Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Stormless lightning

So lunch was more or less over, and I had had a lovely discussion with Rik Smoody and Rebecca Rikner, the lady who designed the logos for the next OOPSLA... art, Sweden, style when programming, the state of the school system, even Perelman books... fantastic conversation.

And then I went with Rik to the lightning talks scheduled at 1:30pm. But there was no chairman. And only one person from the schedule was there to give talks. What in the heck?...

... so we simply self-organized into giving spur of the moment talks. I shamelessly decided to go first, and spoke for about 5 minutes about JP Morgan's Kapital project and how Smalltalk and GemStone enable us to deliver exceptional value to our customers. I hope I can do this one more often and with more material because working on Kapital is really exciting :).

Then this physicist gave a talk about how the same geological feature can be seen differently by different people, and how one can abstract a quite informal but working model of movement and spatial constraints...

... and then he said something that I found suspicious. He said that in order to get outside the room, one had to exit. Seemingly innocent. But in my mind, that got reformulated as "to change position with regards to the room, one has to cross its boundary". And there was that funny wording in his slide, "form follows from function"...

So I had to ask. Had he read Laws of Form? And the answer was yes! So he goes "hey, I've never been around people that have read Laws of Form, how many of you read Laws of Form?". Many hands go up. Astonishing.

Then this guy Evan Phoenix came up to the stand and gave another improvised talk, based on a talk he had given at RubyConf a few days ago. In brief words, he described the following.

  • Ruby stole from Smalltalk... but it has all this mixture of stuff...
  • So what if we steal from Smalltalk and Lisp even more?
  • So he took the Blue Book, shuffled the stuff, and got a first working prototype of a more proper VM for Ruby.
  • But it was crap so he ditched it and did another one.
  • And another one.
  • And another one.
  • With the idea that the first working models would be implemented in C by hand translation, but eventually the working model would generate C instead.
Astonishing. Just like that, "oh yeah I took the Blue Book and implemented the stuff" --- !!!.

After he was done, since there was interest in Laws of Form, I gave a quick demo of my Reference Finder. Some guy had this almost gutural reaction when a browser uncovered the classes Form and Distinction on the big screens... I wish I had recorded his almost diabolical laughter... something proper of uttering "and now I control the world!!!". Strange, but so fitting...

I had to hurry up because I had to go give my 3rd Writing Truly Efficient Smalltalk demo. At first there was nobody... sigh...

I thought that well, yesterday the 2nd demo had quite an audience... not only in quantity but also in quality. Like, what am I doing talking about these things to Mr. Wirfs-Brock? This is insane! So I assumed people had decided to see other things... and there was this keynote going on, so I just took advantage of there being nobody and put up more 64kb Farb-Rausch demos on the projector.

Then this guy comes over... Australian researcher, and I start the demo. Then another guy came by. And they really liked it! I had another two guys come in a bit later, and I had to replay the debugger section that shows the efficient code in action. It was very good overall because I could have a closer relationship with the audience, something that is more difficult to do when 50 people are listening to you.

The feedback on the previous demos is working great. I would like to thank Vassili and the GemStone guys again for their invaluable and honest suggestions. Really, good suff.

So now... after the OMSI dinner with Starwars troopers, Darth Vader, Luke, and Han Solo walking around, it is finally time to sleep.

Update: I finally got the names right --- sheesh!


snoobab said...


I'm a 'wannabe Smalltalk convert' ;)

Java still pays the bills after 7 years but decided to learn something new (old) and decided that Smalltalk was the way to go. So far I'm not disappointed, it's such a fresh approach to the J2EE mega-mess, just wish there were more jobs available, especially here in South Africa :)

Anyway your talk at OOPSLA sounds interesting! Is there anyway to get a copy of it?

Carl Gundel said...

It would be excellent if you could make a screencast of your presentation and make it available for viewing. Boy do I wish I was at OOPSLA this year. :-)

Andres said...


Thanks so much for the interest. I will make the slides available, and as for the screencasts, I will tape myself at NYC's SUG in November when I make a repeat presentation of Writing Truly Efficient Smalltalk.

Thanks again,

Nadyne Mielke said...

And don't forget that Darth Vader was actually Peri Tarr (the conference chair) and that Luke was William Cook (the program chair)!