Archive | May 2014

Does code matter?

Well, I have already mentioned Codecademy’s approach and will get back to this.

Disclosure: I have been using their site to look at their lessons for 97 days, now. There are other sites of this type, but their setup  is nice to use to twiddle with a little code each day. But, I have a bunch of content to worry about, too, and, unfortunately, or fortunately, the world of content and code are disjoint (actually, the former – truth engineering would have us get those two better related).

This month, May, in the CACM, Bertrand Meyer has a little article, “Those who say code does not matter.” He mentions that he’s going to look at  the agile side, see what they have to offer, and get back to us. Who on the agile side is going to listen to the older folks, like myself? Say what?

My time using Codecademy, and playing with some stuff, has basically been for the purpose of seeing where things have gone the past 1/2 decade (at which time, I had left Lisp/C and  moved over to Python/Perl). Then, a need to focus on content came to fore.

Is it that the youth take over software (modern programmers) due to their energy? From my observations, this has happened with each succeeding generation with a measurable period. The real trouble is that the older folks let this happen. Well, what prevents things from unfolding?

Mind you, we’ll get back to this, the whole context has to do with the genie that was let out of the bottle when IP was let out into the world (wild west style – as in, like post-Jefferson’s purchase, a whole lot of area opened up for the taking, irrespective of the occupants at the time). Sure, many billionaires (millionaires) have ensued. Does that outweigh the negative impacts (to be defined — SAT solvers, and more)?

I will say that arguments about lack of people who can do the work (required by the new paradigms, such as webbiness or cloud’dness) is plain wrong. There are lots of older programmers about who can be trained. BTW, I was into objects in the very early stages and worked thusly for many moons. … It’s more a cultural thing (but how can one argue with the monied? as in, if you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich? — near-zero, people, near-zero as the reality) as USA Today reported: the silicon’d valley being a testosterone pot of mostly white males. I say, too, this: look around and you will see all sorts of havoc wrought by these ones (even if they have big pockets thereby) due to several lacks (which I am prepared to discuss, maturely and rationally).

Any way, back to code. The more who know, and are familiar with, code, the better. Code as a lingua franca? Well, not (but the point is arguable). I did know of someone who, in the ’70s, was allowed to use FORTRAN (what’s that, the young folks ask?) as a foreign language at a college. So, there’s nothing new there.

Put it this way: just as mathematics has been given more power than is actually there (a matter of being, folks – we have been overlaid insidiously – again, to be defined further) so too is code deficient in a whole lot of areas.

Later, …

Disclosure: 50+ languages (not counting DB systems, OSs, etc) used, in modes that contributed to oodles of projects on all sorts of platforms and under all sorts of user requirements including running the whole gamut (early AI applications –  way before agile – there, before it was cool, so to speak) to the more structured as shown by attaining SEI/CMMI Level 5.

 

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Miscellany

There was a flurry of activity related to updating the button handling for awhile. Mostly, the time was spent getting up to speed. After that little bit of effort, and then making a decision about the approach, it was a matter of doing the work, testing, and then distributing the changes throughout the pages, as necessary (not complete as some of Gardner’s Beacon pages need some attention).

Now, a technological focus has its place: ought to be regularly held in about any modern context. The question, at the core, is how deep does one go. Well, the answer ought to be however much is necessary for truth (see Formally truthful). I don’t think that  a lot of modern programming cares about truth. Why should it when the way is to pound out stuff to see if it can rake in money (naturally, this is meant as metaphoric)?

In other words, we get to the cathedral/bazaar issue which was originally proposed in the context of Linux (see Queue). But, we can use it for the larger issue: so we have structure or fluidity (agility, too)? Why do those have to be incompatible (is my question)? Just today, I raised that issue in the other blog (Massachusetts Magazine). We will dance around the subject more but, for now, consider that there are truths that are more than the transient type related to computationalism.

As said, earlier, this blog is a learning vehicle for establishing WordPress on the TGS site in whatever way it can be used (at least, as the official blogging device). However, it may continue after that transition just to discuss, more fully, some fairly important issues related to computing and its foibles. I read the other day that even hard problems are being tamed through statistical means. One has to ask whether the whole accumulation of computational experience from its beginning (reminder, a mere 1/2 century ago) to some longer-term future point will really be sufficient to be called “knowledge” (my put: yes and no)?

A lot of time, of late, has gone into organizing processes and documenting such. Why? Various reasons that will become apparent, at some point. Right now, the emphasis seems to be on reviewing activity and benefits thereof which does deal with things beyond questions of: is it making money? That is a bazaar question. Sustainability, and its issues, must consider cathedral and such (to be discussed).

The Cathedral and the Bazaar (Wikipedia page) — written about development approaches, say the dichotomous views of top-down and bottom-up. Let me just say, that I’m going to talk middle-out as the scheme that we see having success. After all, those two views are neither sustainable in a real situation.

But, we can take those two (cathedral and bazaar – note lower case) and apply them to all sorts of situations which is what I am doing here, even though I used systems (software) examples. We could, eventually, think of a better pairing as juxtapositions, such as this, are everywhere visible to the observant.

We’ll use Eric’s site (here is a good starting page). On a quick read, we have to note that he is talking the type of code that is far removed from user content (to be discussed). There is a larger picture to consider; computing is for a purpose. In dealing with domain issues, users need direct involvement; in that sense, they ought to co-develop (so, tools, understanding the technical issues come into play).

There is no domain, of note, that is solely bottom-up (so remember, middle-out – it’s my duty to describe this further). In fact, the top-down (theoretical) rules, in many cases – unfortunately, so, since that view does inhibit (as in, you’re stupid for even thinking such a thing – ah, what hubris we see everywhere!). One problem is that domains have left things to the hackers, even in mathematics.

What is different about this old guy’s view? Well, he is over 70 and can still handle software. He touched a whole gamut of languages and approaches and platforms (enthralled with the new little toys? well, only in the sense that I foresaw those way back in the ’60s – it’s unfortunate that we seem to have to relearn a whole bunch of stuff – well, generations do come and go – what makes sense to one does not to the other – but, there are universals, even in computing – which generation will bring that out?).

I am always happy to look at the new books and note that there is nothing new under the sun. Now, in that context, the cathedral, at least, offers some semblance of continuity (let me take you to old structures from the 1100s, let’s say).  There are universals in computing. How do we lift these to consciousness and allow some agreement that is beyond the generational rifts?

 

Shapes

As said, this blog is technically oriented. But, in the nested world of reality, one person’s technical is another’s abstraction (let’s discuss). Those whose services will be in demand in the future (in order for us to have sustainability and a lot more) ought to be able to be able to bridge many levels of technical data. The topmost level of this paradigm? Don’t get me started as we have too many (as in way more than necessary) nestled up there, cloud nine, living off the work of others. The lowest level? Would be truth engineer’d in focus? So, this post is technical in a computational sense (somewhat, we can go much deeper). We will get back to content management. Too, we’ll get back to map-territory issues that seem to be everywhere inflicting even smart people (listen up, best-and-brightest).

The next post will go into peers keeping each other honest (can that appeal to millennials?).

In a prior post, I mentioned running across shapes being handled by CSS and HTML. When I first saw that, I just made note as I was looking at buttons (which can have all sorts of shapes; notice that we went back to the old, Platonic, rectangle). Since then, I have looked at this advance via HTML/CSS and wanted to point to a few places to revisit later when I get back to layout issues (table’ing is sufficient for now — I’ll have to find the page, but a modernly focused site had tables still in use – hurrah).

For now, we will show a few examples.

It is nice to see the progress in the form and look of web’d stuff. Trust, value, and such (we will be getting back to those)?

 

Buttons and more

The button work is mostly done except for some tweaking and figuring out a good scheme for handling Beacon issues.

Essentially, rather than a collection of table cells, the buttons are an un-ordered list that is formatted via CSS. Right now, the sub-menus (About us, What’s new) are static.

Now, on to things related to content and not form.

Note: One might ask why not just pick up a template? Well, for one thing, none really fit. Secondly, who likes black boxes? That is, we have to put up with these as consumers for many reasons (proprietary, legal, etc.). Yet, where we can , ought we not try to keep things a little more visible (as in, if not exactly clear, a box does not have to be opaque – where is that a given?)?

 

Button work in progress

Thanks to those who teach, I got a huge start on the button modification today. Didn’t take long once the decisions about color and shape were made. There are two pages left to do pending a decision about a nesting method.

Now, given today’s exposure, CSS looks interesting. I want to move from tables to the layout approach. But, there are uses for tables. So, I’m looking forward to getting the button work (you see, it’s a functioning site – so, maintenance completing to executable-ness is imperative) done so that I can move ahead.

But, I might get sidetracked. I ran across this article on CSS and shapes (I’ll keep some links). As I mentioned before, I have been doing graphics (which, by the way, implies geometry and more) for a long while.

See the header as an example. If I can do that without resulting to Javascript (or the like) and can just use HTML/CSS, I will be impressed.

Aside:  One might wonder why all of this. Why not just buy a developer’s package? Why not go with a template? All sorts of questions arise. Well, see TE, for one thing. It’s everyone’s right. Too, how many 72-year olds can do this? But, let’s be serious. Throughout my whole career (working with computational mathematics, etc.), there was always the adage of re-rolling the thing. Why? What software is perfect? Besides, if you look under the kimono, a lot of stuff is ugly? Okay, the likes of Google were adamant about style, technique, for their workers. But, even with that, it would be interesting to see their code. But, then, too, don’t limit this discussion in any type of way, as the computational (all sorts) has been (your noggin computes, for instance) and will continue to be central to human affairs. … Consider, please: can you believe, and it’s 2014, that the auto industry cannot put out computational assists for cars in a safe and secure manner? You know, if you pay attention, that recalls seem to be growing  that are related to some failure for computer (both hardware and software) people not doing their job correctly?

CSS plus

As the prior post suggested, I was leaning toward WordPress and/or CSS. And, so, I have been playing with both.

For WordPress, we will have our own blog (now under here and blogspot.com). Too, though, the extent of users, and their work, shown via the Showcase is impressive.

But, why not have both? So, I found this nice little CSS site (webdesignerwall) with an example of a gradient button. In fact, the site is run on WordPress, so that was serendipitous.

Here is my first example: the first HTML page with the buttons plus a hover behavior defined for “a” types. Picking any of the buttons will bring up a page with the older buttons. History of that? Two years ago, I was using Office Live with buttons from a design tool. When I decided to go back to the older methods from my prior work, I but those into images and kludged the menu which has worked till now.

Next up, I’ll try the layout scheme. As you can see, the HTML approaches uses tables.

Side-note: I was working in programming graphical presentations (3D, to boot) way back when we had to worry about hidden lines and clipping (this, by the way, implies geometry, to boot, as in solving problems related to shape and behavior). Things have come a long way. It’s nice to see power of CSS given the small footprint (comparatively). So, it’ll be interesting to explore what’s behind this newer (parametric) approach.

Notes: 

05/13/2014 — Collection of supporting sites: w3schools, …

 

Links, and more

Way back in the beginning, you could find people’s lists on the web. Some were just plain text; others used tables to arrange things a little better.

CSS, of course, was an attempt to allow more flexibility (for one thing). I, just now, went to search in its history and found several useful sites. I’ll collect these here (expect more to be added through time).

First off, though, as I browsed some of these sites that would be of interest to web designers, I found a wide range of looks and feels. The main thing for this old guy was seeing stuff using older techniques. For one thing, the browser are finally getting up to the standard (an age-old computer problem:  cowboys rush off to new things; the standards trail behind; at some point, there needs to be a convergence.

So, we’ll start with three links.

History (last updated in 2003 – or thereabouts) – Brief history of CSS

Look, Ma, no tables, et al (again, old, but it does show simple examples of placement) – glish on CSS

Finally, shapes (this is new, with a blog post of only a few days ago) – A list apart on CSS and more

Other links will below. In regard to that last list, it’s nice to see progress. And, talking of shape is right down my alley (computational support for design). The games software has really progressed (haven’t looked for a few years, but recently did a quick look) in terms of handling shapes, movement, et al. There is no end of interesting things to look at.