Doc Searls picked a bad day to travel into the DC area. I live in Columbia, MD, and here's what I'm looking at:
Yep - that's all ice over top of me. Lovely :)
Doc Searls picked a bad day to travel into the DC area. I live in Columbia, MD, and here's what I'm looking at:
Yep - that's all ice over top of me. Lovely :)
Here's a shot taken out my front door - that's about 2 inches, nearly all ice. Boy, that'll be fun to clear off the driveway.
I think my back - and my daughter's back - will never be the same again. Lifting that much ice off the driveway was very painful:
It doesn't look like a lot, but it was heavy, and had to be chipped off...
Runar Jordahl explains why Smalltalk is the simpler, more maintainable choice:
For large projects where developers come and go, you can have little hope of always getting people that know all the details of the language used. There is for example no hope that universities will manage to fully teach students about complex type systems , iterators, generics, casting, etc. If you can choose a simpler language a lot of trouble will be avoided.
Follow the link for his example.
Technorati Tags: development
Andres Valloud was going to talk about JP Morgan's Kapital application at SDSU (San Diego State University) on the 16th (of Februrary) - then he ran into the twin walls of weather and corporate policy. The details are over on his site; he has rescheduled his talk, which should now take place on the 23rd (of February). Here's the topic he plans to cover; the rest of the abstract is over at his blog.
The pattern describes a way to make explicit a model by which one can explain how the interaction between observers and their environments occurs. The pattern applies to a complex system, or information manifold, under observation and a player interacting with it. A game is an example of such an information manifold. A program playing the game is an example of a player. An adaptive compiler (player) observing the execution of a program (information manifold) to modify the performance of the program is another example.
This kind of silliness is being introduced by the man who described the internet "as a series of tubes":
Early in January, Stevens introduced Senate bill 49, which among other things, would require that any school or library that gets federal Internet subsidies would have to block access to interactive Web sites, including social networking sites, and possibly blogs as well. It appears that the definition of those sites is so vague that it could include sites such as Wikipedia, according to commentators. It would certainly ban MySpace.
Heck, it might well ban any site that allowed comments, and made it possible to leave your name attached to a comment. Would it be too hard to find Senators - or at least senatorial staff - who had so much as used a web browser?
The hole registers high on the irony scale: The flaw was in a "malware protection engine" that helps several Microsoft security products _ including "Windows Defender" for Vista _ guard against online threats. The problem could let an outsider "take complete control" of a victim's computer, according to Microsoft's security advisory.
The irony is just too much here. I think the source of the problem is simple: Vista is too big a ball of mud for anyone to know what's going on inside.
If Insanity is trying the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result, then the RIAA is certifiable:
Says analyst Mark Mulligan: "Despite everything that has been happening the record labels are not about to drop DRM, even though all they are doing is making themselves look even less compelling by using it." Execs do seem to think DRM needs to be more interoperable, with 70% thinking that downloads need to play in as many players as possible in the future, but 40% think it's going to take concerted government and consumer action to make this happen -- not quite a rosy picture.
Yeah, there's a plan for making consumers happy with your product - coerce them with a mass of regulations that they know are BS. They simply live in a different reality from the rest of us.
I've had a busy few days, what with the ice storm and the one car thing (I love being the universal chauffeur). Things should start getting back to normal this afternoon, or tomorrow.
I've started an occasional series of podcasts, talking to people in other parts of Cincom. Earlier today, I spoke to Randy Saunders, the marketing manager for the Cincom Synchrony call center product. We had a good conversation about Synchrony and the call center space in general - and head on over to the Synchrony website for more information. They've got white papers, success stories, and more.
Scoble chimed in on the weight challenge thrown his way by Jason Calacanis:
Yeah, Jason Calacanis just called me fat and challenged me to lose weight in a program titled “fat bloggers.” Ahh, I just ate a piece of Swiss chocolate. How am I gonna lose weight with the Swiss stuff around? Anyway, I weigh 214 pounds and would like to get down to 190.
Well, here's where I've traveled on that road - last June, I weighed 207. Today, I'm 182. How and why did that happen? I had a checkup, and learned that I had bad cholesterol and triglyceride numbers - and asked about my acid reflux problem. I changed my diet (cutting down on starch/bread/pasta stuff), and three things happened:
The thing is, I wasn't really trying to lose weight - mainly, I wanted the acid reflux to go away, and I wanted better numbers on those blood tests - the weight loss has been a pleasant side effect.
So what kind of dietary changes am I talking about? I stopped getting fries with meals - I ask for vegetables. I always order a salad at restaurants. For lunch, I have a burger or cold cuts, with fruit instead of chips. At most restaurants, I only eat half of what I get, and take the rest home for another day. For snacking, I eat salted nuts instead of chips. That's pretty much it, and it's worked out. Would it work for anyone else? I have no idea. It works for me though :)
SCI FI Wire reports that "Lost" has lost some viewers:
Lost crashed in the ratings this week, hitting an all-time low for a new episode, the Associated Press reported. ABC's drama about plane crash survivors stranded on a mysterious island drew an estimated 12.8 million viewers on Feb. 14.
Here's my question: Is it the break the network took to eliminate re-runs? I'd like to know what the numbers are like for other shows that took a similar break ("Jericho", for instance). Take a long enough break, and your viewers find other things to do...
Technorati Tags: scifi
Change is hard for any business, not just the music industry. Part of why the labels are fighting so hard over DRM is the raw panic being induced by the sheer speed of change - something Raghav Gupta wrote about this morning. We are simultaneously seeing two things: rising demand for music on the consumer side, and declining revenues from the model in use on the label side. That's part of why the industry cries "piracy" so loud - yes, there's piracy, but there's also the fear of a new, not well understood business that is being built while they try to cling to the old one. Consider:
Of most concern is the removal of shelf space devoted to music products at retail stores. Tower’s bankruptcy removed millions of square feet and property owners will look askance at music retailers looking for space. The last decade saw the rise of discount retailers, Target, Wal-Mart and Best Buy being the big 3, use cheaply priced CDs as a loss leader to drive foot traffic. This has been a successful strategy, however the question is how long these discount stores will continue to sustain this strategy. If they start devoting the space to other products -- games, DVDs or even iPod and related accessories, it will hasten the demise of the CD-driven business model. As one executive at a major told me, ‘if Wal-Mart removes just 8 less square feet per store to CDs, it’s like losing 300 stores.’ This will be a major story to watch in 2007.
That changeover has been a rolling shock to the system. It's kind of like the change from animal driven traffic to machine driven traffic - there are lots and lots of little niches that make a living off the old model, and it's obvious that the new one doesn't need the same level of "middle men". Sure, there will still be middle men - but fewer, and in different roles. All of that is terrifying to people who've built their careers on the Album/CD model. It's also scary for the artists - there may well be fewer album driven mega-stars, and more traveling roadshows.
It all represents change, and it's no easier for the music industry than it is for anyone else - it's just that the amount of $$ involved is pretty big, and it's playing out in mass media.
Technorati Tags: DRM
An early release of Sophie has been announced:
Sophie is a program for creating digital multimedia books. Sophie will let you make books that are impossible in print, with video and audio tracks, automatic actions, and shared feedback.
Sophie is written in Squeak, by a bunch of pretty smart people. I'll have to try and schedule a podcast with one or more of them :)
I'm always encouraged when stupidity rears its head outside the halls of the RIAA - at least I know that the problem is diffuse. What am I on about? Well, I've never been a huge fan of the OLPC project, and reading about the remote kill switch (via TechDirt) doesn't make me any fonder of the project:
Bender [OLPC president of software and content] says the laptops can be remotely shut down to prevent them being sold in black markets.
Like TechDirt, I'll ask the obvious question: if a struggling family in the third world decides to sell their PC in order to buy something they value more highly, who the heck is Bender to try and stand in their way? Second, are the OLPC guys as stupid as the DRM backers at the RIAA? Who do they think this technology will stop? Are they under some delusion that black marketeers won't be able to figure it out?
The more I hear about this project, the more I wonder why they are bothering.
Technorati Tags: OLPC
ACM has an interview with Alan Kay up - it's from 2005, but I only just ran across it. I like this comment about the state of software development:
SF So Smalltalk is to Shakespeare as Excel is to car crashes in the TV culture?
AK No, if you look at it really historically, Smalltalk counts as a minor Greek play that was miles ahead of what most other cultures were doing, but nowhere near what Shakespeare was able to do.
If you look at software today, through the lens of the history of engineering, it’s certainly engineering of a sort—but it’s the kind of engineering that people without the concept of the arch did. Most software today is very much like an Egyptian pyramid with millions of bricks piled on top of each other, with no structural integrity, but just done by brute force and thousands of slaves.
SF The analogy is even better because there are the hidden chambers that nobody can understand.
AK I would compare the Smalltalk stuff that we did in the ’70s with something like a Gothic cathedral. We had two ideas, really. One of them we got from Lisp: late binding. The other one was the idea of objects. Those gave us something a little bit like the arch, so we were able to make complex, seemingly large structures out of very little material, but I wouldn’t put us much past the engineering of 1,000 years ago.
There's more there, and it's worth reading. The thing I take away from this - Smalltalk is hardly perfect, but it encapsulates a lot of ideas that should be driving the industry. At present, the things driving the industry are more like a sledgehammer than they are like precision tools.
Technorati Tags: development
Precision Systems has sent along their latest batch of open Smalltalk positions:
Northern New Jersey – multiple projects, various cities
Senior Smalltalk Developer (permanent, 6 month contract-to-hire and 12+ month contract)
New York, NY – multiple projects
Smalltalk Developer, Smalltalk Team Lead, and Smalltalk/Java Developer (contract and permanent)
Ohio – multiple projects
Smalltalk Developer (permanent)
Smalltalk Developer (permanent or contract-to-hire)
Software Engineering Manager (permanent)
Texas – multiple projects in different cities
Smalltalk Developer (contract or 6 month contract-to-hire)
Smalltalk Developer (permanent)
.Net Developer, Smalltalk a plus (permanent)
Senior Smalltalk Developer and Junior Programmer/Analyst (permanent)
Don’t forget to pass along your co-workers and friends; for any new and successful referral to Precision we will pay you $1,000!
I look forward to speaking with you!
Smalltalk Staffing Group – Precision Systems
Good luck with your job hunting!
Technorati Tags: smalltalk
Earlier this week, I spoke with Joseph Pelrine, who's well known in both the Smalltalk and agile development communities. Joseph was in Canberra, so he and Michael happened to be in the same place for this podcast. We spoke about the process of software development, and some of the issues that tend to come up.
ESUG is making a call for projects for SummerTalk 2007:
ESUG is proud to announce the Summertalk 2007 Call for Projects
Stef and Serge Stinckwich (on the behalf of ESUG)
Here is a description
This program is here to help students work on open-source Smalltalk projects. The European Smalltalk User Group will fund students during the summer.
Each of student supporting organization or student will receive 1500 euros. Each student will work under the guidance of a mentor accredited by ESUG. The money will be distributed in 3 steps: start, middle and end of the project.
The selection process done by ESUG will take into account whether the student will be supervised, if there is an infrastructure to help him as well as a the relevance of the topic for the community and the trust in the mentor.
The code developed during this program has to be released under the MIT Licence.
When and Process
Running from June 15th, 2007 through December 15th, 2007.
By 10 of April ESUG should have received project proposals following the template:
Name of the student :
Description of the work :
Benefits for the community :
Once the projects will have been accepted, If you are a student, just apply for the program by sending an email to the ESUG Board : email@example.com and Serge.Stinckwich@info.unicaen.fr with [SummerTalk-Student] and contact the mentor of the project.
Technorati Tags: smalltalk
Another week has gone by, so it's time to look at the logs. BottomFeeder downloads continued at a good clip: 199/day:
On to the HTML page accesses:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
It looks like my audience is back to the "regulars" - the Mozilla/IE numbers are at their normal distro for my site. Finally, the syndication numbers:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
|Net News Wire||4.9%|
|Google Feed Fetcher||3.4%|
There is something really weird going on with Planet Smalltalk - it's just slamming the site with requests.
Apparently, some licenses are more equal than others. For instance - the license attached to a movie on a DVD is absolutely sacrosanct, and you're a filthy rotten pirate if you copy it (even for your own use - like, say, to a Laptop HD for a trip). If you're the MPAA and want some software though? Pish Tosh - licenses are for other people.
This is the sort of stuff that happens when you have monopoly (or even duopoly) service in a business - you get utterly arbitrary (and vaguely defined) terms of service.
With the kind of access most people have to broadband, if an ISP cuts you off for "abuse", you can end up completely in limbo. Which makes me wonder - with the nascent build-out of downloadable TV and movies, how many people are going to end up in the cross hairs of the local provider? You could easily push past the (not at all clear) bandwidth limits simply by buying "too much" through Amazon's Unbox, Wal-Mart's new service, iTunes, or whatever else comes down the pike over the next year. Heck, if you decided to travel overseas for a month, and watched TV via SlingBox, you could end up utterly screwed.
The whole IP TV thing is going to hit a brick wall if ISPs keep acting like this - and without competition, they have no real incentive to act differently.
Scoble makes an excellent point about Analog TV, and the plans to get rid of it:
there are way too many people who still own analog TVs. My dad is one of them. He’s using a TV that I bought him back when I worked at LZ Premiums back in the 1980s. He’d like to get a new HD TV, but he comes from a generation that doesn’t throw things away just because a better one comes along. Not to mention that his house isn’t setup for a big screen. Oh, and older people vote, and vote more often than younger people. He also has a lot more resources than my generation does — resources that can go into getting heard.
The thing about voting patterns alone will make a huge difference. As well, for all the buzz about HD tv (and yes, I have an HD capable TV) - getting HD set up is complicated - more complicated than an awful lot of people (regardless of age bracket) want to deal with.
A small anecdote on that - I was at the dentist a few weeks ago, and while my daughter was getting checked, I chatted with two older ladies in the waiting area. DVRs? Something they had vaguely heard of, but had no interest in. I explained the idea to them, and it just sounded like too much work to them - they didn't even have DVD players (never mind Blu-Ray or HD DVD). There's an awful lot of that out there, and a lot of the people pushing home theaters just don't understand how widespread the confusion is.
Another anecdote: twenty years ago, you could walk into anyone's home, and change channels on the TV easily. Now? There are families where only 1 or 2 people understand the setups in every room in their own house. If my in-laws come over, we don't even try to explain the setup in the family room (which has the big TV). We just switch to the raw feed (the one which has no DVRs attached) so as to not create havoc or embarrassment.
Charles Miller has some thoughts on job satisfaction (or the lack thereof) - and I think (at least in the "knowledge worker" domain) you can divide people into roughly two groups, based on his last questions:
- Work is the sacrifice that we make so we can do the things (outside of work) that we enjoy, and that fulfill us
- We spend a lot of time at work. If we’re not doing something that we’re passionate about, that gives us some kind of fulfilment, we’re wasting a big part of our lives.
I'd bet good money that most of the "workaholics" you know fall into that second category. Me? I love what I do, which is why I spend so much time on it.
Yesterday, I was listening to this podcast over at Dan Carlin's "Hardcore History" site - I like his podcast quite a bit, and the topic yesterday - the Bronze Age Collapse - was fascinating. You can get some information on it here, at Wikipedia - but the problem is, we're talking about an era beginning around 1300 bc - so as you might expect, records are sketchy.
I don't know why I find systemic collapses so interesting, but I do. I really liked "The Fall of Rome and the end of Civilization", for instance - and while we know more about the fall of the western empire, historians still argue over what went wrong, why it went wrong, and why it got so bad (and even over whether it got so bad).
One thing seems to stand out in these kinds of collapses - before-hand, you had a world with a working system of international/long distance trade - which brought a fairly high level of specialization. Afterwards, you had a loss of connectivity, and - without local access to the kinds of specialized knowledge they had become dependent on, people fell backwards - sometimes very far backwards.
That makes me consider the modern world - just in time manufacturing, international trade that ties most of the world together, extremely high levels of specialization. The modern world is a fragile thing, and we sit just as much on the edge as the citizens of 4th century Rome did, or the citizens of 1300 bc Anatolia. As catastrophic as WWI and WWII were, they were like small hiccups compared to a systemic collapse. Something to think about, I guess.
As much as I dislike Java, it's indisputable that there are lots of available libraries, and using them from Smalltalk would be convenient. Well - Joachim Geidel has been working to make that possible from Cincom Smalltalk. I found this in the VWNC mailing list:
I have posted an updated version (0.29) of JNIPort for VisualWorks to the Cincom Public Repository.
JNIPort is an interface which makes it possible to transparently use Java libraries from Smalltalk. It invokes a Java VM using the Invocation Interface functions of the Java Native Interface (JNI). It can automatically generate wrapper classes for Java classes, enabling you to write code like this:
| jvmSettings jvm zfClass zipfile entries | jvmSettings := (JVMSettings new) name: 'JVM with ghost class generation'; yourself. jvmSettings usesGhosts: true. jvmSettings jniPortSettings useJNIHelperLibrary: true. jvm := JVM newWithSettings: jvmSettings. zfClass := jvm findClass: #'java.util.zip.ZipFile'. zipfile := zfClass new_String: 'MyZipFile.zip'. zipfile size_null. "--> answers an Integer" entries := zipfile entries_null. entries asAnEnumeration do: [:each | Transcript cr; print: each].
The methods new_String:, size_null, entries_null will be generated in a "ghost class" when the JVM accesses the Java class - no need to write code! (But be prepared to wait some seconds for ghost class generation during JVM creation.)
Most of the unit tests are green, but there are still some bugs:
- There are some tests which fail because using out-of-range values for short and byte values does not raise exceptions as expected.
- One test fails because of a bug somewhere in the conversion between Java and Smalltalk strings (only for two-byte characters).
- When using a JVM with ghost class generation, accessing the result of methods answering single characters is broken (methods answer a Character, but try to use it as an Integer).
- Callbacks from Java do not work yet, they raise an Exception because the Java side does not find the callback methods.
- Using "lazy ghost classes" to avoid the long setup phase when starting a JVM using ghost classes does not work yet.
What's next (feel free to help me):
- Fix the bug in String conversion.
- Fix the bug of trying to interpret Character results as Integers for JNI methods answering jchars.
- Add checks for out-of-bounds values for short and byte values.
- Make callbacks work.
- Add a GUI for configuration, monitoring, and inspecting ghost classes.
- See what happens when using Java 1.6.
This is a cool project, and it looks like we'll be including a snapshot of the code on the CD in "contributed".
The traffic engineers in my area (Howard County, Maryland) have become enamored with "traffic calming" - the idea is explained here, but it can be explained a lot more succinctly: someone let the highway department have too much fun with a batch of play-doh, and they decided to toss the shapes they created onto the roads. Here are two pictures of some of the stupidity in action in my neighborhood:
The road hazards here are in the center of the road, going around a turn. In the winter - as you can see above - they can't be plowed properly. Heck, the snow and ice in question fell a week ago, and there it is, still in the roadway. In fact, chunks at the end of these are missing, as plows have previously ripped them out. Worse, snow and ice are just left in the center of the street between the hazards (fun if you want to turn across it).
Even when there's no snow, you should see school buses try to make their way around these - or moving vans, or emergency vehicles. As best as I can tell, the morons who advocate these things have never actually driven a car. When I get a chance, I'll take a photo of the lovely "S" turn they've implemented in a different part of the neighborhood - that one actually aims you into oncoming traffic. These things are just stupid, and many of the chokers they've put up have eliminated bike lanes as well.
Technorati Tags: driving
Traveling early on a cold morning is unpleasant enough, but today I got an extra bonus - the aircraft wasn't hooked up to external power, so there was no heat before they turned the engines on. Lovely - I wore my coat and gloves for the first 20 minutes of the flight. The flight crew was nice about it though, which helped.
In a speech Friday night to the Annual American Association for the Advancement of Science conference, Google co-founder Larry Page stated that Google was developing Artificial Intelligence and that the company wasn't far off from completing real AI.
It immediately brought a recent set of cartoons from "User Friendly" to mind. Start here on February 8th, and move forward.
Technorati Tags: humor
I've been in and out of meetings today - I came in to chat with our Mantis team - they were interested in how the Smalltalk team uses blogs, podcasts, and screencasts to "get the word out". That was fun, and we had a good conversation about it. After that, we had some Smalltalk planning, which will be continuing over dinner. I head out early tomorrow - have to leave the hotel at - ugh - 4 AM :/
It's great to sit back down at my desk and be greeted by another round of "random verbiage spam", designed to defeat the Baysian filter I don't run. One script later, and it's all gone.
Dave Winer mentions an ad that I hate as well, and it was doing even less for me:
Ever see those ads on TV for a desipicable product called Head-On? The ads suck, and you know they did it deliberately because later they run an ad with a very unpleasant person saying how much the ad sucks, but they love the product. An ad for headache medicine that gives you a headache. Followed by a meta-ad (an ad about the ad) that gives you two headaches for the price of one. Oy.
Before I saw this post, I had no idea what the product was even for - the ads were so annoying that I just tuned them right out. I think the company behind this product needs to fire their ad agency, pronto.
Technorati Tags: advertising
Too see what happens when the music industry gets what they ask for, look no further than Canada, where they managed to get laws passed that apply fees to blank media and music players. As the market for that kind of media expands and blurs (phones that play music, USB sticks, etc), the regulations just start getting stupider - and they start offending more and more people. Consider:
The CPCC takes precisely the opposite approach. It is demanding an increase in the levy to 29 cents per blank CD, a price that would result in huge market distortions given that the collective admits the levy will account for more than half of the retail price of blank CDs.
Moreover, it is seeking to reinstate a levy of up to $75 on digital audio recorders such as the Apple iPod. The collective claims that the levy will exclude cellphones and PDAs by limiting its application to devices that primarily play music, however, distinguishing between devices is nearly impossible since dozens of products (Apple iPhone, BlackBerry Pearl, Palm Treo) are music players, cellphones, digital cameras and email devices rolled into one.
The CPCC is also seeking to extend the levy to storage media such as secure digital (SD) cards, despite the fact that its own data shows that 75 per cent of content copied on to these cards is not music and 80 per cent of people say that the content they last copied on to these cards was not music. These results will not come as a surprise to digital camera owners, yet that has not stopped the collective from demanding up to $10 per card.
That route goes the same place as the 55mph speed limits did in the US - massive disrespect for the law, and otherwise law-abiding people making an effort to get around the rules. That's the kind of system the RIAA really, really wants.
Last week's podcast suffered from low audio levels, especially for Michael's segments. I hadn't tried to boost that originally, because of some noise on the line. However, I got more than one complaint about the audio being too soft, so I've reposted the episode. You can grab it directly here, in case places like iTunes don't re-index it.
Wired reports that Australia is planning to phase out incandescent bulbs:
The Australian government on Tuesday announced plans to phase out incandescent light bulbs and replace them with more energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs across the country.
I understand the motivations; other issues aside, they are longer lasting and more energy efficient. However, it's pretty hard to find fluorescent bulbs that produce "warm" light. I have one here in my office lamp, and the best I can say for it is that I find it tolerable - I've had it in for a couple of weeks, and I'm still not happy with the light it provides. I'm still experimenting, trying to find a fluorescent bulb that doesn't suck. I'd be pretty unhappy if they were my only choice.
That "thud" you heard is the sales volume for Windows Vista. Seems that pushing an incremental update to XP (but one that ups the memory and graphics requirements a lot), while simultaneously adding brain dead DRM technology wasn't the best move ever.
Scoble said something that I couldn't agree with more:
Shipping is a feature. I keep getting reminded of that. Scientific American has a long article on the MyLifeBits research that Microsoft (er, Gordon Bell and Jim Gemmell) is doing. You can see these two guys in a video series I did while back at Microsoft.
That's very, very much the case. Cool code that stays in the lab is equivalent to code that was never written. Later on, he mentions something else:
This is why I’m scared by what Ray Ozzie is doing. Clearly Ray has bought into the Steve Jobs’ school of “keep it secret, don’t talk, and ship something cool.”
The difference is, Apple ships new stuff all the time, while Microsoft seems to be mired in endless delays. This is a lesson I'm taking forward in my role here at Cincom as Cincom Smalltalk Product Manager.
Evan Williams touts Odeo as tops amongst Podcast indices:
"Odeo is the only vertical podcasting site that has emerged from the pack: it received 5X more traffic than its nearest competitor, PodcastAlley.com for the week ending 2/17/07, and achieved an overall rank of 14,982 in the Hitwise rankings."
It's anecdotes like this that fascinate me:
The biggest impact of the Civil War was on the Middle East rather than the Middle East on the Civil War. The biggest impact was cotton. When the North blockaded Southern cotton the textile mills of Europe went dry. So they turned to the only other place in the world that had cotton of a similar quality and that was in Egypt. The price of Egyptian cotton went up about 800 times. Egypt made a lot of money. And with that money they built wonderful buildings and palaces, they built the opera house where Verdi used to perform, and they also built the Suez Canal which completely changed the face of the Middle East.
In 1869 the cotton market in the South came back and the Egyptian cotton market went bankrupt. Egypt went bankrupt and that led to the British occupation of Egypt that lasted for 70 years. There was actually a direct line between the Civil War and the Suez crisis of 1956 during which the Egyptians tried to nationalize the Suez Canal. Britain and France invaded. And so, really, the reverberations from the American Civil War in certain ways continue to course across the Middle East.
I've read a lot about the Civil War, and a fair amount about European history - and there's a connection that I had never seen before. History continues to echo back at us, with current events being influenced by things long forgotten - and many times, things that are seemingly unrelated.
Tim Bray has a long exposition up on the idea of using the web as a means of financial disclosure (as compared to the traditional press release route). This is something Sun's CEO brought up last year, and there were objections at the time - although I disagree with most of the objections. Tim does a great job of dissecting those objections, so I won't bother doing so myself - just read what he has to say - makes a lot of sense.
Technorati Tags: finances
Sometimes, "experts" are a lot less intelligent than you think. Take this story in ComputerWorld, for instance - it's yet another "the tubes are failing" thing from the so called experts:
Nick McKeown, a computer scientist at Stanford University, heads up one such program. He says the Internet is “broken” in at least two places -- security and mobility.
“But if the user is moving around, you end up with a whole lot of hooks and kludges to keep track of the user,” he says. “There have been various proposals for a mobile IP, and they are all awful. They barely hold together now, but all the routing mechanisms will just break when there are many more mobile devices.”
That's just utter gibberish. The servers generally aren't mobile - they pretty much stay where they are, at "well known" IP addresses. Clients move around a lot - on Tuesday, for instance, this notebook was on a wired network at my hotel in Dayton, then on WiFi at the airport, then on Wired (and WiFi) here at my house. And believe it or not, the tubes didn't clog, the sky didn't fall, and life as I know it didn't end. I have a clue for McKeown: the rest of the network doesn't care where my mobile devices are, or whether they happen to be online or offline. I care, and some apps on my devices might care. The rest of the world? Not so much.
The stupidity gets much, much worse though: Here's McKeown's "solution":
McKeown and his colleagues have developed a prototype network called Ethane, which centralizes security rather than putting it all around the network in firewalls, virus scanners and the like. With Ethane, all communications are turned off by default. A host joining the network must get explicit permission from a centralized server before it can connect to anything except that server. And the server won’t grant permission unless it is able to determine the location and identity of the requestor.
You know, I like single points of failure as well as the next guy, but McKeown can have it, thanks. I'll stay with the less secure - but vastly more robust - system we have now. To get on the net at an arbitrary airport or coffee shop now, all I need is WiFi and a DHCP server that can route me. Under his system? Well, let's just say that I expect various interoperability issues with that security setup. Fortunately, the net is too big to be re-bootstrapped, so McKeown's ideas will stay where they belong - in the lab.
Howard Kurtz of the WaPo asks the right questions about Satellite Radio in the wake of the XM/Sirius merger: why does Satellite Radio exist in the first place?
The reason these two companies have 13 million subscribers willing to cough up $12.95 a month for something we all grew up thinking should be free is that commercial radio has self-destructed.
All these folks (including me) are paying for satellite because they're tired of cookie-cutter radio formats stuffed to the gills with commercials. They're also fed up with focus-grouped music stations that play the same 60 songs until you start hearing the chords in your sleep.
There's no good reason that the FM dial had to go to heck. When I travel now, I carry my iPod, and listen to that in the car - and the iPod is the only real competition for XM/Sirius. I grew up listening to radio, and - back when it didn't stink - the ads didn't bother me that much.
Sooner or later, reality will shine in on the puzzlewits at the RIAA. In the meantime, there are signs of progress:
The company behind the Puretracks.com music store said it is immediately offering songs from artists such as The Barenaked Ladies, Broken Social Scene and Sarah McLachlan under a partnership deal with major independent labels.
The labels include Nettwerk Music Group of Vancouver, Arts & Crafts Productions of Toronto, the San Francisco, Calif.-based Independent Online Distribution Alliance (IODA) and Beggars Banquet Records of London, England.
Those are small indie labels, but some of the artists are prominent. I expect kicking, scratching, and biting from the RIAA all the way to the end.
Technorati Tags: music
So I'm seeing a new trend in Wiki spam - this kind of stuff has been hitting the VW Wiki at UIUC lately:
<center> <u style="display: none"> "Bozo spam hrefs go here" </u> </center>
Even worse is the crap like this:
"bunch of keywords here" <p> <meta http-equiv=refresh content="0;url="url to redirect to here"<p>
You see the keywords for a second, and then get immediately redirected. Truly, truly ugly stuff. I have filters for this kind of stuff for our Wiki, but all I can do about the UIUC one is run repair scripts that use HTTP to revert.