April 2009

Old Apple ][ ad featuring Ben Franklin: "What Kind of Man Owns His Own Computer?"Click the ad to see it at full size.

From roughly the same time as the Honeywell “What the Heck is Electronic Mail?” advertisement I showed you earlier, comes this Apple ad for the original Apple ][ computer. You have to remember that this was a time when most people didn’t have a computer at their desk; in fact, if an office had a computer, it had just one. And the desktop computers of that era had far less processor power (they typically has 1 MHz 8-bit chips like the Z80 or 6502) and RAM (maximum address space was 64K; machines typically maxed out at 48K RAM) than even the cheapest of today’s mobile phones. And yes, that’s a standard TV set being used as a monitor – its highest resolution was 280 by 192 pixels.

The tricky part about creating such an ad is trying to convince people of that era that they needed a computer. Remember, in those days computers were relegated to their own rooms, the fax machine was still new, mobile phones were toys for the rich and were carried in their own briefcases and when office and even legal documents were typed or written out in longhand. I’ve been trying to think of a present-day analogue for a late 1970s/early 1980s computer ad, but I’m drawing a blank.

Here’s the text of the ad:

What kind of man owns his own computer?

Rather revolutionary, the whole idea of owning your own computer? Not if you’re a diplomat, printer, scientist, inventor…or a kite designer, too. Today there’s Apple Computer. It’s designed to be a personal computer. To uncomplicate your life. And make you more effective.

It’s a wise man who owns an Apple.

If your time means money, Apple can help you make more of it. In an age of specialists, the most successful specialists stay away from uncreative drudgery. That’s where Apple comes in.

Apple is a real computer, right to the core. So just like big computers, it manages data, crunches numbers and prints reports. You concentrate on what you do best. And let Apple do the rest. Apple makes that easy with three programming languages – including Pascal – that let you be your own software expert.

Apple, the computer worth not waiting for

Time waiting for access to your company’s big mainframe is time wasted. What you need in your department – on yourdesk – is a computer that answers only to you…Apple Computer. It’s less expensive than timesharing. More dependable than distributed processing. Far more flexible than centralized EDP. And, at less than $2500 (as shown), downright affordable.

Visit your local computer store

You can join the personal computer revolution by visiting the Apple dealer in your neighborhood. We’ll give you his name when you call our toll-free number…

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If Everything was Made by Microsoft

by Joey deVilla on April 30, 2009

Cracked asked its readers to show them what the world would look like if everything in it was made by The Empire. Of the images they submitted. the one below is my favourite – I’ve joked in front of audiences that we make too many versions of Windows and am anxiously awaiting the release of Windows 7 Tartar Control Edition:

Microsoft Can of Peas Home Edition and Microsoft Can of Peas Professional

What, no “Can of Peas Ultimate” and “Can of Peas Team System”?

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Quebec City Coffee and Code Tomorrow!

by Joey deVilla on April 29, 2009

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

If you’re in Quebec City, we’ll be hosting a Coffee and Code tomorrow! IT Pro Advisor Pierre Roman provides the details below:

Salut tout le monde,

Rick Claus, Joël Quimper et moi-même serons au Cosmos sur Grande Allée à Québec demain matin de 9:00am a 11 :30am pour un « Coffee & Code ».

cosmos_cafe

Le concept du « Coffee & Code » est de promouvoir les connections avec la communauté des professionnels en Informatique. Ce, à l’aide d’un endroit public, d’une bonne tasse de café et d’un environnent agréable. Nous nous installerons dans l’entrée et nous serons disponible pour jaser de sujets quelconques.

Donc, si tu es intéressé, tu as le temps pour une pause, viens nous voir… Il me fera plaisir de te payer un café.

Les “Coffee & Code” étaient originalement réservés aux développeurs mais nous nous sommes rendus à l’évidence que le concept est bon et les résultats sont remarquables et c’est maintenant ouvert à tous.  Tu veras bien.

A demain!

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Bryan Lunduke’s “Linux Sucks” Presentation

by Joey deVilla on April 29, 2009

Here’s a presentation that’s worth watching, regardless of what operating system you use: it’s Bryan Lunduke’s presentation from Linux Fest Northwest – a Linux conference for “Rebel Scum” deep in the heart of The Empire — and it’s titled Linux Sucks, in which he talks about what needs to be fixed in desktop Linux. His Linux laptop helped prove the point at the beginning of the presentation by stubbornly refusing to display anything on the projector and requiring some guy to noodle with the X configs:

(By the bye, hooking up multiple monitors to a Windows 7 machine is dirt easy. The Windows-P key combo toggles between main monitor-only, other monitor-only, mirrored and “extend desktop” modes. The “Linux laptops and projectors” problem is a common one; I remember gently poking presenters at CUSEC trying to get their Linux laptops to display on the projector with “If you were running Win 7, you’d be done by now.”)

I think that this is an important presentation for developers to watch, whether they develop for Windows or the Esteemed Competition, because all operating systems suck, and it’s our job as developers to make them suck less. Linux on the desktop has all sorts of problems because it’s a free-for-all run but a rag-tag fleet of development shops, but Windows has its own problems stemming from all sorts of things, such as having to maintain some kind of backward compatibility for the sake of enterprise installations at Fortune 500 companies.

The lesson to take from this video should be that we should forget the rah-rah boosterism, take a good hard look at the platforms for which we build, and do what we can to make them better. The best platform advocacy is to make the platform suck less.

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Hanselman Podcast on IronPython / A Great Book Deal

by Joey deVilla on April 28, 2009

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

Cover of "IronPython in Action"

When I got into web development, I considered myself a latecomer to the game, and that was in 1999. In the five years I’d been working professionally as a developer, my apps were strictly desktop – multimedia CD-ROM stuff done in Director (then a product of Macromedia) and business productivity apps written in pre-.NET VB and Java-a-la-JBuilder.

The company with whom I’d landed a contract had a contrarian tech lead. It seemed that the web app world was building their stuff on Linux, Perl and MySQL, and this guy was all about BSD, Python and PostgreSQL. In 1999 terms, he was a freak even amongst the freaks.

I had a pretty full schedule that summer, followed by a one-week vacation at Burning Man, followed by the start of my contract at this new company. The tech lead wanted me to be ready to do some coding on my first day in, so I brought a copy of O’Reilly’s Learning Python along with my laptop to Black Rock Desert, hoping to squeeze in some hacking time at the big desert bacchanal. Luckily, Burning Man is pretty mellow during the day, and in an additional stroke of luck, the neighbouring camp was sharing AC power from their “eggbeater” windmill. I learned Python by writing sample apps in an extremely distracting environment, and because of that, I fell quite in love with the language. Any language that you can learn while naked people playing the tuba on unicycles are circling you has to be a good one.

That’s why I’m glad to see that implementations like IronPython exist, and that they tie into things like the .NET framework and Silverlight. IronPython’s performance is quite close to standard Python, and I use it along with IronRuby as my scripting language for automating tasks and doing little “housekeeping” things on my systems. I’m not using IronPython to the degree that Michael Foord is – he’s using it for full-on .NET applications instead of C# or VB! Scott Hanselman talks with him about working with IronPython as his primary development language in the latest edition of his Hanselminutes podcast.

As an added bonus, the blog entry for the podcast has a special limited-time coupon code that will save you 40% off the price of Manning Publications’ IronPython in Action (which Foord co-wrote), and the discount applies to both the dead-tree and PDF versions of the book. At 40% off, the PDF version is a mere USD$16.50 (CAD$20.14 at the time of this writing).

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More Assless Chaps Photos

by Joey deVilla on April 28, 2009

I’ll admit it: I like typing out the phrase “assless chaps”. Here are a couple more photos of me showing off said assless chaps in the speaker’s room at Saturday’s Toronto Code Camp (which I wrote about in this post).

Here I am holding up the assless chaps prior to donning them:

assless_chaps_2-1

…and here I am modelling them for the nerd paparazzi:

assless_caps_2-2

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Toronto Developer Lunch Today

by Joey deVilla on April 28, 2009

developer_lunch_dim_sum

If you’re near Toronto’s downtown Chinatown area, drop by Sky Dragon restaurant (top floor of Dragon City mall on the southwest corner of Spadina and Dundas) for Developer Lunch today! Kristan “Krispy” Uccelo has been organizing this series of lunches for the past year as a way for local developers to get together and make connections over a tasty dim sum lunch. I’ll be there, along with the other programmers, from 12:00 noon to 1:30 p.m.. If you don’t spot an obvious-looking table of nerds, ask the hosts for the back room; that’s where we’ll be.

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