ossat, node.js and johnson
Time to get technical. Not that the ongoing rumpus over CRU, Steve McIntyre's pioneering work in the GNU-blessed stats language R (with its underlying Fortran bringing back less-than-fond memories of undergraduate days at Cambridge - perhaps the only week of programming in my life I didn't thoroughly enjoy) or the redoubtable, anonymous statistician VS using MatLab and the Akaike Information Criterion to try to model basic climate time series isn't all very much so in its own way. And there's a connection back into all that at the end here. But first, the (other) news.
But this Wednesday I had a problem, in that LRUG clashed with Open Source Show and Tell, which I'd not been to since BT Osmosoft kicked it off a couple of years ago. (I think OSSAT began as monthly and has since settled in to being semi-annual but, as this was my first in 20-30 months, any frequency better than that will do fine, thanks guys.)
There were a number of reasons for prefering the event just south of Drake's old boat at The Team this time. Free food and drink is never to be discounted in my case. I was keen to see Jeremy Ruston, inventor of TiddlyWiki, and Martin Budden, a stalwart ex-Symbian member of his team, again after some gap. I was very interested to meet key Ruston associates Chris Dent and Premasagar Rose for the first time - and learn much more about the dark state of the art in writing fail-safe widgets for the web from Prem. But top of the list for sure was hearing from Phil Hawksworth on node.js, as I told Phil when I wandered in early, evidently building the pressure for the guy as he carried out last minute fixes to his Keynote slides and live demo - something I always love to do.
There were issues left unaddressed there. Did the Go announcement signal that Google had run into the limits of Python, as some people suggested at the time? As the originators put it:
I'm not sure I buy all of that and I don't how it will all pan out, for Google or the rest of us. The concise inbuilt concurrency based on CSP is another key aspect to Go, as discussed before. But what's the purpose of blog entries with dates on them if it isn't to say more later, maybe even change one's mind in the light of emerging evidence? Enough on all that for now.
It's not just the libraries, there's modules out of the box, thought through from the beginning, and some syntactic sugar in Ruby that makes it, for me, a good deal more readable and less easy to make silly mistakes in. There are also symbols, distinct from strings, as a first class concept built in (following Smalltalk) with very easy :syntax (just like that). And without exhausting the subject by any means, that takes me to Johnson and the other reason I'll be using Ruby for a while.
This is a wonder of the open source world. You suddenly think something might be possible and you find someone smarter than you got there first and you can at once benefit, even if there are things not yet perfect (as is true with Johnson, for sure).
Apr 18 2010Andrew Montford responded:The Open Climate Initiative sounds interesting. I was playing around with what is probably a similar idea myself. Fancy comparing notes?
Apr 18 2010Richard Drake responded:Nothing I'd like better Andrew - you were in my top six to talk to about it, not least because of what you know about scientific publishing. Let's email - I'm rdrake98 on the gmail label.