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Scripting News, the weblog started in 1997 that bootstrapped the blogging revolution.
Permanent link to archive for Friday, August 04, 2000. Friday, August 04, 2000

Cross-generational email 

Nick Robinson: "Hey Dave, I attended a Young technology leaders conference (NexTech in Austin, Texas) and Fred Seibert of MTV Online asked if anyone didn't use Napster or Gnutilla. In a crowd of over 750 upper high school and lower college students only two people held their hands up. Those around them could see that they are obviously joking. With that he said that File sharing would never go away and when one method dies, 10 more will sprout up."

My response: "Don't trust anyone over 30, and tell them that a 45-year old told you that, so you know it's true. ;->"

Weblogs are not a passing fad 

As Evan Williams says, the idea of easy writing for the Web is here to stay. Every once in a while a pundit trivializes weblogs, as Jon Udell does. "There was once a hope that the weblog could become a powerful tool for reaching out and connecting with the world. Instead, it has become a powerful tool for self-gratification and self-absorption." Hey Jon, there are good weblogs and self-gratifying ones, and some of the self-gratifying ones are good. So what.

Steve Ross spots a bug 

Steve Ross: "Almost every article I've read has referred to the sharing of digital music online as 'piracy,' the very term that the RIAA has pounded into our heads. The only problem with this characterization is that it has not been legally proven (And even if it were, I would argue that our current intellectual property laws are relics of a prior era, and should be radically modified.) If Napster were to win in court, and music sharing were declared 'fair use,' then it absolutely cannot be considered 'piracy.'"

Windows, the first musical operating system 

Microsoft: "During normal operation or in Safe mode, your computer may play Fur Elise or It's a Small, Small World seemingly at random. This is an indication sent to the PC speaker from the computer's BIOS that the CPU fan is failing or has failed, or that the power supply voltages have drifted out of tolerance. This is a design feature of a detection circuit and system BIOSes developed by Award/Unicore from 1997 on. "

Only steal from the best™.

Oh the life of a programmer! 

I'm still figuring out what Radio UserLand is. Today I'm thinking of it (seriously) as a multi-user musical operating system that runs over the Internet. First there were graphical operating systems, it make sense that music comes next. Who doesn't like music?

Yesterday's improvements can be seen in my history file. When my player starts a new song it hurls an xml-rpc message at the server, which saves a new version of the file onto a static server. Now, since our ID3 act is together, you get the artist, album and song title, if they were in the MP3 file on my system.

A lab environment? 

To lawyers who say programmers must keep a "lab notebook" to defend against all kinds of suits, that's another view of Scripting News. It's a "lab notebook". Even if the lawyers didn't demand it, every programmer should keep one, imho, and it should be public, so everyone can see how our minds work, and how we "steal from the best" just like writers and musicians do. (Do I have to wear a "lab coat" too?)

Of course I think that patent infringement suits are worthless garbage. I am an American citizen, born in the USA, where we value freedom above all, and freedom of speech is the number one freedom, afaik. I'm writing a story. The Internet and my software are deeply integrated. If the Internet is a free-speech zone (damn straight) then so is my programming space. One and the same thing.

Programmers are always having to learn how lawyers' minds work. How about returning the favor? Here's a programming concept. The "default value" of something. This is the value of a variable if the user hasn't specified one. Now, apply this to the law. The "default value" of the variable freeSpeech should be "true".

Ralph Hempel keeps a lab notebook too. "I love writing in my lab log, it's easy to do in between compiles, while I'm connecting to the Web, or while the soldering iron is heating up."

ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley dives into the minds of programmers. It's great to see this kind of stuff. All the reporting on the high tech industry, but little of it reflects how programmers work.

It's the community, honey 

Radio UserLand is getting another community feature this morning. You know the XMLization of the signed-on users list. I'm going to load that into an outline.

This is a miletone, it's the first time I've loaded a live XML file into the outliner over HTTP. It's working, here's a screen shot.

Now for people who think that outliners haven't changed in ten years, check this out. When I double-click on Scripting News Radio, it makes an HTTP request, gets the XML text in my history file, parses it, and fills in the songs under it.

To refresh, collapse and re-expand. This is a Web browser, but it's not HTML that it's browsing, it's XML. It'll be easy to generalize and allow the user to specify callbacks to process other kinds of XML. I think we're onto something.

More community stuff 

Wow, there's lots going on on the Macster discussion group.

I just re-read all the comments on the Cooper article from last month, and this one struck me as the most right-on. Cooper did the thing I hate the most. He swiped not just me, but the whole idea that we can get the information for ourselves, instead of trusting paid bottlenecks.. like Cooper. It's the community that counts.

It was a pyramid scheme, dummy 

Motley Fool: "Contributing to the decline in Amazon's stock is waning market enthusiasm for online companies, with Amazon being a poster child for the species. That status was no doubt reinforced when the company said many of its partners in the Amazon Commerce Network were issuing stock as payment for co-branding on Amazon's online mall, and for access to the company's customer base."

Today's song 

Joan Baez: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. "Now I don't mind, I'm chopping wood, and I don't care if the money's no good. Just take what you need and leave the rest, but they should never have taken the very best."

Killer idea for the music industry 

Hey boys and girls I just figured something out.

I'm adding a Want-List to Radio UserLand.

Songs that I want good clean ID3'd renderings of.

Business model: I want to pay for every song on that list. In return I get a beautiful professionally done, quality-assured scan of the song and I agree not to redistribute it. Sign the statement digitally.

Morning pre-coffee ennui 

It's a slow morning on the Internet. No new scandals, John Markoff is in China, Megnut's mom is running the show while Meg vacations in Hawaii (that should be interesting), Napster is still running, and the Republicans nominated a presidential candidate that some say knows as much about the world as an "average TWA pilot."

Yes yes it's a slow morning. How can you tell? Because this message makes Scripting News. I failed again! Shades of high school. Why doesn't everyone use eGroups? So much simpler. For everyone.

Some have asked (maybe not so innocently) if the people who own Napster also own UserLand. It's not true. But keep spreading those rumors.

Gotta love the music industry. When asked "What about what Courtney said?" one ex-Warner exec says "She did crack while she was pregnant." OK, I guess then we should ignore everything she said, right?

I wonder if there are any mensches in the music biz.


Last update: Friday, August 04, 2000 at 7:23 PM Eastern.

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