Ted Leung on the air
Ted Leung on the air: Open Source, Java, Python, and ...
Mon, 31 May 2004
ACM Queue has an RSS feed.
ACM's Queue magazine now has an RSS feed. I would love to be subscribe to feeds for the tables of contents of conference proceedings and conference announcements. IEEE and USENIX, too.
[23:22] | [computers/internet/microcontent] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Sun, 30 May 2004
Alma mater changes
The May issue of Wired has an article about the Stata Center, the new home of the combined MIT CS and AI laboratories. The new building sits where Building 20 (yes, all the buildings are numbered -- what number does the new one get?) used to be. I have lots of memories of taking shortcuts through Building 20 on my way to NE43, where I spent quite a bit of time during my undergraduate days. It will be odd (to me at least) after the move is done. Like a break between the past and the future.

My other alma mater is undergoing a growth spurt as well. The Brown Alumni Magazine details some of the plans to expand space on campus. At Brown I was on the other side of the break that the Stata Center represents. For years the Brown CS department was located in a large New England house. I arrived in the year that the TJ Watson Center for Information Technology (CIT) opened, and I have no notion or memories of the old place, just as many generations of MIT students will now have no memory of NE43.

It's interesting to realize that physical changes like these affect me. They're after the fact -- I've hardly been back to MIT or Brown (especially since moving to the west coast), but the buildings and their changing affects the memories of the past, upon which are constructed my experiences of today and tomorrow.

At least my parent's haven't sold the house I (mostly) grew up in, although this is also inevitable with the passing of time...

[21:01] | [places] | # | TB | F | G | 2 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Sat, 29 May 2004
blog updates
I'm a bit late to doing this, but I've added a button () for each post on the blog that will give access to the Technorati cosmos for that post.

If you're a pyblosxom user, here's the code that you need to put somewhere in your story.html (the big thing is the use of %23 instead of # in the permalink):

<a href="http://www.technorati.com/cosmos/search.html?rank=?mtcosmos&url=$base_url/$yr/$mo_num/$da%23$fn" title="Technorati Cosmos">
<img src="/blog/images/bubble.gif" alt="Other blogs commenting on this post" />

I've also added my del.icio.us bookmarks to the sidebar...

[23:01] | [computers/internet/weblogs/pyblosxom] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
I'm Agent Smith
[ via Adriaan ]
[22:57] | [misc] | # | TB | F | G | 1 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Fri, 28 May 2004
Amazon wishlists as XML
Today I wanted to manipulate some of the data stored in my Amazon wishlist. Thanks to this post by Kevin Donahue, it turned out to be easy.
[23:28] | [computers/programming/xml] | # | TB | F | G | 6 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Thu, 27 May 2004
Grist from the NNW Beta List
Some tidbits from the NetNewsWire beta list (sorry no info on the beta itself, other than it rocks)...

It turns out that there's a nice leak checker built in to Panther. If you do something like this:

export MallocStackLogging=1; open -a ~/Applications/NetNewsWire.app
then you can run the leaks command on the PID of the app, and get a nice memory leak report. Cool. But scary to see other stuff that is leaking. I suspect that trying this out on FireFox would be educational.

If you are running XCode 1.2, then you have the option of doing this. But I'm not. Yet.

Since getting the Powerbook, I've taken to leaving my machine on all the time, something I never did with my Windows box, largely because it sounded like a small jet engine. One of the side effects of doing this is that I have a lot of processes open at once, especially since I'm using virtual desktops. My copy of Firefox, which is where blogging related pages wind up, has 38 tabs open at the moment. My copy of Safari, which is where work related pages wind up, has 10 tabs open. I have 3 ITerms with 4 tabs each open. There are Multi-Gnome-Terminals on two linux boxes via X11. Plus copies of Emacs, SubEthaEdit, iChat, Snak, xchm, Preview, etc. All open and spatially laid out by desktop.

I'm really enjoying working this way. But one thing I've noticed is that crashes and reboots are a bigger deal. I have days of work spread out all over my machine. If I crash, it's like a partial brain wipe. Having to reboot for upgrades (and I have both XCode 1.2 and OS 10.3.4 queued up) is a big deal and requires some planning. I made a remark to this effect in a reply on the list, and another list member replied (yes, I asked him if I could quote him):

I'm sorry but I just wanted to mention the "warm fuzzy" seeing this gave me.

So nice to have an OS where you actually have to "plan" to reboot. :)

In fairness, I think that this would be true on an XP or Linux notebook or always on box as well, but when you are used to turning the machine off every night, it does mean a different way of working. Problems that are masked by a daily reboot all of a sudden are much more noticeable.
[23:18] | [computers/operating_systems/macosx] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Planet Mozilla
[via fellow OSAF'er and Mozillian Stuart Parmenter]

Planet Mozilla.

It would be great to have a planetwide RSS feed like all the other planets, though.

[00:25] | [computers/open_source] | # | TB | F | G | 4 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
A good outliner for GNOME?!
Bring it on!

Jeff Waugh records some movement in this direction...

[00:24] | [computers/operating_systems/linux] | # | TB | F | G | 2 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Wed, 26 May 2004
Ideas as a power law...
Scoble brought up this post by Richard McManus on the Fractal Blogosphere. I really liked Joi Ito's notion of applying the power law to ideas instead of to people.

I definitely resonate with McManus' goal of

... producing sufficient quality ideas and memes ...
I read blogs for the ideas -- the content. In order to facilitate that, I use an aggregator, which strips away some of the personality. I no longer see the designs that people have labored so hard over. While I certainly appreciate the designs, it's the quality of the ideas that really grabs me.
[00:36] | [computers/internet/weblogs] | # | TB | F | G | 1 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Tue, 25 May 2004
A while back, I posted on (what I consider) Google's forward thinking policy of giving people 20% of their time to pursue unrelated projects. This was the frame of mind that I was in when I finally picked up Tom DeMarco's Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency. Slack is much more about management than I expected it to be, and while it certainly provoked some thoughts for me, I didn't feel that DeMarco tied the ideas together into concrete actions that could be taken. Slack is good, but for me, it didn't quite live up to the standard of the excellent Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams.

Here's a smattering of quotes that stuck out to me:

p.50: Lister's law

People under time pressure don't think faster
p.70: Managerial overtime
Overworked managers are doing things they shouldn't be doing
p.80: Laws of bad management
First Law of Bad Management: If something isn't working, do more of it.

Second Law of Bad Management: Put yourself in as your own utility infielder

p.87: Characteristics of a "Culture of Fear" organization:
  1. It is not safe to say certain things (e.g., "I have serious doubs that this quota can be met"). And truth is no excuse for saying them.
  2. In fact, being right in your doubts proves that you must be the reason that the fondest wishes of those above you did not come true.
  3. Goals are set so aggressively that there is virtually no chance of achieving them.
  4. Power is allowed to trump common sense.
  5. Anyone can be abused and abased for a failure to knuckle under.
  6. The people who are fired are, on average, more competent than the people who aren't.
  7. The surviving managers are a particularly angry lot. Everyone is terrified of crossing them.
p.100: Vernal Allee's principle of fair exchange
Simply stated, this principle requires you to arrive at an agreement that would be equally acceptable to you from either side. In other words, you would be willing to sign as either party.
p.108: Process standards don't help with the truly hard parts of the work.
When the new automation is in place, there is less total work to be done by the human worker, but what works is left is harder. That is the paradox of automation: it makes the work harder, not easier. After all, it was the easy work that got absorbed into the machine, so what's left is, almost by definition, fuzzier, less mechanical, and more complex.
p.109-110: Empowerment
Empowerment always implies transfer of control to the person empowered and out of the hands of the manager. That doesn't mean you give up all control, only some. You can't empower anyone without taking chances. The power you've granted is the power to err. If that person messes up, you take the consequences. Looked at it from the opposite perspective, it is this capacity to injure the person above you that makes empowerment work. "Oh my God, if I fail at this, my boss is going to look like a chump for trusting me". There is little else in the work experience with so much capacity to motivate.
p.115: Quality
But real quality is far more a matter of what it does for you and how it changes you than whether it is perfectly free of flaws.
p.124: Fischer's Fundamental theorem
The more highly adapted an organism becomes, the less adaptable it is to any new change.
p.138: What is leadership?
Leadership is the ability to enroll other people in your agenda. Meaningful acts of leadership usually accept people to accept short-term pain (extra cost or effort, delayed gratification) in order to increase the long-term benefit. We need leadership for this, because we all tend to be short-term thinkers.
p.140: Power and leadership
In fact, it is success in the absence of sufficient power that defines leadership. ... Have you ever taken direction from someone who didn't have the authority to make you obey? Of course you have. And how do you feel about that? How do you feel about the person who led you? Chances are, the more that person was operating successfully outside and beyond his/her designated authority, the more strongly you feel that you were lucky to have been touched by a real leader. ... It's enrolling someone who is distinctly outside the scope of your official power base that constitutes real leadership.
p.151: Two models for gaining trust
You gain trust by demonstrating trustworthiness
Parent's Rule: Always give trust slightly in advance of demonstrated trustworthiness.
p.171: A real management team
When you find a real management team in action, there are a handful of managers who run their respective subgroups together. People in the subgroups are aware that their bosses are spending a lot of time with each other. (Sometimes they even complain about this: Their past experience has accustomed them to a manager who is alone in his/her office for much of the day, and therefore more available to them.) Decisions are made by the team and belong to the team. Responsibility and accountability are spread over the management team, just as they are in the lower-echelon teams that work for them.

This modest diffusing of accountability is the "problem" cited by organizations that allow no real management teams.

p.185: The best knowledge work managers
The key tools of management in the knowledge organization are the tools of change management. Instead of authority and consequence (the management staples of the factory floor), the best knowledge-work managers are known for their powers of persuasion, negotiation, markers to call in, and their large reserves of accumulated trust.
p.195: Risk Management
Risk management is the explicit quantitative declaration of uncertainty.
p.198: Component vs Aggregate risks
The essential business of risk management is management the component or causal risks -- that is, the set of things that can go wrong that might lead to aggregate failure.
p.200: What it means to manage risk
  1. List and count each risk
  2. Have an ongoing process for discovering new risks
  3. Quantify each one as to its potential impact and likelihood.
  4. Designate a transition indicator for each one that will tell you (early, I hope) that the risk is beginning to materialize.
  5. Set down in advance what your plan will be to cope with each risk should it begin to materialize
p.201: Risk containment
The goal is to place in reserve enough time and money to give at least a fifty-fifty assurance that there will be enough to cover the costs of those risks that do materialize.
p. 202: Risk mitigation
  • The plan has to precedes materialization
  • Some of the mitigation activities must also precede materialization
[00:09] | [books] | # | TB | F | G | 1 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Mon, 24 May 2004
pyblosxom 1.0
pyblosxom 1.0 is now out. Thanks to Will for doing the heavy lifting for this one.
[22:58] | [computers/internet/weblogs/pyblosxom] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
tcpsound and peep
Today I came across tcpsound, which plays sounds in response to network traffic. This sounds very much like peep which was the subject of a LISA paper.

I bet neither of them work on Mac OS X...

[00:08] | [computers/operating_systems] | # | TB | F | G | 2 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
EverythingUSB but nothing RSS
Julie's friend Lisa Williams posted about EverythingUSB today. This is a site every gadget head would love. Unfortunately, they don't have an RSS feed. They have a NewsIsFree feed, but those feeds are ... suboptimal. I already sent the EverythingUSB folks a note about it, but if you think the site is cool, you should drop them a note and ask for a feed.

It looks like the same folks have registered EverythingFireWire.com, but it's empty.

[00:01] | [computers/hardware] | # | TB | F | G | 1 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Sun, 23 May 2004
Tell me something interesting.
Nelson Minar switched to using an aggregator (Nick Bradbury's -- I can't say enough good things about it -- FeedDemon) to keep track of all the blogs that he wants to read. Trouble is, that now keeping track of blogs seems like work. Oddly enough, I (mostly) feel the opposite. Back when I was still on Windows, I had a bunch of batch scripts that would open up a pile of IE windows with websites that I found interesting. I'd just run the scripts, and go do something else, while IE killed my my machine. But I found it to be a huge pain to keep track of all those copies of IE.

Now I'm using a combination of NetNewsWire (I use the combined mode exclusively -- no 3 paned mailreader for me) and FireFox+Tabbrowser Extensions (this combination is not particularly stable on the Mac, which one of my few complaints about the whole Mac OS X experience so far). This lets me manage way more feeds than I ever could, and as a result, I'm more inclined to include feeds that are more on the "fun" side as opposed to the "work" side.

When I was a grad student, I had an office mate who used to swivel his chair to face me, and say "tell me something interesting". Having the aggregator running in the background, picking up stuff, means that if I need a moment's diversion, I can just command-tab to NetNewsWire, and say, "tell me something interesting".

[23:59] | [computers/internet/weblogs] | # | TB | F | G | 2 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
SSA: GCC and old memories
Last week I learned that GCC 3.5 is going to have an SSA based optimizer. Apparently this is already improving both the code quality and compile time performance of GCC. Another reason that this is an interesting development is that there have been a large number of compiler optimization papers written using SSA as the representation used by the algorithm. I hope that this will make it easier to include these optimizations in GCC.

I learned about SSA form back when I was a graduate student, from Ken Zadeck, who was then on the faculty at Brown, and co-author of some of the original SSA papers. As I was writing this post, I discovered that Ken is at NaturalBridge, a company making a high performance JVM, and that apparently, he posts to the gcc mailing lists. Blogging is really taking me back to revisit my history. Quite odd.

[23:29] | [computers/programming] | # | TB | F | G | 1 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Sat, 22 May 2004
Apache Software Foundation members meeting
Ken has already provided the details on this week's ASF members meeting. Most people don't really understand how the ASF works -- organizationally it's unlike most of the other open source projects out there. Stefano's How the ASF works is a good overview for the interested.

Unexpectedly, the highlight of the meeting for me was the roll call at the beginning of Wednesday's meeting. In the channel for the meeting, people are supposed to use an IRC nick that ASF members will recognize. To take roll, everyone then just types their name and e-mail address, which will show up in the channel prefixed with their IRC nick. When the roll is actually called, there is just a flood of nick, name, email lines scrolling up off the window. Now, this isn't the first time that I've experienced this, but on Wednesday I felt a sense of amazement as people all over the world (some had gotten up early just for this) answered the roll call. It wasn't merely for the distribution of the people, but for what they've accomplished. The Apache web server, Tomcat, Xerces, Log4J, Lucene, mod_perl, Cocoon, and more. I know that it was one of the great honors of my life when I was elected to membership, so I can imagine how the new members must be feeling today. Congratulations to them especially, and also to the new board!

[01:19] | [computers/open_source/asf] | # | TB | F | G | 1 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Eclipse 3.0M9 is out
The New and Noteworthy stuff starts here. The best thing I see here is code folding, but there's probably something for everyone.
[00:56] | [computers/programming/java/eclipse] | # | TB | F | G | 1 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Fri, 21 May 2004
Licensing / Freedom is necessary but not sufficient
Mark is following up from his freedom-0 article. One minor point, since he mentioned my post about community owned tools. What I tried to point out was that freedom (which is accomplished by licensing) is not enough, that you must also have a community. Perhaps it wasn't clear, but I don't think that community without freedom is enough either.

Mark's article is important because it has people talking about freedom, which is great. So now people will go looking for free software, which is also great. But that's the beginning of the journey. Most people want software that a) other people are using and b) someone is enhancing and bug-fixing. Sourceforge is full of GPL'ed software that is dead. It's free, and anyone who wants to can come along and revive it. But until that happens, I'd argue that the freeness of the software is an intangible benefit.

The goal of Mark's piece was to get people thinking about freedom. The goal of my piece was to try to persuade people to become active participants in a public commons (which happened to be blog software).

[17:03] | [computers/open_source] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Thu, 20 May 2004
Lisp books galore
Bill Clementson is doing a series on Lisp books. His summary article is great and was preceded by two articles on about On Lisp, and the other about SICP. The articles were great because the pointed to online copies of these great texts, which allow for searching. \
[23:40] | [computers/programming/lisp] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
New Dental tech
Last week I wrote about my trip to the dentist and my impression that not a lot has changed in the field. This article in Wired describes some of the advancements waiting in the wings...
[23:10] | [misc] | # | TB | F | G | 3 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post

twl JPG


Ted Leung FOAF Explorer

I work at the Open Source Applications Foundation (OSAF).
The opinions expressed here are entirely my own, not those of my employer.

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