# Monday, 10 August 2009

I must be getting old.  I find twitter enables a curious social behavior, seemingly aimed at extroverted people, and some would say at its extreme, narcissistic.  

While I don’t use twitter myself, or even Facebook, I do blog, ergo, I must be one of them too.  Myself, I am simply interested in the technology as the human factor seems to be hurtling towards Singularity at a rate I no longer can understand.

I spend a lot of time in front of computers, I mean at least 8 hours a day for the last 18 years or so, mostly as a professional Software Engineer.  As a Software Designer, I find twitter interesting, but why don’t we design the equivalent of twitter on video (with sound) instead of text?  YouTwitter would allow you to record a video for 5 - 7 seconds (or whatever). We certainly have the computing horsepower, the bandwidth, and what seems to be a critical mass of cell phones with video/audio record functions and wifi capabilities.  Not to mention any computer/laptop/netbook/media center/(Xbox?) with a microphone, web cam, and internet connection.  Which essentially means the same size market as “regular” twitter is today, but rather than serving up text, now serving 5 second video (with audio).

As a Software Engineer, it is interesting to think of the design and implementation of such a system.  Who knows, maybe it is already happening, and this shows how out of touch I am with social networking ;-)

If YouTwitter existed, I probably would use it – not only would it be fun, but change the way we communicate via computers.  Take me for example, at 50 years old, and really been on one form of computer or another since 1980, I am (really) tired of writing text.  It would be way cool not to have to type any more text.  I write too much already and that’s why I would like to see YouTwitter.  If I had the time and capital investment, I would design and build it myself.

YouTwitter is more than that.  What about the capability to see people’s interaction without the text?  Did I mention how our overall communication style would change if I could see you speak instead of just reading your text?  Is this the next evolution in social networking?

I don’t know, but I would use it, even as an introvert.

Monday, 10 August 2009 23:50:20 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Comments [2]
# Friday, 04 January 2008

I am working on a new user interface for my web-based IDE, called Global System Builder.  It will use a 3D map-based user interface.  So how does a 3D map-based user interface work with an Integrated Development Environment?  You will see in the following posts.  First step is the evaluation.


I lived in Calgary, Alberta, Canada for quite a few years and know the downtown area quite well.  One of its famous landmarks is the Calgary Tower. So I wanted to see how the two major (free) players compared to the real thing (above).

Check this out, on the left and Virtual Earth 3D on the right.  Hmmm… interesting.  Google Earth’s picture is a drawing.  Now I have played with SketchUp and it is incredibly powerful to model 3D – including the interior of a building.  However, not the case with the Calgary Tower here.  You may want to look at the as they have a nice inventory of 3D objects.

Now Virtual Earth’s image on the right is interesting as the software used by MS to gather and make the 3D images got messed up a bit on the Calgary Tower.  However, if you look past that and compare the background buildings in the images, Microsoft’s sure looks more realistic.

Microsoft has also acquired a 3D modeling tool like Google’s SketchUp called 3DVIA.  It appears to have most of the same capabilities as SketchUp, but I need to spend more time with it.  And similarly to Google’s warehouse, Microsoft has a way to place your models on Virtual Earth.

So how do the technologies compare?  Well, Microsoft has opted for a web-based approach using a JavaScript control that you can play with live and see the source.  Google Earth is a thick-client exe and its SDK is actually a with a C# .NET wrapper that you can get, which you will need a Subversion client like TortoiseSVN in order to get the source.

Having developed both, I must say that the Google thick client is much smoother and quicker than the Windows web-based client.  Meaning that when you zoom in, rotate, pan, etc., and play around with the 3D features, Google Earth’s movements are much smoother and seem to download and render much quicker than Virtual Earth.  Now this could be my internet connection speed to the data centers, the number of hops or … a whole bunch of things, but, it still leaves me with this impression.

Other than that, there a very specific feature in one product that is not in the other which will make the decision for me.  Wonder what it is?

Finally, a company called 3Dconnexion has developed a 3D mouse called SpaceNavigator that can fly around and through these 3D worlds and models.  I have one on order and can’t wait to try it out!  If you want to see what it can do, have a look at this interesting “fly by:”  


I did  look at NASA’s World Wind and it is really impressive, but I have not had enough time to evaluate whether it meets my needs or not.  One immediate short coming is the inability to draw and import a 3D model, or so it seems…

Still trying to figure out how a 3D map-based user interface will work with a programmers IDE?  Stay tuned.

Friday, 04 January 2008 15:57:04 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Sunday, 16 October 2005
There is a great post by Harry Pierson over at his DevHawk blog site describing what can we learn from looking at the success of mainstream text-based programming languages to help us in the development of higher abstraction modeling languages that are actually useful.
As I have written elsewhere, I am a huge fan of raising the level of abstraction to deal with complexity in our software world.  This is part of what I call the industrialization of software.  No, I dont mean making programming fully automatic, as it will never be that way.  It is too large and complex to do so.  However, I am probably as frustrated as Mini-Microsofts quest to make Microsoft a leaner meaner machine in my quest to make software development more of a predictable and repeatable process.  It seemingly aint going to happen over night and may not happen in my lifetime!
John Walker, figured out the industrialization of the engineering design world when his invention, AutoCAD hit the market in 1982.  He said, if you cant model it, you cant build it.  Damn right!  In 2005 and in the software industry, we still have not figured it out, yet.  We are still bashing away with the stone age equivalent of hammers and chisels, whereas the engineering design world has AutoCAD to describe incredibly large and complex building structures, airplanes, engines, electronic circuit diagrams and just about everything else you can think of by modeling blueprints that are meaningful. People use these blueprints to turn models into real world constructs that you and I use every day.  How about that cell phone?  Or your iPOD? Or your car? Or that plane you just flew in on? Or this:
So whats up with our software world?  Why do we refuse to adapt the successes of other industries, like the engineering design world, and leverage those successes in our software world?  What are we afraid of? Why are we stuck using (still) low level programming languages that we toil with at all hours of the day and night to produce inferior software products?  If we were designing and constructing commodity cars by hand and even fabricating the tools used to build the cars by hand, we would be laughed out of the industry.  How come software development seems to be different?  Where is our AutoCAD for software development?
This may seem like a bit of a rant or maybe I have unrealistic expectations as to the maturity level of our software industry.  However, I still cant believe, yours truly after being in the software development business for 15 years, still have to manually add an imports or using source code statement every time I add a reference to an assembly in Visual Studio.  What the ??  Not that I am picking on Visual Studio I happen to think it is an excellent IDE along with introducing Software Factories, Domain Specific Languages, Guidance Automation Toolkits, etc.  While these tools and processes are definitely raising the level of abstraction in dealing with software complexity and advancing the industrialization of software, it still seems not enough to me.  We still lack standards like in the electronics design world for plug and play integrated circuits that I can order from a catalog. Or even standard electronic diagram symbols that describe everything electronic in which anyone trained in the industry can glean, in moments, what the circuit diagram is saying, with no ambiguity.  Are we there yet in our software world?
Moreover, we still have a world of programmers that refuse to even consider modeling as a first class software artifact they consider it pretty pictures.  I know we have had issues in the past with CASE tools and with earlier versions of UML and other code generation tools.  But, I have software developers that I have worked with that wont even give it a thought they immediately get out their favorite source code editor and start writing code - so much for design.  And it seems the younger they are, the more I see this behavior or even the old school guys who have become code crafters where they take their craft extremely seriously and are totally affronted in the thought of using a modeling tool.  I am not sure I understand either groups motivation for this behavior.  Where did it come from?  How come I (and a few others) dont have this behavior?
Whats my point?  I dont have one I am just pondering, out loud, what it is going to take to bring the industrialization of software into reality and how long?
Sunday, 16 October 2005 04:06:07 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Comments [0]
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