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Permanent link to archive for Thursday, August 31, 2000. Thursday, August 31, 2000

NY Times: Taking Sides in the Napster War.

BTW, August was a record sales month for UserLand. It feels really good to close the month with a healthy profit, and a killer app in the pipe. A hearty thanks to all our customers and testers for helping us be so successful!

After a full week of intense politics, I'm getting a little time to write some code this evening. What a relief. The first thing I did was write a script that adds 10 random songs to the queue. When I browse through the playlist I'm not getting any new ideas. This script, which will certainly become a command is an idea generator. The first song it picked was Do You Love Me? Yes, I do!

I'm kind of pissed that Tim O'Reilly is more popular than me, on my own damned site! What can I do to be more popular? Can I bribe you in some way? Is there a feature you'd like? Should I buy another server? Send flowers? Take some time off? Eat fewer beans?

Right on. Sheila sent me a picture of her diggin in her garden. And a beautiful dahlia! My dahlias aren't doing so well. No no. But my night blooming jasmine is totally something else. Thanks for the flowers Shelia!

More good news -- I'm going to Mexico in late November and early December, then to New Orleans for the Builder.Com conference, where I'm one of the keynotes. In Mexico I'm going to be a tourist and also will go to the World Economic Forum regional conference. Maybe we should have a Scripting News dinner in Mexico City? Would that work?

Early this week eGroups changed the format of emails from ad-at-bottom to ad-at-top. This changed the service dramatically. It also changed my opinion, from thumb-up to thumb-down. To the people who run eGroups, now a subsidiary of Yahoo, it took a long time for them to build the trust they have with people who run mail lists. You're losing it right now, imho. Bad decision.

Lance Knobel: "Calling Hugo Chavez communist is a distortion and over-simplification. He's in the Latin American tradition of charismatic, populist strongmen, generally with military backgrounds."

David Adams has done an outline viewer that's compatible with Radio UserLand.

News.Com: Hambrecht supports Salon stock.

Apple and Mac OS X 

It had been a long time since I'd seen an Apple booth. They have one at Seybold. It's huge. But for the first time in my experience, there were no developer products there. At the evening session David Biedny asked if anyone noticed that there are no more user's groups. I hadn't. Did anyone notice that there are no more developers? That I noticed.

At the same time, with Tim Paustian's help, we're getting close with the Mac OS X "carbonized" version of Frontier. Wouldn't it be interesting if we shipped a beta on the same day that Apple shipped the beta of Mac OS X? Isn't it interesting how the perception is still that there's no new development for Mac, when the reality is that there is?

Look at how the Mac OS X Weblog talks about Frontier, as if apologizing to the people who read the site that they like our software and think it's cool. I wonder how many Mac users know about Manila? Wouldn't it be great if Apple were proud of what we did with their platform? (BTW, Frontier for Mac OS X supports SOAP 1.1, client and server. Even if you don't think serving hundreds of easy to use, browser-based content-managed websites from a single Mac is cool, think of the strategic options that are opened by having your system participate in the network being built by all the big e-commerce technology vendors.)

Airbag conferences 

I asked some friends if there are any shows that are leading edge and exciting like the West Coast Computer Faire was in the early 80s, or MacWorld Expo in the mid-80s. A show where there are 20 new ideas, and when it's over you can't wait for the next one. Can there really be no exciting shows like that?

Another way of asking the same question. Is it all about money now? I asked Lance Knobel who did the program last year at Davos if we could do an adult developer conference, one where there's some heat on stage. He asks if the market for tech conferences is over-crowded. I don't think there are many technology conferences. I see lots of airbag conferences. And pyramid scheme conferences.

Tim Bray has something to say about airbag conferences.

Micah Alpern says that MacHack is not an airbag conference. It's true, even though it has a little company-townness to it, or at least it did when I spoke there in 1997. takes you to a suitably vaccuous site.

And believe it or not there was an Airbag Conference, in Germany in 1998.

The issue with O'Reilly 

Offlist I'm emailing with Tim O'Reilly. He says we should run a survey asking who's more popular. So here's the survey. Who do you like better, me or Tim O'Reilly? BTW, in yesterday's popularity contest, Jimmy Carter was the overwhelming choice for President of the last generation whose values most match yours. I feel good about that, because he was my choice too. Even though, when he was president I hated him. Go figure. (The same thing happened with Harry Truman.)

BTW, if I ran a conference I probably wouldn't like it if people called it captive. But if I ran a software company I know I wouldn't like it if people called us closed or proprietary. I'm just giving the shoe another foot to be on. The other day I went out of my way to tiptoe around the central issue I have with O'Reilly, and took a direct uncensored shot at Microsoft. As usual, the conversation with Microsoft continues, in fact there are people at Microsoft who agree with me.

We're still at Defcon 1 with O'Reilly. My request to O'Reilly is that they ease up on me. I will continue to say what I think. They're a big company with a highly visible leader. They're big enough and important enough that they will be criticized. It's possible that I'm the first to do this, it sure feels that way from the reaction I get from the O'Reilly people. But as your company grows, more people will have more to say about it. Some people think that's a good thing, I happen to be one of them. BTW, my company gets a lot of criticism. I know it can be hard to listen. But I try, the best I can, and even point to my critics, when it's not too uncomfortable.

So dear readers, it's time to stop tiptoeing around the central issue with O'Reilly. I wrote a review of their "RSS 1.0" proposal on Saturday. The case is pretty clearly stated there. Imho, they want to take RSS in a direction that's counter to the goals of RSS. The last thing I wanted was an argument over this. I want to be able to continue to say that we designed RSS jointly with Netscape. That RSS is the continuation of scriptingNews format, first deployed by UserLand in December 1997 and joined with RSS in July 1999.

The proposed syndication format takes a new direction. It should have a new name. Then there's no problem. Further, a new format is not bad or good. If there's a suitable new name, and if it gains traction, we'll support it, as we would any Web syndication format that has content support.

With Microsoft, the issue of whether SOAP would be called XML-RPC never came up. Both SOAP and XML-RPC co-exist, there's no confusion, and both have a chance to succeed or fail independent of each other. When it came time to ship SOAP 1.1, even though it's a compromise design, imho, XML-RPC is closer to what I wanted, I put my name on it because it's a milestone in cooperative design, and one which I am proud to have participated in.

Now, the trail of syndication technology is being obfuscated, the low-tech simple approach will not get a chance, if O'Reilly et al succeed in redefining what RSS is. That, simply, is my concern and objection.

The GPL "poison pill" 

On Tuesday, I talked about the "poison pill" in the GPL.

It's funny, when I went to look for it yesterday, I couldn't find it!

What changed?


Last update: Thursday, August 31, 2000 at 8:41 PM Eastern.

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