Strong opinions, weakly held

Month: August 2007 (page 1 of 3)

White House IT consultants, out yourselves here

Did you assist the White House in making 5 million email messages vanish? If so, please comment here.

Feed now served through FeedBurner

I’ve redirected all of my feeds to FeedBurner at the URL http://feeds.rc3.org/rc3dotorg. Sadly I think that the styled version of the feed that FeedBurner provides may be better looking than the blog itself.

Unix command flag of the day

I just learned within the past 24 hours that the du command, which displays how much space a directory and all of its subdirectories are consuming supports the -h flag, which prints the results in a human-comprehensible format. Here’s the output of du -d 1 in my Web root:

7494 ./clips 18986 ./mt 145234 ./cache 236 ./planetrafe 794 ./test 518 ./ofinterest 4 ./cgi-bin 324 ./templates_c 14 ./images 3596 ./mt-static 706 ./2007 6 ./assets_c 178090 .

Here’s the output of du -d 1 -h:

7.3M ./clips 19M ./mt 142M ./cache 236K ./planetrafe 794K ./test 518K ./ofinterest 4.0K ./cgi-bin 324K ./templates_c 14K ./images 3.5M ./mt-static 706K ./2007 6.0K ./assets_c 174M .

If you use the Bash shell, you can save yourself some trouble by just creating an alias:

alias du=’du -h’

The original Macintosh user manual

Peter Merholz has posted an excellent review of the original Macintosh user manual.

How do prediction markets do?


Foreign Policy’s blog posted this image and used it as a launch pad to discuss how, immediately before Alberto Gonzales’ resignation was announced, the prediction market upped the odds that his resigation was coming.

I can’t help but look at the larger trend, though, which appears to indicate that the market consistently lowered the odds that Gonzales would not make it past September over time, right up until immediately before the actual resignation was tendered. It sure looks to me like the prediction market did a pretty poor job in this case, since Gonzales did resign before the end of September.

QOTD: Harvey Pekar

When you’re dead, it robs life of many pleasures.

Harvey Pekar to Anthony Bourdain on No Reservations


There’s a recycling campaign in North Carolina that’s got a Web site at re3.org. That can’t be good for me.

Java is what it is

Russell Beattie has kicked off an interesting thread of discussion on the topic of the future of Java:

In fact, I’d say that many of today’s current hot trends in programming are a direct result of a backlash against everything that Java has come to represent: Lengthy code and slow development being the first and foremost on the list. In Java you generally need hundreds of lines of code to do what modern scripting languages do in dozens (or less). The general up tick in interest in Ruby, Python and PHP during the 2000s all has its roots in programmers who had to work on one Java project too many, and were desperate to find something more efficient and less painful to use. You all know the story – less XML and cleaner, leaner code – and once you’ve experienced it, believe me, you won’t go back.

Joe Gregorio adds:

The world is moving on, and while thousands of programmers and many companies will continue to make a good salary from building and maintaining applications written in Java for decades to come, they will be working in a “legacy” language. Do not doubt for a minute that there’s still good money to be made in that space, like there is today for COBOL, but the new and interesting work will not be done in Java, nor will it be done on the JVM.

The thing is, Java is what it has always been. It’s cumbersome, the learning curve is steep, and the sheer number of APIs, libraries, application servers, and IDEs is impossible to keep up with. You don’t hire a Java developer, you hire a server-side Java developer with experience in Java Server Faces, WebSphere, and EJB, or a developer who knows Eclipse, Tomcat, Hibernate, and Spring.

The most interesting stuff has never been going on in the Java community. Yes, some big, important applications have been written on the Java platform but by and large, the most innovative stuff happens elsewhere. The main focus of innovation in the Java world has been in making it easier to deal with Java. There’s a reason why Java development tools like Eclipse and IDEA are awesome — they have to be in order to enable people to work productively in Java. Likewise for many of the frameworks people have built for creating Web applications in Java. Without them we would have all gone insane.

I guess it’s for that reason that I’m not very interested in requiems for Java. In order to criticize it for what it is now we have to pretend like it used to be something else.

Gonzales out

I heard on the radio this morning that Alberto Gonzales is resigning. The only upside of his waiting this long to do what was right is that a dozen or so of his corrupt underlings have been forced to resign in order to protect him, so his intransigence has contributed to wider house cleaning than might otherwise have taken place.

The confirmation hearings for Gonzales’ successor ought to be entertaining. I shudder to think of who President Bush might appoint.

Update: Is it just me or is this the second big piece of Bush administration news recently that has broken while The Daily Show and The Colbert Report were on vacation? (The previous was the Scooter Libby commutation.) Coincidence? I think not.

Since 2000

Here’s something that jumped out at me in a blog post about the threat that lead paint in homes poses to children:

So why the stall in taking action? Well, first there is the lead lobby. Then there is cost of de-leading paint in older houses nationwide, which works out to an estimated $58 billion, or about $8,000 for each IQ point saved. Apparently this is too much for Washington, since no progress has been made towards lowering allowable lead limits since 2000.

Seems like I see that “since 2000” thing a lot.

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