Sunday, June 12, 2005

Fitting in with a Tough Crowd

I began this post a while back, saved the draft, and pretty much forgot where I was going with it. Make what you will of it...

I want people to think that I'm cool. I want to impress people, and more importantly, I want to impress the kind of people who otherwise would impress me. I want all the other geeks to think I'm cool. Hey, I'm human.

How do you impress a geek? You be a better geek, in some respect. You write a very useful application, or create an amazingly efficient library for handling a common task. You be the geek the other geeks wish to be. I want to create software, and I want that software to be useful, maybe even to the point of making the world even just a little bit better. If I manage to impress some fellow geeks along the way, then I say that is even better.

To the point I had in mind when I began writing this: I should but do not wish to change my coding style if I want to impress anyone. People commonly don't like my coding style, for various reasons, none of them good reasons, even. There really aren't good reasons to dislike a particular coding style, and I want to make it clear why I think so.

Firstly, why I don't think we have no reason to dislike a particular coding style, and how this is different from liking a particular coding style, which I do think we should do. Source code is supposed to be human-readable instructions to computer, but in truth they are no more readable at the lowest level than an executable binary. In the lowest levels, they are all bits, after all. Source code, however, is stored in a convention of bits, which a computer can process not only as instructions to follow, but as instructions to display to the user. The computer, in other words, can display the text on the screen. The biggest mistake in the software development world is the lack of instructing the computer to display this source code text intelligently. Source code presentation has not improved much over the years. We went from displays of hard-delimited lines, to having word-wrapping functionality that didn't do a good job, so we still keep old rules around about the length of the lines, because that's easier in the short-term than just making the word-wrappers smarter. We got syntax-highlighting, and that was pretty basic, but it stuck and works OK. Code-folding came along a long time after that, and it spread quickly and helps a lot, and its at least something near to intelligent, but it still works with those hard-delimited lines.

Why power of the tab

In itself and its symbolism

The tab is a controversial character, because it isn't really a character. The controversy began with the bad decisions in its original creation. The tab exists, really, in two forms, which work together and sometimes separately, causing most of the problems. The tab is a key on the keyboard and also a character present in many text files. It is the tab character's presence in source code that irks as many people as it makes happy.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Intel, Apple, and the Victims

Right off the bat, I want to say that if you are starting a good band with a good sound, name your band "The Victims", because when I wrote that I immediately thought, "That would be a great name for a band."

So, to the topic at hand. I wanted a blog and every blogger with a sense of trend is talking about the Apple/Intel deals going on before our eyes, and behind our backs. But, not just behind our backs, but behind the backs of several big name companies and tech-world shakers who are going to become very nervous at board meetings for months to come, maybe years, maybe until the very last board meeting their particular company holds. If Cringley is right about Apple and Intel merging, or even if they are only striking lots of extremely friendly, exclusive deals, there is a lot at stake in the world, technologically, economically, socialogically, and politcally.

The first and most important point to make here is to simply point out the amazing sense of irony this situation brings to the table. Do you honestly and fully realize what is going on here? Apple, the only major competetor to Intel's prize architecture over the years, is poised to become their biggest customer. Apple on Intel chips is a strange a sounding phrase as Sadam marrying Mother Teresa!

This move is going to have a two-fold affect on the open source movement, particularly the Linux people. On one hand, everyone is going to have a much slicker choice of alternatives for Windows very soon. On the other hand, this will open up the idea of using something other than Windows to the mind of Average Joe User, so he will be more willing to take a chance on free systems like Linux. It will be interesting to see where these trends balence.

Over on Slashdot, this guy makes an interesting comment about the biggest mythical challenges to the Apple/Intel pair that could pop up. The "Microsoft acquires AMD" is a little bit of a stretch, but the IBM/Cell/Linux idea is probably a crowd favorite. I've been waiting to get my hands on a Cell chip for a long time now, and seeing what it might be able to do in the hands of all those skilled Linux developers and other open source coders is really a fantastic thought. I'd love to get a look under the hood myself.

HP is definately going to be in on this deal, in my opinion. They already make Apple's iPods, they have close ties to Intel (Pavilion and Celeron sure bring in a pretty chunk of change for the two of them), and with a move to Intel it will be much easier for Apple to shift the hardware work over to another party, and focus on the software work they are so blessed at.

These are the cards, and the major players have their hands. How will they play them? What wild cards do they have up their sleaves? I for one am very interested to see how this game plays out. I was about to purchase an iMac or an iBook, but now I'm going to step back and watch, and way, and hope for the best. Rought waters are ahead, but we might come out of it all for the better, or hell could break loose and we'll all be stuck in the mud.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

First Post

(That title is in honor of the great and silly internet past-time of First Posting)

I ran a blog on my website ( a while back, with a very small number of readers. I probably knew each of the readers personally from before the blog, actually. The main reason I hosted it there was to roll my own blog technology. I actually wrote a very basic web-scripting system in Python, that let me embed posts, basic data, etc. into web pages. I even wrote my first GUI application as a tool for managing the posts and categories. To top it off, it was all multi-user enough for my wife to run one, too, and to merge our personal blogs from our homepages into the front page of the website, all in my own primitive scripting format.

What a trip.

Well, for the moment I can't spend the time maintaining my own server and all that, so I decided to move to a blog service. I wanted one that will still let me host from my own site, which will let me do. And, when I saw I could post from my phone, I was hooked. Finally, a good way to vent on my lunch break at work!

So, what should a blog be? What should my blog be. I suppose, as any blogger does, I would post about the things that interest myself. I will post about my views of the world, my ideas for software and technology, and maybe some thoughts on my first book I am slowly writing.

This I write for myself, to take my jumbled mind and lay it down, for a moment, into a coherent enough a set of ideas that I can make sense of it, for a moment. Perhaps, just maybe, you can do the same.