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Permanent link to archive for Friday, February 23, 2001. Friday, February 23, 2001

DaveNet: Wireless in bookstores.

Check this out. Here's a list of community groups that are logging 802.11b access points in Australia, Europe and North America.

I like Eugene Pervago's weblog.

MacNN: Apple email spells the demise of iReview.

Now a design challenge. Since Flash's file format is open, it should be possible to have an open XML format that can be processed to produce a non-animated Flash picture. I want a simple QuickDraw-like language, lineto, moveto, drawstring. The elements in the XML file would be drawn in top-to-bottom order. This would allow me to construct diagrams in an outliner or text editor, but then would provide a common format that easy-to-use drawing tools could save to (next year). I'm not talking about SVG which gives me a headache, it's so complicated. I want a simple format. It's meant to be human-edited, so it must be easy to learn, memorize and write. (And read, let's not forget about that.) The approach I like best, since I learned graphic programming in the Macintosh's QuickDraw, is that it be one-one mapping of QuickDraw. I also feel strongly that it should not attempt to do animation, because that would add a lot of complexity. And why Flash format? Because it's there. There's no need to lobby the browser makers (ie Microsoft) to bundle it, since it's already installed.

Now here's a really smart product. "It is a library of Perl routines for creating Macintosh PICT files. It replaces a large number of the MacOS Quickdraw routines with equivalent perl subroutines. It handles text drawing, line drawing, rectangles, ovals, polygons, round-cornered rectangles, color and pattern transfer modes, and various scaling and warping operations." That's what I want, for XML.

Now we have to find a very concise reference for the QuickDraw verb set. There are only about 20 calls.

Doug Baldwin: Simple QuickDraw.

It's amazing to me that more wasn't made out of the early popularity of QuickDraw. Perhaps people believe that Apple would sue anyone who cloned it or even was inspired by it. I never saw any evidence of this.

BTW, this would be a fantastic open source project for Eazel to lead. Andy Hertzfeld did a lot of work on QuickDraw when he was at Apple. I'm not volunteering Andy (exactly) but, it's my way of saying that I would like to be a user of this format, not a designer or implementor. I could tell you when I grok it, and when that happens I think a lot of other people would get it too. Imagine all the HTML coders who can wrap their minds around tables (they really are complex), what if they had exact pixel-level control of positioning. Low-hanging fruit, and what's cool about it is that it would benefit users on all platforms.

Also it would be really fantastic if someone ported MacBird to Windows. Then I could work on it again.

This reminds me of another project I heard about a few months ago, to do a XMLization for scripting languages. Basically it would define an XML mapping for loops, tests, assignment, procedure calls, basically every feature that every Algol-like language supports. Then scripting engines could output this format, and the scripts could run in any compatible scripting environment. While I haven't given this a lot of thought, it seems do-able, and powerful, and quite interesting. Think of how much we'd learn about other languages.

Ole Eichhorn suggests adding four items to yesterday's list of 16 software categories that have not yet been conquered by open source: Personal finance manager (Quicken), Tax preparation software (TurboTax), Database (Oracle, Sybase), Firewall (Cisco PIX, Raptor, CheckPoint).

BTW, I got a lot of email about this list from people who must not have read the introductory paragraph. Yes, I've heard of Gimp, a lot, but still believe it has not driven PhotoShop from the top position. No sleight to Gimp, but please don't declare victory until it actually happens.

Postscript: The only category that open source *has* captured, imho, is Web Servers. There are commercial alternatives, but as far as I can see, the majority of servers are Apache.

Red Herring: "Mr. Khosla teamed up with Stanford School of Business classmate Scott McNealy, Mr. Bechtolsheim, and Bill Joy, a Unix guru at the University of California at Berkeley. Thus in 1982 was born Sun Microsystems. Mr. Khosla, like his three partners, was 27."

What is BrowseUp?

I didn't know that the Guardian has a weblog.

Dan Gillmor's Manila blog gets Slashdotted.

Ed Cone says you may have to be a Southerner to get this. How many Virginians does it take to change a lightbulb? Two. One to change the bulb and the other one to talk about how great the old bulb was.

Dispensing with minutiae.. Why do I always use two dots instead of the more common three? Good question. I don't know. Next?

Paulina Borsook: "But the larger problem remains: a mindset that holds that creators shouldn't be compensated for their work, that all human creation is the equivalent of a Web log by a hobbyist with a day job. Members of the Net community, whether born in 1954 or 1986, will pretty much always rally to oppose censorship. But don't expect those same Netizens to consider authorship of a work of art on the Net to be important or to pay for online content." I was born in 1955.

BTW, Netizens don't always rally to oppose censorship. It's a pretty mottled track record. You can be sure that Netizens will rally to say Microsoft sucks. Jim Allchin can be sure to move a lot of bits with an off-the-cuff comment about The American Way, but when it comes time to deal with really big issues, many of the "Web logs" take the low road.

In case you're wondering about today's slow start: I'm tired. It was a very intense couple of months leading up to last week. When you're an old fart like I am (you can quote me on that) the pushes still take a lot of energy, but as my body ages, I have less to give. My mind is still going fast, but the fingers don't work so well. Maybe it's the rain. The weather forecast is for partly sunny skies this afternoon. I'll go for a walk. That'll make me feel better, I'm sure. Stay tuned, I'm sure something will happen.

I was interviewed by Deborah Branscum today for an article she's doing on weblogs for Newsweek. Now I feel guilty that I chose Time this morning. I liked their cover better. The Incredible Shrinking Ex-President. For all the Clinton-lovers who said they knew better and wish they really had --> I Told You So. Heh heh.

NY Times: "'As this Internet build-out continues, says Joel Cawley, the director of business strategy for I.B.M., it will enable businesses, individuals and activists to tap into a much broader and powerful base of creativity and innovation, with a much lighter touch. 'So,' he adds, 'smaller and smaller units will become more and more empowered and bigger and bigger units will become more and more decentralized. None of us knows how this will play out, but we do know it will impact the hierarchy of power in, and between, institutions, governments and activists. And the new rules for these interactions are just beginning to be evolved.'"

Register: "One of the most depressing stories to come out of the Internet crash is the failure of community on the web. Like so much else online, sites that bring users in to discuss matters have been a commercial disappointment."

WSJ: "With legal victory against Napster all but assured, the record industry quietly has begun to move against hundreds of Napster clones that also offer free music downloading via the Internet."


Last update: Friday, February 23, 2001 at 7:32 PM Eastern.

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