Monthly Archives: August 2012

Upgraded to a new Mac Book Pro

My old Mac Book Pro was getting pretty old, and I was due for an update. I made sure the Time Machine backup was up to date and started the restore.

There were just a few surprises:

  • The estimate for Time Machine restore was 48 hours. Ouch. So I had to leave the new shiny machine at the office to complete the restore. All in all, a good experience. It was done when I got back. Not sure how long it took since I worked from home yesterday …
  • I missed that the MBP-RD (Retina Display) didn’t have an ethernet port. Our wireless is often flaky at the office and so I haven’t depended on it. Bought the Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapter right away.
  • I had previously upgraded to OS X Mountain Lion on my old MBP and had to reinstall both Mercurial and the Java runtime. Those updates also had to be reapplied after my Time Machine restore. That surprised me. Does Time Machine ignore the OS files? I guess that sort of makes sense (easy to upgrade the software), but it still puzzled me a bit.
  • I also had to re-enter my Office for Mac product keys. I haven’t (yet) encountered any other software that required attention.

Anyhow, less than 2 hours later, everything is running again. Pretty cool.

Atomic Scala: Splitting an Atom today

Ah, one of the fun things about the title for our book, Atomic Scala, is that I smile whenever I get to say that I’m “splitting an atom”. For one thing, it’s fun to say. For another, it means that we’re simplifying the concepts in the book even further.

You can read about how I’m splitting Values and Data Types into 2 atoms, and how that might mean including the content from Type Inference earlier in the book.

Atomic Scala: A Book Gets Written

 I liked Scala at first glance several years ago, and thought it was a huge improvement over Java. Unfortunately, it suffered from what I like to call “Early Adopter Syndrome”. The early adopters of the language were attracted to its terseness and its flexibility. The combination made the language seem really difficult. It didn’t have to be that way, and I was convinced that it would be a good language for beginners. So, about a year and a half ago, I mentioned to my friend Bruce Eckel that I was thinking of writing a book on Scala. He’s written several very popular programming language books, and I wanted his opinion.
After about a minute pause, Bruce said, “I would like to help you write that book”.
I have some very kind and generous friends. I wasn’t angling for that — but I was floored by the offer. His books are some of the best in the industry. I knew that I had much to learn; I just didn’t know how much! Bruce has kept me focused, pushed me toward simplification, and I have grown in numerous ways as a writer and as a developer because of his generosity. Bruce is in Colorado; I’m in Michigan. Technology (in particular, Google Docs) has made co-authoring this book possible.
The book is now at a point where we think we will benefit from people “testing it out” and where beginners in Scala can benefit from the very small steps (atoms) that make up the book. We named the book Atomic Scala to reflect this and it’s been a lot of fun “splitting atoms” when we felt like we have represented more than one concept at a time.

In October, we will be presenting a weeklong seminar from the book. We will put it to the test with attendees, and we are convinced that this exercise will help us to remove complexities that we no longer see. The seminar will be hands-on, based on exercises from the book. We have targeted our book at beginning Scala programmers, and we feel that completion of the course will put folks in a great position to follow up with Escalate Software’s Scala training from Bill Venners and Dick Wall and/or other, more advanced books.

The seminar will be exciting for me in another way. We’re going to do a print on demand “early access” run for the book, so that we can give one to each attendee. To date, our editing has been in Google Docs, and it’s hard to envision what it will look like in print. We will have an eBook version as well, of course, but I’ve seen those. I will be thrilled to get my hand on a print copy.

We have an active group of reviewers. Google Docs added a commenting feature recently, which allows us to give commenting permission (but not editing permission) as a sharing option. With this, our reviewers can add comments to the document. They can also actually see us editing (cursor moving, backspacing, rewriting sentences)! It’s a fun way to write a book.

So, when will it be done? Well, that’s a good question, one my family, business partner, and employees ask often. We expect it to be done later this year. But what I typically tell people is that it will be done when Bruce says it’s done. (That’s a compliment, Bruce. I really do trust your judgment on this!)

You can learn more about the book and upcoming seminars from our book website.

Ann Arbor Scala Enthusiasts: meeting is ON!

Have you wondered what all of the fuss is about with Scala? Or are you already sold and just want to hang out with like-minded folks?

Join us for an organizational meeting for this new user group as well as an open discussion on “Why Scala?”.

The meeting will start at 6 pm on Wednesday, August 15, at SRT Solutions. Everyone is welcome — the meeting is free and open to the public.

We’ll have some ceasar salad and cold sandwiches as well as some cookies. Feel free to bring something else if you like. I’m looking forward to it!

SRT Solutions is located at 206 S. Fifth Avenue, Suite 200, Ann Arbor, MI 48104. The closest parking structures are at 4th & Washington or 5th & Liberty. Street parking (metered spots) is free after 6, if you can find a space.

Ann Arbor Scala Enthusiasts to meet August 15 at SRT Solutions

A week ago I posted to see if there was interest in a new developer group in Ann Arbor, dedicated to the Scala programming language. It appears that there is indeed interest, both from attendees and potential speakers.

We will meet at 6 pm on August 15 at SRT Solutions for an organizational meeting and for an open discussion on “Why Scala?”. Regular meetings will be held on the 3rd Wednesday of each month, starting with September. It would be great if we had a schedule for talks or workshops (depending on what folks want) by the time we leave the August meeting.

Join us! The meetings will be free and open to the public. We’ll take a donation for food starting in September.

FYI: Scala is a general purpose language on the Java Virtual Machine. Combining functional and object oriented programming, Scala offers powerful expression that allows developers to focus on solving problems with software rather than being distracted by boilerplate code. Particularly with recent announcements that features expected in Java in 2013 are being pushed back, languages such as Scala are attractive alternatives.

SRT Solutions is located at 206 S. Fifth Avenue, Suite 200 in downtown Ann Arbor. The office is at the corner of Fifth and Washington, with the entrance from Fifth. Take the elevator or stairs to the 2nd floor. Nearest parking structures are at Fourth & Washington or Fifth & Liberty.