Thursday, December 08, 2005

Reddit, Linkit, lisp, java and Wesnoth.

Reddit was the one general news source that could be relied upon to have lisp news on the front page. Is it too much to ask that we not alienate ourselves from a great opportunity to reach a bigger audience? I guess it is.
This whole thing makes us lispers look like vindictive idiots, again. I give credit to the Linkit people for doing more than yabbering impotently at one another. It's more than I could manage but Linkit's supposed to be a proof of concept but all it proves is that seven hours isn't enough time.
When I visited Linkit I was surprised to find that voting didn't work. This is, to my mind, one of the three fundamental features of reddit along with karma and user submissions. I know it only took seven hours but ten, twelve or even twenty-four hours to a fully working replica of reddit is a much better claim than seven hours to a broken imitation. Nice logo though.

In other news I recently had to take a java test for employment with a certain company. Java's 'features' irritated me for a while, but then I gave up trying to make java do it my way and bent to java's will. Things went a lot better after that and my code got smaller and prettier. A lesson for all of us I think.

Also, go and play Battle for Wesnoth, its great.

6 comments:

Viljo Marrandi said...

Hey. I'm just learning lisp, but it's been an 'interesting' experience to follow reddit's conversion to python and all these posts about it and emotional flamewars. I for one didn't quite understand the fuss about it - they explained why they had switched to python. It wasn't that python was better than lisp (or vice versa). Just right tool for the right job, if lisp didn't have good enough tools for them to make reddit, then so be it. I still use perl framework Catalyst to do my minisites and it really rocks (because I know perl well, and setting it up takes about 20 seconds (it's design is heavily copied from RoR)).

As of Linkit, then I've been following this discussion on c.l.l and I think right now they're just trying to figure out what would be best algorithm for ranking links, I'd say give them another 7 hours and it'll be awesome.

Lastly what caught my attention, I did similar Java test just yesterday for applying for new job, and it went well. Tho I'm not sure if I want to go there or not. I had very simple task - remove duplicate entries in array and sum all that's left. And I didn't come up with Java way solution, only perl's hashes were on my mind (put all into hash and sum then).

Adam Jones said...

Yeah, right now linkit is still in development. Many things do not work, and it probably needs a message to this effect with a place to find out where things are going.

I would like to say that the intention here is not to prove reddit wrong, but I know that at least in some part it is. Eventually I think it will prove to be a source of good new ideas.

charlieb said...

Learning lisp is definitely one of the best experiences a programmer can have. I learnt more about programming in the first 6 months of learning lisp than the previous 5 years of programming experience. I think this also has to do with the really excellent educational material on lisp-like languages; SCIP (http://mitpress.mit.edu/sicp/full-text/book/book.html) and ANSI Common lisp are but two examples. On lisp (http://paulgraham.com/onlisptext.html) went waaaaay over my head to start with but even then the sense of power it imparts to someone who knows C/C++/Delphi etc. is unparalleled.
I believe that language pragmatism is one of the more desirable traits of a programmer. I don't know perl, I've seen it and it looks like line noise but I wouldn't hesitate to learn it if I had some text processing heavy lifting to do and I'm sure when I did I would quickly learn to appreciate it's inner beauty.

Linkit looks like it could be interesting. Maybe the work put in here to keep pace with a different but similar product will yield some useful libraries. Lisp does have a proud history of this sort of one-up-manship benefiting the community as a whole (look at a bio of Richard Stallman for a great example).
I was just unimpressed with it's grand claim, the reasons for its inception but mostly the fact that it didn't work.
I was recently mildly burned for using the word "proves" when I hadn't properly researched the proof I was presenting so Linkit's claim to be a "proof of concept" when it didn't work properly left me cold.
It is my hope that Linkit eventually becomes a success and also that Linkit and reddit can cross pollinate each other with good ideas. I hope both communities will be open to ideas from the other. Strength through diversity is a good thing IMHO.

As for the Java test, I got a mail thanking me for my time earlier today. Oh well, the search goes on. I'd love to find a lisp job but it's just not popular enough. That's the way it goes and language pragmatism dictates that I need to do popular languages. Lisp will have its day again.

Anonymous said...

Lispers prefer to be right rather than to be liked or popular. Lispers don't care that you think they are vindictive -- being right is enough for them.

If the lispers focus their efforts on Linkit, it may easily wind up better than reddit. For one, linkit doesn't seem to be their first attempt at such a project.

The interesting thing is that the linkit project, if it is better than reddit, will likely result in two things:

1) More potential lispers (lispers in the sense of nerds who care more about being right than popular) will be attracted to lisp -- because of the power that lisp gives them.

2) The other crowd -- the popular crowd -- will be convinced that lispers are jerks, and they'll go use other less powerful languages, yet more convinced that lispers are truly awful folks. [Those sort of people wouldn't have fit in with the lispers anyway!]

I myself am looking forward to reading the code of linkit, if they make it available!

Also, I don't really get the performance problems that reddit was having -- I'm surprised this was a deal breaker for them. Is it really so hard to find a portable multi-threaded lisp (or scheme)?

charlieb said...

I would doubt the Linkit could become better than reddit. Lispers tend to value simplicity and elegance, both of these reddit has in abundance. That's why I prefer reddit to other similar sites. It requres a url and a one line description. That's it. Simple. There is a diminishing return for added complexity like site descriptions and use comments. Do one thing and do it well.

As for their lisp decision I quote:
"Emacs and SLIME are a killer combination, but I develop on a Mac, and reddit.com is a FreeBSD box. On my Mac, my choices of threaded Lisp implementations was limited to OpenMCL, and in FreeBSD it's CMUCL. Because of the low-level socket and threading code we had to write, reddit would not run on my Mac, and I was always tethered to our FreeBSD development server. Not being able to program offline is a pain."
http://reddit.com/blog/2005/12/on-lisp.html

So their issue is that there are no *free* lisps that run on OSX and BSD and can be used to implement low level socket code.

As for you criticisms of the 'lispers' I would ask you to consider the phrase, "vocal minority".

Anonymous said...

It makes them look like jerks. "Hey Reddit--we can out-Reddit you with our own cool language. We're going to pretend the reasons you gave aren't valid and pull a big nyah nyah on you! Look what we did in X hours...hello?...is anyone here?"