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Permanent link to archive for Saturday, May 11, 2002. Saturday, May 11, 2002

A picture named ballmerTeare.gifI just spoke with Keith Teare, the former CEO of RealNames. He explained that the company will shut down on Monday, and explained how it happened. As I read the account, I could see both sides. In the US, RealNames didn't really catch on. But in Asia, it's become important, says Teare, because it allows people to enter names of websites in their native language. I was pleased to see that Microsoft is being sensitive to how they use their power in the Web. And at the same time, I share Teare's concern that they used RealNames to bootstrap their own equivalent service. I asked what he hopes to accomplish by going public with the details of the breakup, he would like them to reconsider, he wants to keep going forward with RealNames, he doesn't want to shut the company down. 

More heat on Adam's blog this afternoon.  

Mark Paschal blogs Metafilter discussing Adam's spelling. 

Pro-With-Blog: Mitch Wagner

Scott Johnson is downloading the new Star Wars movie, with some help from News.Com. 

Today's song: "Even in a perfect world where everyone was equal, I'd still own the film rights and be working on the sequel." 

Steve Zellers: "I have every reason to believe that the APIs to access the AddressBook in future versions of Mac OS X will be public." 

Onfocus: "Other corporations could learn a lot from Macromedia." 

NY Times: Old Personal Computers Never Die

Ed Cone: "Last night I dreamed about blogging." Gotcha. 

Scripting and IM 

Julian Bond has comments on my progress report on

I can add some more info now. We are not doing RPC over IM. One node can send a message to another. The framework returns immediately without waiting for a response.

We've been down this path in asynchronous XML-RPC. Inevitably you want callbacks so the app layer can control when you give up waiting for a response. As long as there has to be code at the upper level, we keep it simple and allow the apps to implement request-response on terms that make sense for the app.

We encode the message using the XML-RPC serialization format. The other choice was to invent a different serialization that did the same thing. So we used the tried-and-true format. But this is not XML-RPC, it is not even RPC.

I wrote this up a couple of days ago on my worklog for this project. I wasn't sure if many other people were interested so I didn't point to it. Now I'm glad that Julian thinks this is cool. I do too. For many people it will be their first experience writing code that runs on a server.

DIY Web Services was a step on the path, but firewalls and NATs get in the way. Imagine a Chatbot folder for Radio, that works like the Web Services folder. I wrote a couple of chatbots myself this week, and they're usually just a few lines and they're fun!

More progress to report. Eric Soroos, who is working on the AIM support, released a new version of ftoc.root, with an important fix, and talks about doing a chatbot that posts to a Radio weblog over the Blogger API.

More thoughts from Eric. Jeremy posted notes on programming with Jabber.

Ohhh Microsoft 

Comments on the Microsoft story in News.Com yesterday. They need us. Independent developers are bootstrapping web services, delivering results, getting users interested. The Google API was a milestone, but there's lots of other stuff going on. With Microsoft or without, it will go forward. Now can we maneuver Microsoft so it's helping rather than interfering?

Microsoft defends its right to kill developers, this is such a huge mistake, they should be courting developers. They should be helping us. As the dust clears it's obvious that they never knew what they were doing. They had some ideas, sort of "If You Build It They Will Come." Keep dreaming, because that's not how software works. At the rollout of Hailstorm Bob Muglia was asked what it will do for people. Hem and haw. I listened to him and said This guy doesn't have a clue what this stuff is used for.

So let's see where we're at. Microsoft says we'll cut off the air supply when we want to. OK, that translates to "We can do this alone." Now it's clear they can't. The court is their smallest problem. How are they going to get out of the way so that news of developer innovation can reach the users without interference from Microsoft.

And to the press and analysts who gave control to Microsoft and other Bigs, your air cover is gone. You should have at least been questioning Microsoft's ability to deliver and looked at alternatives. Now the alternatives are what's left, and it's good stuff. We'll keep moving, shining the light on Indies and individuals, who are creating software for the Two-Way-Web, which is what's really going, by the way.

How software works 

Software, done properly, is more like gardening than it is like warfare. Plant a seed, nurture it, show other people how to plant seeds, encourage them to plant them in your ground, always be thankful, and split the profits.

A software developer sells hardware and a platform vendor sells developers' apps. Recognition goes two ways. The developers appreciate the platform and the platform vendor thanks the developers. When the platform vendor resents the developers, or worse, kills them, the platform disintegrates.

The classic example of software-as-gardening was the initial 1984 Macintosh. It came with two apps, MacWrite and MacPaint. Some cried foul, but it was the right thing to do. Then Apple, whether through wisdom, overwork or incompetence (or a combination of the three) didn't upgrade the products, the developers filled the void. Apple played the role of Pied Piper, they showed developers how to create products for the Mac, taught the users what to expect, and a couple of years later it was a thriving software market. For just a couple of years, because like Microsoft, Apple got confused, and started to act like a developer, and screwed the whole platform.

Earlier this week I pontificated about Apple and chat clients. It's OK that they bundle a chat client, as long as they do it with open APIs that allow the independent developers of chat clients to compete. Apple-of-the-past didn't do this, and it didn't work out very well. If you were around then, tap your memory bank for the name Sidhu and the product was AOCE. It was supposed to clean out the Mac email market. It didn't do that, but it did get rid of the developers, the ones who could have seen the Internet coming and made sure that Mac users continued to be supplied with the best email software out there. A big fat Oooops for the pre-second-coming Apple.

(An aside, while Apple was doing AOCE, Microsoft was doing MAPI. Both were scams to get the world to coalesce behind a company. Neither worked, but Google says they even tried to do a deal to stem the tide of the Internet, in 1994. Heh. We know how that turned out.)

There's some concern that Apple is not allowing the chat client vendors to access the system address book. If so, this is a repeat of the Sidhu mistake. It will end badly for the developers, but it will also end badly for Apple.


Last update: Saturday, May 11, 2002 at 8:57 PM Eastern.

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