Thursday, 22 April 2010

Upcoming Smalltalk events

There are a number of Smalltalk events coming up in Europe over the next few months (Joachim posted about some of them a little while ago).

[edited to add:] I forgot to mention that I recorded another Industry Misinterpretations podcast with James Robertson and Michael Lucas Smith last week. It's a two-part episode talking about cross-platform Smalltalk development. The audio for the first part is available now; and (if I'm lucky) this link should be the second part once it is posted.

The UK Smalltalk User Group is up and running again and the next meeting will be at 6:30pm this Monday, April 26 at the Counting House.

[added] Markus Gälli pointed me to a talk by Claus Gittinger, creator of Smalltalk/X, on Flow-Based Programming. This will be in Zurich on April 28.

On May 4, Cincom is planning to host an experiment on "Wolfpack Programming" at the eXtreme Tuesday Club's weekly meeting. The idea is to play with how wolves' social structure and hunting strategies can be applied to a large team of programmers working in a single live system (kind of like extreme pair programming). It should be a fun evening and we're providing food and drinks for the night as thanks for your participation. More details will be posted on the May 4 meeting page shortly—please post your name there if you're coming.

May 16-19 is the SPA 2010 conference in London. This isn't a Smalltalk event, per se, but Cincom is sponsoring it and a few of us will there. We're hoping to have some results from the Wolfpack Programming experiment to discuss.

June 8 is the VA Smalltalk Forum Europe 2010 in Stuttgart. John O'Keefe from Instantiations will be presenting as well as Sebastian Heidbrink, Joachim Tuchel, and a number of others. Lukas Renggli will be talking about Seaside. I'm not presenting but I am planing to attend.

Also starting June 8 and running until the 11th is epicenter 2010: The Irish Software Show in Dublin. They asked me last fall to come talk about Seaside and I'm happy that we've got the details all worked out (though I'm still waiting for my bio to be updated). I'll be talking on Thursday the 10th and also, I think, taking part in a panel at one of the evening events.

On June 10, the 3rd Smalltalk Stammtisch in Köln (Cologne) is happening. Ich möchte gerne hingehen, aber das ist nicht möglich als ich nach Dublin fliegen muß.

July and August are quiet months in Europe since everyone goes on vacation. But I've heard rumours of a sprint or other event being discussed in London. I'll pass on anything I hear.

Then of course there's the annual ESUG 2010, in Barcelona this year from September 11 to 17. This has been one of my favourite events over the last few years.

Finally, we're also working on something in France (probably in June) and Sweden/Norway (Sep/Oct) but they're still preliminary, so I'll post details as they're available. Toss in some vacation and a couple of weddings this year and I'm going to be busy.

In the meantime, if I missed any events, please pass them along. Also, if you can think of conferences or events where Smalltalk should be represented or groups that would be interested in hearing about Seaside or Smalltalk in general, let me know and I'll see what I can do to make it happen.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

The penny drops

Steven shared a post arguing for the scrapping of the US dollar bill and one-cent coin. Canada scrapped the dollar bill ages ago but are still trucking along with the penny.

Of pennies, the author says "few rich countries have a coin so worthless", which I find a bit strange since all of Europe has a penny... I guess it's not technically "so worthless" since it's worth 1.5 US cents, but in relative terms it amounts to more or less the same thing. They also have a 2c coin, which is curious in the eyes of a North American.

Australia, though, got rid of its penny a while back and now rounds all prices to the nearest 5 cents. As a result, I recall seeing a guy with a Ferrari right smack in the middle of the Nullarbor, hundreds of kilometers from the next gas station, making sure to get the "perfect" pump that would give him his two cents of "free" rounded-off gasoline.

Interestingly, Europe (including the UK) and Australia both have 5,10,20,50 cent (or pence) coins instead of the 5,10,25 cent coins used in North America. When giving change, the North American system requires more coins in almost every case. Having a 2c coin gives Europe another edge here and dropping the one- and two-cent coins put Australia firmly in the lead for fewest coins required on average.

Of course the sub-five-cent coins are rarely used in Europe anyway because sales tax is already included in the prices. This means your €3.95 sandwich will get you 5 cents (one coin) in change while your $3.99+7% tax sandwich will put 73 cents (7 coins) in your pocket. Simply moving to include the tax in prices would significantly reduce demand for the US penny.

Monday, 5 April 2010

From the things-I-did-on-Saturday dept...

Saturday I continued what seems to have become a personal weekend tradition of running along the banks of the Thames. I've been trying to run different parts each week and I may actually make it a goal to work my way along the river, though I'm not sure what to pick as start and end points (maybe the edges of Zone 6 would be a good start).

This weekend I ran from Putney Bridge upstream to Kew Bridge, a little farther than the finish line for the annual Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, which it turns out starts in Putney and was also being held that afternoon. This 6.8km race started in 1829 and has been held annually on the Thames tideway since 1856. People here take this event seriously, apparently, with 250,000 people arriving to watch it live from the riverbanks and nearly 8 million people watching it on television.

London graced us with pretty nice weather for the day and people were out enjoying BBQs and beer. I had to enjoy by watching since I don't normally run with a wallet, but I did make it back to Putney on the tube in time to catch the start of the race. And that's about all you can catch because those guys move fast and are out of sight pretty quickly. In the end, Cambridge held strong on the outside of a long bend in the river and managed to score a narrow come-from-behind victory near the end.

I also popped into town to catch the final evening of Waiting for Godot at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. I was curious to see this production—with Sir Ian McKellen opposite Sir Patrick Stewart—last summer, and was delighted to find it had been remounted, albeit with Stewart replaced by Roger Rees. I found the scenes between Vladimir and Estragon quite engaging (McKellen is marvelous and the pair have excellent comic timing) but the scenes with Pozzo just seemed to drag. I've seen the play once before but can't recall the event well enough to know whether this is a script problem or one unique to this production. Apparently they're taking the show on a world tour; if you can handle this 1940's take on a "show about nothing", I'd recommend it, even just for a chance to catch Ian McKellen in a more intimate setting than the supposedly-upcoming Hobbit movies.