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Archive for September, 2010

US Government Plays Rope-a-dope with Science

September 27th, 2010 No comments

The Boston Globe, in their article “How stop-and-go science funding puts the brakes on progress,” says “this chaotic funding environment” has “devastating implications.”

It reminded me of something Alan Kay said:

“90 percent of all good things that I can think of that have been done in computer science have been funded by [ARPA]. Chances that they would have been funded elsewhere are very low. The basic ARPA idea is that you find good people and you give them a lot of money and then you step back. If they don’t do good things in three years they get dropped – where ‘good’ is very much related to new or interesting.”

It’s unfortunate that government bureaucrats, who do not understand the consequences of their actions, are keeping us from all the benefits scientific progress brings.  Yet this quote, and the amazing things that came out of ARPA, point to how much can be done with a small amount of money (relative to total spending). Imagine the wave of innovation we could produce if we got a few of the purse-string holders on board :)

Categories: Programming, Smalltalk Tags:

Squeak/Pharo Presentation in NYC

September 20th, 2010 No comments

I’ll be giving a talk about Squeak and Pharo for the NYC Smalltalk group.  Details are at http://www.nycsmalltalk.org/

Here is the abstract…

If you enjoy frequent (and long) personal breaks while waiting for your code to compile, stop reading now.  If tears of pride well up every time you behold the library of books you steamed through to learn C++, don’t come to this presentation.  We’ll be talking about Squeak & Pharo – active, open source, production-quality Smalltalk, and what makes it the baddest language on the block… 30 years later!  You may never have the heart to open your Java IDE again – here’s why:
* Productivity – 2.5 times more productive than Java or C++, with less errors
* Easy to learn – sending messages to objects is theonly concept
* Fun – write only code that matters, just the way you want; make any part of the system work how you say it should

UPDATE: Most of the magic happened in the group conversation itself, but here is the slideshow that nudged us along

Categories: Pharo, Smalltalk, Squeak Tags:

Morphic Vision

September 17th, 2010 2 comments
I was doing a lot of playing with Morphic this week at ESUG in Barcelona.  Many people seem to really not like it and complain about it, but it seems very vague i.e. they can’t point to a specific problem with it.
I think it’s amazingly powerful and universally misunderstood.  Many people are pushing for native widgets for end users, which I think is awesome, but serves a different role.  For me, there are two use cases:
1. People (mostly Smalltalkers, including myself) interested in the UI’s of the future and exploring what’s possible
2. People who love their (e.g. Mac) look and feel or are in a setting (e.g. enterprise) where they have to use a particular GUI.
Morphic seems ideal for group #1.  I think the key questions are:
* if you were implementing Morphic today, knowing what you know after it being used over the years, how would you do it?
* what would it take (if possible) to get there from the current implementation?
Two issues I’ve noticed:
1. there seems to be an explosion of classes with slightly different behavior e.g. TextMorph, TextMorphForShout, PluggableTextMorph, PluggableShoutMorph.
2. I’m not clear whether the hooks for modifying behavior are
a. available in all the right places
b. working
c. widely understood
I’m forming an informal panel to discuss this.  I’ve reached out to Morphic’s creators and some original users.
A quick example of my (seemingly common) experience:
For example, I’m writing an implementorsOf browser that shows the execution path as a graph of MethodMorphs connected by LineMorphs, because the standard paned browser does not capture the metaphor of drilling down through implementors.  So I Created a MethodMorph and added as a submorph a PluggableShoutMorph to hold the code.  At that point, I couldn’t figure out a good/easy way to react to mouse events and pop out a new MethodMorph.
I tried (one of these felt very satisfying):
* Morph>>on:send:to:, which sounded good, but never got called
* intercepting Morph>>processEvent:using: (which I was told was not a good idea)
* (after seeking help), locking the submorphs and overriding the dozen or so event-related methods in the chain from my morph to TextMorphForShout (the Morph that actually handles the text and input).
* subclassing TextMorphForShout and then subclassing PluggableShoutMorph to use that subclass.
Categories: Pharo, Smalltalk, Squeak Tags:

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