Thursday, November 26, 2009

Technology I'm Thankful For

As it is Thanksgiving, I think I will write about what technology I am thankful for.

I'm really glad MySQL exists. It's just really pleasant to develop against.  It couldn't be simpler (well, maybe it could be - but I challenge someone to provide me with an existing example) I've developed both Java and C++ applications with Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle, and while I think there are good tools in both of those realms (especially in the case of SQL Server), MySQL is just so light weight and easy to develop against by comparison. It just rocks. As with anything, it isn't perfect - but I am thankful I get to use MySQL.

I'm thankful for the great variety of virtualization software that is available today. VMWare and VirtualPC have been around for a long time, but now there's also Virtualbox, and on my Mac I use Parallels. I can virtualize on any machine I use. Hardware CPU support makes it even better. Virtualization rocks as a tool for experimentation, and it has plenty of other uses.  For instance, we currently do our WAN testing by using VMware server and a WANem Linux ISO

I'm thankful for the abundance of operating systems I get to use these days. I'm not just a windows guy - I have a Macbook Pro, so I use OS X regularly, and I  have for a long time used Linux from time to time. I keep meaning to explore Solaris more - as I have a fascination with ZFS that just won't go away. I am keeping tabs on the current legal issues, though - and I wish the ZFS team the best.

I'm thankful that fast internet is now fairly ubiquitous in the states. I can't fathom what it would be like if I still had a 33.6K modem.

I'm thankful for Eclipse. It's such a powerful and flexible IDE. I don't use it because it's free - I use it because it KICKS ASS. It helps my productivity and doesn't get in the way. There are tons of plugins, great keyboard shortcuts, and it is just very solid all around. Even after using it for 4+ years, I still learn new things that make it even better.

I'm thankful for how far hardware as come, but I can't even begin to estimate where we will be in another 10 years. I've had my hands on a keyboard for at least 15 years (maybe longer), and there is no doubt an interesting road ahead. SSDs, multi core processors, and high performance video cards. It's an exciting time in hardware.

I'm thankful for the intense browser competition these days. It seems like every single vendor has rewritten their Javascript engines entirely in the last year or 2, and it still continues. Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera - they all have strong points. I continue to favor Opera, and I can't wait to see Carakan and Vega come out. Opera knows where it's at - referring to ECMAScript by its real name. It's the only browser that comes with everything I want, with no customizing rquired. That said, I do also use Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. IE8 isn't bad, either.  Even the IE9 team is creating a new Javascript engine. It's an exciting moment in browser history, and I can't wait to see what happens next.

These same Javascript engine extreme performance improvements give me hope for other languages. I've  liked Ruby for quite some time - but there's no denying performance can be an issue. It looks like 2010 will be the year of Ruby VMs. I am curious where things will go.

A note to readers - I am participating n National Novel Writing Month, in particular it is spurred by the Pragmatic Life entries. My participation is by posting a blog entry every day - most years, I don't even think I'd be on a computer on Thanksgiving - but I must write something every day this month - so there's my post. I hope everyone had a great thanksgiving.

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