We're still without power... I can understand a storm doing immense damage to power infrastructure, what I can't really understand is the total lack of information coming from Centerpoint Energy. I don't really care if you take a week to get my power on, as long as I know to expect that. I could arrange a work trip, or something, if I knew when power would be on.
Ostensibly Centerpoint knows what the problems are in each area now, and could communicate that along with completion estimates. So far, they haven't, they've only communicated where outages are, which helps absolutely no-one. I KNOW my power is out, thanks.
I realize this is a massive undertaking, but they have all the data in databases... if you call their automated reporting system, it knows my power is out, when it was initially reported, and what outage its a part of. Based on other people's experiences, that info comes from internal tickets that have all of the necessary data. It's just a matter of exposing it. Detailed web-based outage reporting should be a matter of course for regulated utilities. Sad that it isn't.
I'm exploring the Smalltalk language, specifically GNU Smalltalk (Wikipedia link... go here for the code). Smalltalk is a very cool language accompanied by a very strange development environment. GNU Smalltalk implements the Smalltalk machine in a more traditional "write code in editor, then run it" approach... so I'm getting my feet wet that way. I dunno that I would really "get" the constant development IDE style (e.g. Squeak).
Smalltalk is pure OO (object oriented) to the core, but not the trashcan OO of C++ or Java. IMO Smalltalk may be the best language to learn programming with, and to model development in other languages on. For example, my Python code easily translates into Smalltalk semantics... I use Python because it fits in traditional Unix systems very nicely, but semantically, I love Smalltalk's elegance, power, and simplicity.
Smalltalk might even be good to teach to kids. There are some really interesting developments on that front, particular Scratch, which is built with/in/from/? Squeak. For anyone interested in Squeak, check out Squeak By Example (open PDF book).
If GNU Smalltalk turns out to be practical for Internet services and protocols, I might actually use it for real projects... even if not, learning Smalltalk is a fantastic way to train your programming brain to think better.
Symbian is going open source. This is a pretty interesting development, but I think it may be too little, too late, and it doesn't imply any major changes in the Symbian platform.
The real problem with Symbian isn't the fact that it's closed, it's the fact that it's Symbian. It's a difficult platform to develop for, its UI concepts are dated and accelerating towards antiquated, the "access point" scheme for managing IP connectivity is appallingly difficult for users, etc. Perhaps going open source will provide a catalyst for some serious changes and revolutions in the platform, that would be great. We'll see. Increasingly, the features of the Symbian platform that made it compelling are becoming unnecessary... the hardware platforms for mobile phones are no longer the exceedingly resource-constrained, battery-sipping environments they once were, and that will only become more true.
2010 is a long way off... the iPhone 3G ships in 3 weeks, Android phones this year. Developers finally get their hands on Symbian innards one year after that? I can't see that being very interesting to new developers.
It could be a huge boon for existing Symbian developers though, who've wished for access to deeper APIs, or even just to understand what is going on down deeper in the idiosyncratic Symbian brain. But again, in a year or two... it doesn't help now.