Infrequently Noted

Alex Russell on browsers, standards, and the process of progress.

Back from FOSDEM...into the frying pan!

Back from Belgium, none the worse for the wear. Not that there was much in the way of wear. The organizers of FOSDEM did a bang-up job. Jennifer and I spent our extra day in Brugge where we had the occasion to eat Kangaroo. So yeah, it was a great trip and a neat conference. The energy of a thousand hackers who are changing the world all in one place is a bit addictive. It's enough to convince you that this whole Open Source thing might not just be a lark after all.

Upon hitting the ground last night, I was back into the bug queue (which never seems to get shorter). Given that I've got less than a week to get a small mountain of work done before ETech, it's imperative that I avoid downtime. It was with some trepidation then that I hooked up the firewire cable between the trusty PowerBook and the brand-spanking-new MacBook Pro.

The PowerBook was my first mac, and so I hadn't tried this kind of migration before. Given how much trouble I'd had with 3rd party software between OS revs, I was fully expecting to need to wipe the new box clean when the transfer inevitably went awry in some unforseen way. To my delight and surprise, the thing booted up 3 hours (and 65 gig) later without so much as a hiccup. Even KMail works via rosetta.

I'll spare you the "no, really, it's faster" and "here are some more identical pictures of the unboxing, only with different, but still badly lit and slightly dumpy, background scenery" type details. I am happy that it appears to be working out and with less fuss than anticipated.

Great engineering really can make you smile.


Here are the slides from my talk today at FOSDEM. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Apple is just toying with me

I'm sitting at home feverishly working on new Wiki features in preparation for my ass being out of the proverbial hot seat during FOSDEM, and what shows up in my well-worn maildir? The shipment notification for my new MacBook Pro.

I use my laptop for nearly everything and I've been frustrated with the speed for a while. The macworld keynote wasn't even over when, with some fellow uber-dorks from work, I trundled down University Ave. to see if I could get my hands on one of these things. 2 cores, each faster than my current CPU? Yes, please. Now. Freaking right now!!!

Needless to say, that didn't work. Who knew that they Apple stores don't get shipments of stuff until it actually ships? We all skulked back to work laughing nervously at ourselves, all kind of thankful that we didn't have to explain 3+ thousand dollars of new hardware to our respective S/O's. Not that I'd let a little setback like that stop me.

As soon as the Apple Store (online variant) come gasping back to life, my order was in. RAM: maxed. Hard drive: spindle speed, baby! I think I might have actually signed away my vote in the next presidential election in the process. I sure as hell wouldn't have noticed.

So it's finally shipping. I should be ecstatic, right? Kinda.

Problem is that I'm also an unrepentant Unix dork. This little Powerbook has so many configuration tweaks and external utilities installed that transferring to another system will probably take me the better part of a week. Last OS update, my mail client alone took two days to resurrect. All of this means I can't really trust new hardware enough to take it to conferences yet, even if it does arrive before I leave.

It's a cock tease in the form of a laptop.

Is JavaScript the most successful scripting language ever?

Aaron says I need to work on my slug sentences, and I agree. On reflection, I suck at writing almost any kind of sentence. I guess I shouldn't expect slugs to be different.

For a couple of years I've been akwardly saying things like "and I would suspect that JavaScript is the most successful scripting language ever" or "I don't really have any hard numbers, but JavaScript seems incredibly successful as a language". Note all the hedging.

What I would like to know is this: on what axis is JavaScript not the most successful scripting language of all time? Can some other language beat JS in:

Perhaps KSH and/or bash would win? I'm curious to know if anyone can think up other strong contenders.

Updated DHTML Universe Map

I've uploaded updated renderings (pdf or png) of the document I use to keep track of the non-trivial, public DHTML toolkit efforts that have occurred over the years.

Interestingly, the difference between this version and previous ones is that many companies are starting to either release or talk about tools that they had quietly built in-house years ago. Also, Google and Yahoo have been on something of a hiring binge. Yahoo seems to be dedicating more (visible) resources to their responsive UI cause than Google. The secrecy difference between the two cultures might explain the delta, but I'm convinced that's not the whole story.

Also interesting is that many of the commercial DHTML toolkit vendors have been able to effectively keep mum about who is working on their products. The TIBCO's, Backbase's, and Bindows of the world must be paying their people astoundingly well for them to keep out of eyesight of the increasingly frenzied recruiters who are banging down the doors of every competent JavaScript hacker I know.

I will admit to not having kept this document as up-to-date as it should be. The proliferation of toolkits over the last year has been pretty astounding, and investigating each one to find out if it's just another crappy 10-line XMLHTTP wrapper hasn't been on the top of my list of things to do. So in true open-source style, your help is requested! If you have corrections or new information, please either mail them to me or submit a patch to the graphviz source file. The format is straightforward and easy to figure out.

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