I've got most of the tutorial I mentioned the other day done - I'll be posting the screencasts and associated html pages over the course of the next week. In all, there will be ten sections (5 are posted now). So - by the end of next week, I should have a decent walk through of the basics of Seaside. Stay tuned!
I thought Dave Winer said he'd stop blogging? Oh, wait - he has - he went into content-free mode a long time ago...
Squeak is part of Google's "Summer of Code" again:
For the second year, the Squeak project has been accepted into the Google Summer of Code program.
This year we decided to reopen the blog a little earlier, while students applications are still open. So, if you're interested in proposing a project to Squeak, you're still in time! I
f you need more info, just head to the Summer of Squeak webpage!
Mark Evans is asking "Why is there so little original content?" on blogs - and his main thrust, that writing original content is hard, is true - so far as it goes. However, what he's missing is that there's value in link blogging. He says this:
Given Techmeme's well-deserved reputation as being the place to quickly discover what's going on in the tech world, Bott's assessment is blunt, critical, perhaps unfair but not entirely without merit. He's right; there is an awful lot of blog posts offering little or no insight other than referring to another blog. Rather than adding to the conversation, many of these posts come across as simply noise and bandwagon jumping.
There's more to it though. Consider news reporting. Does every news outlet maintain a bureau in every nation, or do they rely heavily on Reuters, AP (etc)? Back when TV and newspapers were the main interfaces for news, there was a lot of value in that - I grew up in suburban NY, and it was a heck of a lot easier to read a wire story relayed by the Poughkeepsie Journal than it was to get the data directly from the wire service.
So it is with Techmeme (et. al.) today. There are trusted sources for information now, just as there have always been. Techmeme serves as an aggregator for those top level sources, which makes it easier for the rest of us to find out what's going on.
Take this blog, for instance. My last post linked to something I found on Planet Squeak, which is fairly widely read in the Smalltalk community (more so by Squeakers). Should I assume that the information is "out there", and not link to things like that? Or, should I instead assume that my readership is a partially overlapping circle with theirs, and let my readers know about it? I picked the latter.
Sure, a fair bit of the conversation on sites like Techmeme is just echo chamber stuff - but over time, if you follow it, you learn which bloggers tend to add insight and which ones don't. I subscribe directly to the ones I like, and ignore the rest. This is a huge step forward from the pre-web era, where doing that kind of filtering was impossible for the average person.
I find this article in the Times fascinating. Using a statistical approach, they determined that hitting streaks like Joe Dimaggio's 1941, 56 game one should be commonplace - even longer ones. However, the fact of the matter is, they aren't. Why is that? I'd guess the pshychology of it. I ran track in high school and college, and what the stats guys miss is this: your mental state plays heavily into individual performances.
In the case of something like a hitting streak, the pressure builds as the numbers mount. I can't pretend to know what that's like, but I can tell you this: I'm a duffer when it comes to golf. I've had rounds where I've been hitting really well for 3, 4, 5, maybe 6 holes - and then I start over-thinking stuff, and mess up shots. Sure, professionals are better at coping with that sort of thing than I am, but still - in the case of something like a hitting streak (especially after 1941), the mental pressure has got to be enormous.
So bottom line, such hitting streaks are theoretically common. The reality is very different, because the statistics miss the psychological aspect of the game.
Doc Searls has the perfect analogy for paid internet on the road:
So here's a message to the aviation and hospitality industries: You're not in the pay toilet business. Quit trying to turn the Internet into one.
Google's search engine cost nothing to use and had no ads for the first few years, and look at how well that turned out. Flipped around, I don't see why Amazon charges me to use AWS. I think I produce as much value for them as I use just by writing about it, but they haven't been willing to bend (not that I've asked them to). If there was no cost to it, I'd use their services for new things that I'm not willing to try as long as I have to pay. I know that because there are projects I've not attempted because the cost was prohibitive.
I think Winer needs to read Heinlein, and ponder the idea of TANSTAAFL. Google pays for their "free" services with ads. If they offered the kind of service Amazon does, and decided not to charge for it, it would mean ads - that's how they pay the bills.
So how would Amazon provide their services if we didn't have to pay? It's simple - they wouldn't offer them. At first, the service was a simple matter of trying to monetize things they were already doing for themselves. Over time though, as it started to get more popular, they had to start adding scale based on growing demand. So how would they support that in Dave's world? Servers, backup capability, power - none of this stuff is free. Here's a thought for Winer - maybe he should build the web services stuff he wants to see available for free, and just give it away. I'll let him figure out the economics of that on his own.
Technorati Tags: free lunch
It was a wide ranging conversation, covering Ward's Smalltalk background, his thoughts on software development and languages, as well as talk about Wikis and design. We also touched briefly on Ward's latest gig, aboutus.org.
As always, if you have feedback, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also subscribe with iTunes, visit us on Facebook or Ning, and - please head on over to Podcast Alley and cast a vote for us.
Charles Miller points out how many companies still get EULAS wrong, and what the upshot of it ends up being:
As more and more of our interactions with companies are governed by explicit legal agreements, companies need to realise that your legal terms are part of the public face of your company. The clauses in your EULAs are the most explicit evidence available of the regard in which you hold your customers, more than anything else because you know somebody has sweated over them word for word to give them a precise, legally binding interpretation.
As I've said before, your lawyers now engage in PR (however unwillingly). You can try to pretend that isn't the case (and end up looking stupid, as Charles makes clear) - or you can simply accept reality and move on.
Doc Searls (again) points out one of the ironies of travel: network connectivity seems to be related to how much you pay for the hotel and connectivity - but not in the way you might think:
I'm finally in my room, plugged into the hotel ethernet, watching it upload photos at a rate of one every few seconds. The bandwidth is 7.05Mbps down and 1.53Mbps up. The hotel, a Ramada Limited, is beat to crap and in a scary neighborhood. (The reception counter is behind bulletproof glass, with arrangements transacted through one of those bowls under the botttom edge.) But the Internet is free. And it works real well.
I've noticed the exact same thing. The better the class of the hotel, the worse the network service is (and, generally speaking, the more expensive it is). It's getting pretty tiresome to deal with that.
I love it when old style management runs into the buzzsaw of web enabled PR. Consider Creative, makers of sound cards for PCs. Their latest cards have problems on Vista (shocker, that), and they've been slow to push out updated drivers. Enter the community of Creative users - one of them created working drivers for the cards.
Now, this is a good thing for Creative, as it gives them a working solution for Vista. An intelligent response might be something like "we can't support this community driver, but people say it works. So long as you willing to take the risk, it might be a good solution for you until we have an official one". An even better response might be a call to the developer, so you could see whether he could help accelerate the efforts your staff is making.
That would assume cognizance of the way things work now though. Instead, Creative's VP of Corporate Communications decided that using legaleze would be a great way of dealing with this, so - on a Friday, figuring the issue would die over the weekend he pushed this out:
Although you say you have discontinued your practice of distributing unauthorized software packages for Creative sound cards we have seen evidence of them elsewhere along with donation requests from you. We also note in a recent post of yours on these forums, that you appear to be contemplating the release of further packages. To be clear, we are asking you to respect our legal rights in this matter and cease all further unauthorized distribution of our technology and IP. In addition we request that you observe our forum rules and respect our right to enforce those rules. If you are in any doubt as to what we would consider unacceptable then please request clarification through one of our forum moderators before posting.
Yeah, there's a brilliant response. Let's see: your stuff doesn't work on Vista now. There's a community solution that people seem to be using. If they use it, they might keep buying your product. On the other hand, if you decide to go all legal on the community, you end up shipping a useless brick to customers.
Hmm - I don't know about you, but I'm not seeing the complexity here. This VP might well be one of the dumbest PR types out there, and - with morons like this in the mix, that's saying a lot.
More Seaside - the Toronto STUG is going to do a show and tell with it at their next meeting:
The next meeting is at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, room 202B, at 6:30. It will be a Seaside tutorial format, where we'll kick off our TSUG 'build & learn' Seaside project. Bring your laptop, with Seaside installed; don't count on Internet access. We'll have an LCD projector available for group work and demos.
Sounds like fun, and also a great way to get started with Seaside.
Update: Doh - as pointed out in the comments, I forgot to post the date: April 7.
We had a small configuration error earlier in the day - the intention was to speed up the website and the FTP server, but along the way, the download pages ended up being made inaccessible. Due to some quick work by Pete Hatch (Thanks Pete!), everything is back to normal again.
Maybe Sony BMG shouldn't have gone after so many people with piracy accusations - I can only look at this report of Sony's piracy as karmic justice:
PointDev, a French software company that makes Windows administration tools, received a call from a Sony BMG IT employee for support. After Sony BMG supplied a pirated license code for Ideal Migration, one of PointDev's products, the software maker was able to mandate a seizure of Sony BMG's assets. The subsequent raid revealed that software was illegally installed on four of Sony BMG's servers. The Business Software Alliance, however, believes that up to 47 percent of the software installed on Sony BMG's computers could be pirated.
Technorati Tags: stupidity
Ok, this is mildly amusing:
We are thrilled to announce Seaside for Java. After the successful J2EE context refactoring, we proceeded with the next logical step and moved the whole code-base to Java.
Best of it, migration to Java is even easier than moving between two Smalltalk dialects: With the agreement of all major Smalltalk vendors, we introduced a new platform independent primitive that is an equivalent but very efficient implementation of Smalltalk become: Java. You might find it useful to convert your existing code and business objects to Java.
I do like the logo :)
On today's Smalltalk Daily, we continue with the Seaside tutorial - picking up with the editor we created, and integrating an "edit" capability for each post. If you need to catch up to this point, grab this file. You can also navigate here, and start from the beginning.
It really does look like Vista is turning into the next Windows ME - the OS everyone skips (I was smarter this time than last; I went with OS X and avoided Vista). The data pulled together by Joe Wilcox shows decent gains by Apple, but the real story is that most businesses are staying with XP - it looks like Vista pickups are matching Windows 2000 drops.
If MS were smart, they would treat Vista as an anomaly, and go back to XP as the starting point for the next generation.
This post nearly had me going - InfoWorld put up an "MS and Yahoo agree to terms" post, and the first half of the first page was believable - it wasn't until I got to the XBox and Zune give-away line, followed by "Google buys Facebook" thing, that it was clear that it was a prank post. Of course, it should have been clear from the get go - I mean, just look at the InfoWorld url :)
The basic premise - such a deal being consummated - is entirely believable. Here's what I wonder: how many people who barely read past the Techmeme headline will get taken in by this?
This may not be of great interest to anyone who wasn't at SPA 2008, but I tossed together a five minute montage of video and photos that I shot at SPA 2008. I've made the video available in four ways:
It was a great conference - I highly recommend it as one of the most interactive events I attend.
Technorati Tags: SPA2008
MetaEdit+ 4.5 SR1 Now Available
With this latest release, MetaCase further simplifies graphical domain-specific language (DSL) creation for the growing number of organizations interested in generating code from models. New language definition tools offer enhanced control, and an intuitive interface eases the task of language creation. As manual coding is not required, new languages can be immediately tested during development, with existing models updating automatically in response to language changes.
Updates to the integrated generator tools add reverse engineering capabilities, enabling users to read data from external sources (e.g. legacy code). This allows expert developers to define how legacy code should be used and integrated within the models.
Included in the release are several new example languages and descriptions, e.g. Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN), insurance product specifications, automotive infotainment systems, and home automation controllers, all designed to assist users in quickly defining their own graphical DSL.
MetaEdit+'s unique multi-user environment allows teams of developers on different platforms, and different modeling languages, to effectively work together. With MetaEdit+'s exclusive SMART Locksâ¢ technology, multiple users can simultaneously edit the same models-even the same objects-avoiding lock-outs, and ensuring that all models are free from design data conflicts. Improved administrative tools streamline multi-user setup and maintenance, delivering remote control functionality for automating key processes, such as routine backups and versioning system integration.
Additional information, including technical feature list, is available here.
For a free, fully functional 31-day evaluation version of MetaEdit+ 4.5 SR1, please visit our download pages.
You can view the full release (PDF) here.
L. Peter Deutsch gave a keynote address at SPA 2008 last month, and i have it on video - I'm just getting to the processing of that now. I'm not sure when I'll get that posted, but at some point in the next month or so, I'll have the video, and audio-only of that talk available as a podcast. It's well over an hour, and there were lots of good questions.
Technorati Tags: spa2008
Andrew Dubber has a great take on the "piracy" issue as it relates to music:
I'd also suggest that piracy is not something that tends to happen on the scale that the mainstream media seems to suggest. Unauthorised duplication goes on, but not piracy. The idea that these two things are the same is one that major record labels tend to be quite fond of, but it bears no resemblance to either external reality, or what words actually mean.
The key question to ask yourself is whether those unauthorized copies actually represent a lost sale or not. As Andrew puts it:
When asking "Should I be worried about piracy?" the real underlying question is about whether there is a significant potential loss of income as a result of unauthorised copying. And here we're talking about what's generally referred to as the "Lost Sale".
The one off copies aren't costing you much, and can't be stopped anyway - it's the organized, mass copying efforts (organized crime) that are a real problem. In general, when a copy floats to someone through a peer network, the liklihood of a future purchase of new music probably goes up. The person listening to music on the radio didn't pay directly, but the hope is, it will drive a sale. The same goes for peer sharing. The only thing lost is the ad revenue (and that was mostly a mutually agreed upon fiction anyway).
In the PR game, some people say that any publicity (good or bad) is a net positive. I wouldn't go that far, but with peer music sharing, it is true - the individual level sharing of music should be looked at as ad hoc marketing. The beauty of it is, you don't have to pay an agency for it, and it's almost certainly more effective.
This story about XP being extended for some classes of systems is interesting - not so much from the "Vista Fails" standpoint, as from the "did MS miss this boat?" standpoint:
Microsoft said on Thursday that it will continue to allow Windows XP Home edition to be sold for a class of computers it calls "ultra-low-cost PCs." It's a category that covers machines with slower processors, smaller screens, and in many cases flash memory for storage, rather than a traditional hard drive.
So the bottom line is, I think MS just missed the advent of smaller devices. Apple is on top of this with the iPhone (yes, I know about Windows Mobile - but Apple seems to have kept things more consistent at the OS level with OS X). The next couple of years should be interesting ones in the smaller device space.
I was listening to a podcast this afternoon, from a guy who's been doing a radio show for 25 years. He was talking about how the time seems to have flown by, and it occurred to me - I've been a Smalltalker now for fifteen years. That's a long time in one sense, but - like the broadcaster - it does seem like "just yesterday" that I picked up a VW 1.0 image and started exploring. I still remember the joy in being able to extend/change/modify anything in the system, and I also remember the shock when VW 2.0 shipped, and - since I had not been using version control - I had the devils own time moving my changes to the new version.
That was a great time, and I wouldn't give up those days at ParcPlace (even with the later pain) for anything. Smalltalk is coming back now, on the wave of dynamic languages, and the buzz surrounding Seaside. Here's looking forward to another fifteen years!
If the music industry hasn't figured out that downloads are the only path to the future, maybe these numbers - representing January, 2008 sales of music - will make it clear (from Ars Technica):
When digital moves past Wal-Mart, maybe even the denser ones in the industry will start to figure things out...
SciFi Wire reports an interesting trend at NBC - fewer repeats during the opening run of a season:
NBC's returning genre shows--Heroes, Chuck and Medium--will each air a full complement of original episodes next season, in contrast to this year's strike-truncated season, with Heroes and Chuck set to air without repeats for 13 episodes.
Part of this is the competition for attention: DVRs, on-demand video, the internet, gaming consoles. It's going to get tighter, too. I spotted this story about a big upgrade to Comcast service out in Minneapolis:
Comcast Corp. will start offering faster Internet services in Minnesota's Twin Cities region on Thursday, with plans to extend that type of next-generation system to its entire service area by 2010.
With the faster service, a customer could download a 4 gigabyte high-definition movie in about 10 minutes, compared with about an hour at previous speeds.
As that kind of service rolls out, online behavior is going to change a lot. Never mind BitTorrent; that's a bleeding edge use, and while it impacts things, the mainstream applications (iTunes, for instance) are going to start driving big changes. How will viewing behavior change when we can download an HD movie almost as fast as we can download a single song? It's going to cause a shift.
The Toronto Smalltalk group is meeting at the Toronto convention center, just ahead of IT360:
The next meeting is Monday, April 7, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, room 202B, at 6:30. We will be kicking off the TSUG Seaside project, the details of which are still being discussed on the mailing list. Bring your ideas and guestions; what we make is not a important as the process of making it. NOTE: this meeting is being hosted by IT 360 which starts the next day. There is no cost to attend the meeting, but you'll need to register for a free trade show badge, using code TS1, at www.IT360.ca (use the 'REGISTRATION' link at the bottom of the page)... if you wish to attend the conference, you can get a 25% discount by using code A101
Technorati Tags: smalltalk
I noted a few days ago that Creative was trying to irritate its customers by threatening a developer who - unlike Creative themselves - was providing a solution for people using Vista. Well, it seems that someone at Creative realized that there was no upside to this policy, so they've backed down - The Register received this from them:
We have read the strong feedback about Creative's forum post regarding driver development by daniel_k and other outside parties. Creative's message tried to address our concern about the improper distribution of certain software, which is the property of other companies. However, we did not make it as clear as we would have liked that we do support driver development by independent third parties.
The huge task of developing driver updates to accommodate the many changes in the Vista operating system and the extensive testing required, including the lengthy Vista certification requirements for audio, makes it very difficult for Creative to develop updates for all past products.
Outside developers have been very helpful to Creative and our customers by developing updates for many of our Sound Blaster products, and we do support and appreciate these efforts. This however does not extend to the unauthorized distribution of other companies' property.
We hope to work out a mutually agreeable method for working with daniel_k in supporting his efforts in driver development. Going forward, we are committed to doing a better job of working more closely with third parties to support their development for our products and our customers.
The problem is, that helpful tone doesn't match the obnoxious message that the developer in question says he's been getting (see the story for that). As I've said before, lawyers are now part of your PR group, whether they like it or not. Sending out a threatening legal letter may well not be the end of a problem, as it would have been a decade ago - it could be the beginning of a very big, public, and damaging black eye.
So Aircell just nabbed itself the first and only approval from the FAA for air-to-ground mobile broadband for US domestic flights, meaning we're that much closer to in-flight internet. So far the approval just covers the Boeing 767-200, which means Aircell can start prepping equipment to cover the 767-200 fleet of American Airlines this year, but they're also prepping to cover the Airbus A320 fleet of Virgin America.
That's good news, but what about international flights? On a long haul flight to Europe or Australia, having a network connection would be really handy...
Well, this is interesting - if what Gates says is true, then he's FUD-ing MS' own Vista product:
In response to a question about Windows Vista, Gates, speaking before the Inter-American Development Bank here, said: "Sometime in the next year or so we will have a new version." Referring to Windows 7, the code name for the next full release of Windows client software, Gates said: "I'm super-enthused about what it will do in lots of ways."
Admittedly, you have to take any MS date statements with a huge grain of salt; just look at the various predictions of Vista's release over time. Still - that line could put another nail in corporate adoption of Vista, as businesses already nervous about Vista impact could decide to take another year of stability with XP.
Technorati Tags: microsoft
Dave Winer put out a complaint I see a lot - his happens to be about the fees paid to some speakers, but I've seen other people make the same one about sports figures (etc):
I'd love to see a breakdown of the speeches. Who pays $1 million for an after-dinner speaker and why? Maybe I'm missing something, but something doesn't sound right here.
Commonly, you'll se this mixed with something like "policemen don't get paid that well, and they do a much more important job". Here's the thing though: a thing (object or service) is worth what people will pay for it. Period. There's no such thing as a "fair" price - it simply doesn't exist.
You need to drill the idea of "fair" prices out of your head, because it's a nonsensical one. Use this an example: you want to sell your house. The local government has assessed its value as $300,000. You offer it at $350,000. Are you cheating? Now, someone comes by and makes an offer of $300,000 - and then someone else comes by and offers $360,000. Do you take the lower offer, on the assumption that the "fair" price is what the house was assessed at?
When someone starts going on about how prices should be fair, here's my advice: hold on to your wallet, because "fair" is rarely cheap.
Technorati Tags: economics
On this week's podcast, we talked about how developers go about learning code they aren't familiar with - and how the approaches differ in Smalltalk and other languages. From there we rambled into static/dynamic typing some before wrapping up on the core topic.
The Times seems to be trying out a new angle to combat the competition from blogs and other new media sources: "Stop, it will kill you - only us pros can deal with the stress":
Other bloggers complain of weight loss or gain, sleep disorders, exhaustion and other maladies born of the nonstop strain of producing for a news and information cycle that is as always-on as the Internet.
To be sure, there is no official diagnosis of death by blogging, and the premature demise of two people obviously does not qualify as an epidemic. There is also no certainty that the stress of the work contributed to their deaths. But friends and family of the deceased, and fellow information workers, say those deaths have them thinking about the dangers of their work style.
Dial the clock back to the early 20th century (or the 19th, for that matter) - it wasn't much different for the newsies of the day. We forget that many newspapers put out multiple editions a day, as news broke. You think the reporters responsible for getting those leads didn't work as hard (or harder - the news didn't come to them over the fiber)?
You would think a NY Times writer would know that, but maybe I'm expecting too much...
Technorati Tags: news
It might be time to start a deadpool for Dell - they are getting out of the "build to order" business:
Dell Inc., the personal-computer maker that pioneered selling custom-made machines directly to clients, is moving away from its build-to-order model to reduce costs.
Dell is limiting the degree to which buyers can dictate specifications while expanding its line of prepackaged models, operations chief Mike Cannon said Wednesday. Dell will also outsource more PC manufacturing to partners, he said.
That reminds me of a sales call I made back in the late 90's, when I was at ObjectShare (the one that had been ParcPlace-Digitalk). We were at a Wall Street client, pitching "Parts for Java". They liked the demo, and they were interested in Java - but then I watched (with an admitted sense of Schadenfreude) as the guy said to us: "That looks great, but why would I buy Java from you guys?"
You might recall that this was just at the point where ObjectShare was trying to claim that its "core competency" was objects, not Smalltalk - and this client just shot that idea right out of the sky.
That's what Dell is doing now. Why would you buy from Dell, if they are simply putting together run of the mill packages like everyone else? Dell is known as the "custom order" place - this is a complete violation of their entire Brand. I wonder what Laura Ries thinks of it...
Doc Searls posts a lament about what "blogging has become", and ends up pining for something purer:
So I want something new. Something for which the making of money is at most a secondary or lower priority. Not sure what that should be, but I am sure, if it ever happens, it won't be called blogging.
The thing is, the same sentiment surrounded the internet itself back in the early days, right around the time the first browsers were released. Suddenly, this pure, non-commercial thing was going to be ruined by all the money making.
I don't get it. I'm not sure why this changes things for any particular person, or why anyone should think it does. Blogging is really nothing more - or less - than personal journalism. It varies across the spectrum of utility just as print journalism does - recall that for every professional journal out there, there are tons of "National Enquirers" - online, where the price of posting content approaches zero, why would it be any different?
The subject line is something that Comcast, at least, needs to ask itself. I've had my troubles with them - day long outages, and - over the last month - constant micro-outages (just long enough to knock my IM clients and/or IRC channels over).
It seems that I'm not the only one with Comcast troubles - see this Twitter scan that radiates out from an annoyed tweet by Mike Arrington. Comcast doesn't realize it yet, but this could be the same kind of PR problem for them that "Dell Hell" became for Dell. This little comment in the Twitter scan pretty much says it all:
I don't get it. Why can't these companies make money simply selling "dumb pipes" to the Internet? I'll pay for that
Indeed. Instead, they have various kinds of filters to defeat BitTorrent, and their customer service is a mostly sorry joke. I think Comcast needs to read the subject line of this post, and then read the quoted comment above. Their theories for what counts as "internet service" are way, way more complex than they need to be.
This is one the things I like least about the supposedly "professional" media: narrative is far, far more important than fact. Take Larry Dignan, who was interviewed for the "blogging kills" story, but didn't make the cut. Why?
And that brings me to my point with Matt. Yes, blogging is stressful. Yes, it can be insane. But is it any worse than being a corporate lawyer? How many of those folks dropped in the last six months? How about mortgage brokers? Hedge fund traders? FBI agents? Any job where you gnash your teeth together? We write for a living, yap all day and donât have to wear suits. You could do worse than blogging.
But that didn't fit the narrative, so it didn't make the story. To read the Times' story, you would think that everyone blogging is desperately trying to push out "one more post" in order to get the maximum amount of Google juice possible. Heck, they didn't even produce the classic "on the one hand, on the other" type of story - it was lazier. Yet another reason to realize that most reporters don't have better skills than the average college grad of 21, much less the average blogger.