Weblog Archive >  2000 >  April Previous/Next

Scripting News, the weblog started in 1997 that bootstrapped the blogging revolution.

Permanent link to archive for Sunday, April 30, 2000. Sunday, April 30, 2000

Has Microsoft peaked? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

NY Times: "Employees, whose options from previous years are now under water, become restless. To keep them happy, Microsoft last week awarded 70 million new stock options at $66.625 each. The indicated value of the grant: $1.9 billion."

5/12/98: "If their internal developers become inefficient compared to those outside, it's possible for them to let go of that model and shift to a new one."

A SOAP Scanner? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Talking with Bob Bierman on the phone this morning, I say I want a scanner, I've been asking him to get me one for over a year, but every time we talk we hit the same problem. Neither of us think that I would be willing to put up with the amount of work needed to get my scans onto the Web.

I asked if anyone had developed an HTTP-based scanner as I described in Sept 1997. "Put a piece of paper into the scanner. Press a button on the machine to scan the paper. Open up my web browser on my desktop machine. Open the home page of the scanner. A list of GIFs appears, in reverse chronologic order. Click on the top one. A GIF appears in my web browser. Do a save-as, or drag-drop to get it into Photoshop."

When a group of Stanford researchers helped a group of students upload their pictures for a science fair, they tripped across the Fractional Horsepower HTTP Server idea.

Bob says that you still can't get such a scanner. I find that amazing. He said we might be able to do something like that with Frontier, but what communication protocols do the scanners use?

Of course, a sensible protocol would be XML-RPC or SOAP.

I want ZopeFish Permanent link to this item in the archive.

ZopeFish Architecture and Problems: "It works fine if I'm logged in to Zope with someone who has the Manager role, but doesn't allow access (it prompts for a password) to anyone who is not logged in to Zope."

Pike and Zope working together is mission-critical for The Two-Way Web. Please help if you know Zope and we'll help with the Pike side.

Music & more Permanent link to this item in the archive.

InfoWorld: "Rampant music piracy online indicates that the music industry's distribution and pricing model is out of whack with what people want. The problem isn't the piracy; the problem is unhappy customers." Amen!

The new CD Player in Windows 2000 has a live connection to tunes.com, so I can see that it's playing Dire Wolf by the Grateful Dead. (Screen shot to come.)

Jakob Nielsen: Internet Client Design. "Napster connects many users to many servers and basically allows users to view the entire Internet as a collected resource for getting music (or, potentially, other content and services). At the same time, Napster also encourages users to contribute back to the richness of this resource by making their own music collection available as a small part of the whole. So Napster is also an example of a two-way user interface to the Internet. "

An interesting discussion, how would a separate Internet Explorer company make money? This leads somewhere. Imagine for a minute that Yahoo doesn't have a browser in development. How likely is that?

I like to see this. Andre is looking at docs that explain how to embed Python.

The move went well Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Good morning, and welcome to UserLand's new land of many servers running at Exodus. The move went smoothly. We aimed for the gutters and Murphy was kind.

"I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy."

For some reason a hard disk in Seattle went out during the move. Totally died. A completely random event? Oh sure. If you believe that I have a nice bridge in Brooklyn I'd like you to consider buying. Murphy works in strange ways.

There was a configuration error on our Mail Transfer Agent (easily fixed).

At 10:49PM all the servers came back online.

Wes Felter was the first to update his ETP site. Makes sense. Now keep an eye out for breakage. How does the new LAN perform? We can't blame it on Conxion anymore. Good deal.

Down the street at Qube Quorner, Luke Tymowski likes the new Exodus performance of his site. "The static version of this site used to take 5 seconds to render, the dynamic version 15 seconds. Now the static version takes 1 second, the dynamic version 2 seconds." (Of course the rendering takes the same amount of time, on the server side, but the Internet gets in the middle of that. I guess Luke is saying that his path to Exodus is faster than his path to Conxion.)

Another change. After moving all the apps off the old Nirvana machine, I had to quickly come up with another name for the server last night in the middle of the move. I decided to call the machine "mainResponder". Nirvana was the codename for mainResponder. It was 1.0 a long time ago. So as we retired the Nirvana name (it now points to a folder of static files on our Linux server to keep breakage to a minimum), my new experimental machine keeps the family name going. You'd have to be a Frontier geek to appreciate this, perhaps.

One caveat, until I get DSL installed at my home-office, I will still be using Conxion's T1 line to connect to the Internet. So if there's an outage, it will knock me and only me off the net.

One final note, I guess I am pretty confident in my team. While I was waiting for the move to finish I fell asleep and didn't wake up until 5AM. Oh geez. Did they do a great job? Yes they did! I have the best team in the world. What's our secret? Good engineering and lots of prayer.

Next milestone: Birthday #45, on Tuesday.

Pinky and the Brain songs here.

Permanent link to archive for Saturday, April 29, 2000. Saturday, April 29, 2000

Many UserLand.Com services will be offline between 8PM and 11PM Pacific including Weblogs.Com, EditThisPage.Com, the UserLand Store. Scripting News will remain online.  

Microsoft played all the angles Permanent link to this item in the archive.

NY Times: Breakup of a Giant Is Seen Reigniting Competition in the Software Business. "There is all kinds of gobbledygook coming out of the Justice Department," said Randy Komisar, "They are hoping that by creating an applications company as aggressive as the OS company, the new company will do things like make bets on Palm and Linux. That way they will crack open the operating system market."

First, Microsoft's apps are already available on Mac OS, which is the only other large-installed-base desktop system, after Windows. So that part of the argument is weird, Office has already been ported. Would it make any sense to port Office to Palm? Hmmm. The screen is much smaller and there's no keyboard. That makes a pretty big difference. Microsoft has been trying to create a suite of palmtop apps for quite sometime, without much success.

Then, why would I want Microsoft's apps on Linux? I totally see Linux is a server OS. Long way to go before it's ready for people who use Office. What does this proposal do to help Linux get more apps that aren't from Microsoft? Further, from what I know of MS (I've been visiting them for almost 20 years), if there were a market for the Office apps on Linux, they would be there.

Where are the software historians? Did you see how they undermined MS-DOS by moving to the Mac in the 1980s? They taught the rest of the industry to stop tying one product to another. Lotus refused to support Windows in the early days, they didn't want to help Microsoft, and learned the lesson that Microsoft taught so well. Stop believing your own bullshit. Same with IBM and the tie-in between PS/2 and OS/2.

Microsoft was unique in that they played all the angles. They are the original jump out of the plane with no parachute people, as far as I'm concerned.

Excise the browser, embrace WINE Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Again, imho, the best remedy is to split out the browser, and only that, into a separate company. Windows must forever ship without an HTML browser. A one-click install screen, baked into Windows, with a set of choices approved by a panel of independent Web developers. The first choice in the list could not be the former Microsoft HTML browser, for three years. No more than ten choices would ever be offered.

That would fix any problems caused by the untimely demise of Netscape, which any reasonable and impartial person would have to admit was at least somewhat caused by mismanagement at Netscape.

Here's another thing we could ask Microsoft for. Make WINE really work. Make it easy for all Windows apps migrate to Linux, not just Microsoft's. It totally makes sense. Open the floodgates Bill. Show them how easy it is to turn the software industry upside down, without wrecking your company.

Fun and games Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I updated the new SOAP weblog with comments by Andre Radke on yesterday's IBM/Java SOAP 1.1 release.

I also added a FAQ page for SOAP.

Todd Blanchard is confused about parts of SOAP.

Another way of looking at the hard side of our sites. A complete backup fills four writeable CDs. This is called "content".

Frontier 6.2b10 released. Fixes in threading, XML parser, XML-RPC implementation, new NT kernel verb for serving files super-fast, fixes to Mac TCP implementation.

New demo app: Scripting MailToTheFuture through XML-RPC.

The Tech Info page on MailToTheFuture.Com is now up to date. Frontier users can download mailToTheFuture.root, and you can even open it in Pike, which is in public Beta (and free).

Added limits to the MTTF application to prevent it from being used to send spam. No more than 10 messages can be sent in any 15 minute interval and no queue can hold more than 100 messages.

"It's even worse than it appears" Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I watched a bunch of roundtables on TV last night about the Microsoft breakup plan, there wasn't a software person in sight, and certainly no Web developers.

Politicians, attorneys, journalists and professors have taken over. They're turning our industry into fodder for Larry King and CNBC, really dumbed-down stuff, and software is complex.

It may be time, once again, to consider making pottery and sailing the Meditteranean, which seems relatively simple.

"I know the rent is in arrears. The dog has not been fed in years. It's even worse than it appears."

PS: Andrea and Andre finished their trip log today. So sad! 

Permanent link to archive for Friday, April 28, 2000. Friday, April 28, 2000

DOJ to Judge: Split up Microsoft Permanent link to this item in the archive.

MSNBC: U.S. seeks to split Microsoft in two. "The proposal, submitted to U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson Friday, calls for Microsoft to be divided in two, with one company to house the Windows operating system, and the other to include everything else in the Microsoft universe."

Dan Gillmor: "An operating system should be modular enough to allow competition for things like displaying Web pages."

ZDNet: "Forget the DOJ breakup. If you want to figure out how Microsoft will morph over the next few years, the elusive NGWS is the real key."

Other reports: News.Com. Seattle Times, Reuters, PC Week.

US DOJ: Plaintiff's Proposed Final Judgment.

AP Hates the Internet? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Just doing my part for free speech on the Internet.

To AP with all due respect, why not offer a deal to the artists who created this? Grant them a license to use the images, and sell t-shirts, coffee mugs and mousepads with the images on them. Make friends with users of the Internet? It couldn't hurt.

AP: South Park Parodies Reno on Raid. Murphy!

You can help the Internet by downloading this zip file and putting it on a static server.

NY Times: "Xerox and Microsoft will collaborate with ContentGuard to develop digital rights management technologies, which provide for the distribution of digital content while protecting against unauthorized copying." I have a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you.

IBM first to ship SOAP 1.1 implmentation Permanent link to this item in the archive.

IBM released a Java implementation of SOAP 1.1. Wow that was fast!

ZDNet: Microsoft cleaning up with SOAP. "It's obscure, but the Simple Object Access Protocol is at the heart of Microsoft's future plans."

The Java Lobby discovers SOAP.

Homero Leal: "I think that Sun should embrace SOAP as a way to offer the externalization of web services for EJB servers. RMI and IIOP are pain in the firewall."

Kal Ath: "If you are worried about SOAP then you really are an idiot!"

This is why I like the Internet. Read all the press reports, and you never get the truth. Open up a discussion group of developers, read a few messages, and the answer is very clear.

ComputerWorld: Microsoft pitches new app interoperability spec. "IBM this week will post a Java implementation of SOAP on its AlphaWorks Web site and provide source code, Sutor said."

ZDNet: Industry consortium to challenge Microsoft, Sun "Intel, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Oracle have joined with several smaller companies to form OpenServer.org, which plans to create a 'vendor-neutral environment' to ensure the compatibility of applications developed according to open Internet standards. This is the first I've heard of this, not sure what they're doing.

OpenServer.Org is not open yet.

A reporter called to ask what's the significance of IBM's co-authorship of SOAP. Aside from the fact that they install a lot of networked systems all over the world, and they do Notes, which we want to connect to Manila and esp Pike; consider that IBM is a leader in the Java world.

Until Sun signs on, the Java community has an opportunity to take charge. That's why I'm involved, I think, because I point these things out.

BTW, another big-name company with an investment in Java is joining the SOAP bandwagon. Looks like Python, Perl, Tcl and even Frontier get to play in the same networked sandbox as Java. It's only fair!

9/12/99: "The goal, simply put, is to create a high-level way for machines to call other machines, with the Internet as the wire that connects them."

News bits Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Karl Dubost asks if it makes sense to have a Manila/Frontier dinner in Amsterdam during WWW9, May 15-20.

Jeff Cheney has pictures from last night's Industry Standard second anniverary party in San Francisco.

A minor correction. On Wednesday, after eating Spicy Noodles, I asked Lance if they matched his expectations. He said "That, and more." I asked "Can I say 'that and so much more'?" He said "Make it up as you go along."

PacBell in the loop Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I spoke this afternoon with Bill Chubb, VP Broadband Services at PacBell. The escalation through Davos worked. (Thanks Lance!) He did something that Conxion has failed to do so far, he apologized. Even though we are not his direct customer. What a pleasure to have a real business person enter the loop who understands the value of the C word.

Even though tomorrow is the last day that we depend on PacBell-Conxion for mission-critical services, I'm still helping route Chubb into Conxion's service people so that they can upgrade the service for Conxion's remaining 40 customers who use PacBell to link to the Internet. Ask not what the Internet can do for you. But I'll tell you what Conxion can do for me. Apologize for the unbelievably rough treatment and offer us a credit for all the money we're wasting doing this conversion and for the lost business during March and April. And then thank us for continuing to help.

The analogy I use for what we will do tomorrow. Imagine setting up my six lovely servers at the end of a bowling alley and making me take a shot. Do you think something will break? This transition should have been done slowly, thoughtfully and carefully, with understanding from the ISP.

Once again, I gotta say it, every Conxion customer should be aware of what happened here. You could lose your service on 17 days notice, after a month of outages, as we did, and get no apology or credit.

The brain-stem is still breathing Permanent link to this item in the archive.

So tomorrow evening the subhonkers move to Exodus. In preparation, we're doing a review of all the sites hosted on all the servers. And we've emptied out the very first mainResponder server, Nirvana, so I can have a server to play with after the move. All its parts are being distributed. An interesting process, the brain-stem of Manila is still breathing, it's there and working, and of course the higher level stuff wouldn't work if it didn't.

One of the sites we moved is my Jamaican uncle's website. It was one of the very first Manila sites, started in August of last year. My uncle has no experience using a computer, so he was a very good early user. He lives on the beach in Jamaica, and since my aunt Dorothy died 11 years ago, he's been looking in vain for a girlfriend or wife to replace her. I always tell my uncle, who I love, there's the bug! You can't replace a human being. Whatever. He's still cool, and if you like bluster, you'll like my uncle. I do!

Permanent link to archive for Thursday, April 27, 2000. Thursday, April 27, 2000

News.Com: "IBM's support means that SOAP will be a real factor in interoperability between different programming models."  

Now that SOAP v1.1 is out, I want to start thinking about NGWS, which is Microsoft's vision for the Two-Way Web. As far as I know, they're going alone at this level. This may create an opportunity for the rest of the industry to agree on a way of integrating tools with the web that is multi-vendor on both the workstation and the server side. I see this is as an opportunity on the scale of the opportunity for hardware vendors in the late 80s when IBM went their own way with the PS/2 and OS/2. Microsoft certainly has the option of embracing the interface we've put out. There's a multi-step leapfrog thing going on here. I only have my own point of view. Lots of details missing in that view. (I have not signed a Microsoft NDA.) 

Angus Glashier posted a screen shot of him editing his site in Pike. He says "outliners aren't the most intuitive writing interface, and UserLand's implementation feels a little odd compared to the text editors I'm used to. Still, the ability to remain in the editor while saving updates back to the site is damn useful, and the ability to structure text is ultimately worth while."  

Angus, this points out the need for competition. We make outliners at UserLand. It's a very specific kind of writing tool, it's perfect for template design, presentations and scripting. The ability to edit in sections and easily move the sections around is key for me as a weblog writer. But we know it's not a mainstream writing style, and that a great simple wizzy HTML editor will be incredibly valuable here. (I could see wanting to use a spreadsheet on certain Manila pages and sites.) 

CamWorld: Four Men in Hats Brain Teaser

MacInTouch report on MS Office 2001/Mac. 

WSJ: Pentagon cracks down on PowerPoint. "Just as word processing made it easier to produce long, meandering memos, the spread of PowerPoint has unleashed a blizzard of jazzy but often incoherent visuals." 

Andrew Wooldridge of Netscape came over for a meeting to talk about menus and XML and sidebars and other juicy stuff, and on his way out I asked him to pose with the servers. His hand is resting on Subhonker1, the machine that hosts all his sites (and yours too if you're on EditThisPage.Com). 

Andrew told us about a JavaScript outliner he's working on that plugs into Manila through XML-RPC. I went over to the whiteboard and revised the XML vision to include his outliner in addition to ours

NY Times: "The joint state-federal plan calls for breaking Microsoft roughly in half. One-half would be the operating-system company, the other would hold everything else, including Microsoft's applications software, such as the word processor Word and the spreadsheet program Excel, and the Internet properties." 

What will this do to increase competitiveness in web browser software? Another question. If Microsoft didn't own Word, would their web browser be a better text editor by now? This came up in our discussion with Lance yesterday (see below). Word has a limited ability to save to the Web. What if there were a company that only did web browsers? What if that company had retained its sanity and focused on giving users and developers what they wanted? The race started six years ago. Where would we be now? Imho, that's the question the attorneys should be asking. How can we get this very vital software category moving again? 

Another opinion. It's easier to compete with Microsoft as it's currently configured. A breakup would throw the industry into massive confusion for years to come, possibly a generation. This is not something to do casually, without a lot of thought. 

Survey: "How do you feel about this proposal as it relates to the Worldwide Web?" 

Nick Sweeney: "People have said that there's a difference between open source, which is theoretically easy to modify but often impractical to do so, and and open architectures like Frontier, which may hide its source but bear its technical soul. It's about time that Windows became an open architecture. Transparently so." 

Joel Spolsky: "Another thing users have trouble with is using the mouse. Even if they are adept mousers, using the mouse precisely can be difficult." 

What the heck is going on here

Two websites for the price of one. 

Robert Brook found encoding schemas on xmlsoap.org, which is a Microsoft domain

Yesterday I got a phone call from Dan Gillmor about this essaylet I wrote. The call came in the middle of the SOAP announcement, which I knew was coming, but I didn't know when. Dan was concerned that people would read the piece and conclude that he wrote about Conxion because we are friends and because I asked him to. Only Dan can say why he wrote about it, I can't read his mind, but I never in a million years thought he would do it because there's a friendship.  

I'm still trying to understand how people who do what he does do their thing, how they define integrity is deeply interesting to me. I find myself repeatedly defending his integrity. How does he get me to do that? I changed the copy to suit him, but I still told the truth, and got back to the SOAP rollout.  

Later I thought that Dan's definition of integrity as it relates to friendship is so vague to me, and might not be compatible with the culture of the Web, where reciprocal links are a way of life. If I point to someone repeatedly, I expect attention, in the form of links. If the links don't come, I tend not to link. Kind of like peering deals in the ISP world? I see a balance between Dan's site and mine, in fact, in this space, my site is bigger, there's more content, and more hits. In my value system, a pointer from me is worth more than a pointer from Dan. However, there's extra ooomph from a Dan-pointer, because some people place more value on it. Steve Ballmer, a super-busy guy, made time to have dinner with Dan. Conxion has an idea that the Merc is important. The Merc carries clout that my web writing doesn't. Where this comes from is somewhere in Dan's mind. He has a clue that I don't. So I guess I'm asking to be clued in. What is it about the Merc that gets people to listen? 

Dan Gillmor posted his his thoughts on the DG. "Dave's right that this new medium raises all kinds of questions. It will be fun, and useful, to explore them as the medium grows." Thanks for working with me on this, we'll figure it out, it's so cool we can have this discussion in public. 

Great penguin pics. Be sure to click through all the pages.  

At 1PM we're meeting with people from pop.com, to talk about Manila hosting for Hollywood pros. That is going to be an interesting meeting! I sold lots of software in Hollywood in the 80s. Now those guys run the industry? 

Lance Knobel was here last night. Got some pics. I asked how he liked spicy noodles. "Oh I like them very well." Lance is an American living in London. He mixes baseball metaphors with a lite Bweeteesh accent.  

BTW, when I demo'd my Klaus Schwab impression he said it sounded more Israeli than Swiss. I guess the glow fades.  

We also talked about hooking our new outliner, Pike, up to Manila to do PowerPoint-like slide shows. We'll do this for sure. That'll make a big difference, imho, at the Pentagon, another place we sold a lot of Macs to in the 80s. 

Lance runs WorldLink, Davos Newbies and numerous other Manila sites. 

This belongs at the end of today's page. Yes, I noted that News.Com didn't mention UserLand, even as one of the supporters of SOAP, when we played a more significant role, a much more significant role, than many of the companies they did list. Sun made friendly sounds about SOAP in the story, a first, of course that's good. Net-net a happy day, I don't want to take away from that, but being written out of the story is not itself a happy thing. Thanks for listening. 

Permanent link to archive for Wednesday, April 26, 2000. Wednesday, April 26, 2000

It's public! Permanent link to this item in the archive.

SOAP 1.1 Specification. Authored by DevelopMentor, IBM, Lotus, Microsoft and UserLand.

Microsoft press release. Companies supporting SOAP 1.1 include ActiveState Tool Corp, Ariba Inc, BORN, Information Services Inc, Commerce One Inc, Compaq Computer Corp, DevelopMentor Inc, Extensibility Inc, IBM, IONA Technologies PLC, Intel Corp, Lotus Development Corp, ObjectSpace Inc, Rogue Wave Software Inc, Scriptics Corp, Secret Labs AB, UserLand Software and Zveno Pty. Ltd.

We've started a SOAP weblog. I hope this will become a place where developers help each other getting SOAP deployed on as many platforms and in as many environments as possible.

What about XML-RPC? It's still the most widely deployed and simplest XML-over-HTTP protocol.

What's next? There will be a lively discussion about this stuff, for sure, at WWW9 in Amsterdam, next month.

Mid-day news Permanent link to this item in the archive.

John Dvorak: The Coming Depression.

News.Com: "RealNetworks is using portions of Mozilla.org's open-source browser code in a private-label version of its media player and server created for Web broadcaster Global Media. This version lets RealNetworks' system stream and display Web elements including HTML and Macromedia Flash animation files."

PC Week: The basic failure of XML is its premise. "The automakers chose to bypass BizTalk and OASIS to develop proprietary (but published) schemata. Every big organization will do the same, and though some of their XML work may feed back up to OASIS or BizTalk, every one wants standards for their cliques only."

Marc Canter: "MediaBar was a venue-based technology platform that utilized a Mac front-end written in Lingo and Director with a Sun-based Informix back end." Classic Marquis Decanter bluster, a couple of years old. We should all be able to listen to our own two-year-old bluster. Heeks.

Early Morning Edition Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Jake Savin is working on DHTML Menus. The goal for this project is to replace Manila's Editors Only menu (which is flat) with a menu bar that has depth. This will allow us to add more features to Manila without overwhelming the editor with commands at the top of the screen. We want to make the menus emulate what desktop users have become accustomed to. We asked the browser vendors (MS and NS) to support this directly in the browser. Only got a response from Brad Pettit, who said to do it in DHTML. OK, we're trying. Anyway, since we're going to share the code on this, I asked Jake to open the project so everyone could see what we're doing and perhaps help. Please be kind, Jake is the newest member of our team.

Joel Spolsky: "Hotel bathtubs have big grab bars to help disabled people, but everybody uses them to get out of the bathtub. They make life easier even for the physically fit."

Dan Gillmor had dinner with Steve Ballmer. Gillmor paraphrasing Ballmer. "Simply put, we -- the technology users of the world -- need Microsoft, because it takes a company of this size and talent and direction to solve some kinds of problems and invent some kinds of products." Hmmm. I was just thinking the opposite. Microsoft gets concerned that Marc Andreessen is going to eat their lunch. They charge into Web browsers, pretty much ignoring the developers. They win. Stagnation.

Gordon Eubanks: "Microsoft has never been weaker in recent years. The future is Web-based computing and that is not where Microsoft's core competence is."

Zeldman: "Getting over a two-day DSL blackout is like recovering from a cold. The instant you feel better, you're running hatless in the rain, choking on Chesterfields, and partying 'til all hours. We spent at least eight hours yesterday putting out fires instead of getting work done." Same here!

Grant Rauscher, an engineer at Broadband Mechanics, responds to Brian Behlendorf.

On some days, like today, the story is finished at 7AM. Look at how it flows. We work around the brain-dead browsers; Joel, a former Microsoft employee says that we have to design for users who don't care (true); Dan Gillmor quotes Steve Ballmer pleading for his right to dominate us; Gordon Eubanks says it doesn't matter because the Web isn't in their blood; Zeldman and Rauscher, true web developers, ground us in the reality of our day (open source people are equally clueless, and you can't buy a decent net connection).

It's all a matter of point of view. Awakening happens when we consider the validity of other povs.

An email to Tim O'Reilly, cc'd to lots of other people. "Guys, to me this is the thrill of the Web. On a personal level, this is the jumping out of the plane with no parachute feeling. You can see your reflection in someone else's mind. Of course no one likes this. Why? Ask me in a year, I'll tell you."

Simple Gifts: "Til by turning, turning, we come round right."


Permanent link to archive for Tuesday, April 25, 2000. Tuesday, April 25, 2000

Dan Gillmor is dealing with flamers. "Western civilization is in jeopardy. And it's all my fault." But wait it gets better. Dan takes on PacBell. "I don't think PacBell should be advertising its Internet offerings so prominently and pervasively when it seems that the company can't handle the customers it already has." So true. What a bunch of losers. Dan, go get em! 

Dan's on a roll today. He took a whiteboard shot of Microsoft's vision for XML. So I did one of UserLand's vision.  

Frontier 6.2b9 change notes. Andre says: "The Mac version comes with a new TCP layer, completely rewritten from scratch. If you have been reporting TCP-related stability problems with previous versions of Frontier/Mac, you should probably give this version a try. Initial feedback from testers has been very positive." 

Tim O'Reilly: Beyond the Book. "My efforts have strengthened the relationship between O'Reilly and Amazon.com, and Jeff Bezos has joined me in my campaign for reform of the software patent system."  

Survey: Do we want to work with Tim? Results so far. 100 percent of those responding say yes. A social experiment. 

Duffer: Why is a Domino/Notes geek working on a Manila site? "I thought you'd never ask. Answers soon." 

Doc Searls posts his report from last week's Futurize West event in Napa Valley. 

XML-RPC: Derek Jones is having trouble getting AppleScript to talk to Python. 

PS-HTTPD - a Web server written in Postscript. 

An email that's either a virus or sent by an idiot. Watch out for this kind of stuff. Don't run email enclosures unless, well, I can't really think of a good exception. 

Opilio is a web crawler, search engine and categorical directory built in Frontier. 

Andrew Wooldridge update on XML-RPC in Mozilla

Susan Kitchens in Panama: "I'm taking my computer with me. I'm taking my digital camera with me, too. I've checked out digital cafe sites in Panama City. But I reserve the right to live in the moment and abandon this site altogether for the time I'm gone!" Excellent! 

Jakob Nielsen says what I have said several times. A split of Microsoft that leaves one company owning network services and the browser is a fox in a henhouse, makes no sense. Who cares about competition in operating systems. No one will bother. The action is on the Internet. I still say, if there's to be a split, it should just remove the browser from MS, and leave everything else as-is. The OS company would be precluded from making a browser. It would have a certain amount of time (1 year?) to decouple the browser from the OS, and as a proof of concept they would have to integrate Mozilla and ship it with the OS. End of problem. And a blueprint for dealing with any further competitive problems. 

And yes, I have always been a proponent of browser integration with the OS. As an engineer I know that it can be done through a driver interface that's open to all. It's not difficult engineering and not unprecedented. 

This week Zeldman reads like Scripting News. "We run an Internet business. We pay for high-speed access. For a week we've had blackouts lasting up to four hours, followed by connectivity as brief as fifteen minutes." It's a wonder that someone can't put together a business that fits Zeldman's needs. That would be a business whose stock is worth owning. 

Before yesterday's outage some really interesting stuff was happening on the discussion group

Oliver Breidenbach has been working on the design of his site. Interesting template! Very nice. 

Rael Dornfest works at O'Reilly and is doing their Meerkat RSS scanner. 

Scripting News via email update Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Murphy struck hard! No mail went out at 10PM. The roll out was a dud because of the outage. Oy. I care so much about this feature. Please subscribe. It'll be worth it.

Time to reflect Permanent link to this item in the archive.

An outage is an incredible opportunity for reflection. I had planned twenty small tasks that couldn't be done while the net was down, at first I was grouchy, then I went for a walk, and came back energized. The net was still down. I went for another walk. That's unusual for me, very, at least when I'm in California. When I'm traveling I walk all the time.

Here's what I realized, I don't like reflection. I don't like hearing how my thoughts reflect on others. A says something to B. I don't really want to hear what B heard. Now once I realize I don't want something, I choose to follow the advice of an old girlfriend who used to say "Then that's what we'll do!" Her voice is still very with me. What a great teacher.

In this Hall of Mirrors that we call the Web, most of what you see *is* reflective. I say what I see when Tim O'Reilly organizes the Open Source community. The response is their standard party line. My response would have been my party line if I hadn't had time to reflect and hear my own words, and then imagine how they play in OpenSourceLand. Tim and Brian aren't random Slashdotters. By feeding back to me, they helped me understand. This is what I worked on, on my second walk.

I'll try to do better. I want to open doors for communication. That means I'm going to have to do the A-B-A thing. Yesterday I suggested that we open embassies in each others capitals. That was premature. First we have to figure out what exactly we are doing here.

We need a clear statement like the one that ESR wrote for Open Source. We'll do better than he did, because we will leave out the exclusive stuff. But we haven't done it yet. The WebApps conference was premature. DaveNet didn't yield many standalone pieces. The outages and angst with Conxion raised integrity issues. I think perhaps all this needs to be organized and presented clearly before we can ask for help from any other community.

Next steps: Time for Zopefish?

Yesterday's outage Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Our PacBell T1 line was down from 10:45 AM Pacific through sometime before 6AM today, an incomrehensibly long outage. The discussion group, EditThisPage.Com, and Weblogs.Com were down. More than UserLand was offline, but it was just Conxion customers coming through PacBell. This is embarassing and productivity-stopping. We had a really good thing going on Monday. On Saturday all the servers running behind PacBell-Conxion move to Exodus.

Heads-up. We're changing how DNS works for all of UserLand domains. This is part of the move off Conxion.

Eatonweb: "Is it just me, or has the web been totally dead today. No email, no interesting stuff, no news, no good memes." I had the same experience!

Permanent link to archive for Monday, April 24, 2000. Monday, April 24, 2000

Washington Post: US, States Favor Plan To Split Up Microsoft. "If Microsoft is divided into three companies, sources said, the third would be an Internet company that would get the browser and the Microsoft Network, which is the Internet service provider and Web portal that competes with America Online Inc. and other companies." The plan is confusing. Putting the browser in the network services company is like leaving the fox in the hen-house. 

News.Com: Microsoft shares dive on downgrades, breakup reports. "Microsoft stock fell $11.94, or 15.12 percent, to $67 in early trading, after several investment banks lowered their outlook after the software maker posted third-quarter revenue that grew less than anticipated. The company also took a hit after several newspapers reported that the government was considering a plan to break up Microsoft to prevent any future antitrust violations." 

Scripting News via email roll out Permanent link to this item in the archive.

OK, it's Monday, so it's time to roll out a new feature. The Scripting News-via-email feature is ready for broader use. I did a review of the code and watched it send out 1200 emails yesterday. It appears to work.

How to sign up: Visit this page, enter your email address, and check the Scripting News checkbox. If you already have a UserLand.Com cookie, that email address will be entered for you, but if you prefer to have it sent to a different address you can change it. Click on Submit. We send an email to that address. The email contains a single button that confirms that you want to subscribe. So you can't subscribe someone else. Further, we know that you have an HTML-enabled emailer, because if you don't you won't be able to click on the Confirm button.

Each email you receive, sent at 10PM each night, will have a big Unsubscribe button at the top where you can't miss it. (Some people will miss it even so.) This is the easiest and surest email-unsubscribe I've ever seen. Inspired, for sure, by Amazon's 1-Click process for buying stuff.

Does Amazon consider this infringement? I'd love to hear from them. If they do, we'll probably back down and make it more complicated. You will get a chance to tell Amazon what you think about that, if it should happen. And we will not file a patent on this, so if you're a developer and want to use this process, go ahead. But a pointer to the permanent archive for this page would be nice. Thank you for the flow.

Scripting News is not just about scripting. It's also about patents vs freedom. My goal is not only to make the best software I possibly can, but also to help users see the value of freedom. We'd all like email subscriptions to work better. It's clear how they can. I don't mind if others use my ideas, in fact I want them to. I also want to learn if Amazon and others will stand in the way. To me, the users are the real issue. So far they haven't felt the impact of patent mania. The sooner they do, imho, the better. That's one of the reasons I wanted to do this feature, this way. Freedom of expression. See how the writing and software are integrated?

Survey: How did it go? Were you able to subscribe? Are you comfortable that you will be able to easily unsubscribe? How do you feel about the feature? Update: I added a fourth response for people who can't receive HTML email. Sorry, this feature can only work if you can receive HTML email.

Other stuff Permanent link to this item in the archive.

XML-RPC: Manila RPC Changes. Two new handlers were added to facilitate email distribution of Manila-hosted home pages.

I sent an email to Brian Behlendorf (Apache.Org and Collab.Net), posted it on our DG and got back a response. Ouch. I offered the best I have to offer, friendship, and got back a lecture. Same old open source bluster. Lots of theories, few facts to back them up. Yes I believe in competition, you will too if you stay in this business for a while. Apache is like MS-DOS. Lots of people use it, we do too. But where's the Lotus 1-2-3? Apache is boring! Where's the revolution for writers and thinkers? Geez. Look a little closer Brian, it doesn't have anything to do with the economic system. If we worked with each other great things would happen. But I won't be making public offers of friendship again anytime soon.

Netscape job opening: Product Manager for Netscape Gecko Embedding. If you get the job, remember that Netscape makes Web browsers. Web browsers. Web browsers. Web browsers. Web browsers. Web browsers. Web browsers. Web browsers. Web browsers.

Here's an essay Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I realize what I'm doing now is concentrating all my writing into one flow. I'm writing the docs for new features on the home page. No hops. I'm also concentrating the flow of all emails into this page. And at the same time I'm inviting people to speak here, but doing it awkwardly and ineffectively. Think of it this way, that's all that was happening with Conxion. I'm sure that if they had the time (they don't) to get to know the community here, they would have something to say to them, like use our service! Their ads are trying to reach the people we already reach. But their ads are fearful things. "You will lose, you will be punished," etc. Here, they could say, "Look at all we do to help Dave, we'd like to do that for you too." (Of course they must stop reselling PacBell's miserable T1 service, I'd support that fully.)

Anyway going back before Conxion, I tried to get VA Linux to come talk with us. That failed. Who else? I'm sure I'll think of others. Doc is so right, the Web is about conversation. If Brian Behlendorf, who is surely a very busy man with his own community, would only say hello in a friendly way! Such incredible things could happen. Like we could make all our software work together, plug and play.

Now I could never write this in DaveNet. It would make no sense. It barely makes sense here. There's kind of a loose hub. We link to a churning pot of weblogs, but they are independent of us. We host thousands of free sites, mostly run by professionals, people who know a lot and want to share it. There's also a vast library of syndicated XML content which cares not whether you use bloated open source software or bloated commercial-ware to read it. It just doesn't care. Have fun. And then there's Pike, the biggest juiciest invitation to Apache ever. Make Apache work with Pike and there's a revolution. Why? Open interfaces between writing tools and servers. Embrace the desktop, don't wait for it to show up on Linux. It's already there on Mac and Windows. Microsoft gets this. I doubt if anyone in ApacheLand does. (I feel like Paul Revere.)

Now how can I seduce a really bright guy like Brian to spend some time learning what we do, and explain it in a context that makes sense to Linux developers, open source or whatever? That's what I gotta figure out. It doesn't have to be Brian. Help me figure this out.

Final note. I'm sure some people don't like the evolving format of Scripting News, but I really do. My whole way of writing for the web is shifting. And I really owe it all to Pike. What a trip it's been. The goal has been to get a decent writing tool that could connect directly to the Web, cutting the number of steps to revise to a minimum. I edit Scripting News just like you would edit a text document on a local hard drive. But the server is out there, not right here, and I don't have to use HTML, but I can. If you write for the Internet, you're going to be doing it this way. The only question is will it be only with Microsoft's software or with software from others as well? Right now, as far as I know, only UserLand and Microsoft are working in this area. Think about that.

Wait there's more. Tim O'Reilly has gotten into the fray. Excellent. Sorry you had to read this far down the page for the pointer. Maybe Tim will pop up a level for the greater context. I've managed to piss him off too. But he's here! Let's love him in. We want your help Tim. Help help help.

Sorry if you don't like pride, but I think Scripting News is becoming a killer app!

Permanent link to archive for Sunday, April 23, 2000. Sunday, April 23, 2000

WebReview: An Editor's Guide to Writers: "In the coming digital milieu, the editor will reign supreme, the lord and master of content. All the more reason to hone to a glittering rapier's edge one's skill in dealing with troublesome, headstrong writers. Either that or brandish a handgun." Ouch. 

4/4/00: "Free the MSIE development team at Microsoft. Cut it loose. Give it a lot of money. Let someone outside of Microsoft drive it. Someone that Web developers, including Microsoft, could talk with. And make it a profit center, so that it will enable competition." 

Dan Gillmor: "Another nutty proposal would require Microsoft to sell off the browser software." Why nutty? 

Dueling weblogs. Dan sent me an email, and said it would be easy for the OS company to screw the browser company, but I disagree. The OS company would not be free to compete in browsers. Easy to enforce. The only way they could get HTML rendering is through third parties, such as the MSIE company. And if it's hard for the OS company because of sloppy engineering, well them's the breaks. (Get a Mac.)  

BTW, Dan's proposal that they split between OS and Office is nutty. (Sorry I couldn't resist.) 

Washington Post: Write Here. Libel There. "Americans may not always like how the First Amendment protects others (their neighbors, TV tabloids, Matt Drudge), but they care deeply about their right to free expression. They may take it for granted that this right will follow along with the words and images that they now send effortlessly (and sometimes inadvertently) across national borders. They shouldn't." 

Chuck Shotton posted the source for his BIAP Chat Applet. Later in the week he'll release the source for NetEvents. BTW, BIAP stands for brain-in-a-pan. 

NY Times essay by venture capitalist Tim Draper. "Creative marketing doesn't have to be expensive, but I know that when a company has a breakthrough and customers are anxious to buy, it is time to pour in the rocket fuel." 

Hey Tim, if you've got a minute, here's an idea for you. Think about starting a worldwide ISP that has really high integrity and big pipes with replicated data and automatic switchover when there's an outage. And one other very important thing. No interest in the content it carries, so we can resell the service, without adding impossible limits to our user agreement. Now that would be a viral app! (Futuristic too, all the vendor agreements we've seen so far take out all 4000+ of our sites if one of them breaks the agreement. Not something an Internet entrepreneur can build on.) 

Hey email works. Dan Lynch forwarded my email to Ellen Hancock, and she responded. Good! 

BTW, I didn't get a response to my email to Conxion's John Seamster. Less than a week until we move the remaining servers to Exodus. We're reviewing all the scripts that make up UserLand.Com and finding code that depends on IP addresses beginning with 206.204.24. Put this on the best-practices list. No more hard-coded IP addresses, just symbolic names. In the meantime, if you're running an ETP site, think if you have any of these in your sites. They won't work after the switchover. 

And if you want to know why we do it, why we go through all this angst and michegas with ISPs, read this DaveNet piece. The writer's web. We are the only software company who cares to build systems for writers. From top to bottom, soup to nuts.  

You know why information about outages is so scarce? Because the people who are out can't talk. And when they come back online they're so busy catching up they don't have time to document the experience. 

I got an idea, Weblogs.Com might be able to spot outages elsewhere. I whipped up an outages page that shows the weblogs it thinks are currently out. As you might imagine, it shows problems with the weblogmonitor app too, not just with other servers and ISPs. Investigating.. 

blivet: "The ISP services in Las Vegas really are in sore need of some competition" 

DSL Reports reviews ISPs and monitors outages

Speaking of outages, everyone wants to know what happened to Carpe Diem. No posts since March 17. 

Christopher Hanson, the first baby born in our community, is starting to look like a person. 

Sheila took pics at Seattle's Safeco Field, which is very much like PacBell Park in SF. PacBell sucks. 

Philly Future: Sports Stadium Update

I spent much of the afternoon rebuilding the Scripting News-via-email server. I'm fairly confident the emails will go out at 10PM tonight. 

More attic cleaning, came across this hilarious animated gif.  

Marc Canter in Trieste. 

Permanent link to archive for Saturday, April 22, 2000. Saturday, April 22, 2000

You can help XML-DEV get back in the groove, and perhaps learn about current-best-practice in mail servers. 

Cryptome "learned last evening that Exodus Communications, a major US service provider, ordered last Sunday the removal of a Web site, www.mathaba.net." 

Joel Spolsky: "Good UI designers use consistency intelligently, and, though it may not show off their creativity as well, in the long run it makes users happier." 

I finally figured out how to stop flame-fests once and for all. 

A new weblog from "the world of help desks and support specialists." 

Survey: Approximately how many hours has your work net connection been down this year? 

Wired: "While 5 percent of the survey respondents said they bought Stephen King's e-book, Riding the Bullet, less than 1 percent claim to actually have read it." 

Salon: A tale of two photos. "Early Saturday morning, we woke to the news that Elián González had been seized from his Miami relatives and returned to his father." 

Salon: "Paul Allen spent $100 million on Interval Research. Now there's nothing left to say about the company that no one could say anything about." 

Quark: "We're pleased to announce that avenue.quark, the intelligent way to resue your QuarkXPress content, is now shipping." Hmm. I don't have any QuarkXPress content that need resuing. I'm not even sure that's a word. 

Jorn Barger: What's the deal with PhilG? "I'm interested to hear what people think of PhilG, why he's doing what he does, why the major media pay him scant attention, which of his resources you find most useful, and which you wish were different?" I just realized this is from November 1999. 

Terra Institute is a Manila site. 

Spicy Noodles has a new orderly look and new features. I am very happy to see Andre adopt the My.UserLand story flow. 

Pictures from Seder2000. 

I was the last guest to leave Marc's seder last night, which seems to be a tradition. Marc and I talk, in a kind of relaxed way. He said: "What will I panic over now that the seder is over?" I used his web browser, and noticed that he had Good Morning Silicon Valley bookmarked. 

Interesting, I said, let's go there. I scanned it, and my eye caught this quote from Eric S Raymond. What was that doing there? What bluster. Yuck. "God'll get him for that," I said. I think that was a big line in All in the Family. Just curious, did the editor put that there because it was so blustery, or because he believed it? 

BTW, when Doc Searls calls for an end to intellectual property, this is where he and I depart. It is not morally wrong for me to "own" my writing, whether it be software or prose. Otherwise there could be no free speech, as soon as I wrote something someone else would take it and say they wrote it. How could we ever communicate? I'm sure Doc meant it in a thoughtful challenging way, "here think about this." I'm not so sure about Raymond, he seems to be a true zealot.  

First Amendment to the US Constitution: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." 

9/10/98: "There's the bug!" 

I have more work to do today on Scripting News via email. The mails didn't go out last night at 10PM. I think I know why. In the meantime, I keep thinking of more 1-Click type ideas. You want to know what I'm doing with them? I'm implementing and shipping them. 

I removed comments about patents that were here this morning. I want to give it more thought. 

Permanent link to archive for Friday, April 21, 2000. Friday, April 21, 2000

Passover Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Some thoughts as I head out to Marc Canter's Passover Seder tonight in San Francisco.

When I was a kid, being Jewish was something dirty, to be ashamed of. I can't say exactly how I came to this opinion, perhaps there is no reason why. I always hated how smelly and personal Jews were. But then later in life I learned that Irish people are the same way, as are Italians and Russians, even Chinese and Indians.

People are smelly and personal. It's like accepting my trees as the true owners of my "property". Jews have been through a lot of shit. Somehow we're still here.

Yes, we make trouble. Always. Everywhere we go. But we also make beautiful movies, and write great books and websites and invent and discover new stuff, and we study, study and study. We Jews think we're smarter than everyone else. Everyone else has a problem with that.

So what else is new?

6.2 Feature #1 -- Choose a Language Permanent link to this item in the archive.

The first of two big features we're working on for Frontier 6.2.

In 6.2 you'll be able to choose a language for a Manila site.

If you choose German, for example, all the prompts and menu items will be in German. Just like real software.

The two languages we'll ship with are English and German, the two languages we speak at UserLand.

This will put an end to the terrible dance that non-English webmasters have to do whenever we update.

A beautiful German Manila weblog.

6.2 Feature #2 -- News Items Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Feature number two is "News Items".

The first command in Manila's Editors Only menu will be News, just before Stories and Pictures. Click on it to see a list of pending (unpublished) news items. At the bottom of the list is a link to create a News Item. Enter a title, a URL, a description, and choose a category.

A configurable approval process. A rendering template for news items. A discussion link for each news item. The underlying format (invisible to the casual editor) is XML. News Items are editable in Pike.

We intend to bring the SlashDot metaphor into Manila. This is one of the top feature-request items, and it was a very tricky design problem. But it seems to work!

This feature will not wait until the release of 6.2, we hope to have this online for UserLand-hosted Manila sites next week.

Exodus Permanent link to this item in the archive.

It appears we had a 16-minute Exodus outage this morning. We moved two servers to Exodus late last year. I'm going to send an email (a friendly one) to Ellen Hancock, suggesting that we meet to talk about how we're going to work together.

No doubt there will be problems. What we want to avoid are the kinds of human-level disconnects we've had with other ISPs. I want to make sure they know that we have lots of users, and that we care about whether they get through or not. In fact it's mission-critical to us. (To put it mildly.)

Exodus' profile page for Ellen Hancock.

Hancock was considered a possible CEO of Apple in 1997.

Random stuff Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Survey: If you're knowledgable about Internet connectivity, would you prefer Scripting News be co-located at Exodus or AboveNet? (Later, I added Level 3 and Frontier Globalcenter to the choices.)

AboveNet: "AboveNet will investigate complaints regarding inappropriate material on Web pages transmitted using AboveNet services, in its sole discretion, require that the material be removed or take action as outlined in 1.02 above. If you do not agree to be bound by these Acceptable Use Guidelines, please notify AboveNet Customer Service so that we may initiate a closure of your account." Deal-stopper.

Tommy Williams looks at Service Agreements. "I don't know if you're going to be able to find a hosting facility that doesn't include some variant on the basic principle that, if there's something offensive or illegal on your site, they're going to shut you down."

People thought I was talking about tools for writers yesterday, but I asked about companies for writers. "Watch as Adobe and Macromedia roll out web services for their users." B2B.

Earlier this week, on the Weblogs2 mail list, Amanda Holland-Minkley wrote a longish post from a woman's point of view, about the attention she attracts where ever she goes, and how annoying it is. I wrote a response, which turned into a short essay I want to keep.

MozillaZine: "Mozilla isn't a platform? Mozilla shouldn't be a platform?" OK. Now, if Mozilla isn't a browser, and it is a platform (see how agreeable I can be) where are we going to find a browser to compete with MSIE?

I started an outages mail list on eGroups. I've become a focal point in these discussions, I want to spread out, so we can help each other. Let's figure this stuff out, it can't be that hard.

Jeff Veen on new browser releases.

Doc Searls: Abolish Intellectual Property Laws. That's a little further than I would go Doc.

Robert Cassidy, UC Irvine, on Napster: "The universities are in a tough spot. We'd prefer to support such products as they would be fantastic tools in the distribution of legal materials and we tend to strongly encourage free speech. We don't support copyright violation but we feel that you need to actually target the violators, not cast a wide net over anyone that might be a violator."

Jacob Levy: Dispatch #2 from the Napster and Gnutella Front.

Brock Meeks took a ride on Air Force One with POTUS.

Everyone's buzzin about Wes's DG.

In case you didn't notice, I sorted the links in the navigation section, to the left. (The sort was by URL.) I'll probably play with the order some more, weed out some older sites, add newer ones. It's amazing to me how people tune into changes in the list.

Hey the stock markets are closed today. Excellent. I'm in blue chips. Whew.

Scripting News via email followup Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Murphy strikes again! We screwed up. (Actually I screwed up.) The emails did not go out at 10PM. I fixed the problem, set the time-to-send to 5AM, and watched them go out. Need to fix some bugs. Bugs in programs that send email suck. Hard to test without annoying a lot of people.


Permanent link to archive for Thursday, April 20, 2000. Thursday, April 20, 2000

Today's weird thought: My.Mozilla.Netscape.Com? 

Another weird thought. Why do artists have their own software companies (Adobe, Macromedia) and writers use Microsoft? 

New Frontier verb: tcp.getMail

I asked Jeff Cheney if he would start a Frontier Developers For Hire site, and he did. Thanks! 

Ken MacLeod: Converting XML-RPC to SOAP

Common Dreams: "We believe that objectivity is, in fact, a myth -- that everyone has a bias, everyone has an agenda -- and that corporations like major news corporations have a corporate bias."  

Jon Udell: Web UI On The Cusp Of Change

O'Reilly has been improving Meerkat, their "open wire service". 

Today's Conxion news Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Through Dan Gillmor, Conxion's John Seamster responded and I posted a response to his.

5PM: Private, constructive email has been going back and forth between UserLand and Conxion as a result of these two pieces. In my first email to Conxion I said. "It's really good to have Dan Gillmor act as an intermediary. The issues and disconnects are coming up. Why it took so long to begin this conversation is something worth thinking about, imho."

This is what I had hoped would happen if Dan took an interest, he could stay neutral, but help the two companies get back to their common principles of excellent engineering. This, as far as I'm concerned has never been in doubt, for either company, and it's been the basis of the relationship. I pointed out to Dan that we are still a Conxion customer, and that means something. Anyway, the ball is rolling in a positive direction now.


SOAP SOAP SOAP Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Consider the role that XML-RPC will play as this area of technology develops. The computer media thinks in terms of corporations. This has been a constant theme here. It's a disconnect. In fact, most innovations, if not all, come from small groups of developers working in obscurity, sometimes within large companies, but most of the time, not.

We'll be talking more about SOAP here in the next few weeks. A new spec is in process. New support from the industry, some companies that don't usually partner with Microsoft are signing on. I'll have some thoughts and lessons learned. Given the recent experience with Conxion, well, I'm going to tell you what I think anyway. I'm pretty confident that the big companies we're working with have thicker skins and are more realistic about their own limits.

In the end, I very much support SOAP because it's what the big companies can agree on, but I am still pushing for them all to support XML-RPC too, because it's the kind of protocol that small companies and open source groups can wrap their heads around. No more uber-operating systems, and at the same time, let's embrace the beauty of small groups of engineers working for love.

Momentary self-centered thought follows. Isn't it weird, we're participating in developing the next-level architecture for the Web, and we can't get a decent link to the Web?

Zeldman: "The nice thing about running an Internet business while disconnected from the Internet is that ... uh ... um ..."

A theory follows. The reason many people think I'm semi-retired is that all they ever heard from me was DaveNet. I often sound relaxed in those pieces, because I generally write them when I am relaxed. I multi-task well, but most people never stop to think that I actually am doing the things I write about. That's why I want them to come to the Web. And I don't care if they think I left them behind, because in a true sense, that's what happened.

Scripting News via email Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Thanks to the early adopters for signing up for Scripting News via email. Apparently all the emails went out at 10PM, as they were supposed to. Now we're going to start transitioning to the service, it'll become a permanent feature in the "chrome" of Scripting News. We're going to build this service one step at a time.

Yesterday's Scripting News was more like a DaveNet for me. I suspect it will become more and more like that over time. Why now? I use Pike to write Scripting News. It's easy. Lovin it.

BTW, the daily updates feature uses XML-RPC to get the updates from the content system. It's absolutely not hard-coded to any particular site. It could work with any Manila site, or for that matter, with any content system that was minimally scriptable.

Survey results Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Yesterday's survey had some interesting results.

The top three choices were Manila, Blogger and homegrown. Of course we'd expect a skew towards Manila, and a bunch of Blogger users read this page. But I was surprised to see so many homegrown content systems. Well, maybe not so surprised. This is Scripting News after all.

In September of last year Cameron Barrett compiled a comparative table of content management systems. A lot has changed since September! (Internet Time and all.) It would be great to have a similar table for various blogging tools, from Cam or elsewhere, so the homegrown people could see what features they could get if they switched to one of the tools.

It's best if an objective person does such an analysis, and that they get feedback from the vendors.

Napster and Gnutella Permanent link to this item in the archive.

News.Com: "Napster will block access to people who are identified by copyright holders as violators," said Napster's attorney, Fenwick & West's Lawrence Pulgrum.

Jacob Levy: Dispatches from the Napster and Gnutella front.

Hey I'm full of weird thoughts. Why doesn't one of the artists make lemonade out of the Napster lemon, and release a low-res scan of one of their songs, a demo, with a link to a website where I can purchase the full-res scan, downloadable as an MP3 of course. One song for one artist. I bet you'd make a boatload of money. People want the music, lo-res is fine. For songs I play all day for a couple of weeks I'd pay $3 for the high-res version. The first one to do it would get huge flow. I'm surprised AOL hasn't done a toe-dip with this. Start with a Grateful Dead classic like Box of Rain or Truckin.

Today's song. "Come, we have work to do."

Weblogs.Com improvements Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A new feature on Weblogs.Com, you can now specify a timezone in the viewFavorites macro, and in the JavaScript version of the feature. This is used on NetDyslexia to show a box of European weblogs (Euroblogs). It was really silly for these sites to show the times they changed in the Pacific timezone. Europeans don't think that way. They have their own timezones.

BTW, the Weblogs.Com favorites cache works properly now.

A Jewish-Chinese joke (Heard on NPR) Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A rabbi, walking down the street in NY, sees a sign.

Moishe Teitelbaum Chinese Laundry.

Puzzled, he goes inside. An old Chinese man stands behind the counter.

"Do you own this laundry?" the rabbi asks. Yes.

"And your name is Moishe Teitelbaum?" Yes.

"If you don't mind my asking, how did you come by such a name?"

"When I came through Ellis Island, the man before me said his name was Moishe Teitelbaum.

"When my turn came, the man asked my name and I said Sam Ting."

Happy Passover One and All! Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Permanent link to archive for Wednesday, April 19, 2000. Wednesday, April 19, 2000

Survey: If you run a weblog, which tool do you use most often or are most satisfied with? 

A new weblog covering SOAP. 

vunet: "Gartner predicts that 70 percent of e-services will use SOAP by 2003." Don't miss the value of connections between desktop apps and servers through XML-RPC and SOAP. 

9/12/99: An end to the Uber-Operating System: "More concisely, the purpose of XML-RPC is to end once and for all, the idea that there can or should be one operating system for all. No more über-operating systems, and no press releases claiming über-ness! Thank you very much." 

Joel Spolsky: "Everybody in Silicon Valley seems to be talking about Charlie, the gourmet cook at Google who used to work for Jerry Garcia." 

New My.UserLand Channel: Linux Magazine

News.Com: Apple beats expectations, splits stock

Wired: ICANN Inches Toward New Domains. Oh good, something else to fight about. 

Question: If Apache is MS-DOS, what is Lotus 1-2-3? 

Perl.Com: What's New in 5.6.0. "Everyone's favourite Swiss Army Chainsaw is coming up to thirteen years old now, and would be about to show the world a brand new face for the new millennium if that didn't start next year instead of this one." 

Macromedia: Dreamweaver Exchange is "the place to get easy-to-install extensions, learn how to get the most out of them, and even create your own." 

Cameron Barrett is looking for one or two more Mozilla developers to help with the Mozilla weblog. 

David Carter-Tod has $5K he has to spend by Friday. He needs your help.  

iStockphoto.com has royalty-free stock images.  

Oliver Briedenbach started a WWDC weblog. 

What's that ASP page running? 

Another thought. I'm thinking of starting Dave Winer University. We would teach community oriented software engineering. There would be one class to start. UI Design Tools 701. We would start with a working C source base and I would teach the class how to create an innovative software product. Free tuition. Prereq: Advanced C programming. 

Eric Soroos: Seattle MPFUG Meeting April 25

Browser Security Hole in MSIE5/Mac? "It appears this bug came back in Internet Explorer 5.0 for the Macintosh." 

Chaz Larson narrows it down to MRJ 2.2. 

Companies I like to work with 

Even though we have a long-term working relationship with Microsoft in distributed computing (some might call it a partnership), I have never felt that that relationship was jeopardized by pointing out problems in their products, or otherwise criticizing them. With other companies, I go ahead and say what I think, but many of them won't work with UserLand as a result. Sometimes it seems as if criticism brings Microsoft closer. This is one of their strengths. They aren't scared of criticism. 

My philosophy, probably shared with Microsoft, it doesn't matter so much what people say about you -- it matters what you actually do. If I point out an opportunity or problem, and you act on it, it makes you stronger. Therefore, intelligent criticism is a good deal, a win-win. I like it because it gives me leverage on my intelligence. I can't do everything, and I know it. But I get pleasure from using good products, and I like the feeling I get when I helped make a product work better. I'd like to create a list of companies that agree with this, those are the companies I want to work with.  

BTW, based on recent experience, I'd say that Cobalt Networks falls into this category. I'll give them more coverage when they come through on their promises, but let me say this, if they do, we'll have more interesting stuff about Cobalt and other Linux vendors here, starting early summer. 

Now, more discussion of Conxion 

10:55AM: I got a response from Steve Martin at Conxion.  

Dan Gillmor: "If Conxion is getting rid of a customer because of the customer's statements, that's not smart business for Conxion in the long run, even though it's legal." 

More comments. First, we not only make the software that runs Dan's site, we also host it. So an ISP outage like the one with Conxion could have knocked Dan off the air too. Second, Conxion has never given us a reason for the termination. We've heard about their statements from reporters, which varies widely depending on who they're talking to and when, but their April 12 letter doesn't provide a reason, and there has been no response to the email I sent or the postings here. Third, if it is, as they said to Dan, an issue of economics, why the abruptness? Why not a grace period for a long-term customer who has to make a forced transition?  

Dan also says: "I'm working on a column discussing the power of ISPs relative to their customers." I suggest that Conxion empower someone to work out an amicable exit here, so we can say that Conxion, in the end, did the right thing.  

And finally, Dan says that I'm a friend. I agree! Friends don't run away from disconnects, they have the courage to go into them, and learn, and if it's done well, the friendship is stronger for it. Thank you Dan, I am very glad to be working with you, web person to web person. I care that you work for the SJ Merc, only sofar as some people, like Conxion, take you more seriously than they take me. I hope that in the future Scripting News will be as respected a name as the Merc, but at least with some people, we are not there yet. 

I like to close with group hug stuff 

Joshua Brauer: "Possibly the first "group hug" on the Internet was the Oklahoma City Bombing Sympathy Card. BTW it's a site that was made possible by Frontier, especially when the original ISP shut it down, Frontier made it easy to move it to my own server which I ran by that time. People really said some beautiful things in those pages." 

Thanks to Sheila, this news from Reuters reminds us that in Vienna, they have excellent Wiener Schnitzel. 

Permanent link to archive for Tuesday, April 18, 2000. Tuesday, April 18, 2000

At 10PM we'll send out the contents of today's Scripting News to people who subscribe. It's beta. 

Hannes Wallnöfer: XML-RPC for Java 1.0b3.  

If you want to get a sense of how much work this community does, check out the images folder on our static server. 

Doing some closet-cleaning preparing for the move, and just rummaged through another attic full of memories. It's the contents of a very old static server that we're not going to move.  

Remember this one? Quicktime. 

In February, Glenn Davis of Project Cool was knocked offline.  

Wired: "The head of a major Internet consulting firm predicts that many dot-com companies will soon be exposed for what they really are: hollow, half-baked schemes without much hope for long-term success." 

We got a mention from Infoworld's Robert X. Cringely. 

WSJ: "Blame the IRS. With investors suffering unprecedented capital-gains shocks this year, some Wall Street watchers say investors' stock sales to pay their tax bills probably played a part in last week's markets sell-off." 

My.UserLand: "This page lists the 20 most recently approved channels." 

Karl Dubost: "I'm managing a website about Normandy which is hosted in Mountain View for convenient reason. If one my contributors made an false assertion on the websites, publish racism sentences, the French justice could condamn me for hosting this kind of words, even if the author is known." 

9:18AM: I just got off the phone with Dan Gillmor. It was an excellent conversation. I expect great things to come from it. 

Nick Sweeney says the Irish ISP business is set to explode. "From what I can see, the new E-Commerce Bill provides ISPs with a defence of having acted in good faith in accordance with their obligations to customers." 

W3C: The next generation of Web forms. "As the cost and size of Web servers continues to shrink, single chip implementations are now practical, and we can soon expect to see all kinds of devices with embedded servers. HTML will be used for controlling such devices, reducing the need for custom device drivers. XForms is being designed to provide the richer user interface these applications will need." I'm surprised to see that FireDrop is not participating. 

Eric Soroos provides a pretty good reason to skip the UK on our next European trip. Humor aside, basically there can't be any journalism on the UK web. Same with Conxion's little piece of the Web. Any time the carrier has an interest in the content they carry, integrity is lost.  

Dan Gillmor, for example, is lucky that due to a random event, we decided to host his site (at no charge) on our Seattle LAN and not on the one served by Conxion, otherwise his integrity, something we know he cherishes, could have been challenged too. Too bad Dan didn't rise to the occasion because he could shut down Conxion (which is in the Merc's territory, Santa Clara), and that would have helped us get their attention in a way that matters to them. We could have averted our exodus, avoiding wasted time and money, but more important, we could have shown that Silicon Valley doesn't stand for the kind of bullshit that goes over in the UK and elsewhere. A chance to take a truly high road, missed. 

The April 13 Scripting News archive, where the shit hit the fan with Conxion. I had been protecting them, by not revealing the letter they sent on April 4, warning that they took an interest in what I said on Scripting News. I promise you, my readers, never again will I shelter any attempt to control what's said and not said on this page. It doesn't matter how much it costs UserLand to provide this guarantee. 

I asked Lance Knobel, publisher of WorldLink and my partner on DavosNewbies, for his take on the UK situation. "Utterly astounding, I agree. I'm writing this from China, however, which does give one a perspective on Web censorship! (And I think it's China's weird firewalls that force me to go through MSN, rather than the Forum server to send out email.) Despite the problems here, there are extraordinary Internet entrepreneurs that I've met in the last two days. Really encouraging. The UK situation will, I hope, be resolved by the government giving ISP common carrier status. You can't sue the phone company if someone slanders you on the telephone." This is good news. We have a friend in the UK who can help. 

BTW, Lance gave us his support on April 13. "In the bad old days, car companies wouldn't advertise in magazines or newspapers that gave their products bad reviews. But they realised that they were only cutting themselves off from that medium's readers. Let's hope Conxion sees its action is both commercial and political bad judgement." 

UserLand isn't as casual as the UK courts or a random Silicon Valley ISP, that's why we can carry voices like Dan's. We don't take an interest in the content we carry. Unfortunately we haven't gotten very much support from the people who benefit from this. Still learning. 

I'm reminded of the Web blackout in response to the Communication Decency Act in 1996. Many print pubs stood with us in support of free speech on the Internet. Conspicuously missing was the NY Times, previously thought to be a bastion of free speech, everywhere. Was it a disconnect? Is it a disconnect now? Where do each of us stand on freedom of the press on the Web? Seriously, if you stay silent now, and benefit from our generosity, will you have any cause to complain if we get shut down at the *next* ISP? If you run a site elsewhere, how does your ISP treat you if you choose to write about them? Do they think they're entitled to a benefit beyond the fee? (Our ISP clearly did.) If you are playing footsy with your ISP, how do you disclose this? Would it piss them off if you put a disclaimer on your site: "We can't criticize the following people and companies because they could shut us down if they don't like what we say." You can't have a free press in this environment. 

Now, we're placing a big bet on Exodus. We've heard complaints about connectivity and support from other Exodus customers. But I'm willing to, reluctantly, bet on the character of their CEO, Ellen Hancock, who I knew from her days at Apple. Also Dan Lynch, the founder of Exodus, is a thoughtful, freedom-loving person. But here's a question for you to ponder. Why should I have to care about the character of the CEO of a big ISP? And what about you? Do you know any Silicon Valley CEOs? I think Ellen and Dan would respond professionally to my concerns. Would they even know who you are? And why should this matter? (These people are just carriers, not publishers.) 

Here's the graphic we ran when the Communication Decency Act was overturned in the courts. Yes, we won, then. But the battle continues. 


Discuss: "As far as I can tell, the issue of integrity on the Web has never been covered. What are the unique requirements? How are the protections different? Why isn't lack of editorial interference marketed as a benefit of using one ISP over another? How can we create an environment that lasts for a hundred years, and is not subject to laws like the one in the UK? Could we create an Akamai-like company that added a new kind of reliability to the Web?" 

NY Times: Election Regulators Dismiss Complaint Against Bush Parody Site. "If that means that my case is closed, that's good for me," said Exley, who is a computer consultant in New York. "But the issue is still open, and that means that the FEC still has to do the right thing in the end." 

WSJ: Many web retailers are making money. "Don’t sound the death knell for online retailers just yet. Despite the stock market’s recent trashing of Internet retail stocks, a new study shows 38% of Web retailers are actually making money. And a surprising 72% of catalog companies that have moved onto the Internet have Web operations that are now in the black." 

Greg Knauss, 11/2/98: A Standard for Site Organization

I am actually quite pleased to find that this domain name is taken, and (apparently) well-deployed. 

Permanent link to archive for Monday, April 17, 2000. Monday, April 17, 2000

Survey: Do you have a weblog? 

We've been working with Doc Searls on a new design for his weblog. A news-oriented home page, three subordinate pages. Easy for new people. I asked Doc for permission to point to the site with the understanding that this is just a mock-up. We're mainly interested in knowing which browsers it breaks. With these caveats, here's the test site

Unusual phone call: "They want to get together to talk about the history of this business, but they don't want the usual story, the folklore so often repeated, Vannevar Bush, Doug Engelbart, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Marc Andreessen, etc." 

WSJ: Stocks jump amid tentative rebound. "Stocks rallied late Monday to close near the day’s highs as investors stepped cautiously into the market after last week’s dramatic losses to seek out some bargains." 

Oddly, this British site is hosted in the US. Apparently some British person doesn't like them, and that's enough to get them knocked off.  

Keeping the record up to date, today we sent payment for May to Conxion. I sent this email to Steve Martin explaining why. 

BTW, I just thought I'd add this: Conxion Sucks. And so do the members of the press who didn't care whether our ISP shut us down over things I said on this site. There's a special place for people like that. We'll turn the Web into a high-integrity environment for journalism with or without their help. Imagine if the ISP for the San Jose Mercury News shut them down because he didn't like being called on interfering with their independence. I wouldn't lift a finger to help them. Well, maybe I'd lift *one* finger.  

NY Times: "There's financial alchemy for you. Take one big profitable company. Dissect it. Get two unprofitable ones trading at absurd prices." 

I just got an email from Firedrop inviting me to a user's group meeting. Of course the email was a zaplet. Nice! But you have to sign a non-disclosure agreement. And look at the message carefully. They included the email addresses of people they were inviting. Patent pending! 

You know what's wrong with patents? What if you patent something and no one uses it? That must be a bummer. There were only about 35 names on the Zaplet email. One was from Uruguay, so it wasn't just local people. And the names were all over the alphabet, so I don't think it was just all the D's. I imagine the $50 million sitting in the bank and them sitting around wondering if they could pay people to be excited about their product. Send everyone to DisneyLand? Would that require a non-disclosure? 

An EditThisPage site that uses gems

William Crim: Is there or isn't there a "Digital Divide"? 

Chris Langreiter loves REBOL. 

Jacob Levy: "There are many more sellers than buyers." 

Jacob points to the Smart Money MoneyMap Java app. Fantastic. I had never seen this before.  

David Adams posted an RFC for the xml-rpc interface for his web app spell-checker. 

Andrea posted a map of their vacation route. "The map was composed from 16 smaller maps provided by Expedia using Adobe Photoshop 4.0." 

J William Gurley: Can Napster be stopped? No! 

A brief history of the PC business. Distribution was everything. Retailers everywhere. BusinessLand. Shakeout. What was left standing? Softsel, Micro-D and Ingram. Then Egghead and Dell. Retailers morphed into VARs. Distribution was squeezed to nothing. How will Internet e-commerce shape and shake? 

Permanent link to archive for Sunday, April 16, 2000. Sunday, April 16, 2000

NY Times: Opening Bell Could Be a Test Case for the Lessons of 1987. "Nearly 13 years ago, investors stunned by the worst stock market week in memory spent the weekend pondering whether a great bull market was over. On the following Monday, so many of them decided to sell that the Dow Jones industrial average plunged 22.6 percent, or 508 points. Oct. 19, 1987, became known as Black Monday." 

AP: Asian Markets Open Sharply Lower. "Asian stock markets plummeted as they opened Monday, reacting to the record losses on Wall Street last week that left many investors wondering if its bull market was over." 

63% of yesterday's survey respondents agreed "it was just a correction." You can change your vote if you want. Tomorrow could be quite a day in NY.  

Today a new Manila feature allows you to create not just stories and pictures, but "gems" which can be any type of object you can upload. There is an initial limit of one megabyte of gems per UserLand-hosted site. We want to get a feel for how this works. There aren't a lot of places on the net where you can get free hosting of arbitrary file types served through HTTP, for good reason. It costs money to store and serve the objects, and there's no obvious way to monetize the service, if it's free. There may be an opportunity for a for-pay service that hosts arbitrary file types in Manila. We're releasing the software to all Frontier customers, that's the most important thing, esp for private internal sites where this is not a big issue. 

BTW, our use of the term "gems" dates back to 1995. It was one of the menus in Clay Basket. It's also a repository of patent prior art. 

Jakob Nielsen: Reset and Cancel Buttons. "The Web would be a happier place if virtually all Reset buttons were removed. This button almost never helps users, but it often hurts them." 

Jeffrey Zeldman Presents: "Several friends and readers have pointed out that our icons are used extensively at Dave Winer's weblogs.com. Actually, Dave has been doing this for a while, now. But does he call? Does he write?" Many apologies, and many many more thanks

Hey I got a You're Welcome from The Man. (Zeld Man.) 

I know everyone is heaping praise on Greenspun's ArsDigita University, so let me take a contrarian point of view. If you go there, you'll come away believing that Oracle is great, that Larry Ellison is god, that no one actually uses Windows, and Davos is a circle-jerk, no one cares about fonts and that undergrads can implement an object database in a relational DB as a first semester project. But your education *will* be free. 

I learned all these things in a public discussion at the Seybold/Boston show in February. (I didn't pay for the education.) After Greenspun said it was silly to use fonts in web pages I asked for a show of hands. How many people care about fonts? Every hand went up. Of course if you learn how to develop web apps from Greenspun, you might have trouble selling your services to the kinds of people who go to Seybold. (People who develop websites, mostly.) 

Greenspun drinking coffee.  

NY Times: Bill Gates's Money. Hmm. I wonder what they would teach at Bill Gates U? 

7/3/97: Bill Gates's Money. "He could send a Pentium box with NT 4.0 and MSIE to Alpha Centauri." 

This is certainly one of the more interesting dialog boxes I've seen in my day. 

DevShed tutorial on regular expressions. 

Chris Cothrum groks the philosophy of Manila. 

Reuters: "Police in full riot gear used batons and pepper spray on Sunday in several violent clashes with protesters who were trying to stop meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund." 

Sheila has "dome chunks." They could come in handy the next time the WTO meets in Seattle. 

Wired: Crypto-Convict Won't Recant. "I once believed it's too bad that there are a lot of people who work for government who are hard-working and honest people who will get hit (by Assassination Politics) and it's a shame," he says. "Well, I don't believe that any more. They are all either crooks or they tolerate crooks or they are aware of crooks among their numbers."  

What is Vanilla? "Now we all know that the Web is all about porn^H^H^H^H links." 

MonkeyFist has a special site covering today's protests in Washington. 

I finally went to see American Beauty yesterday, what a great movie. Life is more complex than it seems, and then simpler once you get through the complexity. 

On Brdbrain, I said: "We're in a fast-moving business, right on the precipice of success. We depend on connectivity. Yes, you can expect a cry of pain when the problem isn't being dealt with in a professional manner. Did I say things I regret? Yes I did. But in the bigger picture, we contracted with Conxion for connectivity, and they failed, and they never apologized or issued a credit." 

I hate (but love) movies with people hanging from precipices

Jason Levine's DeepLeap Plug-In for Manila. 

Tim O'Reilly: Open source blah blah blah. 

Has Dr John Grohol found his niche? Kind of embarassing to see a doctor behave this way. Oh well. My own opinion is that sarcasm is better left to professionals.  

Qube Quorner is the first statically-rendered Manila site hosted by UserLand. 

Andrea takes us to Capitol Reef National Park in Utah. 

BTW, we've been working on a design for a new Doc Searls weblog. Talking with Doc on the phone yesterday, I said I believe that a picture of Doc must be frontmost on the site. That's the first thing I want to know when I get to a new weblog. Who is the editor? Doc asked me where is my picture? Oy. So there it is, up-top, where it belongs. Click on it to get to my personal page, which I will update more often.  

An oldie but goodie survey from April 1. Six people said they were Jason Levine! Someone's lying. People never lie on surveys! Do they? 

How could someone the same age as someone else conclude the other person is "wise beyond his years"? How could you know? 

What a gorgeous site

Permanent link to archive for Saturday, April 15, 2000. Saturday, April 15, 2000

Lane Becker, CEO of Deepleap, posts the vision for the product and company. "We've built Deepleap as a platform for doing contextual relating between sites." 

SJ Merc: Valley investors sure of a rebound. "Rather than sell their shares, many seemed to view Friday's drop as an opportunity to snap up some high-tech bargains." 

MSNBC: Dot-coms in deep depression. "Just a few months back, if your company name ended in dot-com, it was a good thing and meant enormous wealth in many cases — at least on paper. But at the end of this brutal week, many analysts think the Internet bubble is ready to burst: and by this time next year a huge number of those dot-coms will be dot-gone." 

Survey: After yesterday's Dow Jones and NASDAQ bloodbath, in the lull before trading opens on Monday, people are wondering if this is just an inevitable correction, or did the Internet bubble just burst? 

If the bubble didn't burst, how long do you think Amazon will be able to continue giving money away? 

IdeaKeeper is a "browser for your brain". 

Martin Spernau has the Weblogs.Com icons available as a JavaScript you can plug into any web page. He's doing it in PHP on Linux. The power of XML. 

Jakob Nielsen: Search Engine Traffic to Useit

Permanent link to archive for Friday, April 14, 2000. Friday, April 14, 2000

NY Times: "As breathtaking and unfathomable as the Nasdaq stock market's rise was from mid-October to mid-March, so too has been its decline. The ruthless unraveling process continued Friday, as the Nasdaq composite index suffered its largest point decline and second-largest percentage drop in its history." 

Salon: Reactions to stock carnage. "Microsoft is an intellectual property company. Amazon is just a distributor. Distribution companies typically generate 2 percent profit margins." 

AP: How Wall Street Billionaires Fared in today's stock market collapse. 

Andrea takes us to Canyonlands' Dead Horse Point, one of the most beautiful places imaginable. 

The migration plan is complete. We'll move the honkers to Exodus before the end of the month. So hang in there Edit-This-Pagers and Webloggers, help is on the way. 

Jim Roepcke ranks Weblogs.Com members based on number of sites in their favorites, and most appearances in other's favorites. 

I got my account on DeepLeap, but I haven't gotten the gestalt yet. They have a fantastic commercial, for sure. It supports an XML format, not sure what it's used for. Weblogs that point to DeepLeap. 

Thanks to Metafilter for finding this copy of the yanked WSJ article about Microsoft losing MSIE. (Any bets on how long before the link breaks?) 

Megnut says something important today. "Web people can tell you the first site they ever saw, they can tell you the moment they knew: This, This Is It, I Will Do This. And they pour themselves into the web, with stories, with designs, with pictures. They create things worth looking at, worth reading, worth coveting, worth envying, worth loving. They create Beautiful Things. We need more of those." Amen. 

1/26/96: "Today we experience the rush of a new platform in the form of web energy. We've tapped into that energy flow before, but we've never before had the communications tools to talk about it. The Internet boom is being covered like no other new platform ever has." 

The web is about sharing, and money, for the most part, is not. The .com people do want money, as Meg says, and I think that often puts them at odds with the web.  

Springtime and apple blossoms

Spring is also the time for more PacBell outages. We were out between approx 11:30AM and 12:45PM. 

More outages? More pictures

Weblogs.Com is today's Project Cool sighting. Thanks! 

Joel Spolsky: Choices. "Now, some annoying help-index-engine-programmer at Microsoft with an inflated idea of his own importance to the whole scheme of things has the audacity, the chutzpah, to interrupt the user once again and start teaching the user things about making lists (or databases)." Amen brother! 

BTW, the people making decisions about Netscape's future should read Joel's piece. Another quote. "[Microsoft] never got around to disbanding the toolbar team, who didn't seem to know when to leave good enough alone. They wanted you to be able to customize your toolbar. They wanted you to be able to drag the toolbar anywhere on the screen. Then, they started to think about how the menu bar is really just a glorified toolbar with words instead of icons, so they let you drag the menu bar anywhere you wanted on the screen, too. Customizability on steroids. Problem: nobody cares!" 

Two new sites on the air today, one from Moreover and one from Cameron Barrett. We're proud to host these two sites, from two very clued in people, David Galbraith and Cameron Barrett.  

After I pointed to Cam's Mozilla site he made some immediate changes. It's a thrill to watch Cam discover Manila, and hit its limits. Cam, I encourage you to write a review of Manila, if you find the time to do it. I took a screen shot of Cam's site on opening day. It'll be interesting to look at this over time. 

Sometimes you have to be in the right mood to catch a bug. The bulletin-poster in Manila has had a bug for a long time. When you send a bulletin, you get one extra copy for every 10 you send. I have a list with 4000 people on it, that's 400 copies! So I'm motivated to fix it. I've stared at the code three or four times saying "It looks right!" but this morning instead of saying that, I checked the parameters to a tcp.sendMail call carefully and found that it was quite deliberately sending a copy of every batch of 10 to the sysop of the site. I took a screen shot to remind me that using my eyes is a good technique for debugging. 

Late Night Software: "The XML Tools Scripting Addition allows AppleScript to parse and generate XML data." 

Yesterday things got kind of heated over on the DG. But things were also friendly. I asked for a group hug, and got one! Man that felt gooood. It's been tough trying to hold this together, esp with all the outages. And then we got a turd-drop from a Vignette employee. (I deleted it.) That reminded me of a piece I wrote in 1991 (and published in 1995). "The person with the big problem is probably a competitor." I had forgotten that. You can't make some people happy, because that's not why they're there.  

BTW, as a matter of policy I delete all DG postings that contain personal statements about people, anyone, but they're usually about me. If you actually know me, I'll delete it even faster. It's certainly OK to disagree, but when the statements attempt to make people's personalities the subject of debate, it's off to the bit-bucket. This is not SlashDot. Being open to ideas is not about being open to invasiveness. "Good fences make good neighbors." 

Another key point. We offer free site hosting on two servers. And there's a special site for whining. There are plenty of options for people with complaints.  

While all this michegas is going on, behind the scenes private business matters are developing in the XML-RPC world. New partners coming online. A surprising pair of names that don't usually appear together on one page. I have not signed any non-disclosure agreements, however I am under embargo on the comings and goings. Just this once, let me be a tease. This is part of the editorial integrity definition process. I have told you all that I feel I can, and to be forthright, what I think I have to. Still diggin! 

I learned that the Blocks protocol developed by Invisible Worlds is gaining traction in IETF-land. It would be great if we got a study group site started on weblogs.com to keep track of development to make this world more visible to us. 

I was looking for a pointer to Blocks and came across this world music site, with a guy that looks just like Rick Smolan holding a fiddle. What gives with that? 

ASP Today: Adding Spell Checking to your Application using ASP and SQL Server. We need an xml-rpc callable spell checker. What an opportunity for a venture capitalist. I bet we could find a really good way to monetize it. Imagine all the words of a writer flowing through a recommendation engine. Don't even think about patenting it. There's your prior art, in the previous sentences. 

NY Times: For Start-Up Workers It May Be Worry.com. "There was certainly an emphasis on camaraderie and fun and a lot of team building and bonding, which I'm all for," Ms. De Luca said. "But often I felt that it was at the expense of some good work getting done."  

Omar Javid sent me a pointer to this old piece from 1994. "Interesting, isn't it, that what you're describing in this piece is the iMac," he said. I like the last line of the piece the best. It's what Steve Ballmer, bless him, would say if the shoe were on the other foot. 

WSJ: Microsoft acknowledges its engineers placed security flaw in software. "The company planned to warn customers as soon as possible with an e-mail bulletin and an advisory published on its corporate Web site. Microsoft urged customers to delete the computer file-called 'dvwssr.dll'-containing the offending code. The file is installed on the company’s Internet-server software with Frontpage 98 extensions." 

Marc Canter is studying SFgirls

Good Vibrations: Masturbate-A-Thon. Hey it's not really about scripting, but everyone does it, so what the hey. Let's have fun! 

I just got an email from the CIO at OASIS explaining why messages to the xml-dev list have been bouncing. I have no idea what he's talking about. I use Outlook Express and haven't fiddled with anything relating to headers or vcards or whatever. Maybe I should ask him to talk with someone at PacBell to figure it out. 

The outages continued through the evening, one as long as 26 minutes, several in the 10 minute range. I spoke with Diane at Conxion at approx 8:15PM last night, she said she was going to work on PacBell. Diane is great, but we still get no work done when the line is down. 

Permanent link to archive for Thursday, April 13, 2000. Thursday, April 13, 2000

The outages have started again. Seven in the last hour. The last outage was 17 minutes long and cleared at 7:50PM. 

BBC: Gagging the net in 3 easy steps. "Firstly we would look at the site. If we thought it was defamatory, then we would ask the sender to remove it, and if they didn't remove it, we would. Each case depends on its merits, but wherever possible we would wish to avoid any legal proceedings."  

Watch This Space: Beautiful pictures from Seattle's Pike Market. 

New Manila feature: Restore Template to Default

Survey: Are you a geek or a suit or..? 

An ususual big spring thunderstorm last night. It's warm and wet and smelly. My garden loves the moisture. Weather like this makes me miss the east coast, where I grew up. 

See the icons in the upper right corner of the Scripting News home page? What's that all about? Behind each icon is a weblog that changed recently. See the question mark? Click on it to learn more. (That's called a "user interface standard.") 

Hey to brighten my day I just got a call from a real estate agent with an offer on my house. It was a very large offer. I didn't say I wasn't interested. Surprising. Anyone know of an excellent rental in SF with a garden and a hot tub? Might be time for a move. 

***Conxion rocks our world today 

Well, this is the ultimate outage. We worked with Conxion for years, when their service was great I praised them to the hilt. When they interfered with our ability to do our work, we quantified it. When I criticized them (mildly, compared to how I felt) for stepping over the line challenging our First Amendment rights, they shut us down. Unbelievable.  

Here's the best part, instead of an apology and a credit for all the outages: "Our records show that you have currently paid for Services through April 30, 2000. You have also been billed for the month of May 2000 (invoice No.2356 dated April 3, 2000). If you pay the May invoice promptly (by April 21, 2000), we will provide Services through May 31, 2000." 

Hey Conxion, we have a business here. We're still making up for lost time due to all the outages. This adds insult to injury.This will interfere with our shipment of new Manila features, and Frontier 6.2, due at the end of the month. It's going to cost us a lot of time and money.  

Now there's no doubt that this termination is due to criticism of Conxion here on Scripting News. In the print world, it's not uncommon for a columnist in a newspaper to criticize the newspaper he or she works for, or to criticize companies that advertise with the newspaper. In the e-commerce world this is going to be even more important. Sweeping the truth under the rug is not a good way to gain trust. Our readers knew that we were having technical problems. When the problems are our own, we say that. When the problem is with an ISP, we say that too.  

BTW, everything I said about Conxion is archived and in the search engine. I did use a lot of restraint. An ISP has a lot of power, esp when the outages persist. How do they use the power? Do they interfere with their customers' relationships with their customers? We're finding out now that this ISP uses their power to shut down critics. This is a Cluetrain thing. If I were them, I'd welcome criticism. This is how you get the bugs out. Microsoft, a large customer of Conxion's, understands this. Interestingly, a few Microsoft people read this site. I bet they would pay attention if you sent them an email. (However I will not post email addresses publicly.) 

I called Steve Martin, left a voicemail. I said we would move off Conxion, but probably not the way they specified in their letter. We need more than 17 days to do the transition. I want 180 days, at no cost to UserLand. Since this was Conxion's decision, and since we're still reeling from the outages of March and early April, this is the only fair way to deal with it.  

Letter to Conxion CEO. "While we no longer wish to be a customer of yours, we still want to work with you to get this straightened out. You can do good for your company and industry, and the Internet publishing industry, by participating in the discussion, and helping us all understand what kind of Internet you want to be part of." 

A reader named Bryce says "Scripting News is powerful public platform. In my opinion, you abused that platform by taking a private business matter public and making it personal."  

I have to deal with these kinds of reckless unfounded accusations all the time. It's why we need a clear integrity statement. We're getting closer. 

Conxion CEO Antonio Salerno's April 4 letter to me, while we were still down, experiencing outages and completely and utterly frustrated at the lack of progress in getting the problem solved. It's true that Steve and Diane did pull out all the stops to help us. We did thank them for their help, publicly. It's really awful to have this used against us. Further, our deal with Conxion, from the start, was for a full T1, not for 128K. So Antonio is actually spinning a negative against his company against us. Further, the really hard part to swallow is the lecture on what the First Amendment does and does not allow. He is not a lawyer, and his opinion on this subject is misinformed and irrelevant. You will see my response to him on the April 5 Scripting News, which on review, is quite measured.  

We are not and never have been a "partner" of Conxion's. 

Finally, Salerno is the problem. The company is good, their service excellent, but this guy gets personal and makes assumptions that are not cool. We are not his special project, we are a serious business with customers and real partnerships, and reliable transparent Internet connectivity is essential to our work. This clearly is not his focus. I should have spent today doing my real work, not dealing with this company. Shame on them. It's understandable when bad PacBell technology stands in the way, but today's outage is 100 perecent Salerno's doing. Yuck. 

***Another persistent outage.. 

xmlhack: XML-DEV withering. "Long used as an excellent technical resource for XML developers, XML-DEV's ongoing difficulties are proving an impediment to the kinds of discussion and collaborative development that have made its reputation." 

I started a temporary mail list at eGroups for the xml-dev community, until the problems at OASIS are worked out. It's an unmoderated list, open to the public. All xml developers are welcome. As soon as the problems at OASIS clear, we should use that list to do our work. 


Permanent link to archive for Wednesday, April 12, 2000. Wednesday, April 12, 2000

Recent Scripting News reader surveys have been really interesting. A virtual three-way tie between Perl, Python and Frontier for favorite scripting language. Macintosh is the favorite OS, by a wide margin. Now another survey to find out what work you do related to the Web.. 

Survey: If you work on Web sites, which type of tool do you use the most? 

BTW, if you vote for "Other" please send me an email saying what software you're using. I can add choices to the survey without disrupting it. Also, in this survey, don't focus on the tools themselves. I'm trying to figure out whether you're a writer, designer, graphics person, programmer or network manager. If you use BBEdit to write scripts, you're a programmer, and should choose the first category. You can change your vote, btw. 

Sneak preview of tomorrow's survey. Comments welcome. 

News.Com: Amazon sued over music samples patent

WorldLink: "The protests are mounting as April 16 nears, the date on which NGO and trade union groupings are hoping to turn Washington in the latest post-Seattle demonstration." 

NY Times: Bush Adviser Apologizes Over Lobbying for Microsoft.  

Wired reviews Netscape 6

Joel Spolsky: Figuring Out What They Expected. Joel talks about the user's model of the application, using images embedded in web pages as an example. Where do you put the file? Oy. Been there. Finally we found the solution, put the picture on the server, along with the text. This involved years of experimentation and brain sweat. The key thing is to maintain a single location for the content. If there's going to be a single location, it's gotta be on the server, unless the user is going to have a server on his or her computer. 

Playing with the Icons that Changed concept, it's like the old TV game show, Concentration. I also figured out where I'm going to put it on Scripting News. It's going to be very coool.  

BTW, the reason I'm not doing custom icons, yet, is to level the playing field for those of us who are graphics-challenged. Just because we don't know all the ins and outs of PhotoShop doesn't mean we don't have a visualization for our online personalities. (How about all those double negatives!) So when we run out of icons, if we do, I'll do something about this "problem". In the meantime, try again, I bet you can find some remaining icon that somehow says something about your online personality. Thanks. 

Chris Nelson: MozillaZine on Skins. "Mozilla is not a browser." Oy yoy yoy. This is bad news. 

Cameron Barrett: Mozilla is not a Browser. "This is why there is so much confusion between what Mozilla is and what Netscape 6 PR1 is. Netscape 6 PR1 is simply a web browser that uses Mozilla as its source code." 

One of the things I'm happiest about recently is that I've become friends with Cam. He's a skilled and passionate designer, works his butt off and has an open mind. This is excellent. These are exactly the kinds of collaborations I like. 

O'Reilly's recent scripting survey. 

Chuck Shotton: Why you don't want Gnutella

Dale Dougherty: The Mystery of mySQL

Dan Gillmor: "Comerica Park, named after a bank that's spending big bucks on the sponsorship, is the replacement for Tiger Stadium, a ballpark I frequented when I lived here in the late '80s and early '90s. It's also a monument to corporate greed, political spinelessness and taxpayer stupidity." 

I unsubscribed from the weblogs mail list after learning that the moderator filters the messages. I noticed that quite a few of mine hadn't made it through. Oh well. Please let me know if an independent unmoderated mail list starts. Thanks. 

No outages in four days according to the Track-PacBell agent. Could the outages be over? I hope I hope. 

Permanent link to archive for Tuesday, April 11, 2000. Tuesday, April 11, 2000

Survey: How cross-platform are we? Quite. 

Part two of our hardware upgrade today is complete. A few glitches. Our static server got a lot beefier. We're now running Linux on a Subhonker. Lots of ram, disk space. 

AP: AOL Chief Talks to Editors. "Those who try to hunker down and keep tight control of their online content, he suggested, will fail. 'What the Internet has done is taken control away from the gatekeepers.'" Amen. 

NY Times: "Ralph Reed, a senior consultant to Gov. George W. Bush's presidential campaign, apologized today for lobbying the governor on behalf of the Microsoft Corporation and promised not to lobby him again on behalf of Microsoft or anyone else." 

View from an Iowa Homestead: A new baby! Welcome. 

Andrea reviews the Körperwelten exhibit. "There is a variety of displays, for example whole bodies of which the skin has been removed to show the muscles etc., or everything but the arterial system or the nerves has been removed. Some of the objects combine several of these." 

Doc reports from a Montreal bathroom. "I had to go so bad there wasn't a rational neuron in my brain. So it was with infinite relief that I found a bathroom, grabbed a stall, and sat there, organizing the days ahead with my daytimer. Then I heard ... female voices." Uh oh. 

A joke that women who date engineers would get. 

SD Times: XML Integrates Webs and Databases. "SOAP and Blocks both go about adding some depth to solving the problem of querying databases via the Web. They aren't really markup languages, but they leverage XML in interesting ways and define separate and incompatible architectures and protocols so that you can build more powerful Web-based applications. While they are similar in their intent, they are very different approaches." 

Weblogs.Com: Choose your Icon. "If you have a weblog site registered, you can choose an icon. We will use this icon to link to your site in features we're dreaming up now." People talk about programmerish features, well this is a webloggerish feature. If you don't run a weblog it might not make sense. There's a chance to play with a graphic language for changes in weblogspace. I've been rolling this out slowly, so there are already some good icons taken. It's a land-grab, and if it's successful, we'll get more visual images for our collective writing work. It can't possibly *not* be interesting.  

Weblogs with icons that changed in the last 24 hours. 

The weblogs XML file now includes icon names. 

Jacob Levy: Why you don't want Gnutella (at least not yet). 

Andrew Wooldridge: "I've been sick as a dog for the past 2 days. I was finally able to crawl out of bed today and try to catch up on Real Life. Anthem stuff will follow depending on how fast I can catch up. Ugh. Being sick sucks." Get well soon. 

Frontier: Encrypted Cookie Format. This is the "hashed cookie" feature I was talking about yesterday. What does it mean? Manila systems are now more secure. The change is transparent to the user. 

Dan Gillmor: "But it may take infinite shamelessness for a company that is so progressive with its own employees -- and in the causes Bill Gates supports when he's giving his own money -- to be paying big money to the poster child for the forces of intolerance, ultra-right maven Ralph Reed." Thanks Dan. Couldn't have said it better myself. 

Infolets is gathering a list of Web Apps for Web Developers. 

MacInTouch Reader Reports: Netscape 6 PR 1

Joel Spolsky: "When Pete got alerts, he tried to dismiss them using the space bar, like he's been doing subconsciously for the last six years. The first time, nothing happened. Without even being aware of it, Pete banged the space bar harder, since he thought that the problem must be that the Mac did not register his tapping the space bar. Actually, it did -- but it didn't care!" 

Microsoft: BizTalk Server 2000 Technical Preview is available for download. Registration required. 

Here's what I want. A set of public interfaces deployed on a server that I can experiment with. I want to toe-dip. I want to be able to use their services without being on Windows. I don't have a spare server to install their preview server on. Many of the people I work with are on Unix and Mac.  

Elliotte Rusty Harold asks a question I've heard a lot lately. Basically, just because SOAP and XML-RPC are open, how do we know that what MS builds on top of these protocols is open? The answer is we don't. And further, why should we care? If it isn't let's reject it. There's so much power outside of Microsoft, but it sits there doing nothing but complaining, at least if you read the Times and Newsweek. I wrote about this in response to a posting from Dan Dees. "What Microsoft is doing is cool for sure, but we're doing something even hotter." Microsoft would like us to focus all the attention on them, can't blame them for that. (Well maybe you could, but that's another story.) The people Levy and Markoff interviewed aren't working in this area, clearly. If they were, imho, they would be excited and enthusiastic, not pissy and whiny. 

Yesterday I paid property taxes on my non-intellectual property. For the first time I made it a ceremony. I wrote the check outside and thanked my trees for going along with the little myth that I own them (and the land they're rooted in). They didn't seem to have a problem. 

No outages in three days according to the Track-PacBell agent. Could the outages be over? I hope I hope. 

Permanent link to archive for Monday, April 10, 2000. Monday, April 10, 2000

NY Times: Microsoft hires Ralph Reed, a Bush advisor, to lobby Bush. Reed is the former head of the Christian Coalition. "A spokesman for Microsoft said the company had hired [Reed] to counter 'a comprehensive lobbying campaign by our competitors' to promote the government's suit.'" Getting heavy. 

Wash Post: Criminal probe of Clinton 'open'. "Independent counsel Robert W. Ray considers the investigation of President Clinton's relationship with Monica S. Lewinsky an "open" matter and is actively considering seeking an indictment against the president after he leaves office next January." Bill and Bill. 

More evolution: Why DaveNet Changed

Next up on the Manila hit parade. Hashed Cookies!  

This made the news in China, late in the last millenium. (How come no one sends mail about it not being a new millenium?) 

Happy Birthday to Wes! He's 22 today. I wrote a piece about Wes back in 1998. Happy Birthday man. You ain't a kid no more. 

Reuters: WSJ Pulls Web Report on Microsoft Remedy. "The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition on Monday issued then pulled a story saying Microsoft may be stripped of the rights to its Internet Explorer Web browser as part of the remedy in the government antitrust case it lost earlier this month." 

WSJ: Will Microsoft lose rights to Internet Explorer? 

4/4/00: "Free the MSIE development team at Microsoft. Cut it loose. Give it a lot of money. Let someone outside of Microsoft drive it. Someone that Web developers, including Microsoft, could talk with. And make it a profit center, so that it will enable competition." 

New Manila feature. Every DG message has a checkbox allowing you to receive pointers to replies via email.  

Eric Prud'hommeaux's LOTP Architecture uses a lot of buzzwords I don't understand. Why do I think I need Gnutella instead? 

What is Gnutella? "Gnutella is the answer to your prayers. Searching for that recipe for strawberry-rhubarb pie? Can't find the latest version of Linux on a T3 or better link? It's probably out there on the GnutellaNet." I wonder if the source code for MSIE8 is on GnutellaNet? 

NY Times: "That was the best way, she told the group, to prevent the nomination of 'people who are stupid.'" 

MetaFilter: Overheard in the playground. "Your OS is stupid!" 

I wonder if you can see where we're going. We have HTTP, HTML and XML under control in our environment. The next protocol to embrace is email. Then we need to get instant messaging. Why? Because we need all those elements to make our web writing system really hum. Groups of people working on websites need to send instant messages that get sorted into different bins. Sometimes you receive something via email that belongs on your website. Sounds complex perhaps, but consider this. We have a new tool in our kit. An easy to use outliner. It supports all the protocols that Frontier does. (In case you haven't figured it out, despite its writer-friendly interface, Pike has the Frontier engine embedded.) 

I've asked Microsoft to support XML-RPC in their implementation of SOAP, and they've given it a qualified thumbs up. The qualification is that support for XML-RPC won't be in their first release, and I know from experience that priorities can shift. 

I've been emailing with reporters on distributed computing standards. "If Microsoft is the only large vendor who supports SOAP, well I guess you will have lock-in. But that won't be Microsoft's fault, that will be Sun, IBM, Apple, Oracle, Red Hat, etc's doing. If they don't like Microsoft, they can support XML-RPC, which doesn't have their name on it. But both specs are open, I wouldn't allow my name to be on SOAP, as it is, if it weren't open." Updated 8:06AM. 

Lots of great links today on patents.editthispage.com

Suck: "For Nagivator users, skins have become more than amusing little graphical diversions: They've become the death of the standard interface. We have seen the future, and it is damned hard to use." I agree. Netscape must give up this idea. Is there anyone in charge over there? I'd like to speak with him or her about this. 

WSP blasts Microsoft on standards support in MSIE 5.5/Win. 

Record response to the scripting language survey. Neck in neck between Python and Frontier. Very interesting to me that there are so many Python people reading this site. I'm glad. We like Python. 

No outages in two days according to the Track-PacBell agent. Could the outages be over? I hope I hope. 

Permanent link to archive for Sunday, April 09, 2000. Sunday, April 09, 2000

Newsweek: "Microsoft engineers are busily rejiggering familiar programs like Windows and Office so that your software itself, and even the information you once kept snug in your disk drive, will be spread over the Web." 

Like yesterday's NY Times article, this piece paints Microsoft as the once-again lock-in mongerer. SOAP is anything but a lock-in. I've never heard lock-in accused by anyone who's actually studied the spec. I sent an email to Levy. "What if Microsoft did something smart? Could you write that piece?" I'll let you know if I get a response.  

Survey: What is your favorite scripting language? 

A stylish and simple and easy-to-read Manila site

On to the next thing. Let's do a sidebar for Mozilla from the Favorites navigator. Ha! A good use for the sidebar? 

Jeremy Bowers got there first, he has a weblogs sidebar, although it's not based on Favorites, it has an outliner expand-collapse display. Good work Jeremy! 

Duncan Smeed explains how he did it. 

Jim Roepcke has a favorites browser that runs off the same database as the one on Weblogs.Com. It has an interesting feature, not seen elsewhere -- you can see how many people include a weblog in their favorites. 

Marc Canter: The Lost Episode of the Marc Canter Show #1

David Brown has a pre-pre-pre release of ZopeFish

Netscape: My Sidebar Developer's Guide. Time to RTFM. 

Andrew Wooldrige: "I'm working on the dropdown menu for Manila and I got over a big hurdle, I can get the menu to change based on what page you are on!" Cooool! 

Pike beta: International Character Fixes

Let's do some UI work. "Let's get some pictures into the standard vocabulary of Web applications." 

Here are all the icons we have from Jeffrey Zeldman. An endless source of amusement and what ifs. What if every weblog had an identifying icon? How would favorites look then? 

Garret has some good icon design pointers today. 

Susan Kitchens has been playing with icon designs for the Favorites navigator on Weblogs.Com. Now I get to play user, and I'm thinking maybe another approach is in order. 

NY Times: For Women in Silicon Valley, It Seems Like Strikeout.com

Brad Pettit has a picture from ManilaPalooza with me talking with John Foster and Danny O'Brien from NTK

Dale Dougherty tells a Jumping-With-No-Parachute story that's better than any I've heard before. Man jumps out of plane with no parachute. Plane cuts its engine and goes into a nosedive. Door stays open. Before both crash and die, the man goes back into the door and straps himself in. Plane powers up, regains altitude. Now that's guts! 

In the early heady days of Manila, back in early December 1999, I must have missed this review by Luke Tymowski. 

I used to wonder what would happen if we got Slashdotted. No problems so far. Note that there's a link to this page, which is served by a Qube running at Exodus, but there's also a link to a Manila page, served from Frontier running on NT on our Seattle LAN. Both servers are handling the load well. 

John VanDyk: "Don't worry about being Slashdotted by that thread. I see it's degenerated into the normal uninformed flailings about Ritalin, Hitler, and God even more quickly than usual." 

I'm learning (again) that no matter what I say I offend someone. Sometimes that person is me. Yesterday I deleted a paragraph asking if a certain reporter was a "ringmaster of a circus of lies" which I thought was an apt description, but geez if I ever want to work with him, maybe he won't want to work with me after I say something like that. I had a long phone talk with Doc Searls about this. I have to suck it in a bunch of times every day, it's the old JLG thing, the higher the monkey climbs the more people can see his derriere. I wish we could all take apparent criticism or unwanted fact-exposure more gracefully. It's not like you can take it with you. 

Talking with Doc yesterday about "intellectual property". I asked him to prove to me that such a thing actually exists. Then I went further. I'm not sure I believe in "property". I ask my trees if they are my property and they laugh at me. "Hey sucker you're going to be dead a long time when we die." OK. The trees are very smart. Good teachers. 

I wonder if people will be using Frontier after I die? I don't know. If Frontier came alive and I asked it if I owned it, would it laugh at me too?  

Hey I took pictures of the trees but I'm lazy. I'll upload them later. 

Here's a picture of some other things that I don't own. 

Megnut points to a page on Fray where people tell about the stupidest thing they did as a kid. Many of the stories are things people did to their siblings that they feel guilty about. I have such a story. When I was a kid I played baseball. I joined a Little League team and they had a raffle. We were supposed to go door-to-door selling them so the team could get new uniforms, or something like that. The grand prize was a new car. I sold a ticket to my little brother, who often did exactly what I asked him to do. That was the only ticket I sold. But I never turned the stub in. So my poor cute sweet trusting little brother never had a chance to win. To this day I feel horrible pangs of guilt associated with this. I've apologized to him, and he told me not to worry about it, but I still feel terrible. Maybe now that I've told the story publicly the guilt will dissipate. (Aside from that, what would a little kid do with a new car?) 

No outages yesterday according to the Track-PacBell agent. Could the outages be over? I hope I hope. 

Permanent link to archive for Saturday, April 08, 2000. Saturday, April 08, 2000

I swear I didn't touch up the wisteria. They look that way.  

NY Times: Microsoft Plans a New Strategy for the Internet. "The new strategy, pursued under the awkward rubric of Next Generation Windows Services, or NGWS, is to translate many of the features of the Windows operating system into free-floating utilities available to users not just on the desktop but on the Internet and accessible from anywhere."  

Email to John Markoff: "Bill Joy has it wrong. SOAP, the protocol on which this architecture is based, of which I am a co-author, is totally open, works with all platforms and operating systems, including Solaris and Java. If it didn't I wouldn't let my name be associated with the protocol." 

Aside from carrying a ridiculous quote from Bill Joy, that wouldn't stand up to any kind of scrutiny, the Markoff article and presumably the Microsoft pitch behind it, really muddies up the whole thing and makes it another war against something. Part of the problem is that Gates doesn't believe the public can understand the importance of RPC over the Internet. I had this discussion with him, in public in Davos.  

I think anyone with a college degree and a little curiosity can understand what's going on, the same way we learn about medicine from doctors or taxes from accountants. Compare the lifeless Times article with XML-RPC for Newbies. Playing to a stupid audience is a good way to get stupid customers. That's the real lock-in, keep the customers stupid. Yuck. I want smart users. In this case, Microsoft is really doing something brave, I think, so why not tell it like it is? 

And now what about Bill Joy. Has he even looked at the SOAP spec? Could his claim stand up to peer review? I don't get it. If we were talking about physics or medicine would they do such a rough job on a big story? End of rant. 

Hey we're getting Slashdotted tonight. Not sure I like the subject. OK. They spelled the name right.  

Docs for a new Frontier verb that was released today. A bit of code that was being replicated in many places. 

Interesting. You can read Scripting News over at O'Reilly

Samuel Reynolds has started a 3rd Party Plugins site for Manila. Good idea! 

Eric Soroos: XML-RPC via SMTP

I think Samuel Reynolds and Eric Soroos have shipped more software than Bill Joy has in the last 20 years, in one day. 

Wired: "Last summer, more than 40 people came from as far away as the United States, New Zealand, Italy, and Russia to Tuchersfeld, Germany, which also included a bus excursion for better viewing of the total solar eclipse. There was a giddiness to the event as participants reveled in meeting face-to-face with like-minded people they were used to dealing with on modem." LinuxPalooza? 

Blogger: Auto-Text Bookmarklet

Tuneups and a new feature on Weblogs.Com today, including a challenge for icon designers.  

Pics from yesterday's MozillaPalooza: Cameron Barrett (he wasn't wearing shorts), Jeremie Miller (turned 25 yesterday, couldn't rent a car the day before, but get this, he has two kids, one who's six years old!), Paula Ferguson (editor of Web and XML books at O'Reilly). 

Check out the very special mpeg on today's NetDyslexia

If you love to whine, you're going to love sucks.com

On Monday, Andre is going to the Körperwelten exhibit in Cologne. I heard about this on NPR and it gives me the shivers. Phil Suh: "I recall walking through the entire exhibit almost wordless." 

Clint Laskowski: "Yes, Dave, it did snow in Milwaukee. I too flew thru Chicago last nite, like your friend, Jeremie Miller of Jabber. I spent 15 hours trying to get home from LAX. Fun, fun." Pictures? 

Luke Tymowski: "You know you're in Canada when ... after wearing shorts for several weeks you're forced to put jeans on because it's snowing." 

People are always asking what camera I use. 

Thanks to Kottke for the pointer to this interesting example of user interface design. 

It's worth noting that there hasn't been an outage in 1331 minutes. That's pretty good for these days! 

Track-PacBell says at 7:24AM there were 87 outages since 3:17PM Sunday. The line was down 5.7% of the time. 

Permanent link to archive for Friday, April 07, 2000. Friday, April 07, 2000

Hey I met Cam tonight. Pictures in the morning. Two great new ideas. People think CamWorld is the place for webcams. I never thought of that. And a veteran at Netscape says in her first week there she realized her biggest problem was that she couldn't find La Fiesta! Excellent.  

Hey the MozillaPalooza dinner was at La Fiesta, just like the ManilaPalooza dinner. Pretty funny.  

Also talked with Jeremie Miller of Jabber. We're going to do some work to connect Pike to their servers. Should be coool! Miller lives in Iowa. He's on the red eye tonight to Chicago. He says it's snowing in Chicago. Too bad, it's already spring here. Hot hot hot.  

Doc Searls asked me to take his comments off this page, which I did. He didn't ask nicely, but what the heck. Basically he said that some people at Cobalt would be calling me and that they liked our special page for the Qube (scroll down, it's in the right margin). Thanks Doc! Win-win-win, hopefully. I honestly didn't think it was that big a deal. Whatever. 

I got a pointer to NetWinder OfficeServer which is a Qube-like product.  

I'm working on Email-in-Pike. It's turning out to be surprisingly easy thanks to the ground-breaking work of Alan German. One more time, thanks Alan!! 

The big deal for me at MozillaPalooza was more talk with Andrew about the Anthem interface. He's got the bug. I told him I'd switch over to do the server side of Anthem if he got the workstation part working. Over the weekend. No rest for the weary. The Web revolution must continue. Yeha. 

MozillaPalooza is today at Netscape headquarters in Mountain View, 11AM-6PM. I'm going to be there around 4PM, and then go to dinner with whoever wants to eat. Lots of great restaurants in Mountain View! 

I had a long phone talk with Andrew Wooldridge at Netscape yesterday, and today he came up with the breakthrough I thought was possible with Mozilla. I want to be able to add a Manila menu dynamically from the server, to the browser's menu bar. Just like Menu Sharing, but over the Web. The benefit for Manila users is that all the settings and editing pages are easier to navigate to, and use a standard user interface that you're already comfortable with -- the menu bar. 

Dale Dougherty: The WebApps Future

Manila sites now support RSS. "If your site is hosted on a UserLand server, you can use this new feature immediately. If you're running your own server, just update manila.root to get the new feature." 

Financial Times: Computers win right to freedom of speech. "It is hard to overstate its importance," said Raymond Vasvari, Ohio legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union, referring to the ruling. "For the first time, a federal appellate court has decided that computer programming languages are entitled to the protections of the First Amendment."  

BTW, a correction to the title of the Times article. It's not computers that have freedom of speech, it's people who write computer software. This is a respect issue that goes to the beginning of folklore about computers. It was thought, at one time, that computers could gain consciousness, and perhaps have rights and vote and otherwise be human. In fact, it takes conscious beings, programmers, to make computers do anything useful. It's the people who create software whose rights are in question. I asked Professor Lessig about this in Phoenix, if First Amendment issues could apply to clearing up the patent mess, now maybe it's clear that it can. At some point the USPTO is going to cross over into First Amendment space. Has that already happened? I think it has. 

5/7/97: "When a programmer catches fire it's because he or she groks the system, its underlying truth has been revealed. I've seen this happen many times, a programmer languishes for months, chipping at the edges of a problem. Then all of a sudden, a breakthrough happens, the pieces start fitting together. A few months later the software works, and you go forward." 

If you're a writer, journalist or designer, think about the paragraph above. How does that describe the synthesis of your work? Now imagine if you didn't have the First Amendment. You'd have to revise your work to remove any idea that anyone had ever expressed before. Lawyers would be the only ones who could write. This is my concern about programming. If patents are allowed to control free expression of ideas in software, the best software designers will be shut down. 

Tommy Williams reports that Microsoft's LinkExchange has outages too. "The stream of messages we get from the GlobalCenter NOC is astonishing -- their routers are perpetually overloaded, misconfigured, or mysteriously rebooting." 

We're still having outages. Last night Steve Martin from Conxion came over to install a new Cisco router to replace the old Livingston router. It gives better information than the old one, they say. There was also some hope that the PacBell-related outages would stop. Sadly, this has not proven true. Three outages last night.  

In the heart of Silicon Valley, over two weeks into an outage, no solution is in sight. We are a business with investors and thousands of customers, and are pioneers in content management, distributed computing, and syndication technology. We have cracked major barriers in writing tools for the Web. We are a member of the W3C. We have done major co-development with Microsoft and Netscape. We host sites for the San Jose Mercury News and WorldLink. It's fun to joke about the frailty of the Internet, but we need help getting the attention of PacBell and our ISP. We've quantified the problem. Most Internet companies wouldn't have the technical skill to do this. I'm now asking for help from members of the press. If the Internet doesn't work in Silicon Valley, what hope does it have for revolutionizing other economies? 

Hal O'Brien: "The level of reliability you get from Conxion is much better than anything I see either at home or through my employer." 

A phone call from David Ellington at NetNoir last night. We talked about outages. They're having them too. They use Exodus. They're looking for a way out. I told him about our experiences with Conxion and PacBell. I've been looking for a way out too. We were thinking about moving the rest of our California servers to Exodus! I told David that Dan Lynch, who we both partied with in Phoenix, is the founder of Exodus. I also know the CEO of Exodus, Ellen Hancock, and have big respect for her. I saw her under a lot of pressure at Apple, and kept her wits, unlike many others. So once again I'm searching for the Compaq of ISPs. Conxion is an amazing company and they really care about us, but there are problems. It's been several weeks now of outages, and they're still happening, and we're not in the Third World, we're in Silicon Valley. Surely there's a solution to this problem.  

I suggested to Ellington that we pool resources and acquire an ISP. He thought that was an interesting idea. 

I was going to point to a recent article about David Ellington in Red Herring, but they appear to be having ISP problems too. It's taking five minutes to load their home page. It's got a lot of little gifs, but five minutes! Hello. Anyone home? Of course not. I knew that. Hey the Internet doesn't really work. Oooops. 

Track-PacBell says at 6:33AM there were 81 outages since 3:17PM Sunday. The line was down 6.7% of the time. 

Brad Pettit, a developer on the MSIE/Mac team, says: "The capability to do pulldown menus exists in any browser that supports DHTML and CSS, specifically absolute positioning and visibility control." 

It's true, and we've found examples of developers doing exactly that. But the results are quirky, not very satisfying, there's more emphasis on "coolness" than practical functionality. User interface standards are just as important as W3C standards. Users understand pulldowns, so wild variability in how they are implemented works against them. 

Dan Gillmor: "Librarians help us find things. They help us read. They help us learn. And lately they've been fighting the good fight for their patrons' right to have access to the unfiltered resources of the newest information resource -- the Internet." 

Permanent link to archive for Thursday, April 06, 2000. Thursday, April 06, 2000

I installed and tested Navigator 6, Release 1. Here's the story

With Andrew Wooldridge's help I installed the Sullivan skin from Alphanumerica. I told Andrew they should ship with this skin, it's far more beautiful and economical than the one Netscape ships. Even better, have a contest for the best skin, the winner gets a permanent link in the browser. I bet they'd get a lot of developer energy channeled their way, and they sure could use some developer energy! (So could Microsoft.) 

The thing I like about this browser is that it probably will drive Microsoft crazy, so crazy they might start doing many of the same things. Remember what it was like to jump out the plane with no parachute? Could it happen again?  

Kevin Drennan shows his site in both browsers on the Mac. 

InfoWorld: Netscape 6 beta promises widespread appeal 

This is a Siskel-Ebert type survey. Based on what you've heard so far on Netscape 6, thumbs up or thumbs down? 

Joel Spolsky: "Programmers are, in their hearts, architects, and the first thing they want to do when they get to a site is to bulldoze the place flat and build something grand. We're not excited by urban renewal: tinkering, improving, planting flower beds." 

WebApps 2000: April 19 Meeting Cancelled. "We've had two long conference calls over the last couple of days to work on alternate ways of doing the event, but there isn't enough time to change course."  

Josh Jacobs: "Please sign me up as a developer who is very interested in contributing to creating some type of group/forum etc like the one I thought April 19th might be. I would be happy in the future to work with a group of others to prepare sections of an agenda with presentations, proposals, etc" Jacobs is CTO of Bigstep.Com. 

Last night at dinner with Bob Atkinson of Microsoft, I said "We know what publishers fear." Of course the next question was "What do publishers fear?" Rafe Needleman answers the question more eloquently than I could.. 

Rafe Needleman: "I spent years managing product reviews, and I have a strong interest in the new consumer review services. I do confess that my inner editor instinctively mistrusts these sites -- it wonders if end-users can review products as well as experienced writers. But I know that the community of consumers is, in sum, much smarter than any 'professional' reviewer could ever be. In my opinion, community review is one of the most important trends in online content." 

Exactly. That's why we call our company UserLand. It's built on the assumption that users know what a product really does and have a clear idea how it can be improved. Professional reviewers have to be superficial, the editorial process tends to remove the most valuable ideas, for a variety of reasons, some having to do with economics, or emotional (not wanting to offend the vendor, see yesterday's exchange with Conxion), but mostly about dumbing-down the writing to appeal to the broadest number of people, and repeating soothing Dilbertesque mantras (mostly untrue) over and over. (E.g. Java is the future, Apple is dead, Microsoft is evil, etc.) 

This should now explain the confusion we had with Chris DiBona, in the email exchange a couple of weeks ago. We weren't asking for review units, we were offering to build a community around the future of his server products, with users who really care about the products, and who are proven to be smart and who express themselves well. We should do it anyway.  

Talk about synchronicity! Two smart eponymous people, Dan Gillmor and John Gilmore are helping each other. In his eJournal Dan writes up John's excellent solution to the patent mess. "Say Gilmore comes up with a patentable software notion. Under his license, 'Anybody who has no patents is free to use my ideas,' he says. 'Anybody who has patents and licenses them on these terms, or better, can also use them free of charge. Otherwise, come talk to me about a license' -- and bring a checkbook." Excellent, it would make it fun to screw the greedy patent-mongers (and profitable).  

Boston.com: "What makes Napster so virally compelling is that every downloaded client is also, by default, a server." 

Edd Dumbill: The browser wars are back. "With impeccable timing." 

XML.Com: Processing XML with Perl

The AppleScript Weblog keeps on rolling. This is a prototype of what a weblog for a scripting community looks like. As usual, the AppleScript world leads the way. (And while it doesn't get attention elsewhere, it certainly gets it here.) 

The Updates page on EditThisPage.Com is working again. 

Jake Savin is the newest UserLander. He's still in warming-up mode, getting his wrist slapped every day, at least once, and holding up fine. He's working on macros for Manila, the design of the WorldLink site, and a new template for Doc Searls, and getting ready for the usual UserLand overload. Welcome! 

Track-PacBell says at 5:05AM there were 72 outages since 3:17PM Sunday. The line was down 7.0% of the time. 


Permanent link to archive for Wednesday, April 05, 2000. Wednesday, April 05, 2000

Netscape: Netscape 6 Preview Release 1. Welcome back!? 

I have mixed feelings about a new Netscape browser. The last time I installed their software it reset system prefs that broke Windows. It inserted itself in places where it was not given permission. Major privacy issues. 

On the other hand, it's been a long time since the last release, and this browser is built using new technology, and if AOL has screwed with its policies there may be a way around them since Mozilla is open source.  

BTW, I want to hear good news about this browser. Let's hope for the best and focus on the bright spots. And show extreme gratitude for the bleeding-edge guys and gals who are willing to go first here. I'm going to wait a while before installing. 

Andrew Wooldridge: "I am one of the engineers who does the xml/js/xul for the instant messaging part of Netscape 6." 

Anthem is Andrew's sidebar for Manila users.  

Mark Kennedy is already using Netscape 6, and wonders if the My Sidebar feature is related to RSS in some way.  

Cameron Barrett did a new skin for Mozilla called Sullivan

Duncan Smeed: "I have just been trying Sullivan. Suddenly the scales fell from my eyes. What really blew me away is that in Netscape 6 (I haven't tried Mozilla) I can have different windows each with a different skin (and functionality)." 

Archipelago on Netscape 6: "Menu Sharing is gone." 

Question. Should we start a new weblog to study Netscape 6? 

We've been working on the UserLand.Com home page

Another Spicy Noodles dinner tonight, this time with Bob Atkinson, Microsoft guy, architect of COM and Authenticode, co-designer of xml-rpc, and now working at WebTV. Could I possibly eat more Spicy Noodles? Sure! 

Business 2.0: Content Shifts to the Edges: "The message of Napster is plain: The Internet is being turned inside out." 

And people thought I was crazy when I wrote about Fractional Horsepower HTTP Servers. It's the way of the future. 

Frontier: New Callbacks for Manila sites. 

Scott McLoughlin of Adrenaline is putting together a demo app showing XML-RPC interoperability between Java and Python. He needs some help. 

Salon reviews Zaplets. I think they underestimate the security concern. 

Wired wonders if anyone cares about Netscape 6 or Bill Joy

Weblogs mail list: "Personally my hair is a mess, I'm wearing a torn t-shirt, and I want to know why I have to please some dork with long sideburns and pierced nipples." 

News.Com: "America Online and Gateway today will unveil a line of jointly developed Internet appliances." 

Newsweek: Meet Generation Net. "Today she's programming in Basic, building Web pages and raising money on the Net for her school's Jog-a-Thons while other kids her age are still looking for the escape key." 

CNN: The cost of sitting. "Fans who go to baseball's three new ballparks this season will leave with much lighter wallets." 

Dan Gillmor: "The DNS was a marvel of ingenuity when it was invented, and worked brilliantly when the Net was mostly universities and government sites. In today's commercial world it's becoming a mess." 

Track-PacBell says at 6:41AM there were 63 outages since 3:17PM Sunday. The line was down 7.5% of the time. 

Apparently Conxion is running a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal announcing "fail safe hosting" with "99.999% uptime" that is "100% guaranteed." Don't believe it. Conxion is not ready to offer this kind of service. 

Conxion CEO Antonio Salerno had a problem with the statement above. First, I'm glad he's reading our site now, perhaps he'll learn what we do at UserLand. That would be awesome. Second, under no circumstance may a vendor exert pressure on us relative to editorial content on our sites. This is an invasion of our integrity and will not be tolerated. We do not allow customers to try to influence what we say, nor will we allow vendors.  

3/30/00: UserLand as a publisher

One of my highest priorities is to write a simple integrity statement for UserLand so I can refer people to it. I also want to get an advisory board in place, of people with a strong understanding of editorial integrity to review our practices. Without such a clear statement and oversight, I'll have to waste a lot of energy writing one-off statements to people who challenge our integrity. 

Goldman Sachs: Business Principles. "Our assets are our people, capital and reputation. If any of these is ever diminished, the last is the most difficult to restore." 


Permanent link to archive for Tuesday, April 04, 2000. Tuesday, April 04, 2000

One more DaveNet: If I only had a brain

AP: "Computer programs used to scramble electronic messages are protected by the First Amendment because those codes are a means of communication among programmers, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday." 

I did a PacBell-Conxion Outage Whiteboard

Seattle Times: "Winer compared Microsoft's position on the Internet to IBM's dominance when the PC began gaining popularity in the mid-1980s. "IBM tried to clamp down on the PC and lost it all," he said.  

Dan Gillmor: "Microsoft is officially a corporate lawbreaker. The rule of law, at least for the moment, is victorious over the tyranny of untrammeled capitalism." 

XML-RPC: WWW9 Panel on XML and Protocols. 5/17/00, Amsterdam. XML-RPC, SOAP, ICE, etc. Could be a foodfight. 

I had dinner this evening with Glenn Davis of Project Cool. It had been a long time since we had met. I'm glad we did. Of course we went to Jing Jing and had Spicy Noodles. I want to see if we can work with the Web Standards Project, which Glenn is part of. Maybe we could all eat Spicy Noodles together. 

Jeff Keller's pictures of Pac Bell Park

They're diggin at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. 

Tim O'Reilly: The Coming Ecology of Ebook Publishing

Track-PacBell says at 6:59AM there were 43 outages since 3:17PM Sunday. The line was down 7.8% of the time. 

I think I'm going to visit Conxion's office with a big pair of scissors and cut their line to the outside world. I'll reconnect it periodically so that they are only down 7.8 percent of the time. That should be OK with them, based on their lack of response to the 43 emails that Track-PacBell has already sent to Conxion, including their CEO Antonio Salerno.  

Conxion makes bold claims on their website about uptime. "If we’re down for 26 seconds, our customers get one month of hosting free. Compare that to the industry standard: one day free for 15 minutes of downtime."  

By either standard Conxion owes us a lot of free hosting. Our line has been down for 185 minutes in the last two days. 

BTW, Conxion chose PacBell as the T1 vendor, not UserLand, so the finger pointing is pretty ridiculous. It would be like UserLand sending its customers to Microsoft when there's a problem because we use their C compiler to build Frontier. 

Permanent link to archive for Monday, April 03, 2000. Monday, April 03, 2000

UserLand is now a member of W3C.  

Timezone support is working on the WorldLink site. Even though it's hosted at Exodus in Silicon Valley, the site thinks it's in the UK. (In British "summer" time.) All other sites on that server think they're in the Pacific time zone. The world gets more virtual all the time! 

Now the timezone of your Manila site is a preference.  

David Brown is working on getting Pike and Zope working together. Please help him. This is a Good Thing.  

Joel Spolsky: Incentive Pay Considered Harmful. "You would get a big lucite tombstone the size of a dictionary when your product shipped. This was somehow supposed to give you an incentive to work, you see, because if you didn't do your job-- no lucite for you! Makes you wonder how Microsoft ever shipped software before the lucite slab." 

This is interesting. We don't have formal reviews at UserLand. I always thought this was a shortcoming, but now, after reading Joel's piece, I don't feel that way. Also, I like to give new stock options to everyone in the company when the group achieves a milestone. One person's great performance can result in more stock for everyone. I do it this way to enforce my constant message that teamwork is what matters most to me. People relying on and helping others in the group. And no one is incentivized to watch a problem go unsolved. 

A very annoying Encoding Bug in Manila Express has been fixed. If you use it all the time, as I do, it must have driven you crazy that it chopped off all of the URL after the ?. Goodbye! 

NY Times: Judge Finds Microsoft Guilty of Antitrust Law Violations. "The question now is what remedies the judge will propose. They could include curbs on Microsoft's business practices to a basic restructuring of the 25-year-old company based in the Seattle area. Judge Jackson will now turn his attention to that phase of the case." 

Other reports: MSNBC, News.Com, Wired, Washington Post, Seattle Times, TechWeb

David Weinberger: "The days in which the CEO can stand up and make a CEO-like presentation and not sound like a frightened windbag are already here." 

Jakob Nielsen: "Users hate redesigns. Even if the original design was miserable, any user who has suffered through the pains of learning it will rather continue to use what he or she already knows than learning something new." Amen! 

You know spring is here when the wisteria blooms. 

Yankee Fan Weblog: Happy Opening Day! 

I can't tell you how many times I've gotten emails from people who start by explaining how much money they've spent on UserLand products and then tell me they want me to do this or that on Scripting News. If you create a link between the two, your idea will be rejected immediately, often with a stern response. Imagine trying to tell the NY Times what to cover editorially because you bought an ad from them. 

The AppleScript Weblog shows signs of being frequently updated. Keep on going, we need more sites like this. 

I wonder why Queso.Weblogs.Com is the #2 site on the Weblogs.Com Top 100 List? (It's just a redirect to Jason Levine's real site.) 

Last night watching The Simpsons I saw my first Epinions TV ad. I want to heartily congratulate them on a very powerful story. I knew it was an Epinions ad long before the ad identified itself as being from them, and I had never seen one before, and had no reason to expect it. A guy in a tent, explaining how great the tent is. In the back of a pickup truck going through a car wash. The guy is a true believer. What a great way to demonstrate that. Epinions is a powerful idea. It's going to merge with TV. You'll see. Congratulations to the Epinions team for getting to the mass market first.  

Epinions is a content management system on my Two Way Web Whiteboard

Discuss: Let's talk about macros. "Macros can be very powerful. Maybe that's why people have trouble wrapping their minds around them." 

Screen shot of Pike editing Weblogs.Com home page. 

Dan Gillmor: Why Microsoft Couldn't Settle. "The qualities that make the company so great in many ways are part of the same corporate DNA that produces such famously mean-spirited and sleazy behavior." 

Fortune: Fortune 1000 list

Bill Joy: Why the future doesn't need us

MSNBC: Microsoft Campus Bombed. "I've been after them for quite a while to open up their code, to tear down the walls, to let in the outside world. That it happened like this is quite humorous, actually." 

MacInTouch: WINE and Linux Ports. "One big example is UserLand Frontier. According to the Scripting.com news site, UserLand is moving Frontier to Linux, but only x86 Linux. They are using WINE to do that, because they have a Windows version of Frontier. Frontier is the only application of its kind, particularly with its Manila software, that even runs on a Mac." 

Paul Snively reveals an ancient security hole in Mac System 7 that's so big it's horrifying to even think about. 

Andrea's Weblog documents the trip she and Andre took to the US last year. As usual, San Francisco looks prettier viewed through the eyes of a tourist! I forget how beautiful my hometown is, thanks for the reminder. 

Track-PacBell says at 5:48AM there were 23 outages since 3:17PM yesterday. The line was down 13.8% of the time. 

Permanent link to archive for Sunday, April 02, 2000. Sunday, April 02, 2000

As time passes I feel stronger about the decision to stop writing DaveNets. Too many people read them without the context of Scripting News. To the extent that DaveNet email readers are willing to make a trip to the Web, that's the extent to which I'm willing to share what I learn. Read in an email context I come off as a highly disconnected voice. They don't understand what I'm saying. How could they? It doesn't make sense in email. However in the context of the Web, the issues come alive, in real-time. Email is a lot like publishing in print. Once sent an email can't change.  

Wes Felter examines the information storage issues raised by Edd Dumbill yesterday. I'm glad that Wes is looking at this, and also that he has expressed an interest in editorial integrity as it relates to weblogs. The integrity issues are remarkably parallel, the concerns that guide decisions on control of data, seem related to editorial ethics. We're finally at a place where data, ideas and algorithms are virtually inseparable, but the rules applying to each, and the laws, and protections, are all over the map, and highly obsolete, I fear.  

For these to be interesting questions, of course, you need reliable net technology, which as you can see below, has been a problem again. We must solve this. 

A new Web app, Track-PacBell reveals a lot. As of 5:30PM there were six outages in the previous two hours. The line was down 36.8 percent of the time. I've programmed the site to send an email to Conxion and UserLand people when the line comes back up saying how long the outage lasted, how many outages there have been, and pointing to the report. On the off chance that any PacBell people are in the loop here, please send me an email and I'd be happy to add you to the list. To be clear, these problems are probably in PacBell's Silicon Valley T1 cloud. Kind of strategic for someone at PacBell, one would think. 

Conxion: "End users and Wall Street punish e-businesses that crash." I believe this. 

Email to Conxion: At least four outages since Friday.  

ManilaPalooza webcast: Audio part 1, part 2. Video/audio.  

Jon Udell's Manila testbed

Proof that Giants fans are wimpy. I haven't gotten a single flame for saying they're wimpy! Recursive.  

Mac net programmers will be interested to know that Chuck Shotton, the author of NetEvents, wants to release the source code. "NetEvents is a small, scriptable application that handles client and server TCP/IP services."  

Online Journalism: Web content gets tainted. "Isn't MSNBC partly owned by Microsoft, which makes a little program called Internet Explorer, which sort of drove Netscape out of the market?" 

MSNBC: Microsoft mediator calls off negotiations. "Posner said his four months of efforts had 'proved fruitless' because differences between the two sides 'were too deep-seated to be bridged.'" 

NY Times: "Judge Posner, in his statement, noted: 'I particularly want to emphasize that the collapse of the mediation is not due to any lack of skill, flexibility, energy, determination, or professionalism on the part of the Department of Justice and Microsoft Corporation.' Nowhere did he make mention of the states." 

NY Times: "On Friday evening, some senior computer executives who were read a summary of a government proposal became alarmed that it was too limited and would prove difficult to enforce. McNealy and Steven Jobs, the chairman of Apple Computer, were read elements in the proposed settlement and expressed their dissatisfaction to some government officials." 

Other reports: CNN, News.Com, Washington Post, Seattle Times

Edd Dumbill: Thoughts on Web App Storage. Edd proposes a single storage system that all web apps feed off. We actually have done some exploration of this idea at UserLand, but are not convinced yet that it is workable. We're pushing for something more modest, that all web apps somehow make the user's data available to user for backup and to allow the user to move the data into a different service. However, Edd's idea is, imho, worth exploring. 

No pictures from yesterday's game at PacBell Park. I forgot to bring the memory card for the camera. It's a very nice ballpark. There will be lots of triples and home runs. And we saw the first home run in the new stadium today, it went into San Francisco Bay and was retrieved by a boatsman. And get this, after the first Yankee home run, the fans threw the ball back on the field! I like this. It's like Wrigley Field in Chicago. Feisty fans. There's hope for the Giants! (Who tend to have wimpy fans.) 

4/24/95: "In baseball, like other things in life, eventually you have to choose sides. In baseball, someone has to lose. You can't have a win-win. That's just the way it is! You have to have an opinion. You Gotta Believe!" 

Jeff Cheney: The First Home Run at PacBell Park

Permanent link to archive for Saturday, April 01, 2000. Saturday, April 01, 2000

Today is the three-year anniversary of Scripting News. 

We had a multi-hour PacBell-caused outage this afternoon and evening. Back at work shortly after midnight Pacific, the connection is back up. The new ballpark, Pacific Bell Stadium, is great, I wish I could say the same for their T1 service. 

For the first few hours of 4/1/00, I had lots of April Fool's stuff here. But I got to work and wanted to do something more interesting, so I moved the weird stuff here.  

Two new Manila sites on the air today. Tim O'Reilly has a new weblog, with two new Tim-authored articles; and WorldLink, the magazine of the World Economic Forum (the Davos people) is now running on our Exodus server. Welcome! 

WorldLink is more than a weblog. The full text of the current issue is on the web and all back issues are indexed in the search engine. There's a discussion group and email bulletins. As far as I know this is the first print pub to transition to the web through Manila. 

One problem remains to be solved for WorldLink, since it's a UK publication, it won't do to have the times expressed in Pacific. This is forcing an overhaul (a good one) in Manila that will allow each site to specify its home timezone. 

Baseball tonight. I'm going to the Giants-Yankees exhibition game at the new ballpark in SF with Marc Canter, Dave Jacobs, Jimmi Johnson. Pics tomorrow for sure. 

CamWorld: Anatomy of a Weblog

Wired News: Editorial Policy

Adrian Murdoch: It's not me it's the system

popo.at and weblogs.com. "I am not a designer. It won't help you if I gave you a gif or something. I could not do it. I can tell you what I like and what I don't like, but even this is rather fuzzy." 

OK, let's try to de-fuzz this. Believe it or not, I am not the bottleneck in a redesign of weblogs.com. I just documented the macros that make the site work. Key point, any site hosted on weblogs.com can become a portal for the data that the harvester gathers. 

93 sites on Weblogs.Com. No joke! 

Andre just left for Chermany. The two-week onsite is officially over! I'm sad, but also glad. 


It's even worse than it appears! 


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