Archive for January 6, 2003

Monday, January 6, 2003

`(hello ,user)

Manageability reports that Brad Cox has written a preprocessor that adds quasi-literals to Java. Wow. It’s amazing how many cool things people are doing with Java (besides the recent post, AspectJ and JSE also spring to mind).


Lambda links to a cool-looking project from Andrew Myers:

The JMatch language extends Java with support for abstract iterable pattern matching: a mechanism for pattern matching that is compatible with the data abstraction features of Java and also makes iteration abstractions convenient to use and to implement. JMatch provides abstract pattern matching; patterns are not tied to algebraic data constructors as in ML. A single JMatch method may be used in several modes that may share a common implementation as a boolean formula. JMatch provides modal abstraction that simplifies the specification and implementation of abstract data types. JMatch also makes the specification, implementation, and use of iteration abstractions convenient, by automatically finding multiple solutions to a formula or pattern.

Myers’s earlier project, PolyJ, was a good idea implemented in a way (guavac extension) that made it a pain to maintain and use. My hope is that JMatch, being based on Polyglot, won’t have these problems.

Blacklists Are Bad

Here’s why:

Summary: Alternatives to Realtime Blackhole Lists (RBLs) should be actively deployed because of serious well-known problems with the RBL spam filtering technique.

Pure Content?

Mark Pilgrim sums up my thoughts on the utility of pure content:

I wrote Dive Into Python in DocBook XML, and I maintain a set of XSLT scripts to convert the raw XML into HTML, PDF, Word, HTMLHelp, and plain text. Actually, my scripts are just customizations of larger, more complex scripts maintained by Norman Walsh. Overall, I’ve spent more time maintaining those scripts that I have writing the book. But my content is pure! Was it worth it? No, not really. Mostly I ended up using HTML as an intermediate format anyway, so a semantic HTML source document and a few well-placed regular expressions would have served my purposes just as well. In fact, this is what I did to produce the PDF version of Dive Into Accessibility.

Ironically, I was just looking at his Dive Into Python as an example of a successful use of single-sourcing from DocBook and concluded that it was a lot of extra work for few real advantages over LaTeX. I’m still looking for a good format for single-sourcing. Both LaTeX and FrameMaker have worked well for me, but to get good results I have to use a restricted feature set and write scripts to post-process the output.

How to Write Like a Wanker

Mark Pilgrim links to this amusing article:

Just as every house needs a foundation, every brilliantly immature net text is built on a strong structure of ignorance, sloth, and mindless misguided belligerence.

Gender-neutral Singular Pronouns

A Boston Globe reader suggests using “xe” (pronounced as in Xerox) to replace he/she. Besides already having multiple meanings in German, all different from the one proposed, “xe” and its variations don’t sound like English to me. Anyway, it doesn’t matter because English speakers decided long ago to use “they” instead. I think most casual speakers use “they” unconsciously. The real question is when, if ever, prescriptivists will consider it correct usage. Until they do, the best solution I’ve found is to randomly choose either “he” or “she” each time you need a pronoun. I do this by seeing whether the last digit on my menubar clock is odd or even. Taylor and Wheeler go as far as assigning subject-specific meanings (frames of reference, if I recall) to the genders of their pronouns. That’s a bit extreme, but I think it worked rather well for them.