October 6th, 2008

device

Google Gears, and the real power game

There's a fascinating little article over on TechCrunch, on the subject of Google Gears. If you're doing Web development, and like me had assumed that Gears was just a way to do caching for offline capability, it's well worth reading. Google is playing a much bigger and more important game than it appears at first blush, and Gears is starting to look more like a serious first step towards blending the client and the cloud.

Really, it's a smart medium-term game: it makes the thin client look really viable. It's taken decades to get there, but I am seriously considering that my next computer may be nothing *but* a thin client: a low-power notebook whose main purpose is to hold a browser. Gears is adding exactly the sort of functionality needed to make a "smart client" that really hums: local databases, multi-threading support, local page generation and so on. Microsoft's worst fears -- that Google would start turning into an "online operating system" -- are starting to look very real...
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device

Worlds: Controlling the Scope of Side Effects

Also worth reading today is this short but fascinating PDF paper from Alessandro Warth and Alan Kay. They start from a curious premise: if "tabs" are so useful in browsers, as a way to isolate one unpredictable process from another, wouldn't something similar be useful in general programming? From there, they get into notions of branching program state, and controlling the relationship of these program "worlds" to each other. It's a bit rough, but it's an interesting and novel way of thinking about a program, and I could see it becoming rather useful with some more evolution...
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device

Not as bad as the traditional kind, but...

Garh -- got hit by a visual migraine about 20 minutes ago, and it's wrecking merry havoc with my day.

For those who, like me until a couple of years ago, don't know what a visual migraine is, it shows up as sort of flashing blind spots -- in my case, typically near the center of my vision. As I write this, it's beginning to ease off, but the Subject line above was typed mostly by feel, because I couldn't actually read what I was typing. (At times like this, I'm glad that I touch-type.) Right now, the flashing has moved slightly peripheral to the center: before, I could only read what I *wasn't* looking at, which is difficult.

I can count my blessings that I don't generally get the headaches: it could be much worse. And they don't happen often. But it's still damned irritating to be interrupted for half an hour because I suddenly can't read. (Much less drive, so going and getting the DBA for Crossert Consulting is also out until this is done with.)

The first couple of times it happened it scared the heck out of me; by now, I know that I just have to wait it out, which usually takes 20-60 minutes. Annoyingly unpredictable, though...
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    Neil Patrick Harris - Everything You Ever
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