No joy installing Whidbey Preview…

After downloading the gigantic Whidbey Preview (available at MSDN Subscriber Downloads) and attempting to install it on my sacrificial machine, I reliably get a problem while installing .NET Framework 2.0: “RegSvcs.exe triggers “Memory at 0x00143cb0 tried to write to 0x00143cb0. The memory could not be ‘written.'” This happens whether I use the main installer or try to install the framework from its subdirectory. YMMV, of course.

Jim Hugunin Has Posted A Paper On IronPython

Jim Hugunin has posted a paper on IronPython, a fast Python implementation for .NET. This has triggered a cascade of posts.

The money quote: “[A]s I carried out my experiments I found the CLR to be a surprisingly good target for dynamic languages….”

More: “High system performance is the end result of hundreds of small decisions rather than a single large one. Much of IronPython’s performance comes from careful consideration of performance in each design choice….”

Essentially, instead of “just” getting the semantics of the language right, Hugunin strove to use native CLR facilities whenever appropriate and provided alternate “fast-paths” for common situations (such as for function calls with a fixed number of arguments) while providing for the more general solution with slower code.

While compiler writing is the rocket-science of computer programming (although game programming comes close…) Hugunin’s tactics don’t seem unreasonably burdensome.

Apple announce iTeach tutoring software

No, not really. That’s just April 1st shorthand for my point.

Peter suggests an interactive drawing tutor as a great application for the TabletPC, a more dignified concept than my “Draw Draw Revolution” game. He suggests text and a voice-over, simple animation, some way of evaluating the learner’s input, etc…

I was struck by the thought that there’s no commodity tutorial-building software. There’s Authorware, but Macromedia doesn’t even put that on the front page of their Website anymore and it costs $3000. Meanwhile, we live in PowerPoint Nation. The last time I looked at Authorware (admittedly, probably 3 years ago) it seemed little more than PowerPoint with test-building tools. My adventures in educational software led to my conviction that evaluation is a very significant part of education (a pretty amazing conversion for someone who spent untold hours giving and attending professional conferences: when was the last time you took a test at a seminar?). Of course, one can build a tutorial in HTML or Flash or PowerPoint or C# or assembly language, but what I’m getting at is that surely there’s a market for software dedicated to tutorial design.

And here’s the thing: it has to be designed by great teachers and built by great programmers.

P.J. Plauger lauded in Dr. Dobb’s

P.J. Plauger was awarded Dr. Dobb’s Excellence in Programming Award. He richly deserves it. There’s his tremendous contribution to the C and C++ standardization projects, but I personally feel that his Programming on Purpose column for Computer Language was simply the best programming column ever written. It’s the reason that I fell in love with that magazine, which I went on to join and eventually edit.

So Programming on Purpose is responsible for much of my career. But here’s how I stack up to Plauger: a couple of months ago, when I was in Hawaii for the ECMA C# and C++/CLI standards meetings, I mentioned at lunch that there was a chance that my code might have booked the flights of the attendees. Plauger nodded and mentioned another item that was in the news: “Our software just landed on Mars.” Point, set, and match to Dr. Plauger.

Note to PR: Don’t Send Word Docs

I receive a lot of press releases via email. Here’s a note to PR people: I’m probably not the only writer/editor in the world who doesn’t casually open Word documents sent via email. I know that you write the press releases in Word and it makes them look prettier than plain text, but if I don’t open them, they’re not doing you any good, are they?

A Pox Upon You, Object-Based Collection Classes!

Argh! I am writing an article for publication and need some eye-candy for the application. I was going to use my Amazon product-similarity graphing tool but I just realized that I use C# 2.0 generics throughout! The thought of bowdlerizing it to use object-based collections is … just … repugnant. But I hate the thought of publishing something that requires people to be in a beta to see it running.

Action Comics #1 scanned and posted


Someone’s posted the whole of June, 1938’s Action Comics #1 (including the first funnybook appearance of Superman) to the web as a series of medium-resolution scans. Link (Thanks, Eyes Spies and Lies!)) via [Boing Boing]
I’ve never been much of a comic book fan, but this is pretty darn great. It’s filled with grammatical errors, plot “developments” that take all of two panels to cover, cliffhangers… And I have to say that some of the art is pretty fantastic, too (like the “… Run faster than an express train …” panel shown here).

Embedded Software Development Conference

BZ Media, the clever folk who publish SD Times, have just announced a new conference dedicated to embedded software development. Sayeth the release: “The Embedded Software Development Conference (ESDC) is the only independent, cross-platform conference completely focused on the educational needs of embedded, mobile and wireless developers. The event will include more than 40 individual conference sessions and full-day tutorials covering applications development using Java 2 Micro Edition, Windows CE, Embedded Linux, Palm OS, BREW, VxWorks and other high-level embedded operating systems.”

Hey, they’re looking for speakers! I wonder if I could convince them that the Tablet PC is an embedded device…

Thanks for the TIP!

I uninstalled XPSP2, uninstalled the Lonestar alpha, reinstalled XPSP2 and my TIP came back. Amusingly, I found this by Googling a discussion board from a few months ago where the person asking the question was breaking NDA and a Microsoft representative was very politely, but very insistently, posting “This isn’t the appropriate forum for discussing this,” while the problem was being discussed by others on the board.

Which raises the question: Do alpha / beta NDAs make sense anymore? Certainly there’s a period when products / features must remain “stealthy” but with betas becoming very marketing-oriented and even “technology previews” such as the PDC bits becoming available, does commercial sotware really benefit from the NDA until product release?