This week, Michael wasn't able to join us - the time change and screwy weekend schedules combined to muck that up. David and I spoke about Smalltalk version control, and we addressed feedback from our listeners. Download the podcast here; if you have feedback, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. MP3 files welcome.
Scoble asks an interesting question: under what circumstances should you consider running ads on a blog?
What do you think? Should I sell ads here? If it was your blog, would you hesitate? Why?
I think it really depends on your goals. Here, I'm doing PR and evangelism for Cincom Smalltalk - so I don't think ads would help much. If this were a personal blog, rather than a corporately sponsored one, my answer would probably be different.
For corporate blogs, it's a policy decision, not a personal one. Scoble is sitting in a gray area there, so I'm not sure what he should do...
Ed Foster highlights an all too common support problem: can you actually get the vendor on the phone?
"I went to Tascam's website to get a number for support. Okay, no toll-free number so I dropped an email to the support address - saves waiting on the phone. A week goes by and nothing. I call -- get someone and get shunted to the voicemail of the tech who handles this unit (he hasn't arrived at work yet) so I leave a voicemail. No response to this day. In the meantime I've called twice and both times gotten a message about 'We are either at lunch or all techs are busy. Please call back.' NO chance to leave a message, no way to tell them to call me. This is insane! No way for a customer to leave a message -- instead I'm supposed to spend my time playing phone roulette -- dialing Tascam and hoping someone will be there. Well, not here. I have a call into the rep for Tascam who handled our account. At this point my attitude is that on anything I have a say-so on, Tascam will not be on the vendor list. We pay good money for the equipment and don't expect to have to play phone tag. This is professional equipment and I expect the ability to at least leave a message."
I'd bet that management at that shop believes that they are saving money on phone support. What they've never asked themselves (because it's not easily quantifiable, and doesn't fit on a spreadsheet well) is whether the policy is driving off customers and creating bad PR.
This is going to make the MPAA go absolutely bats: Handbrake, and application that lets you rip a DVD to your video iPod (or similar device). The key is, it's not defeating the DVD encryption schenme; it's simply piggybacking onto the stream created by your PC or Mac player.
Now you know why the MPAA wants utterly hostile crap like PVP-OPM on Windows - they want to lock down the player, and force you to buy a separate copy of content for each device you own. This is a fight they can't really win; at the end of the day, bits are bits. They need to adapt to the changing business environment, and fast - or they'll get dealt with the way newspapers are being dealt with.
Ok, I'm not really trying to specifically pick on Java here - it's certainly possible to fail in trying to run a mismatched Smalltalk image and VM - I had something really, really odd happen yesterday. I hadn't installed any new Java components, but a Java app I use - The Levelator - wouldn't run. Thinking it was broken, I just hacked out the podcast audio with Audacity. Today, I was thinking of looking at Eclipse, and boom - same problem.
So I looked in the Windows control panel, and I had Java 5 update 6. Now, I have no idea whether I let the Java update tool grab that - I don't recall what I downloaded with the Levelator. Whatever - nothing worked with that. I grabbed update 9, and now everything is fine. Anyone know what happened here?
Via Nick Carr, I found Mark Cuban's post - he has an email from someone he calls a trusted source with some details on the YouTube deal. If this is true, it certainly lessens my sympathies toward the labels on copyright:
>The media companies had their typical challenges. Specifically, how to
>get money from Youtube without being required to give any to the
>talent (musicians and actors)? If monies were received as part of a
>license to Youtube then they would contractually obligated to share a
>substantial portion of the proceeds with others. For example most
>record label contracts call for artists to get 50% of all license
>deals. It was decided the media companies would receive an equity
>position as an investor in Youtube which Google would buy from them.
>This shelters all the up front monies from any royalty demands by
>allowing them to classify it as gains from an investment position. A
>few savvy agents might complain about receiving nothing and get a
>token amount, but most will be unaware of what transpired.
Again, it's unsubstantiated - but boy, if it's true, I'd call it too clever by half. The more powerful artists might well make a stink.
Technorati Tags: music
I see Sony is going to pay for their decision to go with all bleeding edge components in the PS3 - the limited launch supply just got more limited:
What's worse than 100,000 units at launch? How about 80,000? The Nikkei Keizai Shimbun morning edition reports today that due to component shortages, Sony will have only 80,000 units ready for the PS3's 11/11 Japanese launch. This cuts back by a fifth the initial launch target of 100,000. The lack of digits in that number is even more staggering when you consider that the PS2 sold out of nearly a million units when it launched back in March of 2000.
I think the vendors who sell game consoles are going to be very, very unhappy on launch day, as they'll get sold out in minutes - and spend the rest of the day saying "I don't know" when asked about new shipments.
I wonder how many XBox 360 and Wii units will sell based on the "at least it's in stock" theory?
Having the Zune launch without any Mac support seems like an error to me:
Bad news for Mac users -- the Microsoft Zune won't be Mac compatible at launch time. Thanks to the Zune not supporting mass storage mode, and the fact that Microsoft hasn't made a Mac version of the Zune Marketplace software, the Zune will be Windows-only for the time being. But seriously, how many Mac users were going to buy Zunes instead of iPods anyway?
Had they been the first big entry into this space (as Apple was), then this might have been acceptable. However, they aren't the first big entry. I don't know why MS, with all their resources, couldn't get a coordinated launch together.
Nick Carr has been tracking how Wikipedia is turning up in search results - and it looks like it's "climbing the charts":
But the findings get more interesting when you look beyond the averages to the particular results turned in by each of the three engines. It turns out that Google's algorithm absolutely adores Wikipedia and that Yahoo's passion for the online encyclopedia is nearly as ardent. But Microsoft's MSN algorithm seems strikingly less enchanted by Wikipedia's charms. Wikipedia turned up in Google's top ten a whopping 89% of the time and in Yahoo's 77%, but it appeared in MSN's top ten just 38% of the time. What's up with that?
Cuhalev also found that when Wikipedia does turn up in the top ten it tends to rank very highly indeed. It's in the top three results 76% of the time at Yahoo, 66% at Google, and 54% at MSN.
This doesn't surprise me, nor does it worry me. I find Wikipedia to be a decent information source of information. Not perfect by any stretch, but it's usually a good intro. Like anything else, you want to dig deeper on any subject you are truly interested in.
I didn't realize this, but ripping a CD to an iPod is technically illegal in the UK. Funny thing about that: it seems that such stupid laws lower the level of respect for copyright in general (go figure):
Now, a think-tank is recommending that the laws be updated to allow personal copying -- which is perfectly reasonable. What's interesting, though, is that they note that allowing personal copying actually could benefit the recording industry's battle. They argue that in keeping private copying illegal (and, thus, making criminals out of a large percentage of the country), people are much less likely to respect any copyright law -- since they all get lumped into the ridiculous pile. One other interesting aspect of the report is that it takes on the debate concerning the right for libraries to archive content. In this case, it recommends that "the British Library should be given a DRM-free copy of any new digital work and that libraries should be able to take more than one copy of digital work." Given the earlier debate, somehow it seems unlikely the entertainment industry is going to agree to that one willingly.
Now, here's a quiz question for the not so bright crowd over at the RIAA and MPAA: what do you think DRM does for the general level of respect for copyright law?
Believe me, I won't hold my breath waiting for a response.
One thing I’d like to do is reduce the dependence of Seaside on continuations - they drove a lot of the initial interest in the framework but they’re becoming (or seeming) much less important over time, and the use cases to which they’re best suited are these days often addressed with AJAX instead. Right now they’re creating an artificial barrier which stops Seaside from being ported to some dialects (like Strongtalk, Smalltalk/X and VAST) which don’t support continuations but would still benefit from a continuation-less Seaside.
That's interesting - I'd be interested to know how he intends to replace continuations and keep Seaside as Seaside.
Via Tim Bray, I see that the all too common air of superiority in the Smalltalk community is hardly limited to the Smalltalk community. At a PHP conference Tim attended, this came up in Q&A:
In the plenary Q&A, one question was “ActiveRecord for PHP?” and another was “What do you think of Rails?” The answer to the first was more or less, “We’re not convinced that’s an appropriate direction” and to the second was frankly snotty: “Ruby is appropriate for computer-science-loving people who have a puristic [sic] attitude”.
I'm starting to think that the only difference between the "Smalltalk arrogance" people sense and the arrogance of other communities is the number of people involved.
You may have noticed that the Cincom Smalltalk Wiki has been up and down the last few days. I finally sat down and looked at the issues, and it was all about the memory policy. WikiWorks loads all wiki pages into memory by default, and that was causing a few problems with the policy that the server was using. I inserted the CraftedMemoryPolicy (Thanks Terry!) with some reasonable defaults, and the memory issues went away on my test server. That's all in place on the server now, so things should go better.
Jon Udell notes an all too common problem in screen sharing software: an attempt to solve too many problems:
There's one thing I wish screensharing systems would do well: screensharing. I watch a lot of demos projected to my computer. It's always a struggle, both for the presenter and for me. Windows or Mac? IE or Firefox? Who has the latest version of the client? Who's the host? Which application is shared? Can you see my screen?
While we answer these questions, the first five or ten minutes of every meeting swirl down the drain. I've used every screensharing system and, from this perspective, they're roughly the same. None performs its basic function simply and well. All are determined to add whiteboards, chat, and filing systems. In principle these are useful features. In practice, for most people most of the time, they're just not usable.
This is a classic product management/marketing issue. You always want features that differentiate you from the competition - but at the same time, too much of that gives you MS Word - an application for which most people barely touch 10% of the available power. It's a problem across the industry, and not just in this product area.
A friend of mine who worked in a Smalltalk and Java shop shared these quotes from the Java trenches:
- “Java development expends a great deal of effort managing the integration of software components. Where as Smalltalk development can focus their energies better on addressing the business problems.”
- “Typically, a Smalltalk developer will spend most of their time thinking about the problem than coding when compared to Java developer. Not surprisingly, the over-all development effort is faster in Smalltalk, and the code is smaller and more efficient and maintainable.”
- “When development projects get under pressure, naturally developers take short cuts. When thought both Java and Smalltalk have refactoring browsers, it is much harder to refactor Java projects than Smalltalk projects. As a result, over time, my experience has been that a Java software project becomes hard to support, maintain, and enhance than a Smalltalk project.”
- “For new developers, it is much easier to learn proper OO development techniques using Smalltalk than Java. Proper techniques are a investment that will save you money by giving the project large returns in development time, effectiveness and efficiency. “
- “My current experience with source code management software is that the Smalltalk tools are much better at identifying the changes so that the core software “
There was also this humorous statement that I rather liked:
Java is kind of like kindergarten. There are lots of rules you have to remember. If you don't follow them, the compiler makes you sit in the corner until you do. There are 59+ reserved words. Everything is not an object. There are primitives, and your classes are not first class objects. And you have to remember that there is no "this" in a static method (in Smalltalk calling self in a class method would return the class itself). You have to remember to tell the compiler things several times so it knows what you're talking about (Date date = new Date()).
Via CNet, I see reports that hell is freezing over: Microsoft is going to work with Novell in support of SuSe Linux:
Microsoft is entering into a technical and business collaboration with rival Novell, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced Thursday. The two software makers have made a set of agreements to bridge the gap between proprietary and open-source software, he said.
Microsoft will offer coupons for maintenance and support of Novell's Suse Linux Enterprise Server and Desktop (SLES and SLED) products.
That's interesting - Scoble is speculating that it has to do with patents that could cause MS some trouble down the road. Hmm. I think I'll reserve further comment until I see more details.
Patrick Logan likes the Wii:
All I can say is, well, the kids took to the Wiimote controller like they'd been playing for years. I took a little more effort because I don't really play many games even with today's controllers. But the Wiimote controller really is going to make me want to play more games.
The Wii is definitely going to be the system to have this holiday season.
That's good news for Nintendo - they are going after the casual gamer with this system, and it sounds like it hits the target.
I like Scoble's "engagement" idea, but I see no good way to measure it:
I’m trying to come up with new ways to measure audience that goes way beyond whether someone downloaded my content to their machine. I have tens of gigabytes loaded here that I haven’t watched or listened to, and I bet I’m not the only one.
I’d rather go with engagement than just downloads. I believe advertisers will eventually get wiser and pay for audiences that’ll do things, not just download files with an automated client.
There are onerous methods, of course - the "phone home" kind of monitoring. No one wants that, so what else is there? All I can think of are indirect measures - emails sent as feedback, comments left on the posts, that sort of thing. Not exactly enough meat for advertisers to sink their teeth into. It's a good question, and I wish I had an answer.
Technorati Tags: statistics
Sir Tim believes devotees of blogging sites take too much information on trust: “The blogging world works by people reading blogs and linking to them. You’re taking suggestions of what you read from people you trust. That, if you like, is a very simple system, but in fact the technology must help us express much more complicated feelings about who we’ll trust with what.” The next generation of the internet needs to be able to reassure users that they can establish the original source of the information they digest.
How is that different than traditional media? I read a story in the NY Times, where the major source is some wire service. Other than age, what tells me I should trust that wire service? Especially given all the recent stories about photoshopping and staged photos?
With the net, there's some possibility of fact checking. With the old model, there was the "letter to the editor" that found the circular file. With all due respect to Berners-Lee, I'll take the new model, thanks.
We were doing some server maintenance - we have a second server now, and it was time to shuffle files around. That caused an outage for about a 1/2 hour, but it's all back now.
Michael, David, and I recorded episode 8 last night - we continued our conversation about image based development, and then went into Vista Smalltalk - the Ottawa STUG got a presentation on it last week, and David recorded a screencast. From there, we discussed debugging techniques, and how Smalltalk makes that very different (and more powerful).
Time for the weekly look at the logs. BottomFeeder downloads proceeded at a rate of 197 per day, which looks good. The details:
Next, HTML page accesses:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
Well, it certainly looks like IE 7 is having an impact on browser usage amongst my readers. Let's take a look at the syndication stats:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
|Net News Wire||7.6%|
|Google Feed Fetcher||6%|
|RSS 2 Email||1%|
That looks fairly normal, and on the syndication side, IE usage isn't rising that much
James McGovern illustrates why many large companies spend most of their time standing still. In response to the idea that analysts like to pass information by phone, he says:
Hmmm. So I guess you are saying that we must resort to establishing dialogs via phone calls? Have you ever considered why enterprises prefer documents? Maybe it is because we do a lot of work at home on our laptops after hours. Maybe by having printed material we can multi-task. If you have ever been in corporate America for any extended period of time, you would understand that there are lots of low density information oriented meetings which serve as an opportunity to do multiple things. Many people pretend to take notes when in all reality they are reading documents.
Well. I wonder if it ever occurs to him that those "low denisty information oriented meetings" are an utter waste of everyone's time? or that - realizing this - analysts like to get people on the phone so that they can get some level of assurance that attention is being paid? If you spend time multitasking in meetings, then the correct answer is that you don't need to be in those meetings. Full stop, period.
Engadget speculates that Sony won't even hit the reduced PS3 ship numbers they've promised:
If you haven't managed to procure a good, solid pre-order yet from a credible retailer, you just might want to take a good hard look at those unboxing pics we shared last night, 'cause it could very well be as close as you're getting to a PlayStation 3 in 2006. See, despite Sony's repeated reductions to the launch quantity predictions, EA thinks they're still "exaggerating" a bit, and we might actually end up with around 500,000 to 800,000 units by year's end in North America -- as opposed to the 1-1.2 million currently being predicted by Sony.
The Wii and XBox 360 are looking like better bets all the time.
This year's Halloween party came a week late, and it was at a friend's house, instead of here - we are still bogged down planning for a large family event later this month. I took this photo of the host tending to a cauldron of punch - sadly, my phone camera didn't catch the dry ice smoke (which was pouring all around it). It was a cool effect, and went well with her costume:
The basic idea is that incredible advances in technology have driven the cost of things like transistors, storage, bandwidth, to zero. And when the elements that make up a business are sufficiently abundant as to approach free, companies appropriately should view their businesses differently than when resources were scarce (the Economy of Scarcity). They should use those resources with abandon, without concern for waste. That is the overriding attitude of the Economy of Abundance -- don't do one thing, do it all; don't sell one piece of content, sell it all; don't store one piece of data, store it all. The Economy of Abundance is about doing everything and throwing away the stuff that doesn't work. In the Economy of Abundance you can have it all.
Dare does a great job of driving trucks through the holes in that argument:
All this talk of Abundance being the new Economy misses the point that Scarcity is still what drives all economic endeavors. What has happened with the advent of the Web is that certain things that were traditionally considered scarce are now abundant (e.g. shelf space, editorial content, software, etc) which means that the new economic lords are those that can exploit scarcity along another axis.
Read the rest of his post; it uses the iPod/iTunes store as a good example. There's another thing Hornik misses though, and that's quality of service. If any business attempts to "do it all", the end result will be a complete lack of focus. Laura Ries does a great job of explaining the flaws in that theory on a regular basis; I'd recommend nearly any post she's ever made for guidance there.
The short answer is this: those who try to be all things to all people typically end up being nothing useful for anyone.
Dare Obasanjo didn't manage to convince his girlfriend to get a Zune - apparently, the iPod enablement of her car provided a lot of motivation to stay with the iPod. That's where things got interesting:
When we went to the mall, the Apple store was busy so we got her new iPod from the iPod vending machine at Macy's instead. I'm not sure which was the most mind boggling thing about the purchase. The fact that iPod vending machines exist? The fact that there was actually a line at the iPod vending machine? Or that the machine seemed to be getting enough regular usage to be sold out of iPod Nanos ? Wow.
I've read about those vending machines, but never seen one myself. As Dare says, this definitely shows how far MS has to go in order to make the Zune successful - Apple has managed to make the iPod the "default" answer.
Technorati Tags: iPod
Michael has an answer for everyone who has ever been lost in a sea of tiny little methods, all alike:
This time we're looking at the Defactoring Tool - a novel idea that if you can refactor things in to lots of small methods, then surely you can defactor all those small methods in to one giant blob of code. And you can
Ready or not: Windows 3.11 running on modern hardware. It's enough to make you wonder what MS is actually doing with all those CPU cycles in XP, never mind Vista...
Things are getting complicated (legally speaking) on the internet. The Spamhaus/e360Insight mess opened a window into just how messy things can get - and how much worse they could become.
In that case, e360 sued Spamhaus in Illinois. Spamhaus didn't even bother to show up - being a UK based outfit, they told the court, in effect, to suck eggs. The court eventually ruled in favor of e360 (good luck collecting). It's at that point that things got messy. e360 noticed that the suit had had no impact, so they went to a Federal court and asked a judge to force ICANN to toss Spamhaus off the net. Now, ICANN said that they couldn't do that even if they wanted to (the domain registrar in question is Canadian based).
Right now, Spamhaus has lawyered up in Illinois and is appealing the case. This isn't the end of the problem though - Jim Rapoza of eWeek notes that things could (and probably will) get worse:
For example, European executives of online gambling companies have been arrested when they've traveled to the United States for breaking U.S. gambling laws. It probably won't be too long until we see an executive from a prominent American Internet company arrested while abroad for something that wouldn't be a crime here (for, say, selling books or movies online that are banned in certain countries).
The problem is that the web oozes right past national jurisdictions. The US can outlaw online gambling, but a European site (globally accessible) can still offer it. Likewise, free speech here in the US protects various odious things which are illegal in Europe. Those things are accessible online though (hello, Google book indexing). I think Rapoza's right - at some point, a US exec will deplane in Europe and get arrested for illegal content, in the same way that the US Dept of Justice has gone after gambling execs - and the stunned incomprehension of the Dept. of Justice will be the only entertaining part of that.
I don't pretend to have an answer to this, but an escalating stream of arrests in airports isn't it.
Technorati Tags: web
This is probably the best news I've seen out of the Yankee camp in a few years - the Yanks picked up Sheffield's option so that they could trade him: for pitching:
The Yankees completed the first step toward trading Gary Sheffield yesterday, announcing that they have picked up the slugger's $13 million contract option for next season.
While Williams believes there is a chance Sheffield remains with the Yankees, the club wants to move him for young pitching. But Sheffield is coming off a season in which he played only 39 games because of wrist surgery, which may reduce his trade value.
Young pitching! It's almost like someone flipped a light switch over there, or something.
Jason Calacanis dpesn't think much of the "Spike the Vote" effort that's targeting Digg (and maybe other similar services soon):
As you may know, there has been an algorithm change at Digg. Now it takes about 60-100 Diggs to hit the front page depending on your category. Please note that you will only be able to spike a maximum of 50 votes for each story you submit. The spiking is meant to give your story a kick start; it's not meant to spam Digg. If your story has any legs at all, it should have no problem making the front page after 50 spikes. Spike the Vote is offering 250 points for $50 to a limited number of spikers to get the system started. Please respond to this message if interested.
Sometimes I wonder whether any of the people hosting free services have ever heard of "the tragedy of the commons". My first thought on reading about this effort was "well, duhh'.
Let's see: popular usenet groups tend to devolve into crap over time. So do popular mailing lists. Why would anyone think that social media sites are magically immune? There's a reason that I have spam filtering on, and trackbacks off. Open systems that don't have some kind of barrier are going to get gamed. If you don't get that, look up "human nature" until it sinks in.
Robert McLaws noticed the Microsoft announcement of a new video (tv/movie) store for the XBox - you cab buy stuff and download it to the console. That's cool, but here's the first thought I had: why isn't the Zune mentioned anywhere? Is it just something Robert missed, or is MS off in left hand/right hand displacement mode again?
Side note which is disappointing: it looks like DRM is fully in play - I gathered that from this video of the features.