Wednesday, July 29, 2009

NeatUpload is Neat

NeatUpload is an ASP.NET component that performs http post uploads while displaying a progress bar. This seemingly simply task is actually hard to get right.

I used this once for a site that never launched. The entire site was written in PHP, but I made the upload page in ASP.NET simply because NeatUpload was the only tool I could find at the time to do the job. I exposed my PHP business layer via a web service, and let this one ASP.NET app handle the uploading of large files. The ASP.NET page actually ran on mono, which was not a problem since NeatUpload was originally a mono app.

If I had to upload files again in a PHP app I would probable give swfupload a try. However, NeatUpload is definitely my tool of choice for uploading 

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I want to be a Programmer Aristocrat

This past Friday night I was reading a story in the Wall Street Journal about the late Brooke Astor and the legal drama of her estate. It mentioned that if her son's wife gains control of her fortune, many charities will stop receiving her regular donations. That when it occurred to me that I want to be an old money programmer.

I don't say this because of my penchant for single malt Scotch Whisky nor any other eccentricity I possess that some might consider snobbish. I say that because I begin to understand why the rich give to charities.

The rich don't give to charities to avoid taxes, compensate for inner demons, or feel altruistic. The rich, such as Astor Brooke, give to charities to achieve control and change in ways that profitable enterprise cannot. Of course I am speaking in absolutes. However, for many people whom giving money away and raising money is how they spend their time, they are doing so to affect change.

This is what I ultimately want to do. I don't think I will ever be Bill Gates rich. However, I think I can have my own small empire. I can gain a small degree of prominence as an open source programmer. I can write a web app that supplements my income. I might not ever be of the stature of Linus Torvalds or Larry Wall, but I could certainly write a popular open source product, or become a major contributor to one.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Surreal encounter in Bellmore, NY

I was driving to work today and my gas light came on. I stopped at exit 25 of the Southern State Parkway. As I was pumping gas the man driving the SUV in front of me came up and asked me how to get to New Jersey. He had Jersey license plates. He was not a native speaker, and asked me if I spoke Spanish.

I in a response to his query I committed most horrible atrocity. I sent him through Staten Island. My concerns for Holland Tunnel traffic are no excuse.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Life imitates Dune, or Justin really likes mail merge

So there I was, a few weeks back sitting in a friends back yard, reading Frank Herbert's Dune. I put down the book for a bit to be sociable and found out that at that very moment an unthinkable sin was being committed on the second floor of the house. A dear friend of my girlfriend was reading addresses from a spreadsheet printout, and retyping them into MS Word to print out envelopes/.

I started foaming about the mouth of the waste of labor, humanity's duty to subjugate computers, (being they lack person hood, self awareness, rights and the like), to do our work for us, so we can do other work. I calmed myself and ran up the stairs to educate her on how to use mail merge.

She would have none of it. I was persistent, but yielded eventually. My girlfriend kept saying, "sometimes the simplest way is the best," This statement was beyond wrong in this case, but I was not going to argue with illogical statements. I went and played with my godson for a bit, and continued to read my book.

Some may be surprised at how upset I got. Others think I exaggerate. A select sew that have witnessed or heard secondhand of my outbursts against ip printing and lack of domain (or novell, ldap, NIS etc) authentication in places that had the means of doing better. The inefficient use of computers really bothers me. My pointless emotional outbursts on the matter might be the folly of my youth, but I doubt such incidents will ever not cause my blood to boil.

Thoughts on Dune's banning of computers

I just finished Frank Herbert's Dune. I've previously seen the Sci-Fi 2000 mini-series and their 2003 Sequel, Children of Dune. I recommend to any Dune newcomers, read the books first, then watch the movies. The novels paint a world in Tolkien level detail, and no movie can ever do it full justice.

The ecological undertones and melange as an allegory to oil are somewhat obvious. The feudalism/corporatism type government of the known universe seems like what would occur in a situation where you had a large expanse of people, and the transaction costs of government were high. I'm sure much was written about these things. I'm sure one day I will read some of them and even write something about such things. What interests me most is the lack of AI, and computers in general.

One could react several ways to the outlaw of computers in the Dune universe. One could simply state that Frank Herbert was entirely wrong about the computer thing, despite being so right about the oil thing. You could also say it will take a long time for AI to get to the point that our leaders must declare "Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind." One could also state that Frank Herbert's miscalculation was predicting how useful computers could be without any reasoning skills, and their role as communication devices.

I'm sure that Herbert was questioned on the AI questions. He published Dune in 1965 and died in 1986. So one would think I should have done a bit of research before publishing this article. However, I want to continue this line of thought without an "authoritative" answer a bit more. I'll try to write more about it though. after some research.