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2005.05.26

Today's Dynamic is Tomorrow's Static

Today at the IEEE Software's editorial and advisory board meeting, the issue of service-oriented architectures came up. Robert Glass wondered whether this was the upcoming fad, following structured programming and object-oriented programming, to which Stan Rifkin replied that service-oriented architectures are a lot more dynamic. Interestingly, the previous approaches, which we today consider as static, were also thought-off as dynamic in their day.

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2005.05.19

Cats and Cigarette Lighters

On April 14th, the US Transportation Security Administration started enforcing a new ban on cigarette lighters. A month later, I saw the corresponding announcement posted on a check-in desk at the Samos international airport. At the same airport I also saw a free-roaming cat getting its food delivered directly on the tarmac. I entered my flight feeling a lot safer.

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2005.05.13

Warum einfach, wenns auch kompliziert geht?

(Why make it simple, when you can also make it complicated?) Consider the task of associating code with specific data values. Using a multi-way conditional can be error-prone, because the data values become separated by the code. It can also be inefficient in the cases where we have to use cascading else if statements, instead of a switch, which the compiler can optimize into a hash table. In C I would use an array containing values and function pointers. My understanding is that the Java approach involves using the Strategy pattern: a separate class for each case, and an interface "to rule them all".

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2005.05.11

Ordnung muss sein

A free-form translation of the above German phrase (orderliness must exist) would be that orderliness is not negotiable. In the domain of information technology I find this motto particularly pertinent.

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2005.05.05

Google's Web Accelerator as a P2P CDN

I admire Google's guts in deploying their Web Accelerator. Proposing to act as an intermediary for the whole planet's web traffic takes a lot of courage and a certain amount of audacity. Interestingly, the system's design can be quite scalable, through the use of peer-to-peer and personalization technology.

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2005.05.01

Java Makes Scripting Languages Irrelevant?

Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows it.

— Alan J. Perlis

In computing we often solve a complex problem by adding another level of indirection. As an example, on Unix file systems an index node, or inode, data structure allows files to be allocated concurrently and sparsely, and yet still provide an efficient random access capability. When we want to customize large and complex systems or express fluid and rapidly changing requirements a common tool we employ is to add a scripting layer on top of the corresponding system. An early instance of this approach was employed in Dan Murphy's TECO editor developed on the DEC PDP-1 computer in 1962–63: its command language also doubled as an arcane (to put it politely) macro language.

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