February 28, 2007
Wellington User Group: "Going Live with .NET 3.0"
Thanks to everyone who came along tonight, and I hope you found it useful. Here's the slide deck:
I will try to post the map demo, but it could do with a bit of documentation and tidying up first. (The others could do with a lot of documentation and tidying up! Sorry, I'm afraid they were written in a bit of a rush.)
February 25, 2007
Russia's disappearing languages
BBC News: "She sings me a moving song in Selkup about the native villages that have disappeared - Laskina and Mumusheva and others - leaving behind just the birds' nests in the trees. 'We try to keep our culture alive with concerts and festivals,' she tells me. 'But with every passing year, more of our roots fade away.'"
February 24, 2007
Hell George Bush advert
Brilliant advertising: "A complaint made against a Hell Pizza billboard featuring US president George Bush has been partially upheld by the Advertising Standards Complaints Board (ASCB). The advertisement featured Mr Bush and the words 'Hell. Too good for some evil bastards'." Scroll down for the picture.
The ad agency exploit it for all they're worth: "Regarding the 'bastard' complaints, Cinderella said use of the term was widespread in New Zealand and could sometimes even be a compliment. 'We would point the board to the seminal work. . . Bastards I Have Met was a wide-ranging almost academic study of the different types of bastard that one could encounter throughout New Zealand. Of course George Bush had not yet come to prominence when Crump was writing, but had he been in office at the time, and if Barry had met him, I feel sure he would have qualified for his own chapter, headed 'Evil Bastard'. As it stands, George W could certainly fit within the genus of bastard identified as a 'Bad bastard' (bastardus skullduggerus), or arguably for a subgroup of this particular type of bastard -- the 'real bad bastard' -- although that is not for us to say.'"
February 22, 2007
Research languages and the mainstream
Erik Meijer: "I really hope that there will be much more influence of [Microsoft's research] languages to other areas, in particular databases. There's a lot of very interesting theory about using monads or monoids as the basis for query languages instead of relational algebra [the basis for SQL]. Query comprehensions in LINQ are just the first step -- the tip of the iceberg."
One of the things that excites me about C# 3.0 and Visual Basic 9 is their rapid adoption of ideas and techniques from research languages such as F# and C-omega/X#, only a few years after these languages were conceived. Admittedly many of these ideas have a longer pedigree (F# specifically being a ML dialect, not to mention the influence of Haskell/Mondrian), but if this year's mainstream is embracing the research of 3-5 years ago, then perhaps next year's mainstream will see languages like Spec# (DBC) and Polyphonic C# (concurrency, surely the hot topic du jour) making their mark. It will be interesting to see what the Linq designers have in mind beyond the current SQL-style approach, an approach which is horribly stretched by XML queries and will be stretched yet further by other more exotic domains such as the ones Alex discusses.
One of the things that excites me a bit less is that despite having studied category theory at college (and picked it up again recently) and having read that damn Haskell book time and again, I still haven't managed to get my head around monads. Still, if Meijer is going to put them into Visual Basic, I'm optimistic that I'll be able to make sense of them then.
Bonus Meijer quote: "Functional programming has finally reached the masses, except that it is called Visual Basic instead of Lisp, ML, or Haskell." From the wonderfully named Confessions of a Used Programming Language Salesman.
February 16, 2007
John Frum he come
Modern travel, with all the links to the outside world that it brings, fails to kill this Vanuatu cargo cult: "The movement's head ... said that John Frum was a god who would one day return. ... Every year [islanders] parade in home-made US army uniforms beneath the Stars and Stripes. They hope one day to entice another delivery of cargo." This from a place that turns up on our daily weather forecast.
Half of me is hoping that they're doing this deliberately to be a "quaint" tourist attraction. The other half is hoping that they really are untouched by anything since World War II. I'm not sure which is the evil half.