Qube Quorner is back. "Everyone and his cousin Mabel now know that Sun has bought Cobalt. What does that mean for us?"
I spoke with the product manager for the Qube yesterday. He read my eulogy for the Qube. There's another Qube in the pipe. I'll keep an open mind, but remember that they're now part of Sun. Scripting News is still served on a Qube, and it's still a lovable computer.
Dan Gillmor on the upcoming ICANN board election.
Jakob Nielsen, in his newest Alertbox, doesn't mention weblogs; it seems pretty obvious that they belong in the story. I know he knows about Manila. Weird.
New feature: Threads in Radio UserLand discussion groups.
Coming shortly: The Tools menu/folder.
Spent some time this morning with the Manila XML-RPC interface. This is how Radio UserLand, a desktop application, connects with Manila, a Web application.
Nitfix. When we added the Weblogs feature in Radio UserLand, we set it up so that it would send an XML-RPC message to UserLand.Com whenever the site was updated, so it could be on the Updates page. However when we first released the feature we screwed up, and sent the time of the last update in the local timezone, not in GMT. Some people haven't updated, so we're still getting notifications of updates that happened in the future, and the sites stay at the top of the list for hours. I finally got fed up and fixed it so that updates that happened in the future are excluded.
On the Decentralization list we're talking about whether or not computers on a decentralized Internet are called "peers" or "nodes" or something else. I remembered that eGroups has a polling feature, I had never used it, and it's nice.
Blogs as explained by Carl Malamud and Rebecca Hargrave. "Revolution? Solution? Blogs let everybody get their Warholian 15 nanoseconds of fame, but to call this a revolution takes attention away from the real revolution: reaching out to build sites that matter." Really, it's about making the Web a writing environment that's easy to use.
Sites pointing to media.org.
Tomorrow I'm going to write my Private Passions piece for WorldLink. Hey wait a minute, how private can they be? Yesterday's piece was kind of a warmup. On Monday I have to go for a photo shoot in SF for Fortune. It's a full body shot. Before Monday I have to lose about 30 pounds and get new pants and a shirt, and a haircut and try not to look nervous. I haven't been to a professional photo studio since the early days at Wired. I was much better rested then. I hope I don't end up looking like this. I hope I look more like this.
The Economist: "After e-commerce, get ready for e-government, says Matthew Symonds."
nt.excite.com wants me to become a member.
On the CMS list, confirmation that Vignette makes their customers sign non-disclosure agreements.
Wired: "Many lawyers believe that Napster's case hinges on how the appeals court interprets the 1984 Sony Betamax case. In that case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that as long as a new technology had substantial, non-infringing uses, it could not be held accountable for illicit uses."
Rich Santalesa grew up in the house next to the house I grew up in, in Flushing NY. They moved in after I had gone away to college, so I only know Rich in his role as a computer journalist. He and my father worked together on computer stuff while he was growing up. Now he has a site on my server.
Yesterday I switched the DG over to read-only mode. This may not be permanent, or we may bring it back as an invitation-based thing. I do want discussion of what I say here. But it's been too much work for me, I need a break, badly. So we're going to take a rest, and perhaps develop new paths for discourse.
Apple Apple Apple. I can't believe what happened to their stock in the last couple of days. I've never seen anything like it. When I see a company that I produce software for hit such a snag, I look for opportunity. As a developer I've never cared about things like stock prices, and if the company ships a product that customers don't buy enough of, so what? Clearly there's a discernable process going on at Apple. I don't know the insider view of it, but I see a stream of products, that tells me that there are more coming, for sure.
Now the stock market has its reasons to panic, but for a developer this is a clear buy signal. It's also a puzzle. What could we give Apple that would allow them to sell their hardware in new ways? We are doing software for their platform that gives it new uses as a Web server. Any week we should have the beta of the Mac OS X version. Is this a good time to announce a new use for their platform? That would be the lemonade approach.
In early 1996 I wrote a piece for Upside where I pretended I was the CEO of Apple (this was before Jobs came back) and outlined my plan. There are some elements of my plan that Jobs et al have been executing fantastically.They didn't buy a song, but they did produce the machine I described, it's the iMac. They nuked CyberDog and OpenDoc as I would have, and cleared up the positioning, they make computers now, not system software, or anything else.
Apple's developer story is "Microsoft, Adobe, Macromedia." Little air cover for others. And most important, in light of the stock collapse, they didn't smooth out the distribution problems, and they're tough, when you hit a bump, it shows up in the profits, quickly.
I think the market doesn't understand this. Apple just hit a glitch. It'll be easy to get back on track. If I played the stock market (I don't) I would buy AAPL now. If I were a developer (I am) I'd probe Apple to see if there's some new opportunity to invest in each other, based on support for each others' products. I've said it many times, my relationship with Apple only works when I'm selling their hardware and they're selling my software.
Another question. There are always outages, and doesn't hurt to ask why. Is there an independent developer mail list for the Macintosh? There used to be a few. Are they still there? Or should we start a new one at eGroups? I'd be willing to invest a few cycles in such a list.
DaveNet: Strange Bedfellows.
Reuters: "Horror writer Stephen King said on Monday he was sorry about the untimely death of the driver who struck and severely injured him last year."
The Street: Apple's fall shaking up the PC tree.
Reuters: Apple drops another 52 percent today.
Dave Simms: Rob Malda at MIT.
A survey for Radio UserLand people.
Salon: The Gnutella paradox.
Excellent NTK this week.
A newly-minted Apache site looks like this.
Looks like the term idearrhea is catching on.
A domain I wish I had thought to grab.
Thanks for all the great email. I feel well-supported. Along with that came more flames, as usual. Life on the Internet.. Sucks.
Rogers Cadenhead explains Radio UserLand. "I'm afraid I may have joined Dave's technology cult." Welcome!
David McCusker suggests becoming unpredictable to avoid ambushes.
Marc Canter likes this new Sony TV-and-computer combo.
Andrew Wooldridge suggests I take a month off and go to Fiji.
Thanks Andrew! (No sarcasm.)
Instead, I'd rather go back to Italy, or back to Radio UserLand.
The next steps are outlined in this post.
Inside.Com: "Salon.com, convinced that its lowly stock is drastically underappreciated, is close to spinning off a homegrown content-publishing tool in hopes of unlocking some of that hidden-to-the-market value."
I was interviewed for this piece. I understand why Salon is doing this, their market cap is $21 million and Vignette's is $6 billion. And with all due respect to Vignette, it's quite possible that Salon's software does more and does it better than Vignette's. However..
The real value of Salon, as I have said in the past, is in their unique reputation for journalism that's Web-only. They have the best name, but others are catching up. Eventually content management software will be a deep and competitive category, priced in the professional software range, like PhotoShop or Quark XPress. At that point, it's hard to imagine that Vignette will be worth so much.
In a few years the market will figure out that the Web is a publishing medium, and a great pub like Salon will be worth a lot more than $25 million. Sure they have an immediate problem to solve, to get more cash in to survive the crunch. It's possible that spinning out the CMS will do that. But please focus on the value of your journalistic name, longterm, imho, that will be worth much more.
New Channel: NASA's Earth Observatory.
Brent posts first-time user notes for Radio UserLand. If you've been using RU, see if you agree or disagree.
David Davies is the kind of developer you kill for.
I just got a demo of KnowNow's software. It's a total Mind Bomb. So many applications, such a good fit for Radio UserLand. You guys are going to LOVE it.
eGroups relented, the ads are back at the bottom.
Motley Fool: Leave the plumbing to LoudCloud.
Press release: Macromedia files patent suit against Adobe.
News.Com: Lawmakers want to legalize MP3.Com service. "Dubbed the 'Music Owners' Listening Rights Act of 2000,' the bill would give companies the right to copy CDs, store them online, and stream the songs individually to listeners who could prove they already owned a copy of the CD."
Wired: Webcasters Caught in RIAA Web. "I believe the artists should be paid, but I'm not so sure that this is all going to shake out so that the artists are going to get more than they are getting today."
Ben Crowell: Do open source books work?
Dan Bricklin comments on Ray Ozzie's new product, in frustratingly vague terms. I've been emailing with Ray and hope to get a look in the next few weeks, so I can gush too, of course without saying what it is.
Rick Saenz: "Dave Winer has not conducted himself professionally in public during this episode. Many people have tried to tell him that, but he invariably casts it as a personal criticism and refuses to hear it."
Rick, to say I'm unprofessional is one of the most personal things you can say about me. It's not an accusation to make casually, or else it reflects on your professionalism, not mine.
Further, to make the discussion about me is to miss the bigger, more important issue. A community is stranded, now what do you want to do about that? After we figure that out, I want people who we know to be ethical look at the discussion, and form an opinion about professionalism, and who has it.
If no such person is willing to take a deeper look, then nothing has been said, nor does it deserve a response.
Google search on Rick Saenz.
David McCusker: Professionalism and Lemonade.
People who question my integrity might want to check out comments by some more prominent DaveNet readers.
Gratitude. (No sarcasm.)
This is what I look like after reading an email from Tim O'Reilly.
I went to a meeting of the ICE working group today. I'll have a full report probably sometime next week. It was a very good meeting. A room full of people who understand content management and syndication. After going in different directions in 1998, now we seem to be headed in the same direction. I would have met with them earlier if the RSS community hadn't been locked up, now I regret not meeting with them earlier. I think there will be some good forward motion, we agree on the need for simplicity. Good group of people, powerful companies, professional and respectful and open to new ways of thinking. There was even some humor! Go figure.
Robin Cover has a page outlining ICE with pointers to various ICE-related sites.
Interested in MySQL and Frontier/Mac?
New Radio UserLand app. Major new feature -- working offline.
Reuters: "The US Supreme Court handed Microsoft a victory on Tuesday, agreeing with the giant software company that its appeal of antitrust violations should first be heard by a lower appellate court."
SJ Merc: Dot-com blues.
I had a little extra time this morning so I updated the home page of our backend site, to point to the backend features of Radio UserLand, which is basically OurFavoriteSongs.Com.
Tim Paustian: "I have the web server working on OS X. To my complete surprise I made the required changes to the open transport code in Frontier and it just worked on the first compile. I kept trying to break it, but it wouldn't fail."
Inside.Com: "According to the complaint, the decision to use StoryServer was based on four attributes Busby had claimed for the software: the ability to automatically syndicate digital content, full workflow support, the ability to develop a Web site in one to two months and support for all standard scripting languages."
OK, I acknowledge that. I am just a human being, and as such, I am tired of people I don't know telling me what my opinions are. I find it boring, irrelevant, powerless and humiliating. I have a lot of practice with this, for some reason strangers often want to define me, and usually not in nice ways.
This is one of the flaws of the human mind. When it doesn't have enough information, it interpolates, filling in missing details, and very often getting it wrong. Evolution created us this way, it was a necessary skill to survive in a hostile environment when animals could eat you if you couldn't anticipate their motives.
Unfortunately this evolutionary skill is out of date. There's no chance that an email message is going to kill you, or a post on this website about Dick Cheney. In fact it can't even hurt you, so it's not something you have to defend against.
David McCusker says "Hypocrisy is interesting."
Talking with James Hong yesterday, we got around to the subject of universities.
How did we get there? Well I said there are two types of smart people -- ones who think everyone else is stupid, and ones who think everyone else is smart. (This is of course an over-simplification. No need to flame me, I already know it.)
Anyway, both attitudes are wrong. The former cuts you off from good ideas and insights from other people. And the latter leads to disappointment, as you bet on the intelligence of other people, only to find out that most people aren't as smart or kind or good as you think they are.
However, if I have to choose, I'd rather be in the latter group, not the former. Occasionally you meet a bright person and they're just a delight to know. James is one of those people.
Then I told him a story about a Harvard professor who spoke before me at Davos. He's very celebrated, lots of prestigious awards and titles, presumably lots of people telling him how smart he is. But what an arrogant man! So dismissive of other points of view. So frustrating to talk with.
James said that's the Harvard attitude. (He went to UC-Berkeley.) This morning I spoke with Alex Cohen, who introduced me to James and his brother Tony, and he verified that Harvard is famous for producing Category 1 smart people. I didn't know this.
Alex is a professor at Berkeley. We talked about school culture, I said I went to UW-Madison and asked what Madison is known for. "Community," says Alex. "Maybe that's why I liked Madison so much," I said.
We agreed that the cultures of Madison and Berkeley are compatible.
As we approach the end of September, I have two writing projects, one easy, and one not so easy.
The first is to choose a recent DaveNet to appear in XML Magazine. In the current issue we ran Why I Like XML. It was a good kickoff for my new column, and I wrote it specifically for the magazine.
Now there are several choices for the next issue. There are a lot of music-on-the-Internet pieces since July, but those aren't on-topic for XML Magazine. My editor, Steve Gillmor, really liked this piece, but it's not about XML. This piece is about XML, but it's not clear that it will be relevant in a few months when the print magazine goes out.
#1 is cool because the issue focuses on open source, and there was a lot of work behind that piece, lots of flames and discussions and surveys, and I think it really got to the core of what open source is. There would be a lot of value in getting that piece broader exposure, and it's likely to stand up over time.
#2 is probably the best-written piece I've done in quite a while. It uses a corny technique to add authority to my voice, it's quite "columnar", a touch arrogant, but as some have said, it works, and if P2P isn't somewhat of a hot issue in a couple of months I'll eat my hat. These hype balloons have a way of radiating, at the core of the industry we might have moved on, but in Peoria they'll still be talking about it, if it works like hype balloons of the past.
#3 needs a rewrite. My editor thinks the homage to Doug Engelbart will probably go over most peoples' heads. But the innovation described in that piece belongs in a magazine devoted to XML. As some have said, OPML represents a true divergence from the current practices of the W3C, and that makes it interesting. It's a readable format, simple, and a good follow-on to the first piece. Now I favor the path that means less work for me. Editing old pieces is not one of my favorite things to do.
As I'm thinking about this, the tougher writing job, but one totally worth doing, is an evangelical piece for WorldLink Magazine. Lance Knobel offered me a spot, to write about anything I want to, but more formally than the writing I do for Scripting News and DaveNet. That's OK. I adopt the tone of the venue, but I still keep my Madison attitude.
This project is interesting because the audience is so influential. I envision them as the staff people of the leaders who attend World Economic Forum meetings. I want to tell them something about the Internet that will shift their point of view, get it focused on the real benefits of embracing the Internet, not the shallow "dot-com" agenda -- making money off hype balloons. My country, the USA, exports this kind of thinking, and some of it is even in the How To Make Money piece, which I wrote for the same audience and is now out of date, since floating an IPO on enthusiasm for the "business models" of the Internet is waning, probably all over the world. It's time to look for indirect economic rewards of having an informed and participating citizenry. Investing in the Internet is like investing in an education system. As Shimon Peres says, it's part of the necessary infrastructure to attract the dot-com yuppies, Israel wants them, so that's one of their motives to make peace with the Palestinians. I like this kind of thinking.
Anyway, I hoped that by writing about this on Scripting News that I'd solve the problem, and I think perhaps I have. In both cases I have editors who I respect deeply and enjoy working with. They both read this site, so the conversation will go forward.
BTW, at the same time Wired is doing a profile of me. That's also a form of collaborative journalism, I have to envision what such a profile would look like, and focus the writer on those things. We've talked about opening a weblog just for the profile, so other people can contribute their thoughts, hopefully not along the lines of these comments. He's a smart guy too, and in a way, my editor, but different, because he's going to write the piece and put it through his editorial process, which is quite different from mine.
It probably has more to do with the speed of my net connection, which went down about a month ago when I switched off the T1 line, and onto a slow DSL. But it's observable, I hardly ever run Napster now. And when I want to get a new song, it's so slow I usually give up. Is it worth $1K per month to get a fast T1 line to come to my rural home? I think one of my neighbors has a super-high-speed line. Should I become friends with them? Such problems.
One more time to the music industry. If only there were a legal supported way to get music from your server to my hard drive. I'm actually thinking $1K per month might be worth it. If you can't make money with that model, get another job.
I am an independent, not a member of any political party. I view both the Republicans and the Democrats with equal contempt. In my humble opinion, both parties chose the worst candidate to run for president. Bradley is an intelligent thoughtful man. Gore is an actor. McCain, while I don't support most of his political views, at least got a good discussion going. Why do either Bush or Gore want to be president? I don't have a clue.
I saw two PBS programs recently that shifted my view. One was on the history of televised presidential debates. Interviews with all the living candidates. Ford, Carter, Reagan, Dole, Mondale, Bush, Bentsen, Quayle, Dukakis, Clinton. I was most impressed with the meanness of Bentsen, and then four years later, Gore. Believe it or not I sympathized with Quayle. Sure he's Republican scum, but the Democrats were just plain nasty. There you go again!
I didn't like Dukakis, but he had a good explanation for his response to the "What if Kitty were murdered?" question. He had been asked the question so many times, he had no passion for it, but he forgot that most of the people watching had never heard him answer the question before. A good actor would have broken down in tears and then said "No death penalty." Hey, at least Dukakis had the right answer, even though there were no tears. (And it was just hypothetical, Kitty was alive, she hadn't been murdered.)
As I was writing this, I got an email asking me to confirm that I support Gore! Oh geez. I sent an email back saying I do not.
The second PBS show that made an impression was one on popular movements that toppled dictatorships. They covered Solidarity in Poland and the movement in Chile that removed Pinochet from power. Watching both these segments exposed something within me. I want to be part of a movement with that much meaning. It took great courage in Poland and Chile for ordinary citizens to want freedom so much to be willing to die for it. I want to see courage in my own country, in my time, but I don't see it.
Check out how Novell is using RSS.
Fortune: "Rohit Khare is trying to save his company. He has burned through $300,000 in the last six months trying to get a new company off the ground, and he hasn't got much to show for it. He has no product, no revenues, no customers, no profits, and no hope of seeing any in the near future. All he has is a cool new technology and just enough money in the bank to cover one more week of payroll for his seven employees. He needs help -- and fast."
Name withheld: "I just heard a rumor from a good source. The Republican party is feeling that Cheney is a liability on the ticket. There's a rumor that a few weeks prior to the election in a desperate attempt to win, Cheney will resign because of a trumped-up heart problem or potential 'threat to his health.' Then either John McCain or Colin Powell will be asked to come on the ticket and save the party. This move is afoot in top circles and to try to squelch it please send this letter to as many people as you can."
Joel says he's never going to make his employees sign non-competes. Joel is a good man. Most states allow employers to add non-competes to employment agreements, that's basically slavery. One of the cool things about California, unless there's substantial renumeration, non-competes are unenforceable. I know because I had a non-compete once, when I sold my company to Symantec. They paid me a full salary while the non-compete was enforce. Not a bad deal, to be paid an exec salary for puttering around the house. Now it's different in Washington State, and I understand that non-competes are the usual thing at Microsoft. I'm surprised that the entrepreneurial employees at MS put up with it.
Bay Area Guardian reporter ejected from NAB convention in SF. "This is a group using the public airwaves, meeting in San Francisco's public convention center, in an annual conference to which they invited scores of reporters."
Time: Meet the Napster. Must-read.
Billboard: Columbia, Offspring Axe Free Download Plan. "Although no reason was given for the cancellation, sources told [Billboard] last week the free album offer may have violated the band's exclusive distribution deal with the label."
NY Times: The Middlemen of Content.
OpenCulture.Org is "a new way to make books and music freely available online, while making sure that artists get fairly compensated. Using the Internet to let sponsors pool their resources, we purchase the right to enjoy and redistribute works of art on behalf of the public."
Paul Sniveley: "This is ridiculous! It's yet another example of someone oversimplifying a complex problem and rushing to market with the oversimplified solution so as to accomplish the lock-in that they crave."
Weblogs that point to Behind the Curtain. "Watching them watch Garret linking to pictures that each of us created that everyone is viewing."
Karl Dubost: "The trademarks arise at W3C to avoid the possibility of private companies to use the names for business and make a pursuit against W3C. Silly in fact, you have to protect free things or free names against people not necessary nice."
Slate: "Why are Internet issues absent from what has been called the first presidential campaign of the new economy? One factor is the flow of high-tech money to both parties."
The Almost Notes thread continues. "Had Apple's APIs been cleaner or better documented, or provided better sample source, the vision that RU Is now delivering would have been part of Macintosh culture, probably would have been in MORE 2 or 3."
After yesterday's DaveNet piece I've been getting questions about the attributes in an outline element in OPML and how they relate to attributes in the Radio UserLand outliner. The purpose of this tutorial is to walk you through the way Radio UserLand manages these attributes.
Microsoft, IBM, Ariba: WSDL 1.0. "WSDL is an XML format for describing network services as a set of endpoints operating on messages containing either document-oriented or procedure-oriented information."
Paul Kulchenko released v0.36 of SOAP::Lite for Perl.
DaveNet: OPML 1.0.
OK, lots of great questions about today's DaveNet. I need to write a tutorial that shows the connection between the user experience side of OPML (ie Radio UserLand) and the file format. I'll do some screen shots. So many smart people are showing up, it's great. (The screen shots will have to wait till tomorrow, I got busy with other things.)
Brad Pettit compares Radio UserLand to Notes, and I say such a comparison has got to favor RU because we're not dealing with a huge installed base, and we're architecting in Y2K, not in the 1900s. Russ Lipton, who apparently is non-disclosed on Ray Ozzie's stealth company, is happy to be in the middle of our two products, which is good news. I hope there's enough difference in what we're doing so that there's synergy at the intersection. Ray is a Scripting News reader, and we're not stealth about RU, so presumably he knows too. I've been emailing with Ray, and hope to find out what he's doing sooon.
An unedited Courtney Love rant on the settlement with MP3.Com, posted with permission.
NY Times on self-publishing. "Stephen King, Michael Crichton and John Grisham are all great authors," he said. "But I can pack books in peanuts better than anyone."
Little-known fact, Radio UserLand/Win has the MSIE browser control embedded. Brent Simmons, who works at UserLand has a question for people who know their way around this control. He claims to have RTFM, and is pulling his hair out. Please save Brent's hair, and earn extra good karma points.
I got an advance copy of Alan Deutschman's book on the second coming of Steve Jobs. I'm reading it now. (The first thing I do, of course, is look to see who's in the index. Yes, I'm there. And so is almost everyone I know in the industry. As they say It's a Small Valley. The book starts out great, but then starts drifting. Are all biographies like this? It's hard to judge, because I know many of the stories in more detail than the book tells. I'll get back to the book in a bit, I want to do some of my own writing this morning. What else is new?)
Dan Gillmor: Our lives should not be open to everyone. I bet Steve Jobs would agree with that!
The curtain is lifted, great pictures!
Here's the Scripting News slideshow. Everyone but Jake the dog has their own weblog. And here they all are. Ginnie's weblog has pictures of the event, including the front window of Jing Jing (home of Spicy Noodles) and Tori giving me a neck massage while I take a pic of Ginnie taking a picture of me. Jake's fiance Sally is a total fireplug, bright, courageous and sweet. The picture on her weblog doesn't do her justice. Check this one out instead, look at the twinkle in her eye. It's there all the time. Bright bright bright. Tori and Sally really hit it off. If you're a regular reader of this site, you gotta know Jake. He's working with Brent on Radio UserLand, our newest inductee to the loony bin we call UserLand.
Here's why Brent and Sheila are so cool.
Tim Berners-Lee: Web of Trust is not an epinions trademark!
The W3C trademarks page. To my surprise, they claim HTML as a trademark of the W3C, the organization that TBL heads.
I went to a party last night in Berkeley, a CyberSalon, which has been a regular event since 1994. The hosts are two very dear friends, Sylvia Paull and Fred Davis. I've known them both since the early days of the Mac. Fred was the editor in chief of MacUser, and then an idea guy working for Bill Ziff, the man behind Ziff-Davis. Sylvia did marketing at Software Ventures, which was an unlikely name for a company that sold a Mac terminal program.
Today Sylvia is a self-declared agent provacateur, she's an independent PR person who reps Richard Stallman, among many others. She also started and runs another salon, Gracenet, a networking group for high-tech women. She's probably my number one fan. An avid reader of DaveNet, she heaps on the praise, and I know that's not an automatic thing for Sylvia, which of course makes it meaningful.
Three years ago, after making megabucks in the initial dot-com craze, Fred started Lumeria. Back then Fred was an idea guy. The editor in chief thing didn't really work, but if you ever need some ideas go see Fred. It was for Fred that I termed the coin idearrhea. He's an amazingly creative guy, and he shares his ideas, prolifically.
Last night, talking on the porch after the party, with a group of very bright-eyed people, Fred said "Software is hard work." Yup. Three years ago, as Lumeria was starting, I tried to warn him, friend to friend. Things have changed for Fred! Now there's a sobriety to him that's very nice. Software kicks your butt, every time. When a piece of software comes out the other end of the pipe, whether it be a web app or something you 2click on, if it works, that's a miracle. From the outside looking in it must look simple. Like all hard arts, that's the point. Fred now has his bachelors in The School of Hard Knocks. And he's a better friend for it.
The Cybersalons are pure Fred and Sylvia. People come for the usual reasons, to meet new people, to talk about their ideas, and to have a chance to say apolitical things. It's nice to grow old together, to have a clan that meets regularly, and shares unconditional approval. We are getting older, you can see it on the faces and the stories, and the children who are now adults. Crazes come and go, but Cybersalons are a constant pleasure. Thanks Sylvia, and thanks Fred!
It installs reasonably easily, but not quite as easily as it could, if we knew more about how it will be used. Our needs are special because we're aggregating a lot of channels. How should it be set up on your machines? Let's figure that out.
And on what terms do you want to receive it? One of the reasons I wanted to study open source is so that we could do it more formally, in a way that makes sense for UserLand and the community of developers that use Frontier.
I wrote a bunch more about this on the home page of the new aggregator weblog.
OK, you want me to show you the code and shut up!
At this stage, I'd only recommend it to experienced Frontier developers. You must have a full installation, including Manila and mainResponder (standard stuff in 6.2.1). If you're not a pioneer type, sit this out for a bit. And who knows how updates will be distributed? I don't.
Lots of questions to answer, but if you'be been itching to play with syndicated XML content, go diggin, but remember to do a backup.
It's been a while since I've written about syndication. I'm going to re-read this piece and share some comments. If there are more aggregators, that might change a few things.
A quote: "My company, UserLand, has been working with Netscape and others on a reversal of the Vignette philosophy. Instead of being a flow concentrator, we propose to be flow distributors, with value flowing in the opposite direction, from the source of the content to the source of the click."
That's a key point. By releasing aggregator.root, we're not acting solely as a flow distributor, we're a technology vendor. If this release takes root (pun intended) then we are providing technology to people who are flow distributors. At the same time we run our own flow distributor. (And we also push content through the network, Scripting News and other UserLand sites are channels.)
Brent reviews Mac OS X.
Don't forget to file your Behind the Curtain photo galleries. (Don't you hate it when some people do their homework early and then remind you when it's due? )
A Manila site served on Mac OS X, in the Classic environment.
Rick Winfield wants simple XML. "I had gotten caught up in the 'coolness' of my new system and the XML I could make it produce without considering what would best serve my users."
I just re-subscribed to the CMS List run by Phil Suh and Cameron Barrett. Somehow I was logged off. Phil asked a question about CMS client apps, they use Frontier at Phil's company, I just posted a pointer to Radio UserLand's feature list. It's squarely in the category he describes.
Yesterday's discussion on the Decentralization list got to some interesting places. I'm still not sure what Mithral's innovation in P2P is, some people are pretty breathless, I want to know why. Clay Shirky is a believer in P2P as a way of harnessing the compute power of a network of PCs. I'm skeptical, I wish I could see an application that isn't about human intelligence.
Sometimes when posting on a mail list, I write something that should be on Scripting News. Intel has been trying to hold a meeting of a P2P Working Group. I signed up, of course. So did a lot of other people. It's growing like a virus. "Watching Intel up the size of the meeting room twice, I wonder where it will stop. How many people like me want to be at the summit? Maybe they'll need to rent PacBell Park?? Maybe they'll have to forget about the meeting and use the Internet to figure out what P2P is. Wouldn't it be funny if you needed P2P to figure out what P2P is??"
I'm beginning to think that P2P is exhausted. I know it makes me feel exhausted, it seems like a chance for us to drift again, away from the serious work we've been delaying in building the decentralized Internet at a content level. There's a philosophical face-off. People who view the Internet as stages with audiences (the TV model) and people who see it as something new that's not like TV. I'm in the latter group. So far the money has been betting on the former group. I'd like everyone who writes to have a website, and to have tools for finding the stuff they want to connect with. So far the Internet "business model" has been an exercise in capturing bits behind specific domain names. Instead, I think the technology industry should get back to technology and let the people write the Internet and stop worrying so much about capturing people. History says you'll be routed around, if not by the Internet, by the grim reaper. Remember the barking farting chihuahua thing.
Here's an example of the world going the right way. At first I was not happy that eGroups, now a part of Yahoo, started putting the ads at the top of emails. The ads really disturbed me, made the emails look like trash in my mind. As time went by it got worse. Then the ads started disappearing on some of the lists I belong to. Someone paid the $70 to get rid of them. Now they host a million lists at eGroups. If they all paid the $70, that's $70 million. A nice chunk of change. And now they have no stake in our bits. They're providing a valuable service. So charge for it. Makes sense!!
So thanks to Yahoo for shifting the conversation. The new business model for Silicon Valley -- create valuable service through technical excellence and commitment to customers, and stay out of their way and earn a nice profit.
BTW, that was the *original* business model for Silicon Valley. We lost our way in the latest euphoria.
News.Com: "In its response letter to King, Duke University attorneys wrote, 'We are not aware of any legal authority that would require the university to ban access to Napster.'"
Andrew Leonard: "For all their carefully crafted clauses, all their painstaking attempts (particularly in the cases of the licenses concocted by commercial companies) to balance various interests, and all the endless digital hot air that has been expended in holier-than-thou license flame wars, not a single one of these licenses has yet been tested in court. No one knows if they will actually work."
New channel: Real Beer News.
Fray Day 4 is tonight. Have a great party!
I submitted my pictures for the Behind the Curtain project. Here's the script I used to generate the slideshow, it runs in either Frontier or Radio UserLand. It's open source, under the Let's Have Fun license. In other words, have fun, or my lawyer will call your lawyer.
Ralph Hempel compares the clarity of the Crossgain site with the Lightsurf site.
Andy Oram's report on O'Reilly's peer to peer "summit."
My comments, on the Decentralization list.
Sal Soghoian, Apple's product manager for AppleScript, is participating in a discussion on MacNN.
Want to be a technology journalist? Follow these steps.
Brent Simmons is a moody bastard.
ZDNet: Gnutella is going down in flames.
Cringely: Search and Ye Might Find.
One of my least-favorite phrases: "You know as well as I that.." Better: "Do you agree that..?"
Dan Gillmor is a technology journalist, a real one.
He lives in the heart of Silicon Valley. And he asks questions other technology journalists don't.
"Will Silicon Valley hit a wall? Lord knows the valley has become a paradigm of the momentum phenomenon. Yet when you look at the money sloshing around the place, it's hard to see how the Bay Area economy could take too much of a hit. That's what all the smart people say, anyway."
I've been smoking the peacepipe with Philippe Kahn. This morning he sent an email saying that his LightSurf software implements SOAP. I wrote back saying "That means that Radio UserLand will work with your stuff". He said "Precisely."
Excellent. Blades of grass popping through the fertile earth. 1980s-era software czars work together in the 21st Century.
Fact: aggregator.root is old.
It's a maze. It dates back to the early days of guest databases in Frontier. It predates Manila. As I work on the release of aggregator.root, this is in my face at every step.
It's good to do this review, because it reminds me how much we've learned since this code was written.
Therefore, I'm rewriting it. Making it simpler and more self-contained. I want to give the working group a good start with clean code that works.
So it might be a couple of days. In the meantime, Jeff Cheney has volunteered to take custody of aggregator.root, and run a mail list for people who want to work on the code. Thanks Jeff, I accept your offer.
This is going to be a fork because we're going to keep running the old code on our aggregator, at least for now. I have to stay with the evolution of Radio UserLand, Manila and Frontier. But I want the aggregator to be part of the UserLand community.
Teaser: Could a courageous format find a new home with a new name? Why not?
As they say in baseball, it ain't over till the fat lady sings.
"I believe XML formats should be designed as end-user software is designed. Hack at the details, make every feature justify itself, reduce every three-step process to one if you can. Do it over and over, and then work on the top level.
"I'm like Steve Jobs on this. I think when you lift the hood you should see a beautifully designed machine that invites you to understand and then use it."
There's a lot of value in the simplicity of RSS 0.91. It isn't surprising that other working groups would like to join the tree of RSS applications, and bring them into their content flows.
The subject of human-readability came up this morning on a W3C mail list. I pointed to the OPML spec, which says its design goals are to be a "transparently simple, self-documenting, extensible and human readable format that's capable of representing a wide variety of data that's easily browsed and edited."
With all due respect to my colleagues in in the W3C, I want to make XML popular, and in order to be popular, it's gotta be easy. Ordinary Web developers should learn something by simply reading the XML file. I want a simple idea to pop into their heads. "I can do that!" Most XMLizations make me want to close the file, quickly.
NY Times roundtable on music on the Internet.
Justin Sher: The Big Net Music Thing.
I edited the docs for HTML Directories, to bring them current with the new features we released yesterday.
Then I started a discussion of how we can move forward with HTML Directories, as a community thing.
Mike Donnelan posts the first directory for a weblog. Every weblog needs a directory, imho.
I linked to his directory from my directory. I'm willing and ready to trade flow for bootstrapping the directory.
Eric Bohlman: "An I-message describes the way *you* feel in response to someone else's statements or actions. A you-message renders your personal evaluation of the other person's motivation, character, parentage, etc"
We did some refinement on OPML yesterday. In the spec we say that the mimetype is text/xml. That was not well-thought--through enough.
Yesterday we changed the way the built-in server in RU serves OPML content. We now look at the Accept header. If text/x-opml is in the Accept list, we return it as XML, otherwise we return the content of the OPML document as text/html.
This means you can hit a RU server with a Web browser, read an OPML file and see something meaningful. It also means that the outliner can be used to author HTML code for direct display in a browser. Clearly that's what will make the most sense to the user, so we went that way.
However, in the cloud, on ourfavoritesongs.com, we always serve OPML files as text/xml. That's essential for features like HTML directories, which build on linked OPML documents. If this doesn't make sense, don't worry. It'll usually do what you expect, without you having to think about these issues. I'll add a note to this effect to the OPML spec later today.
Last night I had dinner with Adam Bosworth, one of the founders of Crossgain. He swore me to secrecy on their plans, but it sounds interesting, we'll cover it here, and we shook hands on working together. I told him if they supported OPML we'd automatically work with them. That was enough for a handshake.
I also am friends with their CEO, Todd Nielsen, who I got to know as Microsoft's top developer relations guy. He was in some tough spots, and always had integrity and listened. Good traits for a software CEO.
DaveNet: What is P2P? "As the sun was rising a cricket chirped loudly outside my bedroom window, the bar room dream flickered in and out. I got up from bed, made some coffee, I just had to write this story. Like all dreams this isn't exactly how it went, but this is what I remember."
David McCusker: Anti-Flame Capsule. "A few years ago, I asked myself what I could do to actively prevent others from taking offense from my writing. I studied my past failures for clues, and came up with a theory that tends to work for me."
Jason Kottke responds to the Flash Usability Challenge.
AP: House OKs Music Copyright Bill: "Lawmakers last year backed a four-line amendment to copyright law that changed a law artists say gives them ownership of their 'sound recordings' 35 years after they debut. After protests from musicians, the House passed a bill by voice vote returning the law to its former state Tuesday."
WSJ: "Amex counters that the patent shouldn’t have been issued, and argues that it was working on exchange-traded funds before Mopex. 'Their patent is not valid, and even if it were, we do not believe we are infringing,” says Stuart I. Friedman, a New York lawyer representing Amex."
Emmanuel Decarie posts new glue for BBEdit 6.0.
Seattle Frontier User's Group meeting, Sept 26.
Something to think about: What is P2P?
Clay Shirky: XML, No Magic Problem Solver. "HTTP plus HTML–was probably the last instance where standards of global importance were designed and implemented without commercial interference." I agree with everything in his article but this. I have hope. Too often the sources of "commercial interference" awake too late, a defacto standard already exists. Plenty of people thought it was all over in the early 90s while the Web was catching on. Actually I think that's a good time to gestate new ideas without commercial interference.
Inside.Com: "The looming combination of high-speed connectivity to American homes, ever-increasing desktop processing power and home data storage capacity plus peer-to-peer file sharing is more incendiary than we ever allowed ourselves to imagine."
WSJ: "The public-relations backlash from putting users in jail would cause them more problems than they now face."
Stewart Alsop: Wireless Web on Phones? Forget It!
If you're running a weblog, nbci.com would like to get your site in their directory.
Terri Schewitzer installed Nautilus on a Linux machine. "Most of the installation went smoothly, except for the last command to actually build the application."
Stephen Beale: "Now that I've used OS X, it's easy to see why it's aroused such passions. This is a new kind of Macintosh experience, one that's arguably better in many ways, but one that seasoned users may find difficult to adjust to. The Dock is cool--and the Aqua interface is visually stunning--but you won't appreciate how much you've relied on the Apple menu and Application Switcher until you run Mac OS X."
Got some news about Philadelphia? Philly News has a new policy. Anyone can post News Items. They will delete inappropriate posts. Brave move by Karl Martino!
Elliotte Rusty Harold: "When inventing AppleScript, Apple designed a language that was supposed to be easy and intuitive enough for a novice non-programmer to use. They added lots of 'easy-to-use' features like optional keywords and named variables that pop into and out of existence at unexpected places. The result is a morass that drives experienced programmers to distraction and is totally inaccessible to novices."
Later he says: "What I really want is a Java-like language that can access the Open Scripting Architecture (OSA) on the Mac."
You might want to give Radio UserLand a try.
Frontier developers: I'm looking for a community leader to take custody of aggregator.root after I release it. I've got the whole thing working on my desktop now. There are a few glitches, and bits that I want to straighten out before releasing the code. This is an experiment for the Frontier community. Forks would be permitted, but there would be a single thread that's endorsed by UserLand. The only limit is that the code may not be ported to other environments.
The perfect person for this job would be someone who has deep experience in the runtime model for Frontier servers. From a political standpoint, someone who's liked in the community, and someone who likes working with me and my team. It would involve a part-time commitment for a few weeks, to document and test and enhance the code. After that I'd expect the project to wind down, to respond to requests for help from people who are running aggregators, and coordinate further work. There would be a Manila site for documentation and download, and a companion mail list.
If you're interested send me a private email. I believe aggregator.root is worth an investment by the community, and that this could be a template for projects we can do together in the future.
Scripting News will be abbreviated today, I'm speaking at a conference in San Jose at 11AM, so there won't be much time to find and link to stuff this morning.
Sun is buying Cobalt. Little blue box, we hardly knew ye..
Tim O'Reilly held a P2P "summit" yesterday.
David Stutz, Gene Kan, Ray Ozzie and Dan Gillmor were there. I wish I had been. I could learn a lot from each of them. Wouldn't you have wanted to hear what I think about P2P? I'm curious. Are you? If there are going to be more meetings like this, I want to be there. Ask Tim to explain why I'm not invited, and see if you accept the reason.
A bad news day. Cobalt was a shining star. P2P routes around outages. I guess it's going to be another "open source" milked to death by middlemen. I'd like to think there's another Cobalt around the corner, waiting for us to love them and wanting that love. And I hope someday there are technologists who want to work with other technologists without having middlemen who are scared to be looked at running the show. We've been in that loop for so many years.
Technology requires integrity, you can't lie to the compiler, and integrity can't happen without people looking at what you do and raising questions when they need to be raised.
Thanks for listening.
Here's the Radio UserLand Feature List. Finally!
An errant agent from Inktomi has been pounding one of our servers periodically. It's the reason why EditThisPage.Com has been so slow the last few days. The agent is requesting the same WAP renderings in rapid repetition. If anyone from Inktomi is listening, please fix your bug, it's interfering with our service. We also installed a new responder that quickly tells them to go away.
A survey for Frontier developers. "If UserLand released aggregator.root, the software behind My.UserLand, would you use it to deploy your own aggregator or offer a service to other people to aggregate news channels that My.UserLand doesn't carry?"
At 5:30PM there are 45 yes votes. That's enough to justify releasing aggregator.root. Instead of three aggregators, there would be 48. That's a sixteen-fold increase.
OK, we're going to release aggregator.root. I put a few hours in this afternoon on getting it ready for release. I'm going to do it slowly, not only to make sure the install goes smoothly for everyone, but also to let a discussion develop on how we should license it.
Matthew Rothenberg of ZDNet tells a story about Apple and crackdowns on legitimate journalism. It's not all about leaks, apparently.
Tim Paustian: Display of dialogs working.
Here's a story that must send a chill down every Napster user's spine.
Variety: Now Where Napster?
News.Com: Capitol Hill split on Napster.
Headline Viewer 0.9.4 shipped.
Radio UserLand 7.0b21 shipped last night as an upgrade. Current Radio UserLand people please try it out. The major improvement in this release is the kernelization of the outline-xml serializer-deserializer. Radio UserLand now conforms to the OPML spec, and it's much faster at opening and saving outlines, especially large ones.
Excellent WorldLink today.
Newsbytes: RIAA hires a new CTO.
Adam Curry's Formats piece, in Dutch. "De winter-programmering is na een lange zomer van herhalingen eindelijk van start. Nu meer dan ooit is het overduidelijk hoe verkeerd de oude 'broadcast' wereld in elkaar steekt."
WebWord: Flash Usability Contest. "I am sick and tired of people telling that Flash is great. People tell me it is cool but I think that it ruins the customer experience. I think that it should be thrown out as an e-commerce tool, except in rare cases of promotion and marketing. Maybe it is useful for entertainment, personal web sites, art and game sites, but it isn't any good for e-commerce."
Jack Shedd: "With Aqua, Apple has removed 15 years of progress and started afresh. They've put us 10 years behind, and now, we have to climb that mountain all over again."
Has NetDyslexia lost its impact? It used to be a philosophical hub of carefree Web lifestyle. In its former glory I perceived it (incorrectly perhaps) as the Cuba of our revolution. Now they have rulers and acronyms, and complaints about the quality of free aid they receive from the Soviet Union, a vast and corrupt empire with a crumbling foundation, still and always. The value of a pointer? So bourgeois!
Dictionary.Com: Bourgeois. "In Marxist theory, a member of the property-owning class; a capitalist."
Where to go for Christmas? Europe? Israel? The Carribean? Venezuela? New York? Maybe this year I should go somewhere where Christians don't rule? Cairo? Thailand?
We got some great pictures yesterday. Two Jakes, one Tori, one Sally, one Ginnie, and one Dave. It was a family style thing. Very nice. We went out for Spicy Noodles afterwards. I told Jake that his UserLand initialization had been completed. He's no longer a Spicy Noodles virgin.
Were you a math major? I was.
In mathematics you prove theorems. If someone proves a theorem that says, for example, that water feels wet when the sun is shining, the next thing a mathematician wants to know is if water feels wet even when the sun isn't shining.
This relates to the ongoing open source discussion. If something is true of open source project, perhaps it's also true of commercial projects? In mathematics a higher statement is "necessary and sufficient." It's worth thinking about, imho.
Tim O'Reilly: Is it Open Source? "I'm not on the OSI board, which controls the 'official' use of the term open source, but I believe that even the most ardent advocates would say that this is open source."
There's been a renewed discussion in the Frontier community about what a developer is and isn't. In my mind, it's not a term to be tossed around casually. Some people who say they're developers are more like hobbyists. (Hobbyists are great, a necessary part of a thriving community, and hobbyists can become developers, but there's a difference.)
Part of being a developer is commitment. This isn't a wishy-washy concept. If it hurts your stomach to think of what you would lose if you gave up, you have commitment. In the 90s when I was an Apple developer, we would analyze every crumb of data Apple gave us. There's an art to figuring out the path the platform vendor is on. Look at pricing and distribution policies. When there's a statement from the platform vendor, take it seriously. Read everything you can get your hands on.
And even when your feelings are hurt, don't let that stand in the way of getting your job done. Now, some people are customers, and that's a whole different ballgame. But we have some developers here too. And they have the scars to prove it. And our gratitude for sticking with it. It's not easy being a developer. I know. I know.
Today and tomorrow are the photo shoot days for the Behind the Curtain project. There will be four webloggers here today, and Jake's mom, and Tori's dog Jake (neither of whom have weblogs as far as I know). According to Garret's page, there are 150 people signed up, but you can still register.
Hey I got a nice plug in Dan Gillmor's Sunday column. Scroll to the end. Yes, the P in P2P is people. Dan says "Exactly." Thanks Dan. Looks like I've added a theme to Silicon Valley cyberculture. I like that.
Stan Krute explains Radio UserLand to a newbie. I'd add that Radio UserLand not just about music, and then of course, neither is radio just about music. There are talk shows and news, baseball and football, contests, phone-in shows, and commercials. "It's the community, dummy." (I'm the dummy btw.) When you add the Internet to something, the thing it adds is community.
The Fast Path to Music page has been updated.
Cabinet continues to impress. The best weblogs are ones that reach outside the weblog world and bring me different ideas and points of view. Cabinet has a beautiful style and is always a great read.
InfoWorld: WAP Forum moves to XHTML/TCP. "The group, which has more than 580 member companies and hosted about 700 delegates here, is also making progress toward enabling additional services on WAP devices, according to Scott Goldman, chief executive officer of the WAP Forum."
Makes sense. My Netscape, My UserLand, My Marijuana.
In the Oscar-winning movie Gandhi, he's talking to a Hindu who's crazed because he's going to hell for sure because he killed another man in the religious riots that were sweeping India. The man's son was killed in the riots too. Gandhi says the man doesn't have to go to hell if he adopts an orphaned Muslim child and raises him as a Muslim. So I'm going to adopt that philosophy. When someone reams me on the Web, instead of pointing to them, I'm going to find something commendable on the Web and point to it instead.
OPML 1.0. "The purpose of this format is to provide a way to exchange information between outliners and Internet services that can be browsed or controlled through an outliner."
Jacob Levy asks a couple of good questions about OPML, and I answer them.
A utility script for Radio UserLand people, converts a folder of files from the old format to the new.
Lynn Siprelle: "I have the radio station the beancounters who pushed me out of broadcasting in 1992 took away from me."
Disturbing Search Requests. "This site is dedicated to misleading search requests."
Truth be told, I am the reason that Andre's site is so well-associated with wiener schnitzel. (There I go again!)
I'm going "on the road" more, virtually speaking, to spread the news of Radio UserLand to more people.
There are some Frontier developers that don't know something important. If you're confused by what we're doing, and you work in Frontier, please read this carefully.
The leading edge in Frontier development is in Radio UserLand right now. It is basically Frontier with the outliner on top in the user interface instead of the object database. No Manila, and no mainResponder. A limit of 5 simultaneous net connections. Radio.root and Frontier.root are virtually identical. There's a Developers sub-menu of the Radio menu that lifts the hood, when you do that, you'll see something totally familiar.
If you're looking for improvements in Frontier, follow the Radio UserLand project. All the improvements we're making to the basic functionality of Radio UserLand will flow back into Frontier. In other words, view these improvements as improvements that are coming in Frontier 7.0, which will be released shortly after Radio UserLand 7.0, and will be provided at no charge to current Frontier subscribers.
Your experience is needed and welcome. There are already a few Frontier experts in the loop, and they seem pretty happy. The pace of features and fixes is very high. Please don't miss this opportunity to influence the direction.
An example, this morning I added a feature to the Add Link command in the HTML menu. If you use Frontier to edit a website, this functionality might make you say "Oh Yeah!" or "Oh Geez!". I want to know which it is. Often people don't express a negative opinion until it's too late. You've heard me say this before. I'm saying it again.
Raymond Yee wants to know what our focus on Radio UserLand means for Manila.
Luckily I have something to say about that.
And something else.
Eric Sink: Open Source vs Free Software. An interesting piece. Yes I have been confused and irritated even appalled by the divisive and exclusionary tactics of some open source advocates. But I think it's very clear what open source is, if you stick to basics, it's totally simple, and I beg to differ, it is about freedom, and RMS's philosophy, while understandable, is not, at least not for me.
It only gets complex when people attach "riders" or their own agendas to the definition of open source. For example, I was tempted to add an anti-patent part to my definition of open source, but that's orthogonal. I don't think patenting is consistent with open source, but it cannot be part of the definition of open source, imho.
Emphatically, open source is not new! Source releases are part of programming. What's new is the marketing hype, and it's not so new anymore.
Here's the line I draw. Programmers generally can work with each other. The problems come when outsiders try to grab our work for their own purposes. As I read it, that's what inspired Stallman, and it inspires me too. The technology industry is not about technology. At best it pays lip service to technology. That's how the attention of the open source "movement" got focused on Microsoft, wrongly.
Companies. Why does the software conversation always revolve around companies? What other artform forces its artists to become CEOs to be taken seriously (and even then not). Stop everything and read this section of a very early DaveNet piece, written long before anyone had heard of open source. This has been bothering me ever since I got started in the software business. A huge disconnect. I don't want to work for a company. I like making software. Now what?
Most programmers give away source code. Even Microsoft programmers participate. So to draw exclusive lines that disempower some programmers in favor of others could be an expedient way to make money (amazingly) but it doesn't further the cause of more good software for the people.
Anyway, let's keep discussing. Every time an idea goes over the wall, in either direction, the wall becomes less of a barrier.
DaveNet: What is Open Source?
A tight corner-turn is coming in the next couple of days. I want to finalize the first version of our outline XML format, and we need a name for it.
Survey: Pick a file extension for Radio UserLand outlines.
New feature: Radio UserLand can now be used as a general-purpose XML editor.
Boston Globe: "The spectacular success of Linux, which boasts publicly available source code, has changed a lot of minds. Apple now welcomes the assistance of smart outsiders in devising improvements to their core software."
LinuxGram: Sun finds and exploits hole in GPL. "Sun's controversial little kit takes open source Linux drivers and converts them into Solaris binaries."
Here's a bug report that's a little long-winded, has a very friendly spirit and is quite informative.
LA Times: "Multi-platinum music sensation Offspring plans to rock the recording industry by posting an album on the Internet more than a month before the CD goes on sale."
Evolt.Org: Imitation or Flattery? "Disingenuous thieves will steal a site wholesale: code, layout, look and feel, even graphics and content, simply replacing minor bits and pieces to serve his or her own purpose. This sort of thievery is easily identifiable and tends to infuriate the original author."
NY Times: Ruling limits rights of trademark holders. A simple controversy. When you type "playboy" into Excite's search engine, the banner ad would be for a porn site, not Playboy. They sell the keywords. Playboy said this was unfair. The judge said it was OK.
XML.Com: Gentrifying the Web. "While no one underestimates the scale of this task, there's a big problem: the web authoring community is already a long way behind, even at these early stages." Ooops!
MacInTouch has a reader report on Mac OS X.
Radio UserLanders, is that they're so enthusiastic!
Noodles, is if you search for them on Google, Andre's site is the first hit.
Apple, is that they link to Frontier and Manila on their Development Tools page. Thanks!
Weblog people, is that they organize in cool ways.
Shit, is that it happens. Everyone's healthy, there's a new cooperative spirit, and if you know what I'm talking about, great, otherwise here's a nice piece of cheesecake.
This morning I received an email from Tim Berners-Lee saying that the W3C will begin a new activity called XML Protocol. UserLand participated, along with 44 companies in defining the charter for this working group.
The process leading to the XML Protocol activity at the W3C was confidential. There came a point in the discussion where each participating company had to express their opinion re the formation of the working group. That came on August 18. I can only share my own opinion with you. This is what I said.
There are a lot of conclusions to draw today and probably in the coming weeks. For the next 1.5 years the W3C will be working in this area. In the meantime, we have two widely-deployed specifications for XML-based distributed computing, XML-RPC and SOAP. I have no doubt that this technology is relevant, and the W3C charter explains why.
The Web can grow significantly in power and scope if it is extended to support communication between applications, from one program to another. The purpose of this Working Group is to create a simple foundation to support the needs of such communicating applications.
That gets a 100-percent right on from Dave. As the process continues, I've come to appreciate the way the W3C works and am more and more impressed with the mind of TBL.
TV Minder: TiVO is one jack short.
Steven Vore is a ThemeStream user.
Upside: Courtney Love demands some MP3.com cash. "The Grammy Award-winning singer says she will turn the tables on Universal and ask a court to fine the company for stealing her music."
Interactive Week. "MP3.com went from a brilliant, but flawed critic of the music industry to a dumb music pipe for the record labels practically overnight."
Tim Paustian reports on the Mac OS X version of Frontier. "We're getting close to beta!" Right on Tim. I like the timing on this. Assuming we can get to beta in the next few weeks, there should be a lot of Mac users wondering what's next.
David Detlefsen wants to operate his own My.UserLand to aggregate proprietary scientific information within his company.
Scouter is "the way for Mac users to connect to the massive Scour Exchange file-sharing community... finally! Someone had to do it. Way to go Gerrit!"
News.Com: Key Microsoft Exec Resigns. "Maritz's exit came less than six months after he was tapped to head the developer group and speed the introduction of the company's '.Net' initiative to rework its software for the Internet."
NME: "Fearing that petrol blockades may leave record stores short of copies in the post-Mercury sales rush, XL has made 'The Hour Of Bewilderbeast' available as a download. From Wednesday (20 September), the album will be available on www.badlydrawnboy.co.uk for the cost of £9.99. It will be available in the Windows Media and Liquid Audio formats."
Linux.Com: Is the OSS Model Failing?
Lotus.Com: "There is one problem with the statement, open source projects manage themselves. It is not true. This article shows open source projects are about as far as you can get from self-organizing. In fact, these projects use strong central control, which is crucial to their success. "
Yesterday I received an email from Tim O'Reilly, once again interfering with what I say here on Scripting News, in DaveNet, and on public mail lists.
USA Today: "Of course, there is one potential solution. We could hand the whole XML movement over to Microsoft. It could then bulldoze the babble, set its own standard and force everyone else to conform. Then Microsoft would become as dominant on the Web as it now is on the PC."
"It's even worse than it appears."
DaveNet: P2P is Bigger.
New docs: How to create a Weblog with Radio UserLand.
Yesterday I started the p2p-discuss mail list on eGroups to discuss stuff before the Intel-sponsored working group meeting on Sept 26.
What is ThemeStream?
I unsubscribed from the advanced RSS mail list, and posted a message to the Syndication list, which was the place where RSS was primarily discussed before the split. I'd love to get a discussion going among the non-heavyweight people, talking with Lynn Siprelle this morning reminded me that there's still work to do.
We probably need more docs, sample scripts, newbie help, howtos, basic stuff to get people going. I decided to stop fighting. If anything comes of this discussion, we can call our spec RSS-Classic, and let the other people have their way.
I also reviewed the comments under the RSS 0.91 spec, and see that there are still some unresolved issues there. I'd like people to feel free to post their ideas, whether or not they understand all the details of the discussions that have been going on.
Imho, this stuff is for people who are bewildered by the maze of complex specs that are XML. There are people who think I'm criticizing them when I say that, but I'm an empiricist on this, meaning I've seen the bewilderment, in myself and others. I think XML is important, and it should be easy for people to get in.
Now it's no longer a matter of contention. They can have the RSS name if they really want it. I just want to have a discussion with cool people doing interesting stuff.
Wired: Napster goes on the offensive.
Red Herring: "Powerful entities are trying to gain control of the Internet," says ACLU lawyer Chris Hansen. "Intellectual property law is being used to restrict speech on the Internet. Whether that should be allowed or not is the huge question."
News.Com: Smashing Pumpkins goes direct.
Lots more info on Smashing Pumpkins here.
Rogers Cadenhead is rendering his Radio UserLand history.xml file on his HTML website.
Lynn Siprelle wrote the script that Roger is using and it's been part of the New Homemaker Radio site for more than a week. Apologies to Lynn for not mentioning it. It's been hard to keep with all the developments with all the michegas and good stuff in my life. I'll try to do better!
MacWEEK: Jobs announces new iBook, OS X beta.
MacWorld: "Mac OS X offers a very different sort of Finder, one that will undoubtedly appeal to many Mac users and repel others."
Simon Cozens: Who Owns You? "One thing I've always loved about working on free software is that you can do it purely for the community, as a completely free agent -- doing what I want, when I want to, because I want to do it. But while that's a romantic notion, it's not totally borne out in reality. There are plenty of limits to my impartiality even if I'm not 'owned' by a software company."
Red Herring has a profile of Heidi Roizen.
Another breathless DigiScents article. When will they ship?
Klaus Schwab, president of the World Economic Forum, on the protests in Melbourne.
2/4/00: "Klaus Schwab, the Swiss professor who is the host of Davos, is a medium-height man, fit, always well-dressed, bald, formal in his mannerisms. Dr. Schwab is the head of the World Economic Forum and is the moderator of the most important sessions at Davos. "
Not sure what's going on here.
XML Magazine: Why I Like XML. "The important thing about XML is that it means that your software can be replaced. Now this may not sound like an advantage, unless you work for a software vendor who's being sued for antitrust, but it actually is an advantage for everyone."
Joel: Wasting money on cats. "The number of dumb things going on here exceeds my limited ability to grok all at once. I'm a bit overwhelmed with what a feeble business idea we have going on here."
Joel, you left one thing out. Who reads magazines while sitting in front of their computer?
Tipster technical overview.
ZDNet: "Sources who have gotten an early look at Apple Computer Inc.'s Mac OS X Public Beta tell ZDNet News that while the first end-user version of the new OS is more stable and feature-complete than its pre-release predecessors, it lacks many everyday features Mac users take for granted."
Financial Review: "And, sorry, the money goes into the cocaine habits of the recording company executives."
Me: "Yup back to basics. We sell software. The old-fashioned way. To users."
DelphiRss is "a set of open source native components which enable you to build Delphi applications which use RSS headlines." I learned about this software in a post that its author, Nick Lothian, sent to the rss-dev list explaining how he developed RSS support in Delphi.
ZDNet reviews the Compressor Personal Jukebox. "This bulky unit can hold a gargantuan 1200 tracks, or 100 CDs worth of MP3s. Listening to 81 hours of non-repetitive music in your car, at home, or at the gym begins to outweigh the considerable size of the unit."
Today is a writing day for me, the kind of writing I hate to do and always put off. I'm writing the Feature List page for Radio UserLand. I hate it because I don't think people really read feature lists, and I have to put on a kind of stiff voice, but that's not really how I write. I also have to write some new pages to hang off this page and I'll link to them as they're ready.
An early draft of the docs for OurFavoriteSongs.Com.
I took a break and read this News.Com story about P2P and how the VCs are losing interest. As usual the reporter and the VCs are missing something important, technologically.
Yes, Napster is a P2P product, largely because it puts both a client and server on the user's desktop. In the end when all this shakes out, that much will certainly be required of a P2P app. But I think there are other requirements. To be useful, it must also have an editor of some kind, an end-user editor, so you can easily share things you create.
I like to use an outliner, that's why Radio UserLand is built around an outliner. That's why it's good at doing weblogs, hierarchic Yahoo-like HTML directories, music playlists, scripts, pull-down menus. There are a lot of hierarchies on the Web, basically we've created a framework that makes it easy to map those hierarchies on the outliner, and we've provided a few plug-ins that implement some good ones. There's room for lots more.
But you could just as easily conceive a P2P product around a spreadsheet, then the interlinked documents would recalculate like a spreadsheet. I'd love to use a P2P spreadsheet, and with the right hooks, it wouldn't have to do all that Radio UserLand does, it could leverage off Radio UserLand through local interapplication hooks, through COM and Apple Events. It's now 2000 and machines run at 933 Mhz. We could start assuming the OS-level connections are fast.
Making P2P work is like picking up seeds cast on the forest floor. It's an easy architecture to build now that our knowledge of networking is mature and the machines have gotten so big and fast, and we haven't (yet) forgotten how to make graphic user interface software.
To think that all P2P software is Napster-like is to miss the point. I strongly believe (not a joke) that the P in P2P is people. Music is a great catalyst, it gets people talking, but it'll go a lot further than that.
Over the weekend Jeff Barr, the author of Headline Viewer, said it really clearly. RSS is Really Simple Syndication. He's done so much to popularize RSS. He's worked with users on both ends. If RSS weren't so simple, it wouldn't be so popular.
Jeff also has an EditThisPage.Com weblog.
Lance is back at work weblogging on the WorldLink site.
I got some sympathy email because I got a minor flame from Richard Stallman. I don't need it, thanks. He's probably the one person on the Internet that irritates more people than me. I don't find him irritating, I actually sympathize with him. He's got a program, a philosophy, and people are always picking at it, and him, but he doesn't give in. He could get a job and become a Dilbert, or run a shop full of Dilberts, but I appreciate that he doesn't. We need more radicals if we're going to do more thinking.
Susan Kitchens: "I remember a camping trip where I laid on my stomach and gently smoothed out the sand with my forearms while overhearing my mother and her friend discussing the awesome statistical probability of conception and existence."
Yesterday we got deep on the discussion group, talking about projection, voice dialog, hypnotherapy and birth and death. This is what I love about our group. It's one of the few places on the Internet where we can get personal in a safe way. I still am withholding, not telling my full story, but yesterday I was tempted, it almost felt safe enough. Being a public figure, to the extent that I am, I'm afraid of personal stuff being used against me. So I'll stay safe, and only say thanks to the people on the DG for having the courage to share their personal stories. Now you guys are leading me. That's a priviledge. Someday I'll tell you what this is about. It's incredibly synchronous.
When I was a teenager I started an underground newspaper called BLADAUN, which was an acronym (of course) for Birth, Life And Death of An Underground Newspaper. (Underground newspapers were the weblogs of the early 1970s.)
Today's song: Camp Granada.
Hugh Mackay: "Forget sex. Forget power. Forget food, shelter or the need to belong. The more I listen to people talking about their lives, and the more I ponder the highs and lows of human behaviour, the more I'm convinced that, in a society like ours, the most fundamental of all human needs is the need to be taken seriously. Everything else flows from that."
Dmusic has a story about Radio UserLand.
Wired: Wireless patent wars heat up. The end of the software business (and art) as we know it.
Richard Stallman responds to a post on Scripting News re the controversy over Python licensing. We have different philosophies. I'm learning his now and working on mine, and it's true that there are things I don't agree with him on. I'd like to see commercial and open source developers work together more fluidly. He seems to agree. Reading his piece I think we could have an interesting discussion. I think we're on the same side on the important issues, believe it or not. (The big issue is patents, for now.)
SXSW is accepting entries for the Web awards, this year they have a Weblog category.
FuckedCompany.Com is being offered for sale on eBay. It's so recursive. The last offer was $9.3 million. (Probably a joke.)
Pete Prodoehl reminds me that I've been asking for music on the Internet for a long time.
Garret Vreeland is organizing a photo event for webloggers, a day in the life-style.
Courtney Love posted a message to the private music list I'm on and asks some (new) challenging questions. I've asked for permission to run her comments. Stay tuned.
O'Reilly has posted an early draft of their upcoming Zope book.
The Age: The Battle of Melbourne. "Western Australian Premier Richard Court was trapped in his car, a casino worker bashed and several people hurt, but organisers were satisfied that non-violent protest techniques had prevented a riot while still blocking a third of the 850 forum delegates from attending and costing Crown millions of dollars in lost gambling revenue."
Photos from the protest in Melbourne.
Photos from the protest at the WEF meeting in February.
LinuxPlanet has a Nautilus screen shot.
Inside.Com: Wallflowers album Napsterized a month before release. "Napster users represent only a small percentage of record buyers -- they're the first movers, early adapters and they could actually help create awareness for the record.''
Richard Stallman is dealing with his demons.
I tend to be hard on myself too. A few years ago I tuned into how it works, maybe this algorithm will work for you too.
Today's Song: He Got Game.
NY Times: A Web Rebalancing Act. "MP3.com may be thoroughly punished even though it has tried to ensure that people pay for copies of the music they want to listen to."
Tim Paustian: "I am working my way through the test suite, at this point the code makes it through test 4 of 26. Right now it is balking at a alias verb. I may be able to knock this off quickly and have a beta version to test soon."
We're going into endgame mode on Radio UserLand. In preparation I started working on the feature list. For me, it's mostly marketing from here-out. The team is organized, the plan is in place. A couple more weeks and it'll be soup.
The MusicBrainz Metadata initiative is designed to "create a portable and flexible means of storing and exchanging metadata related to digital audio and video tracks."
The Downloading Communism poster I ran yesterday came from the Modern Humorist Store.
Eric Kidd considers himself a "commercial open source developer". Interesting!
Yesterday's highlight was getting to hang out with Chuck D. He's an incredible speaker, at least eighteen times during his speech I cheered, his philosophy is the musical counterpart of the Two-Way Web and How to Make Money on the Internet. He's taking control of his music and offering other musicians a way to get their stuff out there without being too much of a middleman. He's brilliant and an inspiration. I asked to shake his hand, we talked about lawyers and journalism and the creative freedom that the Internet offers.
MacWorld interview with Chuck D. "The day of the lazy artist is over." Amen.
The rest of yesterday's discussions centered around demographics, monetizing things, audiences and all the rest of that bullshit. What if it's not possible to make money on the Internet? Does that mean there's no value to the Internet? A medium that resists money-making. Now that medium might have some integrity. Think about it.
I heard about a Web-based TV show with product placements. If you click on a product you go to a page where you can buy it. Does that sound wonderful to you? It makes me want to puke. What happened to art?
And if you think I use strong judgmental language, you should listen to Chuck D. There's value in people with strong opinion. Too many flattened-out companytowners floating around trying to make everything the same. That's what the Internet offers the chance to route around, at a social level. The Internet at its best is anti-TV. In this medium you hear what real people say, not what middlemen think you want to hear.
Last night I had dinner with Ann Greenberg, Julian Millenbach and CDDB founder Steve Scherf and his wife. Ann is a VP at the company that runs CDDB. Julian is the Director of Engineering at Larry Ellison's network computer company that Gina Smith is running. We talked about how CDDB works, what their next steps are, and I learned at a fairly detailed level what's going on inside Larry Ellison's mind. Now we'll expand our coverage into these two areas and maybe do some interesting stuff with CDDB in Radio UserLand. I have the big picture in both areas now.
DaveNet: The P in P2P.
Open source and commercial developers, please vote in yesterday's survey. Very interesting results. Most want to work with each other. Go figure!
Yesterday I had a phone talk with someone I've never gotten along with. Something happened that made us want to settle our differences. My former adversary said "Shit happens." I thought for a minute, took a deep breath, and agreed. So much of what we care about happened long ago when things were quite different. If you stop and think, what are our differences, in the present context? They might not seem so great if you look at it that way.
Talking with Nicholas Petreley a few days ago I said that the problems that open source addresses have already been dealt with. It's true that the old commercial companies abused their power, horribly. In 1993, had I known that there was such a thing as the open source movement, I might have joined wholeheartedly. As an independent developer I had been crushed by the giant commercial companies. Microsoft and Apple did deals that traded favors and routed around our creation, imho to the detriment of Macintosh users. But then the Internet rolled through the desktop, and we got our freedom. Even though Microsoft and Sun tried to capture it, it didn't work. We still have freedom. The big commercial companies that open source routes around are neutered now. So re-think your philosophy, if possible. Can you agree with this statement: Ask not what the Internet can do for you, ask what you can do for the Internet? That could be the thing we agree on.
News.Com: US sides with RIAA against Napster. "The 'friend of the court' brief was jointly submitted by the civil division of the Justice Department, the US Copyright Office and the US Patent and Trademark Office."
Rebecca Blood has written yet another history of weblogs that doesn't mention Scripting News. Started on 4/1/97. I love to get out in front, and I even like it when other people copy what I do. But I hate not getting credit. Thanks for listening.
DaveNet: Denial isn't just a river in Egypt.
Here's a survey that might help us get an idea of the attitudes of various developers who are tuned into this site.
Speaking of Nicolae Ceausescu, I found this transcript of his trial after the revolution in Rumania. Is this for real?
Dave Marsh: What the labels could have done.
Tim Paustian: "Threads are now operational in the carbon version of Frontier."
Paul Kulchenko has released a SOAP 1.1 client for Perl.
What is XMethods.Com?
Suck: "Lawyers rule the world. And don't you forget it."
Ken Dow discovered how cool the RSS connection in Radio UserLand is. He's got feeds from Moreover flowing into outlines. Double-click on the channel title to refresh.
Tutorial: RSS in Radio UserLand.
To the Moreover guys, even though there's been a fallout in RSS-land, we still want to work with you. Route around the outage.
Fredrik Lundh on the Python license controversy.
If you hate Apple you'll love this site, but if you love Apple you'll hate it.
DaveNet: The Major Leagues.
At the last minute I've been invited to speak at the MB5 conference on Saturday. Should be pretty interesting.
Linux Today: Guido van Rossum responds to Python Licensing Issues. "In any case we don't want to use *just* the GPL for Python, because there are many proprietary software developers in the Python community who don't want to work with the GPL. Python has always had a BSD'ish license which was perfect for them. I see no reason to suddenly confront everyone in the Python world with the GPL."
Thank you. Don't give in to Stallman. Open source should not have restrictions. Stallman's philosophy is not open source, it's not the spirit of sharing, it's not generous. It has other purposes, it's designed to create a wall between commercial development and free development. The world is not that simple. There are plenty of commercial developers who participate in open source. Python belongs in commercial products. How does that hurt Python? Why should Python adopt Stallman's goals? What has he done to build Python? (Maybe I'm missing something.) I have a different philosophy which is incompatible with GPL, I will support any open source developer who truly lets the source go. Also, I much prefer the term "commercial" to "proprietary", which is perjorative, imho. (It's possible to make commercial software which is quite open and has major non-proprietary elements.)
BTW, I spoke with Nicholas Petreley this afternoon. We're in agreement on a lot of things. The world is much bigger than it may seem. Just because people send hate mail that doesn't mean we have to hate each other. Ignore the barriers, in the end guys like Stallman can have their way, inside their walls, inside a very small world. If you can see a way to avoid the GPL, you can count on our support. Petreley told me the story of KDE and it made me sick. They were so generous. Keep it simple. Generosity is good. Period.
The next innovation in Radio UserLand is the most direct way to edit a website ever. Think of it as a "public notepad" that's structured of course. One outline for a whole website. No saving required. Where it once took three steps to publish to a website (the Edit this Page concept) now it takes zero steps.
Radio UserLand: Live Outlines.
Our design methodology, hack at the details, has yielded the ultimate in simplicity. There are no more details to hack at. This can happen when the editor and the server are the same app, and the editor is an outliner. It understands structure, it's not wizzy, but it does make you dizzy.
Here's a screen shot. Lots of stuff going on here.
To the Frontier community, even the ones who didn't come with us when we went commercial, please get in the loop on Radio UserLand. If you loved what we were doing, you gotta see what we're doing now. It's all coming together in hugely powerful ways. It's not just about music, and then of course, neither is radio just about music. There are talk shows and news, baseball and football, contests, phone-in shows, and commercials. We're doing the next medium. More than meets the eye. Help us explore it. We need all the brains we can get.
Two-Mind-Bomb-Thursday: Macros in the Queue. "You could easily write a macro that always returns a random song that begins with the letter H. Or finds the least-played song in your song table and returns it." Programming in your programming. Cool? (I think so.)
Edd Dumbill: XML in the next-generation Web.
Red Herring: Novell moving from Netware to No Ware?
Tim Paustian: "I posted what I knew about the YieldToThread bug on the carbon development mailing list and to my surprise they suspect it of being a OS X bug and not in my application."
Who said that bounce messages can't be entertaining?
UserLand is getting involved with the Geek Pride Festival in San Francisco, Oct 13-14. I'm going to do a live session, and we may sponsor some party or event around it. Perhaps other weblog vendors would like to co-sponsor something to show unity in geekdom?
Wired: Mac users target Jobs.
Reuters: Yahoo, RIAA reach pact on music performance broadcasts. "The pact, however, does not include downloadable music, which is the lion's share of the music experience of Santa Clara, Calif.-based company's visitors. It is also one of the issues at the heart of the recent court battles being waged by companies like Napster and MP3.com."
News.Com: MP3.Com ruling could cost $118 million.
Tim Paustian reports progress on the carbonization of Frontier, for Mac OS X.
John VanDyk: Metadata Plugin for Manila, v1.5. "The main new feature is the ability to add, delete and edit multiple templates in Manila using only your Web browser and your brain."
David Brown is making great progress connecting Zope and Radio UserLand.
Nicholas Petreley: "People are already addressing the issue of free software the right way. Instead of subverting an existing system of commercial software, they are creating new, open source software and publishing it. Others are trying to find ways of making money by selling and supporting this free software."
Thank you. However I still think there's subverting going on. Open source advocates are inches away from finding the bug in their advocacy, giving them the benefit of the doubt and assuming they didn't want to hurt commercial developers. There's a lot more to commercial software than Microsoft. They'll have no credibility with me until they start acknowledging that, consistently, and update their philosophy to include all flavors of software. While bringing their logic to music, clean up the act at home, in software. The world is a lot more complex than they have been saying it is. Petreley, as usual, is leading, but I want him to say more about this.
8/25/00: "A responsible doctor does community service work, a lawyer does pro bono work for causes he or she supports. Commercial software developers, people who do it for money, often also give away their work for the same reasons other professionals do. It's a way to *spend* money to make the world a better place, to help people, to make new friends, to be positive, to give back."
The link to my RSS piece is gone at O'Reilly. On the rss-dev list, they're still referring to the Namespaces+RDF spec as "RSS 1.0". I think that we've tried reasoning with them long enough. Let's move forward. If there are ideas for RSS 0.92, and a process for upgrading, developing tools, specifications, and evangelism, that would be excellent. If not, as far as I'm concerned, RSS 0.91 is fine as-is. And we can re-open discussions about 0.92 at any time in the future.
We're getting back to full-paced work on Radio UserLand. Brent just released a new feature, boilerplate, that allows you to save the current selection and paste it into other outlines later. I'm going to use this to save rule sets for formatting outlines. I also want to work on improving upstreaming, and am soliciting input from Radio UserLand users.
Joakim Ziegler: Structured editing and the death of wysiwyg.
Survey: If the US presidential election were held today, who would you vote for?
AP: Pop.Com Closes Before It Opens. "The whole business climate changed,'' Howard said. "It used to be you staked a claim, went out with an IPO and the public would back you. That's the not the case anymore.''
News.Com: European pot site on back burner. "Customers can set up an anonymous profile on the iToke site through their phone or Web browser, then order up to 2 grams of pot (worth about 20 euros or about $17) from the site to be delivered within 30 minutes."
NY Times: Minor Leage Mouth. "Before W. makes any more snide cracks about the major leagues, he should remember he's in them."
We need more major league assholes in the press. Too much footsy being played, and too many spoiled brats who think that any criticism is too much, not just in political reporting, in all reporting.
Micah Alpern: "Last night I watched the rebroadcast of the hour long interview with Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes with Mao Tse-Tung, the Leader of the Communist Party in China. Wallace didn't pull any punches."
Survey: How should RSS evolve? "There have been a lot of discussions recently about the evolution of RSS, a popular format for syndicating Web content. How do you think it should evolve?"
Red Herring: "Techies aren't the only ones enamored with WAP, the open standard that allows delivery of Internet data to mobile phones. Investors are also in love with its potential."
The Herring article makes a key point. RSS could be a reasonably high-stakes economic thing if we have a winning attitude. If it stays simple, eventually it will fit into WAP-space, it's probably already got more content flowing through it. With modest sprucing and tweaking, it can grow a lot more, without getting complex.
Yesterday was a heated day in the RSS debate and we got pretty close to my core issue on this.
Why was the name "RSS 1.0" cooked up in secret and presented as a finished thing, before any of us had a chance to consider it or comment on it? The claim that it's just a proposal doesn't cut it. O'Reilly did not present it on their site that way. And now that we've actually asked users what they think, a substantial number of them think RSS is pretty good as it is.
David McCusker came closest to expressing my feelings at the way this was handled. "Who are you again?"
Thanks to Dave Sims at O'Reilly for pointing to the DaveNet piece I ran on Sunday explaining my view of the value of RSS and our involvement with it. We spoke for a bit on the phone. This conversation, a frank and friendly one, opened my mind a bit to seeing how it looked from his point of view, inside O'Reilly, and not really in the RSS loop in a deep way. I learned a lot in this brief conversation.
Looking at the survey, if the results stay roughly proportional to the current percentages, it would be hard to argue that the Namespaces+RDF approach is the only reasonable way to go forward, nor would it be reasonable to say that there aren't a substantial number of people who want Namespaces+RDF. In other words, both approaches enjoy significant support.
Therefore, there must be two paths forward.
I would like to be part of a group of people who work on slowly evolving RSS 0.91 to become 0.92 and 0.93 and so on. I imagine getting onto a predictable six-month cycle, with commercial and open source tools tracking the development of new versions, much as there's a common tool set for XML. I outlined this approach in a post to the FoRK list earlier today.
(I got the idea from Rohit, he was urging TBL to come up with a similar cycle for HTML, and I think this would have been the right approach for heading off the browser wars between Netscape and Microsoft, a fear that the O'Reilly people voiced in the radio show they did a week ago.)
I also think the two efforts should be related. The Namespaces group can serve as a proving ground for new ideas in syndication, and when features in that thread gain substantial adoption, they can percolate into the core spec, without the need for webmasters to master namespaces. Or if in a couple of years namespaces seem like second nature to the webmasters, and they say they want them, let's roll them in.
I have my own opinion on where the wires got crossed. Part of the reason is that there are cultural barriers, even within the United States. I am from New York, even though I live in California, I tend to speak with force and conviction, when I think I know what's going on. RSS is one of the things I have strong convictions about, and my pov is different from many others, as are the conclusions I reach and the things I value. But people from the Midwest or The South or California hear something different. And people from the UK too. I have a booming voice, even in email and on the Web. My words may be strong, but when I go into the "please listen to me mode" it's because I have something to say, and I want to be heard, not that I want to hurt you.
On the other side, I think the people involved thought UserLand is Microsoft. We seem to be everywhere in this space. But we're actually a very small company and we don't want to stop anyone from doing cool stuff. We just want to be part of it. That's why we worked so hard to get RSS off the ground. And that's why I got so angry when we were cut out of the process.
While NYers talk loudly, sometimes midwesterners or Bostoners can be pretty mean in response. To Tim, that's the nasty personal game I was talking about. I was trying to tell you about this in email, but all you heard was "He's saying bad things about us again." I'm sorry, but I don't know how to say "You're screwing my company and our users" in a nice way. And at this point in my life, at age 45, I don't think I want to try to learn how to do that. I'd much rather avoid situations where I have to say it.
So let's leave RSS wide open to participation by any people who are willing to work together to move it forward, slowly and predictably. If no one shows up, or the group fails, the worst that could happen is that RSS stays right where it is, at the 0.91 level. And that's not so bad! But with a mandate for slow evolution, nothing revolutionary, no special features for aggregators or other fancy applications, perhaps it doesn't need to be much more than it already is.
And at the same time, let's have a place to work on the Namespaces+RDF approach. I'm not going to try to lead in either place. I want to work on Radio UserLand and related stuff. I would like to think that if my opinion was sought that no one would have a problem with me expressing it. Radio UserLand also reads RSS files in a pretty interesting way. And I'm a good writer and sometimes because of that I can ask a pointed question that might indicate a problem in documentation or usability, or maybe a better way to organize things so they'll be easier to understand. These are the the things I like to do.
Also if you give me a chance, I'm good at helping people work together, believe it or not. This doesn't mean I want to dominate or control, it means I want to help. We all have our strengths. All I want to do is apply my strengths in this area, as an investment, and hope to be able to reap profits from that investment in the future, when RSS becomes the monster format that so many people think it can.
Which reminds me of a story. (Of course.) A long time ago, just after shipping a version of Frontier for the Mac, the Frontier-Work list erupted in a huge flamewar. I mean huuuuge. A quiet voice, I don't remember who it was, posted a message saying "You guys should be celebrating not fighting!" I remember flaming him in response, in total agreement.
Sometimes the tempers get unreal, and the positions so dug in, that you can't remember that it's OK to feel good about having accomplished something important. RSS is important. It's worth fighting over, and it's also worth working together on.
Thanks for listening.
Julie Andrews: My Favorite Things. "Cream colored ponies, and crisp apple strudels, doorbells and sleigh bells, and schnitzel with noodles!"
I wonder if she likes spicy noodles with her wiener schnitzel?
Arf, the czar of NetDyslexia, shows how he turns a regular DG message into a Euroblogs directory entry.
Alwin Hawkins: "This is a screenshot of me editing my left navigation bar using a *story* from my ETP site. I think this is one of the coolest features; it allows me to organize my navigation links into several different topics and edit them seperately."
Garret Vreeland editing the navigation links on the Davos Newbies site using Radio UserLand.
Andrea Frick likes using the search engine connection for Manila.
Mike Donnelan editing Black Hole Brain in Radio UserLand. (Note he's using the Web browser built into RU. You might have to look twice. It's a browser that has a powerful editor and database, built-in. And a content management system too. Nyheeeyheey.)
Dan Mitchell editing his site.
PC World: "As time goes forward, it will become apparent that there is one virtual computer on the planet, and we're all users of it," says Winer.
That, btw, is my version of the Dot-Net initiative. Microsoft couldn't say it that concisely because it would freak everyone out. But I can!
Adam Curry: "The real sweet stuff comes in when you as a user are able to tweak the format, perhaps I just don't want any news at all, then I could simply eliminate that box from my format. Likewise I could set a rule stating that I never want to hear Madonna. It truly will become My Radio Station."
Charles Haddad: "One thing Nisus Writer doesn't have is an outliner. Now you can have a great one for free. It's called More, and although it was discontinued several years ago, many observers still consider the program the best of its kind. Famed programmer Dave Winer wrote More. He has regained the rights to the program and posted it online."
SJ Merc: Microsoft, IBM, Ariba to create B2B directory. "The three software providers will unveil a standard system to categorize and search for businesses that offer services over the Web. They said the system will help spur transactions between businesses over the Internet. Next month, the three companies will begin creating and operating a central database that will manage and store all the directory information."
It's all SOAP. Excellent. Let's get rolling. The sooner the better.
Upside: The death of the alpha vendor.
Emailing with Steve Wozniak this afternoon, it came up that he has patents. The conversation is continuing. This puts me in an awkward spot. I like Steve so much. But but. I hate patents.
Harmony Central: Who Needs Labels? "Established artists such as Michael Penn and Aimee Mann, as well as a younger bands like New York-based Ida, are ditching their old dreams and taking responsibility for their own future."
Flounder: "The end came suddenly this time. I was compiling kernels trying to get my PC card modem to work. After a long, long time I got to the stage where, when I inserted a card, my computer panicked and crashed. This was a major victory! Linux had previously ignored the existence of my slots altogether."
The What To Do About RSS thread continues. A man named Daryl says: "I've spent the past few months evangelising the wonders of RSS to non-technical web people, (e.g. Bands and online 'zine editors), as the format offers a lot of power for a minimal learning curve."
Edd Dumbill provides the correct name of the person who lead the RSS team at Netscape. It's "Eckart Walther". A Google search confirms that it's the correct spelling. I corrected yesterday's DaveNet, with thanks to Edd for his help.
I got an email from Amazon telling me that they plan to sell information about me to other people. I replied that I am no longer a customer and that they do not have permission to sell information about me. When I signed on they had a different policy. I asked them to delete all records pertaining to me from their database. Their response was to thank me for being a customer (again!) and to tell me how to check on the status of my non-existent order. Hey Doc, these guys are acting pretty clueless, don't you think?
Dan Peters ran the Austrian weblogs article through a translation engine. There's a quote of mine in there that I want to give some extra emphasis. "But in a world, in which nobody is annoyed, I would not like to live." Yup that sounds like me, translated to German and run through a translator program.
Steve Wozniak sent me a pointer to this SJ Merc article. Yes, the music industry doesn't like the Internet. That's not news. So what if they spend a lot of money promoting artists. Stop doing that, and then maybe people will look for artists that don't have big marketing budgets. I don't get it. No one forces them to spend the money. They can stop doing it right now as far as I'm concerned. I don't need fatcat moneygrubbing middlemen to tell me what music to love. I won't miss them when they're gone. "We'll all be working for an insurance company.'' Good idea.
Steve's also being inducted as an member of the Inventors Hall of Fame, which is run by people funded by the USPTO. (They need Manila.) I've been encouraging Steve to tell them how patents are ruining the future for technologists and inventors. There's no doubt that he deserves the honor. Steve is a role model for young technologists. A pure hacker genius with a big heart.
Just when you thought it was safe to whine.
Salon: "There's Adam Clymer -- major league asshole -- from the New York Times," Bush said. "Yeah, big time," returned Cheney. Score one for Gore.
If you're running Frontier, please update manila.root asap.
A user reported a hole today, we verified and closed it.
A security alert will go out tomorrow, in the meantime, please update asap.
Chuck Shotton has several recommendations for the evolution of RSS. Here's the baseline spec for RSS 0.91 that I wrote in June 2000, for reference. It's still open for feedback and suggestions for its evolution. I also wrote a draft for guidelines for successor(s) to RSS 0.91.
Last week I was interviewed by an Austrian radio network about weblogs. The interview transcript along with lots of other interviews with German-speaking webloggers is ready. I can't read it of course. Wish I could.
O'Reilly's Dale Dougherty has an in-depth review of Compaq's iPaq. I got a demo of one last week, and he's right, it begs you to own it.
I finally got around to revising the What is Manila? page. It hadn't be updated since Manila shipped in December last year. So much has happened since then, I want the site to reflect that.
One area that's sorely lacking is screen shots showing Manila in use, by an author or designer, updating his or her site, or designing it. The screen shots I have show very early Manila sites, which are not nearly as interesting as the sites that are in operation now.
You can help, by taking a screen shot of your site being edited. Upload it as a Gem and post a pointer, or send it to me via email, along with a URL to your site. I'd love to create a gallery, a sort of family album of Manila sites, showing newbies, visually, what it's like to work on a Manila site.
If possible, show some corner or niche of the product that you like or find interesting. Editing a preference, sending a bulletin, posting a Gem or picture. Whatever you like. The more variety and depth the better. Thanks!
Last night we shipped the bits that turn Radio UserLand into an easy weblog authoring tool. Jake wrote the initial docs, I'm doing a pass over them this morning, to explain how Radio UserLand relates to other simple static weblog tools and why weblogs belong in a music program.
One answer, which won't appear in the docs, that I'd like to share with Scripting News readers is "It's the community, dummy!" Of course. By now that theme should be almost automatic.
People who think music is a niche application for the Web are just as wrong as the people who thought talking movies were a fad in the early 20th century. Music is part of who we are. I don't doubt that a few years from now we'll look back at The Silent Web as a strange thing.
"Hey Grandma, is it true that the Internet didn't have music in the early days?"
Piet Seiden has a site for Danish students. Screen shot. He reminded me that one of the cool things about Manila is that it is localizable. I must remember to get that onto the feature list. Not much Web software has gotten to that level of commercialization.
Doc Searls: "The Internet isn't just another business development. It's a monster meteor that has smacked into the world of business and pushed out a great tsunami of demand. The Net equips demand not just with more ways to buy, but more ways to talk. Now Demand has email. Demand has browsers. And starting this week, demand has Manila: a way to talk — to publish — right through the browser itself. Now more than ever, Demand can supply more information than Supply itself. And in much more credible voices." Doc Gets It.
Since my personality comes up every once in a while, I thought I'd comment on it, it's probably one of the few things I have not commented on often enough.
It may shock you to hear that I am a nasty arrogant motherfucker from NY. I live in California, so that's softened me a bit, since I've gotten massage training and do breathwork on a regular basis. I also believe in being conscious whenever possible, and not freaking out when something appears that seems dangerous, but actually is just a bunch of zeros and ones traveling over communication lines. I try, but I'm just human, and often go into trances, and forget to compare my dream with what's really going on. But I'm getting better at the consciousness thing, as time goes by.
Disclaimer: "It's even worse than it appears."
So if you point a finger at me saying I'm nasty, I'll agree, so don't bother. Or go ahead if it makes you feel good.
But I create really interesting software, have been doing that for years, and my writing helps stir the mud and gets people thinking. That's all I hope to do.
When I die, I don't expect a lot of people to say "He was such a nice guy!" I do hope people say "He created some cool software, had courage, and stood for good causes."
BTW, I actually have already written the text for my gravestone. It goes like this. "He's not diggin anymore!"
For now at least, Murphy-willing, I'm still diggin!
My friends remind me that I'm actually a Sweet Jew from NY. I have a big laugh and a big heart, if you overlook the grandiose statements I make sometimes. In my mind sometimes I am a hardass motherfucker. And whitebread VC-types often feel threatened by me. But I think that has more to do with the fact that I know my stuff and they don't. Whatever. Whole people are so hard to characterize. Have a great evening and if you're in the US, have a great holiday tomorrow.
DaveNet: What to do about RSS? OK, it's done now. I'm sure there are imperfections. I just speak for myself, I am not a lawyer, your mileage may vary, in my humble opinion, and all other disclaimers in popular use on the Internet.
So now that Andre has left us to return to school we have an opening to fill on the UserLand development team. The ideal candidate would be someone with lots of C experience at a systems level, someone who has worked on an operating system or Web server or scripting environment, since Frontier is basically all three of these things. We generally only hire people with experience in Frontier at a user level, that way we avoid bone-headed things that screw the users. The ideal candidate is Andre Radke, but well, that ain't happening. If you feel you could fill his shoes, send me an email, preferably with a link to a resume. One more thing, this time we'd like someone local, or at least on the same continent.
Chuck Shotton: "Is there any real reason why application domain-specific programs have to wade into the morass of name spaces and overwrought specifications when something elegant and simple would suffice? RSS 0.91 does have a few shortcomings, but adding a few additional XML elements and associated semantics seems a lot simpler than starting essentially from scratch."
I went for a visit to the mail list where all the "RSS 1.0" stuff is happening, and found it pretty quiet. I read a post by Dan Libby, the engineer at Netscape who worked on RSS while we were doing the dance with Netscape in 1999. While he supports the RDF approach, he also is clear that without tools it can't work. I totally agree. That's why I think the tools come first, I've even said that here on Scripting News. Ironically, for the RDF proponents, UserLand is probably the only developer that actually has the tools.
5/7/97: Programmers. "My pitch to programmers, which is far more revolutionary than any programming language or operating system can be, is to look for understanding where you find it, work with people you want to work with, and don't waste time with people who won't listen and aren't grounded in the truth."
William Crim: "Think, 'late night', 'awake for 28 hours', '2 Vivarin', and 'empty stomach' and you will have a pretty good idea of my state of mind at the time I wrote my previous piece." Bravo! That's what I love about the culture that's developing here. The barking-farting-chihuahua thing. Yeah, sometimes I write emails when I'm really tired or nervous. That's why I sometimes lose popularity contests. Onward!
6/11/97: Style and Technology. "Content is such an awful word! What do I do? Hmmm. Is it content? That's like saying a great sunset is 'light'. Sure, oh yes, that's what it is. But it misses the point. It misses the movement, the inspiration, the soul-gathering and unification that comes from knowing that 80 million people are watching the same sunset, each in their own way all at the same moment in time, each from their own point of view."
Rob Levin: "Had an interesting evening at the Dave Winer lecture. It appears that his views have been changing over the past few months, and I guess I expect further change." No doubt.
Industry Standard: No weblogs for Olympic atheletes. "Rule 59 states that an Olympic athlete is not permitted to record his thoughts of his Olympic experience and have it posted on the Internet. Doing so would be tantamount to an athlete acting as a journalist, the IOC has determined. And that is grounds for being thrown out of the Games."
What's going on here?
To Radio UserLand folk, a couple of big features are shipping soon. Brent and Jake have been busy. As you probably know, I've been busy with RSS stuff. With any luck I should be back at work on RU stuff in a couple of days.
Oooops, now Jake is leaking. It's not exactly rocket science, in Y2K, that's why it's soooo easy.
Brent's been fixing Frontier bugs.
And we expect some interesting bug reports from Radio UserLand/Win users. Especially from Mike Donnelan.
Happy 2nd Birthday to Hack The Planet.
I got a lot of pushback on a postscript in yesterday's piece where I suggested flat monthly fees for music distributed to artists based on use. There are a bunch of other ideas floating around including the Street Performer Protocol.
4/2/98: What would Shakespeare Think? This piece explains why the complex form of XML isn't going to make it with Joe and Jane Webmaster. Interesting that the piece is still on the money two years later.
4/8/98: XML Becomes Invisible. "The benefit of XML will be compatibility. It won't be in your face, except perhaps in a smile, because two pieces of software just worked together and it surprised you in a pleasant way."
9/3/99: A Bright Future for Syndication. "Instead of being a flow concentrator, we propose to be flow distributors, with value flowing in the opposite direction, from the source of the content to the source of the click."
Leigh Dodds summarized the discussion in early July 2000 on the Syndication mail list.
I'm searching in vain for the name of the Netscape person who managed the RSS develpment team in 1999. His name is Werner Eckhert, at least that's what's in my brain. If you know the correct spelling of his name, or even better his current email address, please send it to me.
DaveNet: The Art of Being a User.
Yesterday was Andre's last day at UserLand. He single-handedly made the Frontier server environment run 24-by-7. He's going back to the university to resume his studies. We wish him the very best, and thank him for his contribution. I will miss him a lot.
Check out the Homework Hotline server that Sam DeVore has done with Manila (and plug-ins) for the Catalina Foothills School District in Arizona.
Here's another Manila site that hardly looks like one.
Simon St Laurent has started the XML-XHTML Tips list.
Boaz on popularity. "Yes, I like Tim better, but Dave is more like a real human being. Dave is closer to me. Tim is like a movie star, you can like him, but he's not with you. Dave is like your boss. He may yell at you, but he may also say something to encourage you. You spend more times with your boss than your idol."
Mike Donnelan wrote a song for Tim and me.
Jake Savin is getting ready for the invasion of aliens in Radio UserLand. Brent is the Good Borg. Resistance is futile.
Someone named Zac is glad to see MORE still breathing. Once assimilated we never lose them, fully.
© Copyright 1997-2006 Dave Winer.