Monday, November 19, 2012

Internationalization, whether you want it or not...

This week I'm in Denmark, and noticing some interesting software behavior that I've also seen on some previous trips to places where English is not the native language. Software companies are slowly figuring out that not everyone speaks English, and adapting the software based on the location. But they can be a little over-broad in applying it.

For example, if I open a new window in Chrome and type a search into the taskbar, it by default searches on, giving me all the auxiliary text on the page in Danish. It does this on my computer, which has a locale setting that is not Danish, and even though I am both logged into my google account and signed into Chrome. If I click "Search" from the black bar at the top of the window it goes to the right place, but who actually does that instead of just opening a new tab and typing in the omnibox?

Oddly, this only happens on the Mac laptop, not on the Chromebook.

We also have Netflix, and as part of my determined attempt to stay awake until something like local bedtime I was watching it yesterday on the iPad. It warned me that some content might not be available, but generally worked well, but had decided that it needed to turn on Danish subtitles for me. Of course this a setting, and there's a button to change it in the upper right. I can't turn them off, but I have my choice of subtitles in Danish, Finnish, Norwegian Bokmål, or Swedish.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


A shout out to Qatqi, a fun word game for iOS. And to the author, Chris Garrett, a former co-worker at The Object People. Since I'm flying nine time zones tomorrow, we'll see how it holds up to extended play...

Friday, November 2, 2012


Writing this on my new Chromebook, which I got yesterday. So still very early impressions at this point, but it seems pretty nice. It's light, but feel sturdy, and the display doesn't feel cramped - unlike the netbook. And it seems pretty decently responsive. Kirsten complains that the trackpad makes too much noise clicking, but she says the same about the MacBook Air. Clearly not a primary machine, but for the price it's quite remarkable, and seems like it'll be handy to have around. Now to figure out how useful it would be on a plane.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Life at Google

It's getting close to being two weeks at Google. First week was in Mountain View, this week in Seattle. Beginning to feel less lost, the people on the team seem great, the perks are pretty cool, and I actually wrote a little teensy bit of real Dart code that got integrated, even if it didn't actually do anything (yet). 

Along with the technology learning curve, lots of fun paperwork to deal with. Here's a bit of trivia: Name the three places outside of the U.S. whose driver's license is accepted by Washington State as sufficient to get one of their drivers licenses without going through the whole testing process? Hint: Ontario is not one of them.

Starting to get the hang of Seattle a bit, though living (spouse-less and cat-less) in corporate housing until we get our house later this month. Tends to make one spend too much time at work, especially as there's free dinner at 6:30. This weekend I need to see if I can find a rec soccer league half as good as the one I left behind in Ottawa and try to get some exercise.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

"Light Table" IDE

Chris Granger talks about the "Light Table" IDE prototype. It doesn't remind me of anything :-)

The core interesting idea is presenting code with the values replaced based on evaluation as you're coding. That's pretty neat, but it's not clear to me how that scales up when the list of things you're executing doesn't fit on the screen any more, or when you start having loops that call the same code many times. But interesting ideas.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

STIC Conference starts tomorrow

The STIC conference starts tomorrow in Biloxi Mississippi. Unfortunately, I'm not able to be there, due to a family commitment. This will be the first time I've missed the conference in quite a few years. I'm sad not to be able to be there, but it's hard to complain too much under the circumstances. I hope it all goes well, and best wishes to everyone attending. Hope to see you all next year.
If you look in between the building and the tower, roughly in the middle of the wall, then down, that's our place.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

STIC Conference Teasers: Dart

At the STIC conferences we are focused on Smalltalk, but also like to present topics that are of interest to a Smalltalk audience. In that vein, our Monday keynote features Eric Clayberg of Google talking about the new Dart language. Dart is a new language for building structured web applications, and has been described by Dart lead engineer Lars Bak as having

  • an object model from Smalltalk
  • compiler optimizations from Self
  • types from Strongtalk
  • concurrency from Erlang
  • syntax from Javascript and C

and has generated a lot of interest and controversy during its short life. Eric describes himself as a "life-long Smalltalker and current Googler" and promises to explain why Dart is "his new second-favorite language".

"One of our key goals with Dart is "toolability", and as the person leading our tooling work, Eric is a key player in the development of Dart. With his extensive Smalltalk background he is a great person to be able to talk to a Smalltalk audience about Dart, the things that are inspired from Smalltalk, and the things it does differently." - Lars Bak, Google Inc.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

STIC Conference Teasers: Big POOP

The Smalltalk Industry Conference list of talks is now up. One of the featured keynotes is Sam Adams,
with a talk entitled "Massive Parallelism + Object Oriented Programming = Big POOP". When he talks about massive parallelism, he's talking far beyond what we get today and questioning some of our fundamental assumptions. This is the same work that David Ungar talked about at the Splash conference last fall, which had some nice lines about how we can get much more parallelism if we're not so hung up on getting the right answer...

Here's Sam's abstract:

Object orientation has been very good to programmers. So has Moore’s Law, at least until we recently hit the single thread performance wall. We are now solidly in the age of parallelism, be it multcore, manycore, or massively parallel distributed systems. Both industry and academia have been wrestling with the complexities of this new reality for some years now, and yet no clear-cut solution has emerged to deliver both high performance parallel processing with high programmer productivity for mere mortals.

Since 2008 at IBM Research, David Ungar and I have been using Smalltalk along with a new manycore parallel virtual machine to explore new programming models in this space. In this talk I will share the history of this work, lessons learned, and where we think the future lies for massively parallel object oriented programming in Smalltalk.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Smalltalk Industry Conference List of Talks

The list of talks for this year's Smalltalk Industry Conference is now available. Some very interesting stuff, and the early bird registration ends this Friday. The list for the Smalltalk Directions Symposium and a schedule should be available soon.