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Comment Topcoder already does this (Score 1) 289

Isn't this pretty much what topcoder already does?

Without having read the actual PDF (naturally), the description basically matches the competitive software component marketplace that topcoder provides. And, yes, like other commenters have mentioned, it seems like a Mechanical Turk style race to the bottom. Thankfully their component model seems a litte broken to me, so, perhaps that's why it hadn't taken over the industry.

Comment Re:Niche market (Score 1) 526

If you are a software developer, and don't find use for arbitrarily large number of cores... Time to get up to date!

That's why I'm so excited by the new breed of languages like Scala.

Sure, there's no silver bullet to automagically solve all parallel programming problems, but languages like Scala have features like Parallel Collections libraries, functional programming and Parallel Domain Specific Languages that can abstract enough of the problems of parallel programming away that journeyman programmers have a decent chance of being able to work effectively with multiple cores.

I'm somewhat disappointed by the adoption curve. The reluctance to move toward an actual solution to the problem is somewhat surprising.

This is also the real reason behind NoSQL databases... the need to scale horizontally instead of vertically is the primary driver, not a disdain for SQL.

Comment May also affect Google Listen (Score 1) 287

Google Listen, the Android podcatcher that Google designed to work with Google Reader, has been dead for a while now, but it was still usable because Google Reader was still working even if they didn't update the Android app. However, it looks like the demise of Google Reader itself will doom Google Listen to uselessness.

Of course, Google claims they dropped Google Listen because there were apps out there that did the same thing better, so it's not exactly the end of the world.

Comment Similar filings should trigger obviousness failure (Score 4, Informative) 211

First to invent vs. file conflicts could be used to raise the bar on obviousness.

Obviousness is surprisingly difficult to determine because some of the best and most brilliant ideas are also very simple ideas that seem obvious only in retrospect. So the patent office is deliberately reluctant to interpret the obviousness constraint too rigorously.

Recently, the US has switched from awarding priority of similar patents to the first one to be filed instead of the first to be invented. Since there is often a very long delay from filing to patent award, during which filers must not publicly disclose their idea, priority becomes an issue more frequently than one might expect.

It seems obvious to me that instead of struggling with who has priority, the patent office should simply look at two similar patents being filed at about the same time as a failure of the obviousness test because, clearly, two different practitioners of the art came up with similar solutions to a problem. So both patents and any similar future filings should be rejected as obvious.

This doctrine would have disallowed a lot of patents in the past including the light bulb and telephone, which, while revolutionary were being investigated by several inventors who came up with similar solutions and even filed within hours of each other!

Comment Actual coding is the smallest part of modern softw (Score 1) 317

Actual coding is the smallest part of modern software development not just because of all the meetings agile techniques like Scrum require, but also because we're expected to support the code we write instead of just writing it in isolation, tossing it over the wall and expecting some other sucker to maintain it. The theory is that if the developers have to support the code themselves, then they'll pay more attention to quality, reliability, stability and other factors that improve maintainability.

Of course other related work like design, documentation, code review, testing, deployment, performance analysis and so on contribute to making actual coding a small part of the whole process.

Jobs with 20 hour seat-of-the-pants hackathon sessions in some low level language that gets dumped straight to production are increasingly rare.

The question is whether all of this overhead is worth the effort? If done right, maybe all of this turns coding into professional software engineering that can reliably produce high quality solutions to business needs... or maybe it's just another failed attempt, like waterfall, that adds all sorts of useless overhead to fool management into thinking they have some sort of control.

So far, I'm thinking that it may actually help, but the jury's out and I think it's highly dependent on your organization and individual team. Even great ideas can be need up by poor implementation.

Comment Mac top bar menus implement Fitts law (Score 2) 327

The menu bar following the app has always been a feature of the Mac OS. It's nothing to do with using one app at a time, it's to do with the muscle memory advantage of just shoving the mouse to the top of the screen regardless of which application you're using.

More specifically, it's an attempt to apply Fitts law to computer user interaction. Tog has an article on the thinking behind this.

Comment Just forward your messages to another service (Score 1) 331

Um, all you need to do to get your email from one email system to another is forward your messages as attachments form one to the other.

In fact, the defunct ZOË email archive server uses this technique to import email... of course, it automatically files all of the attachments as separate emails, so it makes it easy. Other clients may require more work.

Comment Google deliberately crowd sources testing (Score 1) 157

Along with some interesting revelations, the interview of James Whittaker about his book, How Google Tests Software, included some discussion about effective crowd sourcing of software. Part of his argument is that even the best test engineers are going to miss things that end users find easily, so one way to leverage this is to make it as easy as possible for end users to provide high quality bug reports. He also has a lot of interesting things to say about scaling the testing process.

Comment JavaFX + Scala or Groovy = UI development goodness (Score 2) 277

I was a little disappointed that, for a topic that mentions JavaFX, there hasn't been any significant discussion about JavaFX at all so far.

I'm admittedly not a UI developer, but, I've been playing with ScalaFX and looking at GroovyFX and seeing a lot to like (See JavaFX 2.0 and Scala like Milk and Cookies). Combining this stuff with some of the ideas from Morphic and we could get some really compelling UI's that would be hard to do in a browser even with HTML5.

Comment Scala: parallel collections, functional + DSL (Score 1) 56

although multicores are good, there just aren't that many decent parallel programmers out there. I (and a few others) find parallel programming easy

That's why languages like Scala are so appealing.

Sure, there's no silver bullet to automagically solve all parallel programming problems, but languages like Scala have features like Parallel Collections libraries, functional programming and Parallel Domain Specific Languages that can abstract enough of the problems of parallel programming away that journeyman programmers have a decent chance of being able to work effectively with multiple cores.

Comment Re:Sci-Fi nails another one! Michael McCollum's Ma (Score 1) 147

Argh! There's an error with my post... McCollum got the idea from Feynman. Basically that antimatter is just regular matter going backwards in time from the big crunch. So, not a glorious case of Sci-Fi presaging science, but a case of Sci-Fi rehashing interesting science.

Sorry folks. Bad post and reply to my own post.

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