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{ Author Archives }

Stop ignoring the world

Long term readers will have noticed, and everybody else is about to be told, that this blog has had posts in the Responsibility category since 2010. I’m not rigorous in my use of WordPress categories, but it’s not much of a stretch to assume that most of those 40 posts touch on professional ethics, and […]

OOP as an organic approach to computing

I’m reading How Not to Network a Nation, which talks a lot about cybernetics. Not merely cybernetics as the theory of control in complex systems (cybernetics shares a root with “governor”, fans of the etymological fallacy!) but cybernetics as the intersectional discipline matching organisational and management theory with computer science, anthropology, and biology. The study […]

My platform is no platform

I currently use three of the desktop computing platforms (Windows, macOS and GNU/Linux) and one of the mobile computing platforms (Samsung-flavoured Android); I currently get paid to develop software for “the web”, an amorphous non-platform that acts in many ways like a vendor platform orthogonal to those just mentioned. This is not because I want […]

In which new developer tools are dull

Over on lobste.rs I said that I don’t hold out much hope for another “blue plane” style event in developer tools. In one of Alan Kay’s presentations, he referred to the ordinary way of things as the pink plane, and incremental advances in the state of affairs being movements in that plane. Like the square […]

Bottom-up teaching

We’re told that the core idea in computer programming is problem-solving. That one of the benefits of learning about computer programming (one that is not universally accepted) is gaining the skill of problem decomposition. If you look at real teaching of computing, it seems to have more to do with solution composition than problem decomposition. […]

Why I don’t have a favourite programming language

This is my take on Ilya Sher’s similar post, though from a different context. He is mainly interested in systems programming, I have mostly written user apps and backend services, and also some developer tools. I originally thought that I would write a list of the languages and difficulties I have with them, but I […]

Free Software should welcome contributions by Apple, Google

It started with a toot from the FSF: Freedom means not #madebygoogle or #madebyapple, it means #madebythousandsoffreesoftwarehackers #GNU This post is an expansion on my reply: @fsf as an FSF Associate I’m happy to use software made by Google or made by Apple as long as it respects the four freedoms. Yes to made by […]

Recommend me some books or articles

I’ve been looking for something to read on these topics, can you help? a history of the Unix wars (the ‘workstation’ period involving Sun, HP, Apollo, DEC, IBM, NeXT and SGI primarily, but really everything starting from AT&T up to Linux and OS X would be interesting) a business case study on Apple’s turnaround 1997-2001. […]

On books

I’d say that if there’s one easy way to summarise how I work, it’s as an information focus. I’m not great at following a solution all the way to the bitter end so you should never let me be a programmer (ahem): when all that’s left is the second 90% of the effort in fixing […]

Give me an S

S – I can find the thing I need to change. O – My change will either be an extension or a replacement. L – My replacement or extension needs to be a drop-in change. I – Here’s what my replacement can do. D – I have somewhere to put my replacement.