April 2004 Archives

Sometimes the Simplest Tools Are the Best

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So simple it takes someone like Joel Spolsky to recommend it: a spreadsheet as a scheduling tool. I've read this piece before, but this time I need to copy the spreadsheet exactly and force myself to fill it out. I need to do it for myself. I am currently effectively my own project manager, which can be both a blessing and a curse.

De hÓra on Programming Languages

Bill de hÓra has written a remarkable essay on why the industry tends to rely so much on mediocre programming languages and why he sees a change coming.

The essay makes me think of a slogan I've been thinking of lately. It's the productivity, stupid! Corny as that may sound, it's important for two reasons.

  1. It's possible to be more productive the mainstream because the mainstream is slow to acquire knowledge that is readily available, both technical and organizational.
  2. I think both companies and individuals who fail to grasp the opportunities will be in jeopardy.

Library Lookup for Evanston Public Library

Courtesy of the Library Lookup Project: a bookmarklet for Evanston Public Library.

To use: drag the link to the browser's link toolbar; find a book on Amazon or similar; click on the bookmarklet to look up the same book in the Evanston Public library.

(I did have to change the Javascript code provided at Jon's site to make it work. For one thing, the Evanston catalog has moved.)

Voice over IP Using Python

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VoIP in Python: at first it sounds crazy, but the talk at (given at PyCon DC '04 says otherwise. I thought the paper was interesting for the discusion of how VoIP and the underlying protocols (particularly SIP and RTP) work. Obviously, the thought occurs: if you can do this in languages like Python, performance ought not to be nearly as much an issue as people tend to think.

Bonus points for the snark aimed at the ITU and Microsoft's Universal Plug and Play (UPnP). An example:

As an aside, UPnP's implementation (which features SOAP, HTTP over multicast/broadcast UDP, and extremely odd XML) is a must-read for fans of unnatural and baroque network protocols.

Via David Goodger via LWN.

Word of the Day: Fraught

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I wish I had had a etymological dictionary when I was in school. Dictionaries that only give you the spelling and definitions leave out so much. The roots and relatives of words colour their meaning.

Fraught is related to freight and the German verb frachten. It does seem to have Germanic rather than Romance roots.

The dict.org definitions come with a highly relevant example: words fraught with meaning. It really conveys the sense of being burdened or laden and heavy.

By the way, there is a site that really does a word a day. I'm just stealing the idea for today.