Recorded on January 28th, 2010, this episode features Doug Martin, Gerard Gualberto, Brian Johnson, Joe Brandt, and Chas Emerick.  We offer our reactions to the iPad announcement in the beginning, and then move on to lots of other topics: the upshot of the Sun/Oracle merger, what happened to postgres, some FSF-bashing, whether encrypting content is ethical/reasonable, and tons of other random topics.

Do you have a question, comment, or rant you’d like us to mention on a future episode?  Post a comment below!


  • The iPad was announced, and we offer our reactions.  It sounds like a mixed bag.
  • Given the iPad’s lack of flash support, we talk about the status of Flash, and the alternatives:
    • Joe and Gerard think HTML5 youtube player is not (yet?) up to snuff compared to the flash version.
    • “Applets” (whether Flash, Java, Silverlight, whatever) are never going to go away
    • A lot of the great stuff in HTML5 et al. simply isn’t going to be available for most designers / web developers for a long time.
  • Chas has no sympathy for offline constraints on software functionality / development, especially as broadband becomes essentially universal regardless of context.
  • Some brief Sun/Oracle merger talk, including the announced possibility that the Hotspot and JRockit VMs may be merged or otherwise cross-pollinated.
  • The Sun/Oracle merger touched off a bunch of discussion about databases, starting with the near future status of mysql, and then going into:
    • Where’s postgres these days?  Maybe IBM should buy it to have an “entry level” offering to match up with Oracle’s mysql.
    • Doug’s still holding a grudge against postgres from 1997 😉
    • Good database tools are hard to find.  We mention Toad, the archaic SQLPlus, and Golden32 (Chas’ favorite Oracle query tool, back when he had to deal with Oracle, that is).
  • We went on about the FSF, DRM, and adjacent topics for a bit:
    • “With all the stuff going on the world, you choose to protest the iPad?” (particularly cringe-inducing photo here, IMO)
    • “What do you expect content producers to do, send their stuff over the wire in the clear so anyone can slurp it up?” (referring to Adobe’s encrypted DRM’ed streaming tech, RTMPE)
    • Brian took the counterpoint a little, wishing he could usefully subscribe to
  • With that, where’s our obligatory podcast sponsorship?
  • Seems that everyone’s servers get a constant flood of ssh rainbow table attacks from China.
  • “Understanding Unicode” seems like a worthwhile choice for a “language” for 2010
  • “You’ve got a bug, and it’s in Mantis.  Now you’ve got two problems.”  (and the crowd groans….)
  • It is simply impossible to describe what we do to “civilians”
  • Gerard reminisces about BeOS
  • Doug takes us out with a story about how he came across a munitions test system circa 1990, owned by Olin and controlled by a TRS-80 and some uncommented assembly he was supposed to work on.


or, download the mp3 directly.

Posted by: Chas Emerick | January 12, 2010

Podcast #004: The one where Chas discovers the rimshot effect

Recorded on December 17th, 2009, this episode features Doug Martin, Gerard Gualberto, Michael McIntosh, Michael Klatsky, Joe Brandt, and myself.  There was no specific theme to our conversation that frigid night — just a lot of miscellany.  I hope it’s a good listen!


  • Gerard has been fiddling with Cocoa development, and discovered its GC support in the process
  • “The iPhone has set back the status quo in development environments”…compared to managed platforms like Android, Pre, etc.
  • People are returning to Slashdot, in a common round-robin of social media sites over the years: from Slashdot to digg to reddit/proggit to hackernews, and back to Slashdot.
  • Rants:
    • Getting imaging working in python on the Mac is a PITA
    • Macports is a disaster; “it’s been compiling for hours!”
  • Everyone seems to love the Chrome lately
  • Building webapps on XML using XPath is the best way to minimize database load 😉
  • Why can’t everyone just use webkit, and save us all a lot of time and trouble?
  • Paper vs. ebooks
  • Opinions on the python moratorium
  • Reactions to Snowtide’s sponsorship of Clojure, parallels drawn between Rich Hickey and Guido van Rossum w.r.t. sponsorship
  • Apparently, you can’t be hardcore until you’ve built a lisp in Pascal on your Tandy 1000sx!

Happy (belated) new year, everyone!

Posted by: Chas Emerick | December 15, 2009

Podcast #003: Do I look more like Hannnibal or Murdock?

Recorded on December 3, 2009, this episode features Chris Lloyd, Gerard Gualberto, Chris Miles, Lou Franco, and myself, talking mostly about user interface technologies and tools.  Lots of tangents, of course, so everyone else is sure to be either very confused or amused upon listening.

Hey, leave a comment or question below, and maybe we’ll read/answer it “on the air”!

  • User interface chatter:
    • Chas talks a bit on background about the NetBeans Platform-based application he’s recently completed
    • The perils of using native-looking Swing look & feels, and the trap of having to make one’s application “look native”
    • Is Swing still slow?
    • Is Silverlight a potential deployment mechanism if you have a jvm-centric codebase, given the cross-compilation that ikvm makes available?
    • Javascript + canvas is pretty impressive these days.  The particle system demo referenced in the discussion is here.
    • We chatted about Cappuccino for a while, a javascript-based web framework that provides Cocoa-inspired UI components.  The examples look pretty slick, and there’s some in-production apps (280slides, Mockingbird) that really highlight what can be done.
    • Web development tooling sorta sucks, especially for non-techies (who are often the ones producing web content these days).
    • You’re probably using “thick-client” apps right now on OS X that are actually just wrappers around embedded web containers (webkit, really), and building such apps look to be a lot more pleasant than any other heavyweight UI framework that you might use to build “native” apps.
  • Dave Winer says twitter clients should be scriptable.  I don’t think any of us care enough to agree or disagree.
  • The 1% twitterati that think that twitter is so great because questions and such get answered so quickly (this is the Jeff Atwood Syndrome, perhaps), need to come back to earth.
  • Charter is monitoring Twitter in-real-time to find people bitching about service.  They are watching.
  • Companies, open source project maintainers, et al. better monitor Twitter and such
  • Ruby on Rails vs. JRuby on Rails — the key is: which do you know how to deploy and manage better (classic rails vs. just-another-java-war)?
  • Even after however-many-years, there’s still a lot of churn in how to “do Rails”, especially around deployment
  • I want to use the A-Team theme song as an intro to the podcast.  That’s not legit of course (barring a proper license for “redistribution”, feh).  But just for this episode, it’s OK, because we review the song on an artistic level. 😛
  • Somehow, we ended up going pretty deep into the rabbit hole of music copyright, fair use, licensing, distribution, cover bands, etc. etc. etc.
  • Miles got a cease-and-desist letter connected with his downloading a torrent. Seriously, what?!?


Posted by: Chas Emerick | November 23, 2009

Podcast #002: We don’t need no steenking editing!

A second podcast! So, I reckon we’re already in the 75th percentile of podcasts, just by doing more than one — 90% of life is showing up, etc etc.

Recorded on 11/19/2009, this episode features myself, Chris Miles, Joe Brandt, Michael McIntosh, and Michael Klatsky (see links to people’s sites, etc. in the sidebar).  We talked about a smattering of things related to “the cloud”, IT management, Amazon AWS, Rackspace, CouchDB, Redis, and other bits. A couple of topical highlights (mostly in order):

  • M. Klatsky was kind enough to bring some of his homemade chocolate coffee stout, which we all enjoyed quite a lot.
  • Chas described Snowtide’s in-progress move away from any shade of in-house hosting to using Amazon AWS.
  • We talked quite a bit about Amazon’s (relatively) new Relational Database Service, and how the real value of “the cloud” may not be the outsourcing of infrastructure management, but the value-added services like RDS that take a ton of busybody work out of the mix for companies for whom the related “bare metal” services are simply cost sinks.
  • There was a fairly extended discussion of the mechanics of managing cloud nodes, specifically Amazon EC2 instances, along with the security issues surrounding AWS’ specific authentication mechanisms (e.g. keys, certs, etc). Update: Here’s a good rundown of EC2 key management strategies, focusing on the security ramifications of each.
  • Some talk about cloud federation, cloud service lock-in, and maybe how things like Eucalyptus (an open-source reimplementation of (parts of?) AWS’ cloud APIs) might be a way to mitigate the consequences of cloud vendor lock-in.
  • Man, what happened to the Sun and IBM clouds?
  • Everyone seems to agree that Rackspace is somewhat out of touch w.r.t. “the cloud”, and have fallen behind Amazon AWS technologically.
  • How do you prepare for system failure and disaster recovery in the cloud?  Whoa, it’s a lot easier to test recovery in the cloud than in other environments.  Also, mobile self-contained server rooms, and the pain of depending on unresponsive commercial backup software vendors.
  • M. Klatsky reveals the origin of his mapu handle for all to know!
  • Miles has been checking out Redis as a zero admin message queue
  • Chas likes CouchDB because of its pleasant programming model and rock-solid real-time multi-master replication (in contrast to mysql replication, which is touchy at best)
  • We all hate the nosql moniker — catchy, but too easily interpreted as confrontational.
  • “Functional programming lends itself for deploying in an elastic, distributed infrastructure…” – Miles
  • Single sign on options, including Joe’s shop rolling their own (“Ouch!” – Chas), OAuth, OpenID, and Shibboleth, etc.
  • Miles wrote an emacs twitter client (called Parakeet) some time ago.  (TweetDeck, watch out! ;-))
  • We’re all REST fanboys, apparently.  Although, if you have a toolchain that deeply supports it, SOAP can be pleasant.
  • There appears to be a debate out there between “the purists” that consider REST to be only what was described in the original paper that coined the term, and most of the rest of the world that uses the term “REST” to describe any protocol that is stateless and uses HTTP for transport (e.g. not necessarily including URLs for additional operations on a resource, etc).
  • Finally, this episode includes the first Strictly Professional easter egg. Maybe it was funnier in person.

BTW, it turns out that I was totally off-base w.r.t. a couple of facets of CouchDB:

  1. We’ve never had to think about CouchDB’s versioning at all, so my description of how it works was simply wrong.  Sorry, folks.  Check out the chapter of the CouchDB book versioning and conflict management for the real skinny.
  2. Further, I had some wires crossed in my head when I said that CouchDB had an option for using a binary protocol like stomp.  CouchDB only supports JSON over HTTP, with binary attachments encoded as you might otherwise do for an HTTP request.

I hope people continue to enjoy the material.  If you have any comments, or questions for us, feel free to leave them, and we’ll see about addressing them in future episodes.

Posted by: Chas Emerick | November 13, 2009

Podcast #001

This is the inaugural Strictly Professional podcast, hosted by Chas Emerick and joined by Gerard Gualberto, Doug Martin, Chris Miles, and Lou Franco.

You don’t know us, but we’re software developers (and occasional software company founders) that have met through the Western Massachusetts Developers Group‘s biweekly meetings. We can all jabber on forever, and it seemed like a crime to deprive the rest of the world of our wit and wisdom.

Notes & Topics:

  • Chas thought a good starting topic would be Joel Spolsky’s recent article on, where he laments the “slow growth path” that FogCreek has taken over the years, and DHH’s response to it. This leads into a discussion about bug trackers, what is and is not a network business, and other various nonsense, including a sidebar about the
  • Lou mentioned Chas’ recent blog post, “Reducing purchase anxiety is a feature“, and how you’d better offer refunds, because your customers will get them if they want them anyway.
  • On the way to talking about why we’re software developers and what the nature of work is, Lou ran us through the outlines of Noam Wasserman’s “Rich or King” choice.
  • Doug exposes top-secret national security information.
  • We trail out with some brief software language philosophy. Miles mentioned Rich Hickey’s near-metaphysical discussion of time (first in Rich’s keynote presentation at this year’s JVM Language Summit [slides], and then in the Artima interview Time is the New Memory), and then said that Brainfuck is philosophically anarchist existentialism…which makes sense to me.

Comments, criticism, raves? Comment below, and maybe we’ll do another one.