Metamorphosis: A Programmer Looks at the Software Crisis
Author: William Beckett
Publisher: Numerical Analog, Inc.
Price: $15 US
Reviewer: Harvey Friedman
One of the reasons I agreed to review this book was that I was intrigued by the title. Could this possibly be a Kafkaesque treatise on debugging? As I read it, I realized that such was not the case. I found the style more Conradian, as in Heart of Darkness.
The book has three main sections. The first, comprising 9 chapters, is a response to an article in the September 1994 issue of Scientific American titled “Software's Chronic Crisis”. The author, William Beckett, is an experienced systems designer/programmer who has used many programming languages on many hardware platforms. The writer of the Scientific American piece appeared to be without an extensive computer background, so drew much of his article from management apologetics and computer shock headlines in the popular press.
Beckett responds section by section, paragraph by paragraph, and even line by line in these nine chapters. His theme is common sense or pragmatism. Non-entrepreneurial programmers will enjoy this part of the book because it is the working stiff talking back to “Dilbert”-style management.
Section 2 comprises chapters 10-15. Here, Beckett reprints and discusses letters and responses from Paul Allen and from Wired. He uses lots of personal anecdotes illustrating points he wants to emphasize. This too is a good read, particularly for the disenchanted.
Section 3, chapters 16-21, is where things become highly speculative. One could say that here we have a melange of science fiction, hermeneutics, New Age thoughts, etc. Section 3 should be called “the world according to Beckett, and how Beckett would make it better”. I found myself slogging through the final section.
Overall, this book could provide useful reflection for programmers who are not so overworked that they have time to actually read and think about his controversial ideas. The avowed purpose of the book “is to provide professional men and women in creative fields with a perspective on current Western ideology which is capable of transforming it for the better”. He supports it with an eclectic bibliography of 54 items for further reading. This book will not be everyone's cup of tea by any means, but some might find a few good ideas or explanations.
Metamorphosis can be purchased through amazon.com, or write the publisher at P.O. Box 631, Snohomish, WA 98291 for more information.
Harvey Friedman is a computer consultant at the University of Washington, functioning either as system administrator or statistical analyst. In his leisure time he likes playing with Linux and enjoys orienteering, the sport of navigation. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
Join Linux Journal's Mike Diehl and Pat Cameron of Help Systems.
Free to Linux Journal readers.View Now!
|The Firebird Project's Firebird Relational Database||Jul 29, 2016|
|Stunnel Security for Oracle||Jul 28, 2016|
|SUSE LLC's SUSE Manager||Jul 21, 2016|
|My +1 Sword of Productivity||Jul 20, 2016|
|Non-Linux FOSS: Caffeine!||Jul 19, 2016|
|Murat Yener and Onur Dundar's Expert Android Studio (Wrox)||Jul 18, 2016|
- The Firebird Project's Firebird Relational Database
- Stunnel Security for Oracle
- My +1 Sword of Productivity
- SUSE LLC's SUSE Manager
- Managing Linux Using Puppet
- Non-Linux FOSS: Caffeine!
- Murat Yener and Onur Dundar's Expert Android Studio (Wrox)
- Google's SwiftShader Released
- Parsing an RSS News Feed with a Bash Script
- Doing for User Space What We Did for Kernel Space
With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide