Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Camp Smalltalk Portland 2015

Dear artful programming enthusiasts,

The Pacific Northwest Smalltalk crew would like to invite you to Camp Smalltalk PDX this summer.  Come join us August 21-23 in beautiful Portland, Oregon!

We all know coding is a lot of fun, and that the best coding is done with the delete key.  Accordingly, Camp Smalltalk PDX will be at Portland’s CTRL-H hackerspace, http://www.ctrlh.org.

There is no set schedule, but of course we all have strong interests.  Some of the areas that will surely be covered include:

* Smalltalk on small devices, such as Scratch on Raspberry PI
* Web frameworks such as Seaside
* Virtual machine implementations
* Data processing applications
* Language design, Smalltalk and beyond

If you are curious about Smalltalk, feel free to drop by and give Smalltalk a try.

And yes, there are also the well known regulars --- we all know who you are :).  It’s time to catch up and plot inventing our future.

Feel free to contact us directly if you have questions regarding travel or accommodations.  Also, if you know you will be coming and you haven’t completed our survey yet, doing so will help us coordinate the infrastructure around the event: http://goo.gl/forms/XVLOLRe8OF.  For event information, see here: http://www.pdx.st/.  As the dates get closer, additional organization information may become available here: http://wiki.squeak.org/squeak/811.


See you in Portland!

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Windows 95 still flies today

Remember the days of Windows 95?  After 49.7 days of continued operation, the system would crash.  That was before the Y2K bug, when nobody knew or even expected that a counter would overflow.  We should have learned our lesson by now: even seriously defective software can hang around for a very long time.

Unfortunately, we can't quite start feeling warm and fuzzy yet.  Recently, it was discovered that a Boeing 787's electrical system will shut down after 248 days of continued operation.  The result?  Among other things, the cockpit controls no longer work.  And with fly by wire, that means pilots can become irrelevant at any time.


In other words, please make sure you periodically reboot the 787 until that software bug is fixed.  If the problem is ever fixed.

At least this is a bit of technology we all understand.  That is, rebooting makes flaky programs appear to work for a bit longer.  The underlying assumption is deeply problematic.  The message is that this is the extent to which we are supposed to participate in our technological adventure.  You yearn of concerning yourself with whether the maintenance crew hit ctrl-alt-del before take off, don't you?  Wait, why isn't the expert doing that in the first place?  Or even better: how is it that a simple counter overflow can completely disable a modern airplane?  How are these machines being designed such that these failure modes are even possible?

But forget wondering what other 787 bugs could exist when that kind of defect went undetected.  What's next?  Cars that drive themselves (except when they don't)?  Smart electric meters, traffic lights, and gasoline pumps connected to the internet securely (except when security isn't --- really --- there)?  Everything will be just fine, right?

Seriously, these are not toys or apps.  Please demand reliable software.