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Linus on Specifications   04 Oct 05
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William posted this to the XP-List.

Here’s a very interesting set of comments from Linus Torvalds and Theodore Tso on the problem with writing specs:

Here’s a great quote from Linus:

 The classic example of this is the OSI network model protocols.
 Classic spec-design, which had absolutely _zero_ relevance for the
 real world.We still talk about the seven layers model, because it's
 a convenient model for _discussion_, but that has absolutely zero to
 do with any real-life software engineering. In other words, it's a
 way to _talk_ about things, not to implement them.

 And that's important. Specs are a basis for _talking_about_ things.
 But they are _not_ a basis for implementing software.

And a good one from Ted Tso:

 In those cases, if you implement something which is religiously
 adherent to the specification, and it doesn't interoperate with the
 real world (i.e., everybody else, or some large part of the
 industry) --- do you claim that you are right because you are
 following the specification, and everyone else in the world is
 wrong? Or do you adapt to reality?

And another one from Linus:

 So don't talk about specs. Talk about working code that is
 _readable_ and _works_. There's an absolutely mindbogglingly huge
 difference between the two.

All heresy to the BDUF school of thought, of course. But relatively uncontroversial in the XP world. Interesting to see the parallel evolution.

A good OS X blog   02 Oct 05
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Thanks to Sven C. Koehler for the link.

A few months ago I did buy a mac mini. My excuse to my girl-friend was that it would make less noise than my hyper big server. The mac mini looks really nice and OS-X is cute, too. I got to admit, I do love the GUI and the poor fact that most things like WLAN, etc. seem to work out of the box. But the definite downside is that coming from Debian/Gentoo/Suse I got some expectations towards the development tools. Now I waste hours installing fink, etc. .. fighting with different philosophies, but I still enjoy the new journey.

Web-based Office suite will hurt Microsoft   02 Oct 05
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A web-based office suite, maybe partially powered by Ajax will eventually kill Microsoft’s cash cow office.

It will take 5 years, as one has to get all right. The fast intuitive UI, the security, the marketing and many other things. Looking at a big company, most people only use:

  • Browser
  • Calendaring app
  • Word
  • Excel
  • Powerpoint

Why did openoffice not have a wider impact so far? Can a web-based suite win without entering the "comopatability/file format" war?

Have a nice and long weekend. It’s the last two days of the Oktoberfest, so I am preparing for some beer.

vncserver .. for crontab jobs that need a X-Display   01 Oct 05
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This old vncserver hack, can make life easy. I remember the old problem .. how can you generate graphs in R in cronjobs without going via the postscript format?
 1. vncserver
 2. enter password
 3. remove all in  ~/.vnc/xstartup that is not needed
 4. work:
    DISPLAY=:1 R
 5. vncserver -kill :DISPLAYNUMBER_FROM_STEP_1

Thanks to Stefan!

New Book line from Pragmatic Bookshelf   01 Oct 05
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We’re pleased to announce a new line of titles from the Pragmatic Bookshelf.

"Fridays" are short, focused, PDF-only books, written by experts for developers who need information fast. These new e-books are hyperlinked, both internally and to external resources. They’re specially formatted for easy on-screen reading. And you can download any new versions of the Fridays you own for the life of the book.

The first book in this new series is "Rapid GUI Development with QtRuby," written by Caleb Tennis.

See how to use the powerful Qt3 library to create cross-platform GUI applications for Linux and OS X in Ruby. Covers installation, basic and advanced programming, event models, and Korundum.


  • Introduction
  • About Qt. History, versions, installing, testing your installation.
  • About QtRuby. Language bindings, SMOKE, installing.
  • Get Your Feet Wet. Writing your first program, widgets and the object model, initialization, Qt::Application.
  • Take the Plunge. Custom Widgets, geometry and layouts, signals and slots, slot senders. Read an extract
  • Sink or Swim. Events methods and filters, the Main event, the event loop, posting and sending.
  • The Home Stretch. Qt modules, QtRuby tools, tighter Ruby integration, disposing of widgets, debugging QtRuby applications.
  • Korundum. Installing, DCOP, interprocess communication.
  • Appendices. Event Method Map, Resources.

For more information on this title or to purchase it ($8.50, 90 pages), please visit

For more information on this new series, "Fridays", please visit

Thank you for your continued support, Dave and Andy

Why I hate factories   01 Oct 05
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Great post on the Joel on Software forums by Benji Smith.

"Let’s pretend I’ve decided to build a spice rack.

I’ve done small woodworking projects before, and I think I have a pretty good idea of what I need: some wood and a few basic tools: a tape measure, a saw, a level, and a hammer.

If I were going to build a whole house, rather than just a spice rack, I’d still need a tape measure, a saw, a level, and a hammer (among other things).

So I go to the hardware store to buy the tools, and I ask the sales clerk where I can find a hammer.

"A hammer?" he asks. "Nobody really buys hammers anymore. They’re kind of old fashioned."

Surprised at this development, I ask him why."

RailsFS after a Couple of Minutes of Tooling with Fuse, Whoa!   23 Sep 05
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Got this forwardeded from Stefan today :-).

Mini Spreadsheet   23 Sep 05
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Check out this link.

Eric3 - one more ruby IDE   18 Sep 05
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eric3 is a full featured Python (and Ruby) IDE that is written in PyQt using the QScintilla editor widget. I have yet to test it. I am still using gvim for all my coding. eric3 comes with a full ruby debugger.

More screenshots

Article on XP and architecture   17 Sep 05
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Kent Beck posted to the xp-list:

David Norfolk recently interviewed me regarding how I view XP and architecture. He started out quite skeptical, but I found his article balanced and thoughtful:


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