Dave Winer throws another tantrum:
How can we be friends if he's friends with people who are selfishly trying to monetize our work, without giving anything back. I say "our" work, because Toni represents many thousands of WordPress users. There's an arrogance around Battelle's conference, they're the insiders and we're the poor schnooks whose work they monetize. I'm one of those people. Anyway, I think this is beginning of a valuable discussion. Perhaps we can help Battelle and O'Reilly straighten this out, if that's what they want. If they don't want to, then we shouldn't be supporting their conference.
Translation: "Wahhhhhhh - they won't invite me to their kooool conference!"
Tim Bray has a good post up on binary search, but prefaces it with this:
Anyone who regards themselves as a serious programmer has internalized a lot of different ways of searching: hash tables, binary, and many different kinds of trees. I've used pretty well all of these seriously at some point, but for a decade or so, as far as can I recall I've used almost exclusively binary search, and I see no reason to change that. Herewith an essay for programmers, with fully-worked out examples in Java, on why. [Updated 39 months after publishing when I read with horror Josh Bloch’s exposé of a long-lurking bug. If we can’t get binary search right, what chance do we have with real software?]
As I said here, the code is fine. That type system you're using with Java? Not so much. Patrick Logan makes a related point here. The chances of getting software right will improve a whole heck of lot if we just stop using broken tools.
Yet another media guy who's offended at the idea that us paeons out here might be creating content:
The video-sharing site YouTube is a poster child for this sensibility, since anyone can upload just about anything to it. For a sense of what this new world is like, you can consult the site's "Top Favorites." There are several dance segments, people imitating ninjas or lip-synching songs, and a (very funny, actually) dog who growls at his own leg. You can spend 10 minutes and take in all of it. Spend much more, and you start feeling guilty about the time you're wasting.
That's right boys and girsl, it's all crap, because no professionals were involved. He also casts a dim eye at blogs:
Another way that people describe mash-ups is "user-generated content," referred to by the smart set as "UGC." Most of the time, when companies talk about user-generated content, they mean nothing grander than the pictures you store on Web sites or the pages that MySpace members spend hours fussing over.
Talk about framing. Hey Lee - 10 minutes spent with "The Enquirer" is mildly amusing, while more than that feels like wasted time. Can I extend that argument to your scribblings too? After all, you're paid media, and it's all the same thing, right? So what's worthwhile?
These aren't all tweedy costume dramas. No. 1 is "Fawlty Towers." No. 2 is "Cathy Come Home," a Ken Loach drama about the homeless that first aired in 1966 but is still vividly remembered. The rest of the list includes dramas and sci-fi and talk shows and sitcoms, all of them, in their own way, weighty meals for the mind. You can watch them decade after decade, and never feel guilty at all.
I'm not going to say anything bad about that stuff - I love "Fawlty Towers", for example. However, just because professionals create some good stuff doesn't make it all good ("Gigli", anyone?). Likewise, just because there are insipid instances of amateur content doesn't mean it's all crap. You might think a pro would get that, but hey - he's only a professional writer...
Tim Bray doesn't like the "it just works" argument:
“The poor boy, that primitive Java stuff broke because he doesn’t have auto-magical big numbers like Lisp-n-Smalltalk had back in the day.” Thank you for raising my consciousness. If you’ll grant that the trade-off between fixed-size hard-wired datatypes and more abstract ones has been under discussion since Turing was a tot, I’ll grant that many attempts to pack the data in tight are symptoms of premature optimization. But space-vs-time trade-offs are just not gonna go away; deal with it. And I’ve had my working set blown to hell more than once trying to build the parse tree for what seemed like a moderately-sized incoming message, in a language that turned out to be just a little too high level. And the “My thought-experiment language solved that in 1976” mantra is boring .
Here's another one for him: Try doing the factorial of 1000 with Java integers. Whoops - can't do that either. It's not that the space vs. time is going completely away, but: in a world where we have 1GB+ of memory available, and hundreds of GB of disk, it's an affectation to hold onto 32 bit integers as some kind of rational optimization. Face it, Tim - Smalltalk and Lisp got this one right a long, long time ago, and James Gosling still hasn't wrapped his head around it.
Ars Technica has some good news: Comcast is going to be testing the Tivo interface on their DVRs. Not a moment too soon; the existing interface really, really sucks eggs (ask my wife - she really gets exercised about it :) ) Anyway - here's the important part:
After more than a year, we may finally start to see the fruits of cooperation between TiVo and Comcast. In March of 2005, the two companies agreed to work together on implementing TiVo's interface and functionality on Comcast's own DVR boxes. Relations between the two companies had previously been complicated and strained, and in the early part of 2005 there were many fears that TiVo was ultimately doomed. Those fears haven't entirely subsided, but things are certainly looking up.
Really good news.
Update: This seems to apply to a specific line of Comcast DVRs - and mine isn't one of them. Sigh
The Mini is back, with a new hard drive. With any luck, that will solve the problems I've been having. I had backed up the stuff that was on the iPod last time, so I got my entire music library shifted back, simply by slamming it back from the external HD. Now it's busy downloading my daughter's purchased music from iTunes - it turns out that Apple does have the capability built into iTunes. That makes her happy, and I'll set up cron jobs to keep everything safe.
Hey Tim - about this last line of your post on numerics in Java:
And the “My thought-experiment language solved that in 1976” mantra is boring.
Hmm. So Smalltalk is a "thought experiment" languages, eh? While it don't have the adoption level of Java, there are two things you ought to keep in mind:
- It's used in the real world (and the vendor behind the main one, Cincom Smalltalk, actually turns a profit on it. Unlike some language vendors I might mention).
- Having a type system that is both consistent and actually works isn't a "thought experiment". How Java measures up in that regard is an exercise best left to the reader.
People just keep figuring out that things we did in Smalltalk a long time ago have merit:
SecondLife is using Mono in a non-conventional way, which I like to think is one of the benefits of having an open source engine, they have added a micro-threading implementation.
Microthreading was necessary because some of their simulations are made up of thousand of threads/routines, and using the default threads in Mono (which are mapped to operating system threads) would have been too heavy.
That's why BottomFeeder can spawn a thread per feed, even when subscribed to hundreds of feeds - because they don't map down to OS threads.
This news about the Dixie Chicks should make marketing and PR folks - and blog triumphalists - look up and take notice. Their new album has been selling very well online, but they are having difficulty filling venues for concerts:
Initial ticket sales for the Dixie Chicks' upcoming tour are far below expectations and several dates will likely be canceled or postoned.
Ticket counts for the 20-plus arena shows that went on sale last weekend were averaging 5,000-6,000 per show in major markets and less in secondaries, according to sources contacted by Billboard. Venue capacities on the tour generally top 15,000.
In contrast, the band's new album, "Taking the Long Way," sold 526,000 units in its first week, according to Nielsen Soundscan, the third-largest sales week of 2006. The album logged a second week in the period ended June 4, according to sales data issued Wednesday.
One of the interesting aspects of the net is the "long tail". Regardless of what hobby or profession you are in, the net - especially the blogosphere - makes it easy to find like minded individuals and form a community. That community might be quite large, and as with the album sales cited above, be commercially successful. That doesn't necessarily mean that you've got a mass audience in the classic mass marketing sense of the word, however.
What the Dixie Chicks are learning about first hand is the existence of the long tail, and what it does and doesn't mean. Here's a more personal example. On a weekly basis, I have about 20,000 readers. Does that mean I can promote a Smalltalk conference and expect 20,000 attendees? Based on the attendance in Toronto (which was good, but in the hundreds, not thousands), clearly not. My readers are in the long tail. Not all of them are Smalltalkers, and, of the ones who are, not all of them will go to a conference (for a variety of reasons).
The net makes it easy to mistake a large online community for a similarly large offline community. The two aren't the same. Online, geographic space is irrelevant. Offline, it's not. That has relevance for artists, marketers, and politicians, just to state three obvious examples. For the next little while, I expect to see a number of marketing errors based on this.
I've just added NTLM authentication support to BottomFeeder, but I can't take credit for it - that goes to our engineering team, Tamara Kogan in particular. In Bf, we use the NetResources package for HTTP support, and we had previously implemented full support for Basic and Digest authentication. I'm able to bypass that now, and just go to the base library support - which is great, since it's now code that I don't need to maintain.
It's not shipping yet - I have to migrate BottomFeeder to VW 7.4.1, which is not quite out yet - that's imminent. That means that the current dev version, base don 7.4, will not be promoted on 7.4. I should have a new release out shortly after 7.4.1 ships, as I'd like to get this new support out. Stay tuned.
Update: In response to a comment from Rich - what does this mean for end users? It means that when the next rev of BottomFeeder comes out, it will work with a wider array of proxy servers than it does now. Specifically, if you have an MS specific setup, you probably have NTLM (which is sort of like Digest, but non-standard). Right now, BottomFeeder doesn't work with NTLM proxy servers - meaning, you can't subscribe to anything that requires proxy services. With the next release, that problem is gone.
Another feature bites the dust in Vista: p2p file synching:
"While PC-to-PC Sync is a great feature that improves productivity and collaboration we don't have it at the quality level our customers demand," a company spokesperson said in an e-mail. "As a result the decision was made to remove it from Windows Vista."
So what's actually new in Vista? Well, the security model (which sounds really irksome, based on a few things I've read). Oh, yes - PVP-OPM is there too. Features customers might actually want? No time. Stuff the goons at the RIAA and MPAA insist on? Bring it on.
Vista is "all about something", but it's certainly not end users...
I commented on the "IBM bets on India" story the other day in the context of Apple's pullout - it occurred to me that I should look at it on its own. The gist of the story: IBM is on a hiring spree in India:
IBM said Tuesday that it will triple its current level of investment in India over the next three years, bringing its total spending in the country during the period to $6 billion. The plan aims to vastly increase the range of IBM's offshore computer services offerings. Those services are designed to help businesses cut costs, but critics say they also threaten U.S. tech jobs.
IBM currently employs 43,000 workers in India, up from 23,000 just one year ago. At the same time, the Armonk, N.Y.-based company has been quietly trimming payrolls in the U.S., where its staff complement is now less than 150,000. IBM officials were not immediately available to comment on how plans for India would impact the U.S. operations. On a Web site operated by current and former IBM staffers, www.allianceIBM.org, posters routinely share news about layoffs at IBM sites around the country.
They hired an eye popping 20,000 employees in India last year, which tells me something that the business analysts are missing: they are growing staff way, way too fast. I don't care whether you are hiring in your own backyard or on another continent - there's simply no way to manage that hiring pace effectively. Palmisano can boast all he wants:
"If you are not here in India, making the right investments and finding and developing the best employees and business partners, then you won't be able to combine the skills and expertise here with skills and expertise from around the world, in ways that can help our clients be successful," said Palmisano. "I'm here today to say that IBM is not going to miss this opportunity."
But he's making a huge error - and I don't mean in terms of where he's hiring (although, readers of this blog will recall that I don't have confidence in that, either). He's simply hiring too many people too fast, and he's going to end up with the same kind of hangover that the dot-bomb firms experienced in 2001. I wonder how quotable he'll be then.
The other question I'd have is on how they are planning on managing development. Here's their stated goal:
The announcement comes on the heels of a plan IBM unveiled in March, under which the company is moving all development of business solutions based on service-oriented architectures to Bangalore.
That may or may not work well. The big question I'd ask is this: Where is project and product management located? If the answer for either one is "in the US", then I'd guess that the problems are coming down the pike. It's a 9 hour gap between the US east coast and India, and 12 hours from the US west coast. That make communication very hard, because someone has to be willing to work during non-business hours - on an ongoing basis. That's not a scalable solution. If you want offshoring to work, you have to be willing to place the management right there with the developers, in my opinion.
I have some experience in this area - we have a geographically spread team. Most of it is in North America, but we have some support staff in India, and a few developers and partners in Germany. The 9 hour time gap between the west coast and Germany makes it hard to manage communication - there are short windows in which it can occur. We only have a few people that far off - if the entire staff were 9 or 12 hours away from me, my life would be hell. Bottom line, if IBM hasn't accounted for that, then they have some rough sailing ahead.
I’ve been getting a ton of random-letter comment spam lately. Does anybody know what the purpose of this is? Or have any theories? The comments are weird because they’re apparently useless. No links, no words. They’re not selling anything or trying to get a better Google rank. They’re Zen comments. What’s the point of them?
I'm seeing that too, but mostly on the Wiki. The only guess I have - and it's a guess - is that someone is testing a new spambot?
Looks like there are versions of the RIAA overseas that are every bit as stupid as what we have here. Witness this gem of a story from Italy:
Internet firm Tiscali has suspended its music sharing Juke Box and accused the European recording industry of being "virtually impossible to work with".
And how is the music industry impossible to work with, you ask?
It took the move after it was told to remove the service's search by artist.
That certainly generated a "wtf?" reaction from me, so I read further down. Eventually, I reached the *cough* rationale *cough* given:
But the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) said Juke Box had offered a level of interactvity that breached its licence.
However the IFPI decided Tiscali "was paying to offer one type of service but was actually offering another very different one".
"Consumers were allowed a high degree of interactivity that breached these rules in many ways - for example, streaming individual tracks on demand," it said.
Individual streaming is "too high a level of interactivity?" - sheesh, darn those consumers for wanting to to find their favorite artists - they might want to *gasp* buy something! I have to say, when you make the RIAA look reasonable, you have a problem...
It's looking like Seaside might be be bundled on the 100$ laptop being developed by the One Laptop Per Child project, as I had imagined last year.
That's pretty cool.
I guess the blog search engine shakeout has started: Mike Arrington is reporting that PubSub is going down:
Blog search engine PubSub had massive layoffs today after last minute merger discussions with knownow fell apart. It looks like a shutdown is imminent.
Google survives as a search engine via the ad business. I subscribe to a bunch of PubSub generated feeds, and I've had no reason to revisit their website since I set those feeds up. The feed items they find don't come with ads, nor do they slip ads into the feed separately. When I browse an item they found, I go to the item - not to a summary on their site.
Push all that together and it means that there's no revenue. If you give away a service, you need to find some other way to monetize it - and PubSub just hasn't.
ArcterJournal looks at Vista:
Default ram used after boot with not doing anything is 553mb. This went down to 478 when I got closed the welcome center, exited the sidebar and clicked through a couple of other random dialogs that popped up when I clicked on the RSS feed on the sidebar earlier, telling me about IE7 phishing philter.
My take away from that - if you decide to run Vista, you'll want at least a Gig of RAM. Probably 2, actually.
We are getting closer to release - we did a new build yesterday, and will be having a call on the status for release this afternoon. We'll probably let the release get a looking over by the vw-dev community for a week, but it's imminent now. Have a look here for some details. If that list looks short, recall that our summer releases are maintenance ones. Look here for what's coming in the winter.
Sometimes, I outclever myself. I added a simple text filter for screening comments and trackbacks recently. It's a simple filter, and that's part of what bit me today. I had someone ask me why their comment got eaten, so I went to have a look. As it happens, it was chewed up by a stupid entry in my filter. I added "anal" to my filter, due to a bunch of pr0n stuff showing up.
Sadly, I didn't limit that to looking for "anal" with a space after it (and "anal" could be valid, as in "that's a really anal way of looking at it"). Anyway, the comment in question got eaten by the word "analysis". Dumb, dumb, dumb.
It's fixed now, until the next dumb mistake like this I make :)
Time for the end of the week wrap on the logs. BottomFeeder downloads stayed strong, at a rate of 172 a day. The details:
Which takes me to the HTML page accesses:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
I see that the IE stats are creeping up - Surprisingly, only 2% of the IE usage is IE7, so that IE number isn't growing much due to that. The good news is, there's real competition in the browser space now. The bad news is, MS still hasn't supported CSS properly. Finally, on to the RSS accesses:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
|Net News Wire||9%|
|Google Feed Fetcher||2.5%|
|RSS 2 Email||1%|
Mostly a normal distribution, although BottomFeeder access is a bit up. We'll see if that sticks next week, or if it's just a weekly anomaly.
The National Hurrican Center reports that we have Tropical Depression One on the map. If their maps are right, they have it hitting Northwest Florida next week. I'm heading to Florida next Thursday, but it looks like this storm will be long gone from Florida by then.
Could Duke Nukem Forever actually be coming out? Or do we file this under "Godot"?
Doc Searls notes the rejection of "net neutrality" legislation, and ponders what's next:
Now that the NN bus has crashed, maybe we can get together and think of better strategies - and not just political ones - to build the Net we want, while preserving the best of what we already have.
I'm not that worried. At the consumer side, there's already a set of tiers, depending on what you are willing to pay for. In my area, there's everything from dialup to 30mbps down, 5 mbps up FIOS. prices range from $15/month on the low end, up to $180/month on the high end. This is far more choice than I had just a few years ago, btw, and it's all coming via the dreaded carriers.
It's also tiered service - not everyone has the same internet experience, which is a lot like everything else. Not everyone enjoys HD TV, either. The reality is, things are improving in the direction we want, without some overriding governmental control. Heck, a few years back, the corporate grade connection into our engineering office in California was a T1 - which offered symmetric 1.5 mbps. I can now buy better than that for my own use.
I'm not really worried about a one way set of tracks being erected - that's not the direction things have been going, and I seriously doubt that they'll start going that way.
Update: Doc updated his post to reflect his (lack of) choices where he lives. The thing is, internet service is no different than any other product - you get more and better choices in some areas, and fewer in others. Internet service just isn't going to be magically universal and better than other things.
Yann Monclair sends word of a Smalltalk meeting in Paris, on July 18th:
Eric Winger offered (on the squeak-fr mailing list) to present Gemstone's Smalltalk products (GemBuilder, Gemstone/S 64...) in Paris.
It's been scheduled for Tuesday, the 18th of July from 7pm to 9pm.
The meeting will be held in the offices of OCTO Technology, 50 avenue des Champs Elysees, Paris.
If you are interested in attending this presentation, you can add your name on the wiki page
Sounds like fun. And remember, there's a Smalltalk party in Cagliari, Italy on July 1st
If this is true, then Sony will need to have a lineup of new games for the PS3 - this is from the guy behind the "Final fantasy" franchise:
The Xbox 360 operating system shares enough similarities with Windows, he said, so that porting the Windows version of FFXI to the 360 was a fairly quick task. A PS3 version of FFXI, on the other hand, would require redeveloping the game almost from scratch, a process that Tanaka estimated would take two or three years.
As a result, FFXI will emphatically not be a launch title for the PS3. In fact, Tanaka did not commit to bringing out FFXI for the PS3 at any time. He feels that the resources required to port the game to the PS3 might be better invested in a new game that's built from the ground up for next-gen hardware--but his team has yet to make a final decision one way or another.
I don't follow the development side of the game industry that closely - is it that the game engine for the PS3 is that different?
Michael van der Gulik posted some code that runs a number of processes, and wondered about the results - which showed that the processes don't all run:
- My code is borked, which is entirely possible,
- The ProcessScheduler is buggy, or
- Squeak is meant to work like this.
Which of those is true?
I haven't examined the scheduler in Squeak, but in VW (which is descended from the same original codebase), processes are cooperative - i.e., a process at priority N will never interrupt another process at priority N. So in VW, when I tried his test, only one of the processes ever ran. He set up N processes, and had them fork like this:
loop: element [[ continue ] whileTrue: [ counts at: element put: ((counts at: element) + 1). ] ] forkAt: 10.
So if I do that, only the first one in ever runs (as they never get blocked on i/o). To make them all run, you do something like this:
loop: element [[ continue ] whileTrue: [ counts at: element put: ((counts at: element) + 1). Processor activeProcess yield. ] ] forkAt: 10.
That #yield puts the process in question on hold, allowing others to run. This is simply the way VW (and, to a large extent, it seems) Squeak work. If you want pre-emptive scheduling, it's easy enough to do - just change the scheduler (all the code is there in Smalltalk).
At this point, I have to call this a rumor (Now confirmed) - Silicon Valley Watcher is reporting that Robert Scoble is bailing out on Microsoft:
Andy Plesser from Plesser Holland and the videoblog Beet.tv just called and told me Robert Scoble is leaving Microsoft and will join Podtech.net, the podcasting network. He will be moving from Seattle to Silicon Valley.
Mr Scoble has expressed frustration working at Microsoft and he has also been unhappy with his compensation. He has created a tremendous amount of positive publicity for Microsoft but there have been many within the organisation that have resented his very public position. The company has not been able to control his views or his travels to various conferences and blogger meetings.
I've thought that he was sounding more frustrated at Microsoft lately, and I expect that his "out front" position has created internal political problems. Either way, I'm sure that Robert will let us all know soon enough - he'll either verify and explain, or refute.
Update: Chris Pirillo says it's true, and he's certainly in a position to know.
Update2: Fascinating speculation by Vinnie Mirchandani: "Now you wonder what the visit with Sun was about". Another thing I hadn't thought of - I wonder if Mini-Microsoft will come out of hibernation for some commentary?
Update3: Scoble confirms the news. Interesting comments about how no one drove him out too - I believe that, Scoble isn't one to conceal that sort of thing. In any job, with any employer, there's what I call a "BS factor". Big companies tend to have larger ones - heck Cincom has its BS factor too. At any point, some people have just "had enough", or decide that they can have a bigger impact elsewhere - I know that when I worked at larger firms, that "small cog in a big wheel" thing was always there.
Say hello to Alberto, bringing Tropical Storm force winds to western Florida soon.
Michael points to the next STUG meeting in Sydney:
I'm presenting at the Sydney Smalltalk Users Group on the 16th - that's next friday. I really enjoyed the last trip I had to Sydney and met up with this group. Last time I met with them was about two years ago and I showed them the early WithStyle and EzyXML. This time I'll be showing the alpha version of WithStyle4 and how to build UI's with it.
It's taking place at:
Norman Self Room Level 3, 280 Pitt St, Sydney 2000 (Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts).
The building is between Park and Bathurst Streets. It also the location of the ACS (Australian Computer Society).
The STUG meeting I attended in Sydney (2 years ago now) was a lot of fun - head on over if you're in the area.
I've had RSS/Atom handling as part of BottomFeeder, but I've never split it out before. There's some community work going on for STIC that calls for having a separate package though, so I just split out Bundle Syndication-Handling. It's in the public store, and executing the following code:
doc := Constructor documentFromURL: 'http://www.cincomsmalltalk.com/rssBlog/rssBlogView.xml' forceUpdate: true useMaskedAgent: false. cls := Constructor determineClassToHandle: doc content. target := cls objectForData. feed := cls processDocument: doc content from: 'http://www.cincomsmalltalk.com/rssBlog/rssBlogView.xml' into: target.
Will result in an RSSFeed domain object (with an appropriate set of Items. There's still work to be done, and I'm sure that there are some lingering BottomFeeder dependencies in there. Help on this will be gratefully accepted :)
One thing lost in the haze of worries over the "net neutrality" thing is what would likely happen under a "neutrality" regime. My take is that it would regulate the "pipes" (in the US) through which the net flows as a "public facility". You know, like the airwaves. Now, stop and consider that for a moment - the FCC enforces all sorts of fascinating rules about what you can and can't do over the airwaves, and it runs flat into free speech too - the campaign finance laws in the US regulate political speech over the public airwaves.
Well. Seems to me that once the internet is a regulated, "neutral" public facility, we'll have out-clevered ourselves and let the camel's nose in the tent. In will rush all the "for the children" protections. In will rush all the content restrictions that the FCC enforces over the air. Is that what any of the net neutrality advocates really want? I rather doubt it - but they seem to have some utopian vision that allows for government to regulate only in ways that they like.
Sorry boys and girls, that's not how it works. I'd be very, very careful what you wish for here - because if you get it, you'll be utterly astonished at how little you like it.
Over the last few years, the Store Merge tool has come under some criticism. We've responded with an update (it's in preview for 7.4.1) this summer. Here's a shot of the old merge tool, after selecting package HTTP:
Now, notice how it's offering to merge just about every version ever published? It also took forever for that list to pop from the DB. With the new tool, that list pops immediately, and it looks like this:
Notice how I can easily select the packages to merge? Now, here's what it looks like after I select 3 of the versions:
Much nicer. Load it from preview and take it for a spin.
Unfortunately, the dirty little secret of the media biz is that RSS is so disruptive few have fully embraced it. Let me explain.
Those who have adopted RSS still publish headlines and summaries in the feeds in an effort to drive more eyeballs back to their Web sites to boost page views. I propose syndicating content in an ad-supported full-text format-something the largest publishers on the Web haven't done.
Ironically, this is from a partial text summary feed :)
This has got to be the dumbest idea I've ever heard of - a ringtone at a frequency that older people can't hear:
In settings where cellphone use is forbidden -- in class, for example -- it is perfect for signaling the arrival of a text message without being detected by an elder of the species.
"When I heard about it I didn't believe it at first," said Donna Lewis, a technology teacher at the Trinity School in Manhattan. "But one of the kids gave me a copy, and I sent it to a colleague. She played it for her first graders. All of them could hear it, and neither she nor I could."
Well, except for the dead give-away - the head swivel by all the other students in class. I guess neither the Times nor these students have heard of silent vibrate modes?
Rogers says that Scoble had less of an impact on MS than you might think:
Though he's been touted as a direct channel between the user/developer community and Microsoft, Scoble was heavy on ain't-it-cool and light on criticism. Considering my recent experience with a compromised PC, I was curious how much he's said about the company's biggest problem: the long-running inability to make Windows secure, no matter how many times they launch new initiatives to address the issue.
The answer: bupkiss.
I'd call this one of those perception vs. reality things. In the security arena, MS is still a laggard, mostly due to the legacy of sub-optimal decisions that were made years ago, when few people saw what was coming down the pike. Scoble did have little to say on that, but I'd say that his perceived impact on MS was pretty big - people - including me - felt like the company was more responsive, and got a real feel for it being more than a B0rg Cube.
That's a hole that MS will have a hard time plugging - quite possibly, more trouble than they have with security issues.
Chris Petrilli notes that a network outage can baffle the staff:
Today, I had lunch with a friend at The Daily Grill in Bethesda, MD, and when I went to cash out our check, the waitress came back with a “your card has been declined.” Now, I know how much American Express loves me, and my constant stream of payments, so I figured that wasn’t it. When I looked at the receipt, it said “Rejected: NO CARRIER.”
I've seen this with cab drivers too - after they drop me off, they get downright odd when they have trouble getting a connection to the authorization server - and I know that they have the old carbon-copy devices in the car.
So Microsoft's self-styled human face is now some other company's human face. This must be the first corporate human face transplant ever attempted. Will it take? Or will the new body reject the used puss? And what does it say about this whole human face business when a person proclaims himself to be a company's human face and then, when a better offer comes along, tears himself from the old noggin and stitches himself to the new one? That seems a little untoward to me. If I were in a punny mood, I just might call it a mugging.
I guess the uproar from Carr's last outburst died down enough that he needed to get more. What does Carr expect? That once you reach a given point of being well known, you're stuck with the job you have then? The rest of his post is even sillier. Looking at my calendar, it's been nearly 20 days since Car put out a desperate cry for attention. Anyone want to take the over/under bet on the next time?
Hat tip Dare Obasanjo.
Ok, everyone is agog at the news that Scoble is joining Podtech.net. Well, I've just spent awhile wandering their site, and I have a simple question: What's the business model behind this? Never mind the content of the podcasts - they could all be really, really engaging - I'd still have the same question. I don't have to pay to listen (and I'm not sure I would - there are too many good free casts available). I don't get ads, so they aren't using a sponsor model (at least not yet).
I've had the same question about RocketBoom, actually. I like their stuff, but I have no idea how they can make money off the segments they do. It's all really nifty stuf, but where's the payoff?
Declare Victory and issue a press release - that seems to be what the RIAA is up to today:
Nearly a year after the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling against online music file-sharing services, the CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America says unauthorized song swapping has been "contained."
"The problem has not been eliminated," says association CEO Mitch Bainwol. "But we believe digital downloads have emerged into a growing, thriving business, and file-trading is flat."
Translation: "We've been unable to stop Bittorrent, PirateBay is still online, and the bad press from our lawsuit strategy is starting to smell. Meanwhile, we noticed that Apple is actually making money with the iTunes store, even with all the roadblocks we've thrown at it."
As Bugs Bunny would say, what a bunch of maroons. CD sales are still dropping, and it took a non-music industry effort (Apple) to smack them with the reality of the download model. They think that their lawsuit strategy worked:
Garland says the RIAA has made some inroads. "They have removed the profiteers from online piracy," he says. "They've also embarked on a very successful education campaign. Kids now know about copyright, and the consequences."
The RIAA has sued just over 18,000 individuals for sharing songs online, with 4,500 settling for about $4,000 per case.
18,000 is a lot of bad word of mouth. I suspect that they'll see that strategy as the brain dead move it was, eventually.
Elliotte Rusty Harold is talking about a common bug you get when using C style languages:
I’ve probably wasted two hours over the last couple of days trying to debug this line of code:
private static final QName name = new QName("valid-isbn", "http://www.example.org/books");
Do you see the bug? I’ve even made it easier for you by showing you just the line that contains the bug. Originally, of course, I didn’t know this was the buggy line. The exception was thrown somewhere completely different in the code base, but this is indeed the buggy line.
The bug is, of course, non-obvious - the arguments are swapped. His answer to that?
This is an example of poor API design. A method should not have two arguments of the same type that can be confused for each other if you can avoid it. If you can’t avoid it, then the method should check its arguments to make sure that the right one is in the right place; and throw an exception if it isn’t.
Actually, not so much. In this case, it's a fair cop to blame the tools . Here's how that same method would be written in Smalltalk:
getISBNNumber: isbnString fromUrl: urlString
Which would lead to the calling method looking like:
bookName := self getISBNNumber: isbnString fromUrl: urlString
Now, given that code, what's the liklihood that the user of the method would swap the arguments? Approximately zero, but only for your larger values of zero. Showing that he anticipates (but does not fully grasp why) a complaint from Smalltalkers, he says:
Interestingly this a case where even stronger typing would have helped, a lot; though doubtless the Smalltalk enthusiasts will explain to me exactly how this could never have possibly happened in their playpen; and if it did, they would have debugged it at runtime using a piece of chewing gum, a boby pin, and a pocketknife they got out of a Crackerjack box.
The problem has absolutely nothing to do with the type system. Stronger typing wouldn't help. Grabbing a better language, that makes it easy to describe the arguments? That would help.
Had we taken venture capital, I think we could of developed this much faster, but we are doing okay skipping that part and the two of us remain in complete control of our company. Perhaps in a few more months, after a few more sales, we will start to roll and eventually have ads running on all days.
Without VCs, they'll be able to grow organically, and hire new staff as they need (and can afford) them. It's not that VCs are useless - it's that they add an additional level of pressure, and contribute to a desire to get big fast.
One of the common problems people have with boardgames is a lack of players - it's not always easy to round up enough people. That problem doesn't have to be a showstopper though - there's brettspielwelt.de, an online portal for a bunch of boardgames, such as my current favorite, Caylus:
There's a client you can download as well, if you don't want to play inside the browser. One caveat - players there expect you to play fast.
I mentioned this a couple of days ago, but I just received an email announcement:
If you are in the vicinity of Sydney, Australia, just a reminder about the upcoming Sydney Smalltalk Users Group on Friday 16th June, where Michael Lucas-Smith will present a talk based on his presentation from the recent Smalltalk Solutions conference in Toronto. After which we will adjourn for a cleansing ale and catch up on the gossip in the Smalltalk universe, and maybe a bit of football discussion as well The presentation starts at 6:30PM sharp.
Venue: Norman Self Room Level 3, 280 Pitt St, Sydney 2000 (Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts) The building is between Park and Bathurst Streets. It also the location of the ACS (Australian Computer Society).
For a GoogleMap see here http://tinyurl.com/llqmk.
Time: 6:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Building UI's in WithStyle
For a long time there has been a divide between Web Interfaces and classic Desktop interfaces. This divide is being closed by the WithStyle user interface platform. This session will demonstrate how to build hybrid User Interfaces using the WithStyle technology featuring Pollock widgets and Web-like content defined using XML and CSS. Behavior is linked directly to Smalltalk objects. The entire Look and Feel of the interface is switchable simply by swapping CSS. Dynamically changing a live user interface on the fly by altering widgets, XML content and CSS stylings will be demonstrated. The full power of the Smalltalk environment blended with browser-like rendering technology is finally at our fingertips.
Michael Lucas-Smith is the CTO of Software WithStyle and head of Research and Development at Wizard Information Services. He has worked on Smalltalk business applications ranging from an Audio/Visual archiving system to continuations based web applications and web rendering technology. Having used computers since he was four, he first came in contact with the "Online" concept in high school when he ran his own BBS. Michael regularly contributes to several open source Smalltalk projects such as Bottom Feeder and Bottom Line.
And another repeat, but I got another email reminder :)
We're holding a Smalltalk Party in Cagliari on Saturday 1st of July. This will be a great chance to have a friendly talk about Smalltalk and related technologies, meet some other Smalltalkers, and get to know a nice part of southern Europe.
The wiki also contains travelling information which you may find useful.
The Redmonk guys posted their summary of the briefing we had with them earlier this month - check it out here.
Update: Some of you may get a 404 on that link. It's working for me, but James Governor told me that they are having some problems as they switch hosting providers.
Doc Searls cuts through the haze of excitement over Scoble's move to Podtech, and asks:
Questions: What huge company Scoble was blogging at before he went to Microsoft? And what's that say about both companies?
That's a very good point. To push out an old quote that applies here: "The graveyards are full of indispensable men" (Charles de Gaulle).
My friends have been asking me "why doesn't Wall Street believe Steve Ballmer?"
That's an easy one. Cause he didn't convince the grass roots influence networks first. Why have Google and Apple done so well in the last three years? Cause the grassroots loves them. That's the powerroot of the industry. Ideas here don't come from the big influencers and move down. No, they start on the street and move up. Anyone miss how Google got big? Not by throwing a press conference.
I have a far better answer, and it has to do with the track record of delivery. How many revs of OS X has Apple pushed since Windows XP shipped? Meanwhile, how many revs of Windows has Microsoft pushed? This isn't about influencers and grassroots - it's about actual delivery of real products - something Apple excels at. Microsoft? Not so much.
James Holderness looks at encoded characters in RSS titles, and notes the performance of many aggregators, including BottomFeeder. I'm not surprised the Bf doesn't handle many of them; it's due to the fact that I pro-actively strip HTML from the title element. In Bf, I display titles in a widget that doesn't do HTML, so I started stripping HTML a long while back. It seemed like a reasonable choice at the time.
Laura Ries lays out the PR/Branding errors that the Dixie Chicks have made by being politically controversial. This mistake is a doozy:
The Dixie Chicks are a country act. Crossing-over means more album sales, but can leave you stuck in the mushy middle. Core fans think you have sold out and new fans can quickly move on to the next thing. The Dixie Chicks today are wearing lots of black eyeliner and saying things like “Country listeners are a bunch of rednecks; we don’t need ‘em.” Not a good move. Always remember where you came from and never insult the fans who made you successful.
Yes, publicly insulting your core audience is not a great way to move the ball forward - the audience is, after all, the source of revenue :)