Feb 06 2009

The Rise of Functional Programming

Category: Software DevelopmentTeknovis @ 10:21 pm

Many years ago I did some functional programming in Haskell. I was using it mainly to solve cryptographic problems, and it was very suitable for this. I really enjoyed it, and I think that I was good at it (even if I am praising myself)! However, I never spent any more time with functional programming.

I have an ex-colleague (and friend) who is still very interested in functional programming. I think that someday this ex-colleague will manage to find a reason to start using it in work :o This ex-colleague recently brought an article about functional programming to my attention. The article is It’s Time to Get Good at Functional Programming, and it provides a very brief, but good, introduction to functional programming. It also describes several functional programming languages that make good starting points to learn more.

The main thrust of this article is that functional programming will become increasingly important as chip manufacturers increase performance by adding more cores to processor chips rather than increasing their speeds.

Actually, after reading that article I feel that I would enjoy reviving my functional programming skills :)

Update

I came across Why Haskell will take over the world by a UCD lecturer.

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Feb 05 2009

The Irish Knowledge Economy

Category: BusinessTeknovis @ 11:03 pm

The Irish economy is in a very bad condition at the moment, and significant numbers of job losses are being announced every day. Indeed, January was the worst month for job losses in the last 40 years according to Jobless rate could hit 400,000 – Cowen. In a frighteningly short time Ireland has gone from having one of the best economies in the EU to having one of the worst economies in the EU.

Initially the job losses were mainly in the property sector, and the associated sectors. This was mainly due to the Government inflated property bubble bursting. Job losses then quickly spread to associated sectors such as banking, construction supply, and household goods.

Next some of the companies involved in the information communication technology sector started announcing job losses. One of the main reasons behind these job losses was the loss of competitiveness due to the high cost of doing business in Ireland. The failure to adopt the Lisbon Treaty has also been quietly mentioned by some multinationals as a reason for losing confidence in the Irish economy. For example, Dell is moving 1,900 jobs to Poland (see 1,900 jobs lost at Dell in Limerick), and IBM is moving 120 jobs to Singapore (see IBM seeking 120 voluntary redundancies). Although these job losses are unfortunate, they are not surprising given that they appear to be very labour intensive.

Today Ericsson announced 300 job losses in Ireland. The truly shocking thing about this is that these jobs are all very skilled Research and Development jobs. Furthermore, Ericsson is moving these jobs to a country with a lower cost of business. For more details about this see 300 jobs to go at Ericsson.

This raises some very important questions. Why did this happen? How does this reflect on the Irish knowledge economy? How secure is the Irish knowledge economy?

Contrary to all of this bad news, I also read today that Irish companies raised more venture capital in 2008 than they did in any other year since 2002. The total amount raised was over 240€ million by 93 companies, and the most successful sectors were:

  1. Drug delivery and medical device sector (16 companies raised 46€ million)
  2. Telecoms sector (9 companies raised 38€ million)
  3. Pharmaceutical and biotech sector (23 companies raised 42€ million)

For more details about this see Private funding for tech firms on the rise in 2008, survey shows.

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Feb 04 2009

Say No To 1890!

Category: TelecomsTeknovis @ 8:21 pm

I have a regular land line to my house, and I buy both my voice and my broadband data services from Eircom. In general, I am happy with the price and service levels.

I subscribe to one of Eircom’s bundles that gives me free unlimited national and local calls, and this provides me with significant savings compared to paying for my calls on a per minute basis.

I rarely need to pay for any additional calls for two reasons:

  • I use my mobile phone to call other mobile phones (I rarely need to call mobile phones in other operators’ networks)
  • I use Skype for all my international calls

However, the single greatest category of phone number that I regularly need to call that results in an increase to my phone bill is 1890 numbers. These numbers are intended to be non-geographical low cost numbers. Unfortunately, Eircom charges me for calling these numbers because they are not deemed to be national numbers. It is both annoying and petty!

In order to avoid these charges I started using the national numbers for organisation that have 1890 numbers. Most organisations list these somewhere on their web pages, often as the International Number. I think that a company must have a national number in order to obtain a 1890 number.

I recently came across a very useful web site, SayNoTo1890, that provides the national numbers for all known 1890 numbers. These numbers are well categorised, and they are updated regularly.

This is a great recession beating tip in my opinion ;)

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Feb 03 2009

MP3 ID3 Cover Art on Windows Mobile

Category: Windows MobileTeknovis @ 11:10 pm

Like many people, I have a very large collection of MP3s on my computer. I diligently ripped most of them from the original CDs, and I ensured that the ID3 tags were set correctly. My ripping software automatically gets this information from a database on the Internet, and I am really only interested in the artist name, album name, song title, track number, genre, and cover art.

I share my MP3s with my family, so the MP3s get played on several different computers using different MP3 players, and they also get played on several different types of mobile devices. Everything works really sweetly because all of these MP3 players can read the ID3 tags.

When I bought my HTC P3600 PDA, which runs Windows Mobile 5.0, I also bought a large miniSD card to hold a selection of my MP3s. I was really annoyed the first time that I played an MP3 on it, because the default MP3 player does not use the cover art contained in the ID3 tags! This is another sad instance of Microsoft ignoring a well established standard!

After doing some searching on the Internet I found a simple hack that works if all of the MP3s that share a cover art are in the same directory.

  1. Extract the cover art image from the MP3. This is easy to do using the MP3 player on my computer.
  2. Save the image as Folder.jpg in the directory containing the MP3s that share this cover art. The image will usually be approximately 300px by 300px.

Unfortunately, this does require some effort every time that I want to add new MP3s to my PDA :(

I have since discovered that the MP3 player in Windows Mobile 6.0 does not use the cover art in the ID3 tags, but the same workaround described here enables it to display the cover art!

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Feb 02 2009

OpenTable IPO

Category: BusinessTeknovis @ 9:25 pm

I just read about a company called OpenTable that has started its IPO. OpenTable is an Internet based company that enables customers to make restaurant reservations. The company is based in San Francisco, so it is mainly aimed at US cities. However, some EU countries are included.

What I find interesting about this IPO is the timing. A year or two ago it would have been perfect, but in the current economic climate I am less sure! I think that its strength must be in its market opertunity, because I am not aware of any technology that gives it a competitive advantage.

The full details about OpenTable’s IPO can be read in OpenTable files for first venture-backed IPO of 2009.

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Feb 01 2009

Lily Lolo

Category: eShopping,ReviewsTeknovis @ 10:31 am

I have a few female family members and friends who have all recently bought cosmetics from Lily Lolo. They were all very happy with the web site, the value, and the goods! The positive comments regarding the web site are especially significant since some of these females are not very technology savvy!

So I thought that I would give Lily Lolo a positive review on their behalves :D

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