We had a brief outage, due to a server problem. It's been addressed, and (as you can see), we are back online
I've got another new dev build for 4.1 up, but there's going to be at least one more - I patched a small bug in the blog poster while the files were still uploading. The latest changes? I mapped the delete key to delete for folders, feeds, and items. I also moved a few menu options out of pull rights to make them easier to get to.
Looks like the iTanium has no place on the client, and a shrinking place in the supercomputer space. What's left? Davy Jones locker:
Over the years, Intel began to circumscribe Itanium's potential market. The company planned to sell the chip for a wide variety of servers and workstations. Then Dell and HP dropped Itanium workstations, so Intel stopped plugging it for those tasks. At the same time, Itanium went from being a server chip to only a high-end server chip. Sales remained low.
"With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, there would not be an Itanium today," Haff said.
Time to start taking bets on when intel pulls the plug completely
Sony insists that they've done nothing wrong, and that they are only "temporarily" pulling the rootkit DRM (note that any CD's already out in stores still have it). Dan Goodin at Wired explains:
Add to these failures the utter lack of contrition shown by the label and its executives and you get what's effectively an unforgivable combination. "We stand by content protection technology as an important tool to protect our intellectual property rights and those of our artists," Sony said in Friday's statement announcing the temporary suspension
These people are unbelievably clueless. They're in a deep hole, and they just keep digging. Dan Goodin is calling for a boycott:
If it was a mistake for Sony to foist a rootkit on its users -- as Sony's retreat on Friday would suggest -- then halting production of the offending CDs is only the first step in rebuilding our trust. Sony now must recall all remaining disks, make it easier for people to remove the rootkits and provide free support for anyone who still has difficulty.
It's time to draw a line in the silicon. Until Sony acknowledges the mistakes it has made, recalls the CDs and publishes guidelines for copy-protection programs it intends to use in the future, we should boycott its CDs containing the software. It pains me to say this because artists with no control over Sony's software are caught in the crossfire.
I had been seriously considering a PS2, since there are so many nice games for that system. Not anymore though; I'm waiting for the cluemeter at Sony to rise back into positive territory. I don't buy many CD's as it is, but I'm staying well clear of any Sony/BMG labels until they have a serious response.
We bought an HD capable TV a few years ago, and we only just got around to having Comcast deliver their HD cable box. Things look very nice, but there's a small problem - our ReplayTV normally looks at the cable box output to record, and - obviously - so does the DVR feature of the new cable box. Which means that as soon as we start using the new box, it will go to war with the Replay :/
Time to buy yet another splitter...
I'm inclined to take Mitch, Doc, and Om more seriously. Why? Simple - all three of them can make an argument without cursing, and without gratuitous personal attacks. Read Winer's post - he's incapable of civil discourse, and - even when he has a point - that completely torches his argument.
It's something I see a lot of in the blogosphere - every time I see someone cursing in the process of making a point, I remember what a good friend of mine used to ask me back in high school:
"Are you yelling to convince me, or yourself?"
Jim Menard turns away from the static language zone after pondering the hack job that Sun did on generics. Here's a Smalltalk version of the code he posted in Ruby and Java:
initialize: aList list := aList. add: aThing list add: aThing. handle list do: [:eachItem | "code to do stuff here"].
The Smalltalk code here, and the Ruby code over there look pretty much the same, while the Java code takes up more space and is more opaque. It's an amusing thing to watch - the Java and C# communities are trying to add the power of languages like Ruby and Smalltalk, but - given the constraints of what they are starting with, it just ends up being so much more baroque complexity.
Avi explains the history of Seaside, and its relationship to similar work he started (and other have carried on) in Ruby.
The Los Angeles STUG is meeting tonight:
We will work on Smalltalk exercises and have an open meeting to plan for future Smalltalk activities (Re-scheduled from last month due to power outage at HTHLA).
Starts at 7:30 PM Monday, November 14th, 2005
at HighTech High LA
17111 Victory Blvd
Lake Balboa, CA 91406
It gets even stupider for Sony - in their quest to protect their copyrights, they apparently violated LGPL license terms:
The spyware that Sony installs on the computers of music fans does not even seem to be correct in terms of copyright law.
It turns out that the rootkit contains pieces of code that are identical to LAME, an open source mp3-encoder, and thereby breach the license.
This software is licensed under the so called Lesser Gnu Public License (LGPL). According to this license Sony must comply with a couple of demands. Amongst others, they have to indicate in a copyright notice that they make use of the software. The company must also deliver the source code to the open-source libraries or otherwise make these available. And finally, they must deliver or otherwise make available the in between form between source code and executable code, the so called objectfiles, with which others can make comparable software.
Sony complied with non of these demands, but delivered just an executable program. A computerexpert, whose name is known by the redaction, discovered that the cd "Get Right With The Man" by "Van Zant" contains strings from the library version.c of Lame. This can be conluded from the string: "http://www.mp3dev.org/", "0.90", "LAME3.95", "3.95", "3.95 ".
I guess when the question came up - "should we be stupid, or just incompetent?" - their management said: "Let's do both!".
Update: More evidence of the hole digging at Sony here.
The bigger limitation to keep in mind, though, is that Tate's conclusions may not apply to you. This is from page 43: "I'd guess that as many as half of all commercial applications involve a web frontend that baby-sits a plain old relational database." I don't necessarily disagree with his guess, but here's the key thing to understand: Tate makes his living building those sorts of applications. So when he describes the pain that Java forces him to endure in order to build systems for his clients, you have to ask yourself: "Does this apply to me?"
It appears that in Tate's view, most Java developers are like him: building web front ends that do create/read/update/delete operations on a relational database, with perhaps some additional business logic. And while I don't dispute that a large proportion of Java developers are building those sorts of applications, not everyone makes their living that way.
His central point is that Java has drifted away from serving the needs of developers such as himself. The addition of enterprise features and frameworks has added complexity that is not needed by the majority of applications and therefore just ends up making developers less productive. It is important to note that he disdains the use of Java for rich client applications. Also of note is that development of mobile applications gets very little mention in the book.
I think the bigger issue is that Java - and the MS offerings - and a lot of what IBM is selling, for that matter - are outside the bounds of what most developers are doing. I don't think most people are heads down on huge, enterprise class, "scale to the heavens" projects. And yet, the mainstream tools are mostly catering to that audience. A lot of the interest in things like Ruby on Rails and Seaside is driven by that mis-direction - the big vendors are busy handing out complex machinery for building an interstate system, while most of the developers need to put in a sidewalk.
Yesterday's coverage of the Audible announcement exposed a conversation that was coming, and it boils down to the question in the title of this piece. The answer -- if you're not using MP3, you're probably trying to make podcasting into a replay of previous media.
I breathlessly await the Winer approved format for video - it won't be video-casting unless Dave approves either.
I wonder how much storage space he has to rent for his ego?
I have no idea what happened, but just before noon, the power flickered a few times, and then went out. Fortunately, I have a UPS on my Linux server, so I was able to shut that down in an orderly fashion - and the Laptop has a battery, so that's ok. The Mac mini went down hard though - hopefully, no problems there.
In the meantime, the BGE power trucks have stopped in front of the power boxes that sit in our side yard twice. I have no idea what they've been doing there - they haven't opened the box either time. The power is out in the whole neighborhood, so it's likely not a problem there (unless they were checking for something like surge damage? Who knows?). In the meantime, the automated service tells me that I should expect power to be back by 3. It's a beautiful day out with no wind, so it's got to be an accident of some sort - car crash, line cut while digging, etc. We'll see.
Meanwhile, no chance of watching the NFL. Figures - the Giants have finally figured out that it works better if you don't hand the ball to the other team.
Software patents (one click, anyone?) have been bad enough, but now the PTO has allowed a perpetual motion machine to be patented:
A perpetual-motion machine may defy the laws of physics, but an Indiana inventor recently succeeded in having one patented.
On November 1 Boris Volfson of Huntington, Indiana, received U.S. Patent 6,960,975 for his design of an antigravity space vehicle.
Next for the patent office - Love Potion Number 9.
But I was not defeated, no sirree. I switched back to Emacs and dropped into XHTML mode and pulled together a simple, minimal table; with a bit of judicious CSS margin and border wrangling I had a darn fine-looking resumé. It looked way better on the screen than either the Word or the OO.o version, and both Safari and Camino (which is now wrapped around the Firefox 1.5 code, BTW) produced excellent-looking print versions, Camino’s a little better.
So, I understand why we still need spreadsheets and presentation packages, but assuming you had a Web editor with a good change tracker, why would anyone want a word processor any more?
As bad as Word and Open Office (and WordPerfect) are, Emacs in XHTML mode is not the answer for most people. Oddly enough, Word didn't always suck. Word for Windows 2.0 was fairly decent - it went downhill from there, as MS started adding "help" and "smarts" to it.
We use a set of objective criteria for both Windows Defender and the Malicious Software Removal Tool to determine what software will be classified for detection and removal by our anti-malware technology. We have analyzed this software, and have determined that in order to help protect our customers we will add a detection and removal signature for the rootkit component of the XCP software to the Windows AntiSpyware beta, which is currently used by millions of users.
I suspect that other vendors that haven't already done so will follow suit. I wonder when Sony will figure out that they have a PR problem of epic proportions on their hands?
I made some comments about MS' position in my last post, based on the continued strength of Mac tools in the RSS/Atom subscription space - I figured it qualified for a post of its own. What I said:
Still a lot of diversity there (in RSS/Atom tools), but the thing that pops at me is the high number of Mac accesses - the "thought leaders" in the RSS/Atom sphere are skewed that way. Which is why there are rumbles of Apple talking a serious stab at increasing their OS share, I think. Given the problems MS is having with Vista, they might have a chance. MS is rapidly approaching the state IBM was in circa 1985. The main difference is in their leadership - IBM had empty suits back then, and MS still has Gates (and Ozzie). In the long run, it might not matter much.
I think Microsoft has reached a size - and complexity (in terms of their processes and their products) that the leadership is having huge problems turning the ship. There's only so much that Gates and Ozzie can do, when the premier product - Windows - has become a huge ball of mud with too much crap stuffed into the kernel. Ditto their tool suite, where they've managed to hang themselves via multiple dependencies between their tools (like VS and SQL Server, for instance).
The only saving grace for MS at this point is the raw stupidity of their competition. Sun thinks that their revenues will rise, if only they give more stuff away for free. All the alternatives to MS Office suck eggs, and they have all tried to copy all the worst things about the MS tools. I have news for the ODF fans - an open document format doesn't mean anything if the base tool is horrid - and Open Office is, quite simply, horrid.
The upshot of all this? I think Apple has an opening. Not for dominance, but certainly for growth.
Looks like the download rate for BottomFeeder has settled into the mid-300's per day (364 per day last week) after spiking briefly. That's a decent rate, no complaints here :) The details:
On to the HTML blog page accesses - it looks to me like my readership has expanded into the broader (IE dominated) ranks - at least amongst those who read via their browser:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
Finally, a look at the RSS accesses by tool. Still a lot of diversity there, but the thing that pops at me is the high number of Mac accesses - the "thought leaders" in the RSS/Atom sphere are skewed that way. Which is why there are rumbles of Apple talking a serious stab at increasing their OS share, I think. Given the problems MS is having with Vista, they might have a chance. MS is rapidly approaching the state IBM was in circa 1985. The main difference is in their leadership - IBM had empty suits back then, and MS still has Gates (and Ozzie). In the long run, it might not matter much.
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
|Net News Wire||9.4%|
Scoble links to a funny comment about spending options (vis-a-vis the XBox 360, which starts at $300). There's a serious thing going on with Sony's recent step into an ever growing manure pile of DRM - combined with the fact that the PS3 won't ship until next year.
MS has a real shot to eat up a large piece of the market share that Sony currently owns in this space. I wonder how big an impact it would make if they could increase the number of available systems for Christmas, and offer a discount - say $50 or so - to anyone who can prove that they own a PS2? It's a potential clock cleaning moment for MS, and I'm not sure that they fully grasp that.
What do you think? Do any of the blog search engines meet your needs? I find I am very unsatisfied with all of the blog search engines.
When I spoke to the EUFA the other day I wanted to show them the top soccer bloggers, but I couldn’t figure that out. How do you find the top blogs in a field that you aren’t yet following?
The trouble is, I don't know how motivated Google is to fix the problem. Most people don't use blog search specifically; they just search Google, either via the toolbar in their browser, or via the home page of the engine. Blog search is like RSS/Atom itself - mostly invisible to the end user, but of great interest to the "thought leaders" in the field.
With RSS/Atom, browser integration will make most people into silent users. I have no idea what event (if any) will kick blog search.
Sony still doesn't get it. They seem to think that the rootkit code they use in their DRM is fine, it's the fact that anyone noticed that's the problem:
Music publisher Sony BMG said on Friday it would stop making CDs that use a controversial technology to protect its music against illegal copying.
"As a precautionary measure, Sony BMG is temporarily suspending the manufacture of CDs containing XCP technology," it said in a statement.
The decision follows the discovery on Thursday of the first virus that uses Sony BMG's CD copy-protection software to hide on PCs and wreak havoc.
Not "we were wrong", not "Sorry" - no, Sony is temporarily suspending the use of the rootkit software. Temporarily suspending! In fact, they say this:
Sony BMG said it stands by content protection technology "as an important tool to protect our intellectual property rights and those of our artists."
It's a sad thing, watching a once great company flush itself down the toilet.
Across the English-speaking world, except for the US, today is Remembrance day
Here in the US, today is Veteran's Day (a Federal Holiday) - it was Armistice Day prior to WWII, and it later became a general day of honor for all veterans of the US military.
Just pointing out that we remember as well.
Smalltalk has supported comments for classes for a long while, and various source code tools - Store, Envy (et. al.) have had ways to store comments at the sccs artifact level. There's also an old component in VisualWorks, the Class Reporter - but it works at the level of classes and categories (not packages/bundles) - and it produces text with widget (i.e., Smalltalk text field) markup, not HTML/XHTML.
So all that leads me to a question - we all know about JavaDoc, and what it does for Java. Do we simply need the same thing for Cincom Smalltalk? Do we need something more? Do we need something different?
What would the developer community like to see in this area? Send me mail, or leave a comment.
Our release (Winter 2005) is coming up, so it must be time for a lot of conference calls. Today's schedule:
- 9 am - 10 am
- 10 am - 11 am
- 12:30 pm - 2 pm
- 2 pm - 3 pm
I think my headset is attaching itself to my ear...
Avi Bryant had created a continuations-based server in the Ruby programming language, but left for the Squeak dialect of Smalltalk -- a pure, object-oriented language invented in the early 1970s, when Ruby continuations proved to be a little too unstable. (They've since been fixed.) He then built the Seaside framework on the Squeak dialect of Smalltalk and has never looked back. He now uses Seaside to quickly build Web applications for his customers. They're willing to put up with a niche language like Squeak because the framework is so productive, lowering the total cost of development dramatically, and improving time to market.
I'm not suggesting that we'll all be programming in Smalltalk in the next 10 years. That train rusted at the station. But I will say that language issues go away when there's compelling economic justification. Give me an application written in an obscure language that's five times as fast as an application written in a popular language, make it easy to maintain, and charge me one-third of what I'm spending today, and I likely won't care what language you pick.
Read that second paragraph, and then note that Continuation based web apps can't really be done in Java - you don't have the capability. You can use Seaside in Cincom Smalltalk as well - it's on the CD. There's extra irony as well - IBM's finally noticed the power of Smalltalk, and the one they had (VAST) can't support Seaside anyway - there's no Continuation capability in that product. So if this stuff interests you, pick up Squeak or Cincom Smalltalk.
Awhile back, I did a brief introduction of servlets in Cincom Smalltalk. I thought I'd take a brief look at the other side of that - the SSP pages themselves. SSP pages can be written with jsp tags, which is nice for developers who are already familiar with that - you just create Smalltalk code on the back end that matches the tags.
That's not what I wanted to talk about though - when I create SSP pages (like the ones for this blog), I just embed Smalltalk code in the page. Now, you can quickly go down the road to hell that way - what I've done over the last year is to make the Smalltalk code on the pages be API calls into the server - on the main page, for instance, the code that grabs whatever posts that should show up looks like this:
<div id="posts"> <div class="watermark"></div> <%= saver fetchBlogCSSBasedOn: pageArgs andBlogEntry: specificBlog. %> </div>
The "saver" there is a reference to the blog object itself (there's one per blog). The method being invoked determines what items to fetch, and formats them accordingly - all the logic is back in the server rather than on the page. What that means is that I've defined an API that I need to maintain, but I haven't created a huge set of code that lives in an HTML page.
Here's the cool part though - say that I make modifications, and - for whatever reason - it's not working quite right in my test environment. Well - I can slap a breakpoint into the API method, and run into the debugger:
That lets me walk into the debugger at the point of the API call and see what's happening. It looks like this (click the image for a bigger image):
If you get the bigger image, notice that second line, which reads "unbound method"? That's the web page itself - in Cincom Smalltalk, that comes across as code akin to workspace code - i.e., fully debuggable. This is part of what makes Smalltalk such a nice choice for web applications - you don't need a whole peripheral set of tools in order to debug them - you just do what you normally do, using the same tools that you use when creating any other kind of Smalltalk code.
That's the power of Smalltalk - consistency and simplicity.
The most amazing part of the whole DRM nightmare thing with Sony is the company's public reaction - there hasn't been much of one. What little we've seen has been straight denial. I linked to this story in a previous post, but I didn't quote the part that clearly shows a PR disconnect:
Fast-forward to Nov. 4, 2005, when Thomas Hesse, president of Sony's Global Digital Business was interviewed on National Public Radio's Morning Edition, and said of complaints that Sony's anti-piracy software behaved exactly like a rootkit:
"Most people, I think, don’t even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?"
Somewhere at Sony, one of their defense lawyers spewed his coffee when he heard that. Thus far, Sony not only doesn't recognize that they did anything wrong - they don't recognize the swirling PR nightmare that has wrapped around them. Dell took some heat for the "Dell Hell" series of posts from Jeff Jarvis, but that was small potatoes compared to this. Even so, the example should have reminded Sony of the first rule of holes - when you're in one, stop digging.
They still haven't connected the dots - what started out as a few bloggers having a "wtf?" kind of reaction has morphed into a full scale PR failure. It's worse than Dell's mistake; they were simply silent. Sony is insouciantly using the Alfred E. Neumann strategy (What, me Worry?). Thus far, they've been acting like a child - when caught by their parents with their hand in the cookie jar - they simply deny, deny, deny. It doesn't work for 4 year olds, and I'm not sure why the Sony execs think it will work for them. A bunch of class action lawsuits are a fairly blunt cluestick, but it looks like that's what will be required.
Turns out that the Sony DRM crapware can be turned against itself:
Okay so I was so pissed about Sony using rootkit methods for hiding it's presence and limiting how many cd's you can burn. Then I had a really funny idea. Sony's masked process hides anything with "$sys$" in front of it. It also does some funking things with your cd drivers. So I re-installed the infestation of DRM hell and re-named my favorite burning software with $sys$ in front of the executable. Guess who can burn as many CD's as he wants?
Serves those bozos right :)
Update: It looks like the class action suits lining up against Sony will have plenty of incriminating fodder to pick from. That sound the Sony execs hear right about now is the rectal probes being chilled.
While Sony languishes in DRM hell (and console date slippage), Microsoft and Nintendo are getting into position. Only Microsoft will hit the 2005 Christmas season - and it looks like anyone who wants an XBox 360 will have to fight off the holiday crowd:
Wall Street has been expecting Microsoft to deliver more than 2 million of its next generation consoles to retailers worldwide this year. On Monday, though, P. J. McNealy of American Technology Research lowered his expectations to the 1.8 million 2 million range. Friday, Banc of America's Gary Cooper said he believes the company will ship just 1.4 million 1.6 million.
Complicating matters is Microsoft's plan for a worldwide launch of the 360. That means those initial shipments, whatever they turn out to be, will be split between North America, Europe and Japan. McNealy said he expects Microsoft to send roughly 900,000 to 1 million units to North American retailers, 600,000-800,000 to Europe and another 100,000-200,000 to Japan.
Go read the whole thing, and notice what's happening on eBay already. By getting to the release post first, MS is going to reap a lot of excitement. Nintendo isn't sitting still though, and it looks like they intend to stay at the low price end:
Microsoft's Xbox 360 has adopted a two-tier price strategy ($299 for a bare bones version and $399 for a souped-up machine). Sony, meanwhile, has shouted from the rooftops the PS3 would be a pricey piece of equipment. Nintendo, though, seems ready to lowball its competitors on the retail front.
"Value has been a key card for us this generation and we'll continue to play it," Fils-Aime told me. "Do I expect us to be at a lower price point than our competition? Yes I do. Have we determined a price yet? No we haven't."
Sounds good to me - I'll have my eyes on both the XBox and Nintendo this year. Sony can sod off until the show evidence that they've found a clue.
On my way to pick up pizza, there was a nice confluence of sun and clouds; I snapped a picture with my phone:
I've just uploaded a new development build for BottomFeeder - this might well be the 4.1 release. There are issues with the network libraries in the 4.0 release that are fixed in this build, which is why I'm trying to get it out so soon after the 4.0 release. If there aren't issues with the dev build, then I'll do a general release shortly.
Steve Jobs applies a cluestick to the movie industry, during an analyst briefing:
"The biggest problem with downloading feature-length films through iTunes is bandwidth, it takes too long in US," he explained. He confirmed his belief that illegal digital sharing of movies is taking place, but stressed: "There is some evidence that shows people downloading movies illegally wouldn't have bought them anyway."
The main thing - which it looks like Jobs gets - is that you don't want a DRM scheme that makes things so obnoxious that people who would normally be willing to shell out money for content look for work-arounds. That's a lesson Sony is learning the hard way right now
"California has filed a class-action lawsuit against Sony and a second one may be filed today in New York. The lawsuit was filed Nov. 1 in Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles by Vernon, CA. It asks the court to prevent Sony from selling additional CDs protected by the anti-piracy software, and seeks monetary damages for California consumers who purchased them. The suit alleges that Sony's software violates at least three California statutes, including the "Consumer Legal Remedies Act," which governs unfair and/or deceptive trade acts; and the "Consumer Protection against Computer Spyware Act," which prohibits -- among other things -- software that takes control over the user's computer or misrepresents the user's ability or right to uninstall the program. The suit also alleges that Sony's actions violate the California Unfair Competition law, which allows public prosecutors and private citizens to file lawsuits to protect businesses and consumers from unfair business practices.
I'd guess that somewhere at Sony, a few lawyers are having a meeting with management, and the question that's getting asked is something like: "Explain to me again how the benefits of this DRM are higher than the costs?"
Here in Windows, we’re working hard on Windows Vista Beta 2, and we've recently been doing some work on how we parse feeds.
Our years of experience in with HTML in Internet Explorer have taught us the long-term pain that results from being too liberal with what you accept from others. Hence, we’ve adopted the following overriding principle for IE 7 and RSS platform in Windows Vista:
We will only support feeds that are well-formed XML.
It will be interesting to see whether they can hold to that or not. There's a lot of content being put up by a lot of people, and a lot of it has small errors. The feeds here periodically have issues, for instance - often times from comments that get added to a post. Then there are the search feeds, which scrape from a variety of feeds, and often have encoding problems.
I'm not saying it's the wrong approach - it might help. The trouble is, when IE won't accept a feed, what's the liklihood that the end user will contact the author of the feed in question? Low, I'd say. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. If you check the very end of the post, it's clear that they left themselves an out, in case this doesn't work they way they would like it to:
That said, we do recognize that there is a great deal of variance in the actual content of RSS feeds, so we’ll be more liberal when it comes to what elements are required in a feed. We will post on exactly how we're handling different feeds in a future post.
Like all community sites that rely mostly on their users to author content, MySpace has had a very difficult time trying to secure high advertising rates. Historically, advertisers have held little trust in content that is not tightly controlled editorially and, therefore, the value they are willing to attach for ads placed next to such uncontrollable content has been very low. The result is clear… MySpace ranks higher than Google in terms of pageviews, but Google will gross $6 billion in revenues this year, while MySpace will generate about $30 million. The delta, which can be measured in orders of magnitude, is almost unbelievable. I realize the comparison is not directly apples to apples, but even so!
Like Dare said, that's stunning. If someone doesn't charge in to grab that potential revenue, I'll be astounded.
Or, as they call it in the UK, Canada (maybe Australia and New Zealand as well?) Remembrance Day. Here in the US, it's become a general holiday to mark the servive given by veterans of all wars - kind of like the way Memorial Day has morphed from a remembrance of the Civil War to something more general.
In Canada, there's something of a tradition of wearing red poppies - it all dates back to the 1915 battles in Flanders, about which a moving poem was written:
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
My grandfather fought with the AEF in France - he went over early - he was an immigrant from Sweden, and had received training in their army as a younger man. The AEF called that good enough, and sent him across with one of the first cohorts. He was one of the lucky ones; he came away with only psychological scars.
I've read a lot about that war, and I always come away amazed at how little the commanders understood modern war - even after many years of it on the Western Front. Wearing a red poppy tomorrow would be a good deed, to my mind.
If your house gets burgled, you have to delete all your music from your laptop when you get home. That's because the EULA says that your rights to any copies terminate as soon as you no longer possess the original CD.
They go downhill from there. I particularly like this one:
Forget about using the music as a soundtrack for your latest family photo slideshow, or mash-ups, or sampling. The EULA forbids changing, altering, or make derivative works from the music on your computer.
Based on that last one, my daughter could already be in violation. It's time for someone to get a cluestick and beat Sony's CEO with it until he fires the lawyers, and whatever the sorry excuse for a marketing department it is that they have over there. Sheesh
The Seaside folks have a nifty demo of integration between Seaside and iTunes. Very cool looking.
I had to share this one. In the Smalltalk IRC channel, this passed by:
they've [Microsoft] got Sun disease. Great people bent on doing stupid things.
The Terrell Owens story is supposedly a sports story, but it's broader than that. For those of you who haven't been following the story, here's the summary - Owens, a (now former) member of the Philadelphia Eagles football team, made some comments about the skills of the team's quarterback. To wit, he's spent months trashing Donavan McNabb, in public. Eventually, enough was enough, and the team cut him loose.
The thing is, this isn't simply a sports story. It's really about anyone in an organization who - for whatever reason - decides that the rules don't apply to them. Relatives of the CEO, "star" programmers, hot shot sales people - pretty much anyone who comes to the conclusion that they are so terribly valuable that the team couldn't possibly get by without them.
The trouble is, once they get to that point, they fail to see the chaos and damage they leave in their wake. With the Eagles, Owens left a team with no cohesion. "Star" programmers can do the same thing. We see this in public with celebrities in an exaggerated sense - people who truly think they can do no wrong.
There's some collective guilt in these situations. Friends and associates of the prima donna who never try to ground them in reality, for instance. After a few years of having everyone around you explain what a great guy you are, and how utterly indispensable you are, it's really, really hard to not get caught up in it. Owens just got the biggest favor of his life handed to him - he got fired, and had a cold glass of reality tossed his way. There are plenty of other "stars" who are long past needing the same thing. You might even have a few of them working for you.
What's a clear sign? When an employee starts picking public fights with management, you have a problem.
Media continues to get disintermediated - it's not just newspapers that are losing eyeballs. Have a look at the stats here - with a couple of examples:
There's a lot more there - read it all. While TV viewership is rising, ad revenues are off - the proliferation of channels is driving the model from mass viewing of identical content towards something more like Google's AdSense (where revenues are way up, coincidentally). What we are seeing is a move toward mass customization across the media landscape - and a lot of the current players aren't going to survive that move.
Scoble points to the memos written by Gates and Ozzie that Dave Winer posted. He's excited about them - having just read them, I'm not sure why. Gates' memo is a platitude filled nothing-burger of management-speak, while Ozzie's is a "let's reorganize - that always works!" kind of thing. If this is what passes for high excitement at MS, then Google has nothing to worry about from that direction.
To lay down the background first: dealing with NULLs has always been somewhat problematic; the most obvious example of this is the mapping between relational databases, where even an INTEGER column can either have a value, or be empty, or be NULL, each of those being separate and distinct states. Trying to map NULL integer column values to integer values in the language has always been difficult in Java. C++, and C#, since primitive types / value types generally don't support null values, and Anders (among others) decided that it was time to try and integrate nullability more deeply into the language. The .NET team saw an opportunity to support nullability by creating a generic/templatized type to represent the possibility of nullability, and the C# language team took it further to try and make nullability feel "more at home" within the language. It was a bold, if at first seemingly-trivial, step.
As opposed to, say, going with a real object model, and then having null be - wait for it - just an instance of a class. Like, say, UndefinedObject. Nah, that wouldn't be nuanced enough. Or something...
Bonus link - more complexity masquerading as simplicity here.
I was having an IM chat with Suzanne, our marketing maven for Cincom Smalltalk, and the subject of how much blogging I've done came up. I ran a few queries against the server and did a little math - I've put up (including this post) 6841 posts since I started this blog back in June of 2002. It's funny looking back then - I set it up originally as a multi-author community blog, but it didn't work out that way.
Anyhow - a little division shows that I've averaged almost 5.5 posts a day since I started. That's a pretty hefty amount of content. It's also driven the creation of a number of tools - the blog server (Silt), BottomFeeder, and the client post tool. It's been a productive 3 years!
It looks to me like Sony fired all the marketing staff and replaced them with lawyers. How else do you explain this?
The latest rumor, generated from several patent sites, claims that Sony has secured a patent for a disk technology that prevents the use of used, as well as pirated, software.
What that means - if they intend to use it in the PlayStation 3 - is that you wouldn't be able to rent games. Or share them. If that's true, none of the staff left at Sony have actually watched how people interact with their products. We have a Nintendo GameCube. My daughter and her friends are always bringing new games to each others houses to try them out. Is Nintendo losing money from this? Heck no - it's generated a number of sales that might not have happened otherwise, as my daughter (and her friends) have bought games they first played during one of these sharing sessions.
Even if they intend to use this on Blu-Ray only, it's a bad idea. What if someone brings a CD/DVD to a party? Good gosh, it might attract more potential buyers! We can't have that! Maybe Sony didn't fire all the marketers; maybe they just beat them senseless.
Well, Well - it looks like Sony's spyware trick might cause them some serious heartburn. Couldn't happen to a nicer set of people, if you ask me:
An Italian digital rights organisation has taken the first steps to possible criminal charges over the XCP software which, it was recently discovered cloaks itself on users' computers and communicates with Sony servers over the Internet.
The group, calling itself the ALCEI-EFI (Association for Freedom in Electronic Interactive Communications - Electronic Frontiers Italy), filed a complaint about Sony's software with the head of Italy's cyber-crime investigation unit, Colonel Umberto Rapetto of the Guardia di Finanza.
The complaint alleges that XCP violates a number of Italy's computer security laws by causing damage to users' systems and by acting in the same way as malicious software, according to Andrea Monti, chair of the ALCEI-EFI. "What Sony did qualifies as a criminal offense under Italian law," he said.
Should police determine that a crime has been committed, prosecutors will be required to begin criminal proceedings against Sony, Monti said.
Sounds fine to me. They certainly won't get any CD sales from me anytime soon.
I was curious about the portability of Cincom VisualWorks 7.3nc. Is it true that I can deploy programs that can be run on Windows 2000/XP, Linux, as well as Pocket PC platforms? If this is the case then I am seriously considering moving over to it and giving it a chance. Please let me know if this is indeed possible.
Well, the best example I can point to is BottomFeeder - I develop on Windows, do some testing on Mac and Linux, and deploy to every platform that we support - check out the download page to see the list of platforms.
BottomFeeder has extensive documentation - a Tutorial, a Users Guide, and a Technology Guide. We've been told that it can all be a little daunting for beginners though, so we've just added a QuickStart Guide to the mix. It's short, gets to the point quickly, and points to the other docs for more information. Thanks Rich!
Looks like the Apple/ABC move to offer programs for downloading has spread - CBS and NBC are now offering 99 cent downloads of shows shortly after airtime. That price undercuts the iTunes price of $1.99:
NEW YORK (AP) - CBS and NBC have announced deals to offer replays of prime-time programs for 99 cents per episode, shifting television toward a sales model that gained popularity with downloaded music.
CBS is teaming up with Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) and NBC with satellite operator DirecTV to offer the on-demand replays.
NBC Universal will offer commercial-free episodes of "Law & Order: SVU" and other shows to subscribers of DirecTV Group Inc. who use the satellite company's new digital video recorder.
Comcast's on-demand customers in some markets will be able to view "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,""NCIS,""Survivor" and "The Amazing Race" at their convenience.
I think we're getting closer and closer to what I'd really like to see - the ability to subscribe directly to specific content - not to (all of) HBO so I can watch shows the "The Sopranos" - I mean a subscription to a specific show. Over time, this move is going to threaten the large cable operators like HBO and Showtime, and it's interesting that the older networks have gotten out in front of it first.
Digg users do not click ads. Webmasters should stop trying to game the system to get the traffic. The increased traffic will use up your bandwidth and will risk slowing down or crashing your server. In the short run, getting on the front page is more likely to cost you money than make you money if you are depending on ads for your revenue
I know that getting Slashdotted can knock a site off the air; apparently, getting Dugg can now do the same thing.
Digg traffic does not generate new users, comments, or posts. Digg users often comment regarding a site on digg itself instead of on the dugg website. Even though we have often had easy ways for people to leave comments (no registration required), digg users typically do not post.
I can't say that I've ever been slashdotted (or dugg), but I have had traffic spurts from techmemorandum, or from links from popular bloggers. For the most part, this observation is correct - a brief spike doesn't tend to add many permanent new readers. After the last couple of these, I noticed a handful of new subscriptions on BlogLines, for instance.
Every site on the front page gets flamed in the comments. If you read digg, you need a thick skin. If the site is something about windows, the apple/linux people whine… and visa versa. However, this is in no way saying that the comments are not helpful to the digg users or to the webmasters.
That certainly sounds like Slashdot. Anyone who's ever had the patience to follow a thread over there knows that the comments devolve into a flamefest, quickly. It's especially bad when either Apple or Linux come in for criticism - constructive or otherwise.
Ultimately, sites like Slashdot and Digg do serve a purpose - they give you some notion (like techmemorandum) as to what part of the blogosphere is talking about. It's a limited chunk, to be sure, but it's still interesting. Just don't count on it for making you into an A-Lister.
Sony really, really doesn't want my business. After they got caught installing a rootkit as part of their DRM, their "solution" amounts to yelling "Look, a monkey!" - in hopes that you won't notice them doing precisely nothing. To wit:
- The hidden software is poorly written, and hogs computer resources at all times, even when CD's aren't being played.
- Its hiding techniques could inadvertently make it easy for others to hide software on the machine.
- It takes actions that could result in a system crash.
- It disguises itself as a legitimate Windows service.
- It doesn't provide a way to remove the software.
- Upon manual removal of the software, the CD drive can be rendered useless.
The new Sony patch only addresses issue #2. It totally ignores the rest of them
Our friends at Sony. bah
Alan Little has been having trouble getting the non-commercial product downloaded to his Mac - I'm sorry to hear about his troubles. I can clear up a few things though - the Mac OS X product is not beta - and the upcoming release (next month) should have some solid improvements on the Mac platform. I've reported the installer issues to the right people, and they should be aware of the problem now.
I had a few reasons to look at my subscription list this morning - I needed to create a "human readable" reading list to share with people who aren't necessarily familiar with RSS/Atom. Yes, I could have just taken the *gag* OPML list from BottomFeeder and applied XSLT, but I know Smalltalk way, way better than I know XSLT. And besides, I was going to have to remove the feeds that come from scripts or ssh gateways. So, I opened a workspace in Bf and started hacking out a quick script. I ended up having to match against three things to exclude things from the list, so I created a "function" (i.e., a block) to do that:
"A block to define match strings" matchBlock := [:matcher :string | ((matcher match: string) or: [matcher match: string])].
That provides the matching code. Next, gathering the appropriate links, filtering out things unique to my setup - the ssh based feeds that use my Linux box, the file urls that use scripts, and the PubSub feeds that I've set up:
"grab the content" dict := Dictionary new. feeds := RSSFeedManager default getAllMyFeeds. feeds do: [:each | | title | title := (each title copyWithout: Character tab) trimBlanks. ((each url isNil) | (matchBlock value: '*victoria*' value: each link) | (matchBlock value: '*pubsub*' value: each link) | (matchBlock value: '*file://*' value: each link)) ifFalse: [dict at: title put: (Array with: each url with: each link)]].
That just runs through the internal data, and sets up a simple dictionary - the key is the title of the feed, and the value is an array - html page and xml feed link. With that in hand, I had a shortened list, and I was able to dump out the data in tabular form:
"now write the content, as HTML and as plain text" out := WriteStream on: (String new: 10000). out2 := WriteStream on: (String new: 10000). out nextPutAll: '<html><body>'; cr. out nextPutAll: '<table width="50%" border="1" cellpadding="3"><tr>'; cr. out nextPutAll: '<td>Title</td><td>HTML Page</td><td>XML Page</td></tr>'; cr. matcher1 := '*victoria*'. matcher2 := '*file://*'. matcher3 := '*pubsub*'. dict keysAndValuesDo: [:key :value | | first last | first := value first isNil ifTrue: [''] ifFalse: [value first]. last := value last isNil ifTrue: [''] ifFalse: [value last]. ((matchBlock value: matcher1 value: last) | (matchBlock value: matcher2 value: last) | (matchBlock value: matcher3 value: last)) ifFalse: [out nextPutAll: '<tr>'; cr. out nextPutAll: '<td>', key, '</td>'. out nextPutAll: '<td>', first, '</td>'. out nextPutAll: '<td>', last, '</td>'. out nextPutAll: '</tr>'; cr. out2 nextPutAll: first; cr. out2 nextPutAll: last; cr]]. out nextPutAll: '</table>'; cr. out nextPutAll: '</body></html>'; cr.
That dumps two things - an HTML file, and a flat text file (but to internal streams). One more snippet and we have it to the file system:
"dump to external files" file := 'bf-html-list.html' asFilename writeStream. file nextPutAll: out contents. file close. file2 := 'bf-list.txt' asFilename writeStream. file2 nextPutAll: out2 contents. file2 close.
And that's it. It's pretty nice to be able to do all that without exporting the data and running it in the development environment - because I have all the tools I need in my runtime environment.
Looks like the high cost of housing in parts of California (and New York City, and the area I live in, the greater DC area) is finally starting to take its toll - there's starting to be net out-migration from California:
Last year, a half million people left California for other parts of the United States, while fewer than 400,000 Americans moved there. The net outflow has risen fivefold, to more than 100,000, since 2001, an analysis by Economy.com, a research company, shows, although immigration from other countries and births have kept the state's population growing.
That's an interesting change, and one that I suspect will start happening around my area as well. I have no idea how a young family could afford to live here (Columbia, MD) - house prices have skyrocketed, and pay scales haven't remotely kept up. My wife works with younger people just starting out, and they are buying townhouses further and further west - the commuting range from jobs in Northern VA and the greater DC area is just astonishing. I've met people commuting in from southern Pennsylvania, and from West Virginia. At some point, that kind of commute has got to be a killer.
You have to love where the legal system (in the US) has ended up - on the one hand, Sony is probably liable for civil damages over their hidden spyware (from their music CD's). On the other hand, consumers bypassing the software are almost certainly bypassing the DMCA. Here's Declan McCullagh on the quandary:
Still, it may be too late for the entertainment giant to fend off the plaintiff's bar. One recent court case in Illinois, Soleto v. DirectRevenue, sets a nonbinding precedent that lawyers expect to be invoked against Sony.
In that case, DirectRevenue was sued for installing spyware on Windows computers without obtaining proper authorization from a user. U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman said the company could be sued on trespass, Illinois consumer fraud, negligence, and computer tampering grounds.
Then there's a California spyware-related law that says a company may not "induce" anyone to "install a software component" by claiming installation is necessary to "open, view or play a particular type of content."
Translation: Sony could be in double trouble. Its Windows software is hardly necessary to play music--the disc works just fine on a Macintosh or in an old-fashioned CD player.
And the danger for consumers?
In a bizarre twist, though, it's not only Sony that could be facing a legal migraine. So could anyone who tries to rid their computer of Sony's hidden anticopying program.
That's because of Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which bans the "circumvention" of anticopying technology.
"I think it's pretty clear that circumventing Sony's controls violates the DMCA," says Tim Wu, a Columbia University professor who teaches copyright law. (Violations of the DMCA include civil fines, injunctions, computer confiscations, and even criminal penalties.)
If this isn't enough to make your head spin, I don't know what is.
This is hardly the first story I've heard about someone being misquoted by a reporter. It's enough to give me sympathy for politicians who complain about being taken out of context, for gosh sakes. Here's a link (via Misbehaving.net) to the story that got screwed up.
This is why the trust numbers for reporters and media are so terribly low - and it's also why the MSM attacks on blogger inaccuracy come off as so stupid - it's not as if the "professional" reporters do a great job either - and when they make a mistake, it can, via their (currently) larger circulation, do permanent damage to a reputation.