Archive for May 2011

Fun: Tachyons and Čerenkov Radiation

The Fun of Going Faster-Than-Light : Starts With A Bang.

To the extent I would have ever thought about it, by symmetry I would think that a tachyon entering a medium in which it moved slower than c would emit some kind of impossible-to-detect tachyon-y version of Čerenkov Radiation, but apparently it would emit real radition that we could detect. Sweet!

Uh… But wouldn’t that allow us to send signals faster than c?

Ramsey’s Theorem

Moving towards Scala

We’ve just shipped our first application whose core algorithm was written in Scala. Regrettably, the project didn’t lend itself to “getting our feet wet,” and it basically boiled down to the Scala modules being black boxes while the rest of us worked in more pedestrian technologies such as Java and JavaScript.

But the project was an overall success and Scala looks to be adopted in 2-3 other projects over the next half-year. So I’ve begun spending some of my copious spare time playing with Scala.

I’m not the world’s biggest fan of the JVM, but that’s the standard platform for our high-level applications and it looks like Scala is a good choice for type-safe concurrent programming on that platform.

Process kills developer passion

I disagree with a lot in this post Process kills developer passion

…maybe junior (or specialized) developers should be writing the unit tests, leaving the more seasoned developers free to concentrate on the actual implementation of the application. Maybe you don’t need to micro-manage them with daily updates to VersionOne to make sure they’re going to make their sprint commitments…

But I do agree with the gist and especially like this quote:

A project where you decide before you start a product cycle the features that must be in the product, the ship date, and the assigned resources is a waterfall project. Using terms like “stories” and “sprints” just adds a crunchy agile shell, and it’s madness to think anything else.

Elmer Gantry 2.0

Act 1

A charismatic con man declares that the world is going to end on a specific date. He calls for donations, ostensibly to alert nonbelievers of the joyful and ominous news.

Act 2

The meme goes viral and all of a sudden, his normal income from donations increase 1000x. Instead of backing off, he doubles down and declares that he is going to spend $100,000,000 buying billboards around the world.

Act 3

The world doesn’t end, but he disappears to a gated community in Costa Rica called “Rapture.”

Coda: He is discovered, says that he’s been in Heaven, and boy does he have a lot of exciting new information to share.

Show Your Boss: Good IBM Whitepaper on Agile Processes

Although it’s a little heavy on IBM-specific acronyms and trademarks (“Agility@Scale”), this relatively brief (20-page) whitepaper from Scott Ambler does a good job showing how agile processes are not just laissez faire “let them hack” chaos. Although this diagram makes me cringe a little (what’s with the I Ching symbols for “work items”?), it puts “iteration” front and center, where it belongs.

This paper is good ammo for those who are trying to help their organizations move their software development processes beyond “classic” processes optimized for physical manufacturing.

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