Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Talk Like a Duck

Last night, my former colleague Rick DeNatale spoke at XP West Michigan. I had invited him to come and give the talk he recently gave at RubyConf.

Rick's talk was titled "The Fall and Rise of Dynamic Languages." It was a fascinating retrospective of language development. Interestingly, dynamic languages like Smalltalk and Ruby have been around for a long time, though you might not know it from their lack of attention until recently. Many people in the audience were Ruby enthusiasts, and I think they really appreciated learning some of the history. Rick has met, known and worked with a lot of the key players in dynamic languages over the years, so he had lots of interesting stories to share with us, too.

In particular, I enjoyed the audio clip he played of an interview with Ward Cunningham. Asked if he thought dynamic languages were inherently less safe than static-typed languages like Java, Ward replied that the problems that static typing helped solve were few in comparison to the problems that dynamic languages could solve just by their improved expressiveness. I'm paraphrasing from memory, of course. It made me eager to start coding in some languages besides Java.

Let me put in a plug for XP West Michigan, since I'm a board member. Our little group has enough funding to fly in speakers and cover their expenses just to come and speak to us for two hours. So if any of you "Eclipse Mafia" types would be interested in speaking to our little group, we can cover your expenses. We even take the speaker out for dinner after the meeting. Last night we took Rick to Tre Cugini. Compilers, virtual machines, Eclipse, whatever your expertise, we'd be interested. So email me if you're willing to consider a trip to Grand Rapids.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Eclipse Summit Europe

I just got back from Eclipse Summit Europe. It was my first time at this conference. It is quite different from EclipseCon, most notably because of the smaller size. There were just over 400 attendees this year.

Some highlights for me:
  • Patrick and I spent 12 hours on Monday working in the Sud Haus (which he refers to as the "Suds Haus.") Pair programming is quite invigorating.
  • I got to see lots of folks from OTI, whom Dave Thomas refers to as "The Eclipse Mafia." Mike, Bjorn, Ralph, Susan, Jeff, Dave and others. I also got to meet a number of people that I'd heard of but had never had the chance to meet or had not seen in a long time: Chris Aniszczyk, Heiko Seeberger, Hendrick Hoefer, Scott Lewis and others.
  • The Runtime Symposium on Tuesday was interesting. It's an informal setting intended to spark conversation. It was interesting to hear others who are biased toward OSGi services like me.
  • Dave Thomas' keynote the first day. Java is the new Cobol, etc. Provocative as always.
  • Jeff McAffer and I gave a talk on Best Practices for Equinox and OSGi, based our upcoming book (more on that in another post).
  • This year's hackathon was based on Toast, the OSGi reference implementation from the book.
  • Andechser.
Because my wife had to leave for a conference in San Antonio by Thursday evening, I had to be home by Thursday afternoon. We had time for dinner with the boys before I drove her back to the airport. So I had to miss the final day. But it was definitely worth going.

You can see a few photos I took over on my personal website here.

From the Slate?

It's a literal translation from Dutch "van der lei". Oddly enough, the name "Vanderlei" is a very common first name in Brazil. Just have a look at all the people with that name who are famous enough to be on Wikipedia. And that does not include yours truly. So some random Brazilan dude snatched up way back in 2005. Apparently, my Dutch ancestors made quite a name for themselves while plundering Brazil way back in the 1600s. That might explain why my great grandfather was nicknamed "Xingu."