Older blog entries for crhodes (starting at number 146)

It's been a while. It's in fact almost embarassingly late for me to be blogging now about the 2010 European Lisp Symposium, which was over a month ago now – in my defence, I point to the inevitable stress-related illness that follows excessive concentration on a single event, coupled with hilarious clashing deadlines at work and in my outside activities.

So, we cast our minds back to April. When I booked my flight to Lisbon, I deliberately chose not to fly with British Airways, on the basis that they were likely to strike. It turned out that the activities of British Airways cabin crew was going to be the least of the problems associated with getting to an international conference...

Yes, shortly after I booked my tickets, Eyjafjallajökull went *boom* and most of Europe's airspace closed for a week, with ongoing disruption for the best part of a month. There were moments during the disruption when I wondered whether there was an actual curse affecting ELS, but in the event things cleared up and there was only minimal disruption to delegates and speakers, both getting there and getting back.

But enough about transport! How was the symposium itself? Well, I enjoyed the programme – but given that I had as much control over it as events would allow me, perhaps that's not the most unbiased endorsement of quality. Still, I was entertained by all the keynote speakers, from the window into the business world opened by Jason Cornez of Ravenpack, via the practical philosophy and view on history afforded by Kent Pitman, to the language experimentation and development in PLT Scheme Racket described enthusiastically by Matthias Felleisen. Pascal Costanza's tutorial on parallel and concurrent programming was highly informative, and there was a good variety of technical talks.

It's often said, though, that the good stuff at conferences happens between the programme, and for that the local organization needs to be on the ball. I'm glad to say that António Leitão and Edgar Gonçalves, and their helpers, enabled a huge amount of interaction: lunch, coffee and tea breaks, evening meals (including a fabulous conference banquet, but also a more informal dinner and a meal punctuated by Fado. I gather the excursion to Sintra on the Saturday was interesting; by then I was at the airport, looking nervously at the departure boards...

I enjoyed meeting and talking with many of the attendees; some whose names I knew but whose faces I didn't (and some whose names I knew because they shared them with other people who I knew already: take a bow, both Luís Oliveiras); but with always one eye on the next thing that could go wrong, I didn't get to go very deeply into interesting conversations. Maybe next year, in Hamburg for ELS2011 (expect the paper deadline to be around 31st December 2010) – in the meantime, there's likely to be a journal special issue with an open call for papers, coming soon, and of course the ALU are holding an International Lisp Conference this year, whose call for papers is currently open. So get writing!

Many people will have heard that Nick Levine's health has meant that he had to withdraw from giving a talk at the upcoming European Lisp Symposium; I wish him a speedy and comfortable recovery.

I'm very glad to be able to announce that Jason Cornez of RavenPack International has agreed, at very short notice, to give a talk at the Symposium: Reading the News with Common Lisp. The abstract for his talk is:

The financial industry thrives on data: oceans of historical archives and rivers of low-latency, real-time feeds. If you can know more, know sooner, or know differently, then there is the opportunity to exploit this knowledge and make money. Today's automated trading systems consume this data and make unassisted decisions to do just that. But even though almost every trader will tell you that news is an important input into their trading decisions, most automated systems today are completely unaware of the news – some data is missing. What technology is being used to change all this and make news available as analytic data to meet the aggressive demands of the financial industry?

For around seven years now, RavenPack has been using Common Lisp as the core technology to solve problems and create opportunities for the financial industry. We have a revenue-generating business model where we sell News Analytics – factual and sentiment data extracted from unstructured, textual news. In this talk, I'll describe the RavenPack software architecture with special focus on how Lisp plays a critical role in our technology platform, and hopefully in our success. I hope to touch on why we at RavenPack love Lisp, some challenges we face when using Lisp, and perhaps even some principles of successful software engineering.

Many thanks to Jans Aasman and Craig Norvell of Franz Inc., as well as to Jason and RavenPack, for making this possible.

ELS2010 Call for Participation

May 6-7, 2010, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, Portugal

Registration for the 3rd European Lisp Symposium (ELS 2010) is open at the Symposium website.

Scope and Programme Highlights

The purpose of the European Lisp Symposium is to provide a forum for the discussion of all aspects of the design, implementation and application of any of the Lisp dialects. We encourage everyone interested in Lisp to participate.

As well as presentations of the accepted technical papers and tutorials, the programme features the following highlights:

  • Kent Pitman of HyperMeta Inc. will offer reflections on Lisp Past, Present and Future;
  • Jason Cornez of RavenPack International will talk on the use of Lisp to read and analyse news sources;
  • Pascal Costanza will lead a tutorial session on Parallel Programming in Common Lisp;
  • Matthias Felleisen of PLT will talk about languages for creating programming languages;
  • A TI Explorer Lisp Machine, having been unplugged for the best part of two decades, will be demonstrated;
  • there will be opportunities for attendees to give lightning talks and demos of late-breaking work.

Social events

  • Symposium banquet (included with registration)

  • Excursion to Sintra (optional, Saturday May 8): for six centuries the favourite Summer residence of the Kings of Portugal, who were attracted by cool climates and the beauty of the town's setting.

Registration

Registration is open at http://www.european-lisp-symposium.org/ and costs €200 (€120 for students).

Registration includes a copy of the proceedings, coffee breaks, and the symposium banquet. Accommodation is not included.

A little news regarding the upcoming European Lisp Symposium is enough excuse to repost the Call for Participation, particularly since the Early Registration Deadline is approaching (it's this Thursday, 22nd April). António Leitão has managed to resurrect an Explorer Lisp Machine, cannibalising parts from a second, and some of the applications from yesteryear (or rather two decades ago) will be demonstrated at the Symposium.

ELS2010 Call for Participation

May 6-7, 2010, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, Portugal

Registration for the 3rd European Lisp Symposium (ELS 2010) is now open at the Symposium website. The early registration period lasts until Thursday, 22nd April.

Scope and Programme Highlights

The purpose of the European Lisp Symposium is to provide a forum for the discussion of all aspects of the design, implementation and application of any of the Lisp dialects. We encourage everyone interested in Lisp to participate.

As well as presentations of the accepted technical papers and tutorials, the programme features the following highlights:

  • Kent Pitman of HyperMeta Inc. will offer reflections on Lisp Past, Present and Future;

  • Pascal Costanza will lead a tutorial session on Parallel Programming in Common Lisp;

  • Matthias Felleisen of PLT will talk about languages for creating programming languages;

  • A TI Explorer Lisp Machine, having been unplugged for the best part of two decades, will be demonstrated;

  • there will be opportunities for attendees to give lightning talks and demos of late-breaking work.

Social events

  • Symposium banquet (included with registration)
  • Excursion to Sintra (optional, Saturday May 8): for six centuries the favourite Summer residence of the Kings of Portugal, who were attracted by cool climates and the beauty of the town's setting.

Programme Chair

Christophe Rhodes, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK

Local Chair

António Leitão, Technical University of Lisbon, Portugal

Programme Committee

  • Marco Antoniotti, Università Milano Bicocca, Italy
  • Giuseppe Attardi, Università di Pisa, Italy
  • Pascal Costanza, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
  • Irène Anne Durand, Université Bordeaux I, France
  • Marc Feeley, Université de Montréal, Canada
  • Ron Garret, Amalgamated Widgets Unlimited, USA
  • Gregor Kiczales, University of British Columbia, Canada
  • António Leitão, Technical University of Lisbon, Portugal
  • Nick Levine, Ravenbrook Ltd, UK
  • Scott McKay, ITA Software, Inc., USA
  • Peter Norvig, Google Inc., USA
  • Kent Pitman, PTC, USA
  • Christian Queinnec, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, France
  • Robert Strandh, Université Bordeaux I, France
  • Didier Verna, EPITA Research and Development Laboratory, France
  • Barry Wilkes, Citi, UK
  • Taiichi Yuasa, Kyoto University, Japan

Registration

Registration is open at http://www.european-lisp-symposium.org/ and costs €120 (€60 for students) until 22nd April, and €200 (€120 for students) afterwards.

Registration includes a copy of the proceedings, coffee breaks, and the symposium banquet. Accommodation is not included.

Things are beginning to take shape for the European Lisp Symposium (May 6-7, Lisbon): I'm glad to say that the review process is over and the preliminary programme is now available. The symposium website has also undergone a facelift: out with the spartan, old-school look, and in with the tasteful and functional; Edgar Gonçalves put the new look and content together in very short order, so thanks to him; thanks also to the event's supporters.

The final organizational details are being sorted out, and registration should be open very soon.

Because of multiple requests, the deadline for contributions to the 2010 European Lisp Symposium has been extended by one week, to 5th February 2010. Submissions will of course be accepted in advance of this new deadline; don't feel you have to wait until the last minute...

24 Jan 2010 (updated 25 Jan 2010 at 08:46 UTC) »

The deadline for submissions to the 2010 European Lisp Symposium is now less than one week away. In the meantime, I'm pleased to be able to announce the invited speakers for the symposium:

  • Matthias Felleisen, of Northeastern University and the TeachScheme! project will speak on the topic of PLT Scheme;

  • Nick Levine, independent consultant at Ravenbrook, has twenty years of Lisp experience after a serendipitous encounter, and over that time has taken on roles from system implementor to contractor; from educator to conference organiser; and most currently, author of a new book on Lisp;

  • Kent Pitman, with his background of over three decades of involvement in the design, implementation and use of Lisp-family languages, will offer historical perspectives and thoughts for the future.

I hope that this lineup provides additional motivation for people to complete their submissions!

I feel I don't get to do very much hacking any more.

I shouldn’t complain, really: I have a decent and stable job, which is mostly fun; I have a certain amount of freedom in what I do, as long as everything that has to get done gets done; I work with all sorts of interesting people, both formally and informally. But things that I want to do have to live a long way down the priority queue; preparing lecture materials, paper drafts, committee agendas, bursary agreements, course proposals, courseworks, exams, student feedback, paper redrafts, reports, meeting notes, grant proposal drafts, paper reviews, examiners’ reports, reading lists, grant proposal redrafts, and the like all seem to take priority over even the research on a funded project that I am part of, let alone the discretionary research that I might actually want to do.

So sometimes I have to be sneaky, and combine my hacking with teaching-related work instead. One of the more fun things I’ve learnt over the last couple of years is enough colour theory to be dangerous; it started off because I was casting around for ideas on what to teach students on our Creative Computing programme – and I do teach them about colour, among other things – but it’s sufficiently interesting as a technical area in itself that I can see writing code to illustrate aspects of it. So, here’s a (not very good) colour picker “application” for McCLIM, whose only redeeming feature is that it uses knowledge of the colour attributes of consumer-grade display hardware to present colours of the same intensity together. That’s a bit hard to visualize, so here’s a screenshot, where all the colours in the triangle should seem to have about the same brightness (viewers might need to adjust their viewing angle):

Source code is here; I’m not particularly proud of it, and it needs work in all sorts of directions (optimizing, generalizing, cleaning up). One of the reasons I had put off blogging about this is that I was hoping for a lovely literate-programming system to optimized for single-file Lisp programs to appear, generating HTML and PDF output from minimally-marked-up Lisp code. Sadly, that hasn't happened, and my best attempt can only be described as, well, deranged... so no impeccably formatted and indexed code snippets in this blog, not this time anyway.

I hosted SBCL10 this week; I'll be putting links to materials from the workshop as they come in. Things mostly seemed to work; minor failures along the way (for my reference if, heaven forfend, I organize another similar event) included the approximeeting arrangements with Martin Cracauer and James Y. Knight on Sunday at the Imperial War Museum; the hilarious failure to remember the coffee maker on Monday morning until halfway to the stations; and of course relying on college catering to provide a light lunch at the time booked (rather than failing to do so and needing to be chased). One thing that I think did work well was the format: motivational talks to kick off, then hacking sessions interspersed with lighting talks – there was a good variety of stuff going on and stuff being talked about; even the open session at the end was focussed and productive. Particular thanks go to my local support team: Jamie Forth, Karen Hodgson, Richard Lewis and Wendy McDonald (and thanks to James Knight for the use of his AirPort Express; thanks also to my department for giving me the green light to organize this, along with an initial push.

Did I say “heaven forfend”? Now my attention must properly turn to the 2010 European Lisp Symposium; there is now a website, and the Call for Papers was sent to a wide variety of Lisp-related venues, so hopefully everyone knows about it now. Cunningly, the Call for Papers failed to include any guidance on a page count for submitted papers; 15 pages in the J.UCS style is the limit – but please submit through EasyChair, not to J.UCS!

Some more emacs lisp for interacting with launchpad by email (specifically, with Gnus). Previously, I wrote some code which allowed for easy transfer of a bug report by e-mail to launchpad; I've since adapted that to add a Cc to the original reporter, so that they know the bug has been filed (sadly too late for any of the reports that I have actually filed; maybe this blog can serve as a heads-up...)

However, this doesn't solve the entire issue, which is painless and seamless interaction. Comments to bugs are delivered by mail, and filtered using the X-Launchpad-Bug header to an appropriate mail directory, but replies to those comments need to be cryptographically signed for those replies to be accepted by launchpad. How to do that? Initially, I hoped that there would be some group parameter or posting style which would automatically insert the mml code for signing; suspicion alighted on `gnus-message-replysign', but unfortunately the messages that launchpad sends aren't signed, even if the ones that are sent to it must be.

It would also seem that there isn't an appropriate hook for this; all the hooks I could find seem to be run too early, and attempts to call `mml-secure-message-sign-pgpmime' gave me errors about a corrupt mail buffer (because the body separator hadn't been set up yet). So, instead, I ended up piggy-backing on the code handling gnus-message-replysign anyway, by advising the relevant function as follows:


(defadvice gnus-summary-handle-replysign
  (after handle-launchpad-replysign activate)
  (when (string-match "list.*-launchpad" gnus-newsgroup-name)
    (mml-unsecure-message)
    (mml-secure-message-sign-pgpmime)))

The alert will note that this automatically signs not replies to messages from my sbcl-launchpad buffer, but from any of my list groups matching -launchpad. Is this just speculative generality, I hear you ask? No, because Alastair Bridgewater has kindly volunteered to participate in CLX development and release engineering, and his first and second acts were to set up a mailing list (hopefully permanent, this time, after clozure and metacircles abandonment) and a launchpad bugtracker. So if you've been building up scads of patches and annoyances with my clx branch (or even worse, the ancient 0.7.3 release), now might be a good time to attempt to report the annoyances and integrate the patches; particularly from those still-active projects with heavy CLX use (e.g. StumpWM, Eclipse (no not that one) and McCLIM).

I released sbcl-1.0.33 last week; there's a good amount of new stuff in there, including support for NetBSD on the x86-64, some new introspection and tunable functionality, and also a whole chunk of Unicode and external-format work that I meant to do some months ago.

Today I got round to giving SBCL's website a little bit of an update; not only does it reflect the most recent release – something we've got a little bit lax on recently – but also I have updated my gpg key information. Since Launchpad seems to have taken for our bugtracking needs (at least I'm reasonably content with it), I've also taken the opportunity to link the bug numbers in the news page to the relevant bug entries in launchpad. This is still very Web 1.0, I recognize; I was at a networking event today where the highly eminent keynote speaker spent about 20 minutes essentially saying (and I paraphrase mercilessly) "social web, linked data, this is the FUTURE, it has reached a TIPPING POINT, we are on the road to DATA MASHUP WEB 3.0" and I feel relatively content to stick with my curmudgeonly Web 1.0 view of the world for now.

137 older entries...

New Advogato Features

New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.

Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.

If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!