Monday, January 30, 2006

Conference in a Castle

It's already time for the first conference of the year. I think this is the earliest start I've ever had. I'm speaking this weekend at the Javagruppen Arskonference conference, conducted in the Hindsgavl castle in Denmark. I heard about this conference from colleagues last year -- they had a blast, so I'm looking forward to it. I'm doing 2 talks, both on Domain Specific Languages (Theory and Practice). This will be my first trip to Denmark so, given my love of traveling to new places, should prove to be a fun trip.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Can I Get Some Rails at this Boutique?

At the Newark No Fluff, Just Stuff show last year, someone from Java Boutique interviewed speakers during the course of the symposium. It was the end of the day and he was still missing some of the speakers, so he decided he would just interview us together. The hot topic of the conference was Ruby on Rails. Thus, myself and two of the people I respect most, Stuart Halloway and Justin Gehtland (from Relevance), talked for about 20 minutes about Ruby, Rails, and Java. The interview is just now out at the Java Boutique web site. It's sometimes interesting what you say when you are tired, hungry, and sitting next to 2 brilliant people. Upon reflection, I like the bit about the bicycle (which I made up on the spot and forgot until I re-read this interview).

Monday, January 09, 2006

Pervasive Search

One of my good friends has a great expression when he sees some really cool technology goodie that we'll get "Real Soon Now": "I want to live there!".

One of the touted features of the next version of Windows is pervasive search, or search at the operating system level. I was skeptical of the value of this feature. After all, we now have Google Desktop, right? I can search and find documents pretty quickly now.

However, what's missing from Google Desktop is the "pervasive" part. I didn't fully appreciate this missing element until I started using the Mac, because Mac OS X now has Spotlight, Apple's version of pervasive search. Spotlight has a little icon on the menubar to let you search for stuff, just like Google search. But the pervasive part is more useful to me. Check out the standard Mac save dialog:


Because search is embedded at the OS level, I can use search to save files instead of navigating my document hierarchy. When I save a file on the Mac now, I search for the folder in which I know it belongs, then I name the file. It's not like I fear or don't understand hierarchies in a file system. But why bother doing all that navigation? I know where I want to put it, and the OS should be smart enough to let me tell it without all the ceremony. That's pervasive search, and it has changed the way I use my computer. Now, I can't wait until my work OS catches up to what is one of my favorite features of my favorite OS.

Not that Spotlight is perfect yet. It's annoyingly slow, and it sometimes yields some false positives. That irritates me. But, the benefit outweighs the annoyance factor by a lot. And I doubt that the first version of pervasive search in Windows will work perfectly either. I view this as a "I want to live there" feature: I can't wait until I can stop navigating hierarchies most of the time.