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Archive for October, 2005

31 Oct 2005

by Noel

Blog Watch: LShift Blog

I’ve just discovered my old employer, LShift, have a blog. Lots of good stuff there. As usual, TonyG is producing code like the mad hacking machine he is. Now I just have to get him to put some of it in Planet.

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28 Oct 2005

by Noel

Not-so-failsafe Computing

I went to withdraw some money from an ATM yesterday, but instead of the normal screen I was confronted by a Window NT 4.0 bootup screen. The machine seemed to have hung at that point, so for a laugh I pressed 4-5-6, thinking it was the closest key sequence to the famous Ctrl-Alt-Del. Imagine my surprise when the machine rebooted! It can tell you the ATM was a Pentium 3 running at 700MHz, with 128MB of RAM. This whole episode amazes me for so many reasons: that ATMs run Windows (do they ever get viruses? can I play Minesweeper if the network is slow?), that the software doesn’t detect crashes and try to recover, and that they can be rebooted so simply. I’ll never look at an ATM the same way again!

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27 Oct 2005

by Noel

SISCWeb Petstore

Ben Simon implements the Java Petstore in Scheme using the excellent SISCWeb framework, which runs in the equally excellentSISC Scheme implementation. Well worth a look, particularly thewriteup which explains some of the advantages Scheme brings to web development.

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27 Oct 2005

by Noel

O’Caml Making In-roads in Finance

Very encouraging to see this advertisement. The highlights:

Jane Street Capital ( is a proprietary
trading company located in Manhattan. We’re looking for students
interested in internships for the summer of 2006…

One unusual attraction of the job is that the large majority
of our programming is done in OCaml.

It’s great to see industry adopting advanced programming languages. Finance is not an entirely new domain for functional programming. Simon Peyton-Jones wrote a paper some time ago on a combinator library for financial contracts. This work has been commercialised, with the implementation again using O’Caml. In fact there is large literature of domain specific languages for financial applications (for example Risla) so there is certainly a market for applying programming language theory in this area.

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24 Oct 2005

by Noel

Neologism of the week

From Shriram Krishnamurthi comes a nice phrase to describe the AJAX applications that are emerging: webtop. It captures succinctly the blend between web and desktop that characterises these applications, and points to a future when the distinction is meaningless. It’s early days for the webtop right now: most time is spent just getting the interface to work. My bet for next stop on the road is disconnected functionality. While SF may be always onlinesometime soon, but it will be a long time before that applies to everyone.

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