Worse than Failure explains how blogging works at your larger enterprises :)
Sci Fi Wire reports that Farscape might come back as an echo:
SCI FI Channel will revive its popular original show Farscape as a Web-based series of short films on SCIFI.COM's SCI FI Pulse broadband network, part of a slate of new original online programming.
Before the last season, this would have been of more interest to me. It got really, really stupid during that last season.
This week we talked about Application Development in Smalltalk - using our experience with BottomFeeder (James), ElastoLab (Dave), and WithStyle (Michael). We ended up talking about graphics, process models, and C interfacing as they relate to building real apps in the real world.
It was a wide ranging conversation, and we had a lot of fun doing it.
It's been one of those days where I've felt busy the whole day, but it's hard to remember exactly what I was busy with. I did have a bunch of conference calls, and those chew up time :)
Anyway, I'm headed to Cincinnati for a few days tomorrow - but never fear, I've got "Smalltalk Daily" episodes queued up right through Thursday.
Technorati Tags: travel
Looking around the blogs I read, the buzz for the last few weeks has been all Facebook, all the time. Before that, it was all Twitter. There's also a bit of Pownce buzz going around. I joined Twitter and Pownce, although I can't really say that I've seen a lot of value in either one; there's tiny bits of information conveyed in both, and the people I really need to talk to I deal with via IRC and IM. Sure, if I had a gazillion people to track, I'm sure IM would get out of hand. Then again, I couldn't possibly keep up with that many people, either.
So anyway - that leads me to today's ponder point: should I be using Facebook? I can tell from Scoble's posts on it that it can suck down time if you let it; on the other hand, it might well be a useful way to make and keep contacts - see Dare Obasanjo's post today, for instance, on some of the high profile users.
So I'll toss the question out for feedback: would using Facebook pay me back enough dividends to make up for whatever time I would have to sink into it?
Well, let's see how this plays out - I've joined Facebook - we'll see how it works out :)
Technorati Tags: Facebook
Old media is getting beaten up everywhere - newspapers are just one of the more visible victims. In the tech world, the "old" tech journals are getting ripped. Forbes notes the decline here - you can also see it in things like ComputerWorld. Just this week, they flipped from the tabloid format to the smaller magazine form.
That's not the biggest problem though. As Forbes notes, if your journal exists to break tech news, how can you possibly survive against the 24x7 nature of sites like ValleyWag and Engadget? News analysis is one possibility, but you can get that online, too. As the ad dollars for these pubs decline, I expect the free distribution (I get tons of free journals) to start drying up fast.
Thinking about Facebook this morning, a friend of mine said "I'm concerned that having a face in a place and not being active there is worse than not having a face.". Which is probably true - it's like having a blog you stop posting to, or an email address you ignore.
So - I went ahead and set up a "Smalltalkers" group on Facebook, to give us Smalltalk people more presence. I'll have to see how that goes, and whether I end up keeping up with it - I already have various projects (plus my real job) to deal with :)
Dare Obasanjo points out an issue with static typing when it runs into dynamic services:
While I was driving to the office I noticed another email from one of the services that integrates with ours via a SOAP-based XML Web Service. As part of the design to handle a news scenario we added a new type that was going to be returned by one of our methods (e.g. imagine that there was a GetFruit() method which used to return apples and oranges which now returns apples, oranges and bananas) . This change was crashing the applications that were invoking our service because they weren’t expecting us to return bananas.
However, the insidious thing is that the failure wasn’t because their application was improperly coded to fail if it saw a fruit it didn’t know, it was because the platform they built on was statically typed. Specifically, the Web Services platform automatically converted the XML to objects by looking at our WSDL file (i.e. the interface definition language which stated up front which types are returned by our service) . So this meant that any time new types were added to our service, our WSDL file would be updated and any application invoking our service which was built on a Web services platform that performed such XML<->object mapping and was statically typed would need to be recompiled. Yes, recompiled.
And yet, this sort of thing makes some people feel safe.
You have to love this - I'm in Dayton, waiting for Arden to arrive, and I decided to refresh my Facebook page. Here's what I got:
That's "Web Marshal", which has apparently classified Facebook at Porn. It also calls a bunch of blogs I read that way. All I can say is... lol.
Update: Click through for a larger image
The Guardia di Finanza (Military Financial Police) cuffed 18 Italian citizens and eight Eastern Europeans as part of "Phish and Chip", an operation aimed at dismantling a gang targeting users of Poste Italiane's home banking services.
I'll have to keep monitoring the Wiki though - it's not like these are the only bad actors out there.
Technorati Tags: phishing
Well, this is good news: The RIAA has been ordered to pay the legal fees for one of the innocent people they decided to
In what appears to be the first known case of its kind, the RIAA has been ordered to pay a defendant nearly $70,000 in attorney fees and costs after unsuccessfully suing for copyright infringement.
More of that wuld be a good thing.
Technorati Tags: RIAA
How can you tell when a vendor doesn't have to care about their customers? When they do things the Comcast way:
Last month Dave Winer noted that Comcast's installation procedures require the use of Internet Explorer. Another Comcast user makes the same complaint. "They helpfully provide you with a CD that has a custom Comcast-branded version of IE5 for the Mac, because Apple hasn't shipped a Mac in quite a few years that has IE5 on it by default."
Even Comcast's web page shows an apparent bias against Mac users — or anyone not using Internet Explorer. When you click the page's "Games" hyperlink, an error message pops up, warning that the site "is not optimized for Firefox browsers or Macs."
If they had to compete for customers, instead of being the only (or, at worst, one of two) choice, would they act this way? I really doubt it
Ok, I just got something out of Facebook that I probably would not have gotten another way: I connected with someone I used to hang with back in high school, who I had not seen since the early 1980's - he must have found me via the high school class lookup. I have to admit, that was kind of cool.
This weather will probably clear by the time of my flight (6 PM), but it's probably playing havoc with planes heading in and out of the area now. Meaning, we might have problems catching up to us. Fun, fun.
Those are some nasty cells. Here's what it looked like outside the window a few minutes ago:
I thought that waiting in line for the iPhone was nuts, but I guess I shouldn't say that too loud: I'll be in line tonight with my daughter for the last Potter book. We waited last time, as well, and while the B&N experience was kind of anti-climactic, it was worth it. I might bring my notebook along and report from the line - we'll see how things go :)
Greg H has some interesting thoughts on Facebook, social media, et. al. - he begins by questioning what they are good at, and notes a big difference between Facebook and LinkedIn:
For one thing, the organizational features of Facebook are atrocious. I'm in a group now that I feel would be very useful for networking going forward: my fellow law school classmates. Check out the myriad ways USF School of Law members/alums have listed the fact that they attend the law school. While I'm sure there are wonderful undergrads, I don't care about networking with them. LinkedIn? Very easy to find fellow USF SoLers. LinkedIn strikes me as being much more interested in people with more structured networks. Facebook -- though less so than MySpace -- seems to eschew structure.
Related to that is the kind of structure Facebook does have. A colleague of mine noted that Facebook seems overly interested in your dating ideas; that's likely a legacy of it being a University oriented tool, but still: if I'm looking at it as a business tool, the initial set of questions don't make me take it seriously. Quite the opposite, actually: I had to get past the initial "obviously, this is for teens and 20-somethings" idea just to get started.
Zuckerman has gone quite a ways with what he's got, but if he wants something that business people are going to take seriously, he has to provide a "No, I'm not looking to hookup next Friday" path into it.
Update: Phil Windley has some related thoughts.
"When a blog allows comments right below the writer's post, what you get is a bunch of interesting ideas, carefully constructed, followed by a long spew of noise, filth, and anonymous rubbish that nobody ... nobody ... would say out loud if they had to take ownership of their words. Look at this innocent post on a real estate blog. By comment #6 you're already seeing complete noise. By #13 you have someone cursing and saying "go kill yourself." On a real estate blog. #18 and #23 have launched into a middle eastern nuclear conflageration which continues for 100 posts."
I haven't attracted too many trolls to this blog, but anyone with decent traffic can get buried in anonymous (unrelated) nonsense fairly easily. Sure, if you run a political blog, you have to see that coming. But on a real estate blog?
So I have a question about the proposed "piracy fee" that Canada is considering for the iPod (and other players: If you pay that up front, does it then follow that you have already been charged, and can freely share music? That came up in the comments on the linked page. Sometimes I wonder just how much the RIAA and their international arm wants to torque off customers. There doesn't seem to be a limit to the stupid...
I'm glad I didn't say too many things about iPhone line blogging, because I'll be live blogging from the parking lot of Borders tonight, while we wait to get the last Harry Potter book. I should have reserved two copies - my daughter won't possibly let me have hers before she finishes it :)
Well, here I am at Borders - watting for midnight so we can get our book. I've set up on the grass in front of the store - I can't get the WiFi signal to stick from here. Hey - move 50 feet closer after I got the wrist band that sas "you get a book", and I'm in. So anyhow - here's the view looking across at the store - the line stretches back to the CompUSA (my daughter is holding our spot right now).
Here's the view from where we started, looking up the line:
And the view from the front, looking down the line:
Well after midnight, and still waiting :)
That last post was mostly composed while I couldn't get a signal. We're still waiting, with our wrist bands - and here's the line:
Well, I've got WiFi, and my daughter is re-reading the fifth book. We'll manage :)
Technorati Tags: books
Phil Windley explains. I have to admit, Parallels just rocks. I was snaping pics here at Borders earlier (yes, we are still waiting), and the image editor I use to muck with images is a Windows app (IRFanVew). I mailed the images from my phone to my gmail account. I got them in Mail.app, and opened them up in that editor - then posted from my posting tool (part of BottomFeeder). It's just too slick.
Technorati Tags: Windows
It's almost 1:15 AM - my daughter's group (they have people grouped by color based on when they got here) is up next. Meanwhile, battery power is low - and the line is still amazing:
I'll have to sleep in tomorrow, that's for sure.
Technorati Tags: books
Boy, that took awhile :) I took this around 2, as the line wound down:
And this just now, after getting home after 3 AM. Now, read more, or sleep. Hmmmm.
Technorati Tags: books
Well, I just finished the seventh (and last) Potter book. It was worth spending the day with - without giving anything away, I'll say this: the story will end up looking great on screen. If you don't have the book, run - don't walk - and get it, along with any previous ones you haven't read yet.
Technorati Tags: Harry Potter
It's been a good week for BottomFeeder downloads; 237/day. The details:
On to the HTML tool usage:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
Which leaves the Syndication Tools:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
|Net News Wire||6.5%|
|Google Feed Fetcher||6%|
Looks like the small traffic drop last week took most of my IE users with it :)
If you want to know why journalists tend to rank lower in surveys than just about any other profession, then look no further than this tripe from Penelope Trunk (at Huffington Post).
As a journalist I hear all the time from people in business that they are misquoted. And you know what? People need to get over that, and I'm going to tell you why.
You can mostly omit the rest of the rationalization as to why we need to "get over" being misquoted. If you can't get quotes right, how much do you care about the rest of your job? If it's all about "the narrative", then it most certainly isn't about the facts. Here's Penelope's weak justification:
Here's my advice: If you do an interview with a journalist, don't expect the journalist to be there to tell your story. The journalist gets paid to tell her own stories which you might or might not be a part of. And journalists, don't be so arrogant to think you are not "one of those" who misquotes everyone. Because that is to say that your story is the right story. But it's not. We each have a story. And whether or not someone actually said what you said they said, they will probably still feel misquoted.
I expect this when friends and I sit down to relive high school or college. I don't expect this if a reporter sits down with a notepad, a recorder, or a camera. There's simply no excuse for changing the order, the words, or anything else, in order to "fit the story". If you want to tell a story, become a novelist. If you want to be a journalist, grow some ethics and have a few standards.
When I first read Dave Winer and Jason Calacanis saying that they were wary of (or even opposed to) doing traditional interviews, I thought it sounded mildly paranoid. I now realize why they feel this way: both are in the public eye, and both have ethics free people like Trunk traipsing after them in search of an angle to tell a story from. I'm sure there are honest reporters out there, but they seem to be few and far between. Far simpler to say "read my blog" than to let someone like Trunk use you as scaffolding for her next "narrative".
Hmm. Clicking around a few sitemeters, it appears that yesterday was the slowest Saturday in a long time for the blogosphere. Coincidence? Or all those people reading Harry Potter?
I don’t know about you, but I think it’s a fine thing that a noticeable proportion of the whole world is going to stop what they’re doing this weekend and read a book instead.
That's certainly what happened here. My daughter and I stayed up way too late Friday, and my wife did the same last night...
I have to hand some kudos to CompUSA - my Warlords (Civ IV) CD for Mac cracked in half - big bummer there. I still had the receipt, and they took it back, no questions asked. Sadly, they didn't have it in stock, but they did give me store credit. Very cool, and it resulted in the sale of some Mac software my daughter wanted.
Scoble gets taken in by Winer vis-a-vis the RSS Advisory Board:
But, what really is cooking here is that RSS has been given (and if you listen to Dave Winer, stolen) to big companies to control. How so? Well, the RSS Advisory board, which includes members from Cisco, Yahoo, Netscape, FeedBurner (er, Google), Microsoft, and Bloglines and this new unofficial board +is+ changing the RSS spec all the time (they are now up to version 2.0.9). Dave Winer, who founded that spec says that’s in direct contradiction with the original charter of the RSS Advisory Board that he founded when he moved RSS from UserLand over to Harvard University.
Maybe Winer is too close to the problem. The advisory board isn't making many changes; I've been following the process. What they have been doing is setting up a set of "best practices" for using RSS 2.0 - things like "the spec isn't clear about X, but here's what seems to be standard practice".
For instance: Can a feed have more than one enclosure? The original 2.0 spec is completely unclear on that. Some aggregators (BottomFeeder, for instance) are agnostic, and will allow multiple enclosures. Others will allow for only one. Most of what the advisory board is doing is finding agreement on what to expect in the unclear areas.
Why do big companies care? This thing called interop, which Scoble does care about. Watch him not connect the dots on this.
Things have been quiet this morning, because I'm working on the podcast - we recorded last night. It was a fun one, so stay tuned :)
Rogers Cadenhead explains the nature of RSS reality to Robert Scoble, and demonstrates along the way why it matters.
This week, we sat down to compare Smalltalk and Ruby - and, as usual, we wandered all over the map - including excursions into general syntax issues, Lisp, and XML. Other than a lost comment stolen from Michael by Skype, it went pretty well.
Rob Fahrni had a problem at Borders with his pre-order:
My mom spoke to a kid at Target that had the exact same problem I did with my Border pre-order. He called to confirm his order, they didn't have a copy set aside for him. So, how many people didn't get their copies on Friday night because Borders, and Amazon, didn't come through?
Which sounds weird. Does Borders policy differ by region? At the local one here, pre-orders got color coded wrist bands based on when they showed up to the line (we got there about 11 PM, so my daughter ended up in the 3rd group in). I didn't pre-order, but they told me two things:
- People like me got red
- We all would get books (they had tons), we just had to wait longer
That second bit is why we got home around 3 AM - because I didn't think to pre-order 2 (and yes, my daughter did tell me I should have :) )
Jon Udell continues to do great work showing how hard it can be to get (seemingly simple) data - an awful lot of it is locked in a trunk or simply not available online. Take temperature data:
Given all that’s been said and written about climate change, it turns out to be surprisingly hard to get hold of historical climate data. I had to look around quite a while before I found this FTP site where NOAA has parked files full of raw temperature and precipitation data.
He's also blogged recently about crime statistics, which are apparently even harder to get (I noticed this morning that there's a dispute in Baltimore about crime data). It sure would be nice to simply have raw access, so we could draw our own conclusions.
Inspired by Jon Udell's post, I grabbed the mean temperature data he mentioned. That's when the fun began :)
The problem with the data is the same problem you get with any dataset - it's never completely clean, and you always have to do something to sponge it off. So it was here. There were a number of small issues I ran across as I created some Smalltalk scripts to make sense of the data:
- The usage of -9999 to indicate bad/no data for a given month. That wasn't really a data problem, so much as an undocumented convention
- It took me a bit to find a weather station near me that had a large data set - I eventually settled on the DCA (near Washington National Airport) one
- The data was normally separated by whitespace (within a record), and CR between. However, some of the uses of -9999 didn't have surrounding whitespace.
- Some data seemed to be duplicated (duplicated years for the same station), but with slightly different values for some months. What did that mean? Not a clue :)
None of those were insurmountable, but they did make a "quick" look at the data harder. First came the scrubbing, then the "quick" look.
The thing is, that's not really a problem for someone with some software skills, but it will throw anyone without them. Even an Excel import would have foundered on the data that didn't have whitespace, for instance. So the sad thing is, it's even harder to deal with this stuff than Jon let on :/
Oh, and what did I discover? My wife's memory was right: summer's were slightly hotter back in the 80's (at least around here. YMMV)
Update: One man's broken data is another man's misunderstood format. Turns out that the records are fixed width, not white space delimited. Shows what I know :)
Technorati Tags: public data