Best of Talkback: Language debate, burned-truck rebate

This week's top most-discussed stories are two hot-button issues (the second of which renders the phrase "hot-button issue" a real groaner of a pun). First, there was Andrew Binstock's article about IT managers embracing dynamic languages like PHP, Ruby, and Python in order to more quickly complete their ever-growing list of tasks. Second, Robert X. Cringely asked if Dell helped or hurt its reputation with how it handled the case of the man who claims his overheated Dell laptop made his truck catch fire.

Dynamic languages: More than just a quick fix

Dell's reputation: Up in smoke?


Dynamic languages Talkback highlights

Andrew's central thesis is that "by taking a measured approach to matching dynamic languages to the right kinds of projects, IT can tap the unique expressiveness of dynamic languages to create clean, reliable, and reusable code — and thereby realize productivity benefits without compromising the integrity of the enterprise."

You said:

adrocknaphobia 2007-04-17 16:18:36


Good read on dynamically-typed languages, although the half-million ColdFusion developers worldwide might be upset you forgot about them. They've been pioneering enterprise development with a dynamically-typed language for over a decade.

(In Talkback, Andrew later clarified why he didn't mention ColdFusion:


I didn't overlook ColdFusion. I thought it was fairly clear that single-vendor, closed-source scripting languages were not part of this article. Else, I would have discussed the many Microsoft languages as well, plus 4GLs, and so on ad infinitum. ColdFusion is fine as a tool but it's not in the same category as the products described here.)

david 2007-04-17 18:59:56


The TIOBE "rankings" are fundamentally flawed - to be clear, it doesn't rate the popularity of USAGE of a language, it rates how often they are MENTIONED in web searches. Some classic examples are glaring on this list: COBOL - I used to be a cobol programmer (back in the day) and I can tell you that there is no WAY a google search can account for the billions of lines of legacy COBOL code out there. Same with ColdFusion - how do you account for Intranet development done in this language with a google search? Any language, for that matter. Finally, to keep things fair - "VBScript" at #41, behind REXX. That's all I needed to hear! Really, this list is given FAR too much credibility when it comes to the "popularity" of development languages.

Trent 2007-04-18 07:21:29


Writing 'quick and dirty' code is not optimal but it is an unfortunate necessity of life. When you are handed a task without a clearly defined goal, and no budget behind it, and you are told it has to be done by the end of the day there is often little choice. Any of the languages you mention in the article can be used for both 'quick and dirty' code as well as good, clean, well-organized enterprise level applications. I have to agree with some of the other commenters in that you neglected to mention ColdFusion. Soon to see its 8th major version release later this year it has been used for everything from small mom and pop stores to major sites like myspace.com.

ldaniel 2007-04-18 12:15:21


Awk is so old school, IMHO. Perl out-awked awk so long ago, I ashamed to mention it. And, importantly, awk is a security risk when running from a script file, where Perl has strict and taint checking to secure it's script way better than most scripting languages and C programs for that matter.

fxnoria 2007-04-19 09:58:15


"scripting languages, such as PHP and Perl; and, at the top of the heap, general-purpose dynamic languages such as Ruby and Python." I don't see on what basis do you put Perl in a different category, PHP is certainly more specialized, but Perl, Ruby, and Python are general-purpose languages.

Dell's reputation: Up in smoke? Talkback highlights

Robert Cringely points out that an investigator concluded that the laptop didn't start the truck fire, thereby exonerating Dell, but he also says that the company missed out on a great opportunity to score some much-needed positive PR.

You said:

x_hobbes at April 18, 2007 12:36 PM


Though call... On one hand, it would be a fairly cheap publicity win for Dell to buy the guy a new truck and say "because we care about our customers," versus the negative publicity they're getting because of it. On the other hand, where should the line be drawn on paying folks that just want a quick buck? How about a hybrid solution? Get the guy a new truck 'because Dell cares,' but then sue him for fraud, saying 'don't screw with us.' =-) Just a thought.

Mark Z. at April 18, 2007 03:03 PM


The first two posters are unreal... Why does it not surprise me that Dell's own investigation turned up nothing... Hmmm, to avoid liability??? So, it's two possibilities... Shells in the glove compartment magically catching fire, despite two (experienced?) hunters, or laptops known to catch fire. Shells are normally pretty stable. Looks like Dell laptops aren't... I'm curious to hear what Dell's "investigation" yielded--swamp gas that built up in the truck that was ignited by the light from Venus that was magnified due to a temporary shift in the Earth's magnetic field....

Stan at April 19, 2007 04:30 AM


Sorry...but, my insurance adjuster would have been the first guy I'd have called. As for Dell's missing the boat...I disagree. This CF should have been cut off at the pass from the beginning: let the insurance company handle it.


What, no insurance on a 'valuable' family heirloom.


Not Dell's fault.


p.s. I'm work in an hp shop...they don't catch fire. The capacitors just explode!

Bill L at April 19, 2007 05:30 AM


Older Ford pickups had the gas tank located behind the seat, inside the cab. That is definitly unsafe practice today. And yet, a smoldering, melting laptop on the seat should be well away from the tank and the glove compartment. Sounds like fraud to me.

Peter at April 19, 2007 05:48 AM


I think Dell should buy me a new truck even though I use an IBM laptop.

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