Strangelights

Another tech blog.

Last Wednesday I got the chance to attend a “Coding Breakfast” hosted by Damien Thouvenin of CLT Services. The concept is simple, turn up a little before 8:30, enjoy some coffee and croissant, then we attempt a Coding Kata for about an hour and finally we get together to review the results. I was pleased to see the great and the good of the Paris coding scene there, in the form of Yann Schwartz and Jérémie Chassaing.

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The 2013 edition of Functional Programming eXchange is just over a month away, so if you’re not already signed up now the time to do so. When we first started Functional Programming eXchange back in 2009 there were very few functional programming conference’s aimed at developers, over years this has changed quite dramatically and now even if we just talk about about functional programming events in the UK hosted at Skills Matter we have Clojure eXchange, Haskell eXchange, Progressive F#, Scala Days and Scala eXchange. What makes Functional Programming eXchange different from these other conferences is that rather than focus on a specific functional programming language we have the freedom to bring together the talks from a broad range of functional languages, to bring there respective communities together to swap ideas and it gives us a chance to include some talks from languages that do not yet have there own conferences.

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Today I gave a talk ”Science and Software Development” at the weactuallybuildstuff.com. The talk was largely inspired by Ben Goldacre’s “Bad Science” column and book and try to apply some of the ideas relating to the use and abuse of evidence in the software industry. In the talk I tried to build a case for why the software industry might by to pay more attention to scientific techniques, such as “Randomized Controlled Trails”, by talking about availability bias, Confirmation Bias, the placebo effect and overconfidence. The slides are available on SlideShare:

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Well we're doing it again!

 

I've been running a conference "Functional Programming eXchange" in London for a few years now. The conference is run by Skills Matter and will take place on Friday 15th Mar 2013.

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Visual Studio 2012 has been out for a while now, I’ve been using it every day at work and I’m generally very happy with it. The biggest win is the performance, which is some much better than VS2010.

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Things are changing at Microsoft (or maybe they changed a while ago and it took me all this time to notice). The short story is the company no longer cares whether you use their development tools, they only care that you target their platforms: Windows 8 and Windows Azure.
 
The result is this, Microsoft is in the process of opening up Software Development tool chain. They no longer see themselves as the owners of .NET, or at perhaps more accurately some of the technologies around .NET (i.e. ASP.NET, Entity Framework which are now fully open source and parts of ASP.NET are packaged with Mono). Instead they seem themselves as driving contributor with other contributions from the community and other development companies. It can be seen too in the way that Microsoft has contributed to other projects to help bring them to the Microsoft platform, Node.js and the choice of Hadoop for its default Map/Reduce tool are probably the most prominent examples for this. This new way of doing thinks can also be seen in the way they released TypeScript, full open source and integrated with other Javascript open source projects.

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For Functional Programming eXchange 2012 and I’ve tried to put together a programming that mixes the best the functional programming community has to give. I wanted both talks that show how functional programming languages can be used more effectively and that show off new up and coming language and new language features. I also wanted talks that gave feedback from project that were implemented using functional languages. I’m pleased to say we have plenty of both.

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Recently I sent a bit of time playing with Overtone. I’ve always been interested in music, but have little talent when it comes to playing instruments, so I really like the idea of a DSL for creating music. I was also inspired by one of my Christmas presents The Wave Watchers Companion to explore relationship between waves and sound. A secondary aim of playing with overtone was to learn a bit more about Clojure which is definitely one of the most interesting languages about at the moment. I tried to resist the urge to port it F#, just enjoy learning about Clojure, but many of the ideas that make Overtone fun would work well in F#, so I couldn’t resist giving it a go. Especially when I released that if I combined it with the technology behind tryfsharp.org which would mean people could just browse to a web page and start creating music immediately. To try Undertone click this link or the below screen shot:

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Just a quick note to say that my talk “The Combinator Approach to Programming Domain Specific Languages with F#” is now available on Skills Matter site. I’ve put the code on github.

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Ever since it was announced that Dart would be announced at GOTO conference I’ve been wonder what dart would be like. I thought I’d take the time put down my initial thoughts here.

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