time for planning and implementation before you expect to be able to deliver the goods. If you come accross any surprise attacks or come up against an Apache hellicopter, you could be doomed.

Ruby 1.6.x/1.7.x to Ruby 1.8   25 Sep 04
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Simon Standgaard posted these two links for the curious Ruby coders to ruby-talk. www.rubygarden.org/ruby?ProgrammingRubyTwo www.rubygarden.org/ruby?MovingFrom_1_6_To_1_8

Squeak is a toy - so ?   25 Sep 04
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(source: email from Martin Drautzburg to stx-users ML; Oct, 22, 2003)
 > PPS:
 > I remember working for a company, where it took the make utility3/4 of
 > an hour to figure out *what* to compile, and the compilers a day to
 > compile- it was a C++ project b.t.w. which was canceled and replaced by
 > a Smalltalk program after they spent 50man-years on a non-working
 > program - so much for non-toy languages !

Yeah and I just spent 3 days in an inhouse J2EE workshop held by one of our chief architects. We spent most of our time fighting with the tools. Changed setting over and over. The goal of the workshop was to demonstrate how to insert a row into an oracle table. At the end of the 2 days the table was still empty. Another non-toy language.

I have written two small apps (apx 5000 LOC) one in squak and one in stx. It was a dream. Got up in the morning and fixed two or three bugs before breakfast. You can only do this with a real cool environment.

A Little Ruby, A Lot of Objects   25 Sep 04
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This is a draft book titled A Little Ruby, A Lot of Objects. It’s in the style of Friedman and Felleisen’s wonderful The Little Lisper, but on a different topic.

Welcome to my little book. In it, my goal is to teach you a way to think about computation, to show you how far you can take a simple idea: that all computation consists of sending messages to objects. Object-oriented programming is no longer unusual, but taking it to the extreme - making everything an object - is still supported by only a few programming languages.

Can I justify this book in practical terms? Will reading it make you a better programmer, even if you never use "call with current continuation" or indulge in "metaclass hackery"? I think it might, but perhaps only if you’re the sort of person who would read this sort of book even if it had no practical value.

The real reason for reading this book is that the ideas in it are neat. There’s an intellectual heritage here, a history of people building idea upon idea. It’s an academic heritage, but not in the fussy sense. It’s more a joyous heritage of tinkerers, of people buttonholing their friends and saying, "You know, if I take that and think about it like this, look what I can do!"

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Smalltalk must be dead because ...   25 Sep 04
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Donald Raab posted this goodie to the st-mailinglist.

It’s probably because in order to post in the Java ng he has to be 10x as verbose as in the Smalltalk ng.

He probably has to declare himself, cast himself, wrap himself in a try catch block, bubble up any exceptions, use some external iterators, implement some interfaces, and wrap up his primitives in real objects. Maybe after auto-boxing and generics are supported, he’ll only have to post 7 or 8x as often.

Don’t worry James, we appreciate and understand your terseness over here. ;-)

YAPV: yet another pickaxe version   25 Sep 04
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phrogz.net/ProgrammingRuby/ is ‘done’. Enjoy!

ANN: Lafcadio 0.4.0   25 Sep 04
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Lafcadio is an object-relational mapping layer for Ruby and MySQL. It lets you treat database rows like first-class Ruby objects, minimizing the amount of time you have to spend thinking about MySQL vagaries so you can spend more time thinking about your program’s logic.

Its features include:

  • A test-centric design that allows you extensively unit test any program that runs on top of Lafcadio. It comes with a MockObjectStore, which mimics the database and allows you to test database interactions without all the annoying setup code of a real database-driven test.
  • A block-driven querying language that will cover 99% of the ad-hoc queries you have to do. These queries look like: child_users = object_store.getUsers { |user| user.age.lt( 18 ) }

These queries can be run against the MockObjectStore, meaning they can be unit-tested.

  • In-Ruby triggers that can be written per domain class. These triggers can be tested, too!
  • Lafcadio makes very few assumptions of how your database was setup, and comes complete with a lot of hooks to allow you to fit your pre-existing database. Because programming’s a messy job, and we’re always cleaning up after somebody’s mistakes (even if they were our own).

Lafcadio is production-ready and runs a number of websites, including Rhizome.org, which more than 3 million hits a month.

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