Older blog entries for compiler (starting at number 90)

Philanthropic Software Development

I love to code, and I'd like to make a contribution. HP had a project (SourceXchange) for commercial match-making between developers and their sponsors, my dream is one that matches charities with their programming benefactors. I asked the manager of HP's effort if they'd expand it to include work "gratis," but they declined.

It makes a lot of sense to me, but maybe I'm just dense.

I don't like the idea of giving away something I've done to just any angst-ridden prick that happens upon it. Hence my refusal to participate in the open source movement.

I am charitable. I make gifts of money where it is needed, and will continue to do so. But Giving money feels very hollow. I want to give something substatntive, but all I know is engineering. I insist on continuing to work the private sector because I'm very productive, and that productivity (I hope) trickles down to the rest of the world over time.

I have seen the struggles that charities endure for sake of cause. Good, purpose-designed software can help them, even the smallest of them, to do what they do better. It can help them spend more time on the cause, and less time administering. That would be a worthwhile contribution, and is something that really excites me.

So, over the next few days I'm going to hash out my ideas on the subject here and hope some like-minded people read them, agree and join me. Or, maybe less ambitiously, help me refine my thoughts to form a plausable argument.

Let's leave the world a better place.

Phone tag

Do you have OnStar? It can read email, you know. That got me thinking...

My computer has a modem and so can act as an answering machine. Thanks to Microsoft, said PC also has a voice recognition API. So, it can record a message and convert it to text, text that can be emailed and read aloud by OnStar.

Something is lost in the translation, and I become bored.

Free language translation services abound on the 'net. So now OnStar reads french, poorly. :)

Yes, I have a job.

No, voice technology isn't practical. Not yet.

16 Jan 2002 (updated 16 Jan 2002 at 22:55 UTC) »
Does your clique have a claque?

Open source developers are their own best fans. Where is the external support? Bumeer, eh?

Must code. Must... exercise... brain...

Yikes, it's been a while. That pesky software bug is biting again, nagging and pulling at me. Sooner than later I will capitulate.

First needs object libraries. I'm almost there, so it isn't a matter of design as much as implementation. Maybe that's why I haven't been excited about it. Combined with templates, user-defined objects in custom libraries will make it a generally useful tool.

Useful tools are even more useful when they are accessible, which means building a reasonable installer that combines the applet with the desktop components. I hate dealing with installers. None of them are good. If you build an installer builder, read this and are offended, I appologize. But, like it or not, your application sucks. Make it easier to use.

12 Jan 2002 (updated 12 Jan 2002 at 02:48 UTC) »
Word of the day: Oenology

Lubricate the mind.

10 Jan 2002 (updated 10 Jan 2002 at 23:35 UTC) »
Word of the Day: Discursive

Can we do this walking? I think better on my feet, as do most people, I beleive.

It's 25 degrees outside.

Oh, is it? I hadn't noticed. I wouldn't want to impose. Speaking of impositions, may I ask a favor?


I have a discursive mind and am liable to wander off the mental tracks, so to speak. Frankly, I'll often continue to wander until I can no longer see the tracks. If you wouldn't mind sending up a flare at the appropriate times, I'd appreciate that.

I'll see what I can do...

Did you know...

Advogato allows access to diaries in XML (a strange dialect, it seams) using a URL under your "person". That is, find my XML-encoded diary here. That is her e. Now I think that's pretty-darn cool.

And how did I figure this out? From the source code, which is open, and online, and cross-references. Too cool for words, really.

Now, the important question: "Will the same tool annotate 5M lines of code on an intranet server for me?

Conspicuous Consumption

I found the newer, larger, prettier version of my house a while back and bought it. Stopped by after picking up the keys yesterday to enjoy the feeling. Now for the ugly part - - moving. We have way too much stuff.

Long Dry Spell

Welcome back, me! It's been a while.

Read this thesis, then implement. Get your friends to do the same. Prove it, and improve it.

Don't ever lie about cheating. There's nothing worse than a lying cheater.

Architectural Abstraction

Ever notice that Frank Gehry never seems to talk about walls? His view of a building is of light and shadow and volume. I'm an engineer. My view of a building is slabs and ductwork and convection. It's the same building, but we see it differently.

The future of software is in this multi-platform, multi- client, wildly distributed network called "The Internet". I'm such a visionary, I know. It bears consideration that network clients will see artifacts in as varied a manner as people see buildings.

It's difficult enough to build software with a single manifestation of an artifact (an email message, for example). Supporting multiple, and ideally unlimited, manifestations is immensely more complex. Once again, software needs to be done differently.

So how does nature do it? Our minds hold intangible models that form the basis of our cognition. These models are fully encapsulated, accessed only over a physical carrier such as air, or paper, or electrons. The conversion of our mental models is not perfect, as the exaltation of "great artists" and "great communicators" exemplifies. The conveyances are the common primitives defined by the rules of physics.

How is software limited by the conveyances of the web? Significantly. Bits are a very primitive building block -- akin to atoms or bricks? Bits must be molded with great craftsmanship to carry a message.

What makes XML a better conveyer of information than bits? The ability of software to "sense" it. Viola.


Visit this site, and buy one for a celebration.

Star Trek on the web

I like web discussion groups. Yes they are intelectual slums. Yes they are slow and ungainly. But still I like them, and here's why: Bablefish.

Remeber way-back when AltaVista put the BableFish translation service online? That was cool. I was in the midst of planning a six-week trip to Europe at the time, and BF helped me correspond with the owners of inns and travel bureaus. Once the trip was over, I didn't think much about it until a came accross discussion groups using the technology to auto-translate posts into the reader's language, regardless of the post's original language -- wow.

Simple? Yes. But still amazingly cool.

I can talk to almost anyone, anywhere in the world using these forums. That is a very good thing. Wonder how Afghans see the conflict in their country? Try th is (keep in mind that the translation technology isn't all that good before assuming someone is an idiot) and see Germans, French and Americans posturing and puffing in a language agnostic forum.

Mr. Kirk's universal translator is closer than it seems.

First Winter Storm

Sunday (October 21) I stole away to hike the Table Rock Wilderness. Awesome. As NYC holds the wonders of man, the PNW holds the wonders of nature.

It wasn't a great day for hiking with blowing rain and low rolling clouds. I couldn't see 100 yards for the fog sometimes. But it was a glorious six miles. So far removed. The staid giants (Douglas, Hemlock and Noble) quitely speak of shattering forces.

Sad reality returned at the reunion with the car. State troopers have patrolled there for a long time, that man's eyes were different Sunday. Uncertain.

XML for Diagrams, or DiagramML

First needed an export/import format with fealty to the model, but unadorned. I'm not one to choose a complex solution to a simple problem (okay, maybe I am but that isn't the point). Enter DiagramML. I think it will work, but consider it a proposal for now. Is there an alternative? :)

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