Alexander The Great

February 13, 2008

Philosophy of Programming

Filed under: Science,Software — alexanderthegreatest @ 7:55 pm
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Forrest published an article callled Programming With Jackson Pollock.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Mr Pollock’s work, he painted by throwing paint randomly at a canvass. The comparison here is with how computer software is written. I know Forrest is involved with making computer programs, but I didn’t think he had the type of appreciation of philosophy and quantum physics this article hints at – which is why I think it’s interesting enough to point out.

First, the article describes computer bugs as emergent properties – this is the language of chaos theory. Forrest professes that bugs don’t live in individual lines of source code. They live in the interaction between the different parts of software, between other systems in place, and between the user.

This leads to quantum physics, and the concept of entropy. Extremist Christians use entropy to suggest that evolution can’t be possible, because in a closed system, things fall out of order, not the other way around. Criptographers know that an application can borrow entropy from the real world by timing network or disc access, or key strokes.

It’s good stuff. I like it when people make disparate connections visible.


February 7, 2008

Vista Helps Muslims Pray On Time

Filed under: Software — alexanderthegreatest @ 9:30 pm
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I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

Thank you for this great work and for reminding us for our biggest duty which is pray on time. THANK YOU BROTHER LASSAF!!!

Biggest duty? I don’t want to start a holy war or anything, but there really isn’t anything more important than praying on time? Even athiests praise Jesus for his golden rule and treatment of the poor.

this is a really cool gadget. I’m muslim but not a regular prayer, but now this tool is almost like an incentive to begin praying regularly. Thank you very much for your hard work, even if no one else used it, it made me a better muslim..thank you!

I can respect that, though.

February 2, 2008

Even ASP Ancient Can Do XML With Access

Filed under: Software — alexanderthegreatest @ 9:42 pm
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Access is a baby RDBMS or Relational Database Management System. It runs SQL, stores its data in tables, provides queries (select with projection, DML, even DDL) and has code integration in the sense that VBA (Visual Basic for Applications – embedded, crappy VB Scripting) functions you write can be used in a SQL query.

In all honesty, SQL Server has allowed this forever with UDFs but only recently with the CLR. This is a unique way that Access has lead SQL Server if you simply must write your functions in Visual Basic.

But I digress. The point is that even in absolutely ancient ASP, and with Access the baby brother to SQL Server, you can generate XML. Here’s how.

This is a legacy tip – SQL Server has better support for XML by far, though, without even needing an external language like ASP. And SQL Server is free – Access is not. This defies the conventional wisdom that SQL Server is more expensive than Access (true in web hosting, and true if you buy enterprise versions of SQL Server).

January 28, 2008

Widows Vista

Filed under: Software — alexanderthegreatest @ 12:59 pm
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A coworker was complaining about having upgraded to Vista to stay current with his software knowledge.  The trouble (apart from upgrading to Vista) is that the rest of his home network is made up of computers running

  • Windows XP
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows Server 2003

You might think with such a diverse group of computing platforms, adding one more, and a small evolution on top of the others no less, would be easy.

No so.  The solution he found (thanks to almighty Google) is pased below.  The long and short of it is to run a Virtual Machine running Windows XP inside of Vista and then using that to Remote Desktop to other computers.

In my case I had to use software provided by the client to connect, unfortunately the software only works with Windows XP and not Vista. Rather than installing XP and going on a driver hunt, I decided to take the easy route and install XP in a virtual machine on top of Vista. So I created the virtual machine with a 10G virtual HD, 1G Ram and Network Address Translation.

Once XP was installed I connected to the Internet, downloaded the appropriate service packs and install the client’s communication package. No go, it wouldn’t connect. After around six hours of poking around, reinstalling XP and threatening the computer with physical harm a light went on. Because I was using NAT Vista’s built-in firewall was blocking the traffic to and from the client’s communication software, I could actually watch this happen.

The resolution turned out to be having XP virtual machine to share the hardware rather than us NAT.

Is this true?  Do you really need to run virtual Windows inside your native operating system just to perform the basics other versions are all able to agree on?  This is absurd!  If true, you might as well just use a Mac!

January 23, 2008

Another Blog in ASP.NET

Filed under: Ethics,Science,Software — alexanderthegreatest @ 7:47 pm
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Here’s an example in action – you can tell by the aspx file extension.  Actually, it turns out there are several.  SharePoint naturally has a blog (and wiki) engine built in. So does Community Server. And

  • PressTopia
  • DasBlog
  • SubText
  • T-Blogger
  • ThinkJolt 2
  • TriptychBlog
  • BlogEnngine.NET
  • .Blog
  • .Text (NOT FREE)

There’s an impression that even saying “I need to open some windows – it’s hot in here” will cost you $500 and line Bill’s pocket. That all free software runs on linux. That pigs can fly.

Ok, I made the last one up, but this should conclusively prove that there exist useful, open source applications written for Microsoft technologies, particularly the .NET Framework. The one and only thing PHP has going for it compared to ASP.NET is a perception that it’s the programming system open source examples are available for.

As shown this isn’t the case. Think for a minute – programmers use programming languages. Bill Gates may be a greedy bastard (*), but the people who find jobs writing code targetting his company’s inventions are no more likely to be money grubbing assholes than people who use Macs.

End users have as much control over the way Microsoft behaves as I do over George Bush’s war crimes. Windows users are just like everyone else. Some are generous, some greedy. Some are black, some are Japanese, some are Israeli. The only way we’re a bloc, a monolithic group that acts together, is in terms of the software we’re able to run. (Example? Try running SQL Server on a Mac.)

* On Bill Gates’s greed. He has been the world’s richest man, although a Mexican now holds that honor (eat your heart out, Republican Party!). Bill has donated more than half of his wealth to charity – he’s actually done more than any other human. He’s a shrewd businessman, but deserves respect as a philanthropist.

January 22, 2008

People Use XML in PHP?

Filed under: Americana,Science,Software — alexanderthegreatest @ 6:49 pm
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What the?  A Euro genius who really should be using the Microsoft .NET Framework wrote Quick XML, a class I’m not able to use because its for PHP.

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