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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."


Last update: Friday, April 07, 2000 at 9:49 PM Eastern.

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