Sunday, January 31, 2016

Innovation: You're Doing It Wrong

I'm reading a book called The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation by Jon Gertner. (2012).  

Bell Labs, and its scientists were neither perfect, nor morally impeccable, and this book does not feign the sort of pseudo-scientific hagiography that the subject matter often inspires in technophiles.  But the book does contain some kernels of what might be the nearest thing to magic that Science itself permits.  The human process of invention, the Eureka moment, provides an example that the economic value of the work we do does not correlate highly to the appearance of business.  In fact, much the reverse is true.  Let me quote a bit:

"Around the time [director] Kelly was giving his speech to the phone company executives [on the fact of Bell Labs being founded not upon magic but hard science], a metallurgist named Bill Pfann was mulling over how to raise the purity of germanium to improve it further for transistor production. Pfann had returned to his office after lunch -- 'I put my feet on my desk and tilted my chair back to the window sill for a short nap, a habit then well established,' he recalled. He had scarcely dozed off when he suddenly awoke with a solution. 'I brought the chair down with a clack I still remember,' he said. Pfann envisioned passing a molten zone - a coil of metal in effect creating a superheated ring - along the length of a rod of germanium; as the ring moved it would strafe the impurities out of the germanium. Kelly would eventually tell people that Pfann's idea was called 'zone refining'.... one of the most important inventions of the past 25 years. Kelly didn't tell people it resulted from a man sleeping on the job."

So, I'll skip the essay I could write here and instead close with this thought; Nap rooms. Good enough for Bell Labs. If I ever have a startup, I'm going to institute them.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Finding Delphi HotFixes on EDN

A problem that some Delphi users may not even know they have is "how do I navigate the EDN website and find Delphi fixes".

Three problems stand in your way:

1. The EDN site doesn't always have things posted under the heading Delphi.  You should probably be looking for your hotfixes using the RAD Studio heading.

2.  The EDN site is slow and quirky and has a user interface probably designed in 1993-era HTML.

3. It's hard to just say "I want to see Delphi hotfixes".

So, here is a nice link you can bookmark that does effectively that:

RAD Studio Recent Uploads

There is only one hotfix of interest to most Delphi 10 Seattle users who are already on Update1 product level:

First is a general IDE stability hotfix (memory leak in modern theme):

I believe this DCC64 hotfix for Delphi 10 Seattle RTM (pre-update1) is already included in update1:

Here's hoping someone at Embarcadero has some spare cycles to improve the experience at EDN, which I find a bit dated.

Also please clean this section of the CC articles up. Here's what you should be displaying in the "to download this" section:

To download this, you must have registered [one of]:
     Delphi 10 Seattle, C++ Builder 10 Seattle, or any subscription or package that includes
    one of these products,
including RAD Studio, and All Access suites.

I'm not going to copy and paste the current list here, but let's just say it runs to 289 lines and includes SKUs and product bundle offerings listed in detailed format that not even a product or marketing manager could love.