Showing posts from November, 2006

AJAX tools for multiple development platforms

I feel like I have come full circle (almost) in AJAX development: I started out a few years ago adding some simple AJAX enabled forms to a JSP based application. When first starting out, it took hours to get something working. Then a year ago, I discovered how simple it is to use AJAX in Rails: fine, except that Ruby does not have high enough performance for some applications (unless large parts are written in C - Ferret, for example). I have spent many evenings playing around with various release versions of the Google Web Toolkit ( GWT ) and it is very compelling, especially if you already are used to developing GUI applications in Java - the only new wrinkle worth mentioning is getting used to handling events asynchronously. The problem with GWT is that it really does tie you to the Java platform. I spend most of my time developing AI applications, but that said, who does not want basic knowledge and competence at building web applications? I use Common Lisp, Java, and Ruby for de

'Perfect' Mac OS X backup procedure

Backing up my user files under Linux is easy, if everything in /home/mark fits on a DVD-R. A Linux re-install is quick and then overwrite /home/mark. I usually install applications that I build from source in my ~/bin directory and Ubuntu's package manager makes it quick enough to restore other required apps (PostgreSQL, etc.) The Mac is not so simple because installed applications store frameworks in the system library, etc. Still, it it easy to make a reliable backup, assuming that you have an external FireWire (or I suppose an USB) disk drive: Make sure that there is room on your external disk for your home directory and another 5 gigs Plug in your external backup disk, and restart with your install DVD Install OS X, choosing the external drive When the installer asks if you want to import previous user data, say yes and select your internal disk that contains your system and user account Reboot using your external disk and run software update Pack away your external disk as a

Offshoring vs. increasing the number of H1-B visas

I believe in a world economy, so if safeguards are in place that penalize corporations for unfair treatment of workers in areas with much lower cost of living, then I definitely support the concepts of off-shoring "white color" jobs and manufacturing jobs. I would like to financially penalize corporations for moving work to take advantage of a lack of local environmental laws. Business should be done in the least expensive and most productive way possible, but we need to factor in the importance of maintaining good working environment and environmental standards. Although I support, with some small caveats, off-shoring work when it makes economic sense, I am very much against greatly increasing the number of allowed H1-B visas. I have heard too many stories of abuse of imported guest workers. For those H1-B workers that we allow in to the US every year, I think that they should be free to job hop, and try to maximise their salaries as can US citizens. Unfairly treating H1-B

Ha! Compare Nintendo Wii to Sony PS3 rollouts!

I am a bit biased, having worked on two Nintendo U64 games (mostly game AI). That said, Nintendo seems to be doing everything right: Concentrate on game play: Shigeru Miyamoto (who was at Angel Studios the first morning that I started there - many years ago) felt that the key to better game play was a new controller metaphor, not expensive graphics hardware. Start with a concept (game play/controller vs. graphics hardware) and carry that through from development to launch Profitable console! Compare to > $200 loss on selling PS3 console. Launch with sufficient units: satisfied Nintendo customers vs. many disappointed Sony customers Well done Nintendo. While I sometimes enjoy gaming on my Sony Portable Playstation, I was disappointed by the very high cost of movies in the UMD format. While I am tempted to buy a Wii (my stepson, son in law, and grandson will all be visiting for Christmas, and a new gaming machine would be fun for us!), I am not inclined at all to buy a PS3.

New World Order: things that will effect its outcome

I was reading people's opinions on Slashdot this morning about Microsoft's indirect attack on Linux through Novell and saw an example of the New World Order at work: an entrenched corporation fighting against a distributed movement for free and open source software. If you enjoy history, then you know that the rich and powerful have always bought and influenced governments but I believe that the New World Order of Corporate Power is something different: More transparent: with the Internet, it is too difficult to contain information and free speech - a good push-back against corporate consolidation and control of news media for their own interests. With more transparency, it is possible for people to be more aware of corruption and control. The world is even less of a "zero sum game". When Spain recovered huge deposits of gold, emeralds, etc. in the New World, they increased the money supply (gold) but also spurred other European nations to other areas of technological

GPL license for Java

This is a good thing, to be sure! However, I have to wonder how this might affect Sun's revenue for Java in embedded devices, etc. Sun has a huge investment in Java and as a corporation they really do need to generate revenue from Java. One thing that I would like to see happen is tight JRE integration with Linux systems: a mechanism for running a shared JVM instance for small Java utilities and porting Apple's contributions for sharing more memory between JVM instances running on the same system.

Pricing of Microsoft Windows Vista

Seeing the very high list prices for the "complete" versions of Vista is a little disappointing. I don't use Windows very much, but I find the flexibility of a dual boot Linux/Windows PC to be useful. For my work, I use fairly inexpensive PCs and Macs because except for rare machine learning runs, I don't need many fast CPU cycles for my work. Because I tend to buy low cost commodity PCs, the relative price of an increase in the "Microsoft tax" is noticeable. If Microsoft does anything to prevent easy dual booting between Linux and Windows, then that will be the day that I stop using Windows (or at least stop buying new PCs with Windows). With the latest version of Ubuntu, I prefer Linux as a development platform even to OS X.

Some dissatisfaction with Ruby

I use Ruby a lot for small database tasks (love ActiveRecord!) and for using Rails for some web applications (not with scaffolding, mostly generating controllers and writing my own code). That said, for a lot of what I do, Ruby is much more than an order of magnitude slower that compiled Common Lisp. I find myself still using Ruby and Java when appropriate, but for most tasks, I am going back to using Common Lisp. Better language, and the learning curve is not so bad (I have been using Lisp for over 25 years, and I am already up to a 'moderate' level of competence :-)

Democratic mandate: investigate corruption

Exit polls shows that 3/4 of voters favored Democratic candidates because of government corruption. I hope that the new House of Representatives lives up to its responsibilities to thoroughly investigate and act on: Illegal lobbying Illegal lobbying by foreign governments Outlaw riders on bills in Congress: lately some obscene riders have been attached to important bills Outlaw voice votes on Bills: let us always know how Congress people vote! My sincere hope is that no single political party ever again controls both houses of Congress and the Presidency.