April 25, 2007

Calgary Coworking

So yesterday I pitched an idea for a Calgary coworking space (if you don't know what those are, follow the link below and read around) at DemoCamp, and got some very enthusiastic responses. If you're interested, drop me an email, or put your name down at the Calgary coworking wiki page I've started:


April 8, 2007

Calgary Lisp user's group announcements.

I've put up a group page for the Calgary Lisp user's group on upcoming.org (apparently it's all the rage with the web2.0 kids):


It's got an RSS feed and email and SMS reminders. This should make it easier for people to keep track of and for me to make meeting announcements.

One more thing: I think we need a spiffy acronym (or how else will I tag my blog posts?). I suggest CLUDG, for Calgary Lisp User's and Developer's Group. I think phonetically this may be treading on the Calgary Linux user's group (CLUG) turf, but hey, Lisp was here first.

April 7, 2007

Next Calgary Lisp user's group meeting.

The next Calgary Lisp user's group meeting will take place this upcoming Wednesday, April 11th, at the usual place (Saigon Y2K on Crowchild near McMahon Stadium) starting at 6:30pm. I will talk about my time at ILC07. There will possibly be one or two new people showing up. See you there.

More ILC stuff.

Since no one else in the Lisp blogosphere has yet stepped up to the plate, I feel I should post some more of the interesting happenings that occurred at ILC.

First off, to what must be many people's disappointment, unless Duane gave private MACL demos to other attendees, I don't think anyone is going to blog too much about it. All the MACL "demo" at Duane's tutorial consisted of was opening and scrolling around a .cl file (which MACL just happened to be incidental to). The impressive thing is that there was a snag in the demo setup and he had to rebuild ACL first, which was done in well under 5 minutes.

Next year marks Lisp's 50th birthday. It looks like the current plan is to have another International Lisp Conference in Cambridge, this time Massachusetts, in 2008 to celebrate. Herbert Stoyan talked about getting all the (really) old-school Lispers together for the thing. After this year's experience (thank you Nick and all of the others who helped put it together!) I'll definitely do everything I can to attend. There will also be a contest associated with the conference. The details have been revealed, and they are exactly: "Lisp 1.5" (yes, that's all there is to it - do something with/to/on Lisp 1.5).

Thanks again, and see you at ILC 2008!

April 4, 2007

ILC impressions.

I just got off the plane a little over two hours ago - unfortunately time constraints prevented me from sitting down and blogging before then (they also prevented me from attending the last 1 1/2 days of the conference - there were some talks I was really looking forward to). I wasn't going to blog right at this moment, but Zach's post must be creating some expectations.

Hands down, in terms of the quality of presentation Charlotte Herzeel's talk on the HALO temporal-logic-selected-pointcuts AOP tool was my favorite. I should have read the paper first though, as much of the stuff went over my head initially. A surprising development of Charlotte's talk turned out to be the revelation that JonL White is really into AOP, or in any case knows how to ask a lot of thoughtful questions about it. For some reason this is not something I imagined that old-school Lispers were interested in.

Christian Queinnec made the most persuasive argument in favor of computer-assisted teaching I have ever seen. A surprising result (surprises seemed to be a theme of the conference for me...) is that it turns out that teaching Scheme to undergraduates helps more women succeed in computer science. As this issue is right now in a pretty catastrophic state (based on hard enrollment numbers, an outside observer could only conclude that women are being actively excluded from CS education), why not accomplish two wonderful things at once and teach more Scheme?

Hannes and Andreas's talk on Dylan macros for destructuring and manipulating binary data was good (too much code-reading for my tastes, though). The system they built (Network Night Vision) looks pretty damn awesome (if you are interested in what you can do with Dylan and DWIM user interfaces, it is also very much worth looking at). Speaking of user interfaces, Peter Herth's talk on LTk had some really neat demos.

One of the themes on Monday was computer vision (whether this was intentional, I don't know). Chris Connolly gave a talk about SRI's FREEDIUS system, which is used for geospatial (ie - surveillance) CV, and in the afternoon Cyrus Harmon talked about the image processing system he developed to categorize Drosophila melanogaster (it's a kind of fly) imaginal discs (undeveloped limbs/protruding squishy things) where different genes in different discs at different stages were colored and photographed, producing a whole bunch of images that needed to be accurately categorized. Cyrus developed the ch-image image processing library to help in this regard. In both FREEDIUS and Cyrus's PhD system, all of the low-level image manipulation and feature detection code is written entirely in Lisp (well, Chris said that in FREEDIUS Gaussian smoothing is done in either C or Lisp and that they're probably going to drop the C function and do it from Lisp because the performance difference isn't that large). So there you go - if you didn't want to believe Didier Verna's benchmarks, now you have proof that there is absolutely no reason not to do all of your performance-intensive array processing tasks in Lisp.

One more surprise at the conference was Michael Sperber's talk on the R6RS standardization effort. I wasn't aware about any of the new things R6RS will (hopefully) introduce before Michael's talk, but combined with Olin Shiver's unveiling of the Scheme loop macro at Danfest, I think that there is a good possibility that I might get converted back into the Scheme fold in the not too distant future.

April 1, 2007

Sunday's tutorials.

Originally uploaded by vsedach.
Today was tutorials day at ILC. I went to Edi Weitz's Hunchentoot and CL-WHO tutorial in the morning, and Duane Rettig's Allegro optimization tutorial in the afternoon. Interesting things to ponder. One surprise that Duane revealed was MACL - a new Mac OS X UI for Allegro Common Lisp, developed by Clozure Associates. This explains what is going on (or rather, not) with MCL. Fun tidbit: MCL was called MACL originally.