[FoRK] Programming languages, operating systems, despair and anger

Benjamin Black b at b3k.us
Thu Nov 12 13:24:44 PST 2009

Jeff Bone wrote:
> Third point:  write a program that, when your phone is near your laptop
> at work, checks your security system at the house, determines via
> various heuristics whether there's anyone else in the family home, locks
> the doors remotely if they aren't and arms the alarm, and sends you a
> message (determined by where you're most active --- SMS if computer is
> idle, IM if not idle, copies e-mail in either case) indicated that it
> detected that the last person out (also determined heuristically by
> spanning machines to build a complex "context) forgot to lock the door. 
> Also, if this person was your teenage son, sends him a text indicating
> that he's grounded, gets on his cell provider web page and "locks down"
> his account to strictly-family-and-emergency use, and automatically logs
> into the bank and changes the PIN number on his ATM card.  (Where all
> does this program run?  How does it orchestrate all this activity?  Etc.)
> That *SHOULD* be simple.  It should be TRIVIAL!

This is a key point.  Many of the problems we face in writing software
are integration, not simply automation.  Many of the facilities you
describe as desirable are only relevant for integration.  This is
actually the line of logic that led to the creation of the Chef
automation tool: Puppet tries to be all things itself, while Chef
assumes the internal bits are easy, but talking to the inevitable
outside stuff is hard.

Now, leaping from there to "only integration-focused languages need
apply", I don't know if I can manage.


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