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

Our friend, The First Amendment 

DaveNet: Software and the First Amendment.

"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." Excellent!

American Library Association's First Amendment page.

Cornell: "The most basic component of freedom of expression is the right of freedom of speech. The right of freedom of speech allows an individual to express themselves without interference or constraint by the government. The Supreme Court requires the government to provide substantial justification for the interference with the right of free speech if it attempts to regulate the content of the speech. A less stringent test is applied for content-neutral legislation. The Supreme Court has also recognized that the government may prohibit some speech that may cause a breach of the peace or cause violence. The right of free speech includes other mediums of expression that communicates a message."

Mac app-only download 

It will be a few weeks before UserLand has an official release for the Mac that plays MP3s as the Windows version does.

However, there are many applications of the app that do not depend on playing MP3s, and there are many inventive developers in our Mac user community.

That's why we pushed this app-only release so soon after the release of the Windows software.

No-installer downoad 

Some people have reported trouble with the InstallShield installer, for those people we've created a no-installer download, it's just a zip file, it won't add items to your Start menu, but it's more foolproof.

Feedback and support 

Progress on Radio UserLand. Some people have successfully installed it and are making feature requests.

Paul Nakada gets the vision, I expanded on it. There have been numerous problems with the installation process.

This is the first time we've done a Windows installer so this is not surprising. If you got a bad install, please please check back in a few days. We'll get it to install properly.

OK, so much feedback coming, it's very overwhelming! But keep it coming, I love drinking from a firehose.

Brent posted a Bugs and Issues page on the Radio UserLand site. We're going to do this openly.

The Radio UserLand backend 

outlineDocument is the central file format for Radio UserLand, and it's XML-based of course. I updated the spec this morning. We have more examples now so I linked them in.

The backend is crucial to this product. For the last few days we've been focusing on the user interface. Now it's necessary to swing back. I revised the Backend page on the Radio UserLand site. As we developed the beta 1 release, things changed and the document became inaccurate. I added an idea that's not been talked about yet, the role of outline tools in building a distributed Internet directory, the next step after DMOZ and Yahoo.

There's another way of looking at what we're doing. There's a media type that, until now, no one had bothered to define or create tools for. Outlines are very useful, and tools for creating and browsing them are mature. Look under a rock, find a gold nugget. I've felt strongly since I first saw the Web that there's a hierarchy in there. It didn't take long for Yahoo to become the main portal. But it's limited by the capacity of their editors, same with DMOZ. Now, six years later, the Web has matured and there are millions of people who have mastered the medium. Why not turn over the directory to them?

It took a long time to get my team to ship an Internet-aware outliner. I wanted one in 1996. They didn't get it. When Doug Baron was just about to work with me on it, he quit. My guys are good, but they didn't want to do this one. I snuck it in there by showing them how music could work better. We have a musician on the team, and he has no fear. So it happened. Now we can really jump out of the plane!

Derek Odegard wrote a COM component that "reads a Radio UserLand songlist file (locally or remotely) and makes it available to ASP scripts as simple collections of objects."


I've not yet pointed to our credits page.

Note that I thank Napster and the music industry.

And then I thank the musicians.

I think that's the right order.

It's Oscar-style. The last is the most important.

Today's Song 

Credence Clearwater: Born on the Bayou.

Such a rich song, fantastic dancing music. And it's funny that I should re-discover it today. For some reason as I was writing the Radio UserLand docs, esp the mainframes page, I was thinking of Wes Felter.

Just a dream, of course. As I was talking with Woz, I thought "Wes is a very young Woz." Now looping back to Credence, Wes was actually born on the bayou. I went to school there but Wes is from there.

Looping and looping 

I had a flash of insight into why the W3C focuses so on namespaces.

The idea is that no one should have the power to launch new file formats.

All our file formats meld into one format that no one understands, or could possibly understand, by design. That's the puzzle of namespaces. And RDF abstracts it one more level, making it even more impossible to comprehend.

The W3C wants us to be prepared for anything, but it's human nature to wait for someone to go first.

Wait wait wait, we do. But I've never grokked this, it goes against all history in software. Proprietary standards have more juice, iff the product takes off. Look at Napster. The WSJ gives them shit for being indecisive about openness. Cheap shot. At least they went first and didn't wait for a standards body to give the green light. And when pushed, they opened it up. If I were their teacher they'd get an A+ with extra credit. They did the right thing and did it the right way.

It's a revolutionary act to ship a new file format. Standards-bodies-be-damned. It has to be that way.

The best standard is the one with the most users. Like HTML. The W3C should get this, the leader of W3C is Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of HTML. Why didn't he wait for the SGML people to validate him? He had an idea that really excited him. When that happens, the standards process is far too slow.

That's my philosophy, you may not agree, and I could change my mind, but that's how I call it.

Howtos and comments 

Jerome Camus: Digi-Tunes and Micro-Dollars.

About.Com: How to make MP3 files from your CDs.

Separated at birth? 

Jeffrey Zeldman's glamorous life. Believe it or not this story makes me miss NY!

David Singer had a similar experience at Fry's, all the way across the country.


NY Times: "After the close of trading on Wednesday, Amazon reported its second-quarter results. With remarkable synchronicity, 6 of the 35 analysts who follow Amazon cut their ratings on the stock the next morning."

AP: Amazon's Bezos Remains Confident.


Last update: Sunday, July 30, 2000 at 10:20 PM Eastern.

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