Rails is not a Silver Bullet. However, widely reported results place productivity increases over modern Java methodologies (e.g., J2EE, Struts, etc.) in the 6-fold to 10-fold range (with many of these claims coming from long-time Java luminaries). Preliminary tests by our Technical Lead put the code reduction for a normal module in our Java stack converted to Rails at roughly 20:1.
This is what you would see with Smalltalk (or Lisp, etc) as well. If you want a leg up on the competition, you won't find it with Sun or Microsoft.
When I updated the NetResources exception handling, I made a small error - and that error broke support for authentication (both normal and digest). I've updated the dev stream, and I'm doing another full build now. The longest part of that is the upload to the server, which seems like a perfect use of computing resources on Thanksgiving :)
Like just about everyone else in the US, I'm now stuffed. I'm thankful for everything I have though, and realize that lots of people aren't as fortunate. Happy Thanksgiving!
On the other hand, the traditional RAS (research advisory service) analysts that deal with end users do very little systematic research. The RAS analysts count on their informal conversations with a statistically small and invalid population of self-selecting clients for much of their information. Most of the rest of the information then comes from vendor briefings. In both cases, none of the data points gathered goes into a knowledge management system or a data warehouse for systematic analysis it all resides between the ears of individual analysts. Long time Dataquest analysts when discussing their RAS colleagues say “For those RAS guys one data point is a trend, two is confirmation and why bother with three?”
So next time you get numbers - and they aren't from an analyst armed with actual research - watch your wallet.
That Christmas party staple - the backside copy - actually costs money:
Photocopier supplier Canon is warning customers to take better care of their office equipment during the Christmas period, claiming that the festive season traditionally leads to a 25 percent hike in service calls due to incidents such as the classic backside copying prank.
Not to mention costing a fair bit of pride later:
Geoff Bush from the north of England said one case he'd attended, where a young lady had cracked the glass mid-scan, also jammed the scanner so that it wasn't until the machine was fixed and her colleagues all sober that copies of her backside starting pouring from the machine.
I guess the copy repair guy knows all :) But wait - Canon has the solution:
Partly in response to this trend--or perhaps because of the "supersizing" of the western physique--Canon has now increased the thickness of its glass by an extra millimeter.
It's sounding like Microsoft might have gotten too enticed by the idea of beating Sony and Nintendo to market for the next generation game console - there's the shortage of units, and some reports of hardware trouble:
Gamers' enthusiasm for the newly released Xbox 360 quickly waned after the first reports were posted online of problems with the machines crashing and overheating.
No word yet on how widespread the problem actually is, or what, if anything Microsoft plans to do about it.
Depending on two things - the actual size of the problem - and - more importantly - their response - this could end up doing them more harm than good. Microsoft has seen plenty of ham handed PR (Dell, Sony) recently - let's see if a big company knows how to respond.
I have one more issue to look at with the Blog poster plugin, but the core of BottomFeeder is pretty stable now - once I get that issue sorted out, I'll have a release. In the meantime, there's a new dev build up.
The Civ 4 patch is out, and it fixes my problem - Civ 4 works! To get the patch, start Civ 4, and when you get past the "Play" button, select "Advanced" - you'll get an option to download a patch. Do that, and use the Installer. Now, off to try it :)
Chris Pirillo spots a feature of the new XBox 360 that gives it a big leg up on the competition - integration with the Media Center PC. The idea? Say you have a Media Center PC in the living room, and a new XBox 360 in the family room. bam - instant streaming between rooms. This is nothing new - TiVo and ReplayTV have supported that for years, as do the crap devices that the cable company provides.
However, this makes the XBox 360 more than "just" a gaming device for the non-hardcore gamer (and the family). Looks like an opportunity to me.
Time for my weekly look at the logs. BottomFeeder downloads went at 344 per day clip, slightly down from last week - I expect I'll see a surge (from existing users) when I get 4.1 out. With the latest NR updates from Michael, it should be soon. If the build I'm using now looks good, I'll release it on Monday. Anyway, the download details:
Next up, the HTML page blog accesses:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
Those numbers are about the same as they've been, maybe a bit more parity between the Mozilla and IE numbers. "Other" is pretty darn high though - there are a lot of tools being used in small numbers, apparently. Finally, the syndication feed results:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
|Net News Wire||11.1%|
The array of tools used to get at RSS/Atom is still large, at least for my feeds. Given the distribution of Macs in the population at large, it's fascinating that NetNewsWire is so popular relative to other tools.
A customer was trying out our MetaEdit+ app, (7.1 image, 7.2 VM) on Ubuntu 5.04, and received several primitiveFailed errors. The errors turned out to be when VW was trying to allocate a scaled Helvetica font - most font sizes needed were available as bitmap fonts, but whenever VW tried to use the scalable (size 0) font that xlsfonts said was available, it got a primitveFailed allocating the font.
I tried out 7.3.1, and that sat there at start-up grabbing all the CPU and increasing memory without ever opening a window. If the VISUALWORKS variable wasn't defined, it managed to open an empty "Source files invalid" window, and then Ctrl-Shift-y and printProcessorStacks revealed that it too had a process with an error trying to allocate a font. dpkg-reconfigure fontconfig didn't help, nor did several other approaches.
In the end I solved it by installing the Ghostscript extension package that lets X use the Ghostscript fonts:sudo apt-get install gsfonts-x11
Apparently the Helvetica (aliased?) there works better, or some change it makes to the fonts config files (the package install no new fonts itself). 7.1 works fine with different sized fonts, and 7.3.1 starts up fine.
Although I hadn't used it before a couple of days ago, Ubuntu looks very nice, and is currently the most popular distro according to www.distrowatch.com, so this may become an issue for others. It's a Debian based distro, using the X.org successor to XFree86 4.0, so possibly this problem may become apparent in other similar distros (Gentoo?). Hopefully posting here will save someone a few minutes!
All the best,
The home network is getting to the point where I'll have to look at something less ad hoc soon. Right now, there's a wired/wireless router in the basement (which is where the cable service comes in). We have 4 wires dropped to that, and everything else is on Wireless. That would be fine, except that the WiFi seems limited (and shaky) in the family room - which is where the big TV that now has HD is.
So... Down to Staples, where I bought a new router that supports wider range and pre-N - which will be useful if we decide to put a Replay or similar device upstairs. That wasn't the end of the problem - my wife's old machine and new machine were off the network - there's a hub connecting those two (until the old machine migrates off upstairs). So... back to the store, where I found a 4 port switch for $25. That solved that problem. Now, I just have to wait for a free few minutes to swap in the new router.
The joys of the networked home :)
My old feed on Bloglines has 9,204 subscribers. My new feed on Bloglines has 1,457 subscribers.
That tells me that people aren’t unsubscribing from old feeds and are just leaving them in place. It also tells me that Bloglines has a lot of “dead users.” (Users who aren’t using the service much, if at all).
Well, it tells me something else, too - the old feed is still there, rather than doing the right thing, and redirecting. Ditto the old blog. Most aggregators will automatically update subscriptions that redirect, but that assumes that there's a redirect to follow.
This is yet another reason why you shouldn't have a blog that is important to you hosted by a service - you have minimal control over that sort of thing.
Update: This won't work. Why? Because the tools used to pick up the feed won't understand the content - they are looking for http level directives. The problem is, asking people to make the change requires a two step (possibly more) process: Unsubscribe from old source, subscribe to new one. All manual. Meaning, lots of people will "mean to get to it", but won't.
SciFi Wire thinks that CBS' Threshold may have bit the dust:
CBS has pulled its SF drama Threshold from the schedule for at least the next few weeks, following a lackluster ratings performance in a new Tuesday timeslot, Zap2it reported. Sources told E! Online that the show has been canceled; a CBS spokesperson couldn't be reached by Zap2It to confirm that.
That would be too bad, IMHO. While the premise of the show is "out there" (an alien signal can reprogram DNA), there's one big thing going for the show: there's no "evil government conspiracy" plotline. I'm getting kind of tired of that one, especially since X-Files beat it until it wasn't only dead, it's ancestors were begging for mercy. "Surface" has that conspiracy thing going (although, to be fair, there are so many defects in that show that picking on just one seems unfair).
Ultimately, I rather like the way "Threshold" depicts the ad-hoc government group fighting the alien incursion - they make stuff up as they go, trying to hold to a set of policies laid down by the show's protagonist. It seems a lot more realistic to me than a shadowy cabal that "really" runs things.
Here's a crime you don't see every day - unless you live in Baltimore:
Thieves are sawing down aluminum light poles. Some 130 have vanished from Baltimore's streets in the last several weeks, authorities say, presumably sold for scrap metal. But so far the case of the pilfered poles has stumped the police and left many local residents wondering just how someone manages to make off with what would seem to be a conspicuous street fixture.
The poles, which weigh about 250 pounds apiece, have been snatched during the day and in the middle of the night, from two-lane blacktop roads and from parkways with three lanes on either side of grass median strips, in poor areas and in some of the city's most affluent neighborhoods. Left behind are half-foot stubs of metal, with wires that carry 120 volts neatly tied and wrapped in black electric tape.
Berin Loritsch notes a difference between the way Java developers approach things, and the way Smalltalk developers approach things:
As I was writing about certain principles that influence simplicity, I came across the disparity between the typical Java way and the original Smaltalk way of designing your objects. Take for instance the problem of moving an object left 25 pixels and down 30. A Smalltalker would do something like this:rect.moveLeft: 25 Down: 30
And in Java:Point p = rect.getLocation(); rect.setLocation( p.X() - 25, p.Y() + 30 );
Anyone see the problem right away? In OOP 101, the principle is that you tell an object what you want it to do. Notice that isn't query an objects state and then modify it. In the Smalltalker's code, he is clearly telling the rectangle to move left 25 and down 30 and the parameters are verbose enough to make that clear. With Java we ask the object where it currently is, and assuming that bigger numbers mean right and down we give it a new location.
The point? Java developers are still working at the data structure level - there are objects, but they aren't really being treated like objects.
Dave Walker spots the flaw in Memeorandum:
The same dozen or so bloggers who only link to each other have been going on and on about Memeorandum for the last few months, and I’ve never really figured out why. I’ve never actually seen anything pop up there that wasn’t already being beaten to death by that same list of people -- if you’re looking for current stuff that’s worth a look I still think you’re better served by del.icio.us or digg or your own aggregator.
I don't think I'd consciously noticed that, but it's true. That's a function of Memeorandum's design - the site ranks a manually selected set of sources pretty high, and that's how it finds things. Here's the explanation from awhile back::
Fortunately, Robert Scoble has more info in his review here, having viewed the site in testing apparently for several months. The service uses a white list of tech and political blogs and then builds out inclusion of other sources based on what they link to. That can include other blogs or more traditional news sources.
That generates the "in crowd" set of links that Dave complains about. Like him, I find that I like Digg a lot. Like Slashdot, it picks up a bunch of stuff I don't really care about that much, but it does seem to hit a wider diversity of material than Memeorandum. They both serve a purpose - but knowing how they work helps me decide which to pay more attention to.
The short answer is that we do not implement RFC 3023 currently. The RSS platform uses MSXML (in XML conforming mode) to fetch and parse the data, so the behavior is inherited from MSXML. Since MSXML is used by most products that we ship, it means the platform is consistent. And nearly every other stack in the industry ignores RFC 3023 as well, so it's not a widely accepted interop point at the moment.
I find that interesting because the short answer from 3023:
If an XML entity is in a file, the Byte-Order Mark and encoding declaration are used (if present) to determine the character encoding
Is something I implemented in BottomFeeder a long time ago. At the time, I found that paying attention to the declared encoding declaration helped a lot. I guess the MSXML parser isn't built that way, and I'd also guess that the decision was based on the sources they ran into during construction of the parser. I was looking at RSS feeds, and the declaration seemed like an easy thing to do.
Scoble makes a point about feeds, but it's really a much bigger point - customers have a lot more control over sales situations than they used to. Subscribing to a feed is just an example of this: the writer is selling his content, and the customer gets to decide whether it's worth buying. For a lot of us, partial content just isn't:
I really try to avoid non-full-text feeds. I deleted many feeds I like that aren’t full text (like Shelley Powers’ feed, Chris Pirillo’s feeds, and Jeffrey Zeldman’s feeds -- all of which I deleted from my daily reading). Why? Because there are so many great feeds out there that I just don’t have time for people who don’t treat me the way I want to be treated.
See I use NewsGator. It only shows me headlines in one pane and the content in another pane. So I can scan feeds very quickly -- even though they are full-text feeds.
The same thing is true of selling in general though. When a consumer walks into a store, he's a lot less likely to be swayed toward the commission heavy choice than he used to be. The internet provides a rich source of information, allowing him to walk into the store much more fully armed with data than he used to be. Twenty years ago? Unless you were seriously into a hobby (i.e., subscribed to the right set of niche publications), then you were at the mercy of the sales staff. Now? Not so much. Decent information is a few searches away.
An awful lot of companies (and writers on the web, for that matter) don't fully get that yet. They still see themselves as holding the trump cards, and think that people have to come to them. The truth is, they don't. Not anymore.
First, a former Canadian Defense Minister said he was worried that the US was going to get the world into an inter-galactic war; now, I see that physicist Richard Carrigan thinks that ET could take over the world using SETI@Home. Me? I think both these guys have been watching way, way too much of "Pinky and the Brain"....
A language where everything is an object is impossible. An object is something that groups other things together. So what are these things? Well, they're other objects. Ok, so these objects must contain some kind of data. Ok, these also contain objects. Where does it end? It ends with primitive data types. Or some kind of built-in type. It doesn't matter if they're abstract such as variants or templates, or down to the hardware such as 32 bit signed integers. These cannot be broken down. They're the basic data types that everything else is built on top.
Hmm - I wonder if this guy has heard of bytes. Or bits. Or heck, gates. The fact is, there's nothing special about 32 bit integers - they are an abstraction that is built on top of the really primitive lower bits of the system. So should we all go back to plug boards? That's where this guy's "logic" takes him.
All objects are, are a way of raising the abstraction level up another level - instead of dealing with (slightly lower level) abstractions like integers, we deal with objects. The idea is that such abstraction makes it easier to solve problems.
In a "pure object" language like Smalltalk, the complexity is carted off to the VM. In the hybrid languages, like Java and C#, the designers felt the need to share the complexity with everyone - probably because they never fully escaped from the view that the fundamental data types in C are the bottom.
I kept trying to open my OPML file in the OPML Editor and it wouldn’t open. I had a few complaints about that as well. I tried both the OPML file that NewsGator exported as well as the one that Bloglines exported. Newsgator’s OPML file wouldn’t even open (gave me an error) but Bloglines opened with blank titles.
I wish everyone would make their files compatible with the OPML editor, though. I’m using that a lot lately.
But what Dave did was give me an application. It works. And, as a user, I wonder "if the format is so crappy, how did Dave get it to work in his own application?"
And, as a user, I wonder "why can't the developers just get their OPML to work with Dave's application?"
There's a reason for that, Robert. The *cough* spec *cough* is worthless. Every aggregator developer (myself included) has had to struggle with this since OPML came to be the standard way to exchange subscriptions. If there were an actual spec, you wouldn't see the entertaining differences between tools. So you know what? As a user, you do care.
A friend of mine sent me this - he captioned it "The pot at the end of the rainbow" :)
During my morning reading, I ran across this rant about the pricing on the XBox 360. Apparently, it's pretty darn expensive in Europe:
The XBox 360 is nearly upon us (in Europe) and guess what? It’s a rip-off! Why is that? Vendors who took pre-orders estimated the price to be around €410 for the 360 with the hard-drive and extra goodies. So imagine my shock when I went into GameStop in Waterford yesterday to see the price listed as €609! For a console? This is absolutely ridiculous!
Even at a 1-1 exchange rate (and it's not 1-1), that's pretty high. I touched on this topic awhile back. There a couple of rough segments in the game console space - there are hardcore gamers, and then there are recreational gamers. The first bunch is not immune to price, but it's close. The people who stood in line on the day of the launch are hardcore, for instance. I don't think this group is large enough to make up a profitable target though. There are more recreational gamers than there are hardcore types, and I would guess that it's a decent size difference.
Meaning? Well, the recreational gamer is not immune to price. As I touched on before, the current generation of systems (especially the Nintendo GameCube) fall into the impulse purchase zone. Like candy at the end of the grocery store line, the GameCube is at a low enough price point that it can be picked up on a whim. The PS2 and (old) XBox are slightly more expensive, but still come pretty close to that impulse buy - or, failing that, to the "big present for the birthday/holiday" line.
Now there's the 360. In the US, you are looking at $300/$400. That gets you to the outer edges of "big gift" territory, and is well outside of the impulse zone. In fact, for a lot of people, I'd say that the price point makes it a competitive decision with things like a new TV, or a new stereo, (etc, etc). In other words, we've moved from impulse all the way up to "your mom and I have to talk".
Now let's take that price that Digital Excess is talking about - over 600 Euros. That gets out into "now we're talking about real money" territory for an awful lot of people. Heck, you can get a whole PC for that price, and a pretty darn nice one for just a little more.
I have no idea what MS' manufacturing costs/sales costs are on these things. The high price in Europe may not be off the wall in those terms. However, in terms of the game console space, and the market that MS is trying to reach, it looks very, very steep to me.
Ok, it does look like something a 17 year old would want - but the sound is much better than the old set of components I had, and it takes up a ton less space:
Also, there's a USB port - I need a longer cable than I have, but I should be able to hook that up to my Mac, and play iTunes straight to the stereo.
So I have the new stereo, and it's got a USB input - which means that I can run a USB cable from my Mac over to the stereo, and play iTunes straight to the nice sounding equipment.
Well, in theory. I plugged it in, started iTunes - and got a vast well of silence. Hmm. Plugged the cable into my PC instead, and it recognized the device right off, and piped sound to it automatically. If I unplugged it, sound went back to the speakers. Pretty nice, and very simple.
Back to the Mac (I didn't really want the cable draped across the middle of my office). It turns out that the Mac can play out the USB port, but you have to manually toggle it to the output device you want. That works, but it was less obvious than I would have liked. The Mac is better at some things, but not at everything.
Looks like Nintendo will beat Sony to market as well - they'll announce the Revolution console on May 9th:
During its pre-E3 press conference in May, Nintendo disappointed many by revealing little about the Revolution. Other than showing off a mock-up of the console form factor and announcing the console would play NES, SNES, N64, and GameCube games, the game giant revealed little about the next-generation console. In the months since, it has let a few details about the Revolution trickle out, the most significant being pictures of its much-vaunted controller--which has been much-derided for its resemblance to a TV remote control.
That's good news for Nintendo, and more bad news for Sony.
You know you're getting old when the first thing that comes to mind as a great present is an earlier bedtime. Boy, am I tired this morning - dang schoolbus schedule :)
Ted Leung details how he got started with computers. Fascinating stuff - the last paragraphsreally grabbed me:
School played a very limited, and if you are ungenerous, obstructionist role in all of this. Everything that I learned about computers I learned outside of the established school system, and I actually had to work around one of my (well intentioned, I"m sure) teachers. I learned on my own, and at the feet of actual practitioners. Perhaps it's not all that surprising that Julie and I have chosen to home school our kids. Some of you know that they've done a little Python, and they're just about to get started on Squeak (more on all of that in future posts). Whether they turn out to be hackers is not for me to say, but I'm at least going to do my best to make sure they got the kinds of opportunities that I got.
I find that I'm supplementing the local school quite a bit for my daughter. Their teaching of history is especially atrocious.
Rebecca Wirfs-Brock reminds us that exceptions impact real people - they aren't just annoyances for developers to deal with when writing code.
ThinkSecret has the goods on the latest Mac Mini news - they are moving into the media hub space that the Mini belongs in:
Apple's Mac mini will be reborn as the digital hub centerpiece it was originally conceived to be, Think Secret sources have disclosed. The new Mac mini project, code-named Kaleidoscope, will feature an Intel processor and include both Front Row 2.0 and TiVo-like DVR functionality. advertisement
While the specific model and speed of the Intel processor in the new Mac mini is unknown, sources are confident the system will be ready for roll-out at Macworld Expo San Francisco, in line with other reports Think Secret has received that Intel-based Macs will be ready some six months sooner than originally expected.
I suspect that the Mac version of this will involve a whole lot less swearing than the Media Center PC has - not to mention that it will take up a whole lot less space.
Protected Video Path - Output Protection Management (PVP-OPM) makes sure that the PC's video outputs have the required protection or that they are turned off if such protection is not available.
Ok, let's stop and think about that. I have a Thinkpad notebook sitting in front of me. It was built 12-18 months ago, so it most certainly does not have the kind of "protections" that MS is talking about here built in. Let's say I still have it when Vista comes out, and I make the mistake of upgrading. I then take a DVD which I legally purchased and try to play it while I'm on a long flight. Bam - MS will tell me to sod off, since my device isn't properly protected.
Now, consider what kind of actions that incents me to take. I've got legally owned content, and a legitimate license to the OS. The OS won't let me watch the content. What to do? Well, there are two possible paths to take:
You know what the answer is? Stay with XP. XP is good enough, and doesn't include this kind of bozo "protection" scheme that puts a wall in front of law abiding users, and does nothing to get in the way of people out to steal content. Better yet, maybe that will be time to look at Apple, and investigate whether they plan to do something this stupid. So here's a tip for MS (listening, Scoble?) - you want to walk into the same set of razor blades that Sony is dealing with right now? Go ahead, include this OVP abomination in Vista.
Just don't tell me that you're "helping" me. Instead, slap a label on the CD that states that MS is sucking up to the RIAA and MPAA. Might as well have truth in advertising.
So MS had their huge launch for the 360, and got a lot of buzz - I've seen the systems at local stores, and yes - the graphics are very cool. However, the severely limited number of systems they've got available is a real problem. The initial batch sold out immediately, and now there's a rump marketing campaign for a system that you can't actually buy. And mind you, there are 26 shopping days left before Christmas.
I was thinking that the overheating problem with the power supplies was a sign that they rushed the release to hit the Christmas window - and this shortage is another sign of the same thing. With so few units available, it looks to me like they would have done better to just hold off until they had units available in quantity - and without that over-heating problem.
Dvorak has an interesting column up on orphan data formats and the lossage that comes in their wake:
Curiously, the apex of lost media is in our own era. The problem cannot get worse than it is. The irony is that this is an era where unprecedented technological revolutions are taking place, and yet we're losing important information. This has to be as tragic as the burning of the Great Library of Alexandria around 47 BC.
he gives some good examples, including mid 90's era digital cameras. The irony is, a 35mm camera that you bought 20 years ago is still useful.
I've finally gotten the timing bug killed off in the blog poster - an exception could get tossed at startup of the tool that made the HTML toolbar mostly disappear. That's sorted out, and the latest build is up under the dev downloads. If I don't see any issues, I'll release it tomorrow or Thursday. Whew!
This month is birthday month around here - my daughter has hers on the 14th, my wife's is on the 25th, and mine is on the 29th. So it's a pretty busy month, between all that and Thanksgiving. Victoria's birthday party hasn't even happened yet - something about getting her room cleaned up first came up :) It's finally happening Friday.
Whew! And here comes Christmas...
Security researchers at Trend Micro are warning that RSS is a lucrative target for future bot worm attacks. What's worse, they're saying the onslaught will hit once RSS becomes a feature in Internet Explorer with Windows Vista.
Users of BottomFeeder are completely immune to such problems.
I didn't know John Vlissides, but Ralph did, and he has some moving thoughts on his passing.
Dana VanDen Heuvel explains where DRM drives the public:
My dad recently bought the new Trey album, a CD "infected" with XCP. After being initially unable to get it on his MP3 player and then reading the rootkit aftermath, he said: "This is what I get for trying to buy a CD. I should have just downloaded it."
I'm guessing that his dad is not an expert on these kinds of issues - more of a middle case, really. And look where he ended up - exactly where Sony/BMG would rather he didn't. Best case: he goes for legal downloads using something like iTunes (lower profit margins). Worst case: He reads up on p2p file sharing, just to make sure that his PC doesn't get taken down again.
That's where MS is headed with PVP-OVM in Windows Vista.
"Dell, HP, Gateway, Sony, IBM and the rest of Microsoft's partners will find themselves painted with the same brush. You cannot enforce the DMCA any more than you can force people to buy American cars. Take a hint from General Motors: The word eventually gets out that you have inferior products and the price isn't right. Microsoft's OEM partners will become the buggy whip manufacturers of the 21st Century."
I've just released BottomFeeder 4.1 - the web pages are updated, the docs are online, and the new release has rolled into the download area. Here's what's new:
- Reorganized feed menu to make feed modification easier to access
- Added support for the "del" key (feeds/folders)
- Bug fixes in the Network support libraries, fixes update block bug
- Bug fixes in the item identification code. Should prevent spurious return of old items as new
- Bug fixes to the blog posting tool's startup
- Added a new Quick Start Guide to the Documentation
- Fixed bugs in the Loading of Example Feeds from the website
- Modified the startup feeds for new installations
- Numerous small bug fixes elsewhere
This is mostly a bug fix release - the network libraries in particular have been cleaned up and made stable - there were issues with the library that came with 4.0. I've been running the code for awhile now - the base BottomFeeder and NetResources libraries have been stable for quite some time now. The Software With Style guys let me know that the latest release of their stuff fixed a number of problems I was having, so I've updated that (the display area of the viewer). Enjoy!
It used to be that nasty retailers could intimidate a customer - or, at worst, limit the damage to (direct) word of mouth. Now, your obnoxious and stupid behavior can be broadcast around the world.
I made this point the other day, but this is a great example. The whole "Dell Hell" and Sony XCP things are also great examples. One dumb employee, or a set of stupid support policies, can just ruin your entire day.
For those high risk car buyers, we now have the programmable kill switch:
A new gizmo is upping the odds that even the most hard-knock customer will come up with the car payment. Hooked into the ignition system, the gadget comes in a handful of versions with one common conclusion: No pay, no start.
And it works:
Not surprisingly, default rates are high. It's not unusual for more than a third of the cars sold off such lots to wind up being repossessed. Since Patriot began using PayTeck three years ago, its repos have dropped from about 45% to less than 15%. Madden figures he has close to 500 of the $200 units on the road -- an investment that has not only cut repos but boosted business.
This is only being used for high risk sales, sounds like. Makes me wonder about systems like OnStar a bit - put that kind of remote capability together with this kind of policy...
Sony's DRM nightmare just got a little worse - a NYC law firm involved in a class action suit over the XCP software is bringing in Mark Russinovich as an expert:
Mark Russinovich of Sysinternals will be joining the legal team led by New York attorney Scott Kamber, who filed a lawsuit earlier this month against Sony BMG and First4Internet, the British company that produced the anti-piracy software. (This may be nothing, but First4Internet's Web site is looking rather Spartan at the moment.)
Meanwhile, NY's pit bull AG is irked with them:
As a fitting followup to yesterday's post on Sony's DRM shenanigans, today Eliot Spitzer announced his own interest in the case. Spitzer, the New York Attorney General, has gone on record as saying that he is not pleased with Sony. The source of Spitzer's displeasure is the fact that Sony's XCP-protected CDs are still easily available at retail.
"It is unacceptable that more than three weeks after this serious vulnerability was revealed, these same CDs are still on shelves, during the busiest shopping days of the year," Spitzer said in a written statement. "I strongly urge all retailers to heed the warnings issued about these products, pull them from distribution immediately, and ship them back to Sony."
In other news, Microsoft is whistling past the graveyard with their PVP-OVM thing in Vista. A more intelligent company would not only pull it, but make some positive PR about pulling it. Looks like they may need a savage beating with a cluestick before that happens though.
One of the things that fell out of BottomFeeder as we moved from the old network library (a hack job I created back in 2002-2003) to NetResources was error reporting at the application level. With the 4.1 release, that's back. If you pull down Help>>View Error Log, you'll see something like this:
What you see there is a list of errors that happened during the last few rounds of network updates. If you want to clear that, just hit the "Clear" button. If you want more details, hit the "Save to File" button - one of the results for the screen above look like this:
Time: December 1, 2005 10:53:25.358Description:NetResources Error: <<Net.HttpObjectNotFound (404 Feed not found error: FeedBurner cannot locate this feed URI. )>> on url: http://dwlt.net/tapestry/getfuzzy.rdf
Which tells me that when that feed was last queried, a 404 popped up. BottomFeeder treats a 404 as transient (there's a gone error - 410 - that Bf will use to mark a feed as dead). You might want to watch for repeated 404 errors though - it probably means that the site should have issued a 410.
Chris Petrilli is very impressed with Dabble. Sounds like I need to have a look at it
I think the Red Sox may be shopping for a new curse. Have a look at how overblown the custody battle for the ball that made the last out has gotten - on the last play of the 2004 Series, infielder Doug Mientkiewicz caught the flip from the pitcher, Foulke. He pocketed the ball. Now there's a suit over the thing:
In January, days after he was traded to the New York Mets, he and the team announced that the Red Sox would hold the ball temporarily and could display it across New England, along with the World Series trophy. But the agreement said he would get it back at the end of this year ''unless the ultimate issue of ownership has been otherwise resolved."
That clause led Red Sox lawyer John G. Fabiano to the Suffolk civil clerk's office yesterday. The suit asks the court to place the ball in a ''secure location" until ownership is decided.
The club's legal team said that Mientkiewicz had gained possession of the ball only because he was a Red Sox employee and that the ball remained the team's property. He played for the New York Mets last season, then was released, and is now a free agent.
Now, I have some sympathy for the team wanting the ball - certainly, Mientkiewicz holding onto it was an accidental byproduct of his playing first base. In other words, it's not as if the team actually gave him the ball. On the other hand, I have no idea what traditionally happens to the last ball used (if anything). At the end of the day, I think both Mientkiewicz and the team are going to come off looking stupid.
Of course, I'd be happy with a new curse...
Pity the poor folks at Universal, having to figure out how to filter their incoming mail.
There's a small bug in the 4.1 release if you are using LibTidy (look in Settings, under "Feeds"). This is only an issue for users on Windows and Linux x86 - we don't ship the library on other platforms. In any case, with the 4.1 release, we added a fix for the spacing issue - links were getting drawn without spaces between them and the following text. However, the fix for that unintentionally screwed up <pre> tags - a problem if you are viewing source code in a post.
If that's something you see happening, you can do one of two things: either turn LibTidy off, or use the update tool to grab the new revision of the library. It will load without needing a restart.
I mentioned the other day (in the context of RSS feeds, actually) that power is shifting toward the customer. Well - here's a great example of that. Thomas Hawk had a bad experience with a company, and posted about it. The vendor squealed like a stuck pig, but then something different happened - they apologized, and the main squealer got canned.
This is a huge lesson in this for every outfit that sells a product or service - if you under-deliver or over-price, customers now have a soapbox - complete with amplifier - with which to make an example out of you. If you didn't think that the customer was king before, it's time to start believing it.
Marthe Dansokho from Cameroon says that this cheap computer is the result of an insular American-user mind set.
"African women who do most of the work in the countryside don't have time to sit with their children and research what crops they should be planting," she pointed out. "We know our land and wisdom is passed down through the generations. What is needed is clean water and real schools."
I think I had that thought:
This is a pie in the sky solution, IMHO. It's like deciding to hand out cheap cars, and only later noticing that there are no gas stations for the recipients to use.
The problems in large parts of Africa are much more basic than needing laptops - clean water being one of them. Access to medicines for diseases we can cure being another. Not to mention the whole infrastructure issue - of what use is a low power notebook that has no network to connect to? In war torn Africa, who the heck is going to build out a network? And how the heck are they going to pay for it?
I'm sorry, but there are so many things that the money behind this project could have been better spent on.
Update: Julie Lerman wades in.