DaveNet: Happy New Year.
Today's song: Auld Lang Syne.
Hey thanks to Leonard Rosenthol for pointing out that tomorrow is a binary number!
Sprezzatura takes it all off for the New Year.
Yesterday I said I had learned how to spell millennium. I had not. Now I have.
New word: revelationary. Think about it..
Adam's predictions for 2001.
Eric Kidd's asynchronous XML-RPC-in-C is working.
I scored 185 on the Archie McPhee Nerd Test.
Jake posted our plan for OPML character encoding in Radio.
I already knew where Iowa is.
Most of you are probably too young to remember this. Come sit on my knee and I'll tell you a story.
Back in the Old Days real men programmed computers by entering code using switches on the front panel of the computer itself. Then someone invented paper tape. Then someone invented magnetic tape and punch cards.
Then teletypes and glass teletypes. And floppy disks, Winchester disks, hard disks so small you could fit 70 gigabytes of data in the palm of your hand.
At the same time, someone thought of assembly language, then BASIC and Fortran and COBOL and C.
At every step, a well-meaning person would say "What do I need that for, I like entering my programs on front-panel switches. What does this do that I can't do with switches?"
It's the longest-running debate in software.
For some reason I have the blues this afternoon. No special reason, just body chemistry I imagine. Maybe it's an end of the year thing. Or perhaps it's the horrendous electric bill. (I went out to get a new space heater, no more $950 monthly gas and electric bills.)
Anyway you can cheer me up by pressing the Hi Dave button.
(It's the only choice. Heh heh.)
Hey I just got an email from Eric Kidd saying that his open source XML-RPC-in-C stuff is starting to work. Yahoo!
Joel took pics of the snow in NY. Now I know why I'm bummed. I'm not there! Snow is so cool.
Joel has a picture of a Library Lion covered in snow. Hey we're using the lion in one of our new sites. How did he know??
(Do they save these things for when I get the blues? What's coming next??)
Another good tool for the blues is music, and vice versa.
Here's what I'm listening to this evening.
Another tool is my Things of Beauty channel. When I spot a news item that inspires me I route it to this channel. I knew it would come in handy!
"Thanks for everything you did for our country," random people would say to him in airports and supermarkets. Rather than respond "I'm just an actor," he accepted the praise. "Thanks," he would say. Keep it simple.
Tomorrow is the official last day of the millenium. But then who cares. Why did we make such a big deal about it last year at this time? Glad the computers didn't screw up. Who would have guessed that the Y2K meltdown would come in the US political system? Glad that's over too.
Positive note: Now I know how to spell millenium.
New Manila macro: includeHttp, adds the text returned by an HTTP request to a Manila-generated Web page.
This could be quite interesting. I've long asked the browser vendors to add an "include" tag that would do a new HTTP request and insert the result in the page. This would allow people to modularize Web pages perhaps in interesting ways.
We released tweaks and fixes to upstreaming this morning. In some cases it wouldn't detect file deletions. A semaphore allows coordination between threads upstreaming concurrently. The upstreaming thread no longer drifts in time.
BTW, upstreaming is "the automatic movement of content from a workstation to a non-changing location that's publicly accessible."
While the power was out yesterday I paid my bills. I was shocked by a $950 gas/electric bill for one month. I had become numb to the hugely high cost of living in the Bay Area, but this is a whole new level. I had been following the news of course, of the travails of PG&E and Governor Davis and deregulation. How will this be resolved? The utility companies want to raise rates above this level. What will this do to California's economy? Hey (thinking selfishly) what will it do to my economy??
Syd Egan: SOAP for Visual Basic.
Andy King: Hiermenus Go Forth, VII.
Robert Scoble: Blog your way to a better NetMeeting.
Robert runs the Train Simulator site on MSN Communities.
Lest I forget to give credit, the seed of the idea for Desktop Websites came from the Cobalt Qube. They showed that the browser is a great way to configure a local server. The difference is that the computers we program have screens and keyboards, so we can view and edit the database on the same machine. (Or a different machine, it's HTTP after all.)
WebReference has updated RSSViewerApplet. "First and foremost there is better compatibility with the RSS 0.91 version upgrade from 0.9."
Upside: The year for open source.
Sometimes a picture makes the difference. When I started the MUOTD project I also made a resolution to organize my document work using Radio's Bookmarks menu. Now before I close a window I think "Will I want to edit this again?" or "Is this part of some project?" If the answer to either question is yes, I bookmark it, and then drag-drop it into the category it belongs in, or create a category for it. It's made a major difference in my writing work.
Here's a picture for Mary Jo Foley, who says there's been spotty delivery on Web Services. This is the same problem we had in the Mac market in the mid-90s. The reporters loved to write the story that there was no new software for the Mac. I'd ask them to cover our new software for the Mac, but got blank stares. Sometimes when an idea takes hold there's no way to get through the fog. Some developers, for example UserLand, were doing Web Services before Microsoft proclaimed it the Next Big Thing. We need a correction, like the one we had in the stock market, among people who cover our industry. Who cares if Microsoft delivers? Why should we?
Another picture for Web Service skeptics. It's the router table for one of our servers, showing the classes of Web Services that it implements. We couldn't operate our servers otherwise. It's so weird to read that something might not happen that already has happened.
Mary Jo Foley: Web services, few actually deliver. "Are the industry leaders onto a hot trend? Or are the emperors parading around without clothes?"
Jimmy Carter: Make This Natural Treasure a National Monument. "The reason the Alaskan coastal plain is home today to a pageant of wildlife is that there have been both Republican and Democratic presidents who cared about the environment."
XML Magazine: More than just Jabber. "Although Jabber was designed as an instant messaging system, its XML architecture enables it to do a whole lot more "
BTW, NewsBlip has an excellent JIT-SE.
Wired's vaporware list for Y2K is out.
Stephan Somogyi: "OS X is not a revamped NeXT OS or even a seasoned Unix. It more closely resembles a computer-science Ph.D. project morphed into a commercial product spec."
C/C++ User's Journal on SOAP.
Frontier: How to make a macro legal in Manila.
A candidate for DaveNet of The Year. It's concise.
Remember John Brockman's question?
"What questions have disappeared and why?"
I found time to work on it, and came up with a good one.
Question: What's your business model?
Until this summer this was the most common question at Silicon Valley parties, at bus stops, conferences and grocery stores. Everyone had a business model, none planned to make money, all focused on the exit strategy.
The euphoria attracted a despicable kind carpetbagger, one who wanted nothing more than money, and had a disdain for technology. All of a sudden technology was out of fashion in Silicon Valley.
Now that the dotcom crash seems permanent, entrepreneurs are looking for real ways to make money. No more vacuous "business models." VCs are hunkering down for a long haul. The average IQ of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs is zooming to its former stratospheric levels. There's a genuine excitement here now, but if you ask what the business model is you're going to get a boring answer.
Silicon Valley goes in cycles. Downturns are a perfect time to dig in, listen to users, learn what they want, and create the technology that scratches the itch, and plan on selling it for money.
Adam Curry: "No updates yesterday due to this AWESOME new piece of software from UserLand that helps me flow news through all my Weblogs. Typical that I was so enthralled playing with it that I didn't get around to actually updating my site!" Tease!
Another teaser screen shot. This may be the single most important screen in MUOTD, it's where you route a news item to your output channels. In this example, the Wired News story is routed to my Dot-Coms and The Web channels. Tomorrow we'll be able to include those in a box in a Manila site, and (key point) you will be able to subscribe to those channels so they can be input to your story flow. Think of this new software, the thing that Adam loves so much, as an editor's workstation. If you manage more than one weblog, you gotta have it. Adam says it's broader than that, he says you need it if you manage information for other people.
This app can handle any source that's in RSS, and it's a great news reader even if you don't want to create output channels. And it's a P2P app, the power is on your desktop, as is all the data. Therefore it's fast, and always up, and it scales beautifully. Most important, though, is it's not just for reading, you can create news with it. It's Two-Way.
BTW, this is the ideal way to develop software. It helps to have a user in mind when you're developing. In NY, when I met with Adam for two days he kept trying to explain what he wanted, but he's not a software developer, so to my ears it came across like hodgepodge. But I listened anyway, I kept trying to feed back what I heard, but we weren't connecting. When I got back home I did what programmers do, I iterated, and kept showing it to him. Is this what you wanted? Eventually we got there, this software hits his button. It's also a framework for his vision for last yard connectivity. You can move huge pieces of content without any waiting and using the bandwidth that you don't use. When you're home sleeping in your bed your desktop system can get the big stuff, you won't even know it's there until it's fully downloaded on your hard disk. This is how video and music are going to move over the net in 2001. Who would have thought RSS would play a role in this? Adam did.
This software is also the realization of Dale Dougherty's vision for an editorial workstation. Like Adam, Dale is not a software developer, so his idea was hard to understand to my developer's mind. But then I hit the problem myself. Managing multiple weblogs, and one central one, I did by hand what I knew someday a tool would make easy. One story belongs on the SOAP weblog and one belongs on the Napster site. This is Dale's vision for O'Reilly Network. He wants all the stories to come to him on one screen where he can route them to different groups of developers. Some stories might go to their Python site, some to the Perl site, and some are so general that they go to all the sites.
Dale Dougherty: "A relatively new requirement for content management systems is that they be able to talk to each other more effectively. For instance, in building the O'Reilly Network, we wanted to share content with our affiliates, but all of us had our own home-brewed systems. Our solution was to use RSS to create a story flow from each site that our producers could direct to other sites in the network. As a result, our production team is not only responsible for the content on our site, but also for managing the flow of content around a network of sites." Exactly.
In a way the software we're working on now is network management software, at a content level. Who needs to see this story? That's the question this tool empowers you to answer -- to route news to people based on their interest and expertise. We don't need a lot of people doing this for this to improve the quality of all our websites.
Heads-up, I'm working on new features for RSS that build on 0.91. Calling it 0.92. I am not doing this as part of a working group, or in collaboration with anyone else. I'm doing an app that requires more functionality than 0.91 provides. I think the enhancements will be useful for other developers. There's already been enough discussion, and a lot of wasted time. I just want to make software. We did RSS for a reason, and the reason didn't disappear. We need the functionality.
What is Kenamea?
Radio: "When accessing a server on the local machine, MSIE/Mac doesn't yield enough processor time to allow the server to do its processing. The net result is a glacial pace, when it should be lightning fast. The addition of a single system call to the loop that's waiting for a response from the server would probably cure the problem."
According to Tom Donavan, Peek-a-Boo's "special technology" fixes the problems with MSIE and a local Web server.
VorteXML "converts existing, recurring structured text data into valid XML using any DTD on an ad hoc or automated, programming-free basis!"
I'm glad that Jorn Barger, who's not Jewish (apparently) asked these questions. It's reasonable to want to know if there's a difference between being Jewish and being from Israel. There is, the obvious one. You can be a Jew and not be from Israel. You can be from Israel and not be a Jew. He also asks if the Jewish people are special. We are special in that we're still recovering from the Holocaust. In the US there are few sub-cultures that have survived extermination so recently and on such a large scale. Holocaust survivors are still with us, and the problems that come from uprooting a whole culture, with memories of concentration camps and gas chambers, from Europe to the Americas and to a lesser extent Israel, will be with us for a few more generations. Palestinians clearly didn't like the idea of an invasion and occupation of their homeland. That's totally understandable. In the US the welcome was a little warmer, but anti-Semitism was very present in postwar NY where I grew up. But we behaved more politely in our new country than the Israelis did, we didn't try to take it over so visibly. But you can't miss that our common culture values power, and doesn't think much of people outside the culture. Baptists and Muslims, even Buddhists have the same problem. Just don't try to kill us and everything will be fine.
Another candidate for best DaveNet of Y2K.
A great rambling essay by Evan Williams about pricing for Web apps, and silly investors who think that just because Slate failed to get paying subscribers that Web apps must always be free. It'll be up to the users. The "business models" of the dot-com euphoria are kaput. The eyeballs aren't worth as much as everyone thought. If you want great service on the Internet, get out the credit cards. It's coming for sure.
Another fantastic rant from XML Bastard.
NY Times: Jason Robards dies.
My nomination for best DaveNet of Y2K.
Brockman says I have to give his question a serious answer. I'm going to open a page and start ranting about what's fucked up in software and see if I come across a question that no one is asking. He's right, the group of people this is going to deserve better than double-knits, and he says many of them won't know much about the Mets, and any wiseass could ask a question like that. (I don't think he knows how I feel about the Mets.) He wants something brilliant. Brockman is more than an editor, he's an agent, and he does it very gently with much flattery. I guess he's been dealing with fragile writer egos for a long time.
News.Com: Napster updates software. "The software upgrade, dubbed 2.0 beta 8, offers a handful of new features, including a Boolean minus sign, which people can use to exclude certain items from their searches."
PocketSOAP is a "SOAP client COM component for the Windows family, originally targeted at PocketPC (hence the name)."
Syndicate.It includes OPML in its list of syndication standards. Nice directory. Interesting.
CNN: "To understand Cosmos, Druyan says, you have to remember that it was made during the days of the nuclear arms race, when many scientists were involved in building weapons of mass destruction. 'To him, science was a sacred enterprise and to see it misused, it was a nightmare to him.'"
I'm working on a script that generates both HTML and XML. I wrote the XML code, then started writing the HTML code and paused.
My XML-generating code is so simple and precise, it practically writes itself. HTML is another story. Whenever I dive into HTML I know I'm going to spend a lot of time and get inadequate results and probably get yelled at by someone for breaking some rule or breaking Netscape.
This has given me a nasty feeling for HTML, I don't like to inqure of it, I never get fun ideas that relate to HTML. It's a horrible box to program in. Maybe this is why so many Web developers are so grouchy.
I have a bad attitude about HTML. Could it be otherwise? I doubt it. It doesn't treat me with respect (I know about lineto-moveto-drawstring) so the unconscious response is to dis it back.
This is my favorite new channel so far. Lots of interesting articles about shifts in the dotcom world.
So much to say about this stuff. I hope you're all getting ready to do some listening.
NY literary agent and host of Edge.Org asks "What questions have disappeared and why?"
My nomination: "What did the Mets do?"
Comment: "The Mets didn't do anything. This reveals the emptyness of our existence but also evokes our hope for the future. Why is no one asking the question? Simply because it's not baseball season."
I had another question, originally asked by Frank Zappa. "Is it true what they say about the new double-knits?"
Today's song: On the Road Again. "The life I love is making music with my friends, I can't wait to get on the road again."
Not that I'm going on the road (again), but I wish I was!
"It's even worse than it appears."
Robert Scoble: "Merry Christmas to all three people who read this blog." Ditto!
A Christmas baby at Gillmor's. Welcome!
Garret: "my first posts as a weblogger were downright scary. was i going to get flamed for something i said? i would write, rewrite, erase, begin again ... over and over and over until i had watered down my content to the point of making it just plain worthless." Been there too.
Listening to an NPR interview with Wolfgang Puck. He's certainly a businessperson, a restauranteur, but he's also a cook and a teacher. It's generally assumed in the software business that you need a CEO who knows little about the product and users to run your company. I've always thought this was wrong. Software is more like a restaurant. Puck serves hamburgers at Spago in Orlando (kids like them). And macaroni and cheese. But it's Puck-style, not mass-produced, with fresh ingredients and weird spices. Weird is good.
Vintage computer ads. A lost art.
Earth at Night. Visible global warming?
NY Times editorial: The Dot-Com Bubble Bursts. "The current sense of despair in the dot-com universe may be as overdone as last year's euphoria. The Internet, after all, really is a transforming technology that has revolutionized the way we communicate."
Radio bug report. Open an outline stored locally. Bring it to the front. Choose Add Bookmark from the Bookmarks menu. Close the window. Choose the file in the BM menu. Error. The filename in the generated script is incorrect. On Windows the path delimiter is backslash, which must be escaped in string constants. (It was probably only tested on the Mac.)
A great holiday movie: Mr. Holland's Opus.
Shelia's new directory.
Beautiful new design at Evhead.
Today and tomorrow are good days to focus on what's good and wholesome, positive and fun.
And then we can get on with Y2K++.
Confirmation came that I am speaking at O'Reilly's P2P conference about The Two-Way-Web on Wed, 2/14/01 at 1:15PM. Good time slot. One-half-hour. Thanks to the O'Reilly folks for letting me participate. I'm going to talk about what's hot in P2P and TTWW. I'll start a new site in a few days. It's time to get this stuff organized.
Teaser screen shot. It'll probably be under the Christmas Tree shortly after Christmas Day. (It's a Web app that runs on your desktop. You get the source code, of course.)
Susan Kitchens provides the kind of first-time user feedback that we need. "Radio displays the links as underscores. But I haven't yet figured out how to access the URLs." Yes, that's something we need to call out on the outliner page. To see the HTML behind the links choose the Format Text command in the HTML menu. It toggles.
Also, Susan check out the Rules docs, for now you have to understand them to get the text to format according to the structure of the outline. We have an enhancement planned that allows the Manila site to specify default rules. Then the question will be "How do I change the way this works?"
Forever the Optimist: "My mom died December 18, 1988 and that was the first year (I was 27) that my stocking wasn't filled. I remember staring at it for a long time and really missing my mom. We did have Christmas presents that year, though. She was afraid she wasn't going to live until Christmas, so she made my dad take her out shopping in October. She didn't want to ruin Christmas for us."
My seventh grade science teacher, Mrs. Lenz, used to talk about "investigation" -- that was her philosophy. What an important seed to plant in the head of a thirteen-year-old. Investigate. Good idea!
Washington Post: "The Internet is proving to be a difficult place to make a profit."
SF Chronicle: "Salon relies on advertising for 87 percent of its revenue. Half of its advertisers are dot-com companies, and that is a shrinking market, O'Donnell said."
Salon wins awards, has record flow, while they hack themselves to bits trying to get profitable. Is there something more creative they can do with the $6 million than continue to bet on the idea that you can run a Web news magazine, even a great one, the normal print-inspired way?
David Davies: "I've been hacking around with Frontier acting as a SOAP and XML-RPC interface to Filemaker Pro v5. I think it might just work. I know a bit about Frontier but little of SOAP so I'd very much like to link up with some fellow explorers to exchange some ideas."
ZDNet asks if "Netdocs" is Microsoft's killer app for the Two-Way-Web. "According to sources, Netdocs is a single, integrated application that will include a full suite of functions, including e-mail, personal information management, document-authoring tools, digital-media management, and instant messaging." Sounds like Groove and Radio. People pay attention, this Two-Way-Web stuff is for real.
My desktop Web app is coming along well. It has a name now. This is going to blow people's minds. You can take a Web application and run it on the desktop. It's a lot faster, and can be richer and more customizable. The hood-lift is easy and interesting -- make a change in the Web interface, and then flip over to the environment and see how it changed. Most databases don't have a graphic interface. Ours does. Most people have never seen it. Soon they will.
We made a change to My.UserLand service list. Now we only write out services that have changed in the last 24 hours. The service list was getting choked with channels that aren't updating regularly. We also optimized the aggregator so that if a channel hasn't updated in a week, we only check once a day. I also announced this on the Syndication mail list. Hopefully the message will reach all developers who use the service list.
Just heard a great story on NPR about Speed Dating.
Advogato: The Web is the Ultimate Copy Protection.
XML Bastard: Namespaces, Godsend or Demon Seed?
Peeve: RSS channels that point to pages that point to stories.
Yesterday I gave a shicksa friend a recipe for potato latkes. Peel and grate some Idaho potatoes. Add an egg, a little grated onion and perhaps a little matzoh meal (or flour if you like). Form them into pancakes and fry (in a pan of course). Serve with applesauce and sour cream, and rich coffee, perhaps a newspaper and smart people for conversation. Yummy!
BTW, dictionary.com defines shiksa as a "disparaging term for a non-Jewish woman." Hmmm. I believe the term can be used neutrally or even lovingly. I've loved quite a few shicksas. One even made fun of herself by deliberately mispronouncing Yiddish words, in a very cute way.
I've gotten pushback on the foreword I wrote for Joel's book. Apparently Tracy Kidder wasn't on the team that developed the computer that the users had problems with. I read the book almost 20 years ago and don't have a copy. If you have a copy, can you find the passage about the surprise that the developers felt when people started using the product?
Speaking of pushback, we occasionally get complaints that our sites are not "accessible." This is a program started by the W3C, and it's really hard to be critical of it without appearing to be unkind to people with disabilities. But it's a harsh requirement, and impossible to achieve given the limits of browsers and people creating websites and the tools we use to create them.
(Our tools are great, but there are limits to what we can accomplish in the normal 18-hour day while managing servers running thousands of free sites and developing new products. People can be so unkind, it's not appreciated.)
Imagine if there was a goal that TV be accessible to blind people. What would that add to the cost of producing a TV program? And what, if in our hearts, we believe it's impossible to create an accessible version of every site we do? The answer is to tell the truth. HTML is a mess, how can we put the genie back in the bottle when it's been out for many years? We can't.
We'd like to support the W3C in everything we do, but we'd also like the W3C to support everything we do, and they don't, so.. Whatever. Have some nice latkes and get on with it.
Talking with Jeff Barr yesterday, I asked if he was a Web developer in 1995 while the W3C was working on HTML 3.0. Yes he was. I asked if he was aware of the HTML 3.0 effort. He wasn't. Neither was I. (Postscript from Tim Bray -- HTML 3.0 was an IETF project. Oy.)
The W3C is the closest thing to a platform vendor in the Web, but they're not nearly as strong as Apple was on the Mac, or Microsoft on Windows, or any other platform I can think of from the past. There's kind of an invisible shield around the W3C that makes them, like the US Supreme Court, impervious to criticism. You don't hear much of that in public, even though it is talked about privately among technologists.
I hesitate to do it myself, even though I think the W3C has gone off the deep-end with RDF, which seems to be a permanent debate on every XML oriented mail list. RDF is a lumpy half-cooked potato, cold and uninteresting, complex but not satisfying. (Ooops, I guess some criticism leaked out.)
Now to me as a product developer, I can't wrap my mind around something I can't use. I just can't do it. The first thing I do, before I consider the problems of file formats and extensibility, I look at what I want to use, then I create something, seek feedback, and iterate towards something that's usable. There's a lot of hard work in that iteration, and imho, until you start doing that you haven't even started to create something. Formats come later, first comes utility.
Anyway, as a larger question, we need a Howto. How to be critical of the W3C without appearing disrespectful? What if I see a major disconnect? What should I do?
In the past I've just developed and published the results of my work. I think it's been of some help to the W3C to have unpatented prior art. With Apple it used to bother me when they'd take over my ideas, but now I've factored that into the plan, I expect to be overridden by the platform vendor. They're slower, so that leaves us a window to get our stuff established while they cross the t's and dot the i's, and get buy-in from the famous technology companies. Then either their stuff is implementable, and we'll support it, or it's not and we'll stick with what works for us.
DaveNet: Soundbites for Y2K and beyond.
ZDNet: XML is the great peacemaker. Yes.
Red Herring: "The one-and-a-half-year-old company has been more hype than substance thus far."
Microsoft: Introducing the WebService Behavior. "The new WebService behavior enables client-side script to invoke remote methods exposed by Microsoft .Net Web Services, or other Web servers that support the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP)."
John Doerr: "I think there's been far too much attention paid to--and press written about--the role of venture capitalists. We're really in a service industry assisting entrepreneurs who are driving, creating, controlling these companies."
Jonas Beckman: "When I discovered Manila it came a breath of fresh air, a chance to think my own thoughts in the middle of chaos. This is the way I have written all my life - but this time I wasn't talking to myself, but to a small circle of fellow humans all over the world."
Ed Cone: "What does a secretary of state do, Sydney wondered. I started to tell her: 'He travels to all the countries around the world to make sure they --'"
Anne Thomas Manes: "Sun is not building a SOAP implementation because we don't think we need two different SOAP implementations for Java."
Perl.Com: What every Perl programmer needs to know about .NET. "I've heard .NET described as 'Microsoft's tacit admission that most shops are not 100 percent Microsoft, so Microsoft products need to work better with other platforms.' There are many places for Perl in this new world." Yes.
John V Lindsay died Tues. One of the heroes of my youth.
Frank Zappa was born on this day in 1940.
Dylan Tweney: Beware the Next Tech Craze: P2P.
Radio bug report. Make some changes in a document. Save. About window comes to the front. The save takes a few seconds. I start writing in another window. The save finishes and the old window comes to front. My typing goes into the wrong window. Fixed.
Happy Winter (in the Northern Hemisphere).
Survey: Must journalists disclose?
New feature: Radio as a Slides editing tool for Manila.
Microsoft: SOAP Toolkit 2.0 Beta 1.
Erik Thauvin has updated his Bookmarks-to-OPML script.
Which XML-RPC environments support asynchronous calls?
David Davies on FileMaker 5.
Macromedia: Flash Usability Tips.
A new SOAP glossary.
I expect great things from this site.
Scott Rosenberg wants an email program that works.
Clay Shirky sees English as the British Navy of today.
Press release: Microsoft uses XMetal.
Motley Fool: Don't Bet on Patents.
A new idea is going to enter the Scripting News vocabulary.
"I started a new category."
Prediction: Al Gore and/or Bill Clinton will become a partner at KPCB.
Prediction: The Two-Way-Web, an ever-broadening pipe, will become the focus of the VC community, equal to or exceeding the hype of P2P.
(Both will also appear in the Venture Capital category as well.)
Last night at a geekish party in Menlo Park, I heard the story of HTML 3.0, a 1995 spec produced by a working group of SGML gurus (purists?) to set HTML right. Neither of the major browser vendors participated. Presumably no Web developers participated either. Backward compatibility was not a major goal. It went nowhere.
Then came HTML 3.2, which was continuous with earlier versions, and it was adopted, more or less.
Discontinuity is a mathematical term. A function has a discontinuity at y if the limit of f(x) as x approaches y is not defined. The derivative of the function is not defined at y.
Applied to HTML, there was a discontinuity at 3.0.
Tim Bray on Mail Starting 12/20/00. "I think your basic point (continuity wins) is correct, but I don't think you have the right historical example."
Coming soon, slides for Manila, authored in Radio.
Eric Kidd is doing an XML-RPC library for C, seeks help.
Salon thinks Apple can be fixed by shipping Windows machines?
Aaron Cope has a DHTML browser for SuperOpenDirectory. It doesn't traverse inclusions, but it's still a blade of grass, a fairly big one.
Erik Thauvin: "I've written a Perl script which automatically converts IE's favorites to OPML."
Eric Soroos is looking for an XML-RPC client for Excel. Now that would be truly weird. (Remember weird is good.)
FlashMagazine requires Flash. (Of course.)
xmloperator is an XML editor.
CNET: "The final release of Mac OS X is on the way, but does Apple's operating system revolution mean you should abandon OS 9?"
France.Internet.Com: "En effet, le protocole est décrit comme une API web, qui s'appuie sur le XML."
What is XDegrees?
For the last two days I've been working on a desktop Web app. The server is on your desktop machine, as is the browser.
This is a decentralization thing. You get a whole server for yourself. It's fast, it can do more for you, and you have full control of your data. It interfaces with desktop tools for editing lists, the one thing a Web browser doesn't do easily. (Try entering a list into any Web app. It's always convoluted.)
It's totally rational, easy to program, no scaling wall in sight.
I use Windows 2000 and MSIE 5.5. It works great here. Fast.
However, the software I am writing will be available for the Mac. And on Macs, apparently, Microsoft has a long-standing bug that makes the browser horribly inefficient for talking to a server if it's running on the same machine.
I can't do anything beyond pointing this out. I believe I already have. I'm not sure if it's been fixed. The users will have to work with Microsoft people to figure out which versions have the problem, and work on a fix.
Dan Gillmor: "Most Americans, no matter what their political leanings, want what's best for the nation. That's what I want."
Here's something truly weird. (Weird is good.)
Something else that's truly weird. A weblog tool in Perl that does lots of different syndication formats.
Looks like Moreover is getting some competition. (Competition is good too.)
Joho: "One way or another, P2P will be the future of document management."
Doc Searls: "Blogrolling".
I think I might add Kate Adams to the Pundits list.
Mary Jo Foley, who is some kind of Pundit (the good kind), won't miss Joachim Kempin, who's being put out to pasture at Microsoft. "Kempin once told me he had written into his contract a stipulation that he didn't have to talk to the press."
InfoWorld: "Putting its heft behind an appetizing new business model, IBM will spend at least $4 billion over the next three years to transform itself into a first-tier player in the on-demand computer services market." Send me some of that money, we'll give you some first-tier stuff, on demand, with a smile and a thank you.
Brent is succumbing to his demographic group.
Six Degrees is succumbing, period.
Tom Fuerstner is doing a Flash scripting site. Yes!
Here's why I'm so interested. A weblog rendered in Flash. The guy who did it is obviously a first-rate geek and not a very great designer. A blade of grass popping through some very fertile ground. Writers, geeks and designers. I want Scripting News beautifully rendered through Flash by the end of this year. I'll do the writing. Please?
The new POTUS is a Mac user?
I'm working in a really interesting direction this morning, building my own personal My.UserLand running in Radio. I just got the first page working in a rudimentary way and am blown away by the performance. I'm now convinced this is the solution to the scaling issues in syndication. Rendering on the desktop. Give the user a lot more choices, and all the source code (infinite choice). Input is a stream of various syndication formats. Output is the same, with added human intelligence. We all get to be editors, find readers, be part of a distribution system of information. I think we're about to pop through on the next level of moving ideas around the Internet. (And giving them places to "stick" -- that's what directories are for, you know, the timeless weblog thing, the Mind Bomb for early Y2K++.)
What is a Mind Bomb, again? It's defined here. "An idea that's so strange or powerful that it explodes in your mind. And that's a good thing!"
DaveNet: He took a bullet for us.
Red Herring: The PC is dragging Microsoft down. "'The company is maturing,' says Mr. Scott. 'The next wave of growth will come from the server side, with Windows 2000, but we need to see how they are doing with that in the longer term. And another big question is whether Microsoft .Net will surface to be a killer app.' Microsoft is planning on rolling out .Net, its Internet-based software platform, in 2001."
Stewart Alsop: "I have a vision! Unfortunately, my vision may depend on Microsoft."
John Markoff: "There is a widely held industry view that Microsoft has no choice but to gamble on renewing its growth by entering a wide array of new businesses."
Radio UserLand 7.0b32 has been released. It includes two new commands, Save As HTML and Save As Plain Text. The first renders an outline and saves it to disk; the second allows you to create and edit plain text files in Radio -- which means you could edit Python scripts in the outliner, for instance.
I got an email from Chris Langreiter this morning and asked that he post it to the XML-RPC discussion group. An interesting and surprising thread. I didn't know that Flash has an integrated scripting language.
And Tom Fuerstner has Flash doing XML-RPC. Chris says this brings Flash into the space currently occupied by Java on the client side. Any application environment that supports XML-RPC can be the back-end.
Of course Java already supports XML-RPC, so I'm not sure if this is a killer for Java or not. But there sure are great authoring tools for Flash.
Since there's a scripting language in Flash, is there a way to use Radio to author Flash script content? What do we need to do to make Radio Flash-friendly? (This is a current topic at UserLand, the next release of Radio will work well for authoring Python scripts.)
How new is the scripting language in Flash? Is there a Flash developer community site, and if not should we start one?
Lots more Flash scripting URLs on today's mail page.
Honestly, I'm not exactly sure what this tool does, but it seems to build on RSS in an interesting way, in a browser-based Java applet. If you figure it out let me know. It's cool that he's providing the source. Maybe it's a starter for a project you want to do?
Wes Felter, one of our Pundits (a highly subjective list, certain to grow) asks "How do I become an editor? The About page doesn't mention anything." That's why I think of Wes as a pundit, his questions cut right to the core. I'll put this text on the About page later today.
It's hard to say how you become an editor. Let me try anyway. The first thing to do is to create a directory. Pick a subject you track, something you know a lot about, or a subject that you have a list of authoritative websites for. You can create the directory on your own Manila site, or on SuperOpenDirectory, or you can create the directory using an XML editor, and save it on your Apache server, or whatever. It just has to be accessible over HTTP and the file name must end with .opml.
Now -- how to get it linked into SuperOpenDirectory? That's pretty simple too, but of course you have a few choices. The first step is to have an opinion about where it should be linked in. Visit that page and look at the bottom of the directory display. Pages that have links also have a link that allows you to suggest a link. Click on it, fill in the form and include the URL of your directory. An email will be sent to the editor of the page. It might not be me. Hopefully as the tree builds it won't be me. I'm taking responsibility for the top level of the directory, but I'm looking for ways to delegate big chunks of the directory to other people.
Another possibility is to post a pointer to your directory to the SuperOpenDirectory mail list. That way our competitors will see the link too. There's no reason for your directory to only be linked in in one place. If you come up with the Killer Directory perhaps 20 other directories will want to include it. Maybe your directory will be the top level directory that everyone will want to bookmark?
Salon tuned into something that I had already figured out.
Gettin started: What is SuperOpenDirectory?
A message I posted yesterday to Radio users, explaining how we developed the directory capability, and the role SOD played and what role we expect it to play in the future.
One interesting thing about directories is that they are at the intersection between Manila and Radio. But then they're not limited to our runtime environment or authoring tool, because the format they agree on is open -- it's called OPML.
Talking with Jeff Barr, the author of Headline Viewer yesterday, about future directions for syndication, I asked him to look at OPML. At some point we're going to teach My.UserLand to understand and generate OPML. Intuitively, I think OPML is part of the future of syndication technology.
BTW, this is the reason we were able to bootstrap RSS, having both a tool for generating it and one that consumed RSS, and having a website with content, there was no chicken and egg problem, we had three sides covered -- the tool, the aggregator, and content. It's a three-cornered hat.
Same with OPML, as long as we can both generate and consume it, we can bootstrap, without waiting for anyone. That's how progress is made. Mail lists often come to a halt, but nothing can stop a developer with an itch that needs scratching, and is willing to give up evenings and weekends to get the job done.
I haven't been counting but it's too hard to manage all the directories I'm maintaining. I'd like to manage even more, but it's got to get easier first.
Dreaming: I'd like to have a folder on my local disk that contains all the directory outlines. When I want to add or change a link I'd edit the file, save the change locally, and have it percolate into the cloud.
As with most things these days, it's all about user interface, the technology is easy. This could be the sucessor to upstreaming, which works but has a few flaws.
Related, a new sample tool for Radio, shortens the process of FTPing pictures to a server.
Jeff and I see eye to eye, I think, on what happened with RSS. The people who took control represent a small minority of the people who use RSS. The community was poorly organized because of the messy way it started, and was vulnerable to a small group that wanted to take it in their own direction. There's nothing wrong with the direction they want to go, but it was wrong to cut off evolutionary development of RSS from its simple beginnings, or to confuse people about what it is. RSS has a philosophy, a strong one (brain-dead simplicity), that is reversed by the new spec.
Has RSS lost its mind? Yes it has, imho. Two RSSes is one too many. It would be like having two Frontiers or two Excels, or two Pythons. Not workable. But right now there are two incompatible RSSs.
I would like to close this fissure, and ask humbly, on behalf of the users of RSS, that Rael Dornfest and his team change the name of their spec to something completely different, so that RSS can be what it is -- nothing more, nothing less.
Their work is just beginning. Somehow they have to sell the installed base, or at least get their ideas in front of them. They would do better if I could report on their progress on Scripting News, and be an enthusiastic supporter (and critic) of their work. We get a lot of traffic from people who are interested in this stuff. With a different name, I could promote their work without fear of hurting RSS by adding to the confusion.
Programmers have a lot of trouble coming up with names for products and formats, but there's no need for that, they just need an algorithm.
As I conceive the product, I write myself an email about my hopes and aspirations for the product. I do it in the most positive terms, I don't worry about selling anyone other than myself. I just write. Then I read. Look for strong adjectives. Make a list. Somewhere in that list is the product name. If it's not apparent what it is, I get out a thesaurus, and write down synonyms. By that point there are usually a few names begging me to use them. If not, then there's a problem with the product, I assume, and I go back and reconceive it.
Repeat until you have a concept and a name.
I was blown away by the results of yesterday's survey.
I asked about full-time net connections because I was curious to find out if we have critical mass among Scripting News readers to try some real-world experiments in P2P. There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that we do! Now I have to convince you to install some software, and let's get some cool stuff flowing around our own little Internet. I continue to be inspired by you guys and gals.
Tis the season.
I see lots of venting on various weblogs. Tis the season for frustration. Add to the normal stress of parties and presents and families and hurt feelings, in the US, we had a very extended political season, that stretched into the holiday season. It was very scary. Rocked our foundation. My advice, let it go. Realize that you just have one vote, and it might not even be counted. You have no power, neither do I. Once that's established then our real power is revealed. The power to love and accept each other, and through that, to accept ourselves.
A few years ago, when I was very confused about love and sex, a good friend said "Dave this may sound corny, but you can love yourself." I argued, "No way, love is a two-way thing." Now I laugh. I was right, and so was my friend. Ultimately the love inside is the only love you can really experience, as a powerful adult. You are both yourself and your lover. Think about it.
There's an Easter Egg under the Christmas tree.
Bryan Bell did a tutorial on navigation in Manila, with a new twist. "Maintaining your sites navigation with Manila is Not Hard by any stretch of the imagination, however it is step intensive."
Jake Savin did a directory for Perl.
A List Apart: Using XSLT to Transform XML.
W3C: Requirements for XML Protocol Working Group. This is the successor to SOAP, which is the successor to XML-RPC.
Michael Brennan: What is XP?
InfoWorld: BT sues Prodigy over hyperlink patent.
New Channel: Latino Vote News.
SF Chronicle: "A Hewlett-Packard employee headed to San Jose aboard a company airplane plunged 2,000 feet to her apparent death last night in a mysterious incident that went unreported to police until 44 minutes after the plane landed."
BlackHoleBrain: "Ok, fruitcake is extremely heavy - and why? Well, because radioactive ions, present in the whale-blubber-like yellow congealing agent that holds all that stuff together, permeate every molecule of the fruity block of crap."
Gleaned from referer logs, on Google, "soap" means Simple Object Access Protocol. The classic definition of soap, the stuff you lather up with, is deprecated. (A new word you'll hear more of on Scripting News.)
Red Herring: Doerr defends deplored B2Cs.
A new fix for Manila tonight, just snuck up on me, and I realized I hadn't talked about it yet.
Suppose you've created a Manila story using Radio. It's stored on the server in two forms -- as an outline and as rendered HTML text. Before tonight, if you clicked on Edit This Page to edit it in the browser, you'd get the HTML text. Make a change, you'll see it in the rendering. However, the next time you edited in it Radio, you would get the old text, since ETP wasn't updating the outline.
The bug is fixed, and in a pretty elegant way, imho.
Now when you ETP an outline in the browser, you get the OPML text. (Screen shot.) You can edit it. The changes are reflected in both the rendered HTML text and in the outline. When you edit it in Radio, you get the changes. No loss of synchronization.
It might be a little scary to edit OPML in a web browser, if so, don't do it (click on the Back button in the browser), but I kind of like it. But I'm weird. I know that. You can quote me.
Yesterday I flip-flopped on my Linking To XML icon. Should it be 12-by-12, or some other size, should I punt and just do the link in text? Problems problems. In the end I went with an icon, 36-by-14, and solved the awkwardness by placing the icon away from the text for the directory. It looks good. I've had a chance to use the site that has the link, and it sneaks up on me the right way, so we have a solution.
I've already heard from one developer who wants to use the icon in the same way. Please do. It's best if it always means the same thing. Click on this icon to get the XML behind this HTML page. In the old days we used to call these "user interface standards" and they're good things, they fit into the human mind in a nice way.
Want to see how it works? I added the new icon to the Radio UserLand directory. If you have a Manila site and are doing directories, here's how to add an XML icon to your directory, and why you might want to do it.
Salon: "He tends to be bipartisan when you agree with him."
James Snell: US Ballot Markup Language.
Wired: Building a better ballot box.
News.Com: FTC approves AOL-Time-Warner merger.
I have a design problem this morning.
I need a very small icon, probably 12-by-12, that says "Click on this to get the XML version of this content." I want to make it easy to go from the HTML rendering of a directory to the OPML source. I have the information at-hand in the directory renderer.
Since the icon has to be small it probably should be an X on an orange background, kind of like the Qbullet icon we're using for help. I don't want to spell out XML because it's been so hyped, and it's hard for an average reader to know why they should care. (Of course we'll put a title attribute on the link so if they want to know what it is there's a chance they can.)
I can see this convention being useful in other places, linking from a story box to the RSS source for that box.
The philosophy: XML should be tucked out of the way of the reader, but easy to find for system developers and power users.
Postscript: Steve Ivy designed an icon that looks pretty good. He points out that it could be mistaken for a close-box on a window. I'm going to try linking it in and let's give it a whirl and see if it can be improved on.
PS2: I think we need to spell it out.
PS3: I punted on the icon, falling back to plain text. Too much trouble to get it to look good. It'll be in the directories template on each Manila site, so if you want to play with graphics, you can.
(Evan Williams is the top guy at Pyra, the company that makes the world-famous kickass weblog editor, Blogger.)
Tons of kickass mail this morning.
To my call for a citizen program to add integrity to the electoral process, David Lloyd-Jones said "We have exactly such a program in place already: it's called politics." Amen.
Editorials: Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Financial Times, Houston Chronicle, Japan Times, LA Times, Miami Herald, NY Times, SF Chronicle, South China Morning Post, Times of India, Toronto Globe and Mail, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal.
My heart swells with pride that we haven't forgotten that we're a country of winners!
DaveNet: Two kickass speeches.
Tonight's NY Times home page is a keeper.
Survey: Should Gore Concede? One final time.
Mark Hurst: It's time to simplify the PC.
XML-RPC client for RealBasic.
New sample script, for Frontier or Radio, uploads a picture to a Manila site with XML-RPC. It would be easy to turn this into a utility that uploads a folder full of pictures while you make coffee, or convert it to Python (or RealBasic, Dylan or Lisp) to help you manage a Manila site.
The referers log for Weblogs.Com is interesting. I had never looked at it before. What other secrets are lurking out there waiting to be discovered?
Linux Journal: Mac OS X First Impressions.
I'm getting lots of great suggestions for the XML Editors directory page.
Here's what Zeldman really looks like.
Robert Reich, on NPR: "Then President-elect Bush (pause). Oh that's hard to say. It makes my stomach hurt!"
Wired: "If you're a Hotmail user experiencing the free service's latest shortcomings, you're just going to have to tough it out."
Josh Lucas asks: "Can you create directories in anything other Radio UserLand?"
Yes. To do so, create the OPML version of the directory in your favorite text editor and upload it using the sample script we released yesterday for Radio, or the Python version. Then follow the instructions for viewing directories in Manila.
A runtime written in PHP or Java could implement an equivalent directory browser. We want OPML to be a killer format, broadly supported. I think this is going to be a big boost for structured editing tools and server components that do cool things with outline-authored content.
Chicago Tribune: A victory for equal protection. "As some voices, this newspaper's included, have argued from the start, the only fair way to count ballots is with uniform standards so that any errors occur randomly, and not by crafty legal design. With Tuesday night's ruling, that concept now appears inviolate."
NY Times: The court rules for Mr Bush. "Mr. Bush needs to be gracious and unifying in victory, and Vice President Gore must master the difficult task of placing the national need for continuity ahead of any bitterness he may feel."
Boston Globe: Clear the air. "The country will need to unite and heal. The best way to do this - no matter who becomes president - is to deliberately expose dysfunctional voting systems and fix them."
Houston Chronicle: Recounts must have standards. "Not the least affected by the court ruling is the US Supreme Court itself. By intervening in the Florida electoral process, although its majority opinion was characteristically narrowly drawn, the court confirms that its members are political creatures who are willing to define and influence the nation's political process."
Miami Herald: Trust the process. "It is now up to Mr. Gore to accept that verdict with courage and grace, and to call upon his supporters to do the same. As he has said, ours is a nation of laws, not of men, and the law has spoken. It will be President-elect Bush's challenge and burden to rebuild confidence in the system. We wish him well."
When I want to review the editorial pages of papers whose opinions I care about, I just click on my directory of editorial pages, and they're all right there ready for me to start reading. Also, I take the suggest-a-link feature seriously. Don't be bashful, please make suggestions, this is an important way to build directories.
DaveNet: They all aks'd about you.
W3C: XSLT 1.1.
Steve Gillmor took a picture of (from left to right) me, Brent Simmons, James Tauber and Tim Bray.
A new sample script for Frontier or Radio shows you how to upload an arbitrary OPML file to a Manila site using XML-RPC. This functionality allows any XML editor on any platform to create content for a Manila site.
David Brown converted the script to Python.
Salon: The day I killed my dot-com.
Nick Denton: "Journalists don't scale."
BusinessWeek: "Apple appears to be facing a dead end in its business growth, the victim of mismanagement and unmitigated hubris."
Gotta love software that rejects email because it contains one silly word. Már ÷rlygsson has an interesting observation. "The [notice] contained the offending word. I wonder what happens when both ends have this system set up. The rejects would probably pile up."
Steve Hooker has a Christmas Blog. Wow. It's colorful!
Press release: Software AG Supports SOAP.
LA Times: "For weeks, Florida has riveted the nation with a mind-numbing array of failures: misleading ballots, contradictory counting standards, discarded votes--19,000 in one county alone. But an examination by The Times in a dozen states from Washington to Texas to New York shows that Florida is not the exception. It is the rule."
I spoke this afternoon with Randy Ray, the Red Hat engineer who posted improvements to XML-RPC over the weekend, and caused quite a stir on the mail list. He's a good guy who wandered into a community a little too quickly. I'm going to help him communicate his ideas, and see if we can't get some motion. To be clear, I think XML-RPC is frozen, but there's no reason new protocol(s) can't emerge that extend it. I support forking, I supported SOAP (a fork from XML-RPC), and there's no reason other ideas can't take root. To me, it's essential that milestones be left clearly marked, so people can claim proper artistic credit, and so new ideas get a chance. New ideas from Microsoft as well as new ideas from a random engineer at Red Hat. All the same to me.
12/2/96, on Solitaire: "Got a good game going but hit a dead-end? Here's a sure-fire way to create some new moves. Go for a walk. Come back. They're there. You just can't see them."
Bend your mind with WordPerhect. Fantastic!
The Y2K Scripting News Christmas Tree is up. Maybe we'll get a new President for Christmas? It could happen tonight or tomorrow. You never know what those nutty Supreme Court judges'll do. You can celebrate too with a tree on your UserLand-hosted Manila site by typing "Christmas Tree" into your template. Sometime in the next few days an Easter Egg may show up in your tree. You never can tell!
NewsIsFree has an XML-RPC interface.
While waiting for the Supreme Court tape on NPR, I wrote a review of printing in Radio, and what I want from it, and also include a point of view from Joel's book.
I got a quote in Zeldman's Glamorous Life.
Sheldon Sam is looking for help with Hypercard scripting.
Today's NY Times has essays on seven years of the WWW.
Jakob Nielsen: WAP Doesn't Work. I concluded the same thing in our "field study" at Davos this year. It wasn't any fun to use, and it wasn't any fun to write for. Never got around to doing anything else with it, even though Manila has built-in support for WAP. It's a wonder some people think it is going somewhere. I still think RSS, or something like it, is the way to go for distributing news bits to people on the go.
BTW, one of the revelations of the show I just came back from, people seem to care what I think. When it's all-electronic that can be easy to miss. Just a human being at this end, with my own rose-colored glasses. Also it was good to see Tim Bray, Glenn Davis, Jeffrey Zeldman, James Tauber, Dori Smith, Dan Shafer, Jeanine Barnard, Steve Gillmor, Janet Vratny and Chuck Shotton, and I'm sorry I never hooked up with Tim Lundeen, and a special thanks to Brent Simmons for helping with the Manila demo.
Red Herring: "P2P networking isn't some novel cutting-edge technology like holography or dense wave division multiplexing. It is simply the ability to share files over a network -- a function that dates back at least 30 years. And there's the rub. To some degree, companies in the peer-to-peer networking space have been clever at dressing up an old technology like FTP in new clothing."
Also in Herring, dotcoms are not buying back their stock to spur investor confidence. "Many technology companies have run into cash-crunch problems as well, so buying back stock isn't a credible option to try to boost the stock price. But another, more frightening reason for the lack of buybacks could be that many tech companies simply don't believe that their already beaten-down shares are a bargain -- they see room for more downside."
I'm back, had a nice uneventful flight with lots of legroom. Read a draft of Joel Spolsky's book on UI design for software, it's excellent. I'm going to write the foreword for the book later this week.
Also saw The Replacements with Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman. A total schmaltzy movie, predictable, corny, but also a lot of fun. I cheered 18 times. It's good to see a stupid movie every once in a while, esp after (seeming) months watching politicians lie on TV.
I also got to read a lot of today's NY Times, in print (what a luxury!), including this piece about the demystification of the US political process. This is the good that's coming from the Y2K electoral mess. No more hiding behind platitudes. If you believe that the people we elect want anything more than to be elected you deserve everything you get.
Also read this piece on the lies of CMGI, whose market cap has gone from $40 billion to $4 billion in the last few months.
I'm reminded of my college days in New Orleans in the 1970s. Back then I would get the Sunday Times on Tuesday, it was only available at one news stand down in the French Quarter, head over to Cafe Du Monde and sit for hours reading about the world. Now you can get the Times on Sunday, anywhere in the city.
But some things haven't changed. While waiting for the streetcar outside the Camelia Grill on Carollton at St Charles, we saw two police escorts, one for a limo and a van, and another for a wedding motorcade. Sirens going and lights flashing. For those who live in Louisiana, elsewhere, as far as I know, cops don't do stuff like this. How does the money flow? A little mystery to chuckle (snicker?) about.
Bill Humphries has a Casio wrist cam.
Simon St Laurent reviews new products at XML 2000.
Outliners and fuzzy thinking thread on outliners.com. Why do people want to think fuzzily? Or put another way, isn't there enough fuzzy thinking? How about sharp thinking. That's the kind I like.
Heard on CNN: The Supreme Court isn't final because it's right, it's right because it's final.
Travel day today, back to California. I hope to get some work done on the flight. No CNN. No election michegas. Just reading, notetaking and thinking.
See yaz back in California.
Salon: "Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri and North Carolina were carried by George W. Bush but have Democratic governors and Democrat-controlled legislatures. Should Bush choose to take the 25 Florida electoral votes through a legislative vote, Democrats in those states would face no legal or political impediment to appointing Gore electors."
NY Times: US Supreme Court Halts Florida Recount. "The bitter division on the court, awkwardly papered over only last Monday with an order to the Florida Supreme Court to clarify an earlier ruling, burst into the open with the action this afternoon."
Heard on CNN: "The law of diminishing chads." (Run the ballots through the counters six or seven times, and the votes stabilize. The chads all fall off. Interesting!)
Coming soon, a new Bryan Bell theme. Designed to match the colors of the Mets!
Barry Manilow pics on NetDyslexia.
Today's song: They all aks'd for you. By the Meters. Can't find no lyrics. Whe y'at?
It starts like dis.. I went on dow to the Audubon Zoo and they all aks'd for you, the monkeys aks'd, the tigers aks'd and the elephants aks'd me too.
An old New Orleans lullabye. One of the best songs ever. Eh labas. Red beans and rice. Creole gumbo. Hint: It's on Napster. Go get it. You dance chat. Grits and fish drippins.
You know what? They ain't enough humor in our world!
The second EDevCon demo went very well. Brent and I onstage, doing a site for Al Gore, lively interested audience, lots of discussion.
The third and final session on personalization and content management went great too. Lots of good back and forth. A list of the panelists is on the Manila site, created in real time with the audience watching -- a good demo of browser-based content management.
News from XML-RPC-Land -- I found out last night that O'Reilly is doing a book on XML-RPC. This is good, I hope.
Not good: an engineer at Red Hat is wanting to redefine XML-RPC. I'll write more about this later, if necessary, for now, my slide from yesterday on XML-RPC should help anyone who's concerned understand that XML-RPC is what it is. If you want to evolve a new spec off the base XML-RPC spec, the copyright notice allows you to do that, but you may not call your spec XML-RPC. In other words non-dilutive forking is fine.
NY Times: Florida Supreme Court Reverses Circuit Court and Orders Hand Recounts. "The justices ordered that some 9,000 ballots from Miami-Dade County that machine counters rejected on Election Day be sent back to state court for counting. Unrecorded votes should also be counted in any other county 'where such a recount has not occurred,' the court continued. That goes beyond what Mr. Gore had asked for, and considerably widens the scope of manual counting."
Survey: Who should concede?
Today's session on SOAP and XML-RPC was great! Fantastic discussion, people are really implementing this stuff and liking it. We figured out that SOAP is viral. Once you implement it you want everyone you work with to. I've noticed that myself.
Would you redesign Jakob Nielsen's website?
Forbes: My.MP3.Com Doesn't Rock. "After nearly a year of copyright litigation and more than $200 million in settlement costs, MP3.com has relaunched its My.MP3.com jukebox service. But now one wonders what all the fuss was about."
Thomas Gunderson: "Does anyone know of a XML-RPC implementation for C++ ?"
What is Quiver?
Edd Dumbill: Berners-Lee and the Semantic Web Vision.
Tim O'Reilly surveys points of view of P2P.
ZDNet reports that Apple's ship date for Mac OS X has been pushed back to Feb 24, 2001.
It was twenty years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play. They've been going in and out of style but they're guaranteed to raise a smile. So may I introduce to you the act you've known for all these years..
The Curmudgeon has a tribute to John Lennon. I imagine he'll have something to say about the new recount in Florida.
I finally met Zeldman tonight, he doesn't look anything like his pictures. He says the same thing about me. He thought I had gray hair. (I don't, not yet.) I'll try to take some pictures tomorrow.
Oh geez. Look what they're doing to Jakob Nielsen.
SF Gate: "Expect the year 2000's version of the P2P revolution to go down the same way the 'push' revolution did: a victim of its own hype."
Newsweek reporter Deborah Branscum has a started a weblog. The gloves are off. "Earth to execs: Your quotes are bullshit. You know it. We know it." Welcome!
BTW, Deborah hit the Flip Home Page user interface wall in Manila. We have a Howto that explains this, but it isn't getting in front of people at the right time. Gotta do some work here.
I went to a session on privacy by Simson Garfinkel. I wanted to hear him speak after admiring his writing for many years. He said something that rang a bell. People who use Yahoo feel like customers, but they're not customers. They're the product. The customers are the people who buy ads. He said this is a disconnect that's going to cause a lot of problems in the future. I agree. Also there's a general sense here that the party is over, now we have to run businesses and decide who our customers are and what our products are.
BusinessWeek: Will Google's Purity Pay Off? "Brin says Google makes about a penny per search in revenue. 'We do more than 20 million searches a day, so it works out to $80 million dollars a year,' he claims."
The conference is well-attended. The opening session with Jeremy Allaire was packed. Tomorrow I speak to both conferences simultaneously, Builder.Com and eDevCon, about SOAP and XML-RPC.
I'm wiped out, sat in coach cramped in one position for four hours. I was not happy. The schmoozing has already begun. Shared a cab with Alan and Sue Cooper. Brent has arrived too. Next we're going to dinner. I have a fast net connection in my room, only $10 per day. Worth it.
Strange dream last night. Walking at night on the streets in NYC, end up somehow in a dark empty poor neighborhood with a fat wallet. A young child is with me, not an innocent child, a hardened city-wise kid, who knows it isn't good. I know it too. Walk down a street, hit a fence. Can't get through. Go another way, can't get through. "We're going to get killed," I think. I hear voices. The kid and I crouch behind a car. Men dressed as gang members, talking loudly arrive, standing just on the other side of the car. They discover us. I stand up. Now what? I think (as I imagine the horrors that are about to happen to me and the kid). I offer the leader a cigarette. He takes it, empties the tobacco into a rolling paper, mixes in some hash, and passes it around. We laugh. They explain that they set their neighborhood up this way so the bad guys would stay out. What a relief. Did my mind prepare the whole story for me this way? How many levels of dreaming was I doing?
Maureen Dowd: "It's sad to picture Al Gore, his brain all caked, locked up in his spooky vice-presidential mansion frantically crunching the numbers and e-mailing on his Blackberry and laptops and speed-dialing Tallahassee."
Maybe Gore should run a weblog?
I've become friends with James Hong, the brilliant young founder of AmIHotOrNot. They're running at 10 million hits per day now. It's a unique Web community because it's gender balanced, equal numbers of men and women. A SOAP app lurking behind a browser interface. James conceived it that way. "What would make the most compelling SOAP app?" That's the derivation of AmIHotOrNot. It's no accident James and his brother started XMethods.Com, a registration point for SOAP services. Reminder to ask James to include the ManilaRPC interface in his database.
Finally for today, let me be the first to wish you a happy 2001 Space Odyssey New Year. As Jerry sang, what a long strange trip it's been! Off to New Orleans..
I almost didn't add anything to this page this evening because the stuff that was here flows so well. Imagine dressing like a gay man just to get women to talk to you. Hmmm. We're too geeky to fall for that one.
Speaking of alert geeks, Wes discovered one of our "hidden" domains, CreateAStandard.Com. At one point we thought we'd concentrate all our hosting on a single domain, then realized it was hopeless so we decided to go the other way and offer free hosting on *all* the random domains we've bought over the years.
Then I had a great idea for a new domain, and it wasn't taken when I looked, but some alert person grabbed it before we could. No one could complain if you really said what you think on a site hosted on this domain. Why didn't I think of this last week?
The owner of this paper just gave a rousing speech on NPR. I wish I had a transcript. If he were starting the paper today it'd be on the Web and we'd be reading him every damned day. What a great guy. His name is Percy Pascoe. Here's an editorial he wrote. I like the checkbox next to his name. I bet he doesn't dress like a gay man!
Joyce Straton: "Get yourself down to the Castro or whatever gay district exists in your town, march into the most fashionable and snooty clothing store you find and demand that a gay male employee find an outfit for you. Buy what he suggests. Do not sabotage your new-found fashion sense by wondering if the outfit makes you look gay. If it does, this is a point in your favor. There is a reason why women love gay men -- and it's not only because they'll dance with fat girls."
Now now. I like to dance with fat girls, for sure, but I won't dress like a gay man to do it. Sorry. Try again.
Somehow the next article seems related..
Wired: "Some Apple lovers are so unhappy with Mac OS X's new look, they've hacked the OS to make the revolutionary Aqua interface more like the version it's supposed to replace."
The Radio UserLand site gets a new look, the cactus is back, he's in the Swiss Alps, outside Davos.
It's the finest looking site I've ever seen. Look at the dot over the I in Radio, see how it's radiating. Beautiful.
We released a new upgrader for Radio. If you're already a Radio user, please try the upgrader, do a backup first, and follow the instructions carefully.
We've erased a bunch of glitches. The first-time profile of Radio now should match the docs. It's an outliner and a server. The Tools menu works. Everything else is turned off by default.
If you've not tried Radio yet, please wait a couple of weeks until this stuff is fully burned in. First impressions count a lot, we know that, in fact, we live that.
Now that directories work smoothly and the community is building their own, I'm starting to look at other outline renderings for Manila. Here's the next one.
New! Slideshows in Manila give Radio equivalent presentation capabilities to MORE. In those days we rendered slideshows to LaserWriters using QuickDraw. Today we store outlines on a Manila site and render them in HTML.
Any OPML-capable outliner can participate. The outlines are just DG messages that contain outlines. Just like directories. We totally don't care how the OPML got there.
And wouldn't it be cool if someone put up a server that rendered OPMLs in Flash, PDF, SVG.
No law says that you can't do this stuff in PHP or Java, Perl, Cold Fusion, Zope, VB, or Lasso.
This is called bootstrapping, and it can be a lot of fun!
I'm in a fairly unique frame of mind right now. I just spent three really productive days writing about a product I've been trying to create for years. Brent, Jake and myself will loop over the glitches from here, and get it smoothed out, and in a couple of weeks, Radio will be as clean and easy to evolve as Manila was last year at this time.
This frame of mind, having stayed at the very top level for a sustained period, reminds me that commercial development is a looping process. You revisit problems again and again. Sometimes things just get more complex and it doesn't narrow down to end-user functionality. That's what the last eight years have been like. Frustrating. Too many changes and disruptions to pull it all together, not just in the market but in the UserLand team.
We've spent pretty much all of this year working on Radio. Even in this period there were some confusing corner-turns, risks taken, and some decisions backed-out-of. And in doing so, music goes back onto the todo list for 2001 or 2002. We've got music playing, queuing, programming, all kinds of neat tricks, and they work. As the music on the Internet activity grows we'll be playing tunes and trying new things.
Do they loop in other communities? Hard to know. I struggle to transfer what I know into the product through other excellent developers. They don't know all that I know, but they listen and I teach. What if there had been a fork? Then presumably less of what I know would be in the product, and the chances to repeat mistakes would be infinite. More looping. (Sometimes I think Linux is nothing other than a very big looparound, and so is the Internet.)
Is looping another way of decribing bootstraps? Probably.
We've had a luxury that other outliner developers didn't. Because I got liquid through the Symantec IPO, I could fund development continuously. Our outliner didn't stop when the Mac market withered, and when the customers stopped wanting to pay.
Anyway, we have just a few more weeks before Radio is really end-user. You'll know I think it's ready for the masses when we post an announcement on outliners.com, which so far has remained unaware of Radio. That's good because first impressions matter.
Happy Birthday EditThisPage.Com!
Doc recalls our phone coversation this afternoon. The metaphor of user interface as a rental car really has legs. And he almost got what I said. I used the word "sucks" instead of "subtracts." And I said "it encounters" instead of "exists". Very close. Someday I'm going to be on a stage with Doc and an audience bantering. We'll invite Clay Shirky to join us and have a good old time. I love rambling with smart meme-hackers like Doc and Clay.
OK I lied! (Sue me.) I said today was a Total Writing Day. It wasn't. I got to spend some time programming. I'll clue you in tomorrow. A new feature for Manila. Not on anyone's feature request list as far as I know. I like it. (You already knew that.)
After today's court decisions, it seems like it's time once again to ask this question..
Survey: Should Gore Concede?
Is it just me or are a lot of people imitating David Boies in mannerism and speech pattern? I don't know. I find myself nodding agreeably as I prepare to interrupt someone. Hmmm, I'll have to think about this.
This could catch on: The Bush Blog.
Good morning and welcome to Total Writing Day #3. This will be the last in the series. Tomorrow is clean up day, and Wednesday is travel day. Off to New Orleans to the Fawcette eDevCon conference where I'm keynoting on Friday, talking about SOAP and XML-RPC.
Steven Levy: "The folks who gave PCs mice and menus are back with some new tricks."
From the Telegraphy Department. Buried on Radio's It Supports Standards page is a curious sentence. "This will be used in constructing P2P user environments running in Radio." We're working on such an application with a developer of popular Web apps.
Business 2.0: Big Music Fights Back.
Continuing the standards thread, I wrote the first draft of the Developer Opportunities page for the Radio UserLand site. "It's hard to imagine a Web application that couldn't benefit from an interface to Radio."
New section on the outliner page, Linking and The World Outline. Sorry to have to bury this so deeply. It's the killer app lurking inside Radio. A seed-plant for the future.
Ira Blanco: "I've been using Illustrator 9 for about six months now, and I just realized why the new layers interface is so cool. It's an outliner!"
New site: SSL and Manila.
Batik is a "Java based toolkit for applications that want to use images in the SVG format for various purposes, such as viewing, generation or manipulation."
Wired wants for nominations for Vaporware of Y2K.
Jean-Louis Gassee: "The way people communicate in the US is not always compatible with the way we do. French people are a bit rebellious, abrasive, as Americans say, which is seen as something negative here." Yo, Uncle JL, ex-NYers have the same problem in Silicon Valley! It's not a US thing. The California psyche is insecure. Doesn't deal easily with strong confident personalities. Kind of a conundrum, since the folklore says that entrepreneurs are abrasive. Disconnect.
We have a new publisher at XML Magazine, a friend from the Mac days, Jeannine Barnard. She rose through the ranks at Ziff, then became publisher of NextWorld (a funny name for a magazine, you could call it AfterLife). I had dinner with Jeannine last week, we talked about community and how nice it was in the early days of the Macintosh, people were so helpful, there was a good new idea every five minutes, or so it seemed. That's why she came back to publishing after a long period in software. She hopes XML will spawn a similar community. Me too!
I wrote one of my best columns for XML Mag, but this time I'm not going to release it on the Web until it's in print. I'm getting an appreciation for competition among tech pubs.
Lance is working on Davos A to Z. It's that time of year again. Hey I just realized he must be using Radio to do that page. Nice! Today he has comments on what it's like to be a member of a community that generates over 200 email messages in two days.
Good evening and welcome to Total Writing Day #2.
By far, I've spent the most time on the Radio home page. Less is more. It takes time to distall all the ideas embodied in twelve-plus years of work to a single screen.
4. It supports standards. One of my favorite pages ever. I'm very proud of the standards support in Radio, and the role UserLand played in creating the standards, and the way they build on earlier standards. It's worth pausing and taking note, a lot of things are working!
I added an important disclaimer at the top level of the Radio directory. "Expect linkrot and you won't be disappointed."
Another Nielsen rule I'm violating is about page length. I believe in vertical scrollbars. I think docs that fit above the scroll line are unmanageable for both readers and writers. Fewer pages is better. Docs pages are different from catalog pages.
John Dilbeck: "I've been using outliners since ThinkTank and More, and this outliner is the finest of the breed."
Salon: "Jackson traveled more on behalf of Al Gore and Joe Lieberman than anyone other than Gore, including Lieberman. He did more events, logged more miles and put in more nights on the road. At preelection appearances in Florida, he highlighted Jeb Bush's attacks on affirmative action and talked of the need to vote. His efforts led to a rousing turnout among the state's black voters -- who voted in higher percentages than the rest of Florida and went from 10 percent of the turnout in 1996 to 15 percent in 2000. He is no moth hovering at the media flame; he is in this case very much the heat. No Jackson, no cliffhanger in Florida. End of story."
Somehow we missed the birthday of Dan Gillmor's eJournal. According to my records it was unveiled on October 25, 1999. Happy belated birthday to Dan's Blog. Did you know that it's a Manila site? I wrote a DaveNet about it. Was that only a year ago? So much has happened since. We owe a lot to Dan for having the courage to go first. Thanks Dan!
And of course tomorrow is the birthday of EditThisPage.Com. How should we celebrate?
Stan Krute posted a birthday card. Excellent. It's a community celebration of course.
Alwin Hawkins sent an Apple birthday card.
Today's word: Lugubrious. This is what we're undoing.
The other word of the day: Lucid. What we aspire to.
Clay Shirky: Umbrellas and Taxis. "Every NYer knows that when it begins to rain, it becomes easier to buy an umbrella and harder to hail a cab. As soon as the first few drops fall, people appear on the street selling cheap umbrellas, while a lucky few pedestrians jump in the few available cabs."
Nate Zelnick: "It makes far more sense to have a system in which sites—or resources of any kind—can report their own existence, along with changes that have been made since they were created."
IBM Japan shipped a beta of a new SOAP implementation for Apache.
Come Pinky, we have work to do.
Not to be outdone, Bush met today with congressional leaders Hastert and Lott, who's wearing a cowboy hat, imitating the style pioneered by Dubya himself. Lott's hat appears to have a feather. Interesting. I wonder what it means?
SJ Merc: Dot-com layoff parties.
Today is a Total Writing Day. My job is to write the top-level of Radio, to explain what it is and how it works.
2. It communicates.
3. It's an outliner.
They'll also be in the directory for Radio, so when they scroll off the bottom of this page, people will still be able to find the articles. (To Kishore, who wants Timeless Weblogs, this is how they work. Surely we can automate some or all of the work, but first, before doing that, I have to do it by hand, to understand the problem, and see where the opportunities to automate really help rather than hinder the process.)
BTW, if you're a Radio user and want to get your point of view on the record, please post a story on the Radio site. I can use help, many perspectives are useful in pulling this together.
Bryan Bell did a tutorial for navigation structures in Manila without XML. For some designers XML is too over-the-top.
Jake Savin did a summary of the SOAP interface for Manila. If you've been waiting for a real SOAP-aware Web app, the wait is over.
Zeldman has a Glamorous Life. BTW, he'll be in New Orleans too next week, I hope to get some pics.
Business 2.0: Five Questions with Esther Dyson.
TechMetrix has an excellent tutorial on SOAP.
Ross Karchner posted a Python script that resets defaults on Manila sites, illustrating the use of the exec verb.
I don't get something. Canada had national elections this week, and the recount is over? They've already got a new Prime Minister? What are they doing up there? What happened to all the complaining and lying and nasty tricks? What about the third recount? I thought they were just like us. I don't get it.
Seen on FoRK, the Floridian Rhapsody (sung to the tune of Bohemian Rhapsody).
Jeffrey Baker sent a screen shot of Scripting News in Links 0.94, a character-based browser. I was surprised it looks pretty good!
Python is no longer driving me crazy. Thanks to Fredrik, Der Schockwellenreiter, Scott, Brent and Jonas for great advice that got me on the path to enlightenment. My Python script now works. Happy!
This morning I needed to create a Radio UserLand tool, so I located the documentation through the directory (it was there) and followed the instructions. I saw some mistakes and stuff that was out of date, so I checked out the document, took a new screen shot, did the things we said we'd do when things were finalized (a long time ago) and saved the changes. If it hadn't been in the directory I would have added it. To the UserLand team, this is the way we're going to get the Radio docs and software in shape -- by using it as a user would, grooming, smoothing the path, and revisiting pages and keeping them current.
Financial Times: "The willingness of each man to drag the country through whatever it takes to get him to the White House sadly fits the mould of Clintonian self-absorption of the last decade from which this election was supposed to provide a respite."
A common response to yesterday's piece, VCs don't have time for technology. Hmmm. I have so many things to say about that. Maybe it's time for a new way of thinking? When you eat at a restaurant and get a nice meal with decent service, do you leave a tip? Why? With all the freebies for users in the last few years, why not a nice tip for technology? Look at how rich technology made you, while you did very little in return to balance its generosity. Technology comes in the form of people who believe in themselves. Help them make a difference. It's not charity, it's funding new ventures and betting on people. It was a good plan. Don't just hype it, live it.
This has been an interesting period. I've been meeting the most intelligent bright-eyed kids, or so they seem to me. I've become something of a coach for them. Telling them what I've learned about technology, hyping and money. One group has no interest in getting VC. Their business is booming. All the VCs want in. They keep saying no. Another group is deep in angst because the VCs are blowing them off. I try to figure out what I can do to help both, because I believe in both. That's the subtext of yesterday's piece. I'm doing what I can. As technologists these people are as bright as I was (with all possible humility) when I first came to the valley in the late 70s. I had trouble finding my support system, at first, but eventually I did find it in older people who had been through the loop, as I have now. I like helping bright young people who trust themselves. We'll figure it out.
BTW, it's December 1. Where did the year go??
© Copyright 1997-2006 Dave Winer.