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Scripting News, the weblog started in 1997 that bootstrapped the blogging revolution.
Permanent link to archive for Wednesday, April 17, 2002. Wednesday, April 17, 2002

NY Times: "The record industry's legal victory over Napster last year has neither stopped the trading of free music online nor halted a slide in music sales." 

News.Com: Developers dig into Google's toolbox.  

I retired the Google Box on this page. Screen shot

Jim Roepcke: "Great, now let's put 'em all out to pasture!" 

John Robb: "I'm a ex-special ops guy." 

A picture named bezos.gifI know I'm a stick in the mud, but I refuse to promote Amazon's XML interface (supposedly only available to affiliates) until they disclaim using their patents to restrict competition. It's been so long, I hardly remember what the issues were (oh that's right it was a patent on affiliate programs of all things), but I do remember the slogan -- No More Pesos for Senor Bezos. Since then I have not purchased anything from Amazon, and I would never use their XML unless they posted a disclaimer signed by Senor Bezos himself saying there were no patents filed by Amazon in areas related to this technology. I suggest everyone think twice before helping them. XML is about open interfaces and a level playing field. Amazon is helping you sell their product. No problem with that, but if they use the money to pay lawyers to shut down competition, well I do have a problem with that.  

Hey O'Reilly really used the title on the OS Con session. Blogging Without The Screen. Nice. To be clear, I'll be asking the questions, for the most part. Old habits die hard, but it's an important distinction.  

Matt Haughey on 9/11 blogging: "Calls for peace intertwine with calls for arms. Descriptions of real time events as they happened, filled with pain, horror, anger, and sorrow. It doesn't require digging into the edges of the political spectrum to get an accurate picture of blogger's view of the day, it's all out there in the open, and quite easy to find." 

Kevin Werbach: "Sssshhhhhh. This site is still under construction. There's nobody here but us chickens!" 

Disenchanted: "It's so much easier to stand on the shoulders of giants if they happen to be conveniently stackable." 

Jake: "Ole and Lena were excited to get a new cellular phone.." 

To people who wonder about the revenue model for the Google API, here's a clue. "When Google arrives on the desktop, it will have the same SOAP interface that the global Google has. All the tools that work with the centralized service will also work on the desktop." 

Clay Shirky and Rael Dornfest wrote an accurate and mostly spin-free review of SOAP. At the end they say that XML-RPC has a weakness that I think is actually the source of its strength. No BigCo's to play political football with it. It stays where it is, it is what it is. SOAP can be used in largely the same way as XML-RPC, and imho, that is how it will be used. That we were able to bridge the Google API from SOAP to XML-RPC says something about the equivalence of the two protocols in practice in the real world. 

ZDNet: IBM drops Internet patent bombshell.  

Ole Eichhorn: "A colleague tells me Windows 2000 uses 0xBAADF00D for uninitialized memory." 

More Google API apps. 

Interested in Segway? Check out Paul Nakada's Segway weblog

Looks like I'll be speaking at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention this year. Working with Nat Torkington, we finally came up with a title that works. I'll be doing Scripting News in person, which I describe as "Blogging Without The Screen." I've done lots of those kinds of sessions. Here's how it works. I have a mike and I talk for a bit, just like my morning coffee notes. I say things to get people thinking. Then when someone has something to say, I go them and we have a little conversation, until someone else wants to talk, and then I go over to them and do the same thing. It's like a weblog, but face-to-face. No one has to line up at the mike, it's very informal, no time to get nervous, and different points of view get heard. The experts are the people in the audience, not panelists. Maybe this year someone will blog the session. It's a good format, it's fun and informative, and we get a chance to learn from and understand each other. 

Andy Sylvester: Radio UserLand Study Guide

Jerome Camus explains outliners. 

Tim Jarrett explains the Semantic Web, with caveats. 

Homer Simpson: "You want the truth? You want the truth? You can't hannnnndle the truth!" 

One year ago today: "Speak for yourself Dan, I plan to win a Pulitzer." On the same day Joel Spolsky said: "Sometimes smart thinkers just don't know when to stop, and they create these absurd, all-encompassing, high-level pictures of the universe that are all good and fine, but don't actually mean anything at all." 

On this day in 1997, Frontier 4.2.3 shipped. It was a long-lived version, the last Mac-only release. 

Postscript on Conxion 

Over the last few weeks, the archives for Y2K contained a painful story that I haven't linked to, but it deserves a comment from a two-year perspective. Here's what happened. Our Internet service turned to crap. Our T1 line went down for long periods of time every day. Everyone who used our services knew it was going down. There was no way to hide from that. We investigated the problem, worked with our ISP, and did what we always do -- shared what we learned with our readers. I built an app that measured the outages, computed the amount of downtime, and made the info publicly available. Of course they could only be read when the line was up.

Frustration crept in, because humans were involved. For the most part, we all kept our cool. Antonio Salerno, the CEO of Conxion was on the DaveNet list, and had the idea that the T1 line was used to send out an essay or two each week via email. This was the big disconnect. At the time we were hosting thousands of Manila sites at the end of the T1 line. We were working on SOAP with Microsoft. We were releasing new software to our users. We had a diverse development team that connected through the T1 line. When it went down, all that stopped. Salerno warned me to stop writing about the outages. I said no. I asked my readers for help, esp people at the San Jose Mercury-News, because they cover San Jose (of course) and the ISP was located in San Jose. But it hit even closer to home. We were hosting Dan Gillmor's weblog at the time. I felt they should cover it because the issue wasn't about technology as much as it was about honoring the First Amendment. No support ever came from any of the professional press people who read Scripting News.

A few weeks ago, out of the blue, an ex-Conxion vice-president sent me an email. He was researching various lawsuits against Conxion, and did a Google search and uncovered the archive of the clash they had with UserLand. He wanted to know if we were suing Conxion for the cost of the outages and for the big human outage when they disconnected us. I said no, we weren't pursuing it. The damage was done, but we had recovered, and moved to Exodus and have had no problems with their service.

From two years hindsight, I would have done nothing different. If there are outages that users and readers see, you have to say what's going on. I didn't see any way around it then, and I don't now. There were three business entities involved. UserLand, Conxion and PacBell. We should have worked as a team, to get everyone back online asap. PacBell did the best they could, so did UserLand, and at Conxion, all but one person worked hard and professionally, with empathy, every day we were out, to get everyone back online. We were shut down because one person wanted us to do something that we couldn't do. We survived. But I learned that the speech guaranteed by the Constitution is not a sure thing. If you say something that pisses off one of your vendors, you might get shut down. And other people who say they value free speech may not stand up for you. Onward.


Last update: Thursday, April 18, 2002 at 7:49 AM Eastern.

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