We can't stop here, this is bat country…

Those that know me know that Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is my favorite movie. I love it for all the crazy scripting & images that Hunter S. came up with while, to put it gently, “under the influence”.

Well, at least HST could blame the drugs. What’s Neil Gaiman’s excuse for the stuff he comes up with?

If you don’t know who Neil Gaiman is, he is the creative force behind the graphic novel series ‘The Sandman’, as well as the author of several bestsellers, including American Gods & NeverWhere.

Well, he has a new movie coming out this weekend, MirrorMask. And from the looks of the trailer, I could only guess as to where this guy comes up with his stuff. I described it to a friend as ‘The Cell’, but less demonic.

Anyone out there looking for some interesting stuff to read should pick up a Sandman graphic novel, or a copy of one of his other books. He’s kinda like Stephen King, but without all the clowns and errie horror… most of the horror that he writes borders on fantasy.

I am gonna check out MirrorMask tonight, and will post a review later.

Peace.

Now playing: DangerDoomOld School (ft. Talib Kweli)

Finally, Visual Studio.Net 2005 supports the concept of a symbol server

I was pleased to find out that Visual Studio.Net has an option for not only setting symbol servers to use during development, but also the ability to cache downloaded symbols for later use.

For those of you unfamiliar , debugging symbols allow you to debug code that is compiled, and possibly running some where else, all without need access to the source code. Many MS products come with debugging symbols out of the box ( including BizTalk 2004! ), and debugging symbols are created by default with you build in ‘Debug’ mode in VS.NET. When the IDE finds the requested debugging symbols, it loads them into memory, fills out the call stack of debugged code. If you are lucky enough to have access to the source code, the debugging symbols will load up the source code and you will be able to step through the code.

You have always been able to do this in the past, but you have to set environment variables behind the scenes and such….ugly…

Now, you can setup URL’s within VS.NET so that VS.NET will automatically download & load the symbols for the code you have running so you can step through it.

It is HIGHLY recommended to setup a symbols server for your environment / team if you do product development. That way you can debug against the same set of symbols.

Here is a step by step example of setting up Visual Studio.NET 2005 to use the MS symbol server:

That's me in the corner…..

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p>One of the mind numbingly boring perks of traveling so much for work is that I get to read A LOT. The book I am currently reading is called On Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins. You might remember him for starting such companies as Palm and Handspring.

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p>However, this book is not really about electronics, and it’s almost not even about computers at all. It turns out that Jeff’s real passion is the brain and learning how it works. His objective is to create a new approach to A.I. One that is much different than the current direction of the field of A.I.

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p>One of the interesting points he makes early on is how the field of A.I. is going down the wrong path by focusing on the behavioral aspects of intelligence. Simple regurgitation of facts or the processing of a set of inputs to produce some sort of output cannot be considered real intelligence. This is the path most of A.I. focuses on. Even so called ‘neural networks’, created to replicate the brains synapse processing, simply process a set of inputs to produce some sort of output. The only thing holding us back from creating truly intelligent machines, A.I. proponents would argue, is our current processing power. “Intelligent machines” created today are bound by processing constraints, therefore their “intelligence” is constrained. However, without real understanding of the information being processed, can it be considered truly intelligent?

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p>I would tend to agree with Jeff on his assertion that the A.I. community is going down the wrong path by equating behavior with intelligence. I think one of the reasons the A.I. community is going down this route of creating machines that behave intelligent is that our society itself often equates behavior with intelligence. Therefore, it would seem natural to replicate this assumption in the design of “intelligent” machines. A small example:

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p>When I was in grade school ( grades 1–8 ), there was this boy, who we’ll call Sean, in the same class as me. He was considered very smart. I couldn’t figure out why people, including my teachers, treated us so different, even though we got similar grades. One day, I figured out why. It turns out that Sean would sit down and read the encyclopedia during recess everyday. He could talk about anything, as long as it was in the encyclopedia, and he read it recently. It turns out that people would use this as an example of why he was “smart” & “intelligent”. Simply by being able to read something and repeat it to other people was enough for most people to consider him intelligent.

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p>In this case, it would be easy to “behave” intelligent, but is that really intelligence?

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p>I think I was more intelligent that Sean because no only could I get the same grades as him, but I didn’t spend my recess in the corner.

Anywhoo…. The book is pretty good, though I am only just starting with the 3rd chapter. It will be interesting to see what direction Jeff takes A.I. and if any of it actually makes sense. Often times, people who are widely successful, like Jeff, think that their success bucking the system and “thinking differently” in one fields can be easily migrated to other fields.

Now playing: Various ArtistsNo Ordinary Love (Blacksky Mix) / Sherrie Lea from Thrive Mix 01 – Mike Ross

We have reached uncharted territory here….

Has anyone seen, anywhere in the history of sports, a son increase the career of his father? Usually, it’s the other way around. I am watching the NO – NY Monday night game, and I swear, if I hear one more Eli Manning / Archie Manning, reference, I am just going to throw up.

I mean this is so absurd, it’s stretched both ways, to where, somehow, the performance of a brother who can’t even win a big game anytime in his career, college or pro, has enhanced peoples memories of his hapless father, who NO ONE remembered before Peyton came into the league. His rep even boosted his younger brother, who wasn’t even highly touted coming out of HS and found little to no success in college.

Add to that the fact that there is absolutely no history of winning ANYWHERE in the family BTW, Peyton’s college team won a National Championship the year AFTER he left. How good of a QB could he have been if he could simply be replaced with the backup and they march to the championship?

I mean, see if you can pick out what the Giants were thinking when they drafted Eli Manning, Peytons’ younger brother:

“Hey, I hope he’s like his father, who threw 125 touchdowns and 173 interceptions”

OR

Hey, I hope he’s like his brother. GOSH, I mean his brother Peyton has folded in every single meaningful game in his career, but man, check out his numbers against the University of Kentucky and Vanderbilt”

Seriously, has anyone received so much acclaim for so little accomplishment?

Do you finish your projects? ** UPDATED**

I am updating my original post to clarify exactly WHEN ThoughtWorkers work on OSS software. Note: I am NOT stating that we OSS ANYTHING written on clients time / dime.  Changes are in bold below.

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So, while on my current project in New York, I took the opportunity to connect with some associates that live in New York that I haven’t met in real life before. 

So, the other week, I decided to have dinner with Mark Pollack, one of my fellow Spring.Net developers.  He and I got to talking about Spring.Net, New York, development, and other typical topics ( and sometimes atypical topics…don’t ask… )

I mentioned that I was working for ThoughtWorks and he seemed excited to ask my opinion of the company, from someone who was new to the company.  Since he was coming back from a conference where he got to talk to Martin Fowler for a little while ( and, in his own words, must have come across as a nut job ), he wanted to bounce some of Martin’s responses off of me.

One question he asked was about ThoughtWorks and it’s contributions to the OSS community.  He said that while the amount of OSS code coming from ThoughtWorks was quite impressive, he was curious as to why it seemed that ThoughtWorks spawned projects never seemed to get finished.  It seemed as though there is this flurry of activity, and then the code it turned over to the community and the community is expected to sustain the project.  If, after all, ThoughtWorks was the great bastion of OSS, why was this the case?  Why were / are ThoughtWorkers not given time to dedicate to working on their OSS-spawned projects?

This got me thinking about projects and what it means to be “finished”.  While I put aside trying to define what “finished” meant, I told Mark that what he stated about ThoughtWorkers projects should be true of any OSS project.  Without community support, a project will ( and should die ).  Isn’t the lure of OSS software sort of software darwinism?  The best projects & code will rise to the top and thrive, the useless ones will curl up and die.  The circle of life I would expect.  It seems like a very democratic way of producing software, and if ThoughtWorks came along and started to force its’ projects on the community, without the community support, that would see to kill the spirit of OSS in a way, and that’s certainly not ThoughtWorks’ focus.

As for “finishing“ OSS projects, are software projects every really finished?  I have been through enough “Just add a button“ requests to know that software is a living entity.

In short, this is how I answered Marks’ concerns.  Tell me if I have this right or not.  I wondered if I should be answering such an important question, after only a short time with ThoughtWorks:

ThoughtWorkers are very smart people.  Often times, at clients, ThoughtWorkers work after hours to refine and polish tools they might find helpful during client projectsWhen we feel like a tool is of some sort of use to the community, we release it as OSS.  But the focus always remains on the client.  No tools or software is developed for sheer OSS benefits or without some sort of value to the clients.   Once a clients’ project is concluded, the business value of the OSS diminishes.    As such, ThoughtWorkers are not really given dedicated time to work on OSS projects, without some sort of business value.  So, either the community embraces a project or the ThoughtWorker works on the project in its own time.  Regardless, ThoughtWorks as a company always focuses on business value, with OSS production a great residual.

What does everyone think?  Is this a good representation of ThoughtWorks and its stance on OSS?

Now playing: Don OmarReggaeton Latino

Where's Griffin?

Ok, so you may ( or may not ) be wondering where I have been, seeing as how it has been a mont since my last post.

Well, the good news is that I have made some significant changes in my life over the past month.

For starters, I made the leap and left the care free world of apartment renting, and made the leap into home/dwelling ownership. On Aug 26th, I purchased a condo in Chicago’s South Loop area. I love this place and will be posting photos soon.

Secondly, I started my new job at ThoughtWorks. Unfortunately, this job entails almost 100% travel, which doesn’t mesh well with my new purchase ( see above ). My first project has me in New York for the first time, working with BizTalk 2004, which is something I have wanted to work with for a little while, so I guess the new job is paying off initially.

Other than that, things have been pretty quite. I have LOTS of postings backlogged, so I should be flooding my blog in the coming days ( that plus it’s REAL boring over here in Queens NY )

One last note: This blog is now syndicated via the main ThoughtWorks blog feed. so if you want, you should subscribe to that one and see what my crazy co-workers are up to. WARNING: the blogs are abound with Ruby talk, so watch out!

Peace…

Which 'which' is which?

One of my favorite utilities on *nix is the utility ‘which’. The only thing which does is take in a command name, and print out the path to that command.

Why doesn’t windows have a utility like that? You can save all your ‘the windows command prompt isn’t a real shell’ talk. I would be happy with a ‘which’ command. I hate having to perform a search on my hard drive just to find a damn .exe file that’s somehow in my path.

Really makes me yern for the days when I was a *nix admin…. oh well…

Memories…..