One of our static server is down at 9:45PM Pacific. Lots of images broken all around UserLand. We're getting the machine rebooted right now. Hopefully it's not worse than it appears.
10:01PM. The static server is back up. Bonus for Web readers. I usually don't add anything after 10 PM, when the emails go out, but today I'll make an exception since I have to stick around until 15 after. I did a cool feature today, I call it Weblogs.Com On The Desktop. Guess what it does.
It's totally brain-dead simple, it reads this XML file produced by Weblogs.Com-At-Exodus once an hour. But you don't have to compete with 18,000 other people reloading all at the same time. That's why it's so much faster.
XML-RPC and open source
I hoped that eventually the open source community would catch on that XML-RPC was for them and now it seems to be happening. Dave Warner, whose name is very close to my own, is a spirited fellow, who I've gotten to know as he's been writing about XML-RPC and Python over at O'Reilly. His latest article, published yesterday, is a gem.
Basically XML-RPC is an open source project, and quite a bit more complex than most, because it has implementations in virtually every environment and language in wide use in 2001. They interoperate. This is something that no other distributed computing protocol can claim. I am very proud of what we've been able to accomplish, off on the side, almost while no one was watching. And that it should start to become a standard development platform for developers of all persuasions was my fondest hope when starting the process in the spring of 1998.
Some philosophy. The logo for XML-RPC is a dove with an olive branch, with the backdrop of the United Nations and the NY skyline. The skyline is about commerce. The UN is about working together. And the dove explains our cause.
The New York Times and XML
On Tuesday I wrote about wanting NY Times headlines to flow through RSS and later that day a friend sent me a link to a folder of XML files on the Times website containing an RSS-like format called <NewYorkTimes>.
I plotzed on the spot. "What a goldmine!" I said.
Their XML format, clearly of their own invention, is very much like RSS 0.91, with several extensions that made complete sense. It took me about 2 hours to write a translator that generated RSS from their format.
I then subscribed to the new channels, and voila, less than 24 hours after my wish, it had come true! Now I don't know what the Times' policy is on this. It seems it should be OK with them, because we're simply driving traffic to their site, for free. And we've set it up so that their XML server is not getting the hits, nor is their format being disclosed.
I'm tiptoeing carefully, but I felt, after giving it 24 hours to settle in, that I should say something here. We have Times headlines flowing through our syndication system. And since I grew up reading The Times (it's still my favorite news source) it's like a homecoming.
If you know anyone who works at the Times in system management or Web development, please help us get in touch, we want to be completely above-board on this. Thanks.
My Blog on the Desktop
Last night we released a new tool to testers of our Desktop Website app, it's the My Blog page, a simple blog editor, with all kinds of preferences, and a connection through FTP. It also supports RSS and notification via XML-RPC.
Our tool is very simple, however behind the simplicity is a new formula for Internet applications. The rendering code and all your data reside on your computer. This is important for a couple of reasons. First, we won't need to ask users to pay for servers since our servers aren't doing anything when you're blogging. Second, you control your data. This is, only now, starting to become an issue for users. It's guaranteed to become a bigger issue over time because we're repeating a loop. Back in the mainframe era data ownership became a big issue, and that resulted in the personal computer revolution, where the users took control of the data, and built their own apps, using VisiCalc, Lotus 1-2-3, dBASE, etc. In our setup, all your blog data are sitting in a scriptable database on your own machine. If other developers want to build apps that suck the data out of our database into their own, we're wide open, as they say in Japanese, gambatte.
Now, some people say they like a browser interface, and so do we, that's why the My Blog page is in the browser. But you say you like to update your blog anywhere. We do too. That's why the My Blog page is in the browser. You can access it from your desktop (fast) or you can access it from work (convenient) or from an Internet cafe (cool).
In private email I extended an invitation, and now publicly, to the Blogger folk to work with us. I'd love to see Blogger On The Desktop. We'll give them the source code for our blogging tool, if they want, and they can take it where ever it makes sense. We love to make software, and that's what we do well. And we also love to share.
Brent has been thinking about how to configure the Web server in Radio. After readng my story about Blogs and Blogger, above, he posted an email explaining how he felt the server should be configured. I immediately realized that he had the answer, and asked him to write it up.
News and links
Lance Knobel's interview with HP CEO Carly Fiorina.
I looked for "plotz" in several online dictionaries, and it's not there. It's such a big word. Let me try to define it. Plotz is a verb meaning "to faint in surprise or disbelief." There's an element of hysteria in there. When I was a kid if I got straight A's on my report card (never happened) my mother would have plotzed. Like all Yiddish words, it's overdone, with humor. We often feign plotzing, and everyone has a good laugh.
Internet.Com: "Despite reporting record fourth-quarter results that met analysts expectations, e-commerce software maker Vignette Corp. Thursday said it anticipates lower results in 2001, which will lead to about 300 job cuts and facility consolidation."
BusinessWeek: "But the intractable crowd remained silent until he pointed out that the familiar Apple icon -- now colored blue -- had been returned to the far left-hand corner of the screen. At last, they cheered."
Oh goodie, a new Joel piece. Excellent!
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