SEC Day 2

I’m at UH’s Software Engineering Conference again. Notes on some of the speakers:- Ben Galbraith – ajaxian.comThe conference organizers gave out incentives for the audience to ask questions: free books!  In response to my one question (toward the end of the day), I received two books: Grady Booch’s classic on Object-Oriented Design (already had it), and another book I’ve never heard of:  What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counter-culture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry. It’s been a very fun read so far: introducing personalities in our industry that I’m already familiar with (Engelbart, Ted Nelson, Alan Kay, etc.), but in a whole new light: sex, drugs, and rock & roll!  Lots of acid trips here. To note: Bill Gates completely missed out on this aspect of the personal computer industry 🙂 


I purposely keep a bit behind on the technology gadget curve; otherwise, I’d buy every new technology as soon as I could play with it! Instead, I wait until I truly “need” it. Well, I had been planning for quite a while to replace my current phone with something a bit more advanced, like keep my calender and contacts at my fingertips. But, verizon has crippled their Bluetooth phones , making such features highly unlikely. But, I was locked in a contract! I’ve had “October 2007” earmarked in my calender quite some time now! Coincidently, along came the iPhone. At first I ignored the hype. But after I got one of these babies in my hands, all I could say was “wow!”

This is a remarkably amazing interface. Apple has always been leaders in user interface/human factors design, and this device takes them to new heights. Awesome – are there any better superlatives I can use?

I’m hooked.

— from my iPhone


Yesterday evening, I dropped in on the OpMom launch party.  This is a new social networking site, devoted to busy moms.  This is another interesting Houston-based software company, founded by — of course, a busy mom.

Check out the site — it’s pretty cool.

KPFT @ NetSquared

Ernesto Aguilar, Program Director for KPFT, spoke at NetSquared last night. It was an interesting discussion. One thing he brought up was the issue of copyrights for content they have started to archive. They’re interested in the Creative Commons license model, but also want to be able to make money off their material too.

Recently, I had wrote Ernesto, asking him advice on performance rights, so it’s interesting to see this issue is relevant to KPFT too. I encouraged him to adopt a Creative Commons license, one of the non-commercial licenses, and then come up with an easy mechanism to license their content for performance, reproduction, or film synchronization.

Now, to find an “easy mechanism” – that’s the hard part 🙂 It’s something, though, I’ve been thinking about doing …

Startup Houston Weekend

Erica reminded me that Startup Weekend Houston was arriving. Darn! I’m just too swamped this weekend to attend. But, I did attend the Friday evening event at Stag’s Head. Everyone was excited, the ideas were good, the energy was palpable. Too bad I can’t make the rest of the weekend.

A lot of great ideas were presented as the company project, but when sultry Laura Mays shared her idea, I immediately thought, “Nice; very tangible, pragmatic, and doable, yet has not been solved before. And oh so ‘Web 2.0’ too“. I had to leave before voting, but it was nice to hear that the rest of the group voted for her idea as well — so that’s on the development hopper this weekend, TipDish (check out the Startup website for details).

Again, sorry I can’t join the group this weekend; but tango night at was exhausting — the crowd showed up late — and after getting home at 2:30 am I slept straight solid til 11:30 am. Then it was at the shop again; Connie’s short-staffed, as one of her young workers was taking the SAT test. So, I stepped in, covering the register til 4:30 pm; it was a very steady stream of customers all afternoon. They’re preparing an Afternoon Tea party for 16 now, but more staff have arrived, so I’ve headed home. Too tired to swing by the Startup group, plus François has been home alone. So, maybe Sunday, before soccer, I’ll check out what’s being dished out 🙂

On the Seaside

Call me nuts, but I’m relearning Smalltalk. And having a darn good time at it too; I haven’t forgotten anything! So, I’ve rediscovered Seaside — looked at it a couple of years ago, but I guess it was too immature, or I was too distracted. But right now, I’m find it to be very powerful.

There’s motivation for this. I’m about to embark on a new application idea, and was searching for an environment to develop it in. Should I keep with Plone/Zope, which I’ve used a lot, but still don’t know much about it? Should I go with Django, which is much cleaner and smaller than Zope, and looks promising? Or, heh, what’s out there in Smalltalk land?

I guess part of the driver here was the Python UnConference. Yeah, everyone’s touting how simple Python is. None of the distracting curly braces of Java, clean syntax, you can start off without knowing objects and classes … etc., etc. But yet, while I was at the conference, playing with the Python plug-in for Eclipse, I couldn’t get a simple script to run … what’s going wrong? Oh yeah, I had forgotten an import statement. Now, just what package to import, was my next question? I couldn’t even figure out how to find what libraries were at my fingertips. More hunting around (Google is my friend; there’s enough Python activity out on the web, that it’s easy enough to search for code examples from others), I finally figure out what to import, and I’m off and running again.

But, why bother? And how is this all so much more rapid than what I’m doing now? Why, even to write a product in Plone, I have to remember to write all these init functions. Ones with underscores in front of them. Is this really rapid development? Why was Smalltalk so much simpler to work in? Oh yeah, it’s about the image. Everything’s in the image.

So, Sunday, I downloaded Seaside. Got a website up in 10 minutes. Cool. Now what? Sunday evening, found a tutorial. Followed it. Very cool. Development simple so far. Found a blogger who has his own custom Squeak image; lots of developer add-ons, without any of the kiddy crud built into the default Squeak image. Now were’ talking!

So, now I’m starting to develop at a lightening pace. Ahh, the good ole days! Seaside is looking good … real good. Let’s see how far I can get, and how quick.