Monday, May 31, 2010

Not usually a fan of IDEs... but

I'm thinking of trying to use Leksah as my primary Haskell development environment on the Mac. I like that they seem to be willing to incorporate Yi as their editing environment to some extent, and I'd like to see where that goes.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

PLT Scheme is easy

Lots of nice frameworks too. A friend showed me some code he was working to use the Twitter APIs over http to look at people's tweets (if they're not protected).

I thought this was cool, it was 7 lines of code. So I thought I'd wrap it up in a GUI.

Keep in mind I'm NOT a GUI programmer by trade, and that this was my very first venture into PLT GUI programming. It's easy to pick up, and now I've got something hideous that works.

#lang scheme/gui (require net/url xml)
(define (u screenname) (string->url (string-append "\
user_timeline.xml?screen_name=" screenname)))
(define (f v) (match v (`(text ,_ . ,v) `(,(string-append* v)))
(`(,_ ,_ . ,v) (append-map f v)) (else '())))
(define g (compose f xml->xexpr document-element read-xml))
;(call/input-url (u "omgjkh") get-pure-port g)

(define dialog (new dialog%
[label "Twitter Screen Name Activity Grabulatrixatronulator"]
[width 600]
[height 100]))

(define textfield (new text-field% [parent dialog] [label "Enter a Screen Name"]))
(send textfield set-value "omgjkh")
(display (send textfield get-value))

(define newframe (new frame%
[label "Results"]
[width 1000]
[height 600]
(define tf (new text-field% [parent newframe] [label ""] [min-height 500]))

(define (appender los)
(cond ((null? los) "")
(else (string-append (car los) "\n" (appender (cdr los))))))

(new button% [parent dialog]
[label "GITERDUN"]
[callback (lambda (button event)
(let ((text (appender (call/input-url (u (send textfield get-value)) get-pure-port g))))
(display text)
(send tf set-value text)
(send dialog show #f)
(display "here")(newline)
(send newframe show #t)
(display "here2")(newline)))])

(send dialog show #t)

Current Plan 9 Environment... and loving it!

I've got a Plan 9 CPU server running in VMWare Fusion on Mac OS X Snow Leopard. I ran into a few problems with the setup of this as VMWare Fusion's emulation of IDE disks didn't agree much with Plan 9. Changing to SCSI disks made all the difference in the world.

I followed and updated a little the Plan 9 wiki's instructions on setting up a CPU/Auth server, and then used it with drawterm, a unix program that works like a little Plan 9 terminal to connect to CPU servers, and all was good.

There's a project out there called vx32 which implements a sandboxing/virtualization in userspace library that has been used for a port of the Plan 9 kernel. I grabbed the latest Mercurial snapshot of this code base, and compiled it (after patching it up so Snow Leopard didn't complain about the deprecated ucontext.h stuff), and now I have a Plan 9 kernel (almost, it's not 100% the same) running as a terminal to connect to my Fusion CPU server.

So, now what? Well I may take a crack at the port of the Go language to Plan 9... when I get time to do this again.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Developing for the iPhone

The last time I used Objective-C, it wasn't 2.0. As such, I'm needing to brush up quite a bit on my skills. I'm not used to having the compiler generate my properties for me, or the dot syntax etc.

I'm also not a big fan of mixing garbage collection with no garbage collection, I feel that's a recipe for disaster, however I'm going to cautiously proceed anyway.

I will say that the Xcode tools have shown immense improvement since the last release. I wasn't a fan of them at all, and I was surprised that my muscle memory for emacs keybindings isn't wasted completely in the Xcode editor.

If I can keep my interest level high in this area, I may just splurge for that 99 dollar license to deploy applications.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010

Thoughts on Lazy Evaluation...

... I'll do it later.


So I got an iPad. I've had it about one month. I've been paying a lot of attention to the talk about how it doesn't do Flash, why it doesn't do Flash, how Apple is committing war crimes against humanity by disallowing applications authored in 3rd party tools etc etc.

As a developer who's spent a good bit of time working on different projects that scale from tiny little machines, to medium sized computers to giant supercomputing clusters (yes, I've been on several of the top 10 of the top500 list, writing software to squeeze performance out of them) I can tell you that flexible tool chains, great documentation, and great support do not always go hand in hand.

My opinion on that is that it's a bit sad that I won't be writing and running Haskell code on a non-jailbroken i(Phone|Pod|Pad) but that that's not a deal breaker for most people. Cocoa is a nice framework, with many years behind it making it great. Objective-C is a pretty cool language, (though I feel they should have kept it simpler, no garbage collection, all this automatic atomic update stuff can be confusing etc). Grand Central Dispatch and the libdispatch stuff is powerful, even in a raw C programming context, though some folks I know don't think it's well served to use it outside the realm of Objective-C. Having suffered programming with threads and locks, (even implementing my own locks on certain platforms) I'd say that this is a big step forward in thinking about concurrency and parallelism by means of organizing program code at a low level.

Yes, when you buy Apple's stuff, it's a bit more about doing things "their way" than doing things "your way". The limits Apple places on the hardware it supports with its operating systems, or the limits placed on programmers via the tool chains, are all really there for 2 reasons (in my opinion).

1. It keeps Apple from losing control of its own platform.
2. Apple can focus their engineering and support efforts on making a product that seemingly "just works" with all supported stuff, because the space of stuff to support is a lot smaller!

To me, neither of these things are inherently "evil", as some folks might like to convince you.

I should note I've used my iPad every day since I got it at least one time/day. To pay for it I began selling some of the stuff I intend not to need anymore, such as my old iPod touch, and my old laptop. So far it's been a great trade!