Developer Week in Review

Google sells out a conference, Oracle dances with developers, and keyboards that will put you in a padded cell

I am led to understand that there was some kind of sporting event on Sunday. As our brave New England lads were not involved, I foreswore it (except for watching the commercials on Hulu, of course …) But now that the nacho-and-beer-induced stupor that many of you seem to have been suffering from has worn off, let’s see what happened around the industry last week.

The 49th caller wins tickets to Google I/O

If you had your heart set on a trip to the beautiful George Moscone center for Google’s annual developer love-fest, you needed to have fast fingers this year. The general registration signup opened and closed again in under an hour, after the website took a beating usually reserved for iPhone reservations.

Your weekly Oracle news

Proving once again that Oracle totally fails to understand the open source community, there’s now a major todo brewing around the continuous integration project formerly known as Hudson. The basic timeline appears to be as follows:

  • Oracle takes down the source repositories for more than a week to do infrastructure changes, without warning the developer community.
  • The founder and chief committer created a GitHub project so that work could be done while Oracle got their act together.
  • Oracle got snotty and said that the GitHub project couldn’t be called Hudson because Oracle owned the trademark.
  • The developer community said “Fine, we’ll change the name to Jenkins.”
  • Oracle said “You can call it whatever you want, but it’ll be a fork.”
  • Hilarious hijinks ensue!

Keyboards for real programmers

LISP MachineAfter last week’s (DMCA’d) peek at the Internet, circa 1994, here’s another blast from the past: a collection of keyboard photos from the early LISP machines! These keyboards had a set of modifier keys yet to be surpassed in the world of programming, sporting not only a control and alt (meta) key, but also a hyper and super key. All of them could be chorded, leading to such memorable key presses as “control-meta-hyper-yu shiang whole fish.”

Regrettably, the page fails to display any keyboards from LISP Machine, Inc, which was my first corporate employer (after a six-month-stint working at the MIT AI Lab.) However, if you look at the photo, you can see what was the bane of my existence when I did field service calls for LMI, the notorious A=M ECO (Engineering Change Order). There’s a series of white wires running down the center of the front wire-wrap panel. They are twisted-pair with one wire grounded on either side, and were put in because the original single-wire runs were sensitive to induced current from wires they crossed. There were 32 of them, they needed to be unwrapped on both ends from the pins, teased out with dental tools, and then the twisted pair wires added in place of them. It took hours, and woe to you if you broke another wire while removing the target ones. But tell that to the kids today …

You young whippersnappers come back next week, and Uncle James will tell you more tales of computers new and old. Until then, get off my lawn! Suggestions are always welcome, so please send tips or news here.

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topic: Programming
  • http://webwit.nl/input/ Webwit

    >Regrettably, the page fails to display any keyboards from LISP Machine, Inc

    Hi James, I wrote that article, I wonder if you know of any photos of those keyboards, or can point me to any additional info? I don’t think I’ve ever seen them.