Sunday, January 16, 2011

Mene Mene Tekel Ufarsin


Mene, Mene Tekel Ufarsin. Bad translation of this would be "Measured, Measured again, Weighed in the balance and found Wanting." (From the book of Daniel if you are into that kind of thing) And that is the dreaded thing about being a geeky programmer - the fear of being thought of as falling behind - not that you ARE behind, but those around you just think that you are falling behind. I just read a blog from Mark Proctor and then the link by Richard Clayton. Just for giggles and grins, you really need to go out and read all of both articles (and maybe a couple of others from Clayton) to see what he means in the first two paragraphs on Proctor's blog.

However, one sticky-wicket point that I have found with Drools is that there is a perception that sometimse things change TOO quickly. Sure, maybe to some of the newer programmers it is way cool the way that Drools is constantly advancing - and, of course, so they think, everybody needs the changes NOW! But consider that they (the overworked, underpaid programming trolls who keep the wheels of IT turning a better bottom line for the overdressed and overpaid managers) can't keep up with all of the changes to Drools AND the changes to everything else AND be even half-way knowledgeable about any of them.

So, here is my personal opinion and, knowing that it won't be heeded, I'll give it anyway: Drools needs to slow down the releases to every six to 12 months such that each release has significant changes and bug fixes. (Probably the technical Red Hat releases of Red Hat Drools are that slow. Don't know because I don't deal with Red Hat folks in person.) I prefer every 12 months but, then, I'm a slow learner and tend to try and find potential problems rather than fixes for problems that I have in production. But look guys, try to wait at least every six to nine months for each new release! Not only would this give the programmer trolls time to catch BUT it would also give the Red Hat / Drools team(s) time to fix all of the bugs in the last release.

By constantly updating you force the programmers to keep up to date with the latest changes or get lost in the process when they miss something. A year or so ago Drools threw everything out at once (like, FIVE products) and most of them were half-baked and not really ready for prime time, especially the decision table / spreadsheet conversions. A few other things were there that were "fixed" with a few 24-48 hour debugging and testing cycles but some still aren't fixed and ready.

Being a guy who has to learn almost (dang near) everything in the rulebase space and really know what I'm talking about, I spend almost three months (OK, at least two months) on each product that I have to examine so that I can verify that the product will do what the manual says it will do. And when Drools kicks out five changes and then an update within a month and another update right behind that, well, it really takes the glow off the updates and keeps me working WAY too hard for what I get out of it. The other problem with Drools is the documentation doesn't keep track with the changes. They are always late and not terribly clear in some cases.

First Drools used CVS, then Maven, then Subversion, and now Git? All I want to do is control my source code - NOT learn a whole new SCCS language every few months! (FYI) I went from FORTRAN to BASIC (yes BASIC, but multi-user Unix Workstation BASIC), then C, then C++ then Java and now I'm off to Objective C, J2EE, C# and all the others. All this and being part DBA, SysAdmin of eight different variations of UNIX (AT&T Unix, Solaris, BSD, AIX, HP-UX, DEC Unix, SCO Xenix/Unix; and then comes Linux and all of its variations from various manufacturers like Red Hat and Novell).

Oh, and let's not leave out CORBA, COM/DCOM and the mess that all of that caused - MS just HAD to put out .NET to be competitive with Java. Now, put on top of that, 10 different BRMS/rulebased systems trying and scrambling to be concurrent with all of the aforementioned systems above and then the confluence of databases: Informix (absorbed by IBM), DB2, DBase, and the multi variations of OODB. Sorry, Charlie; one guy just can NOT learn all of these things in depth and be worth a flip at any of them. What was that old saying? "A Jack of all Trades and a Master of None." Maybe we need a product called "None" and we can all master it. :-)

So, what do we do? Personally, I chose to focus mostly on Rulebased systems; all 10 (and growing) of them. Then learn enough Java and J2EE to keep my head above water, return to C/C++/C# now and then to keep your chops and be somewhat conversant. Now I want to do CLIPS and Objective-C so I have to RE-read all of my books on that again just to catch up to where I left off and start it all over again.

BUT, fear not, dear reader - another blog will follow this to tell us what wossies we have become because we have to read another book or two. Personally, I blame it all on football, baseball, hockey, and, most of all, television laced with copius quantities of bad beer, chips and tacos. Unfortunately, time is totally linear for all of the humans involved and we just cannot use it like it is not going to end - it will end. And then, will you have finished all of your projects? Probably not. So, the answer, for now, is to do what you can for as long as you can and, hopefully, let history record that you did well and died well; or not. You won't be able to change it then.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

For Little Guys Everywhere


I just finished watching the earlier-taped Rose Bowl. Whatever religion, or none, to which you adhere or profess, you have to admire Andy Dalton's (Offensive MVP) comments after the game and the pure spunk of Tank Carder (Defensive MVP) coming from a broken back earlier in life to win "The Granddaddy of Them ALL! The Rose Ball!!!". And that despite repeatedly falling down due to the short cleats on their shoes (and nobody thought to bring replacements because Nike had designed these shoes especially for this turf and this game) as well as referees who can't see Wisconsin obviously holding a TCU player or a TCU players head being ripped off since they are the upstarts from Fort Worth, Texas. I still think that the Mafia has bought out the referees in Basketball, Football (USA and European) for sure; and maybe baseball and hockey refs as well. It's gotten almost as bad as Pro Wrestling.

BTW, to the Wisconsin Badgers - you guys played a really great game and I don't know HOW those little bitty defensive guys from Fort Worth managed to hold your score down to 19 points. And JJ should be drafted tomorrow by The Vikings (my team). Maybe he, Andy Dalton and Tank Carder can all go the Vikings and start a new dynasty up there.

Maybe NOW the corrupt BCS will allow the little guys, the non-exempt teams, play in the bowl games and (maybe?) begin a REAL playoff system where everyone with a winning season of no more than two lost games gets a chance to compete for the national title. But, TCU is undefeated/untied this year!! To quote the head coach for Ohio State, "The Poor Sisters of Football" did the impossible. Maybe they will let TCU play the winner of the "national championship" game after the 7th? Naaaahhhhh - probably not.

TCU Horned Frogs, 21
Wisconsin Badgers, 19
(Blocked pass by Tank Carder on Wisconsin two-point conversion to a wide-open tight end with only 1 minute to play)

Finally, for those who don't know, the horned frog is actually a horny lizard that squirts blood from his eyes when cornered or upset. OK, that's my last blurt on sports this year (and maybe next year unless LSU wakes up) until the World Games and then only if certain teams get that far. (Being of that Norse heritage, my team for the Super Bowl would have been The Minnesota Vikings but.... ) Kind of funny though: A Norseman / Viking that hates snow?


[Follow up after the 7th Championship game] Once again, the paid-off referees made sure that Auburn (and, remember, I'm an Alabama / Auburn fan from Sylacauga, Alabama) won. What a rip! Those guys shouldn't be allowed to referee a dog-fight managed by Michael Vick. But, four of my favorite teams are in the fight now: Green Bay (the only team owned by the city in which they play) versus another old-line favorite, Chicago Bears, and the Pittsburgh Steelers (where Terry Bradshaw - a Louisiana Tech boy - led them to FOUR super bowl championships) versus Broadway Joe's Jets. What a weekend that will be and regardless of who wins, I'm happy. The cowgirls might have chance next year if Monsigniour Gerald Jones will keep his long nose out of the coaching business and let the re-headed genius run the team.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Blog to Follow

BTW, Yaakov got, well, let's just say, "Upset!" with the Word Press guys and came over here. Apparently the same guy who had the Yaakov.WordPress.Com has the same one over here and hasn't blogged since about 2006 - but he still has it. Sooo... Yaakov is at http://Yaakov2.BlogSpot.Com just like over there, except now he's with us at Google. Since he's just starting up you might want to check it out and just follow the blog. Usually it's on the TaNaKh (Pronounced Tah-Nahk', or Old Testament to the rest of the world) but sometimes he rants a bit about other problems, sometimes dealing with arcane bits of knowledge that are unknown to most of us.

He's worth following if only to broaden your horizons and provide fodder for discussions - he's quite old now, well, old to most of you. He's somewhere in his late 70's and will probably live to be 200 in Sweetwater, Texas. After all, wasn't Moishe about 120 when he toddled off to be alone with G-d? And they both live(d) in the same kind of dry, sandy, desert environment. I'm just jealous because I don't have the bollocks to follow him over there and get to heck away from this big screen that takes up six days of my life.

So, check it out and leave him a comment if you like. I have asked him to re-post all of his stuff on the Sabbath (or Shabbos to the Ashkenazi) that took him quite a bit of research and that was still incomplete over at WordPress. Maybe he'll re-post it here and then complete it. Kind of interesting if you've ever wondered what was the fuss about the Seventh Day thing - and I don't mean the Seventh Day Adventists.