Friday, September 24, 2004

Nothing says it better then SQL

When you have nothing to say it is best to just keep quiet. Alternatively, just say something in SQL code. As writing this simple SQL query kept me amused for nearly half a minute at work I thought I would share it in a more abstract form.

SELECT datefield
FROM sometabel
WHERE WEEK(CONCAT(DATE_FORMAT(NOW(),'%Y-'), DATE_FORMAT(datefield,'%m-%d'))) = WEEK(NOW())
ORDER BY DATE_FORMAT(datefield,'%d')

Always handy when you need to match all fields who's datefield is in the same week as the one your currently in (if your using MySQL that is). And you happen to want to order it according to the days in that week.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Point out and grunt programming?

Reading an article today about the benefits of ASP.NET 2.0 I was reminded of something Eben Moglen once said:
"What I saw in the Xerox Park Technology, was the caveman interface, you point out and grunt. A massive winding down, regressing away from language, in order to address the technological nervousness of the user"

Reading about all the wonderful options of "do more with less code" I just had this feeling creep up on me about how more then ever we will soon be yet again be flooded by masses of un-educated "programmers". Horrible drag and drop programming. This is something that has always worried me actually about most of Microsoft's easy to learn languages. It breeds programmers who only know how to make something work, not why it actually does what it does.

I already felt this way about the programming language -well programming dialect- Visual Basic, for a long time for example. The language itself can actually be applied quite nicely if your know what your doing, but unfortunately you don't need to know what your doing to accomplish something! Of course this has it's advantages, it means a very low learning-curve and you can develop something relatively quickly with what I would call "code grunts". The downside of course being it's often un-maintainable, slow, buggy and full of security holes.

Another problem I see, and one I think is exceptionally apparent in ASP.NET is your total dependence on Microsoft Libraries. You actually don't really know what is going on inside and how some things are resolved. With some study you can still find out a lot. But you lack the ability to really see the code and if you feel the urge change something your out of luck. Of course many programmers who are used to only dealing with Microsoft languages will never even bother worrying about any of this. As such they usually just look at you with a blank face when it turns out the software they just wrote is eating up all the memory on your server.

Most of those "revolutionary ASP.NET options" I can recall building my own classes and libraries for in other languages like PHP. And the added benefit is, I can change it whenever I feel it needs changing. To give credit to Microsoft, with ASP.NET you can also do all these things. Infact they have made even that so easy you hardly need to know what really is happening when you do. But I fear most people will simply not invest the time in it. I've often seen that on departments where any type of Visual Basic or ASP was used to program in, most programmers where actually quite unaware of what was actually happening and how their code actually works. One or two visionary programmers (often with a C/C++ background) served to "service" a small army of programmers who only knew how to get things to work, but not how they actually worked.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Dear Blog

It's nothing like starting a Blog to have a friend direct you to a study done in the UK that seems to indicate keeping a diary is bad for your health! I guess I can count this to being another reason why I will not turn this Blog into a personal diary. Al through I must admit I am a bit sceptical about such research.

Apparently because one keeps a diary, one tends to brood over any misfortunes that happen in ones life. Instead of being able to write problems off and getting them out of your head, you apparently keep brooding over them.

Like I said I personally do question research like this. Of course one news item on a website hardly does credit to the entire research. But I am curious to other effects that may be involved here. Human beings are very diverse creatures and I would assume the effects to be different on different individuals with different personal backgrounds and events. I would be interested to read a bit more about the correlation between writing a diary and being in worse mental and/or physical state. Especially how the researchers managed to rule out any other factors. A short news item on the internet sadly does not offer enough insight into this.

For anybody interested the news regarding this can be found at:
http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99996374

Once upon a blog...

I must admit I have never understood the fascination with the entire Blog or weblog phenomenon. At times I have viewed it with an odd curiosity as to why people actually maintain this type of "virtual dairy" and at times I've simply ignored it's existence. Throughout my time on the internet I have however never really seen the appeal of it. I've even declared some of my friends quite mad when they started one.

So, now I've started my own so called "Blog". While I've been active on the Internet since 1995 (and before that I've been active with my own BBS), my knowledge of the entire "Blog scene" is exceptionally limited. Fuelled, I must admit, by my previously mentioned lack of any real interest in the phenomenon. Still, here we are.

What will this Blog hold? This is actually a question I can not answer at this time. Given my interests it might be a mix of this amateur views on politics' and philosophy and a more professional outlook on the information technology field. The last one being how I make a living. One thing it won't be however is some sort of personal diary. I guess that comes from my strange notion that total strangers will not be that interested in the personal events that form my own little world. Well, that is one among many reasons why not actually. I hope anybody who reads this will be able to forgive me for this.

On that note, I formally, yet humbly, open this Blog. And there was much rejoicing!.... (I hope)