Who knew that "24" was going to turn into a "first I torture you, and then it's a buddy flick" thing. And for extra fun, CTU is permanently staffed with people with personality problems and conflicts. If it wasn't for the pacing, no one would watch this show at all. It doesn't just jump the shark - it does the hokey pokey over it.
Martin Fowler has some interesting things to say about static and dynamic typing. It's not arant, and it's not an evangelical piece, either. Here's an interesting segment, but I'd suggest that you read all of it:
Another area where static typing is useful is that it allows programming environments to be much more helpful. The revelation here (as in so many things) was IntelliJ. With an IDE like this I really felt the type system was helping me. Even simple things like auto-completion are greatly helped by static types, and leading IDEs can do much more than that.
Despite this, there's still something particularly satisfying about programming in languages like Smalltalk and Ruby - and I think it has a great deal to do with the dynamic typing. Chatting at Camp 4 Coffee with Bruce Eckel we both agreed that one of the most frustrating things about the static/dynamic typing debate is that it's very hard to put into words the advantages of working in a dynamically typed language. Somehow things just seem to flow better when you're programming in that environment, even when I'm doing my Ruby in emacs instead of IntelliJ. (Smalltalk, of course, has both the language and a lovely programming environment.)
Mind you, there are loadable components for VisualWorks that give you auto-completion.
The top-down mainstream media have to some degree found the will and the means to administer such care. But is there a way to promote diversity online, given the built-in decentralization of the blog world? Jenkins, whose comment started the discussion, says that any approach is fine—except inaction. "You can't wait for it to just happen," he says. Appropriately enough, the best ideas rely on individual choices. MacKinnon is involved in a project called Global Voices, to highlight bloggers from around the world. And at the Harvard conference, Suitt challenged people to each find 10 bloggers who weren't male, white or English-speaking—and link to them. "Don't you think," she says, "that out of 8 million blogs, there could be 50 new voices worth hearing?" Definitely. Now let's see if the blogosphere can self-organize itself to find them.
Huh? I'm supposed to run off an find 10 bloggers who aren't male, white, or English speaking - and link to them? Forget the first two criteria - I really don't care about the ethnicity or gender of an author - it's the content that I care about. Which points out the utter stupidity of Levy and Jenkin's suggestion - if I can't read it, I'm sure not going to link to it. Why? Unless I can understand the content, how do I know what I'm linking to? Do Levy and Jenkins recommend restaurants without having tried the food? Do they recommend movies without having see them? How about TV shows? Unless content is in a form I can read, I can't evaluate it.
For me, that limits things to English, and a small set of Spanish language content (i.e., ones that don't go beyond my now meager (through lack of use) vocabulary. Sure, I could find a blogger speaking Farsi or Japanese with really cool graphics. But unless I have some idea of what they are saying, I'm not going to recommend them. Likewise, if those hypothetical bloggers don't speak English, I have no expectation that they would ever link to me.
I'm reminded again why I'm not renewing my Newsweek subscription - with great thinkers like Levy talking to equally challenged bozos like Jenkins, I'm sure not missing much.
I love these guys. They think they have a clever argument against Google's Auto-Link; it still hasn't occurred to them that the features is:
- Optional (I have to install it)
- Limited to IE (The toolbar doesn't work elsewhere)
- The Links have to be manually requested
- The Links are clearly marked
Or heck, maybe they do. When you are reduced to ad-homeneim attacks in place of facts, it's a sign that your argument really stinks. So witness their latest attempt - they've decided that all of us with a differing view live in the moron family tree. Hmm, that's clever. I haven't seen an argument that sophisticated since, oh, maybe 7th grade.
Then there are the obvious problems. They put up a QuickTime link without labelling it as such, and couldn't be bothered to have the link actually look like a link. That sure made it easy to start your video - especially when the yellow click to play text (which would be a link in any page that wanted to be obvious) isn't a link.
Then add in the fact that they can't quite figure out how to setup a QuickTime download. If I dare to use Firefox instead of the great and powerful IE, it leaves turds all over my screen. If you're going to make a technology point, it would help if you showed some basic awareness of the technology you use.
And hey - they actually noticed my specific complaint, but didn't understand it. They just want this feature to go away, because the poor, unwashed masses will be baffled by the (dare I say again, clearly marked??) added links. Apparently, that's not good enough.
So... the idea is, any content from the producer is sacrosanct. The end consumer cannot use tools to customize the presentation - even if said tools do not change the content for anyone else. Well then - better outlaw highlighters, because marking up a book changes the emphasis from the implicit desires of the content producer - and any future owner of the book will be misled by it. Better outlaw anything that can create end user customizations - those cut and paste exercises kids do with magazines? It's just wrong - those horrid little children are mucking with the editorial content in ways the producer didn't sanction.
Ooh, their big argument is that 90% of the users don't know how to install or uninstall toolbars? Well heck, then how the heck did you get the toolbar in the first place, you cluestick lacking puzzlewits? Last time I looked, IE didn't come with the Google Toolbar installed. Heck, IE comes from MS, and they have their own competing search service. Are you laboring under some misconception that MS is going to start bundling the Google toolbar? You have to go out of your way to install the toolbar, so - if your argument is correct - 90% of the end users can't install the blasted thing. Which also means that the small percentage who do install it know full well what they are getting. Not to mention that it also means that the small percentage installing it can figure out how to uninstall it. Are you telling me that the small percentage of the cognoscenti who understand installation/deinstallation of optional tools need to be protected from themselves? Quick, take away my fireplace and matches too - I might hurt myself.
Ahh, we find the proposed solution from these guys - an industry standard API whereby content producers can opt in or out of various end user customizations. Hoo boy. We've seen where that kind of crap goes - it's happening with music and video now, with DRM. Want to move the music bits from device A to device B? Heck no, you have to jump through the hoops so kindly provided by the RIAA. Now these guys want to do that to all the written work on the net as well? I can see it now - I want to copy text - no, wait, that producer banned that action, so to do that I have to find my archived copy of a pre-DRM'd browser to copy the text - assuming that BBN hasn't fully gotten its way and changed the base protocols such that they don't work at all.
If content producers can opt out of end user controlled customizations, it really means that content consumers get their fair use rights tossed out the door. That'll make a lot of existing media giants happy as pie, and it'll baffle the bright folks at BBN, who will have no idea how that ever happened. "But we thought we were saving links", they'll cry.
Tell you what, let's set up an out of the way house for Better Bad News and their ilk. We'll send them print outs of content, and we'll make sure they don't have access to any highlighters. That way, they can be happy in their ignorance, and the rest of us can move along.
I implemented support for the mt API this afternoon - that was simple. I then made the mistake of looking at the Atom API. Gah. First up, I went to Blogger, since they supposedly support the Atom API now. Following the crumbs from their site (through a developer blog last updated in 2004, fills me with confidence), I ran across this draft of the spec. That's labelled 0.9, dated December 2003. Hmm, that seems old. So I wandered over (with trepidation) to the Atom Wiki, and found this IETF draft. Well. That's labelled 0.2 (now part of the IETF system), and is dated September 2004. Hmm again
So did Blogger implement the old rev? Who knows? They sure aren't saying - or if they are, they hid the instructions in a sub-basement somewhere. From there, I wandered back to the page explaining the latest draft from the IETF, wherein we learn to be afraid:
The current revision of the AtomAPI is contains quite a few changes from previous revisions. All of those changes have been talked about seperately, but when put together represent a fairly large change to the API. Here is Quick Reference for the AtomAPI which also highlights those changes.
So... do I bother dealing with whatever Blogger (Google) did, knowing full well that the more recent drafts have changed a lot? Do I not worry about that, since a working implementation will trump the fevered dreams of the Atom crowd? Do I just punt for now, figuring that it's mostly irrelevant?
Gads, at this point I hope that Microsoft comes out with an API. I must be desperate...
It needs more testing, but I've added client and server support for the mt (and xml-rpc based API) blog posting api. The Silt server now supports the api points, and the posting tool does as well. I'm sure there will be issues (there always are!), but it wasn't too hard. I suppose I have to seriously look at the Atom stuff soon...
Chris Petrilli explains why web UI's are not the end-all, be-all that so many would like us to believe they are:
I’ve been working on an application, for a while, off and on, and have at various points contemplated what the UI would look like. Now, please understand that I’m not Tog or Donald Norman. Instead, I’m simply a user who on occasion notices good and bad design. Most web-based applications are only “good” if you put them in the context of artificially low expectations and the general crap that permeates the market.
Instead, I’ve decided that rich user interaction is critical. Not the kind of stuff that uses XmlHttpRequest, but the kind of thing that uses drag and drop, contextual menus, inspectors, and other generally accepted practices in the UI world. For example, if a user is looking at a set of data, and has a chart open, why should they not be allowed to select and drag that data onto the chart and have the chart adapt to their new data? Perhaps, even it should even ask the user whether to integrate the data, or build a comparable graph with the new data.
Web interfaces have their uses, but there are also areas where they are a huge, huge leap backwards.
The screencast I did last week was a success - I've had a lot of hits on that link so far. Since people seem to be interested, I think I'm going to start doing this on a regular basis - I'll have it again on Wednesday.
The media hasn't been happy with the ongoing fact checking that the Blogsphere provides, and they've been casting about for something negative to hang on it. Here's the latest bunch of crap hurled against the wall by Newsweek - they wonder why blogging is dominated by white males:
At a recent Harvard conference on bloggers and the media, the most pungent statement came from cyberspace. Rebecca MacKinnon, writing about the conference as it happened, got a response on the "comments" space of her blog from someone concerned that if the voices of bloggers overwhelm those of traditional media, "we will throw out some of the best... journalism of the 21st century." The comment was from Keith Jenkins, an African-American blogger who is also an editor at The Washington Post Magazine [a sister publication of NEWSWEEK]. "It has taken 'mainstream media' a very long time to get to [the] point of inclusion," Jenkins wrote. "My fear is that the overwhelmingly white and male American blogosphere... will return us to a day where the dialogue about issues was a predominantly white-only one."
Oh please. One of the joys of the net is the "on the internet, no one know if you're a dog" phenomenon. This all seems to stem from the Technorati top 100 blogs list. You know what I notice about that list? It seems to be a pretty eclectic mix of opinion, across politics, technology, media - and a bunch of other topics. Compare that to the MSM, where I can get homogeneous group think without regard to the outlet I pick. I neither know nor care whether the top 100 listed there are black, white, asian (what have you). What I'm happy about is the intellectual diversity shown.
That's sadly lacking in, say, Newsweek - where I can find a nicely homogenized set of ideas every week. Here's a tip for Jenkins - when you find some people who don't all subscribe to the same worldview, maybe you'll stop bleeding readers. In the meantime, you can watch me not renew my subscription to Newsweek - I no longer need to read it in order to know what the content will be each week. That's kind of a problem.
Apparently, Microsoft said the following at VSLive (no link - can't get SDTimes to resolve this morning):
Developers should build server-side applications that can operate through a browser using ASP.NET 2.0 - but if the server detects that the client is a Windows box with the .NET framework installed, developers should push down a Windows Forms client application instead
Sure we should. Let's see how many ways I can multiply the number of inbound support calls, hmm? Never mind those of us using Apache and Linux - and even people using a Windows server - the MS theory would double your web development costs. Apparently, resources are so cheap in Redmond that they forget how the rest of us live.
This ComputerWorld piece doesn't fill me with warm fuzzies - Wells Fargo (and other banks) have deployed web-enabled ATM's:
Wells Fargo & Co. last week said it has completed a five-year project to Web-enable its 6,200 ATMs in 23 states. The Windows-based infrastructure is designed to allow Wells Fargo to update its entire network remotely when it needs to do things like add new languages and enable customers to make envelope-free deposits.
Sure, Windows can be secured (although in practice it rarely is). The web enablement is what worries me. I'm sure that the banks will figure out how to secure them - it's just a matter of how bad the damage gets to be while they go through their learning curve.
I saw this gem on the AIM service this morning in eWeek:
The revamped terms of service, which apply only to users who downloaded the free AIM software on or after Feb. 5, 2004, gives AOL the right to "reproduce, display, perform, distribute, adapt and promote" all content distributed across the chat network by users.
"You waive any right to privacy. You waive any right to inspect or approve uses of the content or to be compensated for any such uses," according to the AIM terms-of-service.
Although the user will retain ownership of the content passed through the AIM network, the terms give AOL ownership of "all right, title and interest in any compilation, collective work or other derivative work created by AOL using or incorporating this [user] content.
I'm no expert, but doesn't that fly in the face of copyright? If I write it, I own the rights, so far as I understand it.
A notice from ESUG:
Pay attention this call contains several related but different announce please distribute it widely.
Call for contributions for the
13th International Smalltalk Conference
Saturday 13 august to saturday 20 august
For 13 years, the European Smalltalk User Group (ESUG) has organized the International Smalltalk Conference that aims at being a live forum on cutting edge software technologies that attract during a whole week people from both academia and industry. Every year about half of attendies are engineers using Smalltalk in business while the rest of attendies are students and teachers using Smalltalk for both their research and courses.
As for every year, this year edition of the event wil include the regular technical program with high quality invited speakers. Besides, we'll have a reseach track with an excellent program committee, a business day about Smalltalk successfull use in the market place, and a technology awards where prizes will be distributed to authors of best pieces of Smalltalk related software.
THIS YEAR we are looking for YOUR EXPERIENCE Reports using smalltalk so please come to tell us more on your experience and projects
Here is a non exhaustive list of topics we are interested in:
- XP pratices
- Development tools
- Experience reports
- Model driven development
- Web development
- Team management
- New libraries
- new UI framework
- educational material
- Embedded systems
ESUG technical program
- http://www.esug.org/conferences/thirteenthinternationalconference2005/ developersconference/
- Submissions due on 1st of May 2005
- Notification of acceptance on 15 of May 2005
ESUG Research Conference
- http://www.esug.org/conferences/thirteenthinternationalconference2005/ researchconference/
- Paper of 25 pages max
- The best papers will be published in a special issue of Elsevier Computer Languages and Systems
- Submissions Deadline: 21st of May 2005,
- Notification of acceptance: 21st of June 2005
- Final version: 31st of July 2005.
ESUG Education Conference
Smalltalk Business Conference
- Submissions due on 1st of May 2005
- Notifications on 21st of May 2005
Innovation Technology Awards
- 3 pages max describing the software + URL to download the software
- Submissions due on 30th of june
- Notifications of elegibility on 15th of july
Are you are a student and you want to attend ESUG (the first European Conference on Smalltalk)? ESUG has again a student volunteer program so you can get the conference for free. Your duties will be low and you will have to help a bit the local organizers. ESUG will not pay the travel but the conference will be free and possibly the hosting will be also free depending on the number of students.
Sounds like fun - hope to see you there!
If you browse the blogs here with IE, you'll have noticed that the category is no longer showing for each post. This is some kind of oddball css issue with IE - it's not a problem with any other browser I've tested (in other words, with standards compliant ones). We will try to address this, since a fix on this end will certainly come before the IE team can spell css, much less implement it properly...
The writers of Battlestar Galactica understand dramatic tension better than a lot of the shows I watch. I just watched Friday's episode on the Replay, and I spent the entire show on the edge of my seat. And then the end conversation between Gaius and the Cylon in his head was just... freaky. I'm getting very, very curious as to where this religious angle is going. The only sure thing is that Gaius is getting further and further "out there".
I'm not even sure how to classify this:
Apparently, the Surf Junky popup ads can be blocked using Mozilla Firefox and because of this Surf Junky now block this browser. However, with my User Agent Switcher extension you can fool them into thinking that you are browsing with Internet Explorer. Combine this with an extension that reloads the page on a regular basis and you have a pretty efficient way of abusing the Surf Junky system.
So, there's a "service" that people with too much free time sign up for (at $0.75 per hour, no less). The service works by throwing pop-ups at you. Using Firefox is verboten, since it blocks pop-ups - but if you use the useful tool, you can scam the service.
It's all way too bizarre...
I've been thinking about Enclosures with the Screencast, so I decided to pick up a half-finished plugin I started awhile back. If you have the development version of BottomFeeder, check the updates - you'll see EnclosureHandler as a plugin. If you grab that, you'll have a tool that will go through all the enclosures BottomFeeder references and download them - by default, at 2 am. You can change that via the settings - look in the "Plugins" menu for a small manager tool that allows you to either launch a downloaded enclosure, or view the item it came from.
Enjoy, and let me know if you have problems with it. Oh - if you decide you don't like that behavior, simply delete the file "EnclosureHandler.pcl" from the "plugins" directory and restart BottomFeeder.
Scoble points to the kerfuffle over the impending end of support for VB 6. MS is in a difficult place on this, simply due to the popularity of VB 6 (and its predecessors). However, it's not as if they've been quiet about their direction - they announced that VB.NET was the future a long, long time ago - if VB customers had objections (witness the petition movement), then they should have spoken up a long time ago.
I understand the issue - I'm sure that VW customers will have the same issues when Pollock goes live. That's why we've been publicizing the move so much - customers need to know what you are doing, when it's going to happen, and why it's happening. I think MS has done a good job of explaining all of those things with respect to VB (and I hope we are seen as doing the same with respect to Pollock).
Ultimately, no product can stand still - and no product can go forward without the support of its users. At the same time, those users have to understand when standing in front of the bus is likely to help, and when it's likely to result in tread marks...
Update: If you are an angry VB developer - and you want to develop on something that's at the same abstraction level as VB, you might have a look at Smalltalk. ObjectStudio in particular, since it does such a nice job of database linking.
Dork Tower explains the confluence of military service and gaming :)
As I read more about the first world war, it's becoming clear to me that most of what I learned in school was incomplete at best, wrong at worst. I've just started reading "The Myth of the Great War", and it's amazing how the military narrative was affected by the ultimate victors. I remember reading about the great victory of the allies at the Marne (September, 1914). It's pretty clear that nothing of the sort happened. The German offensives had reached the end of their supply lines, and had not reduced the protective forts around Verdun - so they withdrew to a defensible set of lines. The BEF had been more or less destroyed, and the French had lost about a third of their army - and a week after the pullback, the Germans were pushing successful offensives again.
There's a lot more to read - but after the statistics of the Ferguson book, it's clear to me that the Entente powers were lucky not to lose in 1914, and would have lost in 1918 had the US not entered the war. The Entente powers spent most of the war on the wrong side of the force exchange, consistently losing more men than the Germans, and consistently losing battles.
Of course, the biggest conclusion to draw from all of this is what Ferguson drew at the end of "The Pity of War" - the war was a huge error, probably the biggest one of the last few hundred years (and I include WWII in that list - without WWI, I doubt there would have been a WWII). That was made painfully clear in the book "Europe's Last Summer", where the mistakes that flowed from the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand led to the war. It's a fascinating subject, but also a deeply disturbing one.
I added support for Enclosures to my blog poster today - I can push posts up that specify enclosures, and get those specifications back when I load them from the server. The question I have is this - how do people do this using the common web log APIs? I know that MetaWebLog API specifies the metaWeblog.newMediaObject api - but that only allows for upload, and not necessarily in the context of any particular item. So how do people create enclosure references? I created my own proprietary way of doing it, but I'd like to know what other people do...
I've had a few people ask me how I created the screencast I posted yesterday - it turns out that the first thing I did was what I stayed with. First, I hunted around and found CamStudio via Jon Udell. From there I recorded the screencast that's up now - but not in it's final form. The avi output was about 100 MB - way too big for my taste. I tried producing an swf with CamStudio, but the quality was pretty poor. From there, I found Windows media Encoder. That's a free download, but it produces Windows specific media files (wmv). As well, I wasn't happy with the video quality - the screens were all jaggy. What I finally did was use Media Encoder's transformation capabilities - it read in the avi file and pushed out a 9 mb wmv - and I was happy with the quality of that. In the end, I posted the very first crack I took at the cast.
I'm planning to do another one, picking up where I left off - and walking through the creation of a script that BottomFeeder will run periodically, creating a local RSS feed that can be subscribed to. Stay tuned.
I think this qualifies as a coup for Microsoft (via MSNBC):
SEATTLE - Microsoft Corp. said Thursday it was acquiring leading collaboration software company Groove Networks Inc., and naming its founder, Ray Ozzie, as Microsoft’s chief technical officer. Financial terms of the acquisition weren’t immediately disclosed
Dave Winer is still banging the AutoLink hobby horse:
It seems that Mossberg has been saying the same things to Google that I have. I'm glad to hear, based on his column, that Google is considering a redesign for AutoLink. For what it's worth, if they changed to use only a drop down menu listing all the places they can take the user from the page, instead of marking up the page itself, I would turn from a critic to a supporter. I want the features, I like it when computers do things for me, but its design was too costly for authors and publishers. In a drop-down there would be no confusion about where the new links came from, and which were the new links, they would emanate from a space clearly marked as being Google's, instead of appearing to come from the author of the page.
OOh, OOh, you mean the clearly marked links (different cursor, tooltip help that identifies them as a Google addition), and the fact that you have to manually enable it isn't enough? Maybe Dave needs a web with training wheels; the rest of us will be over here, not caring.
Update: I address BBN's latest attempt at an argument here.
Chris Petrill is having a problem with Comcast:
Since around 9am yesterday I have been without my Comcast cable modem. The explanations have run the gamut, and depend on who I talk to… “your cable modem needs replacing”, “your cable modem is fine, it’s the signal strength”, “there’s a problem in our central facility”. None of which give me any reason to believe them when they say anything. It’s as if they just pull a random excuse out of a hat. So when will they be out to look at it? Tomorrow, 11am. That was the soonest. Never mind that all my neighbors are down as well.
Now, it's easy to pick on Comcast - I've spent what seems like weeks on the phone with them escalating problems. This is way too common a problem - lots of companies try to shave costs on their call centers, so they give a set of basic scripts to a bunch of know nothings - onshore or off doesn't matter much. When you reach first level support, the best you're going to get is questions on the order of "is it plugged in?", or "did you power cycle it?" I think my favorite for Comcast is when they tell me to stop using a router, or that they don't support Linux. As if the network cares.
I've had the same problems with support for a variety of products, so it's hardly unique to Comcast. The thing is, after a sale, your primary interface to a company is their support staff. This obvious truth sure hasn't penetrated many boardrooms, because every crappy interaction makes me less likely to deal with a given vendor again. If Verizon offered DSL in my area, I'd switch immediately - Comcast's support has been that pathetic.
With all the knowledge out there on retaining customers versus getting new ones, you would think a few bells would ring. Apparently not
I finally got around to doing something I've been putting off for at least a year - changing all the strings in the posting tool over to UserMessages. I don't have any translated catalogs at the moment, but I am ready for that - BottomFeeder and the Post Tool are all international ready now. There may be nothing duller than doing that conversion...
The Size of the Framework - Sure, it's big. So was Win32, and so is sun.java.*. Programming isn't all Ruby on Rails, you know. :) The redist is 25 Meg? For what you get that's pretty cheap. That'll fit on any pen-drive and can be downloaded in a few minutes via broadband
Which is a good point. Patrick then goes on to explain the difference between that and Squeak by showing live objects to someone:
He saw that the 3.7 image out of the box is about 15mb. The image I was using was about 22mb. The concept of an image, consisting of "live objects", being persistent, caught on and his eyes lit up. That 22mb contained the persistent objects that we were playing with: Powerpoint-like presentation objects, a 3D scriptable wonderland, rich text being flowed in real-time through multiple arbitrary shapes as I reshaped them. An internet browser, email, etc. A little car and steering wheel that really drives it around. A piano keyboard, and more elaborate instrumentation. All objects in the system, all the code available, all the time, multiple platforms identical, all in less than two dozen megabytes.
That is cool. What's even more cool is that the objects don't stop being live at runtime. With a .NET application (or Java, for that matter) - once you deliver the application, you're left with mostly inaccessible objects. You can't do what I was talking about here, for instance - open up a workspace in a running, end user application and start scripting. So yes, .NET most assuredly provides a useful framework for writing code. What it doesn't provide is a useful framework for doing object introspection at any point in the life cycle of an application. For that, you have to look elsewhere.
A few weeks ago I posted on finding things in BottomFeeder via scripting. Today I put together a short screencast on it. Here's a link to the cast - I also added it to this post as an Enclosure. It's a Windows Media Viewer file - I'd like to have something more portable, but this is what I was able to create (with decent quality) today.
If you have the development (i.e., early access 3.9) version of BottomFeeder, there's a fairly nasty little bug in the system - it's fixed in the latest update - grab the BottomFeeder parcel from the upgrade manager. The symptoms are seeing a write cursor (meaning - errors are being writen) when you select a feed or go into two pane "all new" mode. If that happens, deselect the feed and do the following steps:
- Get the update. Load it without restarting
- Open up the "Execute Smalltalk Code" option from the system menu
- Paste the code below in that tool, highlight it, right click, and select "do it"
RSSFeedManager default getAllMyFeeds do: [:eachFeed | | all | all := eachFeed allItems. all do: [:each1 | each1 moduleDictionary removeKey: 'descriptionModule' ifAbsent: [nil]]].
Written entirely in Smalltalk, the TradePerformance™ team chose Dolphin Smalltalk from Object Arts Ltd based in London, England. "For maximum productivity, Smalltalk is the only way to go", says Steve Geringer, CEO. "If we were using any other language, we would still be struggling with compiler errors".
I'm investigating tools for Screencasting. I downloaded Cam Studio (there's a free version), but the free version only pushes out AVI - there's a converter for swf, but the quality of that was poor in Firefox (looked great in IE - go figure). I found this roundup by Jon Udell, and he recommends Windows Media Encoder. So, I'm in the process of trying that out. Anyone else have recommendations?
More details to be posted later, but I couldn't help but respond to a post a few lines down regarding the issue of whether younger players will be able to grasp PR and its intricacies with what happened in the first round of our EuroQuest tournament. Barbara, who was the 2004 World Champ, actually finished second to 11-year old Victoria Robertson, daughter of one of last year's finalists. So I think the answer to that question is yes, younger players can pick up the game just fine.
We taught her "Settlers of Catan" when she was 4 - our master plan to create a new gamer is working out :)
Ben Hammersley makes some good points about the tight relationship between a blog - even a private one - and the blogger's employer:
But it brings up an interesting point about the position of the employer over an employees personal weblog, when that weblog talks about the same work that the employee is paid for. There's a very strong case to be made for an employer's control over such a weblog, even if it is written entirely outside of company time. Why? Well, a personal weblog on a professional topic creates a whole new balance of power between the employer and the employee. Both gain reputation from the blog: If average person x blogs about his work at hot company y, person x gains hotness from that company. If hot person a goes to work and blog from average company b, the company gains kudos in return.
This requires a balance. A weblog is a long and powerful resumé, and no matter how little Niall, say, might mention it, his reputation is ever increased by his overt relationship with his employer. His own personal brand and that of Technorati are forcibly linked in public by his own choice.
This all falls out of this incident, wherein Niall was asked by his employer to remove a posting.
I've been asked about what's needed to do Windows CE development using VisualWorks - we now support CE devices. Here's what our engineering group advises:
- 200MHz StrongARM or XScale
- Windows for Pocket PCs version version or
- CE.net Version 4.x
- At least 64 MB RAM
I've been meaning to dip my toes into screencasting as a way of demonstrating features of Cincom Smalltalk and BottomFeeder. It occurred to me that it might be nice to have Silt supporting Enclosures first - sure, I could just upload files and add links to posts, but having enclosure support - both in my posting tool and in the server - would make anything I post more readily accessible to various and sundry tools out there.
So I sat down last night and this morning and hammered the support out. I'm about to publish this stuff and push the server-side support to this server - after which I should be ready to do what I want. At present, the way you specify enclosures in the post tool is via a small pop up definer - it will pick up files you specify for upload automatically, and allow you to insert urls to other content that's already in the cloud. Once you specify that the enclosure(s) should go up, they'll go up with your post.
That's pretty much it; I'll update this post when it's all working
Update: It's all online now
Sam Gentile is Cleveland; apparently, so am I.
Take the quiz: "Which American City Are You?"
You are blue collar and Rock n Roll. You Work hard and party harder.
Meanwhile, my wife is much more cool - she's apparently New York:
Take the quiz: "Which American City Are You?"
You're competative, you like to take it straight to the fight. You gotta have it all or die trying.
I finished Niall Ferguson's "The Pity of War" today. It's a fascinating read, but also a difficult read - Ferguson packs a lot of statistical evidence into his book. For instance, he makes the case that the Entente Powers fought a far less effective war than the Central Powers did - they had bigger economies, larger armies, and they had invested more money (both in percentage of GDP and in raw cash terms) towards their militaries. And yet - Germany nearly won in 1914, and nearly did so again in 1918. In 1914, it was the arrival of the BEF which stopped them on the Western Front - and in 1918 it was the arrival of the AEF that did it again.
Ferguson argues that it would have been better had Britain stayed out, and at the moment (I intend to read more widely on this), I find it hard to argue. Witness what we have in Europe now - a mostly German led EU. What would we have had if Germany had won? The same thing, only with two crucial differences:
- The emergence of the EU 80 years early
- An unexhausted, still powerful British Empire to check the emerging EU
Ferguson also points out that we likely would have avoided WWII, and may well have avoided the founding of the USSR. It's impossible to tell now, of course. I had an additional thought - regardless of what you think of the current state of affairs in the middle east, the configuration of that region was set into its present form as a result of the Entente victory. What would have become of it instead is hard to say, but I find it difficult to imagine a worse result.
In any case, I highly recommend this book. Whether you end up agreeing with Ferguson or not, this book will make you think.
There are some things that machines are better at doing than people, and vice versa. Automation is all about the former and CAPTCHAs - those little mangled-text images that you have to type in before you're allowed a free email account - are all about the latter.
The purpose of CAPTCHAs is to foil automated attempts by spammers to harvest tons of free email accounts. The trouble is that, as was identified over a year ago, you can automate circumvention, if you're clever about how you harness and use human processing power. In this case, you set up a site with content that people really want to get. (Porn, or warez, or... you get the idea.) In order for people to get to the content, they have to go through a CAPTCHA test - except that the CAPTCHA is actually grabbed from the web service whose defenses you want to breach. Your eager porn-surfing visitors are doing all the hard work for you.
Apparently, this isn't new news - Jon Udell wrote about this awhile back, (Yoz's article is from December - I must have missed all this good news). Of course, there's another problem with captcha's - they create an accessibility problem - which can be a legal problem, an ethical problem, or both. Just when you think the commons can't take another head shot, you find out just how wrong you are.
Facing slowing sales to its traditional customers, BEA Systems is trying a new route: pitching its software to nontechnical businesspeople frustrated by the slow pace of IT change.
BEA plans to introduce a new product line that will be sold under a separate brand and released in stages over the next several months, BEA executives told CNET News.com. The software is designed to let businesspeople create and make changes to Java code without the need for programmers.
BEA sells server software and development tools for building and running business applications. Its usual customers are Java software programmers and higher-level technology executives such as software architects and chief technology officers.
The company's new product line will target businesspeople, such as a purchasing director or a business analyst, who don't have technical training but understand how new software should work. BEA's goal is to expand its sales beyond the limited pool of technical professionals and Java programmers, executives said.
Heh. Yeah, sure. I believe that like I believe in fairies. Eventually, someone will have to maintain the results of the generated code. I suspect that'll be the job from hell. Hat tip Jason
Perception, of course, is reality, so you need to pay attention to this, especially since Gartner sells the perception to the executives with whom you work, also sells its solution, and, unlike you, has a paid sales force and PR machine. According to the article (and to be fair, it's possible Gartner's actual findings had fewer logical holes than the article that presented them) what's going to happen is:
New technologies, that deliver pre-packaged workflows to businesses, and let businesspeople reconnect the process flows by manipulating visual tools and pushing a button (Ta-Da!!!) will fundamentally change the responsibilities of IT departments.
Since today most IT organizations spend the bulk of their budgets on operations and applications, something fundamental needs to change. Mix in outsourcing and the end of IT is at hand.
Oh, and the career solution for technical professionals? Get an MBA.
Bob goes on to deconstruct this nonsense. I know Gartner has a great reputation, and that people pay real money to hear them blather. What you should ask yourself is why? Do they predict, or do they just engage in a jolly game of making crap up? I might as well ask my daughter what IT will look like in 20 years - at least I'll get an honest "how would I know" answer out of her.
I thought I'd seen this kind of referer spam show up on my site, and I was right. Blogspot is mostly an afterthought for Google now, and the spammers are off exploting the afterthought. Here's what's going on:
A friend recently returned from a anti-spam conference and said someone gave a demo of a spamming tool. They showed how it grabbed a zillion email addresses from a database, started churning out the email while hopping from one free open proxy server to another, and one curious last step was to automatically create a new blogger account, create a new site on blogspot, and load the email text from the spam as an entry. The last step was to raise the search engine position for the spammer's site and message and was completely automated.
It's time Google did something - maybe a captcha based thing on the blog setup form? Right now, it's just an open sewer creating more sewage for the rest of us to deal with.
Scoble is right - you shouldn't assume that your boss isn't going to see your blog:
Can my employer fire me if I blog from home on my own time? Yes. The odds of your company perusing your blog is slim. "But if your boss should see your blog and be offended by something there, in most states you have virtually no protection against being fired," says Lewis Maltby, president of the National Workrights Institute in Princeton, N.J.
To which Scoble answers:
I disagree with something on the first page of that article. The odds of your boss reading your blog are NOT slim anymore. More and more bosses are figuring out that by using an RSS News Aggregator and Pubsub.com that you can keep up to date on what ANYONE says about your company on any of the eight million blogs. In fact, this is so efficient that usually I see new things within minutes of them being written now.
Very, very true. I run across comments made about Smalltalk, Cincom, or our product (VisualWorks and ObjectStudio) nearly as soon as they are posted. I come across references to me just as fast. It's a new world out there, and there's really no such thing as security by obscurity anymore.
I've been meaning to get a screencast or two up, but a few things got in the way. First, I've been working with the folks at BlogJet and ecto to get the MetaWebLog API functioning for Silt, and that's taken a fair bit of my time. Meanwhile, two updates for BottomFeeder wouldn't load, so that entailed a new build (which I'm uploading now). While doing all that, I noticed that the way comments are handled on the server doesn't mesh well with the new comment tool in Bf. More mods. meanwhile, I've had a flood of email from various people asking me to blog a few things.
You get the idea - busy to overwhelmed (never mind my actual Product Management job :) ). Hopefully, things will settle down soon.
Chris Petrilli punctures a few lies that developers like to tell themselves
Here's the rules:
- Make it work
- Make it right
- Make it fast enough
That's it people. Premature optimization is the mental masturbation of geeks obsessed with complexity over anything else. If you think your site is going to have performance problems: You are wrong. You aren't writing Yahoo, or Google, and if you are, you can solve the problems incrementally as they happen, and as you understand them. Write in whatever language you feel most comfortable and productive in. I know quite a few Python (either Zope or SkunkWeb) based websites that are running millions of hits per day. That puts them in the top 1%. Your site isn't like that. If you think it is, you're wrong. Maybe someday it might be, but deal with it then.
That's about the size of it. I hear people talking about their language selection based on performance rationales all the time. Here's the thing - unless you are doing hard real time, that's just stupid. Read Chris' post. Repeat as often as necessary.
As you might probably know, we organize a squeaknic this Saturday in Bern. It is important that people who want to participate register themselves on http://kilana.unibe.ch/smalltalkcodingparty12-03-05/.
Up to now, there are only 6 people who want to attend. It is likely that we will postpone this event.
Here is the previous announcement:
SSUG is organizing a Smalltalk Party/SqueakNic/Coding Party. We invite all Smalltalkers to join this event to share their enthusiasm and knowledge about Smalltalk.
- WHAT -- SMALLTALK EVENT
- WHERE -- UNIVERSITY OF BERN - IAM Bern, Switzerland
- WHEN -- Saturday 12th of March 2005 -- 12pm until ...
- CONTACT -- email - firstname.lastname@example.org
- tel -- +41 31 631 3568 (fix phone), +41 76 58 56 323 (handphone)
- from Switzerland 076 58 56 323
Bring your lunch with you and contact me so that we can arrange something.
An apero sponsored by our sponsors will end the day.
If you plan to come, please register yourself on: http://kilana.unibe.ch/smalltalkcodingparty12-03-05/
Here's some information on how to get there:
Gordon Mohr punctures some of the more starry eyed myths surrounding "Super Size Me":
I've got an idea for a film. It's like Super Size Me, except instead of eating all meals for a full month at McDonald's, I'll be eating all my meals at 5-star French restaurants.
I think the word here is "moderation".
This post from Ed Foster explains why I've always opposed schemes for product activation - they make an assumption that the end user is a thief, and force him to prove otherwise. That's not a good way to start a relationship with a customer:
"I purchased Adobe Acrobat Pro 7 last month," a reader recently wrote. "Several times since installing the software I am prompted to reactivate the product. After three successful Internet activations, I was directed to call Adobe. The person who answered the call accused me of installing the product on several PCs. I assured him that I had not done so. After reviewing my PC configuration he told me that activation does not work on RAID disk arrays. I had to install a non-RAID drive to allow Acrobat to activate properly."
Try as he might, the reader couldn't find anyone at Adobe who would offer a better solution. "I was forwarded to tech support who determined there was no workaround for this problem," the reader wrote. "Tech support's only suggestion was to purchase a volume license disk, since it does not have the activation 'feature.' They forwarded me to sales. The sales department would sell me a volume license CD, but I would have to pay a full volume license fee even though I only want one working copy. I asked for a supervisor and, after discussing the problem, he stated that I was not the first person to have this issue. He escalated the issue to 'upper management.' Two days later I was informed there was no solution for this issue. How frustrating."
That's a lost customer. The assumption made here is that activation prevents fraudulent use, thereby bringing in money. But does it? The customer in question had a normal setup (RAID is only going to get more common), and was given stupid responses (just pay us more money to make the problem go away). Look at what the end result of this is for Adobe:
- This customer was lost (read the whole article)
- They got bad publicity - Ed Foster, this post, additional word of mouth on it
- What did they gain?
When someone from management approaches you and asks for product activation, or cripples, or timebombs, ask yourself just how much negativity that will bring back - then try to argue against the scheme. It's not worth it.
After a lot of work and testing, I think I finally have the MetaWebLog API working on the production server. I've tested with both ecto and BlogJet - BlogJet now works against my server, fetching posts with categories. ecto fetches posts and categories, but doesn't match them up. I've been working with folks from ecto and BlogJet - they have both been very responsive and helpful. The problem is this sorry excuse for a spec from Dave Winer. He's periodically said he doesn't feel like he gets enough credit for this stuff; if I were responsible for that crappy API, I'd stay very, very quiet. Every publisher and blog server vendor has had to make guesses about how it works, because the "spec" is pathetic. In my server, I'm returning categories under three different names now - a guess based on the spec, one way for ecto, and another way for BlogJet. The only saving grace is that clients expect a dictionary, so they pretty much ignore data they aren't looking for.
None of this should be necessary...
So I'm merrily typing up another rant on the pitfalls and pratfalls of the MetaWebLog API when my network connection goes dark. The last time this sort of thing happened it meant a wonky router, so it was with a bit of trepidation that I went down to the basement - whew, the cable modem has the one light o non-connectivity going. Ok, I call Comcast. After a few minutes on hold, I get an agent - who tells me that there's a scheduled outage.
Hmm. So... let me get this straight. Comcast is my ISP. They have my email address - and they couldn't send me (and everyone else affected) an email? The website had an announcement, says the rep. Right, like I ever visit the Comcast website. Sure, that's a good place to put it - but additionally, how about a flipping email notice?
Is thought just completely dead in customer service departments?
I think I've finally figured out the MetaWebLog and Blogger API (at least, for a couple of tools. Gosh knows what other clients expect). I now have both my own posting tool and ecto (for Windows) working against the MetaWebLog API. This is progress, and should allow Silt users to select whatever blog client tools they want. I figure I'll have more work against new clients as they come in, but this is progress.
Population of One links to an interesting story on the prospects (or lack thereof) for post graduate students - this certainly sounds like what my brother in law has gone through - years of being jerked around, with no real prospects of a tenure position. He's in bio-science, so the industry prospects for him are a lot better. Probably something that any person contemplating a life in the University ought to read as a cautionary tale, at least.
Well, the AutoLink debate continues to descend into unintended irony. Look at Steve Gillmor's rant on the subject - after this ode to letting end users do what they want with content:
Luckily, great chunks of the Sixties were captured on tape. The record companies are the Boomers’ WayBack Machine. Actually, it’s the record owners. Not just the official releases but the unofficial ones, the cut-outs, the outtakes, the remixes, the mono mix of Sgt. Pepper (reprise). The Dead’s thicket of tapers clustered around the soundboard. The WiFi junkies clustered around the power strips at the back of ETech two years ago. J.D. Lasica standing like a traffic cop with a radar gun at BloggerCon III.
He then comes out... against allowing end users to do what they want with content:
How do they cross the chasm Microsoft seems congenitally unable to ford? By cooperating on a standard link arbitration that lets users choose which variant or composite of the service they want. Join in a public-facing dialogue to establish an API for addressing link rendering, so that Google’s AutoLink can be chosen or spliced as a service with other offerings. Invite Microsoft to join in, given their SmartTag prior art. Then invite MyYahoo, who may be hard pressed to join in given their Roach Motel leanings around attention metadata. In ten minutes, your messaging goes from hailstorm to brainstorm
Which part of "The Google Toolbar is an optional (IE only, I might add) add on" doesn't he get? Which part of "AutoLink can be turned on or off" is hard for Steve? Finally, which part of "Microsoft will compete with Google on this" is confusing?
The cognitive dissonance is getting too loud for this hour of the morning...
Update: For over the top cluelessness, don't miss this stuff, which Dave Winer pointed to. The "panelists" are all crying for a way to opt out. Here's a big cluestick for these morons - you don't have to install the Toolbar. By gosh, you can uninstall it. Heck, you can use Firefox and completely ignore it. Oh, and here's another thing - I installed it this morning, and what they hey - when hovering over a Google created link, there's a tooltip that clearly identifies it as a Google link. It even changes the cursor, just to make sure I know that it's extra information.
The whole thing drips of the same arrogance I ranted about here - the professional media, academics - and now the "A-Listers" are all in a tizzy that the hoi polloi can - by gosh - remix the content and garner additional contextual information (no wait, that wouldn't be the semantic web, would it? Nah, it has to be complex and involve RDF for that). You know what? These people are (almost) torquing me off enough to make me want to use IE and AutoLink just to spite them.
Let me point out what I'm talking about: Here's a screen shot of an Auto-Linked page (after I pressed the button - by default, it doesn't mark up pages - you have to enable that or press the button). I'll use small words for the A-Listers - the user is in control, and has to ask for the enhanced content.
See that? See the clear marking of the link as a Google addition? You can't see the cursor change, because the print screen doesn't capture it. It's there, trust me. Now, let's have a look at the same page in Firefox:
There's the same page in Firefox, without the link. I'm simply horrified - I haven't been given any clearly marked additional content. Sheesh. Winer, Scoble, Doc (et.al.) - go play with Gorman. You can end up in the same place he wants to go, where experts only control the horizontal and the vertical, and the rest of us are banned from using tools we have to load on our own and set up. Can't have that - might empower us or something
And to add insult to injury, the "Bad News" site with the bozo video completely hosed down Firefox.