The Blog Ride thinks that dynamic languages provide power that most people just can't handle:
Folks, we need to realize something: all this "expressiveness" is like putting craftsman's tools in your hands; in the hands of a master craftsman, amazing things can result, but in anybody else's hands, it's putting a loaded gun into the hands of a child. YOU may be good enough to be disciplined enough to keep the rules of your types in your head when programming with Ruby, but are all of the programmers on your team equally gifted? Are all of the programmers that will follow you so gifted?
I think David Buck's latest post explains what's at stake quite nicely. To my mind, it's all about just how much productivity you are willing to sacrifice in the name of presumed safety.
Yesterday, Google and Sun had a joint announcement of sorts, where they tried to pass of trivia as world shaking news. So I guess Google felt a need to say something more, in order to spice up the non-announcement:
Google boss Eric Schmidt worked at Sun Microsystems for 14 years, so it's no surprise he shares a vision for the future of computers and networks with Sun boss Scott McNealy.
And it's no surprise that future doesn't include a place for Microsoft.
Well, actions speak way, way louder than words. Let's look at the places where Google has reached out past the browser, or into browser add-ons - the toolbar, Google Earth, desktop search. Hmmm - there's a pretty Windows-centric aspect to all of those initiatives, isn't there? Heck, until recently, the toolbar was even IE specific.
If Google were actually interested in a future "sans Microsoft", you would think that their client tools would support the Mac and Linux, at least (and it says something about Sun's desperation that they were willing to appear with a vendor who will support Solaris approximately never).
The next largish task I have in mind for BottomFeeder is an interface to the Newsgator online API. Fortunately, the grunt work of generating the basic interfaces was handled by the WS* wizard in VisualWorks; now comes the hard part - hooking one end up to Bf, and the other end up to Newsgator. Among the other things I'm sure I'll have to deal with is the post id problem. For feeds that don't have GUIDs (and there are plenty of them), what does Newsgator expect? I'll have to read up.
Update: If anyone's interested, I've posted the code to the public Store as a Bundle - Newsgator-API.
Here's the winner of an interesting contest: take a Hollywood film and cut a new trailer for it -- in a completely different genre. Robert Ryang won with a fresh cut of The Shining as a romantic comedy.
This was so convincing that I was wondering to myself, 'How could I have missed this unsual Jack Nicholson movie? And wasn't there a Steven King novel with the same title?'
It's interesting all right. Based on how dark the original movie was, it's really interesting. Mildly disturbing as well :)
Well - the White Sox have taken two straight from the Red Sox, and tonight's loss had to hurt worse than last night's - The Red Sox were up 4-0 in the 5th. Two runs came in, and the White Sox had a man on first. A soft roller was hit to second base - and Graffanino did his best Bill Buckner imitation - he started to second before the ball was there, and it went into right field. Instead of the inning ending, there were men on 1st and 3rd with one out.
Next batter - 3 run shot. The White Sox held that lead the rest of the way through, and they are now up 2 games to none. If the Red Sox lose this series, Graffanino will be remembered in much the same way as Buckner is - for good or ill.
Men left on base all night, and three errors. Sheesh. Back to New York, tied 1-1.
Two of the internet's most valuable brands have clearly achieved that status [distributor level importance]: Java and Google. Could you imagine a PC that couldn't access Java services? Or how about a browser that couldn't get to Google? My view, either would be a tough sell. Other programming, such as Macromedia Flash, Firefox and OpenOffice are in the same league - along with services such as Yahoo.com, eBay, or AOL.com. The world of network services is enormously competitive, and it's driving enormous innovation (and quite a few deals hearkening back to the early days of the internet). Much of this next wave of innovation is referred to as Web 2.0 - the convergence of technology and services that underlie the Participation Age.
The most telling aspect to that nonsense is the "hearkening back to the early days of the internet" - citing deals that were made by Netscape early on don't really help make his point, IMHO. And a PC without Java services in the same league as one that can't access Google? Java is hugely popular, yes - but a force on the client browser side, it's not. If it disappeared from the browser tomorrow, few people would notice or care. To take Google away, you would have to remove the network. That would get noticed.
The bottom line for Sun - they just aren't that relevant at the "movers and shakers" level. It was nice of Google to take pity on them and make a nothing-burger announcement, but it smells of pity.
I ran out of business cards a little while ago, and I just got around to going to our internal form for re-order. That's when I realized that even something as simple as business card ordering hadn't caught up with current trends. By default, the web address of the company (Cincom) will appear in the lower left of the card. That's fine - it should. However, I also wanted the address of my blog there, under it. I was able to work with the order folks to make that happen, fortunately.
Sometimes, it's the small stuff.
Ever have that "oh, I ate too much" feeling? I bet it was nothing like what this python experienced after trying to swallow a gator. Ouch.
Warning - if you click through to the full size picture, be ready for a nasty image.
Well. back on August 9th, Dave Winer said this:
Big software companies, or BigCo's for short, just can't leave well enough alone. They always try to f*** with technology they didn't invent, for a lot of complicated reasons I've spent an entire career trying to understand. It's not powerful, or interesting -- it's childish and self-defeating, but it's evident in both BigCo strategies for RSS.
Dana VanDen Heuvel uses his morning coffee experience to explain how good customer service generates return business. It's something that far too few companies pay attention to.
As much as I prefer the Spicy chicken sandwich at Wendy's, this is the same thing that drives me to McDonald's when I go for fast food. Wendy's service is just too variable - I've seen bad McDonald's service, but it's much rarer in my experience.
We (STIC) have been discussing next year's Smalltalk Solutions. We would like to attract people outside the existing community, so we had an idea - why not have Smalltalk Solutions as a set of tracks at a larger industry trade show?
So here's the thought - next year there's a LinuxWorld in Canada (Toronto, specifically). We've talked to reps from that show, and they are interested in having us there. Any thoughts on this? Positive, negative, neutral? Let me know.
For those of you with a twisted sense of humor, you might want to try counterscript out on the next telemarketer that calls. I have to admit, it sounds amusing :)
NPR reported on something fascinating:
NPR program “All Things Considered” reported yesterday that scientists are considering how the recent accidental spread of a plague in massively multiplayer game World of Warcraft might help them develop model responses to real-world disease outbreaks.
Of course, there won't be any disease resistant orcs to deal with in the real world.
I can read Hani's thoughts on product evangelists. Slight warning - he doesn't hold off on the obscenity - but if you're ok with that, he's hilarious.
JavaLobby discovers that Java has gotten baroque:
It took me about a week to get up to speed on .Net and was able to create a fairly decent functional application with it. For those of you who are saying "Yeah, but you can do the exact same thing in Java! And it's portable." To that, I would say the same thing I said almost a decade ago; If it’s easier to use, people will switch over to the path of least resistance. Everything you can do in Java and .Net can be done in assembly, but why don’t we? Why should I spend 6 months on a Java project when I can cut that down to 4 in .Net?
Or 2-3 months in Smalltalk. Come on in, the water is warm :)
Scoble isn't happy with the results he gets from the search engines. He gives an example of searching for the term HDTV in all the major search engines, and then focuses on Google's results for his issue:
But I'm in a different role. I want to buy one.
So, let's just focus in on Google since that's the hot search engine of the moment. First link: an introduction. I don't need that. I already had an introduction. Second link: how HDTV works. I don't care. Next. Third link: an info site about stations and some product comparisons. Hmmm, maybe useful later, but I'm looking for something else right now. Fourth link: Amazon.com. Huh? I'm not ready to buy yet. I wanna know what's available. It predicted I was in a different role. Fifth link: a magazine site. OK, it's clear the search engine isn't going to give me what I want, so I'll probably go off and read that site for an hour and come back. Sixth link: an ATI card? I'll have to put that on my gift list too. Seventh link: HDTV Buyer site. News and info. Another site I'll have to go and check out later. And on and on it goes.
The trouble is, there's absolutely not context available to the back end for that kind of search. It's 4 letters. I really don't know how anyone is going to satisfy Robert's request - he wants pre-sale info first, but someone else might well want "what is this HDTV thing I keep hearing about?". The thing to remember is, not everyone tracks technology like Scoble does. The other thing to remember is, how contextual do you expect a set of results for a 4 letter search term to be?
I suppose the engine could query you, but that adds clutter, and I suspect that usability testing would tell you that people get irritated by that. Further down, he writes this:
We know this can be done. Why? Cause Google did it for Seattle Hotels. Here's the Google result for Seattle Hotels. They make a nice little list of all the hotels available and even give you one of those Google Maps. MSN Search has the exact same thing. Yahoo goes even further. They have pictures and ratings!!
So, why can't they do this for HDTVs? Of course they can. It just hasn't gotten onto the dev list of any of the major engines yet. Yet.
Well, what he's missing is the extra context. If I type HDTV in, I've provided no extra context - no information on whether I need a definition, or information on buying, or what have you. It's a crap shoot. Seattle Hotels has that extra context - not only are you interested in hotels, but you are specifically interested in Hotels in Seattle. The difference between the two result sets is all about the amount of context provided.
Look at it this way - people are way smarter than search engines. If a guy stops you in the street and says one word - HDTV - in a questioning fashion - what are you going to think he wants? And the person won't be someone you know. The more context you provide, the better the answers. The less context you provide, the worse the answers will be.
I told my wife that Word sucked every bit as much as WordPerfect, just differently. She's been using the product for a few months now, and is every bit as pleased with it as she is with Outlook - and bear in mind, her point of comparison is with the default "productivity" apps that Sun ships on their Unix workstations (or more precisely, the ones they shipped 2-3 years ago).
A rather low bar, and Word consistently manages to not make it. Last night, she was putting together a checklist of items for a girl scout event - she's one of a group of Mom's helping co-run my daughter's girl scout troop this year. It's not a complex checklist - some text, a few bullets, more text, a few more bullets. After I got past the swearing, she told me that Word was an AD product (as opposed to AI).
What's that mean? Artificial Dominatrix. It puts the bullets where it thinks they belong, and if you try to argue with it, you will be punished. The Word team at MS needs to be taken out behind the woodshed, and beaten severely with the cluestick. The menus/toolbars/ribbon area is so not the problem. The basic "I'll guess what you are trying to do and then preempt you" behavior is.
I have somewhat fond memories of Word for Windows 2.0. Each release since then has sucked more and more - and sadly, tools like WordPerfect and OpenOffice have seen the suckage and copied it.
The Register has the goods on the purchase of Weblogs.com from Dave Winer - this is the ping service, not the content provider that AOL bought this week. What it looks like we'll see is some form of QOS added for a fee:
VeriSign has promised that the basic ping service will remain free, but "over time, we plan to offer value-added services... in much the same way companies like Yahoo! provide basic email services for free, and offer premium 'upgrades' for a fee."
The company then went on to discuss the problem of splogs and what could be done with them. "This problem is fraught with many of the same problems that plague the email world in its struggle against spam: Who is the source? What is the content about? Is it a copy?... However, at the infrastructure level, very little is currently being done, and there are remedies that can be deployed that will provide significant, if not thorough relief."
I can't see any way to justify the cost of running a ping service unless you charge for QOS somehow - I'd guess that the splog filtering will be a pay service.
There's some worry from the NY sportswriters about the effects of a rainout of today's Yankees game - it will mean the loss of a travel day if the series goes to five days. Well, if you look at where this storm is headed, you'll notice something - it's entirely probable that the Red Sox/White Sox game will be washed out as well (and in their case, possibly Saturday's game as well). Which means it's a lot of worry about nothing :)
I ran across two stories just now that are just amazing. First, let's have a look at this Boing Boing story about a web "intrusion". A UK guy donates money to a disaster relief, and then thinks maybe he's gotten scammed by a phishing thing. So - using only his browser and the keyboard, he tries a couple of things - and gets convicted of hacking for his trouble:
Stephen de Vries sez, "The details of this case are important to understand exactly how absurd the verdict was. What Daniel actually did to 'knock on the door' was to insert a ../../../ character sequence into the web address and a single quote into the credit card field - THROUGH HIS BROWSER. He did not use any attack 'tools' or 'probes' other than Internet Explorer. Furthermore, typing these sequences into a browser does not an attack make - it only proves that a website may be vulnerable. It takes a hell of a lot more effort to actually gain any form of unauthorized access to the site. Daniel did none of this, he only typed the sequences and watched the responses
I wouldn't put it past a US judge to have no clue either - it's all too easy for a well funded lawyer to paint scare quotes around this sort of thing, and exploit the lack of knowledge of a judge and/or jury. Next, I ran across some more stupidity from the RIAA (what a shocker):
The record industry may next aim its legal guns at satellite radio over a dispute involving new portable players that let listeners record and store songs, an analyst and industry sources said Wednesday
I guess the tape recorder is something these clowns haven't heard of. Hey stupid execs: I have a news flash for you - I was recording songs off the radio back in the late 60's, when I was under 10. It's not like this is a new thing, you half-wits.
I swear, the need for a massive cluestick gets bigger every day...
That's what the powers that be (and 4 of the playoff teams) have to be singing right about now. Have a look at this forecast for the next few days - the temps are a little lower for Boston, but the graphic below is mostly the same for NYC and Boston over the next few days:
If that forecast holds up, things could get downright ugly in scheduling land.
Google has jumped into the online aggregator game. That's going to impact BlogLines, I'm sure. It also makes Newsgator and Bloglines bait for Yahoo, I think. This move is going to drive more consolidation, that's for sure.
I have to say that I was pleased to see the Red Sox go three and out. However, it looks like the Yankees are trying hard not to make it to the LCS either - they gave up a ton of runs in a game they should have won tonight - and that's after the gift wrapping they did two days ago. Sigh.
I'm in the field, so it's worth having a look at Google's new reader. I haven't done more than export my feeds out of BottomFeeder and start importing, but here's my first impression - they really, really need to give the user some kind of feedback during the import process. I sent it over 300 feeds in my OPML file, and all there is for feedback is a text box that says "Your subscriptions are being imported..."
No animation, no progress report. Heck, for all I know it's locked up. I'll have more to say once I see what happens next.
Update: Well, with no sign from the server that it ever finished importing, I simply refreshed the page. It apparently imported everything, but I have no idea as to how long it took. The interface does feel slow and clunky, as others have reported.
I think the main take away I have is that people like me are not Google's primary target. I follow hundreds of feeds - there are people out there who follow more. I suspect that Google's target reader keeps track of far fewer sources - 5 to 10, maybe. The two pane presentation style probably works for that kind of list, but I can't see me using it - BottomFeeder makes it far easier for me to spot the new stuff I care about quickly.
BottomFeeder downloads have dropped back toward the older level - right at 402 per day this week. Here's the distribution:
Interestingly, the drop was in Windows downloads - everything else has stayed pretty much the same. Maybe the spike was simply due to the new version. So moving on, here's the report on HTML page accesses:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
Looks pretty normal - no real changes there. Let's have a look at the RSS distribution:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
|Net News Wire||9.8%|
Interesting that FeedDemon usage seems to be rising since the Newsgator acquisition.
Dave Winer makes some telling observations about Google's new reader:
I tried the Google news reader again, this morning, after it had loaded all my feeds (it seems to take quite a few hours to do that).This is the second blog-related product they've come out with recently that appears not to have been touched by human beings before it was introduced to the world (the other was the ridiculous blog search). I think they need to start using their own stuff before releasing it. And maybe look at the competition for ideas.
The emphasis above was added by me - I think that Dave hits it right on the nose there. BottomFeeder may not be perfect, but I use it myself everyday - eating your own dogfood is critical with customer facing software. It would be very interesting to see just how much user testing this tool got. As I said earlier, I don't think people like me are their primary target. Having said that, I'm not sure which target would actually find this tool usable right now.
Steve Rubel takes some exception to a statement from Jim Lanzone of Ask Jeeves:
Jim Lanzone from Ask Jeeves gave some interesting data about feed subscribers at this week's Web 2.0 conference. He said that 14,363 blogs have at least 50 subscribers on Bloglines. Lanzone calls these blogs that “really really matter.” Uh, don't they all matter? Jim, this is 1.0 thinking. This is not a numbers game. A blog with two readers can “matter” if those two readers are people like Robert Scoble and Doc Searls. God help Bloglines.
Here's the thing though - if a site only has two readers, what's the actual liklihood that either of them will be a connector? Not high, I'd warrant. The number of readers may be a sub-optimal measure of relevance, but it's as good a measure as any that we have. Not to mention this - if a top connector is one of the handful of readers, it won't stay that way - as soon as that connector points to the blog, readership will go up.
Sometimes, people using BottomFeeder with lots of subscriptions (or with a large cache setting) report crashes due to an "out of memory" error. Here's why - in settings, there are two values:
Bf tries to keep the application within that range. If you have "too many" feeds for that range, it can run into problems. That's something I need to look at, but in the meantime, if you have errors like that - up those values. You can just edit the file btfSettings.ini and up them before you start Bf.
This tutorial has been around for a while (the date on it is 2002), but I just noticed it. Looks like a good resource for Java developers who would like to take a look at Smalltalk, and relate it to what they already know.
One of the things I see being floated around the blogosphere is how woefully unprepared for an avian flu outbreak the country (and the world) are. Hmm - The last time we had a real pandemic was 1918.
What was going on then? Well, Europe was engulfed in WWI. China was slowly crumbling into anarchy at the tail end of the period of European incursions. India was still a British colony, and had far less infrastructure than it has now. Southeast Asia outside of China? A complete backwater, with virtually no infrastructure. The state of medicine was primitive in comparison - there were no flue vaccines, period.
And yet, in the midst of the disaster that was WWI, the flu spread across the world - yes, killing millions - but without significant upheavel in areas that weren't already in upheavel (like, say, the Western Front in France). There weren't riots in London, or in Washington, or in New York. People dealt with the problem.
So to all those who are preaching fear and gloom? Grab yourselves a cup of historical perspective and calm the heck down.
Robert has a rather long response to my "what's the context" post. I left a comment over there, but I figured I'd just toss that here:
"Here's a clue. If a human can find a few manufacturers within a few minutes, then a search engine should be able to find them even faster. After all, humans design search engines and the algorithm I used to find the Sony, Panasonic, and Samsung site can be replicated pretty easily."
The point of my post was the lack of context in a one word search. You might want manufacturers; someone else might want a definition; a third person might wanta set of reviews. Short of you providing more context, I have no idea why you think a search engine should be able to figure out what you want. Now, that context could come from more terms - it might come from the engine tracking your searches over time and learning about what you like.
I'm not questioning your motives; I am questioning the assumptions you make. The assumption looks an awful lot like "I want this kind of result; everyone will want the same thing; therefore (insert engine provider here) should provide that result no matter what I enter".
That seems an awful lot like the blind spot Dave Winer has about how aggregators should work. He likes a "river of news" sort of view, and he translates that personal preference into "that's how all tools should work". Which is how your post looked to me.
Given a one word search, how is the back end (without some kind of historical tracking to give it context) supposed to know what sort of results you want from an ambiguous entry?
I don't have any notion that "search is done", or that the engines have results that are as good as they are going to get. What I am saying is that context is a critical component of any answer - machine generated or human generated. How many times have you answered the wrong question? I've done it a lot, and it happens to me because of a simple failing on my part - I have a tendency to assume the question I've been asked before I hear the whole thing, and I then respond to the assumption. In my experience, lots of people do that.
That failing is essentially a lack of context - in that case, it's not that context is not provided, but that I'm not hearing it. Engines have a similar problem though. You sit down to do a search with a whole set of related information (context) in your head, but you type one word (or acronym) into the search engine. It comes back with results, and you get upset that they don't match your expectations. That's because the engine didn't have access to all that context you have, but didn't (and in many cases could not have) provided.
Basing assumptions on Ray Kurzweil's assumptions about human/computer merging are too much of a leap for me, but Robert goes right out and makes it:
Another fairly common argument is to ask me to go around asking other human beings "HDTV?" and see what they say. That's lame. We don't use search engines the same way we use friends. And, anyway, if I went into an HDTV store, I'd ask "do you have a list of HDTV manufacturers?" and they'd be able to provide me a list right away. At my camera store I had a list of all the camera brands. In fact, I often let customers see my wholesale catalogs. That info is out there, just not available in search engines. Reading CNET tonight I see that Google's CEO said it might be 300 years before Google indexes all the world's information and makes it searchable. Now THAT'S what I'm talking about! Although, 300 years? I doubt it. I suspect we'll get to 99.9 % within 30 years. Eric Schmidt should read Ray Kurzweil's new book, the Singularity is Near, for why. By the way, MSN gives a better result than Google when you search on the Singularity is Near. Here's that result on Google and here's the same search on MSN.
Comparing the results from a (presumably knowledgeable) sales clerk who can assume context based on full sentences and your presence in the store isn't impressive either. Try just walking up to him and saying "HDTV?". Most likely, he'll point to the section of the store that has them - not to a catalog list of providers.
With some help from Anthony Lander, I just found and fixed a startup bug in BottomFeeder. If you change the look and feel (not common, I guess, since this hasn't been reported before), Bf starts up looking like it's lost all the feeds, and then isn't truly functional. The problem was a timing bug that cropped up because of the new tabbing code. I have an update on the site (meaning, look for updates - there's not a new full build out).
It's time to find out what the 2005 Yankees are made of. Down 2 games to 1, they win today or they stay home. The Red Sox were clearly outclassed by the White Sox - less so than the Padres, who were clearly not in the same league as the Cards. Thus far, the Yanks haven't been outclassed, but they have been outplayed and out-hustled. Tonight we'll see what the team has up their sleeves.
Blaine Buxton will be presenting Seaside at the Omaha STUG on the 11th:
This month I will be presenting Seaside, Avi Bryant and company's brilliant continuation-based web framework. People have been requesting it again so I thought it was time to do it again. It should be a lot of fun as always!
Here's all of the details:
When: October 11, 2005, 7pm - 9pm
Where: Offices of Northern Natural Gas
1111 S 103rd Street
Omaha Nebraska 68154
Office is at 103rd & Pacific. Guests can park in the Northern visitors parking area back of building, or across the street at the mall. Enter in front door, we'll greet you at the door at 7:00pm. If you arrive a bit later, just tell the guard at the reception desk you're here for the Smalltalk user meeting in the 1st floor training room.
Sounds like a good time.
All I can say is wow - 18 innings and a walk off home run ends it with a Houston victory. Good thing for Houston, too - if Clemens ran into trouble, they had no one left (except Pettite, who was not rested). I "only" watched the last 7 innings, but that felt like a full game. Now that's baseball.
Boy, that was one tight game. Chacon pitched very well, and so did Lackey for the Angels - especially given that he was working on 3 days rest. The plan had been for Jared Washburn to pitch, but got sick - apparently very sick.
The Yankees pulled it out by coming up with 3 runs between the 7th and 8th, without fireworks. The amazing thing was that the Angels pen gave up the lead, while the Yankees pen held it - Leiter actually came in and did the job before Rivera closed it out.
One more tomorrow night.
I'll be in London for the SPA 2006 conference this spring - I'm speaking on Tuesday as part of a "hot topics" slot. This is a fun conference - I've enjoyed it every other time I've attended. This year is going to be tiring though - I have a family event in LA on March 25th, and have to fly straight off to London. Ugh.
Newsweek has way too much sympathy for the clowns who run the music industry - have a look at this:
The industry doesn't want to repeat a history of undervaluing itself. In the days when its business plan was simply to promote and peddle music, it footed the bill for producing videos, and initially was only too happy to give them to MTV to help build buzz. For the Viacom-owned network, the videos drew huge audiences, building MTV into a multibillion-dollar asset. "We watched people make fortunes and create valuable assets off of our music," says a former top exec who feared risking his role, if he were identified by name, as an industry consultant.
Wow, what a self absorbed jerk. Back when music video came out, CD's were selling for prices between $15 and $21. Bear in mind that those dollars were worth more then, too. The CD's cost how much to create? Virtually nothing. How much of that revenue went back to the actual artists? Not a lot. So this executive can go eat a handful of CD's and choke on them for all I care.
And now, the same hacks are upset over their share of the profits from things like iTunes. At present, they get paid 60-70 cents of the 99 cent download price - and they think prices aren't set properly - they want new stuff priced higher. Perhaps they haven't been looking at behavior in the buyer space recently - even at the 99 cent price, lots of people are bypassing the store and ripping music for free. If the execs think that raising prices will solve that problem, they have another think coming. If anything, prices need to drop enough to make that bypassing not worthwhile.
Well. We had a discussion on the merits of OPML awhile back - Scoble's theory was that it was "good enough" and us tool providers should just suck it up. Let me explain what kind of problem that creates.
OPML is the default import/export format for most aggregators. However, the OPML *cough* spec *cough* doesn't actually specify anything for that purpose - which has resulted in various tool providers making various things up, and coalescing (more or less) around a de-facto standard. Except when there are variances.
I had a new user trying out BottomFeeder, and they took their export from another tool, and ran it through the import. The following flicker feed gave them trouble - the troublesome part is below:
Looks normal enough, right? Well, the importer in Bf was mangling that url. A BottomFeeder bug, you say? Well, not exactly - as it happens, I had to add special handling for the @ character about a year ago, when I was informed that an aggregator (Liferea) embedded usernames and passwords into the url that way - but they weren't actually part of the url. For feeds that use HTTP auth (or digest auth), that tool slapped them onto the url, expecting the tool to figure that out and cache them. That worked fine, until I stumbled across this flickr usage, which embeds that sort of ID information right in the url, and expects to have it stay there.
Goodie - now I have code that has to look specifically for those two cases and differentiate them. This is why OPML sucks, and the author of the *cough* spec *cough* should be taken out behind the woodshed.
Boy, I guess I should be fatter, since I turn out second in the list of results for a Google search of "eyes bigger than the stomach"
Yes, there was a blown call that probably cost the Yankees some runs - the home plate umpire made a horrible call on Cano after the strikeout. That wasn't what cost the game though. The misplay by Sheffield and Crosby that gave up 2 runs - that was the game. The complete lack of hitting with men on base? That was the game too. Give the Angels credit - the capitalized on the mistakes. I don't give them much of a chance against Chicago - the White Sox are rested, and I think they have the better team. But the Angels were better than the Yankees this year, that's for sure.
Looks like Chris Pirillo's gada.be would be an interesting site to play with, but it's not responding now. Looks like he needed more server oomph behind a service that Scoble and Winer (and everyone else) immediately advertised and promoted.
I think it's time to call out this patent nonsense. Have a look at this mess by Apple and the following people, who's names are on a patent that they all know full well is bogus:
- Richard Williamson
- Daniel Wilhite
- Jack Greenfield
- Linus Upson
Apparently, they were just granted this patent (filed in 2002) for the brilliant innovation of the proxy object. Well heck - I think there are a few instances of prior art. Just taking one I can rattle off the top of my head, let me fire up VisualWorks 2.5, released in 1995. Well - I see class LensAbsentee (actually shipped with VW 2.0, which came out in 1993, iirc). LensAbsentee is an abstract superclass (but not part of the "normal" hierarchy, as it's not descended from Object). It's purpose? Why, when you do a DB query using the Lens, you don't get full complex objects - you get - wait for it - proxies for them. When you actually try to deal with them, they fault in. Kind of like the way the patent explains it:
A method for providing stand-in objects, where relationships among objects are automatically resolved in an object oriented relational database model without the necessity of retrieving data from the database until it is needed. A "fault" class is defined, as well as fault objects whose data haven't yet been fetched from the database. An object that's created for the destination of a relationship whenever an object that includes the relationship is fetched from the database. When an object is fetched that has relationships, fault objects are created to "stand-in" for the destination objects of those relationships. Fault objects transform themselves into the actual enterprise objects—and fetch their data—the first time they're accessed. Subsequently, messages sent to the target objects are responded to by the objects themselves. This delayed resolution of relationships occurs in two stages: the creation of a placeholder object for the data to be fetched, and the fetching of that data only when it's needed. By not fetching an object until the application actually needs it, unnecessary interaction with the database server is therefore prevented.
So hey - you four "brilliant" patent holders - there's prior art staring you in the face (and I'm sure that there are older things than this - TopLink for Smalltalk predates the Lens, iirc). Do any of you have the integrity to admit it?
Update: I had pulled the patent links from this page, which apparently had them wrong. The links are fixed now, so that you can follow the absurdity in all its glory.
I think the key thing to bear in mind about Yahoo blog search is this comment from the CNet story:
Initially, Yahoo News Search will have access to material from hundreds of thousands of blogs but will eventually scan millions, said Joff Redfern, a director in Yahoo's search unit.
Which is why the results are (thus far) disappointing. I think the launch really amounts to a public beta.
We have an annoying (and seemingly inexplicable) issue with the Media Center PC. Every so often, it will stop supporting sound to or from the TV. Other sound works fine, leading me to think it's the tuner card. Rebooting always solves the problem, but it's annoying. Anyone seen this, or have an idea what I should look for?
The blog has been mostly inaccessible for the last hour or so - it was a scaling issue with one of the early things I did in the server code. At the bottom of the page here is a list of referers. I have Smalltalk code that generates that, and it has been running in the same image that serves the blog pages. The problem? Traffic (especially spam traffic) is up - so having a process that read log files, filtered them (in memory) and then spit out the cleansed files to be read by the server was a little too much - each time the log scan code ran, it was slowing the server down - and finally, today, just making it inaccessible.
The answer, of course, is to move that code out of the main server and run it as a cron job - which is what I have to do now.
A fair bit of the new traffic here is actual new readers - but there's a disturbing amount of attempted referer spam as well. The vast majority is offers for various drugs (the same ones advertised on TV), gambling, and of course, that perennial favorite, porn.
We have some filtering going on at the Apache level now to address that, and I've got the new process for dealing with referers coming up. What a bundle of fun this is :/
Looks like the Atom publishing API is a draft ietf thing now. I guess that means I need to look at implementing it - both server and client side.
Until you actually try to decouple it. Earlier today, I had a server issue that related to a process - scanning for referers - that needed to be run outside the main server. Fine; turning that off was simple. As it happens, running it separately surfaced a whole raft of little assumptions I'd made along the way.
It took a bit of effort to make the scanning service truly standalone - it was grabbing various bits of information (file locations, etc) from the blog settings information. Running independently, I didn't really want to saddle it with all that extra dreck, so I had to decouple that. Took a fair bit of trial and error to find all my assumptions too.
Bottom line - decoupling services is always harder than you think it will be.
Wow - I knew that newspapers were losing readers steadily, but I didn't realize just how bad it is - their readership is actually dying off.
Newspaper readership is down. Fewer young people are picking them up, and the average age of a newspaper reader is now 55, according to a Carnegie Corporation study. Many papers have been losing circulation at alarming rates across all age groups.
Newspaper profits and the stock prices of the companies that own them were also down during the first half of 2005. The biggest newspapers are cutting staffs, closing foreign bureaus and taking other steps to meet their owners' profit goals.
An average age of 55? Wow. That's got to alarm the finance guys.
Well, I'm tired of rewarding the spammers via the referer lists. Instead of putting that list at the bottom of the posts on the site, I've moved it back behind a POST - only the blog owner/admin can see them now, after logging in. It won't stop the flood of spam, but it will stop rewarding it.
Charles Johnson reports that referer spam attacks are up:
Behind the scenes, there is a pretty amazing swarm of robots hitting our Most Recent Referrers page tonight, using zombie servers (servers infected with a previous virus that leaves a back door open) with a range of proxy IP addresses, many in China, to try to plant URLs among our referrers that link to the usual dreary list of illicit pharmaceutical products. This kind of idiot spamming is a constant annoyance, but tonight’s robot swarm is extraordinary for its sheer volume.
That was the problem that took this site offline for a bit over an hour yesterday, and resulted in my moving the referer list behind a post form, accessible only to the author of a blog. I guess a new assortment of bots is out there being played with.
Update: Those are the same blasted spam referers we're seeing.
Yes, gada.be is a cool search aggregator - and now that the servers are in order, it brings results back pretty darn fast. Still, there's something missing that I need to make it useful for me (YMMV, of course) - syndication ready results. For instance, here's a gada.be search for BottomFeeder - but I have to be in my browser to see that. The problem? I don't want to be in my browser, I want to be in my aggregator. Right now, I have a variety of search feeds from a bunch of different engines. If gada.be provided results in RSS or Atom form, I'd be able to cut a lot of those back. As it stands, having those results live in HTML in a browser makes it far less interesting to me.
There's a nice German language tribute to the 25th anniversary of the release of Smalltalk-80.
Looks like Apple has discovered the power of impulse buying - have a look at the way Dave Astels ended up with a new powerbook at the Apple Store :)
Here's good news - Yahoo and MS are working together on IM, allowing their networks to talk. At present, the various IM systems are like independent, unconnected phone networks - a set of isolated silos, with the AIM one being the biggest. Maybe this will generate enough momentum that AOL will be forced to respond. Let's hope so.
Sylvie Noël is seeing the same thing I am - splogs are starting to choke the various blog search engines:
If you've got a PubSub account, you've probably come across these in the returns from whatever search term you've put in. I find them very annoying, as they drown out the few interesting new blogs that PubSub sometimes throws my way. In fact, it's destroying the usefulness of PubSub for me.
It's not just PubSub either - Feedster is being run over by splogs, and those blasted ads that Feedster is returning (as full items) are annoying as heck. I'd much prefer to see an ad tacked onto an item - the bozo ad items are not a lot better than spam. Technorati is getting washed and waxed by splogs too - add that to their frequent inaccessibility, and you have a service that's getting less useful all the time.
The damage just spreads...
Here's a site worth looking at if you are a history buff - WWI photos, in color.
My friend Mike pointed out Orson Scott Card's review of Serenity - I agree, it's a great movie - the sort of movie that makes you realize how good Star Wars could have been if Whedon had been in charge.
Mark Watson compares this process to MS' update, and calls it simple:
Why can't Microsoft make upgrades this easy. A few caveats: Ubuntu is not officially releasing "Breezy" until tomorrow, so I did this on my laptop (which is not my main Linux development system): In the Synaptic package manager, under Settings -> Repository, I manually edited my repositories changing all occurrences of "hoary" to "breezy" and I removed the install CDROM as a repository source. I then clicked the "Mark All Upgrades" taskbar icon and then clicked "Apply" - when asked, I chose the "Smart Mode" upgrade that apparently is meant for upgrading to new releases. One particularly great thing: under "hoary", I had to build and install my own driver for the RT2500 wifi device in my laptop and manually start it. After the upgrade, wireless is on with no manual operations. Note that with the RT2500, when booting Windows XP, I have to manually start wireless.
I don't know about you, but any process that involves manually editing configuration files and then building a driver isn't "easy", and doesn't compare favorably to Windows Update. or the Mac updater either.
PVRBlog has the scoop on something I find really interesting - the possible evolution of iTunes into an Apple Media Center:
The new iMac + Front Row package looks pretty similar to the first versions of Microsoft's Media Center XP. You have simple access to your music, photos, videos, and DVD player, all from a small iPod-like remote. It doesn't look like they're concentrating on sending the video to another room or to a larger screen, but if you live in a small apartment or dorm room and don't need to send video out to a larger screen, backing away from your iMac and using the remote could be a pretty good solution for an entertainment PC.
If Apple comes out with PVR capabilities, I'd get one of those instead of another Media Center PC. The Media Center PC has been too flaky.
When procedural hairspray just doesn't cut it anymore :)
Scoble on the iPod video:
One thing, though. Steve Jobs better never tell me we're copying him next time I meet him in the street. Why? Cause he brought out a video-playing computer (we call those Media Centers) and a portable video-playing device.
I'll bet that there will be one crucial difference - the Apple version probably won't drop audio for no apparent reason, like my Media Center PC does.