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Permanent link to archive for Tuesday, April 16, 2002. Tuesday, April 16, 2002

NY Times editorial: "These are critical times for establishing the scope of our freedoms on the Internet." 

Network World: "Deutsche Bahn AG, the German national railway operator, Wednesday will file suit against Google because the company's search engine provides links to a Web site that offers instructions on how to sabotage railway systems. Lawsuits against Yahoo and AltaVista also are being prepared." 

Another old-time ink-stainer joins the blogging revolution. Welcome! 

Russ Lipton: Why RTFM Won't Work

John Robb: "Glad to be of service to a fellow Bostonian." 

Tim O'Reilly: Preserving classic software products

Today is outliner screen shot day. Here's Java Outline Editor, via Scott Granneman. 

Oy now when they have a bad year, we're all responsible for it. Could just as easily spin it as "Music sales dip, industry's inability to offer a commercial Internet-based distribution system seen as culprit." 

A candidate for best named blog of 2002. You have to understand hex to get it. He uses LiveJournal, Movable Type, Wiki and Radio. All in one mind.  

Blogging Kottke blog Business 2.0. "Break the habit of only reading the sites listed in Instapundit's sidebar." Amen to that. Reminds me that Dvorak eventually did answer the question I asked. He picked blogs at random from the recently updated section on I guess each review of blogging is a reflection of which microcosm the reporter tapped into. It would be interesting to see a reporter write a piece based on the updates at, which is the source of news in the blogging world that I refresh 80 times a day. 

Last-yard code already in Radio 8. "Most RSS feeds do not contain enclosures, but this mechanism may eventually catch on as a way of distributing movie trailers, educational material, or other large media objects." 

Eric Kidd sends a screen shot of the Woody outliner running on Linux. 

Charles Cooper: "Groove Networks CEO Ray Ozzie hates spam just as much as the next guy. But unlike that next guy, he's offering a potential way out for corporate-networking chiefs troubled by unsolicited e-mail." 

AP: "Supreme Court Strikes Down Ban on Virtual Child Pornography." 

Seth Dillingham reports that Macrobyte has deployed its first secure site using their TLS product for Frontier and Radio. 

A big bennie for Google in showing us a bit of how Google works through their API -- smart developers like Paolo Valdemarin are finding new niches of Google greatness. "While all dictionaries have always been lagging behind real-world usage of words, Google is actually registering it in almost real time." Paolo makes a good point. A dictionary is just another kind of aggregator, and all aggregations have trouble keeping up with Google. 

Tim Berners-Lee speaks at Stanford tonight about the Semantic Web. BTW, I think I finally got the vision. It goes like this. There's data in this blog post. It relates at least three things. 1. Tim Berners-Lee. 2. Stanford. 3. Semantic Web. 1 will be at 2. Link to Semantic Web from the arc between them. Link to from 2. With this information properly stored in a relation, you could query it. Now, I gotta figure out why this is different from Google, which probably already does a pretty good job of extracting all that meaning from this post. Postscript: TBL is not speaking at Stanford tonight. Not sure what that says about the Semantic Web. 

I'm doing a session on Distributed Content Management at the O'Reilly Emerging Tech conf next month. "Bring your ideas to this two-way session, and be prepared to envision the Internet-based publishing network of the future." Bring your blogs too. 

Hanan Cohen: "Look outside the window. The graphics are amazing." 

Daniel Berlinger asks why I think the syntactically relevant indentation of Python was a breakthrough. There are a couple of reasons. First, it removes complexity from the language. Semicolons and curly braces are not needed when you let tabs and carriage returns do the work. The two methods of expressing structure are redundant, and if I had to choose I'd pick the one that visually reflected the stucture, which tabs and returns do, and imho semicolons and curly braces don't. The second reason I like it is because it enforces a common indentation format on all code and ends silly arguments on coding teams about which way is right. Since we all eventually have to read and use other people's code, in Python, you're guaranteed that you don't have to spend hours indenting the code so you can work with it, it already is indented in a way you are comfortable with because all Python programmers indent the same way. Of course this doesn't solve the problem fully, it's just a step, a theme, a message to programmers that some stylistic differences aren't worth fighting over. BTW, this is not an exclusive advantage of Python. Frontier, which was started a a couple of years before Python, also takes this approach (and goes further, its IDE is an outliner). We don't argue about indentation in our community. There's only one way to do it. (The right way of course, since I designed it. Heh. Sorry.) Anyway, I try to be kind and generous to Python because the community's philosophy is so close to ours, we like being friends with them, and I hope vice versa. 

A hearty welcome to Louise Kehoe, columnist at the Financial Times, who just started a weblog. Mazel tov! 

This page can't be displayed because you need fresh air. 

In the 80s a bunch of word processors claimed they did outlining, but they didn't. WordPerfect was the classic example. They did outline numbering, but didn't support expand/collapse or reorganize according to structure, the two basic features of outlining. You can't say you are an outliner if you don't do those two things. (Well, you can say it but it isn't true.) I just got an email from Mathieu Longtin, with a screen shot showing an editor named Vim, which he says is an outliner. It is not. It does something called elision, a common half-step towards outlining, and no doubt a useful feature. Here's a screen shot of the script editor in Radio so you can do an A-B comparison.  

Steve Litt says that Vim is an outliner.  

Marc Barrot notes that a new version of SOAP::Lite for Perl is available, with the security hole closed. 

A note to Mark Pilgrim -- outliners are useful tools. Back at the dawn of the PC era there were a handful of people who thought you could do anything in a word processor, even a spreadsheet, and get this, they were right. But (there had to be a but, right?) you don't get recalc in a WP. And in a flat text editor you don't get expand and collapse or the ability to reorganize according to structure. Python is a breakthrough language in that it considers indentation to be syntactically revlevant. Our outliner-based language environment takes it further -- by editing in an outliner, you get the ability to hide detail and move huge branches of code around with a single keystroke. Even if Mark doesn't want to believe, other Python developers may want to take a look at Radio. Thirty-day free trial. You won't be sorry. 

BTW, so many people miss the utlitity of a format like OPML by missing the tool that's used to edit and browse it. It's like evaluating a car by lifting the hood and looking at the engine. You can learn something by doing that. But you can't evaluate the driving experience that way. To do that you have to dive in and use it. I never would have understood HTML if I didn't use the browser first. Even so, I had trouble understanding HTML without looking again and again, trying to piece together how the format related to the experience. There aren't any shortcuts. I'm not impressed by people with closed minds, all I get from that is that their mind is closed. Open minds are interesting. Another example was the Mac in the 1980s. Lots of people with closed minds said it was just a toy. People who used it knew that it was much more. 

A picture named alfredenewman.gifAkamai, Akamai, Akamai. A subtle political statement. They're deploying .NET services. Oh. OK. Now can we call them with Radio? Can we emulate them with Radio? Why hop in the bathtub with Microsoft? Don't you like your air supply? Why not implement Web services so everyone gets the message that it's for them too, even if they don't use Microsoft software? Hmmmm. The other day I suggested that those of us who don't use any MS software should fly their colors (I'm not one of those people, btw). Now another related idea. Perhaps we should target for annihilation any developer who promotes their open services as being Microsoft-compliant. Just to prove that in this layer of technology, there is no such thing. See how Google's across-the-board interop changed things? Now any idiot who says they're MS-compliant actually looks like an idiot. 

Now, I understand why Akamai might want to announce a deal with Microsoft. But they should know that it comes at a cost. Where they could be a platform vendor, and attract developers to help them, they are giving the full developer opportunity to Microsoft. And given the rep that MS has with developers, that's just going to incentivize competition, and waste the value of Akamai's work. Akamai's technology is not so deep. They could use some developers to help broaden their deployment. 

Patrick Berry: "I think Dave jumped the gun a bit on this one." 

From the land of incest and irony. Business 2.0, which is owned by AOL, has two pieces that connect the dots. One on the lack of any visible strategy for AOL, and the other on the blogging craze, both rendered practically unreabable by pop up ads, a craze AOL made famous. Performance art! A great line at the close of the piece on AOL. "It needs a hundred digital czars -- the leaders of every business unit -- trying to figure out how to turn the Web into the primary means of distributing content, and combining it with that of other businesses to make entirely new products." Amen to that.  

A picture named curry.gifAnd they need look no further than Adam Curry, who tops their list of famous bloggers (btw, DaveNet is not a weblog, it's a column; Scripting News, the site you're reading now is a weblog). I met Adam at a AOL confab in late 1994, at David Cole's mansion in northern Virginia. It was quite a party. Lots of geeks with powerful minds and suits with big checkbooks, and celebs like Adam (before he got his haircut). Adam shared his vision for content distribution over the Internet, a few years later, when I met him in NY. The vision is implemented, quietly, in Radio 8. If anyone from AOL is tuned in, and wants to try out a new idea for moving big bits of content around the net, without watiting for universal broadband, let me know. It scales, it works, and when you get it you'll slap your hand on your forehead, it's so simple. (That's why most people don't figure it out, imho.) 

Last year on this day: A weird idea

Two years ago today: Investors wondered if the great bull market was over. Postscript: It was. 


Last update: Tuesday, April 16, 2002 at 8:19 PM Eastern.

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