Archive for October 2005

Waiting for other technologies to rev to 2.0 release…

The recent release of Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server, and .NET 2.0 is all good news, but it seems to cripple me a little. My next two articles on Avalon / WPF and Tools for Domain Specific Languages, neither of which can I get to install on top of the new .NET release. sigh

Programming the Realtime Stylus

My latest article on DevX implements a packet filter and custom selection tool using the Tablet PC RealTime Stylus APIs.

MSDN Subscriptions Overloaded By VS2005 Downloads?

Trying to download VS2005 or SQL Server, I get “Error Code = 11001″ on MSDN Subscriber Downloads. That’s “Host Not Found” in SQL Server, according to the search engines.

Hawaii Jumps 1,000 Miles Closer To The Mainland

Since Hawaii doesn’t have Daily Savings Times, in the Winter I can start working at 7 AM in order to maintain West Coast hours… Mmmm… Sleep until dawn….

Sutter’s excellent PDC talk on concurrency online

Herb Sutter has in the past year made a convincing case that “the free lunch is over” for performance and that languages cannot ignore concurrency and remain relevant. His PDC talk introduces his thoughts for “Concur:” a set of conforming extensions to C++ that provides high-level abstractions (“active” objects and “future” results). In my opinion, the best talk of the PDC and it’s available online.

  He also briefly mentions C++/LINQ, which is the first I’ve heard about a commitment towards providing that capability in C++.

  (I’m confused how it can be “conforming” though, since at the very least it seems to require active as a keyword, but?)

 

 

 

Why aren’t IDEs incredibly fun?

Ted Leung (http://www.sauria.com/blog/2005/10/20#1406) wonders “?Where are the incredibly fun programming tools?…. Many [IDEs] take out some of the tedious tasks associated with programming, but none of them give me that feeling that they are enhancing my creativity or thinking?.”

To me, the features of programming languages are what give me that buzz. The language is what you think in, after all, so its connection to enhancing your thoughts is more direct.

But Ted’s phrase “incredibly fun” resonates with me. I really enjoy programming, but is it incredibly fun the way it could be? It used to be that programming was the most fun thing you could do with computers. Into the DOS age, programming was more fun than any computer game.

Now, I would say that programming is “just” gratifying. It allows you to extend the capabilities of your computer, it allows you to make things work the way you think they should. It’s incredibly engaging ? it’s still easy to lose hours and hours to a programming task. But is it incredibly fun?

Vista CTP 5231 Installed and Running

Ah hah! The latest Vista CTP installed very cleanly. The first thing I noticed was that it took me minutes and minutes to figure out how to add files to Windows Media Player.

As I post this, I am surprised to see that the HTML-editing <textarea> is not the WYSIWYG-style of IE6 on XP. The Games also don’t work because they say they can’t find a Direct3D Device to render to.

The Shell changes seem nice: the Search right in the Start, the thumbnails on ALT-TAB or hovering over the Taskbar.

I think I saw that programming for WinFX on this build might have some version issues, which is a bummer. I’m anxious to give Avalon / WPF a go.

But…handwriting recognition is available! Anyone with a cheap digitizer can now get a glimpse of the joy that is the Tablet PC!

IronPython + WPF (Avalon)

Greg Kerr just posted a WPF app written in IronPython to the mailing list. Very, very cool.

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Ward Cunningham Abandons Microsoft, Joins Eclipse

Via http://www.peterprovost.org/archive/2005/10/17/8707.aspx: …this link from EclipseZone.com announcing that Ward is going to be joining the Eclipse Foundation…

Ward Cunningham’s joining Microsoft was (rightly) touted by that company as a bit of a coup. Cunningham is univerally admired for his ability to conceive of and implement simple yet powerful concepts, including the Wiki and FIT and was a prime early mover in the promotion of software pattern languages. He was touted, at Microsoft, as bringing credibility towards their efforts to improve their programming-in-the-large experience. Seemingly, all that came of that was the MSDN Patterns & Practices section, which is almost certainly not the culmination of Cunningham’s hopes and dreams for working at Redmond .

Ironman + Geeking Out On Mauna Kea: A nice day in Hawaii

We went down to the start of the Ironman yesterday morning. It’s a great spectacle: 1800 athletes all of whom intend to do something that I couldn’t possibly accomplish. The race begins at 7:00 and the cut-off for finish is midnight, so you have 17 hours in which to: swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run a full marathon. Along a course that runs through a vast lava field, so not only do you have in-the-shade temperatures in the 80s, but incredible black-body radiation (I mean, imagine biking 112 miles through a parking lot).

  An 80-year-old did it with about :45 minutes to spare. Which I thought was impressive until I saw that he had been beaten by a 76-year-old nun. Other especially impressive athletes include Sarah Reinertsen, a full-leg amputee and Johnny Blais, who has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Not that anyone who does it deserves anything but total respect.

  Then, to get out of town, we went up to the summit of Mauna Kea (13,796 feet) to get a tour of the telescopes. Serious geekery.

  The hour or so before sunset on Mauna Kea is incredibly beautiful. The strong inversion layer which gives the mountain such exceptional seeing means that you’re looking down on a sea of clouds and, as the sun lowers, you see an incredible effect where the mountain’s shadow becomes visible, projected into the sky and clouds to the East.

The sunset itself has deep colors but at least last night was not really better than what we get every night from our lanai.

As soon as the colors started to fade we scampered out of the freezing air (it was probably high 30s) down to the visitor’s center at 9,000 feet where there was a Hula Kahiko performance (“ancient” hula: very different and to me vastly better than modern hula and nothing like the skirt-shaking stuff you get at a resort luau). What a rocking day, although by the time we got home we were all dog-tired.

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