Comments on: Grindstones, caves, focus, and multitasking not.
REBOL Technologies

Comments on: Grindstones, caves, focus, and multitasking not.

Carl Sassenrath, CTO
REBOL Technologies
23-Aug-2008 21:30 GMT

Article #0372
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Ok, I will be the first to admit that I am a horrible communicator when I have a top level focus that requires all of my attention, energy, and creativity. During those times, I'm in the cave, nose to the grindstone. (That's not a mixed metaphor, is it?)

I've always been like that... even back into the 1980's when I wrote the Amiga multitasking OS kernel. I would focus entirely on it for months and ignore just about everything else. That's what it took. The passion produced the result. Nothing else could.

I joke with my friends... as the person who brought multitasking to personal computing in the 1980's (back in the day when people would say "multitasking, what is that?") I am very single-task oriented when it comes to big projects. That's what it takes to get them finished.

I don't think I'm alone in this behavior. Most of the best developers, creators, builders I know do the same thing. In fact some of them won't even get on the telephone, let alone send email or IM. They just vanish. Then, one day, they return, usually with something wonderful and finished... a well constructed well thought-out design. (I will never forget RJ Mical locking himself in an office at Amiga for three weeks, and he did not reappear until Intuition, the Amiga's revolutionary new GUI was finished... and documented too.)

Yes, I know that as REBOL chief the seclusion is a problem... and our friend Pekr nags me constantly. But, it is difficult. In fact, if you search the web, you'll find my prior attempts.

I mention all of this publicly because...

  1. I know it hurts the REBOL cause to not be out there talking and promoting our revolution constantly and with every opportunity.
  2. Bringing others into the communication would probably help, no? (As long as they are experts in the REBOL domain.)
  3. It would be cool to find a solution that works.

Post your comment or contact me directly via feedback.



Grant Rettke
23-Aug-2008 20:20:39
I subscribe to only 10 RSS feeds. I was reviewing them the other day, wondering if any one in particular was worth removing so I could add someone else's. I looked at yours, and wondered why it had been so long since you had posted. I ultimately decided I didn't care because I want to hear what you've got to say, and I kept it on the list. Nonetheless I'm glad to know what is going on.
24-Aug-2008 0:21:32
Success of the product/company is not defined by the product quality itself (that is why something like Windows can be successful :-), but also by supporting factors. One of the most important things in companies is the level of communication. In fact, I prefer VID3.4 to be something cool, but can't ignore the fact, that "Carl vanishing" aspect is somehow demotivating community.

And there could be interim solution - don't let yourself come from the cave, don't let yourself to be dragged to some other developments, keep your atmosphere - just expose yourself via some one-sided communication channel. And what is better than some blog? Why not, at least once per 2-3 weeks, to write small blog about how you added some cool function to VID, show some diagram, screenshot, piece of code, whatever. Those small "teasers" would keep ppl in touch, motivated.

In ideal situation, you would need some marketing/communication guy, who could do it instead of you, but you would have to allow him to enter the cave :-)

24-Aug-2008 1:57:10
you ignore the fact people actually write code for windows that everuone can then advocate.

rebol 3d partys dont seem wiling to do the same in 2001 being a case in point, 7 years and still no P2p/torrent rebol code for end users to just use inthe likes of FreeNAS for instance.

Carl Read
24-Aug-2008 3:31:13
Have a public to-do list, where you can add comments to each item as well as just tick them 'done'. It'd show activity as well as bits of your thinking here and there. Would then be part of your work-flow and not something you had to write prose about.
24-Aug-2008 6:58:34
I think the point of creativity is that you don't know exactly what will come out at the end of the process. It's a continuous backtracking process and pretty much impossible to write and tick to-do lists for. This mistake is made often by other people who work serially.
Karim El Founas
24-Aug-2008 12:06:58
Maybe, Rebol Technologies needs an "evangelist". A kind of guru who likes to speak about Rebol.
24-Aug-2008 13:20:33
when mases of 3rd party people would rather write code like this get_iplayer than even consider using rebol2 then its time to think far better than an "evangelist" or "Advocate" surely...

lets not be silly about this, time and again its been proven, the masses are only interested in real world working code and apps that do the job, they see an app, use it, get interested in its construction then start Advocating its use were ever they go, its not rocket science.

and this isnt to take anything away from carl eather, he has his way of working and its producing spectacular results.

however if interested 3rd partys cant be found and convinced to make the time to write these so called simple and effective GUIs (yeah i know, you hate me for bringing it up all the time) that they can then learn from and expand on then the carl adn his people cant help that.

24-Aug-2008 14:26:58
popper, please stop to spam any possible message board with your own agenda, or simply go and write the code yourself. If you think that writing some silly wrapper to some media library will make REBOL popular, then fine, but you as well might be completly off.
24-Aug-2008 15:18:40
To create a road you need to walk it first ;-)

Keep walking Carl!

Thaddeus Quay
24-Aug-2008 21:59:16
All of this solitude is fine, as long as it produces results. I don't want to sound inconsiderate, and I do appreciate the work Carl is putting into this, but I have a serious need for a fast, stable, simple, Internet-aware language that I can use to create a P2P system that can scale to tens of thousands of simultaneous users.

Years ago, at about the same time, I came across both REBOL and Euphoria. I bought both REBOL books, and read them, but didn't really quite get it. I also tried Euphoria for a bit, and used it for a few small projects. Now, I need to do this huge project, and am back looking at the progress that both languages have made, trying to make a real decision, but am stymied, as both languages are undergoing major changes.

I intensely dislike C, Java, and their progeny. Also, pretty much all of the other languages I've seen have some kind of major downside, like not being supported anymore, or not being on more than one platform. The way I see it, I now have the choice of using Euphoria 3.1, using REBOL 2.7.6, waiting for Euphoria 4.0, or waiting for REBOL 3.0. I like REBOL a little better, because of View's graphics, and because Nick Antonaccio's tutorial is more usable to me than the books I tried years ago. However, I'm no genius when it comes to programming, so I would very much like to pick something which will get me through the whole project. I don't mind waiting a bit, mostly because I don't want to have to re-learn a lot in the shift to the next major version of either Euphoria or REBOL.

The bottom line is that I really like both languages, for different reasons, but after all of these years, neither has made as much progress as I had expected, and apparently, neither has been used in any major application. Therefore, to be more specific, I would like some guidance as to how long it will be until a usable REBOL 3.0 is available, how long before REBOL 2.7.6 is available on OS/X Intel, whether 2.7.6 is the last version before 3.0, and whether 3.0's new capabilities are worth waiting for, or whether I should just jump in with 2.7.6, and continue to use it way past 3.0's introduction. Thank you in advance for any information that can help me make the right choice for my project.

25-Aug-2008 0:23:04
Thaddeus, speculating on you should wait for R3 or stick with R2.7.6, I'd say, it's a good idea to learn 2.7.6, because no matter what, you'll need some of the skills for R3. Otherwise it would be like saying, you don't want to learn to drive a car, until you can afford a Ferrari. There's no need to use R2's problems as an excuse for not using it. It has way more advantages than problems.

Learn about PARSE to write your own dialects and learn about objects, manipulating series, ports and bindings. These are important in order to understand REBOL in depth and in these topics, REBOL will not change so dramatically that you'd have to relearn everything. Program compatibility will not be high, so if you write a big program, you may have to rewrite it. R3 will introduce new concepts like tasks and modules, and it only helps to have an understanding of R2's binding system to learn about modules, for example.

R2 has plenty of life in it left. In fact VID for REBOL 2.7.7 may get some nice enhancements and a lot of bugfixes, that are already stored in Devbase, awaiting Carl's testing and approval.

If you want to coordinate the launch of a big application with R3, it's probably best to use R2 for learning and experimenting. R3 will be ready when it's ready. Schedules are hard to keep at this time, because the nature of designing the remaining low-level parts of R3 can be unexpectedly time consuming.

25-Aug-2008 2:47:53
I don't think it is reasonable to compare with what you did when working on the Amiga, or what RJ Mical did ... after all the whole project then was top secret.

Now, you're the only face of RT that we know about, and when you go MIA for months on end ... we can only think the worse.

If you can find the time to sleep, and eat, then 15 mins blogging once a week to let us know what is happening is very possible. Otherwise, you may find that there when you finally surface, there is no community left.

25-Aug-2008 6:53:51
Well, I was going to say that was well said, but this blog system considers that abuse...
25-Aug-2008 7:44:36
Thaddeus, I have built that P2P system in R 2.7.6 based on the Chord algorithm.... currently in test.

Once I feel confident about the stability of the topology I'll release it under the GPL.

Brian Tiffin
25-Aug-2008 9:29:58
Carl; This may sound a little "personal". Give some power of reporting to Pekr or other lieutenant level players. Let them talk with those people that see you everyday as to your weekly todo list. We don't always need up to the minute technical blurbs ... just blurbs.

I have faith that someone like Petr will fill us in when needed and keep RT up in the bright shiny lights. Said lieutentant could also prompt the developers as to where we may best help out on any given week.



Brian Tiffin
25-Aug-2008 9:31:15
One that can spell lieutenant. :)
25-Aug-2008 14:23:08
due to blog limits "or abuse" but... Maarten thats interesting and the fact you chose the Chord algorithm even more so.

take a look at it and Marcel's Multicasting paper here you might find it interesting

25-Aug-2008 14:25:31

babblefish doent do a very good job but the code zip should be good enough perhaps....

25-Aug-2008 14:29:46
bamboo is using the Chord alogorithm BTW, do a search on "Chord algorithm bamboo" to get the latest information on its progress.

i cant find a a rebol Multicast tunnel codebase but you might also try looking at

25-Aug-2008 14:42:36
sorry about that Maarten, but the blog doesnt let you include more than one url at a time it seems, so it got a bit messy...

the point i was trying to get across is simply that if you see fit to include and combine this into a base rebol codebase you would be the very first person anywere in any language come to that, to provide an intigrated P2p multicasting tunnel (to easy bypass the worlds ISPs refusal to allow Multicasting to the average end users for instance).

thats got to be werth a lot of PR and lots of future posibilitys if you see fit and merit to include them all inyour code perhaps, all the best anyway and thanks for taking the time to do this p2p code.

25-Aug-2008 19:27:57
Hum.... but Carl ... Hum ... My firend we are in the 21st century the era of communication !!

There is many way to communicate .. I will design an I-Bot to speak with you every day and report to people what are the news of the day ^^.


25-Aug-2008 23:15:23
Popper, thanks for the links. I am in the phase where I will need to test heavily first with 10^5 nodes or more or so.

I am familiar with Bamboo, Pastry and have corresponded with their authors. Multicast trees in an overlay network are an interesting application, though the striping is not trivial.

I am leaning more towards publish/subscribe and map/reduce for my goals.

25-Aug-2008 23:59:19
Maarten, will you port to R3? Could your protocols be used for something like next-gen AltME? Simply for distributed applications? Is it transport mechanism, upon which rebservices could be used?
26-Aug-2008 21:56:26
"Ok, I will be the first to admit that I am a horrible communicator when I have a top level focus that requires all of my attention, energy, and creativity."

--- The above statement is ironically applicable to itself -- WHAT is the top level thing you are currently working on? You mention that you are working on something but we have no idea what it is :( Is it still VID 3.4? The new object property adding system, threads, timers, ports .. throw us a few crumbs please :)

Carl Sassenrath
27-Aug-2008 15:46:20
Thanks for the good feedback, I appreciate it.

I will reply-to/conclude-from these comments in the next blog.

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