05 April 2009

Thank You Ted and Steve

There were a couple of interesting developments this past week which bear on the subject of this endeavor.

First, Tony Davis had posted an editorial at SimpleTalk about the Big Deal that had been made about multi-core cpu's, which has subsequently faded; the Big Deal, that is. He went on to observe that for the majority of application developers, and I infer that he means database connected developers since SimpleTalk is a SQLServer based site, parallel programming hasn't been and won't be an issue. Well. A few days into the Editorial's posting (comments are encouraged by the award of a prize for the one deemed Best), Ted Neward, one time servlet maven and now in the M$ camp from what I can see, took it upon himself to post a screed on his web/blog site saying, in general, that what Mr. Davis had written was crap. He asserted, still, that multi-core coding was in the future of coders generally, and that things database were not relevant. The usual client coder bilge.

There ensued a minor sortie on his site from posters of SimpleTalk. It seems to have ended in a draw, with no (as of today) further rebuttal from Mr. Neward. Why this scuffle is relevant here is that one of the postings referenced a New York Times article, which went to some lengths in discussing the nature of cpu's and their future. The driving force is the rise of non-PC devices which connect to some manner of centralized datastore, likely from the Web but not of necessity. These devices use much simpler cpu's, notably of ARM architecture, and are being run on linux increasingly.

The conclusion of Mr. Davis, and most of the comments both at SimpleTalk and Mr. Neward's site, is that we are returning to a world more like the early 1970's, with a centralized computer brain talking to relatively dumb terminal-like devices, than the actively intelligent network envisioned by Mr. McNealy which was just an extension of the client/server architecture that Standford University Network was. While the network might be the computer, it's looking more like Multics every day. Look it up.

The other event of note is also a New York Times article, this time telling the tales of those who struck it rich with iPhone apps. We learn about a handful of winners. We also learn that there are already 25,000 such apps, more every day, and still few winners. On the other hand, it seems to be the venue of choice for those who like to engage in lipsticking. A place for them to go and leave the rest of us alone to do real work. Hopefully, the siren song of (low chance) riches will siphon off many thousands of knuckleheads so that the rest of us can get real work done. Ah bliss.

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