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Posts Tagged ‘IT’

do we need yet another programming language?

It’s a rhetorical question in the title, of course but it’s not rhetorical in the sense that I know the answer to it, rather, it’s the opposite. 

This post is my delayed reaction to Apple’s recent release of Swift, a new corporate backed programming language that seeks to make programming for OS X and iOS easier and more accessible to newbies throuhg more consistent syntax. 

Of course Objective C is old and weird and what not, but still, I can’t help but wonder whether yet another programming language is really what is needed today given the plethora of programming languages we’re already swamped in. 

Swift may be a conceptually beautiful language and what not, but so was Java, supposedly, when it was first introduced. Then it evolved, accumulating features atop features and got kind of ugly and verbose. But I digress. 

Perhaps it’s silly but I sometimes wonder if it wouldn’t be really nice if there was just one programming language supported across all platforms and acrhitectures and if it was the only language you had to learn if you wanted to get into programming. It would probably have to be a lisp – homoiconic and highly extensible as it would have to be a Jack of all trades. 

And as for Swift, from the bits and pieces I read about it on the Internet it sounds very nice and all, however, it does feel like an attempt by Apple to tie down developers, sort of. Swift is bound to be more fun to code in than Java, because Java is old and bloated and Swift is new and hip. 

Should perhaps Google have gone with their own custom designed language when they rolled out Android? Although, they were probably using a different strategy, hoping to lure existing Java developers to the Android platform in which they seem to have succeeded nicely so far, despite the fact that from my own experience Android is a major pain in the ass to write native apps for. I have no experience with XCode but I assume it can’t possibly be worse than the mess that is Android SDK that looks like it’s been thrown together by a bunch of nihilist undergrads to get a credit.

Whatever, at the end of the day, the more programming languages the merrier, although it also means you end up with more mess all around than you could ever have thought possible. 

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Cloud computing may not be for the faint of heart just yet

That’s the conclusion that I couldn’t help jumping to after reading this piece:

http://www.twitlonger.com/show/bt2p2o

In short the guy writes about how he spent months painstakingly  migrating all his other email accounts to his one gmail account and uploading all his documents to his google docs account only to have his google account deleted (or suspended) by google.

It’s sort of like when you have all your info on this one laptop that you lug around with you everywhere you go and then you drop it and it breaks into tiny little pieces from which no information can be recovered only it’s probably more like having somebody grab your laptop from you and smash it to pieces as you stand there and watch helplessly.

Well, maybe  it’s not all that bade and who knows, google may eventually reactive the poor fella’s account and he’ll once again have access to all his stuff. However, what this story really calls attention to is the risks people are invited to take when they are encouraged to switch to cloud computing.  On the surface cloud computing looks like a very cool idea – software as a service, a new digital utility that allows you to rent digital space and applications, however at the end of the day what cloud computing boils down to is that you let someone else handle your (sensitive) data. Cloud is a very cool metaphor, but in actuality what it sort of conceals is that fact that your data that is in the ‘cloud’ is in actuality sitting on someone’s hard drive.

It may not really be that much of a problem from a purely technological viewpoint as in all probability those data will be backed-up and there will be some redundancy built into the system so that even if the actual server your data is stored on should go down, some other server will pick up the slack; in the worst case scenario loss of data will be minimal and 9 times out of 10 you probably won’t even notice anything. However, what do you do if your cloud computing provider decides you’ve violated some obscure terms of use (which most people hardly ever read anyway) and pulls the plug on your account. And what if it’s a major provider of cloud services like google with millions of users that can afford to ignore complaints from the likes of you for weeks on end or even to never get back to you at all? Yes, probably in most cases they will reactivate your account eventually but still what if it’s at a critical point that they shut down your account; suppose you’re finishing an important project and all of a sudden poof, you can’t access your data anymore and you write them an email and they tell you that you’ve violated their terms of use and that they’ll get back to you next week but your project is due tomorrow.

So what’s the lesson we can learn from this cautionary tale? – for the time being it would appear that the best policy is to store all your most important files locally and to only use the cloud for backups.

Categories: IT Tags: , , , ,

Google takes Spotlight online

September 9, 2010 Leave a comment

Spotlight is a feature I first saw in MacOS X, a couple of years ago, a Mac fanboy friend of mine, showed it off to me on his macbook and his father’s iMac. At the time I found it to be the most impressive feature in MacOS. Back then when you wanted to do a search in WinXP you had to bring up a special ‘search window’, type in the name of the item you wanted to find, specify whether it was file or a picture or a video you wanted to search for and then you hit ‘search’ and sat there waiting until the search result list got populated.

By contrast Spotlight made the whole search process appear easy and incredibly responsive;  results would start to appear while you were still typing and they changed ‘on the fly’ as you backspaced and retyped. Later on MS copied this feature in Vista and later it became the default search in Win7. Now finally Google has brought it to online search. You have to be logged in to your google account to use it though, and you have to be on the google website, but if both these conditions are met the search results appear as you type in your query, just like in Spotlight, kudos to Google.

Categories: IT Tags: , , , ,