Well, I'm not sure when it showed up, but you can now see the tracks and sessions that are going to be available at NIWeek this year. I found out because I'm actually giving a session this year - check out session I41 - A look inside Windows Vista. The email alerting me says that I need to go and update my profile, etc. etc...Ah well...I suppose I should start putting an agenda together for the presentation :)
Seriously though, if you have any comments about things you'd like to hear about on Vista, please leave a comment or shoot me an email. I've got a rough outline worked out, but I'd love to know what kind of questions people have on Vista.
There's an exciting, new conference going on the .NET platform for those really interested in languages and compilers: Lang .NET 2006. Unfortunately, the website doesn't have a lot of info up there yet. However, Erik Meijer, the program chair for the conference, has posted a bit more information here.
Did you notice that I'm on the committee? Yes, as if I wasn't busy enough, I've jumped into the fray to help with this gathering. Truth be told, there isn't that much work other than working with the others on the topics and paper reviews - the Microsoft guys have to handle all the logistics. But I'm really looking forward to this.
My guess is that, since this is the first one, it's going to be finding it's legs this year, but the goal is for this to be a recurring event. I'll keep you informed as we get it rolling - it's a bit more acedemic than most of my readers are probably interested in, but hopefully you'll find it interesting.
Many of the people working with .NET inside LabVIEW are also creating the .NET assemblies they're planning on talking to from LabVIEW - you know who you are!
From time to time, I get questions about putting assemblies into the GAC (global assembly cache), which is sort of like putting DLLs into the Windows system directory - they're visible to any application. I've got a good resource on the issues around installing and uninstalling assemblies from the GAC, but before I give it to you, let me get on my soap box...
Microsoft has announced the retirement of Windows 98 and ME, meaning no support is available for these products, even if you are willing to pay for it. Not a big surprise in some ways, but it is interesting because ME was the last Microsoft OS release that was part of the old DOS/Win3.1 code base. The end of an era...
So last night my wife and I went to see David Sedaris at the Bass Concert Hall (sold out) here in Austin. For those that haven't heard him, I strongly recommend that you check out his work, but in audio format if possible. You can hear him on NPR as well as get some of his book at Audible (great use of an iPod, once you start you'll never stop). Why an audible version? Because of the delivery.
David Sedaris' writing style is a calm, measured description of life, which can be hard to read if you aren't used to the timing. But when you listen to him, and experience his way of emphasis, you'll understand. Now, I'll warn you that if you like fast comedy (Robin Williams, for example, whom I also adore), then you might find this a bit too slow. Try it and see for yourself.
It was an interesting night for the other people we saw as well, including two other NI couples and - tada - Ann Richards, the former and still highly beloved (at least in Austin) Texas Governor. I was just behind her by a couple of rows, but didn't get a chance to talk to her. Oh well...the night was still a blast.
Ran across this bit-o-news today regarding another multi-core processor - this time 1024 computing elements backed by an IBM Power core. I talked a little about this earlier, but I believe this is where the future of computing is going. Parallel computing has been a research topic in CS for forever, but these chips are taking the advanced (read expensive) parallel systems and putting them into desktop computers.
You can only squeeze so many transistors on a chip, and you can only make it go so fast. Today, Intel, IBM, and AMD are struggling with advanced quantum mechanics to make a bigger, faster processor, so you have to expand in a different direction - and apparently the new thinking is "more is better".
But this simply shifts the problem from hardware to software. Multi-threaded programming is hard to do (one of the advantages of LabVIEW), but when you start dealing with this level of concurrent processing, you need entire new ways of thinking. Traditional programming simply becomes too difficult to make any real progress, even in today's LabVIEW language.
I once tried explaining to a layman why writing computer code is so hard. I told him to give me step by step instructions to tie my shoes. Every time he gave me an instruction, I told him to be more specific. Eventually he was too frustrated to continue, but it was accurate description of what it takes to write code today. You simply have to tell the code too many little facts to get the job done - and that's not even considering the extra complications of writing secure and high performance code.
My personal belief is that it's time to lift the science of computing up another level. If you look at the history of programming, you'll see that each generation of languages removes the programmer from the processor. As an old kernel driver writer, I often long for the days of getting back into the bits, but really - it's the only way we can make any progress. And I’m not talking about what some people refer to as 4G languages – just another text language with slightly less typing…we should call those 3.1G languages. Here I’m talking about graphical representations (flow, state chart, etc) and natural language expressions. You’ll also need rich frameworks to build upon - Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF, aka Avalon) is a good example of a step in that direction.
Personally, I’m very excited about the challenge ahead. The whole Web 2.0 business is just that – business, but next generation concurrency is going to be a true revolution, and we’re going to be part of it.