This season of "24" has jumped the shark so many times that you can hear the ocean when you hold the scripts up to your ear. Not only are the plotlines impossible - but the writers have succumbed to "no idea Star Trek mode". What does that mean? Well, you remember how on NextGen, when they ran out of ideas there would always be a Holodeck episode? Well, on "24", they keep going back to the "secreet government conspiracy" plotline. Whoo boy - I sure didn't see that coming.
Here's some information on a couple of the talks coming up at Smalltalk Solutions this summer - register now!
Smalltalk Solutions 2005 will be here before you know it. Make sure you sign up early to take advantage of the savings. Visit www.smalltalksolutions.com to register. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to be removed from this list. Thanks!
Here are a few samples of what you can expect from this year's show in Orlando.
Number Crunching Smalltalk
Poon, Dan: Romax Technology Ltd.
Monday 2 pm to 2:45 pm
Abstract: For over 10 years, Romax Technology Ltd. have pioneered the use of Smalltalk in Engineering Design and Analysis, a numerically intensive domain and traditionally the preserve of FORTRAN and more recently C and Matlab. Many vehicles on the roads today have benefited from Smalltalk analysis.
Smalltalk was initially used for product modelling and visualisation - its uses now includes number crunching where it performs along side FORTRAN.
Smalltalk's USP is that it is such a simple language that, when supported with pair programming between numerical analysts and Smalltalk coaches, it quickly becomes a lingua franca, enabling esoteric numerical algorithms and domain knowledge to be melded with production software skills.
Once captured in Smalltalk, a numerical model is much more malleable than its FORTRAN counterpart, meaning we can easy parameterise the model and apply optimisation techniques such as genetic algorithms.
We will also discuss the political implications of getting engineering analysts and computer scientists to work in pairs, the strong business case for doing so, and how our org chart has evolved with it.
Bio: 16 years of OO development experience from the early days of version 1.0 C++ to OODBMS. From the early attempts at OO methodologies to Agile. Worked within Telecommunications, Foreign Exchange Options Trading, and now Engineering Design Analysis.
Putney, Colin: Quallaby
Tuesday 2 pm to 2:45 pm
Abstract: In the last 2 years Monticello has emerged as a viable tool for source code management and versioning of Squeak applications. Having accumulated some real world experience with Monticello, we've designed a next-generation versioning engine which will form the core of Monticello 2.0.
This talk will examine three hard problems in versioning software, and explore Monticello's unique approach to solving them. Along the way, we'll also see comparisons to other versioning systems, including Store, ENVY and Monticello
First is the "repeated merge" problem. This occurs when we have two (or more) parallel lines of development. Repeatedly merging code back and forth between the two lines can create artificial conflicts during merges, forcing developers to explicitly avoid conflicts as they work. A good versioning tool allows developers to save or merge their work at any time, and records enough history information to prevent spurious conflicts from arising.
The second problem is also one of spurious conflicts. Often, during a merge, we want to apply only some of the changes implied by the merge. But this "cherry picking" of changes introduces a risk that either spurious conflicts will be interoduced to future merges, or genuine conflicts will be missed. Again, the challenge for versioning tools is to record enough history information to allow developers to work naturally, while still doing merges accurately and automatically.
The final problem is so difficult that most versioning tools don't even attempt to solve it. Only Smalltalkers would demand to be able to update a running program with new code, including the kernel on which the versioning tool its self is running! Though still quite experimental, Monticello 2 attempts to solve the "brain autosurgery" problem as well.
Bio: Colin Putney is a software developer at Quallaby Corporation, writing on network monitoring software in VisualWorks Smalltalk. He the author of OmniBrowser and co-author of Monticello, both open source development tools for Squeak Smalltalk. Though he has been programming for many years, he began working in Smalltalk in 2002.
Stephen Sommers, director of The Mummy and Van Helsing, will write and direct a remake of the classic 1951 SF film When Worlds Collide for Paramount, Variety reported.
Mind you, I enjoyed "The Mummy" and "Van Helsing" well enough - based on the plotline of the '51 flick, I'd expect some Armageddon style effects.
I hadn't noticed that the logging on the server had changed - all the blog requests and feed requests are being logged separately, so as to make various results easier to find. The upshot is, referers weren't being updated over the last few days. That's all working again, and I can see where inbound links are coming from again. It's always something...
And speaking of it always being something - the grass needs cutting. Sigh...
Again, my purpose here isn't to play gotcha with the News-Press. The paper needs constructive help, not rebukes. It's a good paper. I read it every day. I'd like us to help make it better. So here are three suggestions for the paper: 1) Reach out to, and take advantage of, local bloggers, friendly and otherwise; 2) Encourage blogging by your own staff (no need to host, as the Scripps papers do - too complicated, and not necessary); and 3) Open those archives - not just to subscribers (registered or otherwise), but to Google and other search engines. Search engines are the reference sections of the world's new library. Excluding your work from that library reduces the paper's authority. For more and more of us, if you're not on the Web, it's like you don't exist.
Just to be clear, that added emphasis is mine. I know why papers hide their archives - they want revenue opportunities for that data. The trouble is, by hiding them they bury them down the memory hole.
Jonathan Schwartz explains Sun's stance on Open Source pretty clearly. Agree or disagree, this is good information, delivered without any caveats or lawyer-speak.
Cyrus doesn't much care for tabs in browsers:
Ok, i seriously don't get tabs on Windows. Hell, i don't get tabs on OSX either. In the latter there's a great system called Exposé for that, and in the former the task bar does the job just great. Once i start using tabs though things go all to hell. On OSX i can't tell which FireFox/Safari window has the tab i want (since it's too small), and similarly in windows i find myself scanning the taskbar for a site i was looking at, but i can't find it because the task bar entry only lists the site that is the currently active tab. This makes it so difficult to actually find the site i want and it ends up being far slower than just having a window available for each site.
Umm - maybe there's a way to change the default, but - On Windows XP SP2, if I have more than one IE window open, I don't get any useful information at all from the taskbar at the bottom of the screen - it shows the not so helpful tooltip "Internet Explorer (2)". I fail to see how this is better than tabs - heck, it's worse, IMHO. Is there something I'm missing here?
Doc Searls points to the simple errors of a Santa Barbara (CA) news outlet decrying the "lack" of local bloggers. Every so often there are "why don't they trust us" articles in the press - the thing is, if they can't execute a simple web search, what can they do?
I've been reading up on the history of WWI lately - check the last few posts in the "books" category to see what I've been reading. After the last post on this subject, I got a number of recommendations:
- 1919: Six Months That Changed the World
- The Guns of August - this one is a classic, and it's been on my list for awhile
- Not WWI related, but deals with the issues of the preceding century: The Congress of Vienna: A Study in Allied Unity, 1812-1822
- While buying the first two, the Borders clerk recommended another book to me: The
- Illusion of Victory: America in World War I
- Finally, I got this recommendation: A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East
I was able to buy the first 2 and the fourth; looks like I'll have to order the others. This only adds to my impressive reading backlog - who knows when I'll catch up. I started reading the first book immediately, and it became clear in the first 100 pages that the conference was very much a work in progress - they had few examples to draw on (The Congress of Vienna had been a long time ago, and it was a simpler Europe then). The confused handling of Russia alone was fascinating reading.
The more I read about that era, the more I see where the world we live in now came from...
I finally sat down with Turbo-Tax to deal with my tax returns (I know, timely of me). Anyhow - it seems that I had archived my 2004 returns off to a CD that's currently in an undisclosed location, and the only electronic copies I had for the app to pick up previous data entry from was the files for 2001, 2002, and 2003. Stupid app complained, saying it wasn't a "valid 2003 form".
Sheesh - it's not like previous versions of the save file should be an utter mystery to Turbo-Tax. Fortunately, I had paper copies filed away. Stupid app.
At this point I'm waiting on 2 things for the 3.9 release of BottomFeeder:
- There's a word wrap bug in the posting tool. Since the posting tool is one of the biggest changes in 3.9, and since it works with multiple APIs now, it's a stopper
- One more piece of Doc from Rich - which he's got coming shortly.
The code is pretty much frozen at this point - the only change I expect to see is the fixes for the posting tool. Stay tuned
You know your need for coffee is high when you end up chugging your first mug of the morning the way a college student approaches a beer on Friday night :)
WonderBranding has a post up decrying the declining state of service on a particular airline (I've never flown that airline, so I'm not going to mention the name - follow the link). The point I wanted to raise is the reach of unintended marketing. What's unintended marketing? It's what people say about your product or service after they use it (both positive and negative).
Word of mouth has always been critical for local businesses (restaurants, for example) - but less relevant for the bigger outfits. The easy spread of communication - most especially personal websites and blogs - has given word of mouth a huge megaphone. Tick off the wrong customer (i.e., one with a decently well read blog) and you could end up with a negative review that has a Google Rank as high as your own website(s).
And that's where we really get to find out which are the smart outfits, and which are the stupid ones. The stupid ones will deploy lawyers to shut the negative word of mouth down. The smart ones will recognize a problem and strive to fix it. This is exactly why I have RSS searches for the name of my company (Cincom), my name, and the name of the products I work with (ObjectStudio and VisualWorks) tracked in BottomFeeder. It's my way of staying on top of the commentary.
I've got the semi-weekly log results to look at again - this time I've got the results analyzed for the period between March 29 and April 8. There are three sets of results below:
- BottomFeeder Downloads sorted by platform
- General HTTP access to all parts of the cincomsmalltalk site
- Accesses to the XML feeds on cincomsmalltalk
BottomFeeder Report, April 9 2005
So the interesting thing to me there - there's apparently interest in getting an aggregator on a CE device - but the ARM based devices are more common. I find it interesting that the rate of downloads for Linux on Sparc outweighs the rate of downloads for Solaris. Next, the General HTTP accesses by tool:
HTTP Log Report, April 9 2005
|Net News Wire||6.8%|
Notice how there's far more Mozilla access than IE? That's not the case in the general browser population, but it certainly is in the developer space. Finally, here's the accesses if we look only at the XML feeds:
XML Only Log Report, April 9 2005
|Net News Wire||14.3%|
XML accesses are just under 50% of the traffic for the site right now - it's been hovering in that neighborhood for awhile now. The interesting thing is that the rate of Mozilla usage stays fairly high - Sage must be pretty popular. The analogous IE plugins don't look nearly as popular. One thing I'd be curious about from other blogs - the rates of usage of paid aggregators vs. the free ones. As you can see above, only one paid aggregator (the Mac based NetNewsWire) breaks out of single digits.
Next time you go to Best Buy, make sure you don't use any $2 bills. Sheesh.
I've been wondering if the major thing propping up the commercial Unix implementations is inertia; I got an email today that added a data point in that direction. I've had numerous people tell me that Linux on x86 hardware tends to be faster than either Solaris or HPUX - this email snippet goes into that. The first comment was mine, in response to a thread in vwnc on the startup time for VisualWorks applications. The response came from a customer:
"(b) Your Sun boxes are pretty slow/overloaded"
Definitely (b). We have a lot of ~450MHz Sun boxes and the latest generation of Sun hardware is only ~1GHz. We commonly see the same code run 4-6x faster on a cheap Linux box. We would love to support Linux, but our customer base just isn't very interested. Also note that these are server machines that are usually doing other things, so we don't have 100% of the machine at our disposal.
Which is in line with what other people tell me. It's likely the case that Solaris (et. al.) can scale to higher levels than x86 Linux - based on how many CPU's can be slammed into them, if nothing else. That advantage won't hold up much longer.
My local news reports that Maryland shares a dubious honor with New York - the longest average commute times in the US:
The latest U.S. Census study finds Maryland residents have one of the longest commutes to work in the country. Maryland and New York drivers spend 30 minutes on average traveling to work, according to the study.
In fact, residents of Queens County, N.Y., spend the most time on the road at 41 minutes.
In Maryland, Prince George's County drivers have an average 35-minute commute. In Montgomery County, it's 32 minutes; in Howard County, it's 30 minutes; in Baltimore City, it's 29 minutes; and in Anne Arundel County, it's 27 minutes.
The study also found that Maryland is one of three states with the highest percentage of workers who commute more than 90 minutes to their job.
Thank goodness I commute all the way from the bedroom to my first floor office, with a short side trip to the coffee maker :)
Paul Graham has put out a number of essays on hacking and development, relating them to art. Here, for instance, is a link to his Hackers and Painters essay. That one flew around the blogosphere, mostly with positive commentary. Not everyone agreed though - here's a dissenting view from Maciej Ceglowski. First, from Graham:
" The point of painting from life is that it gives your mind something to chew on: when your eyes are looking at something, your hand will do more interesting work."
"Hackers need to understand the theory of computation about as much as painters need to understand paint chemistry. You need to know how to calculate time and space complexity and about Turing completeness. You might also want to remember at least the concept of a state machine, in case you have to write a parser or a regular expression library. Painters in fact have to remember a good deal more about paint chemistry than that."
And the observations:
All of these statements are wrong, or dumb, or both, and yet they are sprinkled through various essays like raisins in a fruitcake, with no further justification, and the reader is expected to enjoy the chewy burst of flavor and move on to the next tidbit.
I am not qualified to call bullshit on Paul Graham when he writes about programming, history, starting a business, or even growing up as a social pariah, but I do know enough about art to see when someone is just making s*** up.
In Paul Graham's world, as soon as oil paint was invented, painting techniques made a discontinuous jump from the fifteenth to the twentienth century, fortuitously allowing Renaissance painters to paint a lot like Paul Graham. And the difficult problems the new medium supposedly helped painters solve just happened to resemble the painting problems that confront an enthusiastic but not particularly talented art student. I hope I am not the only to find this highly suspicious.
I had my doubts about his essay at the time it flew around - in particular, I thought his description of the sort of "great hacker" you want was exactly the kind of obnoxious prima donna that I could do without, thank you very much. But wait, there's more! I like the next paragraph in his post, but then again - I have a soft spot for rants:
I blame Eric Raymond and to a lesser extent Dave Winer for bringing this kind of schlock writing onto the Internet. Raymond is the original perpetrator of the "what is a hacker?" essay, in which you quickly begin to understand that a hacker is someone who resembles Eric Raymond. Dave Winer has recently and mercifully moved his essays off to audio, but you can still hear him snorfling cashew nuts and talking at length about what it means to be a blogger . These essays and this writing style are tempting to people outside the subculture at hand because of their engaging personal tone and idiosyncratic, insider's view. But after a while, you begin to notice that all the essays are an elaborate set of mirrors set up to reflect different facets of the author, in a big distributed act of participatory narcissism.
Now, it's not all hits - Maciej points out that the analogies between art and software development have validity, and that Graham has written very well on other topics - he just doesn't think much of this essay (or others like it from Graham). Go ahead and read the whole thing - it's worth the time
This post targets Sun with questions, but the same questions could be asked of tons of companies in the software field: How hard should it be to get support?
So you have support plans. WHY ISN'T IT IN MY FACE? Sun - don't you want to make money? Support is a major component of income for many product vendors - and an even bigger component of income for the open source market. If you don't push it, no one is even going to know about it! It should be on your Java home page, your documentation home page, the API page. A small link, no one will care about it if they aren't looking for it, anyone wanting support will see it quickly.
Sun is hardly the only vendor that makes this hard.
Looks like Comcast suffered a general outage last night. I suspect thhey have some kind of VOIP solution for their phones as well - their phones were all weird too.
This is a weird sounding thing: blogging bootcamp:
The high octane blogging bootcamps help participants use emerging Internet tools like blogging, RSS, and RSS analytic services to improve their business's effectiveness in its online communities.
The first high octane blogging bootcamp will start May 14 at University of Michigan's Ross School of Business. The bootcamp immerses students in blogging so that they have a practical basis for assessing three elements critical to the newly emerging face of the Internet: pushbutton web publishing, xml syndication, and mass interaction. In combination, these elements allow companies to more easily discover and engage their online community, with potential to influence key customers and opinion makers.
Those aren't the hard parts. The hard part is writing content that people want to read on a regular basis. For that, a creative writing course might be more valuable. Seriously. Most of the people who ths course is aimed at don't need to be immersed in the technical details.
Well, sometimes the sort of connectivity issue I just talked about can be resolved by rebooting the cable modem. Bad idea. Now I have no connectivity at all (which means that this will only be visible later, when I have it again :) ). Anyway. I can't call the local Comcast number - I still get "all circuits are busy". I tried their 800 number - I got there, made a few jumps through the phone system, and then the phone system had trouble and told me it had to disconnect me. Now all I get from them is a busy signal. Sheesh - this is just bizarre...
And it comes back at bedtime :)
This is a really bizarre network situation. Comcast must be having some oddball issue with their systems. I can resolve the site that runs this blog (obviously, or I wouldn't be posting :) ) - but I can't resolve Google, or even Comcast's own sites. So I have connectivity to a handful of things, seemingly. And when I try calling them, I get "all circuits are busy". Very odd...
Scoble has way too much faith in technology. Witness this:
"Technology is too expensive," I can hear lots saying. Well, how expensive is a malpractice lawsuit? I just watched a blood transfusion. What if a doctor wrote the wrong blood type in the patient's chart? Why are we still doing things in an analog fashion? Why isn't there a video camera here to verify what was done to a patient? Why isn't RFID being used to verify that the right medication is being distributed to the right patient? Why doesn't each room have a monitor for nurses to watch so that they can check on the patient's vital signs without entering the room? That'd make them far more efficient, remove waiting times for really serious mishaps (the machine putting fluid into a patient makes the same beep whether it's out of fluid or has a blockage in the line).
Have a look in any corporate database - where all the data was entered via one application or another. Quick: How much of it is accurate? A keyboard or tablet is no more (or less) error prone than a pen and paper. I don't disagree that automation would help in the area Scoble brings up - I simply don't think it's a panacea. Bad data entry happens.
Jon Udell would like to see less coupling between languages and environments - he gives a few examples of the problem - the need to use Ruby on Ruby on Rails extensions, for instance. To some extent this comes down to being an LCD question. If I pull Smalltalk out of the environment, for instance, I lose a goodly portion of its power. There are pros and cons to that, and I guess where you sit determines where you stand on that. So far as I'm concerned, having the full power of Smalltalk available to me - even in a runtime - makes things a lot easier. I'm not sure about this conclusion, either:
While environments may not need to evolve as rapidly as languages, though, they certainly need to evolve more rapidly than the Java and .NET environments do. That's why I've always been so keen to see dynamic languages integrate deeply with the JVM and CLR.
Jim Hugunin, who created first Jython and then IronPython, may be the world's foremost expert on this topic. When I met with him recently, I asked if he thought we'd see official .NET Framework classes written in IronPython. He said that, although dynamic languages will accelerate the development of the framework, extensions written in Python will likely be rewritten in statically-compiled languages for production use. To some dynamic-language advocates that may sound old-fashioned, but to me it sounds pragmatic.
Actually, that sounds like a huge waste of time to me - I take the stance that rewrites (pretty much without regard to what is being ported to what) are almost always a waste of time. You end up right back where you started, and there's a non-zero opportunity cost imposed on the developers you had doing the port - what valuable tasks could they have been up to instead? You'll never know; that time is just gone down the post hole.
Moreover, the fact that MS (and Hugunin, for that matter) perceive a need to rewrite those things tells me that MS isn't really serious about dynamic languages - at least not yet. Until that changes, any dynamic language running on the CLR will be a second class citizen. Which is where things are on the JVM as well.
I was just informed that one of the icons in the editor toolbar might have license issues - so I've replaced it. If you download the latest posting tool (via the Bf update mechanism - 3.9 stream only), you'll see the default balloon replacing the link button. To get the new icon, download this file, and unzip all the contents into the 'icons' directory in your BottomFeeder distribution.
Clicking on the orange RSS button or the "Syndicate" link above will no longer spit out raw XML to your readers using a modern browser. Instead, they will see a "pretty printed" RSS feed with a link to learn more, subscribe in My MSN, or subscribe in an aggregator supporting one-click subscription (feed://)
There's been a lot of work leading up to BottomFeeder 3.9 - in particular, it's running on VisualWorks 7.3 now. That means better network libraries right off the bat. There's been a lot more done though, with a lot of help from James and Michael:
- WYSIWYG Posting tool supporting the MetaWebLog API, the Blogger API, and the MT API. It's been tested and verified against BlogSpot
- The posting tool supports posting of Enclosures
- The posting tool properly supports trackback posting now
- When adding a feed, urls which do not lead to rss/atom content will be scanned for rss/atom links (Auto-Discovery)
- There are now next/previous buttons on the BottomFeeder toolbar, allowing you to go back and forth through your browsing history
- Menus have been reorganized to make things clearer
- New and expanded documentation
- A new plugin that can download Enclosures overnight
- Optimizations to the XHTML viewer
There are a whole raft of bug fixes as well. Should be out soon
Check out this page on the CST Wiki about the Goodies - it gives a basic explanation of what's there. Very cool.
I'm not liking what I see from Rivera so far:
Playing without their ailing manager, the Red Sox rallied for five runs off Rivera in the ninth inning -- helped by Alex Rodriguez's costly error -- and beat New York 7-3 Wednesday to avoid a season-opening sweep.
At the very least, he's not 100%. At worst, he's on the decline. The Yankees need to look for a credible alternative, fast.
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) organizes 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 with 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
- Submissions due on 1st of May 2005
- Notification of acceptance on 15 of May 2005
- ESUG Research Conference
- 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
- 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 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.
Michael made some enhancements to the posting tool for BottomFeeder yesterday - he added combo-box to the editor's toolbar. The combo box has some common options, such as "new paragraph" and "header", as well as "pre" tag insertion. I also tracked down the issue with the table tool - which had worked, and then stopped working. It's working again. The issue? case sensitivity in the parsing of the toolbar definition. The toolbar that the editor uses is defined in XML (and extension the SwS guys did). That stuff was case-insensitive, and then it became case sensitive. Seems I had used a mixed case tag name for the table tool. Changing that made the problem go away.
Rob Fahrni is unhappy with the development tools available for Linux:
From a development perspective I can see why scripting style languages are so popular. The development tools that I'm aware of for C/C++ developers are pathetic. I know, I know, it's all about typing commands, piping this into that, but would it kill someone to create a great development environment? I'll stop griping about this some day, but for now it's the bane of my existence. I guess I've become spoiled to the absolute beauty that is Visual Studio. It just works, and it works really, really well. Edit, compile, debug; as God meant it. The next time you're having a bad day debugging your Windows based application be thankful you're not using gdb.
There's always VisualWorks, which is available on Windows (and everything else). You don't have to live with text editors and command line compilers :)
Rivera nearly blew another one last night:
Mariano Rivera picked up right where he left off last October, blowing another lead against the Boston Red Sox. This time, Derek Jeter bailed him out.
The Yankees can't count on hitting to solve every bullpen issue - Rivera was losing steam last year, and he was injured earlier this spring. It may be time to start looking for a new closer.
Ephraim Schwartz points to some interesting comments by Ben Gaucherin of Sapient:
Ben Gaucherin, the CTO in question, says blogs “are a fad fueled by pop culture’s desperate search for the next big thing.” When I spoke with Gaucherin he was even more emphatic than he was in his news alert. He told me that blogs are the digital equivalent of the pet rock.
Translation: "I have nothing interesting to say, and those blasted bloggers are distracting people from the boring stuff I'd like to talk about"
I've taken a sideways step away from WWI (see my last few book posts) and taken up something completely different: "Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded". This is another one of the fascinating books in my ever growing backlog.
I've only read the first third or so - but in the process of setting the background for the catastrophic eruption, the author delved into a discussion on plate tectonics. That was interesting stuff - apparently, a German scientist named Wegener had the idea as far back as the turn of the twentieth century but the scientific world scoffed - it was too wild an idea, and besides - he was a meteorologist, not an earth scientist.
His ideas were borne out over the next 60 years through various bits of research (interrupted by WWI and WWII) carried on by other people. Makes me wonder which well accepted pieces of scientific dogma will be discredited in the future, and reminds me that it's always a good idea to keep an open mind.
Slashdot has an item on Australian TV and BitTorrent - i.e., some viewers there would like to have it (given that many popular shows air in the US months before they show up in Oz) - the local tv networks are far less sanguine about the idea. I've run into this problem myself on this blog - back when "Angel" was nearing the end of its run, I had a few readers ask me not to post any details - since the show wouldn't be ending "down under" for months.
This is yet another example of time and distance compression being wrought by the net. Even a decade ago, you weren't likely to hear tv/movie details casually when something aired earlier in another region. Now, you have to go out of your way not to hear such things. I suspect that we are getting closer and closer to synchronized world-wide releases. It's already happening with movies - tv is going to be forced to follow.
Sean McGrath is unhappy over how long it takes to boot a PC (laptop, in this example). That's why I rarely shut mine down anymore - I just close the shell and let it hibernate. I've left my machine in that state for over a day as I've traveled, and even when the battery dies, things are ok - the system gets snapshotted to disk.
Maybe I'm just comfortable with the idea of snapshots, since that's what a Smalltalk image does when you save it :)
PR Opinions points out that the digital protection schemes that the RIAA and the MPAA are annoying us with are not limited to those fields - publishers of e-books are in on the act as well:
I finally bought one of these damned books because I needed it fairly quickly. I will never do it again. It's a great example of how traditional industries (publishers, music etc.) are completely missing the point. Their only reaction to the digital era is to sell products that are more inaccessible than their analog counterparts. The book in question could only be read using the very latest (and most bloated) version of Adobe Reader - which by the way includes loads of really useful nagware features. The book's copyright protection allows you to print 12 pages in any given week.... You can't transfer it onto you PDA... Instead you're forced to read it on your laptop and when the battery dies... Well so does your reading.
Call me old fashioned but I personally prefer physical books and this experience has just re-affirmed my preferences. Publishers can clearly save money in distribution and production by selling electronic versions but instead they worry about pirates. They are flattering themselves.
Have we learned nothing from the bad old days of attempted copy protection of floppy disks? This sort of thing irritates paying customers, and puts no real hurdles in the way of the pirates who want to do harm.
Don Park points out that MS bought Groove for less money than was invested:
Apparently, Groove was sold to Microsoft for $120 million in cash (via Dave) which falls short of $155 million invested into Groove. Since Microsoft was the largest investor, it's share out of the $120 million is about $80 million. That means Microsoft bought rest of Groove for just $40 million.
Which tells me that they were buying the staff more than they were buying the technology. Always a dicey proposition, since staff can freely walk away...
I've posted on the absolute stupidity going on in the schools before - I just let loose with a rant on why not having PC's isn't the problem, in fact. So imagine my mood when I ran across the latest batch of stupidity: it's the red pens that are the problem:
At Daniels Farm Elementary School in Trumbull, Connecticut, Karwoski's teachers grade papers by giving examples of better answers for those students who make mistakes. But that approach meant the kids often found their work covered in red, the color that teachers long have used to grade work.
Parents objected. Red writing, they said, was "stressful." The principal said teachers were just giving constructive advice and the color of ink used to convey that message should not matter. But some parents could not let it go.
So the school put red on the blacklist. Blue and other colors are in.
Oh my god. You know what the proper answer is for those parents? A few whacks across the chops with a clue by four, that's what. The problem isn't the color, it's the low grades. Either the parents aren't valuing education, the school isn't teaching anything, or - more likely - it's both.
The principal in question should be fired on the spot for going along with this idea. She's clearly not smart enough to be a principal; she may not be bright enough to be a doorstop. And lest you think that Karwoski is an isolated outpost of lunacy, there's this:
In many other schools, it's black and white when it comes to red. The color has become so symbolic of negativity that some principals and teachers will not touch it. "You could hold up a paper that says 'Great work!' and it won't even matter if it's written in red," said Joseph Foriska, principal of Thaddeus Stevens Elementary in Pittsburgh.
What kind of lame morons are we hiring to work in education these days? Yes, I know that there are good solid people in the teaching profession - my daughter has had a few. She's also had a few complete lamers, like her second grade math teacher. What really irritates me is that the good people seem to be getting crowded out by a group of "self esteem uber alles" types who can't locate the state they're teaching in on a map. What bothers me is seeing math only get taught three days a week, because we have to have reading and english. What bothers me is every other tech blogger thinking that more PC's in the classroom will bring salvation, while they studiously fail to notice the calculator use in first grade that prevents the acquisition of basic math skills. What bothers me is that the schools don't cover the history that brought this country (i.e., the one I live in) to its present position - American and European, primarily - and instead spend a disproportionate time on the history of the rest of the world which - to be really, really blunt - is just less relevent at the middle school and high school level. Unless you goal is to end up with a hopelessly uninformed citizen who won't have any idea how the system of government they live under evolved. I'm all in favor of learning as much about the world as possible - I'd just be happier if they'd move from the inside of the circle out, rather than from the outside in.
If you think history is being taught, just find a few 20 somethings and ask them to place the civil war within 10 years, or the revolution, or WWI. Then get more depressed by seeing how much of the times table they know...
But wait! There's more stupidity where this came from. It only gets worse:
"My generation was brought up on right or wrong with no in between, and red was always in your face," Kazmark said. "It's abrasive to me. Purple is just a little bit more gentle. Part of my job is to be attuned to what kids respond to, and red is not one of those colors."
Someone should ask that puzzlewit how he ever managed to grow up and get a job with his precious self esteem damaged by that gosh awful focus on right and wrong. You know what? Kids don't have a problem with red. In my experience, they have no problem with being shown right and wrong - it's the over-protective parents and the weak willed teachers and principals that have a problem. Which shows the way to a solution - parents who just suck it up and let their kids learn from their mistakes, and teachers and principals who have an actual backbone.
The blasted article just kept getting dumber as it went down too:
"It's taken a turn from 'Here's what you need to improve on' to 'Here's what you've done right,"' Powell said. "It's not that we're not pointing out mistakes, it's just that the method in which it's delivered is more positive." Her students, she said, probably would tune out red because they are so used to it. So she grades with whatever color -- turquoise blue, hot pink, lime green -- appeals to them.
That is a sound approach, said Leatrice Eiseman, a color specialist with a background in psychology who has written several books on the ties between colors and communication. "The human eye is notoriously fickle and is always searching for something new to look at it," she said. "If you use a color that has long been used in a traditional way, you can lose people's attention, especially if they have a history of a lot of red marks on their papers."
Oh really? Well gosh, let's change the traffic lights randomly then - the human eye being fickle and all. Where do they find people with these ideas? And heck - this is being reported by a some AP staffer - were they utterly incapable of thought? Was it just too hard to bring up counter-examples, like traffic lights? Or to ask how the previous 10 or 20 generations of kids ever managed to get by with red marks on their papers? And people wonder why I have such a low level of regard for the press...
Charles Miller tells us what Linux on the desktop is really like :)
She seems exciting at first and you pour an enormous amount of energy into the relationship, but she keeps demanding more and more, and she never gets any more predictable. You’ll find yourself awake at 4am arguing with her about where you left the toilet seat. And while the fact that her idea of a good night out is a trip to McDonalds means your wallet is thanking you, you end up wishing for someone a bit more refined.
If you’re lucky, you’ll come to your senses and do your best to keep her at arms length. If you’re unlucky, Stockholm syndrome will start to kick in…
Heh. And don't miss this... Mac and Windows explained!
BLOGGERS require no journalistic experience. All they need is computer access and the desire to blog. There are other, even important differences between bloggers and mainstream journalists, perhaps the most significant being that bloggers pride themselves on being part of an unmediated medium, giving their readers unfiltered information. And therein lies the problem.
Oh, that's just too rich. So david - what exactly are your journalistic qualifications? You hung around J-school for a few years taking easy classes and getting drunk? After which you got a job with a paper that can barely spell editor, much less do any actual editing? Why do I say that? Well, look at his example, presumably fact checked by that brilliant editing team he scorns people like me for not having:
Equally irresponsible, it was yet another blogger — if he can be so characterized — Matt Drudge, who first posted the erroneous story last year alleging that Kerry had had an affair with a young intern.
Drudge may be more a tipster and a gossip than a true blogger, but I see him as part of the same solipsistic, self-aggrandizing journalist-wannabe genre, and I don't think the reporter's shield law should be available to anyone so quick to disseminate inaccurate information, with no editors to examine or restrain him.
Great example except.... Drudge is not a blogger. And you can climb down off your high horse about editorial restraint - it certainly didn't help CBS news any in the infamous 60 Minutes story last fall - and the only reason the NY Times didn't get similarly caught is that CBS decided to run ahead of them. Yeah David - editors are a perfect check. That explains the near perfection of MSM reportage. And don't even get me started on the "technology reporting" the papers do. Sheesh, talk about lack of facts masquerading as stories. Then there's this lovely bit of crap:
Reporters in 31 states, including California, as well as Washington, D.C., are protected by shield laws. Most of those laws -- and California's in particular -- provide more protection than does the 1st Amendment itself. That's why the Bush administration is pursuing its cases in federal court, where state shield laws don't apply. That's also why many journalists -- and several congressmen -- are actively seeking a federal shield law.
I strongly favor such a law, and in this climate we have to be careful about when and under what circumstances we apply and assert the journalist's privilege. If the courts allow every Tom, Dick and Matt who wants to call himself a journalist to invoke the privilege to protect confidential sources, the public will become even less trusting than it already is of all journalists.
Let's just start a "registered school of journalists" then, and everyone who wants to be one has to go there and get a badge. That will make it so much simpler to figure out who the superior folks (like Shaw there) are, and who us peons are. It will be far easier to stay in our place that way too. Do you guys get to wear the special badges, or do we?
Johnny can't read, so we better ban iPods:
So it’s not like this is the first we’re hearing of The Fear that technology will destroy the fabric of all social life. But it’s the first we’ve heard of a school actually banning iPods as a result of that fear. Students attending Sydney, Australia’s private International Grammar School are being asked either to leave the white gadgets at home, or to place them in a locked drawer during the duration of the school day — because they enable students to “avoid communication with others” and may lead to “social isolation or escape from our community.” Somehow we doubt teenagers’ desire to escape from the community originated with the iPod, and we also doubt there will be a mass communication breakdown no matter how much they turn up the Zeppelin. But hey, now the students can bond over how much this ban sucks, and that’s community right there, folks.
Be a good little drone now...
King Kaufman reports on the opening of baseball season - and apparently, the alternate universe I've been in since last fall is righting itself:
Both of the game's marquee teams showed off their new big-name pitchers, Randy Johnson of the Yankees and David Wells of the Red Sox. Not surprisingly, Johnson came out ahead, Wells giving up a run in the second and coming unhinged in the third, balking in the third run of the inning when he started and then stopped his windup, something you might call a rookie mistake if you could find a rookie who'd make it.
Hideki Matsui robbed Kevin Millar of a home run down the left field line, then singled twice and homered himself. Previous steroids poster boy Jason Giambi got a hit, was hit by two pitches and made some nice plays at first base before being replaced by Tino Martinez, returning to cheers from a three-year exile in St. Louis and some place in Florida where there's reportedly a team. Johnson threw six solid innings. The Yankees romped 9-2.
That's how things are supposed to work :)
WASHINGTON, D.C. April 4 2005 Tom Nies, Cincom President and CEO, will be encouraging entrepreneurship and sharing the challenges of today’s global marketplace in a series of speeches and events scheduled from April 7-13 in Washington, D.C., USA and London, UK.
Event 1: Annual Awards Dinner of the Center for the Study of the Presidency
When: April 7, 2005
Where: Capital Ballroom of the J.W. Marriott, which is located at 1331 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. in Washington D.C.
Cincom and its CEO, Tom Nies, will be recognized and honored during the 39th Annual Awards Dinner of the Center for the Study of the Presidency. The event is in conjunction with the establishment of the Cincom Scholar Fellowship.
Twice each year, this unique Study of the Presidency Fellows Program brings together top students from the best schools to Washington D.C. for an immersion into public policy. The students meet with national leaders from the White House and Congress, and write original papers on the subject of the presidency.
The Center brings together experts from government, academia, and the corporate world to discuss key issues facing the presidency. Although program initiatives change from time to time, all Center activities rest largely upon the following four pillars:
- Presidential Leadership
- Organizing for Leadership
The Cincom Scholar Fellowship will be domiciled at the University of Cincinnati. The first topic of research for the Cincom Scholar will (tentatively) revolve around changing and improving tax policies to stimulate growth of mid-to-intermediate companies, foster job creation, drive innovation, and enhance U.S. competitiveness.
American Ambassador Max Kampleman will keynote the annual awards dinner and will also receive the Publius Award for bipartisan public service.
In attendance at the dinner will be over 600 D.C. insiders, journalists, White House staffers, and members of congress.
In addition, Cincom has been invited to participate in a private-public partnership called the Foundation for International Understanding whose mission is to help strengthen the image of the U.S. in the world and help offset rampant anti-Americanism. Cincom has been asked to participate in creating the business plan for the Foundation that wishes to tap Cincom’s extensive expertise in information technology and integration of the World Wide Web to help overcome the challenge of international communications. This interaction and relationship building should also lead to Cincom business development in the near future.
"I commend the Center for the Study of the Presidency for your ongoing efforts to promote research and dialogue that strengthens our country and helps prepare our next generation of leaders. Your work contributes to a future of promise for all."
President George W. Bush
43rd President of the United States
"Throughout its history, the Center has been a beacon for students of American Government. Its lectures and conferences have provided forums for spirited debate…its fellowship programs have given students from across the country the opportunity to participate in active political discourse …"
William Jefferson Clinton
42nd President of the United States
Event 2: Nies’ Keynote on Tax Reform and Job Creation at The Washington Center
When: April 8, 2005 at 11:30 a.m.
Where: The Washington Center in Washington D.C.
The second of these events is a keynote speech on tax reform and job creation that Tom Nies will deliver on April 8.
Nies’ provocative views on the relaxation of taxation for corporations with revenues under $50 million were recently published in the October issue of the Manufacturer and January issue of British Industry.
Pivotal issues of debate in this program will include tax reform and job creation. Mr. Nies will speak based on his experience as a successful entrepreneur and former Ohio Federal Reserve Board member.
The keynote audience will consist of young professionals participating in the Governors Program of The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars, as well as the technology program and select media. This prestigious semester-long program hosts 75 rising stars in public policy from Mexico, Canada, and the United States. The select group serves in professional positions across the family of institutions associated with international trade and investment-driven policy.
The Washington Center will conduct media outreach to all Washington DC media outlets and bureaus. These include: Associated Press, CNN, Reuters, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Financial Times, Business Week, Bloomberg, CNBC, Dow Jones, NPR, The New York Times, Barron’s, Investor’s Business Daily and many others.
Governmental invitations have been extended to numerous congressional “Hill committees” - think-tanks and diplomatic arms.
They include: Budget (Senate & Congressional); Financial Services; Small Business; Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs.
- Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, DC
- American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, DC (yes)
- The Brookings Institution, DC (yes)
- Capital Research Center, DC
- Cato Institute, DC (yes)
- Center for Equal Opportunity, VA
- Center for Policy Alternatives, DC (yes)
- Economic Policy Institute, DC (yes)
- Electronic Privacy Information Center, DC
- Ethics and Public Policy Center, DC
- Freedom Forum, VA
- The Heritage Foundation, DC (yes)
- Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, CA
- Hudson Institute, DC (yes)
- The Independent Institute, CA
- Institute for Policy Studies, MD
- Investor Responsibility Research Center, DC
- Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, DC
- Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, NY
- Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, CA
- Progress and Freedom Foundation, DC
- Progressive Policy Institute, DC
- Property and Environment Research Center, MT
- The Urban Institute, DC
- Worldwatch Institute, DC (yes)
Event 3: Red Herring Venture Market Conference
When: April 13, 2005
Where: Park Lane Hilton, London
Tom Nies will also participate in a CEO Roundtable on April 13 at the Red Herring Venture Market Conference in London. The Roundtable, titled “Will Europe build another software giant?" includes Tom Nies; Bernard Liautaud, CEO of Business Objects; and Michael Lynch, CEO of Autonomy. One of the issues that will be addressed with this panel is how difficult it is for American software companies to do business in Europe and how that compares with European software firms that have been successful in the US.
In the last few updates to the 3.9 dev stream, there have been some glitches with the blog poster. Specifically, the cursor placement on word wrap could get all wonky. I just grabbed the latest code from SwS, and that problem is fixed. We should have a 3.9 release as soon as two things happen - Rich is still working on doc (this is a big job, and I really, really appreciate his work!), and I need to do a new build. Stay tuned
Tim Bray thinks that technology will solve the ID problem in feeds:
With Atom, every entry is required to have both a universally-unique ID and a field called updated, the time-stamp when the publisher thinks it last changed. That means that if ever I see the same entry twice, that’s a bug! There’s no wiggle room, somebody’s breaking a rule and I can track it down and harass them until they fix it.
Yeah, right. This assumes a lot - like every content aggregator in the food chain preserving id tags. RSS 2.0 has GUIDs already, and I can tell you, not all content aggregators preserve them - many of them just go ahead and create their own. Atom will not wave a magic wand and fix bad practice.
The only way to deal with ths problem is a system like NNTP, but I don't see that happening.