I've been making progress on BottomFeeder 4.4 - I addressed a posting tool bug last night, and have been continuing to do cleanup on the user interface. Here's a screenshot of the latest (click through for the full image):
I'm getting close to the point where I can release this - just a few more issues to work through.
James_Lileks makes a point about media coverage of (insert your favorite topic here, although this examle is of weather):
Did the media overhype yesterday’s weather? Yesterday morning I was convinced the core cities would end the day as a post-apocalyptic scene of felled trees, crushed buses and twisted steel beams. I suspect they’re only giving us what we want weather is the most ancient and ecumenical form of current events, after all. No one’s disinterested in weather. Sometimes the coverage is instructive a few weeks ago, when the sirens went off, I acted like a sensible modern person: instead of looking out the window, I turned on the TV.
Heh - I love that last line, and sure enough - it's my first instinct as well. Locally here in the Baltimore area, we have Norm Lewis on channel 2, and he just loves storms - snow storms especially. If everyone else is calling for a dusting, Norm expects 3 inches. If they expect 6 inches, he predicts armageddon :) We have to keep that in mind all winter long.
I saw this book, Brave New War being discussed on some of the blogs I read, so I ordered it from Amazon. It took longer to arrive than I'd have liked, but here it is - and it looks interesting.
You have to love the stupidity of MacMillan exec Richard Charkin, who seems to think that copying books for search purposes is the same thing as stealing a laptop:
It's no secret that a number of publishers have been up in arms about Google's approach to digitizing their works, but Richard Charkin went so far as to recruit a colleague and swipe a pair of laptops from a Google Books kiosk at the event. About an hour later, the booth attendants actually noticed the missing goods and presumably began to panic, and the haughty executive then had the nerve to return the machines to their rightful owners whilst dropping the "hope you enjoyed a taste of your own medicine" line. He justified the bizarre behavior by suggesting that "there wasn't a sign by the computers informing him not to steal them," apparently referencing Google's controversial tactics when scanning books.
I don't recall Google copying books and then handing them out or reselling them - I guess that was too advanced a point for Charkin to grasp.
Technorati Tags: stupidity
Music really is louder than it used to be - the recording industry, in another one of its many, many brilliant moves, has been pushing sound levels up for years. You can tell the difference pretty easily - grab a CD (or even better, and LP) from the early 80s (or earlier in the case of an LP) - and then, leaving the sound at the same volume, slap in a new CD.
This is why the "volume equalization" option exists on the iPod, I guess. And why does the music industry do this? They think we aren't paying attention:
That distortion effect running through your Oasis album is not entirely the Gallagher brothers’ invention. Record companies are using digital technology to turn the volume on CDs up to “11”.
Artists and record bosses believe that the best album is the loudest one. Sound levels are being artificially enhanced so that the music punches through when it competes against background noise in pubs or cars.
Dynamic range? Who needs that?
Time to examine the logs - BottomFeeder downloads went at a rate of 212/day, but that's probably distorted some by my frequent dev builds - I'm getting closer to the 4.4 release. The details:
On the HTML page accesses:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
I can't figure out what's up with the bouncing IE/Mozilla numbers on the site :). Let's look at the syndication numbers:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
|Google Feed Fetcher||3.8%|
|Net News Wire||3.7%|
Looks like IE is running away with Syndication.
Microsoft on patents back when they were small:
In a memo to his senior executives, Bill Gates wrote, “If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.” Mr. Gates worried that “some large company will patent some obvious thing” and use the patent to “take as much of our profits as they want.”
Last month, the technology world was abuzz over an interview in Fortune magazine in which Bradford Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, accused users and developers of various free software products of patent infringement and demanded royalties. Indeed, in recent years, Mr. Smith has argued that patents are essential to technological breakthroughs in software.
Consider: What if ParcPlace had patented the idea of a language runtime/VM back in the 80s, and then acted like Verizon has against Vonage? Would the software industry be a better place now? As much of a Smalltalk advocate as I am, I'm going to say no. Software patents should be eliminated - they help no one.
Technorati Tags: patents
You've heard of planning poker - but what about Planning Croquet? Via Squeak News, The Economist spoke to Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu founder, about that:
One area where he sees this happening is in real-time collaboration. E-mail is widely used as a collaborative tool, but has severe limitations. When a team, such as a group of software developers, wants to work together on something in real time, something more elaborate is needed. Mr Shuttleworth points to an open-source platform called Croquet, an immersive environment that is similar in many ways to Second Life, a popular online virtual world. “You can see your collaborators’ avatars looking at a spreadsheet in a virtual room,” he says. “People change things in different colours -- newer stuff glows. We’ve started to use this for planning and building Ubuntu.”
That could make planning fun :)
Those bright guys at Gartner are back with more conventional wisdom based analysis - this month, it's the death of the traditional workplace. Hey - they only lag the weekly news rags on this by a decade or two:
Gartner argues that three of the four traditional pillars of work -- the living wage, long-term relationships with loyal employers, and government- or company-provided pensions -- have already gone the way of the dinosaurs, leaving only the 40-hour workweek.
Here's what I'd like to know - when was the "golden age" when people had it so good? This kind of analysis usually ends up pointing at the 1950's and 1960's, which were economically good times for the US - you have to bear in mind that much of the rest of the world we compete with now was still recovering from the utter destruction of WWII though.
I wonder if they would select the 1930's as a golden age? Or the 1870's? Analysis is so easy when you don't know a thing about history.
This week we discussed native widgets vs. emulation - a general conversation on the state of play with widget sets ensued. During that conversation, episode 49 of the Software Engineering Radio podcast came up - "Dynamic Languages for Static Minds".
Cairo came up again, along with the work that Michael and Travis are doing with that in Cincom Smalltalk. Stick around at the end of the podcast for the jobs report and David's "Simberon Design Minute". As always, if you have feedback, send it to email@example.com. Also, Podcast Alley clears votes at the end of each month - so head on over there and toss another vote our way!
|I just finished "Brave New War" - it's a quick read. I like the book, even if I don't agree with all of it. The main disagreement I have is this: I think the author (Robb) underplays the importance of ideology (and the funding sources for what he calls "4th Generation Warfare") in his thesis. Nevertheless, it's worth reading and pondering, and it comes in under 200 pages.|
Andres Valloud sent me some photos from Smalltalk Solutions - here are a few of them. I'll get more posted on the main Cincom Smalltalk Site later today, as I get them processed. First, here are two from the coding contest:
In the top photo, that's Michael Lucas Smith on the left, and Mike Hales on the right - with Randy Coulman behind them. Below that, it's Niall Ross all the way to the right, and Travis Griggs getting up. Next, I have two Andres took of the "Industry Misinterpretations" podcast we did at the show:
From left to right, that's Michael Lucas-Smith, me (James Robertson), David Buck, and James Savidge. I'll have more later
Technorati Tags: smalltalk
I love this story:
Courier-Journal sports reporter Brian Bennett had his media pass revoked and was ordered to leave the press box during a college baseball game Sunday because of what the NCAA said was a violation of its policies prohibiting live Internet updates from its championship events. "It's clearly a First Amendment issue," says C-J executive editor Bennie Ivory. "This is part of the evolution of how we present the news to our readers."
As the author of that story noted, what are they going to do next? Stop people from using cell phones and blackberries? Start scanning them for electronics on entry? The NCAA has to get with the program and realize what century they live in, and take note of something even simpler: if someone gets a web update on a game, are they more likely to start watching it, or less? If the answer is less, then they have a problem with the excitement level of the sport, and electronics bans won't solve that.
Technorati Tags: media
WonderBranding notes that Revlon isn't paying attention to product and corporate mentions on the net, and that it's costing them some customers:
Since then, I’ve had a steady stream of comments from women across the U.S., increasingly desperate to find any remnants of the makeup they can find. As of this writing, there are 93 comments on R.I.P. Vital Radiance, with one or two more added each day. Let’s say they represent one-tenth of one percent of the audience that liked Vital Radiance enough to seek it out on the internet AND comment on this blog - that’s 90,000 women. Multiply that by the number of women who are potential purchasers and non-commenters, and we’re probably talking about hundreds of thousands.
The sad thing is, I bet Revlon has a whole slew of overpaid, traditional Marcom folks who have no idea whatsoever that this is happening - they're too busy getting the next big spread in a glossy magazine or TV ad. It would do them some good to listen to the podcast I did on this topic awhile back...
Technorati Tags: PR
You have to love a headline like this:
Butts Charged With Stealing Toilet Paper
I'm not even sure how to classify that one...
James Governor asks a very good question about press releases:
Why should a press release be a static, text-based artifact anyway ? They are not legal contracts. More and more vendors are going to create their own release videos or work with media companies to do so.
You could do worse than read David Meerman Scott's "The New Rules of Marketing and PR" to start figuring this stuff out :)
Technorati Tags: marketing
I haven't downloaded Safari for Windows yet, but I've been thinking about what Apple is up to. All by itself, Safari for Windows makes little sense. However, as a port test for Cocoa and Apple's libraries, it makes a lot of sense. What if Apple is getting ready for a sideways attack on Windows? Make it easier to develop applications that run on Windows and Mac in a way that is more native to the Mac? I suspect that's the game that is afoot here.
Pay Per Post isn’t advertising, marketing, branding, any of that. It’s an attempt to get around Google’s and Technorati’s splog filters.
Which is exactly right. Pay Per Post is a dark side "mechanical turk".
Technorati Tags: seo
Laura Ries doesn't like the iPhone idea (in general, she doesn't think much of converged devices) - and quotes a "Daily Show" segment on the idea:
John Hodgman refutes Jon’s statement with “So why combine a cellphone and a camera then?” Jon comes back with “Why? That’s my question. You just end up with a crappy phone and a crappy camera.” It receives big cheers from the audience and at this point Hodgman concedes that Jon wins the round.
Except... people like having Camera Phones. I use mine all the time, even though a digital camera will take a much better picture. Why? Two things:
- I don't need a cable for the camera phone - I just email the pictures to myself
- I'm far more likely to be carrying my phone than the camera
The camera phone takes pictures that are "good enough", so it's found widespread use. The iPhone may fail, but it won't necessarily be for reasons of "needless convergence". Even if single purpose devices are better, the barrier to reach is "good enough" - not "as good as".
Here's a great idea: when you have a failing product (The Evening News on CBS), blame the customers for the failure:
Leslie Moonves, CBS chief executive, on Tuesday suggested that sexist attitudes were partly to blame for the faltering performance of Katie Couric, the news anchor he recruited to the network with a $15m annual pay package.
Yeah, I'm highly motivated to go watch now that CBS has told me that I'm a bad person for not watching.
Urban Honking goes to great pains to explain why using syntax tricks in Ruby to get to something like this:
Is a good thing. Here's a question - if you stumbled on that in code, would you have any idea what it did? That's why I left this comment over there:
In Smalltalk, methods can begin with capital letters; it's just not usually done. However, all messages do need a receiver, so in Smalltalk you would have to write something like:
Parser Hpricot: someXhtml.
Seeing as the method named Hpricot is badly named - it doesn't say anything about what the method does - I'd instead write something like:
Parser parseXhtml: someXhtml.
which is way, way more obvious for the poor follow on developer who has to read the code.
Which leaves me wondering why you think using clever syntax that obscures meaning is a good thing? I prefer to leave that the C programmers, myself...
I've out-clevered myself in Smalltalk many times; it's never a good idea.
The Yankees seem to have remembered (finally!) how to play baseball:
The New York Yankees have a seven-game winning streak after Chien-Ming Wang and Bobby Abreu led a 4-to-1 win over the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks.
It's still a long way back, but at least they seem to be pointed in the right direction now. The standings show them back at .500, which is a huge improvement over a few weeks ago:
A few more weeks of this, and things might look more normal :)
Mathew Ingram points out that the Facebook Platform is, in fact, a platform - it's certainly enabling third parties to thrive in its ecosystem:
The next time I wrote about it the feature had more than two million users. Pretty amazing, right? Well, according to the company’s blog, it now has over six million users. That’s about 3,000 times more than it had a couple of weeks ago, and the application is adding about 300,000 users a day -- a rate of growth that is unlike almost any new application I can think of. In a chart at the iLike blog , the company compares its growth to Skype, Hotmail and ICQ, and I think those are probably pretty good comparisons. The big question, of course, is whether all of the people who have added the app to their Facebook profile will become regular users of iLike, and actually bring the company any revenues as the result of its stardom.
That level of growth is astonishing - with the caveat being, of course, that the proof will be in the revenue numbers. Still - no one is sneezing at that kind of viral adoption. There are plenty of people (myself included) who have mostly ignored the social application space, but that's looking more and more like a huge omission.
I just finished a port of AIDA/Web application server and web framework (http://www.aidaweb.si) to Squeak and a beta is now available on SqueakSource.
You are therefore invited to try Aida on Squeak - just follow the installation instructions, then start by evaluating SwazooServer demoStart, open http://localhost:8888 and login with username admin, password password.
Technorati Tags: web
Eventually, someone has to pay something for a service - it sounds like FaceBook is just starting to figure that out:
The owners of Facebook, the fast growing social network, were forced to sell a significant share in the company because they did not have enough computers to cope with the site's rapidly increasing number of users, Times Online has learnt.
Facebook's founders, who have always resisted a buyout, were forced to dilute their stock by as much as 10 per cent a year ago when it became apparent that they had not bought enough hardware to accommodate the growing subscriber base, a well-placed Silicon Valley source said.
It's not a huge surprise that people are flocking to a free service, especially after FaceBook opened things up for third party applications. The downside is simple: someone has to pay all the real costs for the physical infrastructure. You can bet that those investors are going to want an actual return on their investment, too - which points to one of a handful of possibilities, as I see it:
- Increased use of ads, assuming that ad revenue can float things
- Pressure to sell FaceBook to a large entity
- Pressure to start charging some kind of subscription fee for use, for premium use, for something
- Pressure to go public (although: Sarbanes-Oxley makes that a whole lot less friendly than it would have been a few years ago)
Something has to give though - no one invests money out of the goodness of their hearts. I suspect that Zuckerman is wishing that he'd taken Yahoo's offer right about now.
This is why I like having multiple Smalltalk implementations around - instead of the "one, true" version, there are implementations that attract the interest of different people.
Michael Gorman is reliable - I can always count on him for a long winded, uninformed rant about the evils of the internet. Here's his lede today:
The life of the mind in the age of Web 2.0 suffers, in many ways, from an increase in credulity and an associated flight from expertise. Bloggers are called “citizen journalists”; alternatives to Western medicine are increasingly popular, though we can thank our stars there is no discernable “citizen surgeon” movement; millions of Americans are believers in Biblical inerrancy -- the belief that every word in the Bible is both true and the literal word of God, something that, among other things, pits faith against carbon dating; and, scientific truths on such matters as medical research, accepted by all mainstream scientists, are rejected by substantial numbers of citizens and many in politics.
Here's the problem - none of the problems he raises are due to bad information on the net. Every single one of the information gaps he cites as worrisome is old - I remember reading about each and every one of them in "Time" and "Newsweek" as a teenager.
Gorman seems to believe that pre-web, there was a "golden age" of journalism, when facts didn't get distorted, and reporters got things right with unerring accuracy. Hmm - Back in the 70's, I remember the big climate scare being "the coming ice age". Now, it's "global warming". Without wading into that debate, I'll note that they can't both be correct - and I'll also note that both are memes that were (or in the latter case, are) heavily pushed by the media.
Gorman is writing on the Britannica site, so I understand why he's trying very hard to make his case without bringing up Wikipedia. I've written about Wikipedia and encyclopedias before - to summarize, Wikipedia is edited every single day by a self selected group of editors. Things like Britannica are edited periodically by a paid staff of editors. Does one group have biases while the other is magically objective? I don't think so. Depending on the topic being written about, "experts" can be hard to find, or extremely biased by the surrounding culture. For instance - how would an encyclopedia written by a group of recognized experts have dealt with Africa circa 1900? How would the text differ from one written - again, by a set of recognized experts - a year ago?
The splendid, objective expertise that Gorman imagines in the world of editors and professional writes doesn't exist now, and it's never existed. Biases - conscious and unconscious - have crept in consistently. Scientific errors (due to incomplete or inaccurate understanding of the underlying science) have always been around, and will always be around.
I read a fair amount of history, and I like to get a start on topics that may be of interest to me on Wikipedia. I find that the articles there range from good to excellent on the area I'm interested in (European history, mostly). Gorman would probably tell me to visit a "real" encyclopedia; I'd advise him to read this, which I addressed to him 18 months ago. Gorman was in "gatekeeper" mode then, and he's still there now.
Oh, and do read Clay Shirkey's response to Gorman.
Technorati Tags: hubris
I've been using Windows as my working system since the early 90's - I moved from Apple II to DOS before that. Having said that, I've gotten increasingly tired of playing sys-admin for Windows boxes - it's bad enough dealing with my system - but dealing with my wife and daughter's systems is not making anyone happy. So... here's what I just got my wife:
She'll want the fun of opening it, which is why that's a photo of the box :) As I replace existing systems around here, I intend to just say no to Windows. The sys-admin tax is just too high.
Technorati Tags: Windows
Andres seems to have been having similar thoughts on PC purchases today :)
I had to make a decision... would I buy PC hardware to keep running Windows, and thus invest a sizable portion of my expenditures in running (eventually) Vista, which is well known to be an abomination? I concluded that doing so would be to throw money away. Thus, my answer to that was to get a Mac, which will mean using roughly the same hardware to run a serious operating system built on serious foundations instead.
Alan Kay is receiving an honorary degree at the University of Pisa tomorrow - looks like it'll be a live webcast, but it starts at 5 AM EDT. Anyway - here's the link. The links for the live webcast are on the site, so if you plan to be awake then, head on over.
Torsten points out another one of the nice things about Smalltalk - your ability to dive right in and fix any code you want:
In Smalltalk fixing bugs in old versions has never been a problem: anything is open and changeable. If the vendor doesn fix it you are able to modify the code yourself. This is what makes customers and developers happy
Note that this doesn't have anything to do with open source (in license terms) - in terms of access, Smalltalk has always been open source.
Jeff Jarvis listened to a radio conversation that talks up writers and editors, and talks down blogs. It's kind of amazing to be able to watch a mindset live on even as the business around it morphs.
Juha-Pekka beat me to it, so most of you probably already know that MetaCase has been honored by SD Times in their list of 100 companies in the industry. More specifically, they list MetaCase as one of 5 companies that are shaping the modeling arena (the others are IBM, Ravenflow, SysML Partners and Telelogic).
Why, they use Cincom Smalltalk :)