January 2004 - Posts
I've been working with the patterns & practices team at Microsoft, and they're almost ready to release a comprehensive performance & scalability guide. This guide collects into one place a huge amount of information and tips covering all aspects of building and running .NET applications. Check out the pre-release at http://workspaces.gotdotnet.com/perfscal.
I'm planning FTP's first show in Canada (Toronto, first week of May) and am sitting here wondering if developers “up” there have different interests than those in the US. Offhand, I'm thinking there are more multi-language issues (which is fine, because resource localization in .NET is so darned cool) but is there anything else? Devices? Industrial usage (like RFID tracking tags for mooses)?
The December 2003 issue of “National Economic Trends” from the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis included a cover story entitled “Computer Use and Productivity Growth”, which is only available online as a 1MB PDF. I got hooked on this publication while in graduate school studying Economics at the UW many years ago, and sometimes they have something interesting. It's a variable reinforement principle kind of thing.
Anyway, this article summarizes past computer technology investments and tentatively concludes that “the gains in TFP (total factor productivity) from the 1995-199 flurry of computer investment growth (which exceeded 40 percent per year) should peak around 2006.”
This reminds me of the age-old survivors on a desert island joke, this time with an economist as well as a couple of others (assume an engineer and an evangelist because they all start with the letter “e“ - which provides some pointless symmetry - but it doesn't really matter). Anyway, they have found a large can of food they need to open to survive. As expected, the engineer comes up with some Rube Goldberg-esque scheme like dropping a coconut onto a strategically placed rock on top of the can. And the evangelist suggests calling on God to open the can. And the economist, who has sat through this with a smug smile on his face, then says “I can solve this easily. First, we assume the can is open...”
I just read a Reason magazine interview of Bruce Sterling (mentioned on SlashDot) that really got me thinking. The pessimistic chord in me rang to Sterling saying “Socially, policy makers have made a series of choices very similar to what preceded the collapse into World War I.”. And the optimist in me (in this week of hype over the CES) vibrated when he said “I think the real revolution is in industrial production. It’s about manipulating factory processes, it’s about mass customization, it’s about a revolution in industry that gets the toxins out of the air and is more efficient by, say, a factor of four than what we had. When that happens we’ll have a genuinely new world. Playing movies off handhelds, that’s not really that big of a deal.”
Is the glass half-full? Or half-empty?