Tom Radcliffe's Blogs

Tom Radcliffe has over 20 years experience in software development, data science, machine learning, and management in both academia and industry. He is a professional engineer (PEO and APEGBC) and holds a PhD in physics from Queen's University at Kingston. Tom brings a passion for quantitative, data-driven processes to ActiveState. He is deeply committed to the ideas of Bayesian probability theory, and assigns a high Bayesian plausibility to the idea that putting the best software tools in the hands of the most creative and capable people will make the world a better place.

  • Fast Security Is Not Always High Security: Today's OpenSSL News
    Open Source Security

    Einstein said that our physical theories should be as simple as possible, but not simpler. The same is true of security: security policies should move as fast as possible, but not faster. There is a "speed of light" for security, just as there is for physics. Try to go faster, and bad things happen.

  • Perl: Language, Community, and the Future

    I’ve been talking a lot about Perl this summer but wanted to tackle one more topic that is very important to me and ActiveState: the Perl Community. Every since I joined ActiveState last year, I have been exposed to the Perl community in a way I never was before. I’ve been even more impressed with the passion and commitment of this diverse community and thought I’d share a few thoughts on why I think that the Perl community is so great--and why it’s been integral to keep Perl relevant.

  • Threads Done Right... with Tcl
    Threading done right with Tcl

    I don’t like threads. They are brittle and dangerous... Even when the languages being used have good thread support (Java and Microsoft C++, for example), even when used by senior developers, and even when used for quite simple “fire off this worker thread so the UI will still be live while a long job runs” tasks. I’ve seen them go wrong in too many ways in the hands of good developers with plenty of multi-threading experience.

  • Python vs. C/C++ in Embedded Systems
    Python vs. C/C++ in Embedded Systems

    The C/C++ programming languages dominate embedded systems programming, though they have a number of disadvantages. Python, on the other hand, has many strengths that make it a great language for embedded systems. Let's look at the pros and cons of each, and why you should consider Python for embedded programming.

  • Onboarding New Developers: Enforcing Standards Through Tutorials
    Onboarding Developers Using Komodo Tutorial Tool

    Getting a new developer up to speed is one of those 80/20 tasks: there is an easy 80% that goes quickly, and a hard 20% that takes longer. The easy part is the big picture: what tools the team uses, where the source is, what the build process involves.

    The hard part is in the details. Coding standards. Preferred practices. How to deal with the inevitable idiosyncratic aspects of any software development process that has been running for more than week.

  • What's speed got to do with it?
    What Does Speed Have to do with it?

    “Interpreted languages are slow” is a common myth. Interpreted languages provide an increase in development speed but trade it off for a decrease in runtime performance. In other words, interpreted languages love developers and hate end-users.

    None of those beliefs is meaningful. It isn’t that they are true or false, it’s that they are incoherent. Languages are not running a footrace. They aren’t charging down a linear track together, all doing the same thing.

    We use different languages for very different things.

  • Long-time Perl Hacker Webinar: Q&A
    Perl Hacker Webinar Q&A

    Recently, Jason McIntosh, co-author of “Perl & XML,” and I did a webinar about all things Perl. We wanted to explore the concept of a “Perl Renaissance” and talk about where Perl is headed in the future. It was a great chat and we received many more questions than we could answer in the allotted time. I thought I would respond to them here so that everyone can see the answers.

    You can access the webinar at this link

  • Perl 5.24: Improved Performance and Security
    ActivePerl 5.24 Improved Performance and Security

    If you're one of the millions of ActivePerl downloaders who want the support we provide in our Perl distribution, ActivePerl 5.24 is now available,with lots of new features and fairings. A feature is something added to a program. A fairing is something that makes it easier to use, smoother, more streamlined.

  • Komodo X: Features and Fairings
    Komodo X Release: Fairings and Features

    The latest release of Komodo IDE has a lot of exciting features: notably remote Chrome debugging, greatly improved support for JavaScript frameworks like Angular, Ember and React, and, support for the Cordova and PhoneGap build systems. It also has an extremely friendly first-start wizard that makes configuring it dead easy.

  • Enthusiastic Tcl Users
    Tcl Enthusiasts

    The Oscars celebrate Best Supporting Actor and Actress each year. But programming languages that play a supporting role generally get less credit in the world of software. Young up-and-coming developers look to master hot new languages for hot new platforms. Media coverage fades. Old languages, however useful, receive less and less attention.

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