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[XP] OT: Regarding the Subjunctive Mood, if you happen to be in one ...   25 Sep 04
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(Source: Ron Jeffries) It’s important to take grammar seriously, even if she has been dead for years.

Wall Coding   25 Sep 04
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(Source: ) Sharing a computer is an experience. In a world filled with cubicles and monitors it’s amazing how many times someone has to stare over someone else’s shoulder. And the moment 3 people need to get together and look over some code, suddenly we’re back to printouts and meeting rooms. There simply is no productive way to pack 3 people in a cube looking at a monitor.

And once you start doing agile development and pair programming you really recognise the benefit of a big monitor. And if you’re like most companies, you have the largest monitor available, a big blank wall and a screen projector. It’s just that most companies don’t let the programmers use such a valuable item. People that can be trusted to maintain the software that keeps the company in business somehow can’t be trusted with a simple peice of hardware.

I highly recommend also look at this website.

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.

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.


[ANN] rpa-base 0.2.1pre1   25 Sep 04
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Mauricio aka batman at his best again!!! Make sure you check out the animation on the website.
 rpa-base 0.2.1pre1 is now available at .
 Many of the most popular libraries/applications as per Rubyforge
 statistics (rails, rake, redcloth, activerecord, sqlite, log4r, copland,
 ruvi, to name a few) have been packaged for use with rpa-base 0.2.1pre1.

 You can find a list of the 100+ packages at

 Screenshots and animations can be found at

 rpa-base 0.2.1pre1 fixes some issues in the bootstrapping phase, which
 couldn't hence be solved through the normal self-upgrade mechanism.
 In addition to several other bugfixes, 0.2.1pre1 features better proxy
 support, isolation of unit tests run automatically when installing a
 lib/app, and improvements in the command-line tool.


 The Ruby Production Archive (RPA) will provide packages of Ruby
 libraries and programs in a form that allows production use, engineered
 through a stringent process resembling FreeBSD's or Debian's.

 rpa-base is a port/package manager designed to support RPA. Its scope and
 purposes are different to those of other systems like RubyGems.
 rpa-base is a port/package manager designed to support RPA's client-side
 package management. You can think of it as RPA's apt-get + dpkg. It
 features the following as of 0.2.1pre1:

 * strong dependency management: rpa-base installs dependencies as needed,
   keeps track of reverse dependencies on uninstall, and will remove no
   longer needed dependencies
 * atomic (de)installs: operations on the local RPA installation are atomic
   transactions; the system has been designed to survive ruby crashes (OS
   crashes too on POSIX systems)
 * parallel installs: you can install several ports in parallel; builds
   will be parallelized and the final phase will be serialized properly
 * self-hosting: rpa-base installs and updates itself
 * modular, extensible design: the 2-phase install is similar to FreeBSD and
   Debian's package creation; rpa-base packages need not be restricted
   to installing everything under a single directory ("1 package, 1 dir"
 * rdoc integration: RDoc documentation for libraries is generated at install
   time (currently disabled on win32)
 * ri integration: ri data files are generated for all the libraries managed
   by RPA; you can access this information with ri-rpa
 * handling C extensions: if you have the required C toolchain, rpa-base can
   compile extensions as needed
 * unit testing: when a library is installed, its unit tests are run; the
   installation is canceled if they don't pass

 Several of the above features are illustrated in the screenshots and
 animations available at

 A number of features have been pushed back to 0.3.0:
 * full support for binary platform-specific packages
 * signed packages/ports
 * system-wide configuration system
 * better user interface
 In practice, the first one is the most limiting at the moment since it means
 that win32 users in particular need a working C toolchain to install
 extensions. This will soon be addressed.


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

History of programming languages   25 Sep 04
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(Source: Daniel Carrera, ruby-talk) Here is a diagram with a "family tree" showing the history of programming languages. Ruby is in there. link

It shows Ruby cross-polinating from Perl, Eiffel, Smalltalk, and Python.

The author also has diagrams for the history of Unix and Windows. The Unix one is very impressive. Unix is truly a diverse family.

Dilbert - outsourcing :-)   25 Sep 04
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Make sure you see the image. It's so real.

Natural Language vs. Computer Language   25 Sep 04
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(Source: Toivo Deutsch, xp-ML) This is exactly what David Ungar’s talk at Oopsla 2003 was about. (See for some notes)

One thing I found interesting about his talk that I managed to relate to XP was when he talked about how humans have "normal" level to categorize things. For example he showed a picture of a tree. Whenever people see a picture of a tree and you ask them what it is, they say "tree", not "maple" or "plant". There seems to be a "middle" category that the mind tends toward.

Traditional software development takes either a top-down or bottom-up approach to categorizing things. That is we don’t start at the natural middle abstraction and work our way up or down the hierarchy.

I was wondering if when we take a TDD approach to design, we can manage to start at the natural middle level and then refactor to generalize or specialize as we need to.


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