On Tuesday I'm going to Microsoft to get a technical briefing on part of NGWS, and a Scripting News dinner at 7PM at Mama's Mexican Kitchen in Seattle, then on the 22nd I'll be in Redmond again for the official announcement of NGWS.
I'll be back in California on the 24th, and then on the 26th I'm off to New York, for the Rising Tide conference, in Tarrytown.
I'm probably going to stay on the east coast through July 4, I'd like to go to the beach and body surf. Also interested in doing a dinner in NYC and/or Boston. I'll try to set up a meeting at PC Mag to demo Frontier 6.2.
And of course I'm going to be looking for a dial-up ISP in Seattle and several east coast cities. Too bad we don't have a FreeServe-like service in the US.
Free Internet access in the US?
Freewwweb is "providing full Internet access with all the bells and whistles at speeds up to 56K, to over 95% of the United States and most of Canada."
Here's their phone number list.
Thanks to Jim Mangan for the pointer.
David Valentine has a list of free ISPs in the US.
Themes are important
Last week, in the midst of the michegas about Microsoft and the maturation of RSS, we shipped Themes for Manila.
Themes change the way Manila sites are designed, allowing proficient designers to share designs with writers, techies and Manila newbies.
Themes are so important that we started a new weblog to track releases of new Themes, and provide a single point to get information and have themes-related questions answered.
A new kind of PDA
Today's NY Times Magazine is about technology in 2010. I liked the article about love devices you keep in your pocket. If someone nearby wants to do it, and they match your profile, it starts beeping. Now I might believe that that kind of electronic device could raise the temperature of the universe.
Get well David!
David Singer, an American from San Jose, was at the Scripting News dinner in Amsterdam.
He also got a concussion ice skating in Montreal. There's a picture on this page, but don't look if you're squeamish.
KFOG's play list
"On a mission of mercy, up to the mansion, up on the hill, where you can get your prescription filled. Flying TWA to the promised land, everybody clap your hands..
"Don't you know we're riding with the King. Riding with the King, don't you know we're riding with the King."
Yeah, they have a play list. I didn't know that, cause I don't listen to the radio that much. But this week I've had KFOG playing all the time I've been working. There's some new Phish, new Bonnie, a new Bob Dylan song, all of which I've heard about 80 times each. Tons of Talking Heads. Lots more old stuff, the B52s, Genesis, Santana, the Dead, stuff from the 70s, 80s and early 90s. I yearn for newer stuff now. One week is a lot of listening, even with a great station like KFOG.
I always thought that KFOG was album rock, but it's pretty top-40 now. You can tell there are a lot of people all over the world listening to KFOG on the Internet. I get lots of ideas for ways to integrate weblogs and radio. At least allow me to tell them please no more avocado and cheese from Togo's.
And no one sent me a pointer to the Yahoo Shopping ad with the guy being a good dog while the girlfriend tries on shoes and dresses. Can you imagine, I want to play their commercial. Surely the RIAA has no opinion about that.
Today is RSS Day on Scripting News.
Yesterday I made a pass over the RSS 0.91 spec, and made changes based on comments on the mail list and the DG.
There were some typos, easy to fix. I added PNG to the list of supported graphic types. The Netscape spec didn't say anything about graphic types, but it's clear that the graphics must flow through an HTML <img> tag, so basically the list of supported types must be types that can appear in an <img>.
The much-maligned <skipHours> and <skipDays> elements, which eventually may allow RSS to be an easy mechanism for programming scheduled events across systems, had some typos, and the skipHours element needed clarification. The hours that appear in this element must be in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) not in the aggregator's time zone, which is impossible to know since there are so many aggregators; and not in the content's time zone, because RSS 0.91 doesn't have an element to say what time zone the content lives in.
I added a suggestion that email addresses appear in a canonical form. There are currently two elements that are email addresses, <managingEditor> and <webMaster>. Since earlier specs were silent on the format, I made this a suggestion, so as not to break existing applications.
The number one FAQ is What does RSS stand for? I punted on this. Having run a survey that didn't reach a consensus, I felt it was kind of charming for each rev of RSS to say something different about what RSS means. Personally, I liked the recursive definition, RSS is Simple Syndication, but not a lot of people went along with that.
Then I changed the copyright notice to use the IETF-inspired copyright that has worked well for XML-RPC. Basically it's a release of all proprietary interest by UserLand. We wrote the spec, but the underlying format, RSS 0.91, is not owned by us. I encourage all other participants in the evolution of RSS to post similar disclaimers, but to be clear, I can't speak for anyone but UserLand.
The spec may be used to define supersets, so now it's possible for a fork to take place with a solid baseline behind it. A fork may be inevitable, because there are credible developers who want to take RSS into RDF and add namespaces and schema. UserLand does not want to go in this direction.
That's it for the 0.91 spec. There may still be typos, and it may be possible to add clarifications and suggestions, but I won't make changes to the baseline spec without careful consideration and such changes will happen slowly.
On to part two, a discussion of how we proceed from here.
Beyond RSS 0.91
During the week there were a bunch of public comments from people I respect, Ian Davis, Rael Dornfest, Edd Dumbill, David Galbraith, Mark Kennedy, Sean McGrath, to name a few, on next steps for RSS. These are smart people who have given this as much or more thought than my company has.
Without a doubt there are other people who have not spoken yet, or who will speak as the debate intensifies. Before all that happens, I have a few suggestions, which are outlined on this page. Note that I have labeled it a DRAFT. I will make changes to incorporate other people's thinking. If you agree with the guidelines, please say so. That would begin a consensus on something that's easy. Consensus is (hopefully) what we're seeking.
The key line in the draft is this: "Any progress in RSS, no matter how small, is a victory for the Internet."
I want to be very clear, these are just suggestions, based on my own experience working in groups like this. Usually these groups don't reach a consensus unless there's magic. People focus much of their energy on personal issues (I do it too), and blame others for not listening well enough. UserLand will not put more or less resources into this than anyone else. I've already received complaints that I've ignored suggestions from other people. I will not accept these complaints.
Get other people to listen to you. Make an investment in your own ideas. Sell. Give. Persist, if your ideas have value. Accept feedback. Write specs, don't wait for others to write them for you. Remember who we're doing this work for, for all of us, not any one of us. Please read the guidelines carefully, give them careful consideration, and let's discuss them first. It's the logical next step, to agree how we're going to work with each other, and what kind of respect each of us wants.
News, puzzles, fun stuff
MSNBC: Syria's enigmatic Assad dead at 69.
Reuters: Not Very Good News for the Internet News Sites.
Frontier 6.2b17 was released to testers.
For five points, explain what's going on in this picture.
Craig Jensen discovers the magical flow-building properties of Wiener Schnitzel.
Jason Lundy: "My new Weblogs.Com site will be about my interests. Since the web is one of my biggest interests, you will find here many resources for our shared interests. Why do I say our 'shared interests'? Because I doubt you will stay long if you don't share my interests."
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