Cloudflare, C, Security and distributed systems
What a nice way to start my 2017's post than to talk about security!
Last week's Cloudflare parser bug, appropriatly named Cloudbleed, is a good example why it is about time to stop plugging C code into the network.
Once more we had a large scale exploit caused by a buffer overrun, as it typically happens in C code.
At this point it is good to recall C. A. R. Hoare's lecture at the moment of his Turing award back in 1981.
The first principle was security: The principle that every syntactically incorrect program should be rejected by the compiler and that every syntactically correct program should give a result or an error message that was predictable and comprehensible in terms of the source language program itself. Thus no core dumps should ever be necessary. It was logically impossible for any source language program to cause the computer to run wild, either at compile time or at run time. A consequence of this principle is that every occurrence of every subscript of every subscripted variable was on every occasion checked at run time against both the upper and the lower declared bounds of the array. Many years later we asked our customers whether they wished us to provide an option to switch off these checks in the interests of efficiency on production runs. Unanimously, they urged us not to - they already knew how frequently subscript errors occur on production runs where failure to detect them could be disastrous. I note with fear and horror that even in 1980, language designers and users have not learned this lesson. In any respectable branch of engineering, failure to observe such elementary precautions would have long been against the law.
So almost 40 years later, we keep using languages that don't provide any mechanism to do bounds checking other than relying on external tools, that the majority of the community tends to ignore.
For anyonet that cares about security, C should be relegated to the same though process as Assembly, using it just where no other alternative is viable, e.g. UNIX like kernels, or very tiny microcontrollers, for anything else there are better, safer languages with compiler toolchains that also allow for AOT compilation to native code, including the creation of dynamic libraries.
A not exhaustive small list of such languages could be:
- C++11 onwards (modern style, not using C like language features);
- C# (via .NET Native);
- Free Pascal;
- Java (via ExcelsiorJET, J9, JamaicaVM, ...);
Even on APIs that require a C interface for wider FFI acceptance, a safer alternative is to make use of one of the above languages for the implementation and then provide C like entry points
Of course on scenarios that really require C, like UNIX kernels, given their interwined relationship. Or microcontrollers where even using Assembly is a challenge regarding code size, at very least the tools and processes that help tame C, like warnings as errors, static analysers, code reviews, CPU bounds checking (e.g. Intel MPX), fuzzing, among others, should be part of the overall development process.
CppCon 2016 Videos and Presentations are out
This week two interesting conferences took place, CppCon 2016 and Java ONE 2016, but I will leave Java for another day.
Right now my focus is going through the already available set of presentations and videos.
Videos are coming up slowly on YouTube, but the ones already available are quite good:
- Bjarne's The Evolution of C++ Past, Present and Future;
- Rich Code for Tiny Computers: A Simple Commodor 64 Game in C++17, for those nostaligic about the C64;
- Building up on that talk, Dan Sak's extern c: Talking to C Programmers about C++;
Dan Saks talk was quite entertaining, specially when coupled with Jason Turner's talk. Although C++ does suffer from the same ways to write insecure code as C, due to its language compatibility, it does provide lots of improvements for writting safer code with zero overhead abstractions. So transitioning to C++, while taking advantage of said features, would already be an improvement in our actual computing stacks. The problem is getting the message through.
And if those developers don't believe in C++, let alone switching to something like Swift, D or Rust unless it gets imposed on them.
As mentioned the slides are also available and you can get most of them from Github'a repository.
Kenny Kerr also presented his work at Microsoft on replacing C++/CX with standard C++17 features, with the current name of C++/WinRT as framework name, and the related slides are made available on his web site.
Going back to the presentations, there were quite a few interesting ones related to functional programming in C++, use of algorithms and type safety, removal of deprecated features, heterogenous and parallel computing, IoT and C++'s use on the games industry.
I am also looking forward to having Herb Sutter's talk available on YouTube, as he was presenting best practices to take advantage of automatic memory management in C++ and a new library for deferred reference counting.
Time to focus on Android with Windows Phone's demise
Given the latest movements in the Windows Phone eco-system, I decided it isn't worth any longer to keep developing applications for the platform, namely:
- Microsoft fired another set of employes working in Windows Phone teams;
- Amazon announced they would drop their WP app;
- The former Nokia Here Maps, also dropped the platform;
- Microsoft's own Skype, dropped support for 8.x yet it keeps XP support;
So it was quite fun to develop some proof of concept applications for the Windows Phone 8.x with C# and C++/CX, but given all these changes it is quite obvious that the future of UWP is everywhere but the mobile space.
It will surely thrive on the desktop, hybrid laptops, HoloLens and XBox, but I very much doubt that there is any life left on mobile phones for it.
As such I have been focusing only on Android and to finish with a positive note I was quite happy to find out that the upcoming Android Studio 2.2 has a much improved support for C++, specially the new integration with CMake.
Although Google doesn't state it officially, it seems that ndk-build and the Gradle experimental plugin might eventually both be deprecated and replaced by the newly introduced CMake support.
Virtual Machines Summer School 2016 videos are now available
The videos from this year's The Virtual Machines Summer School have been published and are now online.
There are lots of interesting talks available, the ones I have found most interesting were:
- Bits of Advice for the VM Writer
- Building High Performance, Fully Concurrent Garbage Collectors
- A Concise and Opinionated History of Virtual Machines
The talks were full of juicy technical details about implementing VMs and improving their performance.
C++17 and C++ NDC track
The C++17 Committee Draft (CD) just got approved last Saturday, the 25th. There is a nice list of all the features that got approved over at Reddit.
Also the NDC conference organizers just release their videos and the ISO C++ web site has a list of all the C++ related presentations.
From those ones I personally have enjoyed:
- The ones from Andrei Alexandrescu as always
- The C++ Type System is your Friend
- Using the C++ STL Without Dynamic Memory
- The C++ and CLR Memory Models, quite interesting for anyone doing multicore programming.
Rust 1.4 got released!
Rust just got a new release.
The best news for those of us that spend most of our time on Windows is the integration wiht the Visual C++ tooling, instead of relying on the MinGW/MSYS2 toolchain.
Time to update the current installation.
JavaOne 2015 is ongoing!
The JavaOne 2015 started last Sunday and the keynotes are already available to watch on demand for those not able to attend.
Looking forward to the presentations regarding the modules work in Java 9, the value types and improved native interoperability targeted for Java 10.
C++ Core Guidelines, improving C++ safety
This week the CppCon 2015 took place, with a very important presentations done by Bjarne Stroustrup and Herb Sutter, among a few other C++ celebrities.
They presented the C++ Core Guidelines a set of guidelines for using C++ well, focused on writing safe code.
Currently the main focus was on memory safety, but more areas are planned like e.g. concurrency.
The guidelines are written in a way that they can be enforced by either a compiler or a static analysis tool. Herb Sutter and Neil MacIntosh demoed the prototype that Microsoft is planning to deliver with Visual Studio 2015 Update 1.
One of the most interesting outcomes from the guidelines is that C++ community is aware of the work being done on Rust and see affine types as a way to improve C++'s safety. However instead of making the language even more complex, the plan is that the same type of ownership rules can be validated with help of a guidelines validation tool.
As someone that likes memory safe languages, I admire the work the C++'s community is putting on safety.
Rust 1.3 Released
The main focus were performance and improving Windows support, which should be fully done by the 1.4 release.
Videos from 2015 C++ Russia
From all talks shown at C++ Russia, two of them called my attention for:
- Bartosz Milewski. Categories for the Working C++ Programmer
- Mikhail Matrosov. C++ without new and delete
Both talks are about themes that bring modern C++ forward in terms of explaining how to enjoy memory safe programming, even if the language is unsafe by default. And also how to enjoy functional programming in C++.
The presentation language is English.
Swift goes open source. OpenGL gets sidestepped by Metal
Apple just announced on the WWDC 2015 Keynote that Swift is being made open source and available across multple OSes. I wonder how this will impact Rust, given the languages similarities.
Metal is now available on Mac OS X as well and all the accelerated rendering frameworks that were built on top of OpenGL have been migrated to use Metal instead. This might be the start of OpenGL dismissal on the Apple platforms.
I doubt now that Apple will spend any effort improving OpenGL support or adding Vulkan support on their operating systems.
So in a twist of irony, the same company that rescued OpenGL from being ignored by game developers, by including it as the iOS 3D API, decides to replace it with its own API.
Windows Phone the way of OS/2 ?
For the upcoming Windows 10, Microsoft has been researching easing the life of developers from iOS and Android eco-systems to bring their applications into the Windows eco-system.
While both share the common goal of running other OS applications as Universal Windows Applications, they offer different levels of integration.
Project Astoria will offer Android compatibility inside of a container environment, a kind of Windows Android Runtime, even if the example is a bit stretched.
Whereas the Project Islandwood, will make Objective-C a first class language in Visual Studio, offering the same OS access level than C++ enjoys.
In any case, it seems that Microsoft might be trying their own version of the OS/2 compatibility that ended up killing the OS.
While it is clear the OS needs a big push to make it relevant for the developers, I am not sure if it was a good decision, given how similar attempts have continuously failed at it.
While the world was focused on Google IO 2015, other interesting events were happening. One of those events was DConf 2015. The developer's conference for the D programming language.
The slides are already available from the respective talks that are listed on the conference's schedule.
The non edited videos are already available on YouTube for those eager to watch what happened at the conference:
Better versions will be later posted. Just watch out the D programming language website for the news.
Some of the more interesting ones for me were:
- How D is being used to implement a storage system.
- A case study about D being used for Hedge Fund development
- Chuck Allison 's talk about his transition from C++ to D
- Andrei Alexandrescu's talk about the new allocators coming to D
Just hop into the web site, as there are quite a few interesting ones, besides those.
Finalizing my A* Search exercise
After playing around with Qt, SDL and other attempts for a portable implementation between Android and Windows Phone, my experiment is now coming to an end.
It was an interesting experiment, combining Java and C++ on the Android side and C++ with C++/CX on the Windows Phone/Store side.
Althought the application isn't fully productified, the goal of understanding the effort of writing portable applications without additional third party libraries has been achieved.
For companies targeting multiple platforms, Qt and Xamarin are really the best way to go native. Qt has improved a lot since my last rant. The effort to add aditional native wrappers is smaller than the whole development process.
However for single developers, it might be better to focus on single platform. Those portability layers add up an extra cost to the whole development process, specially in terms of extra wrappers and debugging, which might be too costly for single developers.
All in all, it was very rewarding experience.
The final result is now available on the web site.
Rust has finally reached version 1.0
Time to celebrate for fans of ML languages and memory safe systems programming. The first stable version of Rust has been released!
Quite a different language when compared with the original design, still it was for the better.
I am looking forward to see how its adoption is going to turn out.
Congratulations to everyone involved in making it come true.
Functional Programming in Swift
Just watched a presentation from Chris Eidhof about functional programming in Swift.
He goes over the process of adapting what are originally imperative OO algorithms into functional ones.
Quite interesting to watch for those thinking about moving over from Objective-C into Swift, specially how to adapt multi-paradigm languages.
Rust 1.0 beta has been released!
The Rust team just announced the release of the 1.0 beta version.
The date of a 1.0 stable release is now 6 weeks away, according to the current plan.
I wish Rust becomes mainstream, as a way to increase the set of available ML based languages to choose from.
Make a Lisp. Polyglot tutorial for interpreters.
A recent discussion on HN made me aware of the project Make a Lisp.
An interesting idea of following a multi-step tutorial on how to implement a Clojure inspired Lisp interpreter proposed by Joel Martin.
If you are into programming language development, just clone the Github repository, pick your favourite programming language and have a go at the implementation guide.
Rust 1.0.0.alpha.2 released
Mozilla has recently released the Rust 1.0.0.alpha.2 version.
Another step closer to having version 1.0.0 ready for prime time.
Really looking forward to have another modern alternative for systems programming.
CoreCLR has now landed on GitHub!
Microsoft just announced that the CoreCLR component for the open source.
This is really great. Now besides having Mono as alternative implementation for .NET, we have the platform owner bringing to reality what was discussed a few months ago about embracing the .NET community across platforms.
Nowadays I really enjoy the platform and have lots of fun developing C# and F# applications on it.
Quite funny to lock back to .NET early days, which I was priviledged to take part on, thanks to the company I was working at the time being a Microsoft Partner.
Like many Java devotees, I loudly complained about .NET being a flagrant copy of Java.
Fast forward almost 15 years and while both platforms still share a lot of concepts and frameworks, they are quite different nowadays.
And my opinion also changed, regardless of the business reasons behind its inception, .NET is a very good platform to develop software on, and .NET Native will make it even better.
So it is quite pleasing to see Microsoft sharing .NET with the world at large, and with it, allow developers outside the Windows eco-system to also be able to deploy .NET based applications on their platform of choice.
While browsing for C++14 related information, I discovered that the C++ Rocks! website contains a list of C++14 compliant libraries.
Have a look at them, they make quite a good use of Modern C++ features.
There are libraries for a LINQ-like usage, unit testing, JSON parsing, image processing, safe string formating, reactive functional programming and many others.
Rust on Windows.
I just managed to get Rust 0.12.0 running on Windows!
This is great signs of the progress done by the Rust team. As for the previous versions still had a few issues to be installed into Windows and specific mingw versions.
Finally I am able to play with it on my work laptop. Sweet!
CppCon videos being now made available.
The biggest C++ conference of the year, CppCon, ended a couple of weeks ago.
Some of the best talks were related to the use of modern C++, meaning to use the C++ collections library, RAII and automatic memory management. C like coding should be left the the few cases where every performance increase counts.
Now that C++ has lambdas, a few of talks were also focused in functional programming, which was quite interesting to see the community embracing functional programming, specially given that <algorithm.h> already exists since C++98.
An interesting talk to get to know the point of view of the gaming industry about C++ was Mike Acton's talk about data oriented design and its use in game development. Althought I don't agree with some of his points of view, his talk is quite interesting.
All in all, modern C++ is looking quite good and I have to conceed a few of my old complaints are no longer valid when compared against C++14.
Qt is still not quite ready for mobile. A short rant.
During the last days I have tried to use Qt with C++ to give an UI to my A* search implementation that I also could easily port between the desktop and mobiles platforms I have at my disposal.
As it usually happens in what we, software developers, consider a simple task. It ended up taking more time than expected with disapointing results.
The first issue was the size. 40 MB is just too much for a simple window that renders a map with the respective path, if found. Specially when targeting devices where space is at premium.
Then came the first showstopper. When I tried to deploy the application to Android, the file dialog that gets shown is a standard desktop one. Impossible to use in tiny screens and completly out of place in Android.
The current Qt version is 5.3 and apparently the upcoming 5.4 will sort out this issue. But only when using Qt Quick for the UI as pure Qt/C++ seems to be on the way out.
I pondered to write a file dialog myself, but that would beat the purpose of using a multi-platform toolkit in first place.
So in order to prepare the application for the updated controls, a rewrite was in order. Which led to more wasted time as I tried to understand the differences between the initial QML version and the current one, how to recode the C++ widgets to be usable from QML and fighting the QML editor that had some issues seeing the latest changes from the C++ side.
After the re-write was finished and working properly on the simulator, it was time to deploy it into real devices. Only to be greeted by an empty white screen!
So in conclusion, my Qt experience was a failure. With the amount of time I lost fighting these issues, I could have implemented an Android and Windows Phone UIs using their native supported languages instead. And the overall UX that I could provide would be much better.
Which was in fact, what I ended up doing. Ditching Qt and a final re-write using only the technologies provided with the mobile SDKs.
Sometimes too much abstraction hinders, instead of helping.
CppCon 2014 Speaker Materials
The C++ conference of the year, CppCon 2014, took place last week and it was a huge success.
According to Herb Sutter is was a very good conference as C++11 and C++14 standards really brought a new life into the language. Thanks to the missteps of other language vendors, currently C++ is the only language common to all mobile SDKs.
There were lots of talks about modern C++ and also from the gaming industry.
Just take the presentations while they are still hot.
C++14 is now the latest C++ standard revision
This is what happens when one is on vacations.
The new C++14 got released and I just recently got to check it.
This is another step improving the language in terms of safety and modern paradigms. Still looking forward to eventually have lite concepts and modules support, but that is only planned for the next revision.
While C++ is not Ada in terms of safety, C++11/14 does improve a lot the ability to write safe code when the corresponding language abstractions are taken into use.
Michel Wong does provided an C++14 overview on IBM's C/C++ Cafe
Now lets see how long all major C++ compilers take to achieve full compliance, on desktop, server and embedded platforms.
An introduction to Rust for OCaml programmers at air mozilla presentations
There is a talk at the air mozilla website about Rust for developers with ML experience, namely OCaml.
I like how Rust is evolving towards the 1.0 version.
Anil Madhavapeddy on the Mirage Cloud Operating System and the OCaml Language
A couple of months ago, Anil Madhavapeddy, one of the main drivers behind the Mirage operating system was interviewed at the Software Engineering Radio.
I just found about it now and was quited pleased with the interview.
Their approach in using a functional programming language like OCaml for operating system design, with emphasis in correctness and security is the way forward for operating system design in the 21st century.
Nowadays we have stagnated with lots of UNIX clones, and approaches like this are commendable, by trying to improve the operating systems architectures. Specially by proving it is possible to use a language like OCaml for such tasks.
Without further ado, the interview is available here.
Swift, the new language on Mac OS X and iOS ecosystems
The best announcement at this year's WWDC keynote was a new programming language developed by Apple, named Swift.
The language has a certain ML feel to it, my favourite features being:
- Descriminate unions
- Pattern matching
- ML type inference
- Extension methods
- Automatic memory management
- Value types
- Memory safe
The associate tooling also has some relevant features:
- AOT compilation to native code (really like how Apple favours AOT over JIT)
- REPL with an interactive storyboard for exploratory programming
- Objective-C interoperability for code reuse
I am looking forward to see Swift take Objective-C's as the main programming language in the Mac ecosystem. It might not be Dylan, but it is quite close.
Oberon article updated with new download information
The developer responsible for Oberon/A2/AOS ISO images just notified my that the location has changed.
The article has been updated accordingly. Many thanks for the given feedback.
Lisp, Clojure, F# set of talks
I just watched a set of talks around functional programming, all of them very interesting.
- Build Your Own Lisp for Great Justice, by Bodil Stokke.
- My other operating system is a Mirage, by Anil Madhavapeddy.
- Railway Oriented Programming, by Scott Wlaschin.
- Programming, Only Better, by Bodil Stokke.
The first three talks are located at Skills Matter and require registration to watch them, but it very worthwhile.
Quite interesting seeing functional programming finally becoming just one more tool in our toolbox.
TownGL sample available
A new graphics project, TownGL, has been added to the section.
It is a port of an old exercise initially done in C with OpenGL 1.1. back in 1999, to two distinct modern platforms.
The native mobile world, via C++11 with OpenGL ES and SDL 2.0, only Android was tested thus far.
Controling the past to direct the future
Just watched a presentation by Gilad Bracha funnily named "Onward! - Does Thought Crime Pay?".
The point being made, is how more productive and coherent languages like Lisp, Smalltalk, Beta, Newspeak were, and how they failed to impress the average developers, due to the hard time innovators have changing the present mindset of how things should be.
Most so called modern languages, are actually rediscovering what these languages offered in terms of features and tooling, but usually done halfway. Which only offers a kind of experience, when compared how it use to feel using such functionality.
So language designers should look properly look into the past, when designing the experience of the programming languages of the future.
Very interesting talk, as Gilad Bracha always does.
D port of the memory queue tutorial updated
The D port of the Memory Queue tutorial, queue-d , has been updated.
Writing a Nanopass Compiler
So this weekend I have been busy with Scheme and compiler related development.
In order to keep up the trend, there was a presentation at Clojure TV about the use of Nanopass as compilation technique for Chez Scheme.
The main idea behind it, is to design the compiler passes in such a way that they are composed by very small passes that are then plugged together. In comparisasion with traditional compiler passes, it allows for a more modular development of such passes.
Incremental Parallelization of Dynamic Languages presentation
There is a very interesting presentation over at air Mozilla channel about making Racket's runtime, a Scheme dialect, capable of parallel and concurrent operations.
Making peace with Go
Long time ago I posted how disappointed I was with the decisions being taken about Go's design.
Meanwhile, Go has been taking up speed by many startups, mainly by developers that consider Go's simple design as a positive feature and not an impediment as I and others see it.
Currently, at least dynamic linking, dynamic loading are being working on and there is a way to fake enumerations with const groups.
Given that the uprise in any safe compiled language should be actually considered a good thing, I think to carry on discussing about generics in Go is a waste of time.
Most likely they will never come. So instead of wasting energy discussing it, better to spend time contributing to any FOSS project, even Go.
As a concluding thought, if you are planning to write any application in C and Go's simplicity is attractive to you, I would advise to try to prototype it in Go.
You might never come back to C afterwards.
HTML 5 vs native development
The persons that know me are well aware that I am really supporting of native technologies, even though I do take part in many web projects.
However, regardless of how one thinks about it, the industry is going more and more into the HTML 5 direction, so the best way it to adapt rather than being left behind.
So I was rather pleased to discover AngularJS, as it seems to bring a bit of native code development sanity to the web.
I will surely be playing quite a bit with it.
Using Rust for OS development
I just read an article article posted on Hacker News about using Rust on an undergraduate course for operating system design.
While I don't agree with everything that is said on the article, specially in regard to D, I find it very positive that a teacher decided to pick up a safer language for systems programming besides C.
We need safer languages for systems programming and new generations are usually unaware that there were operating systems developded in other programming languages, besides C. And being safe does not mean requiring a VM runtime.
C++ does improve lots of defiencies about C, specially when using C++11/14, coupled with STL, but the C underpinnings of the language are the Achilles ankle in security.
Who knows, maybe sometime in the future we will have a mainstream OS developed in such language.
.NET gets a new JIT compiler
The .NET team at Microsoft just announced a new JIT compiler named. RyuJIT.
Apparently it is based on the same backed as Visual C++ and they are planning to bring all the optimization goodies from their compiler into .NET land.
This are quite good news, given that Microsoft hasn't invested that much on their JIT compiler in the last .NET releases in terms of automatic vectorization of code, access to SIMD operations and similar optimizations.
Going Native 2013 videos now available!
The videos and slides from the sessions at Going Native 2013 are now available at Microsoft's Channel 9.
It is full of worthwhile content about C++'s use in the industry, specially what is nowadays currently known as Modern C++, thanks to the use of C++11 and C++14 constructs.
Myself I am currently looking into Cinder. :)
Olve Maudal did a presentation about C++ undefined behaviors at the Norwegian Developers Conference 2013.
Very worth a look, specially if you think you are quite confortable with C and C++.
In case you enjoyed the presentation and want to improve your knowledge about it, there are some slides available at slideshare. Take care of preparing some coffee as the presentation is quite long (445 pages).
A very nice introduction to Clojure
Neal Ford has done an introduction session about Clojure at the Norwegian Developers Conference 2013.
If you still not know much about Clojure, it is very worthwhile to spend one hour of your time getting yourself acquainted with the wonders of Lisp based languages.
The C++ Programming Language (4th Edition) just arrived!
The The C++ Programming Language book, just arrived!
Even with my complaints about how C and by implication C++ tend to be insecure, C++ is a powerful language that I always enjoyed exploring. Even using it as my main language in some of the jobs I worked on.
Therefore I have been salivating for the new version, waiting for Bjarne Stroustrup to update it for the C++11 standard.
The new edition is full of updated examples how to use modern C++, coupled with learnings how C++ evolved since C++98 standard, it will surely be an interesting reading.
An Incremental Approach to Compiler Construction
Someone called my attention to a nice paper about compiler construction, called An Incremental Approach to Compiler Construction.
The document goes over the process of implementing a Scheme subset compiler in Scheme itself using an easy understandable way.
If you are looking to learn how compilers work, this is a very nice tutorial and I advise you to give it a shot.
L98 compiler has been updated and made available on GitHub
Sometime ago I discovered that the compiler project I have made available on this site was not compilable with recent versions of Java.
The main issue being that it was developed back when Java initially released, and it was relying in quite a few compiler bugs that have since then been fixed, thus making the code not compilable.
So I ended up porting the build system from a bunch of Makefiles into Maven, replacing the code which I didn't have distribution rights by a new runtime written in Assembly and taking advantage of new Java 7 features.
Just head up to the L98 project area for the new version.
The 2013 European LLVM Conference Videos are now available
The last LLVM conference took place on the 29/30 April, the videos and corresponding slides are now available.
Lots of nice stuff for developers with interest in compiler design.
Using Ada in embedded design
I find it very interesting, because although C and Assembly still rule this space, Ada is a much better language in terms of safety to develop applications on.
The reliance on C for application development is a path full of security holes unless you couple your development with warnings as errors compiler options and static code analyzers that bring C to the same safety level enjoyed by default in languages like Ada.
I will be interesting to see how Ada's adoption might improve in this space.
Analyzer section updated
Keeping up the trend to update site sections related to old projects without much information, the SWI Prolog Pascal analyzer has been updated.
MapEditor updated for Visual C++ 2010
The 2D tile editor that I created for the 3P team project a few years ago, has been updated to compile against Visual C++ 2010.
In the process I removed a few C style code parts by their MFC code, as now MFC offers better ways to write similar algorithms.
Always a good excuse to improve code quality.
MSDN Patterns and Practices publishes article about C++ XAML applications
Microsoft just published an article from their Patterns and Pratices team, targeting the Windows Store (aka Metro applications) with C++ and XAML.
The application is the already known Hilo sample, that Microsoft also used when Windows 7 was launched.
RoboVM, LLVM based ahead-of-time Java compiler, with iOS target
RoboVM is a new native code compiler for Java, targeting the iOS operating system.
Finally someone is making some effort to allow Java developers to target native code compilation on iOS devices. It still surprises me that although many Java vendors do provide ahead of time compilation for their Java enviroments, Sun and now Oracle don't provide them.
This leaves many developers with the wrong idea that there are only VM environments for Java, when actually that is not the case.
I wish all the luck the RoboVM developers.
Niklaus Wirth talk at GTAC 2009
Welcome to my first post of 2013! I wish you had good time during the festivities and an year full of health and good times, with family and friends!.
Now for the theme of this post. While searching for information about the Oberon family of operating systems, I discovered a video of a talk done by Niklaus Wirth at GTAC (Google Test Automation Conference), back in 2009.
I find it always very interesting to hear what he says, specially given his background, which tends to not follow whatever is considered mainstream in the industry.
He talks about the evolution of programming languages and testing along the years he has been involved in the computing world since his early days at the university.
Here is the video. Enjoy!
Great chefs don't use mixes
I just saw a short presentation (around 8m) from Christin Gorman about the bloat ORMs add to applications.
Based on my ORM experience I fully agree, ORMs seems to be quite nice way of making a database mapping quite fast, however the time won in designing the application is lost keeping track of database mappings or tracking down which queries need optimization and ending up with a frankenstein application of ORM mappings and SQL.
Usually if the project does not require any form of database ORM to be used, it is way better to make use of light weight mappings, or if constrained to a single database backend, to write the SQL directly.
You will be saved from annotation/xml mapping verbosity by doing so, while being able to achieve high database performance.
Inventing on Principle
A very nice presentation by Bret Vitor entitled Inventing on Principle.
This presentation goes around how the environment and the programming language should mingle and provide an interactive way to develop applications. In a way much more powerful than the usual REPL environments, or even what the typical Smalltalk and Lisp environments do offer.
This talk also inspired another developer to create a dynamic environment for Clojure development entitled Light Table.
The Frogatto and Friends game also has adopted some of these ideas into their game editor.
Althought the concepts shown at the talk are more relevant for doing UI related programming, it is an interesting concept that is surely worth one hour of time to go through the presentation.
How the Dalvik VM JIT works
I just found out the Google I/O 2010's presentation about how the Dalvik VM JIT was designed for the Android 2.2 release.
I know it is a bit outdated, but it is still worth watching if you care about compiler development.
MDIL, also known as .NET gone native
Another announcement from Microsoft at BUILD 2012 is that for Windows Phone 8 devices, .NET applications are actually also compiled to native code.
There is no JIT on the devices, the applications downloaded from the Windows Store are already compiled for the specific device.
Still it isn't 100% like C++ applications, because .NET only uses dynamic linking and Microsoft wants the applications to keep working after security or operating system updates are done to the device.
So they went with a solution which keeps symbolic locations for the memory addresses while everything else is plain assembly code. The references are replaced by real memory locations when the application gets installed, by using an on device linker.
This executable format is known as MDIL, Machine Dependent Intermediate Language. The compilation from MSIL into MDIL occurs on the Windows Store servers with an optimizing compiler.
Now the question is when will Microsoft replace NGEN by MDIL for desktop applications. So far they don't confirm nor deny it.
Herb Sutter announces updated C++11 support at BUILD 2012
Herb Sutter just did a presentation at BUILD 2012 presenting the new set of C++11 features to be made available with the upcomming Visual C++ 2012 November CTP release:
- explicit conversion operators
- initializers lists (STL support will be updated in the CTP following this one)
- Raw string literals
- delegating constructors
- variadic templates (with perfect forwarding!)
- default template arguments
Additionally it was announced the ammount of work Microsoft, Google, Intel, ARM and many other companies are putting into the C++ standard.
A new web site for the C++ community is now available. The web site is backed from a new C++ foundation, which is a mix of ISO/ANSI members, C++ known individuals and companies with vested interest into the language.
An overview of the ISO ongoing work was also announced, the biggest one being the new target date of having a standard update in 2014, before the schedule update of 2017.
C++ is becoming a much more safer language for systems programming than C, as long as developers use modern C++ features.
As a supporter of strong type languages for systems programming, it is rewarding to see C++ improving, even with better languages trying to get its place.
It is a nice time to use languages with native code generation compilers.
Advanced iOS Development
InfoQ has placed an interesting presentation about advanced development in iOS with Objective-C.
This is really the best way to bring wonderfull experiences to the customers, by exploring the native features each platform makes available to developers.
Google uses Common Lisp
So it seems that after IAT Software's aquisition by Google, Google has become another company also Common Lisp.
To reinforced this, Common Lisp has made to the list of style guides Google keeps for all languages that are accepted for internal projects.
So without further ado, here is the Google Common Lisp Style Guide.
Writing a Raytracer in Common Lisp
So after some vacations, it is time to update this blog again. :)
As two areas in computing that I like a lot are graphics programming and functional programming, it was very warming to have discovered a tutorial in YouTube that brings both of them together, by showing on how to implement a ray tracer in Lisp.
Slides are also available at the author's web site.
Faith, Evolution, and Programming Languages
An interesting presentation done by Philip Wadler, about the influence of functional programming in mainstream languages.
It is quite nice that after decades of being imprisoned inside academia, functional programming is becoming just another paradigm that most languages are starting to make available to common programmers.
Functional-Style Programming in C++
This month's MSDN Magazine has a very intersting article about doing functional programming in C++, while taking advantage of the new C++11 standard.
Carrying on the functional programming subject, there is a nice presentation in the Nordic Developers Conferece 2012 about functional programming with F#, as well as how to apply the same concepts in C# 4.0.
Quite handy, specially for those .NET developers that are only able to use C# at work.
A 1h30 session are length about real world usages of F# and Haskell.
This is a set of three talks done at Microsoft Research, showing how functional programming languages are slowly getting into the industry.
WWDC 2012 videos and slides now available
I just noticed that the presentation materials from WWDC 2012 are now available.
If you are a Mac OS X or iOS developer, there are lots of good stuff to watch there.
I'm still going through the presentations, but one that I can already advise is Modern Objective-C. Apple is really spending some effort to make the language a bit more modern, bit by bit.
This is specially important if you care about native code development.
Even if you are not an Apple developer you can still enjoy the videos after doing the free registration as Apple developer.
The C++Now! 2012, former BoostCon videos now available
Last month I blogged that the papers from The C++Now! 2012 were made available, with the videos following some time later.
The videos are now available. Enjoy.
Having fun with Qt and C++
I just got asked to develop a desktop application.
After considering the deployment scenarios and how users are supposed to use it, the decision which technologies to use ended up being C++ and Qt. As they are currently the best solution to develop native based applications for multiple operating systems.
It really feels refreshing having to code in C++, compared with my daily job of JVM and .NET languages. Sure the application takes a few more seconds to compile, but it is really worth it as seen by the application speed when using it.
Coupled with Qt, C++ feels like a language with batteries, as quite a lot of funtionality is made available out of the box, without having to search the Internet for libraries. Plus it also offers quite a few helper classes that minimize the need of explicit memory management.
Qt Creator IDE is a pleasure to use when compared to Java based IDEs, everything just works in less than one second, while keeping a nice IDE like experience.
Microsoft caves in for Visual Studio Express version for Windows
As it seems Microsft has given up on their plans to have the Visual Studio Express versions target only Metro in the upcoming Windows 8.
On the Visual Studio Blog they have now stated that a version targeting the desktop will be made available as well.
Nice to see Microsoft being reasonable and accepting that they can't push Metro down our throat in the current state. Developers have to be able to decide on our own, which environments we want to target. Now if they just fixed the all caps menus.
LINQ and Rx for C++ from Microsoft
Microsoft is developing libraries to add LINQ and Reactive Extensions to their C++ compiler.
More information available on the Going Native show.
If you are doing Windows only development with C++, this can be a nice addition to your toolchest.
Lots of nice C++ stuff
If you are a bit bored on the weekend and feel like picking up speed about C++11, C++ on Windows 8, or latest C++ freebies from Facebook, then there are lots of cool stuff to read about.
Microsoft has also made available the videos from the Developing Windows 8 Metro style apps with C++ conference. Regardless of your position on Microsoft's latest moves in regard to Metro, C11, C++/CX and Express editions, this videos are quite interesting to watch, and Metro is here to stay no matter what. So the best way is to improve a bit our knowledge about it.
A very good introduction to Monads with Clojure
To keep on a Lisp note, there is a very good presentation from Carin Meier on InfoQ about the Identity, Maybe and State monads in Clojure.
If you ever heard of Monads and still fight to grasp how they really work, this presentation is well worth one hour of your time.
She blends the presentation with the Alice in Wonderland story, make it entertaining while learning.
Deploying a Common Lisp web application
Just found out a nice tutorial on how to deploy a web application to Heroku.
Nice to know that Lisp is still having some visibility, maybe Clojure also helps a bit.
Microsof is looking for compiler developers
Herb Sutter just mentioned on his blog, that Microsoft is looking for engineers to join the Visual C++ team. You can find more information here.
Good luck, in case you apply for the job.
Do not rely on proprietary programming languages for your business.
I have started to realize, that while some of the mainstream languages provide quite nice abstractions and productivity, they are tainted with lack of freedom.
Languages that are mainly brought to market by big companies, enjoy the benefit to quickly gather market share, have a big ecosystem around them, and have a better rate of supporting new features.
But hidden in a dark corner of all this cosy ecosystems, lies a trap. All business decisions become hostage of the whims from the company selling the language.
I have seen this happen too many times. Company X introduces a new programming language, eventually it gets adopted in the industry, later this company drops support for the programming language. All the companies that invested on the language are now stuck with a legacy language, where they have to invest a lot to find developers with the desired skill set, or to migrate their product to a newer programming language.
So what seems to save development costs, and delivery time to the market, because language X is so great. Ends up costing a lot more when the owning company decides otherwise.
Both options are costly. If a standard programming language had been used, the possibilities of having longer support would be greater, because thanks to the laws of the market several companies would be offering development environments for such languages.
The best way to assure business independence from such scenarios, is to rely in programming languages with available ISO/ANSI standards, or open source ones. This way there is more confidence that the language will subsyst much longer than the proprietary ones, and the possibility of litigation regarding existing implementations will be minimal.
Betting on the wrong horse
Apparently they were disappointed with Go's GC performance and decided to move then to C instead.
This is a typical example of hackers having a say on company business, instead of thinking what makes business sense.
Go's GC will certanly get better, lets not forget that the language is only 2 years old, with version 1 released last week. And there are plenty of nice languages with runtimes making use of industrial strenght GC. Any of these languages would smoke Ruby's performance.
So the company decides to invest time and money recoding the said Ruby software two times. First to Go, then trying to understand what was going wrong with the new implementation, to finally recode it once again in C.
All this would have been spared had they decide to use a more mature language.
Don't take this blog entry as something against Go, as I think that the current GC problems will eventually be fixed, I just think it is an error to bet the company business in it for the time being and developers should use tools based on technical merit, not on what they like to use.
In business you don't get many second chances.
WebGL Stats Web Site
I just discovered the WebGL Stats web site. Quite handy to know which WebGL are generaly available on most people computers.
If you want to know more about WebGL, don't forget to visit the Learning WebGL blog.
Two new C++ videos available on Channel 9
I just come across two C++ videos about modern C++ on Microsoft's channel 9 web site. Even thought I don't agree 100% with everything Herb Sutter says on the first video, I have to agree that C++ is the best language to use nowadays for native performance.
Maybe in some years, another language will take its place. But like C, it will stay around for many decades still.
So the best way is to enjoy the videos and see some goodies from C++11:
I would also like to wish an happy Easter for those of you celebrating it.
New C++ programming article
The other day I was reading some exercises the game studios do on their job interviews and decided to have my go at one of such exercises.
It felt quite refreshing actually, since it has been a while I have done the type of low level memory management required by the exercise.
The article together with a possible solution is available on the Compilers tutorials area.
Sony is using C#/.NET for PlayStation Suite/PS Vita
Thanks to Mono's Monologue feed, I just discovered that Sony is investing into C# and .NET for their new PlayStation Suite and PS Vita platforms.
You can watch the GDC 2011 videos about it here:
I just did not like the comments about Java's GC in the third part, as it shows that the guy is not aware that the GC in most Java commercial JVMs are actually much more performant than what Mono or Microsoft have to offer. This is actually one area of improvement in the upcoming .NET 4.5.
It will be interesting to watch how well this will be picked up by the game developer community, as this is a place where native development is still king. Currently XNA and jMonkeyEngine are mostly used by indies or for the toolsets.
Having fun with Android
Last weekend I have spent some time playing around with Android for a small demo, and it was very interesting.
The platform has a few concepts that althought not new in the computing world, they are new in mainstream OS, like Intents for example. Where multiple applications cooperate by offering the capabilities to handle certain data types and in the end the application is actually a mashup of activities.
Disappointment with what Microsoft is doing to C++
As many developers out there I was eagerly waiting for the BUILD conference and what changes it could bring to the C++ developers on Windows.
It was nice to get to know the WinRT framework that will be part of the Windows 8, and the possible long term replacement of the Win32 apis.
Another good side-effect from WinRT is that the Hungarian notation has gotten another death stab in the Windows platforms.
What is not so good about it, is that Microsoft on their usual way, prefered to taint native C++ with their own C++/CLI extensions instead of investing into a way of using standard C++ constructs with WinRT. It is a sad state of affairs, specially if you are old enough to remember how Borland was criticised for doing something similar with Borland C++ and later with C++ Builder.
Another consequence is that Visual C++ 11 will bring almost zero new features in what concerns the new C++11 standard, which has made many developers angry, as one can see in Visual C++ blog and channel9 comments.
The only good thing is that at least Microsoft has made C++ development again a bit more visible in their developer tools roadmap. They should however take care with the availability of competing C++ compilers that take C++ and C standards compliance seriously.
The return of native code
A few weeks ago there was an article about the new C++11 standard and the ressurgence of native code.
I am slowly starting to share the same opinion as the article portrays. For a few years I have been hoping that the JVM and .Net based languages would reach the performance level of pure native languages.
To a certain extent, the JIT offered by these languages are quite powefull, but still you can feel when using native applications or VM based ones.
Java's write once, run anywhere has never been quite true, due to bugs across JVM implementations that force developers to write workarounds, when changing the JVM is not a solution. .Net is mostly a Windows based VM even though Mono does provide support for part of it in another systems.
Lately there has been a trend to put VMs on top of VMs. So we have a JVM/.Net based application that runs inside a VM emulating hardware in some cloud, and I see this as a waste of resources.
We have multicore processors, with SIMD instructions and GPGPU, which are wasted by not being accessible to VM based languages. The access, when available, are usually via libraries and not provide the same access level that C and C++ allow.
So even myself, have started to play around with native languages for my home projects. There are a still a few around Delphi, Free Pascal, Ada if you like Algol style. C, C++, Objective-C, Go and D for C lovers and finally Haskell, Ocaml and Common Lisp for the funcional lovers.
Maybe having native compiler implementations for Java or .Net languages could be a nice addition to the developers toolset. For Java we have GJC, but it seems to be abandoned since 2009, even thought it is still part of gcc. For .Net, Microsoft has created Bartok, maybe they could eventually make it part of the .Net SDK.
Interesting times ahead.
Mini-ML converted to F#
Back in 1997, I did a Mini-ML interpreter in Caml together with a very good friend of mine for the Programming Languages course, at the University.
Years later I made the interpreter available here in Progtools.
Due to my interest in F#, I decided that porting the Mini-ML source code F# would be a good exercise to learn about the differences between Caml/Ocaml and F#. So now the Mini-ML is also available as a F# based application.
The experience was nice. It was a bit hard to me to find out all the differences, but in the end I got the interpreter code without any dependence on Ocaml migration support libraries.
So I finally managed to live through the Ceylon presentation now available at InfoQ.
Not sure what to think about this. They should just have bet on one of the existing languages that target the JVM, Scala, Clojure or Groovy. From the presentation I got the feeling that they have a bit of "not invented here" syndrome.
As it is, I pretty much think that Ceylon is another language dead at birth. Specially since they have spent two years designing the language, and no compiler is still available.
Personally my time is better invested in C++/Go/D for native programming, Scala/Clojure for JVM or F# for .Net.
After bashing a bit on Microsoft on my last posts, here comes again a bit of praise. :)
Just watched last evening the C++ Renaissance video in Channel 9.
Again it is nice to see that Microsoft has noticed that native development still plays a big role, and that many developers would like to see a bit more of love for C++ in Microsofts tooling.
Quite different from the lets go 100% .Net speech from the early .Net 1.0 days.
Nowadays both environments have their place in the IT world, it was just that C++ developers fellt negleted by Microsoft, now Microsoft is finally acknowleding that it needs to give more attention.
It is nice to see C++ back into the game. Or as some people would say "Back? But I never went away!".
In praise of C++ and Linux
The new London Stock Exchange software has finally gone live and is working without any major issue.
The new system is written in C++ and runs on top of Linux. It replaced a .Net based solution that was giving lots of downtime problems to the London Stock Exchange.
They are not the first to take such decision, the German stock exchange is also running on top of Linux.
You can read about the complete story here..
For me this reveals a few issues. First of all, I imagine that maybe the .Net solution was not properly written, having seen quite a few monster architecture designs on my work life, that would be better with minimalist approaches.
Whatever the reason behind such failure, it gave lots of bad press to Microsoft, and to the Accenture team responsible for creating the said application. I bet the team might not even be working for Accenture, knowing jobs work in UK.
So as a Linux fan it was nice to see such turn of events.
Another thing I noticed was that they decided to use C++, instead of Java, which probably would make more sense if we look at the trends that see C++ as legacy. But as much as I like managed environments, they still cannot deliver the raw performance of C and C++, or any other native language for that matter.
After so many years of IT dating with managed enviroments, I imagine that people are now realizing that except for Web applications and low demanding response applications, native languages still win and will continue to do so.
In a way this a Deja-vu von the late seventies where P-Code enviroments, Lisp based machines and Smalltalk VMs where all the rage. Eventually they faded out, only to be taken up again by Java and later .Net.
I do program every day in Java and still like a lot the language, and lets be honest, it allows for very nice tools. But I am also having fun keeping my C++ skills up to date.
Why Nokia? Why?!
So against all odds, Nokia did realy decide to make Windows Phone 7 the main OS for its mobiles.
This is really a sad decision, Nokia is moving a way from a company that did quite some nice research work into one more OEM that just packs third party operating systems into their mobiles.
I have become a bit pragmatic over the years, and don't hold a bias against Microsoft as I did on my early open source days, but history has shown that most companies that did a partnership with them, got burned somehow.
I did work for Nokia, like any other company there were up and down moments, but it was a special company, and it is sad to see all the good people that still work there being put through this situation.
Having been a Nokia employee and known how the company works, makes the think that Symbian and MeeGo are now dead. Sure the message that they are trying to give to the developers is not to abandon the platforms and belive in Nokia.
But who can still believe in them? Maemo was going to be replaced by MeeGo, while GTK based framework became legacy and Qt was the future. Similary the Symbian developers were told how easy they could bring their software to the platform thanks to Open C/C++ and Qt. Later on, the strategy changed in a way that everyone was told to develop with Qt, this way both MeeGo and Symbian platforms could be targeted, but there would still be place for Java, Flash and Python.
Now a few months later, Nokia throws all these promisses out the window, and asks the developer community to belive in them, that 150 milion Symbian headsets are still planned to be sold and the platform will still be somehow around.
Problem is, I bet most hobby developers are just going to go away. The desilusion with out things turned out is just too big. And I fear that in a few years Nokia will just be known as Microsoft Mobiles, and what we are seeing today will be a use case in many management courses.
The only winner in this case will be Microsoft, they get Nokia to ship Windows Phone 7 based mobiles and thanks to their market size, finally manage to get a visible mobile platform, which many developers decided to ignore until this deal took place.
My thoughts are with the Nokia employees that gave so much for the internal development and will now be severely affected with this decision.
STL C++ tutorials at MSDN
Stephan T. Lavavej from Microsoft Visual C++ Libraries team has made a series of tutorials about how to use the STL, which are quite interesting.
Some of the tutorials already make use of C++0x features, showing how modern proper C++ can be really made to look like.
Just go to MSDN page to have a look on the tutorials.
A little warning, the videos make use of Silverlight, which might be a problem if you don't like this sort of browser plugins, but the sessions contents are really worth installing it.
Enjoy the sessions.
Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) has been announced
The new features of the upcoming Android 2.3 are now public. Just go over to the Android release announment to know more about it.
One of the more interessing features is the ability now to fully develop in native code, plus the possibility to use STL with C++.
I am looking forward for a possible 2.3 upgrade, in case HTC makes it available.
Haskell has a redesigned web site
The Haskell official web site has now a new design. You can check the new design here.
What I like about the new design is that it makes the information more attractive. It should not matter for a programming language, but sometimes it does. For some users this is the type of small change that keeps them reading the available information on the web site or jump somewhere else.
I really enjoy the increase in visibility that funcional programming in now starting to have in the industry and having Haskell to be amog the chosen ones is really great.
Some videos of Oredev 2010 are now available.
One of the best videos to watch is the one from Jim Webber about doing 1 billion transactions per month in Java + HTTP.
One of the best parts of the talk is how Jim critics the SOA enterprise architectures that only lead to complexity and layers and layers of nonsense.
This is actually my opinion on SOA, for me it is a nice way of selling consulting services. There are lots of ways of doing similar architectures, without the Gigabyte stack of software required to do SOA.
Microsoft open sources F#!
Microsoft just announced that they made the source code for the F# compiler available under the Apache 2.0 License. The has been reported by Don Syme on his blog.
I really think it is important what Microsoft is doing by briging the functional progamming to the mainstream. Thanks to Microsoft, we have now some people in the enterprise using a functional programming language, and lets not forget that some of the main Haskell researchers do work at Microsoft research.
If you like to learn more about functional programming and have to develop applications in .Net, maybe now is the time to have a look at F#.
Apple deprecates Java on MacOS X
Apple just decided to stop investing on Java for newer MacOS X releases, as stated on their release notes of MacOS X 10.6 Update 3 and MacOS X 10.5 Update 8.
Since until now Apple always developed their own JVM, which they have licensed from Sun, it is now an open question what will Java developers on the Mac platform do.
Will they rely on a custom build of the OpenJDK, or will Oracle step in and also provide a JDK for MacOS X like they do for other platforms?
Now I am really happy that I haven't bought a Mac so far. This news coupled with the Apples idea of having an App Store for MacOS X, only shows how the computing world can become if Apple was in charge.
Now even Microsoft is looking a very nice guy.
So it is now it is clear to me, that most likely I won't ever get a Mac.
Quite a few updates from the C++ world
Many people deslike C++, even I have a love/hate relationship with it, but I also think that there is no other mainstream language that can replace it for the time being.
Sure it is a complex language, which requires some years to get the C++ Jedi Master level, but it also allows a level of multi-paradigm programming flexibility and performance, that few languages offer.
So with this in mind, there are a few ways for you to refresh your C++ knowledge. The first one is the video that is now available from the Bjarne Stroustrups's roadshow.
The othe information is the set of video tutorials created by Stephan T. Lavavej from the Microsoft Visual C++ team. They provide a nice overview over the STL capabilities, and you can find them here.
What Killed Smalltalk Could Kill Ruby, Too
I just discovered a very interesting video from the RailsConf 09, discussing the reasons that kept Smalltalk out of the enterprise and how they could happen again with Ruby.
The presentation is available here and is very amusing to watch.
Even though I lean towards Python in the dynamic language's world, I would like that Ruby also stays around. :)
HTC Desire arrived! Sorry for the downtime
First of all, let me excuse myself for the downtime on the last days. I had a problem with the domain, which made the site inaccessible.
On a positive note, my HTC Desire just arrived and I am now exploring its capabilities, stay tuned for more information.
HTC Desire on its way
So I finally decided to order my Android based mobile, and ended up chosing a HTC Desire.
It ships with the Android 2.1 version, but I know that it can be upgraded to the 2.2 version, which I will surely do.
Then it will be the time to start exploring the device capabilities and toying with the idea of developing some applications.
For a Linux fan like myself, the big plus will be the ability to carry Linux on my pocket as well. Who would say that the small Unix clone from the early 90's would be in the heart of so many mobile phones?
Symbian is still not developer friendly enough
This week I decided to try to use the new Nokia Qt SDK and check how friendly it is now to develop for Symbian.
I was really hoping that now with Qt, I could finally have some fun developing for Symbian mobiles.
Boy was I wrong! While trying to install the Qt libraries into the mobile, I get a simple Error -14 message. Very user friendly!
I even tried to ask the forum, but none of the advices did help.
I am now left with the possibility of going through the trouble of installing OpenC, Qt manually and hope it works.
But then again, it might not be worth it, because only applications for the N97 Mini and the X6 are accepted in the Ovi Store, as Nokia says on their site. They say another devices are going to be supported, but if I remember what they did to N-Gage users, the support will never come.
So I'm done with Symbian. Even with the recent Oracle/Google issue going on, my next mobile is going to be most likely an Android one.
Why Oracle!? Why Oracle?!
It had to happen sonner or later. So the last Oracle's move concerning Java's future was to process Google over Java patents on their Dalvik VM. As you can now read all over the Internet.
When Sun did it to Microsoft a few years ago, it made sense. Microsoft was developing their own non standard Java implementation, while extending it to be Windows only, thus breaking the write once, run anywhere marketing campaign.
So Sun's move did make sense as a way to keep the language and runtime compatible across implementations.
When Google released Dalvik, this same discussion came back again, but somehow Sun seemed to be happy with it. Google was maintaining Java the language, while providing another runtime environment. Plus they were very carefull not to refer to it as a Java implementation.
But apparently Sun was not that happy about it, and their financial situation was the only thing preventing them to be more active against Google.
New reports about this case, seem to imply that this possibility was discussed during Sun's sale.
The problem is that Google is not Microsoft. On those days the programming community was on Sun's side, because Microsoft was seen as the bad guy. On the other hand Google is still a hero on the eyes of the majority of the open source community and Oracle is not Sun.
Regardless how this case ends up to be, most likely Oracle has just killed Java.
Sure there are millions of lines of code being written in Java every day. It is also my main programming language, at least for the time being. But Java was already loosing its appeal as programming language, now thanks to Oracle, many developers will desdain the language for political reasons as well.
On a side note, it seems Oracle has killed OpenSolaris development as well.
It only goes to show how bad it was for Sun products to be bought by Oracle. On the long run they will alianate everyone that still had a positive remark about Java or Solaris.
No Go for Go!
I have been playing around with the latest programming language, whose development is sponsorend by Google, Go.
The language is a nice evolution from C, and might be able to replace it as the next language to use for systems programming. It provides some nice concepts to help developing multicore applications, like message channels and go routines. It is also a type safe language, with garbage collection, type inference and interface programming.
But I am not sure that the language is going to get widespread use if their developers don't provide features that we have got used to have available in other languages.
I speak namely of enumerations, generics, dynamic linking, dynamic loading and exceptions.
Most of the Go users seem to be against having these features available in Go, with the argument that they would render the language too complex.
I think that without supporting what every mainstream language already provides, Go will be just another language. Unless due to Google's influence it happens to get a broad userbase.
Me personally I will follow every now and then how the language evolves, but I think my time is better spent with F#/Scala/Haskell.
Google releases App Inventor for Android
If you are old enough you might remeber a nice point-and-click development environment for Macintosh called Hypercard. This way of developing applications has been the foundation of a few RAD environments like Visual Basic or Delphi.
Now it has come to the Android world, allowing several people to acquire a bit of task what programming is all about.
You can read more about it at the official web site.
Another piece of information that is also quite nice to know, is that they make use of Scheme environment for the JVM, as their solution to generate and compile the visual code.
Java 7 closure's syntax is awfull
The first version of the upcoming closure functionality for Java 7 has just been made available on the OpenJDK repositories. You can read more about it on this InfoQ article.
But has you can see, the proposed syntax is really bad. I cannot understand how come they have choosen such an awfull way to declare closures. Any other language with such a feature has better syntax than what is being proposed for Java.
As you can see from another InfoQ article, most people are not that happy with the current decision.
I used to be a Java fan, and I use it everyday on my work, but with the way that generics were introduced and now this awfull syntax for dealing with closures in the language, they (Sun/Oracle) are killing the language.
I just hope that they get some common sense before the final syntax gets decided.
Intel releases Intel Concurrent Collections for Haskell
Intel just made a big step in increasing Haskell's visibility in the industry, by releasing the first version of their concurrent libraries for Haskell.
Now available at Intel's Blog.
Haskell programmers around the world, rejoice! Functional programming is slowly becoming mainstream.
Modern OpenGL tutorial
Joe Groff from Durian Software has posted an online tutorial explaining how to make use of modern OpenGL programming techniques. You can have a look at it here
Have fun updating your OpenGL skills.
As some of you might recall, I had mixed feelings for the Linux support provided by Sony on their PS3 games console. Their lack of support for something similar to the PS2 Linux always kept me away from buying a PS3.
Even if you don't like Linux, this is an attack to consumers. When you buy a product, you buy it for a specific set of funcionalities. How can a company dare to come back, after they got your money, and say that will remove one feature from something that is suppoesed to be yours?!
I for one, will stay away from Sony game related products from now on. Now getting a XBox 360 is really getting appeling, regardless of how you see Microsoft, they care much more about consumers.
Finally OpenGL 3.2 on my laptop thanks to NVidia
It has been a long time since my last post. So before I say anything else, have a very nice 2010 full of only good things in life and in all areas of your life better as 2009 was.
I am using my first 2010's post to say a big thank you to NVidia. I think I own them this much because I am always complaining about their love/hate relationship with OpenGL.
On one side, they are one of the big players in the Khronos Group pushing for the new versions of the OpenGL standard, but on the other hand many of their freely available tools don't provide proper OpenGL/GLSL/OpenCL support. Which always leaves indie developers and hobbists like me to wonder how commited they really are.
But yesterday I got something nice from NVidia. Thanks to their new NVidia Verde program it is now possible to update laptop drivers, instead of being forced to fight with the laptop manufactuer to provide them.
The first time I tried to update my drivers, the laptop was still not supported by the program and I gave my feedback, and I guess many other users.
So yesterday it was a pleasant surprise not only to find that it was possible to update to a newer version, but that now I can also properly play around with OpenGL 3.2 and OpenCL 1.0 on my laptop.
So many thanks to NVidia, and I hope that they continue they good work supporting OpenGL and developers on the move like myself.
GDC Europe 2009
This week I was attending the GDC Europe 2009, that took place in Cologne. It used to take place in Leipzig, but now the event organizers have move it to Cologne. Since it is just 60Km away from Dusseldorf, I had to attend it as well.
This was my second time attending the conference, the first being back in 2003 at Earls Court in London. I must say that comparing both conferences, the one in London was better organized in terms of Lectures. This time I attended a few ones lacking content and sounding more to marketing sessions than anything else.
Still I did manage to learn a few things along the conference and even talked to a few people.
The Keynote sessions were all quite interesting. Today I also managed to see live one of the best game designers out there, Peter Molyneux.
A few trends that I observed during the conference.
C# seems to have settled as the election language for tool development. OpenGL is pretty much dead in what concerns the Windows platform. Most Studios will only care about OpenGL on the platforms where it is the oficial graphics API, like the iPhone or the PS3. Which is kind of sad, but understandable if we take into consideration all the issues around game development.
Since many attendees were Americans, there were lots of iPhones and Blackberries going around. On the mobile development front iPhone is getting all the attention.
The new Crytech engine is just great. I saw two live demos of it and both were quite amazing.
Finally, there were quite a few attendees carrying Macs around, but a few of them were actually running Windows!
Oh! I am eagerly waiting for Larrabee to be fully disclosed, but we still need to await around one year.
OpenGL 3.2 got released
Great news, even though I came a bit late to write about them. The Khronos group has announced on Monday the new revision of the OpenGL standard.
I really have to congratulate them. Besides all the negative press that they got around the OpenGL 3.0 release, they have been doing a good job after that and the industry has been a good supporter. Assuming it keeps going like this, we may still have a future for OpenGL.
Together with the announcement, they have also made available a nice reference card.
On Windows, DirectX might have woon the number one position as the main API, but OpenGL keeps on leaving as the only portable 3D API that there is currently available. I have a love/hate relationship with Microsoft products, and having OpenGL around is also a nice way to force improvements to products coming out of Redmond.
Since we are still talking about OpenGL related stuff, just have a look at recent OpenCL video published by AMD.
Concepts dropped from C++0x
Today is a sad day for the C++ community, as the news about Concepts being dropped from the upcoming standard got known.
The best way to get yourself informed about it, is to read the Bjarne's article at Doctor Dobbs Journal.
It is pity that a feature, which could improve C++ error messages got dropped like that. I do however understand the reasoning behind, specially due to the fact of it being a commitee feature without real life experience. The exception specifications and external templates features already showned us that is not a good idea.
On top of that, it is now visible that C++0x will become C++1x, since there is still too much work to finish, before the first compilers can be fully compliant with the standard.
Would this be a good signal for a new systems language to appear? Who knows, but for the time being C++ has still its place on the industry.
Article: Interviewing Java Developers With Tears in My Eyes
Nice article about interviewing developers that don't get anything about their real job.
While you might not agree with the article, it is true that many supposed developers are only doing configuration file programming and lack many skills you would expect from a developer.
This is specially true with people working in the industry without a proper CS background, and because of that complain that somethings are too complex. Although it is true that many programming tasks could be simplified, people should know how to use their tools of trade, and more important, why they work as they do.
Presentations from Nokia Developer Summit 2009 now online
Nokia has put the presentations from the latest Nokia Developer Summit online. And I already went through them, and have found what seems to be a hidden message.
Nokia seems to be promoting the use of language runtimes, meaning Java, Flex, Python and Widgets as a way to easily write applications. And for C++ developers the rote seems to be related to QT for mobiles.
For me this clearly shows that Nokia might be receiving lots of negative feedback when comparing the pain of using Symbian C++ with the development process to the iPhone, Android or Linux based mobiles.
So I for one applaud their effort to ease our lives as developers, just don't know if they will come on time to fight the advance of the other platforms, specially the Apple based ones.
2009 Lang.NET Symposium Videos
Uff! It has been already a month since my last update, I really need to try be more active.
Lately I have been watching the videos from the latest Lang.NET Symposium. Most of them are quite interesting.
Regardless of what you might think about Microsoft, I see as a good think that they push people to research managed languages. And the conference even had quite a few speakers doing JVM related work.
I just did not like the talk about dropping C/C++ in favour of C# for doing Linux development. I think that the speaker really does not understand what is behind Linux. If Microsoft makes the full .Net stack available as a ECMA standard, without patents, then we might have some reason, but that is all.
Remember that you will need Silverlight to watch the videos.
OpenGL 3.1 Specification got released
Today at GDC 2009, Khronos announced the new specification for OpenGL. This is really good news. After the desilusion that many of us had with the 3.0 specification, I can say that I am really impressed with what they managed to deliver in 6 months.
NVidia has already made 3.1 compliant drivers available
If Khronos keeps with the current rhythm, the OpenGL fans don't need to be scared of OpenGL fading away. Lets hope that is the case, the world really needs a nice portable 3D API.
Getting ready to release an updated site version
I am playing around with PHP and jQuery in order to update the remaining parts of the site that still look a bit too ugly and have the old look.
It is improving quite well and I'll be able to release this updated version in the next few days. jQuery really rocks.
I am attending for the first time FOSDEM. So far it has been quite interesting to see what the morning talks were talking about the Open Source community spirit.
On the afternoon I am planning to attend talks about GNUStep, XWindows and Graphics programming in Java.
I will later post some informations about how those talks went.
Update: Here goes a small update, now that the first day has ended. I ended up attending the following conferences:
- New theme engine in GNUStep
- Changes introduced in XRanR
- What has happened on Nouveau's development
- Accelerating embeded Java with OpenGL ES
- Increasing Java 2D performance with XRender
From all talks, what I enjoyed most was the X development related ones. The other ones were a bit dry. But one thing I already learned, X talks have a lot of interested people, one really needs to arrive early, otherwise there one stays outside.
I also enjoyed the projects that were showing something on their booths. More on that when I return to Dusseldorf.
Getting a proper development enviroment for F#
If you want to play around with F# but do not want to be left with just the command line compiler and a text editor, there is a solution.
In case you don't own the Microsoft Visual Studio, there is the possibility to install just the running part of the IDE. The F# installer will then use it as the normal Visual Studio.
You should do the following steps:
- Download the Microsoft Visual Studio Shell, integrated mode
- Run the installation.
- This will only unpack the real installation, so you need to execute it again.
- Now install F#
- You will have now a Visual Studio installation, with support for F#
Happy coding with F#. :)
I just installed Windows 7 on my laptop and I am quite impressed with it.
Vista does not support it that well, but with Windows 7, even though it is a Beta, thus slower and heavier than a release build, it is lighter than XP.
The only negative thing so far, seems to be that the fan is working more than with XP, but that might be because of Aero using DirectX, making the graphics card work more, or some driver problem.
Either way it is the first public beta, so we cannot ask for perfection.
From this first experience, I am looking forward for the final release and will continue to play with it.
I guess I am being atracted to the dark side of the force. :)
While I was in vacations in Portugal, I saw a program about Orion Tear, a portuguese 3D movie made with open source tools.
It is very interesting to see how far he managed to go with these tools, a very good example that others can follow to try to get a footstep into the industry.
State of Linux game development
Jonathan Blow is unfortunely right about the state of affairs, and I guess it is the main reason why many game developers stay away from the platform. Another problem is the type of answer one does get sometimes. Even Jonathan complains about it. Nowadays there are lots of teenagers full of anger against anything besides Linux and don't have any idea what real developer tools look like.
Anyway we are at the begining of a new year and we can hope that the situation will improve. Happy 2009!
xubuntu disappoints on old laptop
My father has an old Toshiba 4070 CDT laptop, with 192 MB RAM and a Celeron 300 Mhz processor. A perfect candidate to use a Linux distribution and thus improve its current usage. Since it is already an adventure to run Windows 2000 plus an anti-virus on the system.
So I have settled on Xubuntu as Linux distribution, because most of the provided software is correctly translated into European Portuguese, and it uses XFCE as desktop environment. It seemed a good choice, but it was not. I am not able to configure X with more than 800x600 resolution, and network still does not work.
A friend of mine is having similar problems with the latest Ubuntu.
I still might try with PuppyLinux or with Slackware, but I am not willing to spend that much time with it.
No Closures on Java 7
It has been confirmed at this year's Devoxx08 that closures won't be part of Java 7. As presented by Mark Reinhold.
I am disappointed, so Java will be one of the few mainstream languages not supporting closures. Maybe we are able to get them on Java 8.
Luckly Sun is now backing another languages on the JVM, so at least we are able to be productive with Scala, Groovy, Jython and JRuby on the JVM.
I really don't understand these sort of programmers that fear closures, for me they seem like people that only understand Java, and are average programmers. Based on my experience, any programmer with a proper CS curriculum will have full understanding of closures and their benefits.
Maybe the problem is that many universities are now producing dumb programmers?
OpenCL 1.0 specification is out
The specification for the OpenCL has been announced today on SC08.
You can get all the information on the Khronos web site
Lets hope that the graphic card manufacturers get OpenCL aware drivers, released quite soon.
Linux almost back to my Laptop
This week I have decided to buy an extra harddrive and play around with the idea of having Linux installed into it.
It was not easy task. I had to play around with a few distributions, but in the end I managed to find one that almost worked with everything.
I started with the latest Fedora, Fedora Core 10, which was a very big disappointment. The distribution seems to have a few new interesting features. However it never managed to recognized my network. Something that all other distributions never failed to do. Besides it has some strange behaviours where the CPU has a 100% load most of the time!.
At first I thought it might be a problem with the KDE version, so I ended up resinstalling the GNOME one, just to experience the same results.
Then I was using the Mandriva ONE 2006 live CD, just to help me download the new 2009 ISO. Which did not work because any of the available browsers were able to keep up with the download, thus making it an impossible task.
Luckly I also have a Knoppix CD, so with it I was able to download the Mandriva ONE 2009 ISO, and burn it.
The Mandriva distribution is really nice, and to my liking is still one of the best desktop distributions around. And amazingly it is the first time, all my laptop special buttons worked out of the box.
Still I am writting this post from my XP installation, because even though I was able to run Mandriva almost without problems, there were still a few that prevented it from being my main OS.
My laptop fans have thermostat and only work when it is really hot, or the CPU is having some hard work. With all tried distributions, even Mandriva, my fans kept working at full speed, and lm_sensors does not recognize my motherboard.
Using libdvdcss I was able to watch DVDs, but without sound, which does not help that much.
Finally, I do use Windows Media Player a lot, because as someone living abroad, I really enjoy the ability to see some TV or radio shows, on the web. The main problem is that currently many of these senders are using WMP 11 codecs, which are not properly supported by Win32Codecs package. The other solution would be to use the Fluendo codecs, but I still need to think if I really want to pay for something that I get for free on Windows and MacOSX.
So, until I can sort out these problems, I am back to XP.
I went yesterday with two friends to Frankfurt, where we had the opportunity to enjoy a very nice concert from Orishas.
They have put up a nice show, and all the bands acting before them, were also very good to hear. Only Stereo MCs seemed to be a bit out of place for the Orishas type of public. Still they have also given a good show.
Sony and PS3 Linux
I did complain already a few times about what Sony is allowing Linux to do on the Playstation 3.
As you might recall from previous postings, or by reading around the Web, Sony does not allow access to the RSX chip, thus preventing Linux to make use of accelerated 3D graphics.
Both solutions help alleviate the problem, but that don't make it go away.
But lately I have started wondering if the community isn't the one to blame for such state of affairs. If you go to the former Playstation 2 Linux Web site, you will see most people are worried to use the PS2 as a router, mini-server, or a plain desktop.
What won't you see, is too many discussions regarding game development on the PS2 Linux.
So was this deviation from the PS2 main goal, that made Sony think that it isn't worth to give Linux access to the RSX chip?
Meeting an old friend
Sometimes life is really surprising. This weekend I did not had big plans except for something going on, on Saturday, but even that was kind of changed on the last minute.
Then, I met a friend by chance on the tram, and thanks to her, I've found out that a mutual friend would be in town. Someone that I haven't met since 2006 and is now in Germany for some trainings.
So in the end, we ended up meeting, and talked about what each of us has been doing on these last two years and life in general.
It was really great. I wish all surprises in life could be that good.
New Apple Laptops! Or not. :(
Apple has released this Tuesday a new set of laptops, and they are really beatiful to look at.
However it is still not this time that I will get one. My 17 inches laptop is still in great shape and it was 1000 euros cheaper than the 17 inches MacBook Pro.
The only thing the Apple laptop has going for it, is a dual core processor. Even my graphics card, a GeForce 6800, has more internal memory.
So if what you care about is graphics programming, better stay with a PC, at least until Apple starts to offer more options.
Oh! And did I mention that they do not support Firewire anymore?
Cla are one of my favorite Portuguese bands. Yesterday I had the opportunity to see them alive after several years of absence from their concerts.
What can I say? They continue as great as always! I wish that they still have a long life ahead of them as band.
Last week, during my vacations, I was able to attend the Theatre festival FADA in Aveiro, Portugal. It was really nice to watch all the Theatre groups that attended the festival. I hope that my hometown gets to see more of such events.
If you happen to live in Aveiro, I can only advise you to keep watching for the next ones.
Sun Certified Java Programmer
So, now I am a certified Java developer as well!
I think that the value our industry gives to certifications is a bit overheighted, but they play a major role nontheless, so I decided that it was time to get certified.
Now I have free time again to dedicate to jME :)
Carmack's comments on Linux gamming
John Carmack has commented his view on the Linux gamming, on the last Quakecon convention. You can read his comments on the Linux Gamming site.
His is kind of right. What many people on the Linux community don't understand is that supporting portable APIs is not enough. On commercial titles there is a whole set of support to expect that Linux just don't have.
Windows, with all its problems, is still more manageable than Linux in what concerns managing to run a game sucessfuly. Many people moved from PCs to consoles because you just need to plug a disc to play the game, without further configuration problems.
I can't image tech support telling normal users to change configuration scripts under /etc to make their game able to run on a given distribution. Sadly I have to agree with John.
OpenGL 3.0! Is here, kind of.
Last monday, it has finally communicated to the community, the new OpenGL 3.0 standard. However it ended up being more like a OpenGL 2.2 than what has been promissed to the community.
As a result, the OpenGL forums exploded with complaints that people would drop support for OpenGL and that the CAD companies are to blame for what happened.
Now the sentiments seem to have settled down a bit, and the SIGGRAPHs BOF also helped to calm down the people. Lets see what the future holds for OpenGL.
Me personally, as a Linux fan, I would like to see that OpenGL as a relevant multiplatform API. But I see the danger of OpenGL going to join PHIGS, Glide, among others, on the 3D API heaven, if Khronos doesn't fulfill their promisse regarding the 6 months delivery for OpenGL 3.1.
Love Parade: The Good, Bad and Ugly
Yesterday it was time to go for my first time to the Love Parade. It was great! I already went to another Parade like events, specially while living in Switzerland, but this was the first time at the real one.
I did meet a few nice people and enjoyed most of it. That was the good part of the whole day.
The bad part was having to endure the rain that was falling every now and then, spoiling a bit the fun that we would otherwise have if it was a shinny day.
I decided to leave the ugly part to the end. The ugly part was having to go thru four police control points that were simply not prepared for the amount of people that came to the Love Parade. There were people faiting, having bruises and it was very unpleasant to move between check points. Had the police left the people to walk on their on to the train station, everything would have gone a way lot better. At least that is my gut feeling.
SCRUM applied to game development
There is a nice article in Gamasutra about the Top 10 pitfalls Using Scrumm, while applying it to the game development process.
Java Monkey Engine site renewed!
I have been tracking the Java Monkey Engine project for quite sometime. Unfortunely on the last months, not much care has been taken for the site. Leaving many visitors to wonder if the project was still alive.
The project sure was, and is, alive! The thing was, that time is a limited quantity and priority has given to some other tasks.
But now the site has goten a clean face that really shows the framework is alive and waiting for you to try it out.
Picking on XNA as well, I think that XNA and Java Monkey Engine, are two good examples for frameworks, which can be used to produce cool games. Not all games need to be the next Crysis.
XNA 3.0 CTP is out!
Finally the new XNA for Visual Studio 2008 is available. This is only the technical preview, the final version should be made available at the begining of the Summer time.
At the same time, the Creators Club Online has been updated for the online community, the so called You Tube for Games.
Independent of my position regarding what Microsoft does and their business practices, I find XNA a very good tool. It allows many students and bedroom coders to do something that might give them an entry point into the Game Industry. Sure they can still do it with C, C++, Java and whatever toolkit they like. But XNA provides an infrastructure that helps them into the right direction and for the good or bad, some important companies are starting to give an important look to XNA.
Me personally would like that the Java Monkey Engine would be something similar to XNA. But while Sun doesn't have a clear picture what to do with Java3D, JOGL and other similar graphics projects, Microsoft does have a clear goal. When they realize what they should do, most game developers will be happily developing with XNA.
I know that at least I will play at little with it.
Spain is looking for Engineers
It seems that Spain is lacking 25 000 Engineers, according to El Pais. If you fancy working in Spain, now might be the time to look for an opportunity.
Portugal's Usage Manual
Recently I have bought the book Gebrauchsanweisung fur Portugal. Sorry for not providing a direct URL but PHP's simple_xml() seems to have problems with the Amazon URL.
Anyway back to the book. The book was written by a German that lived for some time in Portugal and it is really cool! It contains a few sterotypes and some exageration sometimes, but it is overall funny, and I as a Portuguese really had a laugh while reading it. So if you know German, I advise you to read it, specially if you are Portuguese.
Spieleentwickler Treffen NRW
I also enjoyed the presentations that were done. I'm already thinking about attending the next one. :)
Back from vacations
I am finally back to Dusseldorf after some vacations where I travelled to Vienna, Amersfoot and Amesterdam.
You might think that this was a lot of travelling around, but actually when one lives on the middle of Europe it is kind of easy to travell around like that.
Vienna was really nice. My last time there was back in 2003, and now I had a bit more time to get to know the city. We really found lots of nice places and the Austrian gastronomy is also very tasty. :)
Amersfoot was then the opportunity to meet some of my friends on a new stage of their life. The city seems very welcoming. And we also took the oportunity to spend a day in Amesterdam because both cities are quite close to each other. And in Netherlands I also got the opportunity to taste new gastronomy trends. Also very nice. :)
Now it is time to get back to work.
New Site Design
Finally after several years with the same design, I have decided to refresh the way the site looks. Thanks to owsd I could quickly change it. I might still change the template but I also like this one.
This is work in progress, currently only the blog page has the new layout. I will update the rest during this week or on the next weekend.
NVidia's GDC 2008 Papers are now Available
For those of you that aren't always tracking down all the comunications from our beloved graphics hardware developers, NVidia has just published the papers from their talks at GDC 2008. You can get them here.
And the best of all is that they are all in PDF format. :)
The slides from the 2008 Lang.NET Symposium are now available. The downside is that you need to install Silverlight in order to see them. I really would like that Microsoft would be more standards friendly instead of having their own standards for everything.
Anyway, if you can overcome the prejudice of having to have Silverlight installed, the talks are quite interesting.
Yesterday I went to the Phoneheads concert together with the Dusseldorfs Orchestra. That was a really nice concert!
In case you don't know them, the Phoneheads are a Drum and Bass band from Dusseldorf. It was very enjoyable to see how they were able to mix their music with classic music.
Microsoft's Channel 9
This weekend I spent a great deal of time watching Channel 9 videos. Surely you get a lot of Microsoft propaganda, but they also have very interesting subjects with developers/researchers working outside Microsoft world.
So even if Microsoft technologies aren't your cup of tea, Channel 9 might be worth a look.
Portuguese Game Studio on the News
I just saw an article at the Develop Magazine about a Portuguese studio using the Gamebryo engine.
As a side note, Reuters will use Java for their Real Time Systems.
Helau! Carnaval is in Town!
Hi! Currently we are in Carnaval, and it is pretty big here in Germany. So we are having lots of partys to attend to. :)
On a side note, I have found that the videos from the last Ruby conference are online, and even though I tend to lean more to the Python side, I've been watching the conference videos. There is pretty cool stuff to watch. Even if you don't intend to develop applications in Ruby, I advice you to take a look at the videos. You can always learn something new.
Software Engineering Podcasts
Hi! So the year already goes far advanced for my first 2008 entry, but since we are still in January. Happy New Year! :)
Now for the blog entry subject. If you are into software development, I have found out a very nice site with podcasts about software development. It is called the Software Engineering Radio.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!
Even though I'm posting this entry after Christmas day, we are still on Christmas Hollidays. So enjoy the season and all the best for 2008!
Portuguese Winner on the NVidia Shader Contest
I just discovered that one of the winners from the Shade Your World competition is Portuguese!
Bye Symbian C++
You guys might remember how happy I was last year with the possibilty of trying out C++ on Symbian mobiles.
After some experiments, like a tic-tac-toe game and some OpenGL/ES examples, I failed to find the platform as interessant as I was expecting. First of all, one has to program on a weird C++ dialect, full of concepts like "Two phase initialization", functions that can leave and lack of full ISO-C++ support. And STL is also missing.
The reasoning for many of the design decisions behind Symbian-C++ is due to the hardware constraints of the devices where SymbianOS used to run. However the latest handsets are more powefull that my first PCs (386->Pentium), so I don't see why I have to use a weaker version of C++ than I had to use on those days.
And at least on my handset, the J2ME performance is quite good. So I'm giving up on Symbian-C++ until it gets more programmer friendly or I get paid to endure its pains.
A little Ruby
Due to the increased interest in the Ruby programming language, I took some time to play with the language during a business travel last week.
The language really looks quite nice, and I specially like the Smalltalk feel that one can see on the language itself. However I don't see myself making a huge investment into taking Ruby into use. And the main reason for it is that I have been using Python for quite some time now. Besides code blocks, I don't see many advantages of Ruby over Python.
Sure I might use it the future, if the need arises. But for the time being, Python serves my dynamic language programming requirements, specially due to the wider support it has.
The increase in functional programming
For those of you that don't know iti, F# is a funcional language for .Net based on the ML familly of languages. I've always been a great fan of funcional programming, having had my first contact with Caml Light. One of the things that attracted me to Python was the functional programming possibilities that the language somehow offered at the time.
Python and Ruby offer many funcional based contructs and they somehow helped more people to become more aware of funcional programming. Haskell keeps on attracting users and since Pugs makes use of it, it gained a bit more of traction. Not to forget that one of the research institutes using the language it Microsoft Research itself.
Now having a big company like Microsoft backing a functional language in their official set of programming languages will only help the cause, regardless of one may think about the company itself.
I for one, am not a super fan of Microsoft, but I am glad that they are productizing F# and will for sure have a look at the language. Who knows maybe functional programming might be the next breakthrough in the industry, after OOP. :)
C++0x, will anyone care?
I started programming in C++, back in 1992. At the time there were lots of C++ related magazines discussing the language along with the standardization process. The C++ Report and The C/C++ Users Journal became part of my monthly reading.
Since then I became well versed in the language and even had the oportunity to use it in HPC scenarios, during my stay at CERN.
But currently I spend most of my working time with managed languages (Java, Python, etc), and only code in C++ when need arises. I only use C++ for personal projects, or when it is the best tool for a given job. Otherwise I stay on the cosy world of higher level languages as C++. :)
But I try to keep me up to date with the C++ language revision, and some of the changes, like concepts, which appeal to me. However I am a bit sceptisc that the world will notice C++0x when it comes out.
We are in 2007 and as far as I know, there isn't a single C++ compiler that fully implements the Ansi C++ 98. Assuming that C++0x will be C++ 09, when will the first 100% compliant compiler appear? And how should we write portable code in the mean time?
This was always a plague in the C++ world, how to take advantage of new language features and yet keep the programs portable.
Currently C++ is the best language for doing systems programming, however the world moves on, and new solutions keep on appearing. There were other languages for systems programming before C++ and there will be surely other ones afterward.
In a world, where most IT projects moved away from C++ to Java, C# and even on a smaller scale to Objective-C, will there be any major project taking advantage of C++0x? In my area C++ is only being used when the other languages are not performant enough, or for legacy projects.
C++ will still be a long time with us, and many new applications are still being written on it, I just don't know if anyone will care for C++0x.
PS3 at 400 euros. At what price?
Sony made the announcement of a PS3 at 400 euros. We should probably be happy with it, since even I paid more than that for my PS2. But I'm personally not that happy.
When PS3 was announced, I as PS fan was already salivating for getting one. It was going to play blue-ray, have Cell processors and support Linux from day one, what more could a techie savy person wish for?
What do we have now? A console that when compared to its American or Asian counterparts is handicaped. And Sony continues to keep on hold the support for the graphics processor on the PS3 Linux.
It seems that Sony lost touch with their fans. The ones that made PS1 and PS2 famous and now have to depart somewhere else.
I'm still hoping that the situation will change, but I'm not waiting forever.
I have made a small Java utility to convert Sony's Multiburst image files into a more convenient file format. Which currently means animated GIF files. Just follow the header link to get the utility.
I'm still on vacations, now in Aveiro, after a well spent week in Lisbon.
I was there showing the city and surroundings to a few german friends. They seemed to have enjoyed it. I did as well, after all it not all the time that we get to enjoy our city together with some foreign friends. I hope everyone returned safely back home and see you guys in some days.
Just got the result of my german exam that I did in may. Yes I know that is long time ago however the exams are corrected all together in Munich so they take sometime to get corrected. But I can say that I did pass the exam and now have officially C1 german level! :)
Switching to another theme, if you haven't seen the Simpsons movie, please do so. And stay all the way until the end, the movie is hillarious and full of small surprises.
Back from Finland
I'm now back in Dusseldorf after a short stay in Helsiki due to one of our projects. Since I had some time after work to walk around the city, I took the oportunity to take some pictures of the city. Specially this time of the year, since they still almost have no night. You can have a look at them here.
I also found out that the Portugese National TV now has a few live transmitions via Internet. Way to go RTP!! If at least the other TVs would follow you. We can only wish. :)
Blog finally updated!
Hello! Those of you that were coming to my blog for the past few months may have thought that the site was dead. Actually I have done a few updates, but nothing much. Now I have using PHP5 for the blog part, and for my photo gallery. Well the photo gallery is only visible to my friends but it is a very important part of the site.
I know that last year I was considering other technologies besides PHP, and to be honest I don't like it that much. But it gets the job done and is easily portable for other servers if needed. But I would gladly play around with Ruby on Rails if the oportunity comes up. :)
Last week I went to the Chemical Brothers concert here in Dusseldorf. If you like them, and you happen to live nearby one of their tour places, then I advise you to go to their concert. Here it was quite cool.
Busta Rhymes concert
Last Friday I went to Busta Rhymes' concert here in Dusseldorf. It was nice to be able to watch him live, but the concert felt somehow short. Somehow it seems that more time was spent on the bands that played before him than on his concert.
But I've also got to know Spezializtz from G.B.Z. which seem to be very well known over here.
Hi everyone. I wish you all an Happy Easter.
Games for Mobiles, is it really worth it?
I have been a long time fan of J2ME games, always hoping for them to get better but that doesn't seem to be the case. Currently mobile games are a good busines with lots of people downloading games to play on their mobiles mostly while commuting. And lots of them are really cool, however there is one big disavantage to them while comparing to a PSP or DS. Lack of proper controls.
I think there is really good potencial for proper games on cell phones, but developers need to focus on the available controls and not do simple ports of known games. My disappoint has been growing everytime I try a new mobile version of known games from Amiga or SNES days, the mobiles just weren't made for them.
Maybe every game developer and publisher should take care that a cell phone keyboard is not the same thing as a PS2 controller.
Yesterday at Salon des Amateurs I was able to get to know a very cool Drum and Bass band. I don't know if they will support my understanding of their music style, but they are really cool nontheless. Check them out at their web site.
I just add a new application for doing very simple image processing, creativily named ImageProcessor.
So it is time again for Carnaval in Germany. Here in NRW the country will surely almost stop until next Wednesday. If you are around just be prepared to take part into the action, or to run away if this is not your kind of thing. :)
Better support for Symbian
It seems that the Symbian consortium is finally realizing the pain it is to program for the Symbian OS. So they are releasing POSIX support for the OS. The project name is known as Open C.
Now if they just could improve the C++ support as well.
Linux out again :(
It's been a long time since my last blog entry, so first of all I take the oportunity to wish you all a Happy New Year, even though we are already in February.
This week I've finally removed Linux from my laptop. So why did I, a Linux fan, irradicated Linux from my own laptop?
The answer is quite simple, lack of support. My last attempts were based on Mandriva 2007 and Fedora Core 6. These distributions were the first ones that properly supported my screen resolution and sound card out of the box.
But they kept on hanging! Surely an X Windows/NVidia driver problem, as I have seen before. But these crashes always meant a cold reboot, the last one even made me reflash my BIOS. I still don't understand how a OS crash can be related to a corrupted flash BIOS but it happened.
And even if the Linux would be working ok, I would still need to configure the support to multimedia using the binary only win32codes, using binary drivers for my WiFi card, not be able to use my laptop remote, and I would still need Windows for gamming and Symbian development.
So I just lost my patience and my laptop is again a Windows only one. Please note that this doesn't mean I lost my faith on Linux. My work is mostly done in Linux, and I have other computers with Linux installed, but this laptop will not have Linux for the time being.
The sad fact about this is that we are now in 2006, 12 years after I started using Linux (slackware 2) and some problems are still the same.
And even though more manufacters support Linux, some of them just do it as a marketing thing. Just look for all those network adapters manufacters that use Linux on their rooters but don't provide support for the WiFi cards. Or Sony that supports Linux on PS3 but without graphics acceleration. And I could surely get more examples.
Linux is back in. Time for XBox 360?
So after some experiments I was able to use Mandriva 2007 and also Fedora Core 6. Both seem to support most of the laptop, exception made to the usual Winmodem stuff and maybe the WiFi system. Anyway Mandriva default X installation kept on hanging, so now I'm trying my luck with Fedora.
I should also praise Microsoft for them opening XBox 360 to game hobbyists. This time they seem to have an edge start to PS3. As an happy PS2 Linux owner I was expecting better support from Sony, but they seem to think otherwise. Most available reports so far seem to suggest that even the officially supported Yellow Dog Linux isn't able to use the graphics hardware. So what the use of running Linux on PS3 if it is just for looking cool?
Time to drop Linux out of my Laptop?
This title may seem bombastic to my friends that know me as a Unix lover even though I also work with Microsoft tools every now and then. The problem is that we are currently in 2006 and after several experiments, I still haven't found a distribution that supports all the hardware in my Laptop.
The sound system and WiFi are still not working. I could tweak configuration files, but somehow along the years I lost the motivation to keep on doing it.
And my current usage of the laptop requires the use of Windows due to some Windows only software like the Symbian SDK. So my Linux distribution is only getting digital dust.
If Mandriva 2007 or Fedora Core 6 still do not support it, maybe it's time to regain that lost partition.
Some new stuff
It has been a while since I lasted posted here. Lots of stuff have been happening. For a starters I'm back to the VHS, now at medium level B2. Yep, that's right I passed my "Deutsch als Fremdsprache" exam! :)
Paralel to that I'm also doing some Photo development workshop, let's see how it goes.
And to end this update, I'm now playing with Symbian OS in C++. It's kind of cool because it is a bit like old school coding. I'll put some results on my site when I have them ready. As usual my friends have priority over my hobby coding, so these projects tend to go a bit slow.
This weekend I attended Mera Luna and it was very nice. I was afraid of attending it because of the weather conditions. But in the end it did not rain and I manage to see some interesting bands. And I also enjoyed meeting my friends.
So see you next year Mera Luna!
See you in Lisbon
A portuguese friend that I met in Dusseldorf just returned home this weekend. It was sad to see a friend go. In one hand I felt sad because it is always a sad to see a friend leave. But on the other hand I also understand that each one has to live its own life.
So all the best to you Ines, and see you in Lisbon in a few weeks time.
World Cup is over
So today it's the last day of the World Cup. It was a very interesting World Cup. Specially if you were lucky enough to live in Germany. It was very nice to live thru all the ambiance that surrounds an international event like this one.
Another reason was that it was very good to see how far Portugal managed to go. It's true we got defeated yesterday but we managed to come all the way to 4th place. Most of the other countries are already at home. :)
I just came back from Paris after spending some time there for the MeetIn convention. I must say that it was great and I enjoyed a lot all the activities that the MeetIn Paris members organized. It was also great to get to know so many nice people from all over the world.
So thanks once more and see you around in some event. The pictures will be made available still this week for the persons with access to my gallery.
My favorite spanish football team just manage to win the Champions League. It might not have been a super match, but in the end they managed to succeed. So "Felicitaciones Barca!".
Last week a friend of mine had to go back to her country. Someone that I got to know last year and became a good friend of mine, and hopefully we'll keep on touch.
And during the Easter hollidays I had a visit from two good friends from my time in Geneva. We amused ourselfs touring around Dusseldorf and all its terraces.
This made me think a bit about friendship, and I decided to publish as a blog entry, something that everyone knows but is good to write it down. Friends is one of the best things you can get during life, just be sure you keep them!
How it is possible!?!
Sometimes is incredible how people put up with buggy IDEs. I've been trying to generate EJB mapping code with the mapping tool from a very well know IDE, and the generation keeps on failing due to some strange IDE bugs. This task is keeping me busy for a week already. How can big companies release such a buggy products?!
And before someone starts wondering. The mappings are correctly defined. Only with this IDE, things keep on failing.
This really makes me miss the days when using a Tcl application server where this type of mapping would just take some minutes and work out of the box. Somewhat similar to the currently famous Ruby on Rails.
Yesterday I went with a friend to the Juanes' Concert here in Dusseldorf. It was really cool. We took lots of pictures and he played most of his hits. In the end it was a very good concert. My only complain is that the concert could have been a bit longer.
Stay tuned for the photos. I'll make them available as soon as I have some free time.
Cebit 2006 Video and Tcl
I just got an email from a friend telling me that one his Cebit videos, just made its way to the Looking Glass web site. Congratulations Oliver!
It seems that IBM uses Tcl as a scripting language for the Websphere server. This is quite cool, it's been a while since I've used the language for the last time. The language is quite cool and it brought me found memories from when I was working at Altitude Software.
As a final note, I should add that Spring seems to be arriving to Dusseldorf. Finally I can continue to do inline skating!
This weekend I traveled together with a friend to my first Cebit's visit. It was kind of cool to attend Cebit. The exibithion was quite big and we got to see some cool stuff first hand. I was pleased to see a section with old computers. I consider it a travel into childihood.
The Linux and Sun sections were also interesting to attend. NVidia's section took a few booths and was always croweded. As usual I took some pictures of the events.
Cool Concert last night!
Yesterday, I've attend the Misia's concert here in Dusseldof. It was a very nice concert. A big part of the audience was Portuguese, but many Germans were also there. And I can say that everyone enjoyed the concert. We even had 3 encores! Good luck for the next concerts, Misia.
Happy New Year
It's a bit late, but I guess it's still on time. HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!
First snowfall in Dusseldorf
The first snow of 2005 Winter has just arrived! I managed to take some photos from my house.
And I've updated my C++ and Bison tutorial for a more recent version of g++.
I just read a very nice article from Charles Petzold about the complexity of todays IDEs. Even though is talk was target to Visual Studio, I think we can apply the same reasoning to other IDEs as well.
Back to Germany
I am back to Germany, after some vacations in Portugal and decided to update the site as well.
And I will start by removing my contratulations to the SIC Portuguese Channel. Those guys only had their site open for connections outside Portugal for a few days. I've sent them a complaint email, joking a bit, I must confess. Got their reply saying that they can't transmit outside of the county. Feel free to read it if you understand portuguese.
Now the funny thing is. The RTP and TVI channels are able to transmit outside of the country, even if they charge for it. How come SIC can't do the same?!
SIC is now available outside Portugal!
Hurray! I just discovered that the Portuguese TV network SIC is now available outside Portugal. MUITO OBRIGADO!
Of course, my main reason is to be able to keep in touch with SIC Radical.
I've also added an entry to a new parser generator, Gardens Point
Oita Cinema gets a new life!
I've just learned that one of my favorite cinemas back home is getting a new life thanks to the city's cinema club. Sorry but they only have information in Portuguese.
I've always had a love for good movies, you know, the type of movies that aren't made just to sell popcorns. So it's nice to see the cinema club getting the Oita cinema back into action. I do understand they also need to show some more comercial movies from time to time. But at least we have a group of people to thank for keeping the cinema running.
Now they just need your presence. So if you are in Aveiro, Portugal just pay a visit to Oita's cinema. You might get to see a good movie.
Last weekend I went to the M'era Luna festival to meet some friends and enjoy the music festival.
If you apreciate Gothic Music then I would advise you to come by next year.
This Saturday I went to a concert here in Salon des Amateurs that was very good. So if you like musicians like Kusturica, take a look at Bukovina web site. If you follow the link you will get to hear some samples.
Trip to Bruges
The last weekend I was in Bruges, very nice town. I strongly advise you to visit it.
It was lots of monuments to see, mostly churches. Exhibitions, channels like Amesterdam, and a nice gastronomy. :)
If you have time, rent a bike, it's really the best way to go around the city.
Yesterday I went to a Spanish night here at Zakk. Very nice party and I recomend it.
I just don't know why they also had Casal Garcia on the list of Spanish wines when it is a Portuguese one. Oh well, at least it helps spread the knowledge about it. :)
Another sad day
So when the world thinks that we are safe, we get another attack just to remind us that it isn't so. I can't understand what makes these guys make this sort of things.
My condolonces to everyone that lost a loved one in the London attack.
Blogs and other stuff
I'm really thinking about improving this blog section. But alas, real life keeps holding my progress. So probably in a few more months before the new site version becomes available.
As you might have noticed from previous entries, I've started to put some pictures in the site. The new version will of the site will have some sort of gallery. :)
Now I just have to try to go thru the rest of my working day and prepare for another weekend! Have a nice weekend.
New site engine part 2 and Karneval
Will it be the foundation of the next version of this site? Probably not due to lack of availability where to run it, but let's see.
Last week it was Carnaval (or in german Karneval) and I took the opportunity to grab some photos of the parade. You can see them in my gallery. Enjoy.
Ideas for a new site engine
I'm starting to be fed up of using these XML/XSLT files for the web site without much support from something else. So I've decided to automate the generation of these files with something like PHP or Perl. What I want is the ability to add new content using a browser and nothing else. I already looked into some PHP CMS systems like Mambo and XOOPS but they seem overkill for my simple site.
What can I say? The amount of images that we can see from the area are nothing compared to the suffering and losses that Asien people are going thru now. So just help the international organizations so they can help them.
Moving into Dusseldorf
Even though I am making this entry, the 6th of January, I wanted to leave the date that I officially moved here. :)
It's been two years since I left Portugal and went to work for CERN in Switzerland and leaving in France. Funny situation but pretty common in the Geneva area.
Eventually I got a job at Nokia in the Dusseldorf R&D center. So here I am now in a new city, new country and starting to now German.
The entry for the Lex/Yacc tool for Delphi has been updated. The owner changed the web site location.
I was finally able to download tactics into my mobile phone, a Nokia 3510i. I'm now in the process of tailoring the code so that the game makes the best use of the phone.
The Eli entry in Compilers Toolkits, has been updated. My personal information was also updated.
The tactics J2ME game has been ported to the Nookia Series 60 platform.
Information about the PyGgy parser/lexer generator was added to the compilers section.
Finally I've managed to fixe some of the help files in the MapEditor.
A simple tanks game that I started developing when Vodafone anounced their game competition has been added to the games section.
It is called tactics.
Added a small Python script that generates web galleries from a set of image files.
Flipcode talks about my port
Today I saw that Flipcode has a news about my 'The Art of Demomaking' port. This was really great. :)
If you have anything to suggest in the port, please let me know.
The missing samples, ta-demo15 & 16 were finally added.
The code now compiles with gcc 3.2.X in the latest Linux distributions.
The timer related code of the ports has been updated.
The Alex Champandard's tutorial samples have been ported to SDL.
RSS now supported
My first RSS version goes live!
The Delphi Parser Generator has been added to the Parser/Scan Generators section.
SableCC entry updated
The SableCC entry in the Compilers Toolkits section has been updated.
Checkers has been localized to English and Portuguese.
The Java version of checkers has been upgraded from AWT to Swing. Nothing like bringing the interface up to date. :)
Compilers section updated
A games section is now available
Added a new section, entitled Games. Moved the games that were available in the Graphics section to the new section.
FNC-2 entry is updated
The FNC-2 entry in the Attribute Grammars section has been updated.
New compilers information available
A new entry in the compilers section is available! It contains information about The Parsers and Scanners tools that are available on the Net.
Programming in GNOME with C++
The tutorials section of graphics has been created. It has an article about programming in GNOME with the gtkmm/gnomme framework.
SharpCheckers was updated
SharpCheckers has been updated to the .Net release edition.
Checkers now in .Net
It's been a long time since I've updated the site. Well I guess that is what happens when you have a site as an hobby and not much free time. :(
A new game has been added, or should I say a new version of an old one ?
The Java Checkers game has been ported to .Net/C# and is now on the site. Have fun !
Finally I've decided to get myself a domain and the ability to script my site the way I want to.
It's been a while since I last updated the site, so I added a small checkers game that I done a few years ago. I am in the process of learning C# and WinForms, so stay tuned for an updated version of the game.
The Discovering C++ document has been updated!
C++ programming document
I realized that there are many C++ developers that don't know anything about how different is standard C++ from the one they are using. So I decided to create a FAQ with information targeted at them.
Finally I got some free time and added an entry for the MapEditor. An editor for 2D tile based games.
Well, instead of updating my online CV on Friday, I am updating it today.
New CV versions
OK, I have updated my CV in the authors section. Now there are RTF and PDF versions. The online version will be updated tomorrow.
Fixed folder's names
Apparently some of the folders were misspelled :((. But that's solved now, thanks for your patience.
A new version appears
Finally the third version of Programmers' Toolbox is up and running :). A section about parsers and scanners is missing because is being updated, but it will be added very soon.
Feel free to take a look around. Please mail me if you have any suggestions to make