Kushal Munir has nice things to say about last Thursday’s UTest demo at IBM’s Eclipse DemoCamp. There are still spots open for DemoCamp 16 (Monday Dec 3 at the Board of Trade building in downtown Toronto) — hope to see you there.
Jon Udell just blogged a link to the NY Times Republican debate visualization. This is just plain cool: not only can you read the transcript while watching the recording, you can jump from section to section, and (in the “Transcript Analyzer” tab) see an overview of who spoke when, and for how long. Why do we, as software developers, create tools like this for other people, but then not apply them to our own projects?
Following on from the success of Google Summer of Code, Google is launching an open source program for pre-university students that will give participants the opportunity to learn more about and contribute to all aspects of open source software development, from writing code and documentation to preparing training materials and conducting user experience research. If you’re a student age 13 or older who has not yet begun university studies, check out the GHOP site. Participating projects include Apache, Drupal, GNOME, Joomla!, MoinMoin, Mono, Moodle, Plone, Python, and SilverStripe.
OK, not actually “rich”, and small-f/small-p on “famous” and “popular”, but Adam Goucher is interviewed today at DDJ. Adam’s who I turn to when I have questions about quality assurance; he comes across as unusually calm in this piece
I just finished William Langewiesche’s The Atomic Bazaar: The Rise of the Nuclear Poor, which may be the scariest 192 pages I’ve ever read. Langewiesche’s subject is nuclear proliferation, and in particular the way that The Bomb has become the weapon of choice for countries like North Korea, Pakistan, and probably soon Iran because it’s actually a lot cheaper than things like modern fighter aircraft. Langewiesche (whose writing style is reminiscent of John McPhee) isn’t particularly worried about terrorists stealing bombs, or about suitcase nukes: the first could go wrong (for the terrorists) in too many ways, and the second requires a lot of technical infrastructure that would be relatively easy to detect. What’s really frightening is his chronicle of how Western countries turned a blind eye to Pakistan’s nuclear program, and to its sale of know-how and material to pretty much anyone who wanted it. Anyone with a nuclear power plant, a few hundred million dollars, and three or four years, can now produce enough enriched uranium to construct a device in the ten- to twenty-kiloton range. Nothing stands in their way except international treaties, export controls, and the fear that their neighbors will arm up as well—i.e., nothing substantive stands in their way.
So, the next time an apparently intelligent person suggests that nuclear power is “the only way out of the global warming crisis”, ask them about proliferation. Ask them how they feel about North Korea having the ability to wipe out Seoul with one big artillery shell. And the next time you see a billboard in Toronto with a smiling woman holding up a peanut-sized cylinder of dark metal and saying, “This little pellet can power a family home for six weeks,” ask yourself whether the same ad company will be hired a few years from now to help raise money for the survivors of [name of city goes here].
…but the rest of this demo screencast just plain rocks.
It’s a common complaint in industry: if you’re good at building things, the odds are you’ll get promoted to team lead, at which point you’ll be too busy herding cats to build things any longer. Similarly, professors don’t actually get to spend a lot of time thinking deep thoughts; most of the hours are sucked up by administrative duties (the CS department is a 1000-strong division of a 50,000-strong firm, and stuff on that scale takes a fair bit of administering), writing grant applications, teaching, herding TAs, and so on.
But every once in a while, it’s worth it. I spent an hour yesterday morning talking about possible thesis topics with four graduate students; it was the second time we’d done something like this, and it was a lot of fun. Today, two of my undergraduate students gave their client a quick demo of the system they’ve been building, then spent an hour or more talking about what the interface should look like, and why. The signal-to-noise may not be all that I’d hoped for, but there definitely is some signal.
(Written partly in response to Michelle’s post earlier today.)
Sadie’s StreetKnit project made it into the Toronto Star today. W00t!