Wednesday, June 30, 2004
Apple: "Rendezvous is now available on Windows 2000 and XP."
Wes Felter: "I'd like to remind everyone that Rendezvous libraries for Linux, Windows, and Java have existed for months."
Daring Fireball dismisses the idea that Apple ripped off Konfabulator. There actually is some validity to the developer complaint, and there's a lot to be said for licking your wounds quietly esp when you produce software of great utility but limited depth. What's good is that developers are starting to care about other developers. That's important. Create strategies together that build on each others' strengths. There's no power in complaining about Apple, of course they can add features to their OS, esp ones that link back to the Macintosh of 1984. But if you all viewed the Mac OS as a collaborative development platform, you could market your stuff independent of Apple. Now that would be much more revolutionary than a pretty collection of useful widgets. (Which has been done before over and over ad nauseum.)
1997: "My pitch to programmers, which is far more revolutionary than any programming language or operating system can be, is to look for understanding where you find it, work with people you want to work with, and don't waste time with people who won't listen and aren't grounded in the truth."
A few days ago Rogers asked what stories were lurking in the 3000-plus websites that used to be hosted on weblogs.com. Well I had trouble sleeping, so I started poking around, and came across this site with pictures of a hippie wedding in Oregon. Interesting. One of the guys looks just like Jake Savin. Oh wow, that's Jake's brother. He's getting married. There's Jake! Wow. Lots of pictures, and people wrote their stories about the wedding on the blog, including Jake's mom, who gave us some really good advice when my dad was sick (she's a doctor). There you go Rogers, a story. Real people.
BBC: "The US Federal Reserve has raised interest rates by a quarter percentage point, in a widely-anticipated move."
Now some of the mail has been very gratifying, coming from Republicans, who also dislike Moore, and now seem a little more interested in what I think about the war and related issues. That's how Moore can do some good, we can find the common ground that connects us, as Americans. Basic fact -- we have to live with each other. Moore doesn't offer us a way to do that. By extrapolation, Republicans with minds should openly distance themselves from the right-wing anti-intellectuals (some of whom run this country, btw). It's time to think, how are we going to avoid a debacle like the election of 2000? Seriously, we're headed for a replay.
RSS Birds-of-a-Feather at the WWDC tonight in SF.
Alex Halavais: Really Sexy Sindication.
Some asshole talking on his cellphone got creamed.
Haacked: Dave Winer Misses The Point With Fahrenheit 9/11.
Thanks to Brian Hampson: "The phrase 'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it' is widely attributed to Voltaire, but cannot be found in his writings. With good reason. The phrase was invented by a later author as an epitome of his attitude. "
A little bird whispered in my ear that I'm on the list of bloggers who will get credentials for the Democratic National Convention in Boston, July 26-29.
I'm getting a lot of interesting mail about the piece about Michael Moore below. This stuff should be on blogs somewhere so other people can read it. I can't put up a comment thread because there are also some really abusive opinions in the mix. If you didn't call me a four-letter word, it's not abusive. And you can be a former reader, no problemmo, I already have a lot of readers, I can afford to lose some.
Steve Rubel: "RSS today feels like the Web 1994."
Mozilla Foundation press release on a new plug-in architecture, also supported by Macromedia, Apple, Sun, Opera, "...to extend the Netscape Plugin Application Program Interface in a manner that allows greater interactivity with plugins such as Flash, Shockwave, QuickTime and Java, resulting in a richer, more interactive web."
Engadget: "A new bit of software called Place Lab uses triangulation of signal strength from the three nearest hotspots to determine location."
Bill Seitz recommends taking the ferry to see the minor league Staten Island Yankees.
EFF: The Patent Busting Project.
Microsoft opened up their bug reporting system for Visual Studio. You can report a bug, which isn't exactly a new feature, but you can review their bug database, which is quite unusual. They also came out with a development environment for beginning programmers called Visual Studio Express, and sample apps, including an RSS 2.0 screen saver in C#.
6/30/01: "KnowNow used to know what they don't seem to now know. "
Nicholas Kristof: "Insults and rage impede understanding." Amen.
About the Michael Moore movie, Farenheit 9/11. I haven't seen it and I don't plan to. I'm an American before I'm a member of any political party, and I have more invested in the intelligence of our decision-making process than in any one decision. I'd rather re-elect Bush than elect a president based on Moore's politics.
"thinkusaalignright"Yesterday on NPR they played an excerpt where he confronts members of Congress and asks if they would send their children to fight in Iraq. What a ridiculous question. No parent will say yes to that question. You could have asked that question on the Capitol steps during World War II and they still wouldn't say yes. See how this cheapens the question of whether we should be in Iraq? In a smart world, we wouldn't be there, but it isn't because Congress people won't say yes when confronted by a camera crew.
Moore is the worst of American politics, an opportunist, an anti-intellectual.
Vote no on Moore.
Steve Kirks: "Kleenex has become interchangeable with tissue and now RSS has done the same with syndicated content. Now, we can move on to the next step: doing something great with the tools available."
I had a similar thought this morning as I checked the new posts on the Atom-Syntax list, and reading the Scripting News archive from one year ago, when the flamefest that launched Atom was still raging. I was reminded of the student strikes we'd do in the late 60s and early 70s. First have an organizing meeting with the steering committee, print up the leaflets, hand them out, march somewhere, sit-in the lobby of the school, maybe get on TV, whatever, and then what? They were great affairs while we were expressing our outrage, but in the end, we had to go back to school, get good grades, get accepted at good colleges, etc etc. We possibly helped end the war sooner, in some way (although the right-wingers said we did the opposite). It certainly was a lot more fun than sitting in a classroom, getting good grades, etc. We used to joke that we didn't do too many strikes in the winter, mostly they were in April and May when the weather was too good to be caught up inside a classroom.
Anyway, seeing the list of formats that Apple supports, RSS 0.91, RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0, Atom, I sighed on behalf of Atom and poor not-respected-by-geeks RSS. Reminds me of what my doctor said when I showed up for an annual checkup five pounds heavier than the year before. I shrugged it off, not too bad I said. She said "But you're going in the wrong direction." Sure, people say that it doesn't matter how many formats there are, but it actually does matter, even for users, as I've said repeatedly, every new format is another brick in the wall of Barrier To Entry, and that means less choice, but it also might make it harder for efforts that build on RSS to get started. I'll give you an example.
Yesterday, I got a note about a great BitTorrent-with-RSS application. I saw the URL to the feed, and groaned. It's RDF. Now, all the BT+RSS apps have been built around RSS 2.0 because it has the enclosure element, and we'd never, as far as I know, anticipated that the RSS confusion would creep into this space. I looked at the file to see how they did it, and whoa, it's a 2.0 file, even though on the outside it says it's RDF. Once you combine RSS with other things, which definitely should be happening more, you add another dimension with the two other flavors. Instead of having to do something once, you have to do it three times. And that's more than three times the trouble, which makes it less than one-third as likely to happen. Imagine going to the BitTorrent people with that problem. "Call us back when you make your mind up," they might reasonably say.
Anyway, when it's all said and done, there will be another flavor of RSS, another name on the list, more work to do, not too bad. If my doctor were here she'd say "But you're going in the wrong direction."
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Here's a great idea. RSS 2.0 feeds for kids, from Yahoo! Nice.
Jonathan Schwartz of Sun has a weblog. He's the #2 guy.
Outliners.com poster: "I am re-posting this which was posted just prior to the whatever-it-was-that-happened of outliners.com." It got knocked off the air by the problems with weblogs.com, and the resulting flood of traffic.
Metafilter thread: "Pompous sociopath or not, you've got to admit, he pretty much has us pegged."
BTW, the topic of discussion on Metafilter has meandered into a quote of mine from a MF thread in Y2K where I introduced myself by saying everyone there is full of shit. I'm afraid they might have misunderstood me. All my friends are full of shit at one time or another. All of yours are too. I did a search of the term on this weblog and came up with some good hits. Some people are proud to be full of shit (these are people I admire, like Scoble) and then some people will take offense if you say they're full of shit (names withheld). My attitude is that if you say I'm full of shit that's a sign of respect, because you're acknowledging that I exist.
9/20/03: "There's little point arguing about whether I'm full of shit or not. I am. It's demonstrable."
See, Don Park says I'm full of shit, and I point to him. There's some kind of invisible brotherhood between Koreans and NY Jews. Not sure what it is, but we get along in some basic way that's very mysterious.
Dan Gillmor reports on Apple's announcements.
I like William Grosso and point to him often, at least in part because he might be the only O'Reilly author who reads my site, but every time I link to him, I'm reminded that O'Reilly doesn't support RSS 2.0. On Sunday I asked "What are you going to do help the tech-weblog world get back on its feet?" One thing O'Reilly (the company) could do is accept that RSS 2.0 is here to stay, and help to close the wounds that keep us all from working together. "Ask not what the Internet can do for you, ask what you can do for the Internet."
Grosso is great because he notices irony in software. For example, yesterday he found out about Apple's RSS reader that might crowd NetNewsWire, by reading about it in NetNewsWire. The software is fair, and has no ego. "There's something spiritual about computers," 1997.
News.Com: When standards don't apply. "A growing roster of de facto standards is testing the need for bureaucratic agencies and design-by-committee technologies."
Gary Lerhaupt writes: "Etree.org has converted their RSS feed to support BitTorrent enclosures. Etree is an awesome repository of legal concerts (Phish, Grateful Dead, etc). I'm downloading my last Phish show from my TV as we speak."
News.Com got it right. The current standards organizations have the wrong strategy, they get in the way of progress instead of fostering it. After years of studying this, I now think we need a new standards organization that adopts de facto standards, like BitTorrent and RSS, OPML, XML-RPC, the ones with market momentum, that have proven their value. The current SO's form committees and bureaucracies, that's their purpose it seems, and by the time they're ready with a format or protocol, their proposal is too complex and too late.
Dan Bricklin: "I've just posted the 1.0 version of my ListGarden RSS Generator Program."
eWeek on Apple's RSS offerings, announced yesterday.
I got an email from Scott Love who I used to work with at Living Videotext in the 80s. He said something really nice and I want to thank him, but there's no return address on the email. So Scott if you see this, send me your email address or phone number, I'd love to catch up.
Yesterday I posted a note saying I'm looking for work. I've gotten a bunch of interesting responses, not with offers, but with ideas about what I should do next. Someone said I should be an entrepreneur-in-residence at a VC firm. Interesting idea. Yesterday I had dinner with a friend who's well-connected in financial circles in Boston and Silicon Valley to talk about something like that. We surveyed the landscape of companies doing stuff in and around the technologies I've worked on. Aggregators, blogging, formats, protocols, etc. It turns out I do have a pretty good understanding of the companies, products and individuals. But I'm not sure if EIR is the right thing, because honestly I don't see myself putting in the 18 hour days, seven day weeks, to crank out the 1.0s. I said I wished we had hooked up five years ago when that's what I was doing. I've also got a possible career in academia, with a good credential on my resume, the 1.5 year stint at Berkman Center. It's true, I love to teach. Maybe some place exotic like New Mexico or Geneva. I leave Boston on Sunday. It's making me sad. Really, no shit. But it's also exciting. When a big tree falls, it leaves room for new growth. Someone said that once..
8/14/98: "Like the big tree that fell last March, the death of a huge human being like Jerry Garcia frees up a huge amount of space. Once there was a tree, now there are seedlings. After the sadness, there will be huge creativity."
CBS Marketwatch profile of Craig Newmark of Craigslist.
Chris Heilman comments on the lack of user interface consistency in today's Mac apps. "But connecting diverse software is RSS's main job, right?" he asks. Yes, and that's a good way to put it, and that's why UI consistency is so important.
What to do when the platform vendor "validates" your product by copying it and announcing it will bundle the copy with the OS. I love what Konfabultor did, kick them in the ass, hard, with their own humor. "Cupertino, start your photocopiers." It's funny because that's what Apple said yesterday to poke Microsoft in the ribs (in a nice way of course). That's often been the lie around Apple, that they invent and Microsoft steals. I like to tell the story of how Mac scripting software came to be. I was in the audience at a Bill Gates speech in the early 80s in Palo Alto where he described a system-level scripting language for a personal computer, connecting various apps, a spreadsheet, word processor, plotting app. I made a note. That's a good idea. A few years later I started work on such a program. Showed it to Apple. Next thing you know, Apple has this great idea. A system-level scripting language for a personal computer, connecting various apps, a spreadsheet...
5/6/98: "Competition with humor is the best idea."
NY Times: "They're copying our concepts," Mr. Jobs said. "I'd kind of like to get credit sometime."
The irony gets deeper and twistier. Paul Boutin notes that the NY Times misquoted Apple's ripoff of "Gentlemen start your engines." I suppose he gave Indianapolis 500 appropriate credit for copying their concept?
Monday, June 28, 2004
Apple: "Safari RSS, a new version of Apple’s innovative web browser that provides instant access to the most current RSS information on the web."
Here's a really cool demo of their RSS reader. Based on squinting at this demo, it appears they did it right. It's not three-pane, it's one panel, with the items displayed, from all your feeds, in reverse chronologic order. This is the most efficient way to read for the user. A lot of designers think RSS readers should work just like mail apps, but that's too inefficient. With mail you need to keep spam and mail list content segregated. For news, you need a different interface. I've been saying it for years, the Apple designers apparently didn't get sucked into the design mistake so many have. One thing I wish Apple had done differently is respect the white-on-orange icon. Such a small thing, but so important. One would think Apple, of all, would understand the value of consistent user interface.
5/24/99: "Let's study User Interface again."
And thus begins the developer dance, how this is good for the market, etc. I expect we'll be hearing a lot of this, first among Mac developers, and then inevitably, among Windows developers. I don't know what's going to happen. Maybe the few cross-platform aggregators or centralized aggregators will be what's left standing, although Yahoo and MSN and Google, at least one of them must be preparing a competent aggregator or RSS-based blogging tool (Google's still doesn't support RSS.) With Apple bundling a blogging back-end, that market changes too, don't miss that. What does Microsoft have planned here? I'm sure there are companies that would happily sell them what they need to enter the market quickly.
Now a commercial message. As of Thursday I've got lots of free time. I am available for consulting on strategies related to RSS, blogging, aggregators, etc. I'm not cheap, but you'll get your money's worth.
Bryan Bell has notes from MacRumors about the RSS capabilities of Safari. Apparently you can search the contents of the feeds. This is something Steve Gillmor has been asking for, for ages. Feedster on the Desktop. Of course it can only search the feeds you're subscribed to. Already got a call from a reporter wanting to know if Microsoft can be far behind. Yeah, probably not too far behind.
A note from inside Apple's WWDC: "Jobs is showing off Safari's built in RSS reader at the keynote right now." I've gotten a boatload of email about this. Have they turned on WiFi in the hall? How about a screen shot?
Essay: How to avoid flamewars. I added a second section, on what to do when you're on the receiving end of a flame.
Mary Jo Foley: "This Web site is not Gates' foray into blogging."
NY Times: "In a surprise, secret ceremony that was hastily convened to decrease the chances of more violence, United States officials today handed over sovereignty to Iraqi leaders, formally ending the American occupation two days earlier than scheduled."
The NY Times is now providing its own RSS feeds, with several new categories including media and advertising, most-emailed, real estate, theater, Times on the Trail, multimedia, theater, Circuits, Week in Review and the Sunday magazine section. Unfortunately the education, dining and wine feeds and perhaps others are gone. The continuing feeds redirect, so most aggregators should adust automatically.
Some feedback on the new feeds. Why do the author names have to be in uppercase, and why include the word By in the name? I've become such a aggregator-potato when it comes to my NYT feeds, any change makes me want to read the Daily News (well, not really). I care who the author is, but please, uppercase is like SCREAMING at me, and my aggregator already inserts the word "by" so now I get "by by" followed by by some guy's NAME in upper case. Not good human factors.
Last year on this day Tim Bray had the right idea about what Atom should be. (It was called Echo then.) I found it interesting to write down his goals, and see how the Atom project has deviated, which is now on track to reinvent NewsML or ICE, anything but Really Simple Syndication.
Bray's nine goals for Atom, in a top-10 list.
What he proposed and what I later proposed are remarkably close. "Can we put aside our differences now, and come up with a format that honors the work that's been done in the past and today and makes it possible for things to be better in the future, without the wasted energy that comes from disagreement and disrespect?"
Interesting RSS support from LabourStart. "Where trade unionists start their day on the net."
Frank Rich: The Best Goebbels of All?
Sunday, June 27, 2004
Recent movies: Lost In Translation, In America, 21 Grams, Fog of War, Big Fish, Finding Nemo, The Ruling Class. Listed roughly in the order that I liked them. The last three were repeats, Big Fish was great to see a second time, but Finding Nemo seemed really shallow (the turtles were great of course) and The Ruling Class, a great movie for its day, is finally dated. Lost In Translation, which I had not seen, deserved all its accolade. A gorgeous flowing light story, more of a mood piece, richly photographed, emotionally grabbing, sweet. I wish the character with the bad heart in 21 Grams didn't smoke, that really hurt to watch. In America, just a nice movie. Etc etc.
Just for fun, a table that ranks the free-hosted weblogs.com sites by the number of hits that were redirected to each. Gives a rough idea of where the traffic is going.
A must-listen-to segment of NPR's On The Media about the new reality of the music industry and the role the Internet plays in keeping fans of Wilco and RadioHead supplied with the latest tunes from the bands. Do they pay if they like the music? Yeah they do.
Screen shot of Bush website with Hitler image.
Bush is an awful leader, but so far there's no indication that he's comparable to Hitler. But he's running an ad with pictures of Hitler, between pictures of John Kerry, Al Gore, Richard Gephardt and Howard Dean. How could someone want to win so badly that he would be willing to do that? What are we supposed to think about this? Does he know that Americans have families who were murdered by Hitler? Is this what compassionate conservativism is? What does he stand for? This should be question #1 at the next Bush press conference.
The mail I'm getting says that Bush is responding to MoveOn. Okay, let's consider that. If there was a need to respond to MoveOn, why did they interlace images of leading Democrats and why is the response coming now? And why not just respond, say it's wrong, instead of using the pictures of Hitler? It's a horrible ad, kind of a joke, with the sweet music in the background at the end, and the word Compassion at the top of the screen. I don't care who went first, that's a school yard argument. Bush is President of the United States. What's next, images of concentration camp victims? Millions of people died at Hitler's hand, many relatives of Americans. That imagery does not belong in that space. Period.
One of my favorite blogs is Geek News Central.
Next question. There's a vacancy to fill on the RSS Advisory Board. I just had a talk with Rogers about that. Do you have any suggestions? Send him an email, or send one to me. It's mostly advocacy, helping people get their feeds up, answering questions, trying to helping users.
One reason to keep the number of formats small, and require strict XML compliance, is to keep the barriers to entry low, so that little hacks are possible. For example, three years ago we were working on ways to circumvent Microsoft's Smart Tags, a horrible idea. It was one of the few times I've ever seen a company being so openly evil, thumbing their nose at the legal system, the Bill of Rights, publishers and writers, and any semblance of fair competition. I had to write a filter that would process every page to add a meta tag that would tell Microsoft to keep their "smart" tags off the page. Because HTML was such a bloody mess, the script couldn't just parse it and add the metadata where it was needed, it had to use string pattern matching and guess where to put the data, and usually it was right, but sometimes not.
When I first learned about XML in 1997, I thought I understood that we were going to fix this problem with HTML, and require that processors be strict about rejecting not-well-formed feeds. I was surprised to find that not all developers feel this way. I think it's wrong that some aggregators work around well-formedness problems in feeds. These guys are building barriers to entry. They say users don't care, but the users should care, and if we state our case clearly and respectfully, they can.
I've seen people say there's no harm in having a third syndication format, so I tried out an idea, what about a fourth? They say no, we don't need it. I agree. I didn't think we needed a second or third either, and still don't. The more formats, the more chance for lock-in. Watch out for companies that only care about interop with Microsoft, that's how the promise of SOAP was destroyed. And watch out for Microsoft, when they come into this space, let's be sure they don't invent their own format and make vague promises about interop. I'm sure even my friends at Microsoft can appreciate the concern. Not everyone at MS understands why the developer community is important. If ever it was in doubt, pause at this moment, and reflect on how the pub-sub application came to be. None of the big companies had anything to do with it. Sure, some of them will buy their way into it. And some are going to bully their way in. But maybe some will get in by producing excellent software that performs great, and doesn't try to win by locking out individual developers.
Postel's Law has two parts. This is something a lot of people don't want you to look at, they only want you to think about the first part, the part which XML says is not a great idea -- be liberal in what you accept. This tends to favor the big guys who have the resources to catch up, and then the chutzpah to throw a big fat hairball into the middle of the market, one that no one else can handle. Maybe Postel didn't live in a world where these big companies could create such big messes, but I have had to deal with them, many times in my career, and they usually end competitive markets. A lot of well-intentioned people in the syndication community don't have the benefit of this experience, and we may have to learn this once again for their benefit. I hope not.
But the second part of Postel's Law is brilliant, and if we believed in it and bet on it, we'd never have to deal with the flaws in the first part. If we looked for ways to reduce variability, to do things the same way whenever possible, we'd keep the barriers low, keep the flow of cool hacks high, and be prepared to face any challenge that might come our way. Then we could compete to empower users, not own them.
1996: "How much happier we would be if instead of crippling each other with fear, we competed to empower each others' creativity."
PS: Watch out for people who make this personal. If you accept that kind of discourse, you deserve the technology you get.
Saturday, June 26, 2004
Paul Boutin on the Syndication panel at Supernova. "A crowd like this gets really frustrated when the Wi-Fi drops out during a conference and knocks out their back channel."
Dave Rogers, who seems to be a source of peace in the community, added a thoughtful post in the thread on Burning Bird. Even the flames don't seem so heavy today. I responded to Dave's post with another. At the end I said: "I offered my role in the future of RSS up as a deposit to prove my intentions were serious. What are you willing to ante up with?" I thought that question was worth asking here, to the leaders of our community who may not see the thread. What are you going to do help the tech-weblog world get back on its feet? "Ask not what the Internet can do for you, ask what you can do for the Internet." By the way, in playing the ask-not game, it's okay to think of things other people can do to help, and then ask them to do it.
Rogers Cadenhead writes another embarassing testimonial to my role in the development of RSS.
Andrew Grumet understands how we got to where we are with RSS today. I heard Bill Kearney say the same thing in an audio roundtable on Doug Kaye's site. Asked why RSS had been so successful, he said "It's open." Kearney has been very critical of my work in many areas for many years, especially RSS. There was a time when most of the people who produced RSS and used RSS did it with my software. At that point there would have been an option to close it up, and not allow others to enter the market. But that was never what I wanted to do. I've always believed in the power of developers working together. I still hold out some hope for that. By stepping aside, I remove one oft-stated reason for people not working together. How ironic, that the thing I wanted most, may only be possible without me. Anyway, life is filled with mysteries. I'm having lunch today with Scott Johnson of Feedster. Maybe I'll hear something strange there too.
A note to Shelley Powers about the last devastating flamefest.
Wired: "Visitors get a piece of code that's designed to retrieve from a Russian website software that records a person's keystrokes."
Friday, June 25, 2004
The US Department of Education has an RSS feed.
Government Technology magazine also has one.
AP: "Users can search their computers for the files Kk32.dll or Surf.dat to see if they are infected. Removal tools are available from major anti-virus vendors."
An announcement. After giving it much thought, I've decided to resign from the RSS Advisory Board, effective July 1. I feel that the process for clarifying the spec is now well-understood by the existing members, and we have started a positive working relationship with several leading aggregator developers. Frankly, most of the time I was spending on the board has been in avoiding and dealing with flamers, which as others have noted is not a good use of my time. Now that I'm leaving Harvard, I want to spend much of my technical work time on the open source release of the Frontier kernel and other forward-looking projects. I want to be out of the business of avoiding flames, if possible. I wish the continuing members of the board the very best, and of course I will continue to be a huge booster of RSS and syndication technology, and I will offer my opinion, through this blog, naturally, as always.
Steve Gillmor calls this "graduation day" for Dave. I like that. Thanks!
Mark Bernstein: "Let's not drive the good people away; instead, let's get rid of these old pizza boxes."
Shelley Powers: "People have stopped listening to me because I shout."
AP: "Al-Qaida-linked terror groups and their sympathizers have in recent months made a big splash on the Internet, making it their communications channel of choice. They're benefiting from free discussion boards, e-mail accounts and other online forums for propaganda, recruitment, fund-raising and even planning."
Scott Rosenberg: Blogs, bosses and bucks.
Time's coolest website is Bloglines, a centralized RSS aggregator.
BBC: "Users are being told to avoid using Internet Explorer until Microsoft patches a serious security hole in it. ...the list of compromised sites involves banks, auction and price comparison firms and is growing fast."
InfoWorld: "Microsoft acknowledged Thursday that IIS, a component of the Windows 2000 Server, and holes in the Internet Explorer Web browser are being used in widespread attacks that are compromising Web pages and using them as launching pads for malicious computer code."
Robert Scoble at Microsoft writes to ask that I point to their security site, which will be "updated all weekend long with the latest info."
Last night was the last Thursday night meeting at Berkman that I'll chair. The group may go on, or may not. At this time it's not clear. When it came time to say goodbye, it was very emotional, in a nice way. I tried to remember all the people who had come through the weekly meetings, many of whom never met each other because their times didn't overlap. The meetings were "come as you are" and "we're just folks." I'm told this is unusual for Harvard. I like Harvard very much, but sometimes it's good to loosen the tie and just hang out. If the blogging at Berkman accomplished that, and opened up the university just a little, then it was an outrageous success. Most important are the friendships that were created around the process, far too many people for me to talk about, but you can be sure they'll appear in the pages of this blog as long as I am writing. People ask me what I'll do next. For that, let me quote myself:
5/7/97: "When a friend changes you can find the bond that's connecting you at a deeper level. The surface stuff isn't a good thing to depend on. Physical bodies change as they grow. So do emotional bodies and intellectual ones. Take a deep breath. People move, life is more like a wild dance than a ceremony. You just can't tell what's coming next."
Seattle Times reports that Bill Gates may start a weblog. "Bill's blog won't be all business."
Tim Jarrett: "Being linked by Bill will become the holy grail of blogging at Microsoft and will somewhat diminish the thrill of getting linked by Scoble."
Wired: "No matter how careful you are, one of these days you will get a spyware infestation."
Watched The Fog of War starring former US Secretary of Defense, Robert MacNamara. More interesting than I thought it would be. One bit of history it revealed about the Vietnam war is that the enemy, the North Vietnamese, thought they were re-fighting a war for independence with colonial France, that's why they were such a fierce enemy. The US was fighting a war with the USSR and China to prevent communist dominance of all of southeast Asia and all small nations in the world. The famous Domino Theory. The former Vietnamese foreign minister reveals that they hated the Chinese, and had been at war with them for a thousand years. MacNamara says if they had known this, the Vietnam war never would have happened.
Thursday, June 24, 2004
Rogers: "How many other stories are hiding in the 20 databases, 3,000 sites, and 50,000 pages that made up Weblogs.Com?"
Ed Cone blogs Al Gore saying the Bush foreign policy is failing because Dubya loves bumper sticker slogans and fails to grasp subtle ideas. It's also why Silicon Valley is lost somewhere between Dubuque and Detriot, floating down the river to Bangalore.
Hospitality Net supports RSS.
Just got back from Lexingon, MA; home of the shot heard round the world. Myself, I got four shots, of novicaine, in my mouth. I talk like half my mouth is filled with cotton. That's how it feels too. What was remarkable about Lexington today is how overflowing with teens it was. I guess today was the last day of school. They were all out with their yearbooks, and bikes, shorts, summer clothes, buzzing with excitement about the first day of summer vacation and their lives ahead of them. It was hot. These are the princes and princesses of the United States, going to good colleges, all of them. With straight teeth and all their shots, they're as ready as any children to take their place in the global economy.
My keynote speech for the Supernova conference, which begins in Santa Clara today. I couldn't be there, but thanks to the blogosphere I was able to give a speech anyway, a virtual one. Please read it, and consider that now might be the time for the blogosphere to change Silicon Valley, to add integrity, to return to "an engineering mecca, a land of the truth revealed by the ones and the zeros."
Zawodny: "RSS looks like one of the better bets this year."
Wes Felter: "I wonder why people who are actually working on open-source Java are not on the panel."
Bob Stepno: Five More RSS Feed Readers.
One year ago today the BBC released 68 new RSS 0.91 feeds, with an open, permanent and free archive, no membership required. This changed the syndication world in a big way. And the fact that they were 0.91 and not 2.0, I would come to learn, made not one bit of difference. The way the BBC publishes, there isn't anything in 2.0 I can think of that would improve on their feeds.
On this day five years ago I explained how syndication and aggregation works to DaveNet readers. There were three Manila sites at that time. Scripting News, Buck's Woodside, and The Great VaVaVoom. Quite a bootstrap would happen in our world in the coming year.
Talking with Mark Berstein yesterday, he was the first person to talk with me about the central role Scripting News has played in bootstrapping the weblog community. I've been aware of it, of course, when I started there were no weblogs, but every other blog after mine had an example, either this site, or some site or sites that learned from it. But the really chilling thing Mark noted was that when people break away, they often do it in a way that seems vengeful, which is where the No good deed goes unpunished feeling comes from. Lots of examples of this. I said to Mark I don't begrudge people their need to break away, but why not do it in a nice way, like point back to me as you pass me in the Technorati rankings? Send some flow back to your old teacher? Then I remembered, that I wasn't entirely without a mentor in this. I owe many of the ideas and encouragement I received to Doug Engelbart, an engineer who, whether you know it or not, you owe a lot to, too. When you want to change the world, I've noted, the best way to do it is to lead by example. So thanks Doug for being not only a great generous thinker, but a personal inspiration. Your work has made a huge difference to me and many others. A true bootstrap. With much love, thank you.
Wednesday, June 23, 2004
AP: "All is right again in blog land." Whew.
Thanks to Wired and AP for their help getting the news out. The blogs carried rumors and panic, and when it was clear that the panic was wrong, didn't carry the correction. This time the pros beat the crap out of the blogs in a story about blogs. Something to think about. This time they fact-checked your ass. Am I angry about this? Yeah, you bet I am.
Technology.Updates.Com looks interesting. Lots of RSS feeds.
Reuters: "Jason Smathers of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, has been charged with stealing a list of 92 million AOL customer screen names and selling them to Internet marketer Sean Dunaway of Las Vegas."
ComputerWorld: "Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's president, has said he is concerned that Java might fork into incompatible versions if it were made open-source, undermining Java's 'write once, run anywhere' capability."
Ralph Nader "...abhors high-tech, uses a manual typewriter..."
Wired: "What was decried as the death of a blog universe when Dave Winer shut down free blog host Weblogs.com turned out to be little more than a four-day server outage surrounded by a heck of a flame war."
News.Com: "Computer trade show Comdex, once the biggest event on the tech calendar, has been canceled this year,"
Tomorrow at 7PM, a bloggers dinner in Cambridge. It's kind of sad, this will be my last Thursday at Harvard, but what the heck, we had a dinner when I came to town, let's have one as I leave. It's at the Bombay Club in Harvard Square. Please post a note here if you're coming, we'll call the restaurant tomorrow afternoon to tell them how many to expect. We'll sing a song, make a toast, praise Murphy.
BBC: "Dr Mockapetris came up with the DNS system 21 years ago while he was a scientist on the Arpanet project."
Hacking Netflix: "I think most companies don’t get blogs yet."
Don Park: Murder She Wrote.
Mark Bernstein on comments and trackback. A thoughtful post but I don't agree, last week's events happened on blogs, not in comments or through trackback.
One difference between what happened to SixApart and what happened to me, is that I came to their defense, and they joined the mob. I'll still come to their defense in the future, when I think the community needs moderation, but I won't forget what they did, trying to hustle new business with the people whose sites were stranded. That totally increased the pressure, because the users were the ones who weren't freaking. And how much was at stake? Hmmm. Project the revenue from a couple hundred people with free weblogs. Some kind of gold mine? An amazing lack of perspective. I saw other competitors do horrible things that week. Only Evan Williams did the right thing, he did what he could to put it in perspective. I won't ever forget that either. Thanks again. Mark, this is what we need more of. People with the courage to stand in front of the mob and tell them to stand down. You want to solve the problem? That's how.
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
An important note about weblogs.com redirection.
Perrspectives: Google's Gag Order.
Nick Bradbury: "The error message only appears if you upgrade a cracked version of FeedDemon 1.0."
Doc Searls is considering a BloggerCon-like con for ITers.
Jason Kottke: "Get the hell out of my way, I'm coming through."
Ed Foster: "In a recent weblog item, I talked about the owner of a new PC who had to pay $149 for Dell support to tell her how to change a default setting in Outlook. This spurred quite a debate among readers about just who was to blame."
Rogers Cadenhead: "When Buzzword.Com was launched last week, I had a feeling that the good news about restoring service to Weblogs.Com users would have more trouble getting around than the original, over-the-top reports of a blogger's 9/11."
Two years ago, a site hosted by Paolo Valdemarin with get well messages. Last week's shitstorm exactly coincided with my health failure two years ago. Maybe the echo chamber of the blogosphere is deeper than we previously thought?
SpaceShipOne launched the "first private manned mission to space."
Paul Boutin will moderate the syndication panel at SuperNova on Thursday with Scott Rosenberg, David Sifry, and Tim Bray, who is one of two chairs of the Atom working group.
Halley Suitt: Blog Murder.
Monday, June 21, 2004
Business Week: Blogging With The Boss's Blessing.
The BBC has a special RSS feed for Wimbledon tennis.
Andrew is including Atom elements in an RSS 2.0 feed. "This approach may prove valuable to feed producers with RSS 2.0 feeds who only need one or two capabilities that RSS doesn't provide, such as the ability to hide authors' email addresses. It has the advantages of compatibility, of not breaking subscription links, of not increasing the total number of feed files the producer has to manage, and it should only require minor edits to the existing feed-producing code."
See Andrew's comments. Some aggregators already support this idea!
Slashdot: Torrentocracy = RSS + BitTorrent + Your TV.
Engadget: "Send us your best guess for what big announcement Apple might be making at their Worldwide Developers Conference a week from today."
Another outage is cleared, outliners.com, an important community site, it was down for about a week, in the server switchover. I've finally had time to start looking at other outages. Still having problems updating scripting.com, that's next on the list. Moving out of Boston in 9 days. No more having other people set my priorities. Enough of that.
This AP article about bloggers at the Democratic convention should disgust anyone who believes in the First Amendment, and by the way, it probably strongly indicates why no news ever comes from either of the major conventions. They only want bloggers who will carry the party's message. Smart move. (Sorry for the sarcasm.) And these are the people who run the country when a Democrat is elected. They should invite the most offensive Republican bloggers to cover Kerry, and the most annoying Democratic bloggers to cover Dubya. When will they learn, you can't bore the voters and hope to win. Embrace the blogs, it's the last chance this country has for some real politics. Geez Louise. (I guess I didn't really want to cover it after all. Hey.)
What are the names of each of the Chinese house wives?
Greg Reinacker, author of NewsGator, will speak at Supernova later this week in Santa Clara. He's talking about RSS on a panel about email. Hey wish I could be there with you, but I wasn't invited.
BTW, I've decided if I'm going to get trashed for being an asshole, I might as well tell you what I think. Makes no difference either way. And I saw American Splendor over the weekend and agree with what Pekar said about the Letterman audience. If you're part of an audience, run run run get out of there. Do something with your life. It's passing you by. No more audiences. No more bedtime stories. Got an email that said if they're shooting at you must be doing something right. Go do something worth getting shot for.
Two years ago today I stumbled home, a big hole in the middle of my chest, weak as a kitten. First thing I did when I got home? Boot the computer and check the mail, do an aggregator run, post to the blog. I think Scoble calls this the digital lifestyle. Hehe. One thing I remember about that day is how awful a smoker's house smells. A lot of changes took place in that week.
Now that I don't have a TV, again, I am for the first time in my adult life, 100 percent drug-free. Hey, now I get to say something I've always hated when other people say it. I'm just high on life. And if you ever doubted that TV is an addiction, let me tell you, it surely is. The same thought patterns apply. My mind goes into idle, and snaps into "I'll just watch some TV" mode. Just like I used to solve problems by smoking a cigarette. Yup. Now I guess my only crutch is this laptop. Is that an addiction. Hmmm. Maybe it is, but if so it's like breathing air. I don't plan to give this one up.
Sunday, June 20, 2004
Here's a picture of fourteen Macintosh software developers grinning at an Apple executive that appeared on the cover a 1989 software catalog.
I recorded Bill Clinton on 60 Minutes, audio only, as broadcast on WBZ-AM Boston. Commercials included.
So I did another audio recording, and now I can't get a DVD to play. I tried re-doing Darryl's instructions, but no luck. I want a button that says "I'd like to play a DVD now, dammit, set it up so it works." If you have any fresh ideas, please let me know. The problem is Windows is still taking audio input from the microphone. I want it to play the audio from the DVD.
I got a truly luxurious present for my parents, who are hard to buy for, especially my father, who doesn't hide his feelings about presents. I don't think, until this weekend, I had ever given him a present that he really liked. And it was surprising to me that he liked this one, because it wasn't exactly an intentional present. Sound weird? Keep reading.
Dan Bricklin went to a reunion of people who worked on the Multics operating system. The name Unix derives from the name Multics. Unix is one "ic." Get it? And then Linux is derived from Unix, it's Linus's "ix." This is good, it's called standing on the shoulders of giants. It's respectful. There's another family of ancient operating systems (let's see if I get this right). First there was RT-11, then RSTS and CP/M, then MS-DOS (also known as PC-DOS, same thing), and finally MS-Windows. They all shared the same command structure, and at least for CP/M and MS-DOS and Windows, a common API. Windows went much further, and RSTS was multi-tasking. So while the Unix thread was scaling down, the RT-11 thread was beefing up. Meantime Macintosh OS was a wholly different thread, and it was not well-known that the pretty icons rested on a fairly powerful and well-designed DOS with a simple multi-tasking design. It worked. We were able to build interapplication communication on it.
Command Post reports that bloggers will cover the Democratic National Convention in Boston next month. I've applied, haven't heard back yet. I wonder if the print and broadcast people know if they're approved.
Thanks to a poster named Darryl who helped get my laptop audio working again, I was able to watch the full American Splendor, a great movie, and a parable for the blogging lifestyle. I love how the two characters Pekar and Letterman bounced off each other. Pekar shows humans as they really are, frail, scared, lonely, but also vulnerable, sweet and loving. Letterman throws him a softball, tell us about all the great projects you're working on. Pekar asks what he's talking about. He's a file clerk, always will be a file clerk, and hopes to have a few years of health between retirement and death. That's American Splendor. It's not pretty but it's real. A blogger's anthem. Very cool.
Andrew is working on a project involving both RSS and Atom, and has some questions about content encoding in Atom.
Saturday, June 19, 2004
SpywareInfo RSS 2.0 feed. Subscribed.
Help, I can't play music on my ThinkPad running XP.
Jon Udell on the Google PC.
NY Times reviews Bill Clinton's memoir.
One of my own weblogs, not updated since November 2002, was in the lifeboat, and was rescued. It's interesting to see the old sites. Many of them were deliberately shuttered by the people who created them. Makes an interesting story. I wonder if anyone will be interested.
Technical update on the hosting transition.
I'm still getting billed for some items from my Europe trip in April. The wonderful cell phone I rented, for one week, cost (sit down) $472.53. Holy shit. Now some of that has to be the terrible exchange rate from dollars to euros. And some of it is a total ripoff. Oy. I better get a phone that works in Europe. Andrew has one. He says T-Mobile is the way to go. Postscript: Christoph Jaggi explains.
Today we added a link to encoding examples for descriptions in the RSS 2.0 specification.
Better late than never. Don Park is a friend.
Scoble: "When there are technology users in pain, we should do whatever we can to take care of them."
Jeneane Sessum: "A 9/11 of sorts for the weblogs.com bloggers."
Matt Haughey snapped this picture. Did things get blown out of proportion? Vastly. No sites were lost, nothing was murdered, all the data is safe, it was nothing like 9/11, the users are okay, a bunch of people showed how nasty and selfish they can be, we were hit by Slashdot traffic and trolls at a time when our server was already buckling under the load, and we were finding it impossible to communicate with the people who were affected. The press did a quick superficial job. Now we're over the rough spot. One can hope that next time it happens people aren't so quick to believe the lies and hysterics, and that people who understand technology stick around and help clear up the bullshit.
Friday, June 18, 2004
I just did a check on the new server that's hosting the weblogs.com sites, and everything looks fine. Rogers has written a FAQ that explains what's going on. Here's a list of all 3018 sites on the new server. And a page that creates a backup copy of a site (please please use it). So the first part of the transition is complete. Unless something goes wrong, there's only one more step, which will happen gradually over the next week, redirecting the old URLs to the new ones. We have to do this slowly and watch carefully because this will put the stress on the system that caused the outage last weekend. We may have to optimize, or only redirect the sites that are being maintained. No matter what they'll get the highest priority. But the biggest part of the transition is now complete. Happy. Thanks to Rogers for adopting the bloggers, and thanks to the users of weblogs.com for their patience and understanding. I am sorry for the rough ride, I wish it had been smoother. We all learned a lot, and that's cool, and for the most part we're all still friends. I think the weblogs.com community will go in new interesting directions now, being reborn in fire isn't necessarily a bad thing. I'm definitely part of the community, and will help any way I can.
Some things work and I have no idea how. For example, here's a page that ranks sites on buzzword.com by hits today and hits since June 16 (when the server was started up). How is this being maintained? Even though I wrote all the code, I have no idea! Oy. I'll dig into it later.
IdeaForest.Net is offering Manila hosting for $3 per month. "You don't need a PhD in HTML." Amen.
BBC: "A group of retired US diplomats and generals has condemned the foreign policy of the Bush administration as ideological and callously indifferent."
FCC: The History of the Internet.
John Robb and I certainly have had our differences over hosting issues, so it's especially nice to get some help from him.
Jeremy Wright: "I agree with John Robb completely."
Sean Gallagher: "It's yet another barn-raising , Internet style -- with a few people to do the work, and an unlimited supply of hecklers."
Thanks to Jerry Pournelle for the kind words of support. I do have an email address. It's dave at scripting dot com. Or dwiner at cyber dot law dot harvard dot edu.
ThoughtStorms: RSS as a river.
Sun Labs has an RSS feed for tech notes.
NY Times: "President Bush should apologize to the American people."
Good morning. I've got a van rented, and am moving non-essential everyday things down to NYC. It's raining and hugely muggy. It's my father's 75th birthday today. The transition is going smoothly, Rogers is introducing people to their newly relocated sites in groups of ten. We're monitoring the server carefully to see how it's performing.
Wes Felter said he was glad I "did the right thing." I've known Wes since 1995, nine years, I think he was 15 then. Yesterday, talking with Steve Gillmor, he asked me about Steve Kirks. I told him Steve is super-smart, young, ambitious, a learning sponge, tough, but fair. As I described him, I said he's like the people I like to work with. I said "like Brent Simmons," knowing that Gillmor knows Brent. I was also thinking of Wes Felter, who I used to work with. Anyway, Wes should have known I would do the right thing. I asked him, in an email, when have you known me to cut a corner? And I said next time, and there will be a next time, it would be nice if the people who know me, would say publicly that I am honest and hard-working, and to give me a chance. The reason so many of these people say ever-more-damning things about my integrity, is that no challenges them. Every time it's like starting from zero, I have to prove that I'm not the cretin they cast me as. Next time, would the Internet have a memory please, and would the people who know me, who even would like to think of themselves as my friends, say something, publicly, so people know.
I don't care about the people who attack, I know they're trying to get me to care, but I've been through this so many times, I can see how they're working. They don't even try to tell the truth anymore, probably because they know no one will check up on them, and if they act like they know me well, lots of people will assume they do. Mark Pilgrim showed me how this works, by talking about decisions I made, as if he were there, when they happened years before he was involved. Sam Ruby is starting to do the same thing (or at least not objecting when other people assume he's not the newbie that he is). Other people don't tell you why they have personal reasons to be bitter, and why people, if they knew, would take what they say with a grain of salt, and maybe even be appalled at how they're being used. What really gets to me is how people who say they're my friend, stand by, and say nothing. When that happens, we cross off friendship as an option. Friends stand beside friends, even if it causes a bit of conflict. I've learned that friendship is a very rare thing, or maybe other people don't consider the importance of the glass ball, but I thought I should say that it's this standing-alone-thing that is most hurtful, to me. And I think it's why they choose me to attack, by the way. After years of service, actually decades, I feel I have earned the benefit of the doubt. And I didn't get it.
I'm a big, strong, intelligent, self-reliant male. Our culture acts as if such people never need help. "Be a man," they say. Enough of that bullshit. Inside every strong self-reliant male is a scared kid, who doesn't think he's going to get out of this alive. The attackers are dispropotionately women. Do you think maybe they're using me to get even for how someone treated them? A father, a brother, an uncle, an ex? Does our culture let them be abusers, assuming the man is always wrong, guilty until proven innocent? I've been in this big strong body for a long time, and I gotta tell you, it's a rare thing when people consider your feelings in how they deal with you. I think some people take advantage of that too.
Thursday, June 17, 2004
Weblogs.Com: Transition plan for hosted sites.
EditHere.Com offers Manila hosting, with a 180-day free trial, $35 per year after that.
An audio blog post thanking the people who provided support while we were putting together the transition plan.
Dan Bricklin's ListGarden RSS Generator Program. "It creates and maintains RSS feeds."
Blair Fannin: "I'm posting the slides we're going to be using for our presentations on RSS at the ACE conference on Monday."
David Golding: "It worked!"
The News.Com article is the most accurate, but based on old information. It'll be interesting to see if they pick up the story's ending (knock wood, praise Murphy). One error in the News.Com piece, I founded UserLand in 1988, not 1998.
Slashdot did a follow-up. Good work guys.
It's true, people just love to jump up and down.
Sandra Pianalto's speech about the rubber balls and glass balls. The rubber ball will bounce and someone else can pick it up. That's your work life. The glass ball is family, friends, your health. Drop it, and if you're lucky it'll just crack. If you're not so lucky, it'll break into a million pieces. No matter what it'll never be the same. The people were shocked because I dropped a rubber ball, deliberately. Had to do it. If you don't understand, ponder it, and you'll learn something about life that's important. No Web project is worth dying for. Well, maybe it's possible that one is, but this one ain't it.
Michael Winser: "Dave, you dropped the rubber ball, on purpose."
Dave Rogers: "What is happening here is not very pretty, and reflects very poorly on this 'community.'"
WebReference: Browser Wars v.2004.
Lisa Williams, a Thursday regular, has transitioned her weblog from Movable Type to WordPress and is doing something interesting with the Dewey Decimal System. Speaking of Thursdays, we're on for tonight. 7PM. It's the second-to-last meeting before my fellowship is over, next Thursday is the last meeting I'll be at. We should probably do something special? Maybe dinner at the Durgin Park?? Or the Harvard Faculty Club? (Might be too expensive for the bloggers.)
Thanks to Evan Williams for the words of support in the midst of all the heat. It's classy that we help each other when there's trouble. We all look good. This is what I like about Ev. He gets that. Thanks man.
5AM Eastern. We now have a transition plan for the corner-turn, and have implemented most of it. The plan exceeds the commitment I made, by quite a bit; and will be implemented much sooner than promised. I'm writing the heads-up statement right now. The outage should be, Murphy-willing, completely cleared by the end of the weekend.
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Paul Boutin reviews the Starz-Real movie subscription service.
The excellent Hacking Netflix weblog is covering all this stuff.
Revised proposal to clarify the RSS 2.0 spec re HTML in descriptions.
Gizmodo: "I would be afraid to walk naked in front of it."
I'm getting an unprecedented amount of email, most of it from people who want to host the sites, but don't know anything about Manila. They seem to think these are static sites that live in the file system. They are not. Some of the press reports have also made this mistake.
All the time I spend addressing the needs of random people outside the community, is time I'm not spending helping people in the community. So I'm choosing not to spend time on these offers, when I get offers from people who understand what a Manila site is, I'll pursue that. I'm still waiting for Rogers to get a very simple transition server up and running. Hurry up guys.
Sometime in the future we may have some kind of ethical code that says that when there's an outage, professional publications wait until the outage is cleared before calling out the flamers at Slashdot.
I remind people I'm just a person, and I have a complicated life already. Regardless what the press says, it's still true. I had two doctor's appts yesterday and one today. I may need surgery. This isn't a life-threatening illness, but it's not a fun thing either. Moving on June 30. So there are other things on my mind, believe it or not.
There are a couple of memes that are travelling around the net. First that somehow you have to be careful of what you say or I won't export your site. It's not true. I've been doing this for over 25 years. Much of that has been spent on the connection between the First Amendment and technology. I'm the last guy you have to worry about in this way. The second wrong meme is that I should have or could have given more notice. Putting a note on Scripting News wouldn't have been notice. I've tried to communicate with free-hosting users through this site many times. It doesn't work. Most of them don't read it. Email wouldn't have worked either because most of the email addresses are dead, and had I sent them, the outrage would have been about spam (read the Register article for an idea). Spam filters of course would have stopped most of the messages that had email addresses that hadn't gone out of date. The only other choice would have been to somehow modify the content displayed on their websites. I wasn't going to do that. Also it wasn't technically an option, since the server couldn't handle the load. (Again these are all dynamic sites, not static ones.)
One of the things I learned is that just because a site is dormant doesn't mean it's not getting hits. The referer spam problem on these sites was something to behold. Search engines still index their pages, and return hits. They were mostly dead, in the sense that most hadn't been updated for several years. I had to find out quickly who was there and what were they using the sites for. I had to get other people mobilized to host their sites. I'm getting sick. And I'm moving on June 30.
One of these days in this weblog world kindness may be part of how we deal with each other. I think some people should condemn the flamers, but don't. They shouldn't get any support. Calling this outage murder, or saying I'm psychotic, well, this is so over the top, but instead of condemning this, a couple of people have councelled me on how to deal with it. Well I don't accept that. I won't deal with hysterical people. I'm not running for president, I am not a corporate executive, and I don't tell bedtime stories to adults unless its for fun and they're friends. I can tell you what it feels like to be me, but I don't know how it feels to be you. I'm willing to listen, up to a point, but unless your site is hosted on weblogs.com, I don't understand why you're hogging the microphone right now. I believe so strongly in the weblog world, that we should be grounded in truth. I think a lot of people participating in this dicussion are not grounded in truth, deliberately so, openly so. Shame on you, I say.
One thing is gratifying, the weblogs.com users have uniformly been patient, supportive, gracious, and just plain nice. The people who are behaving badly are people on the sidelines. This is a great community, I've been serving them for four years for free, and surprise, most of them get that and appreciate it. We'll get through this, it's just a corner-turn, we've done lots of them in the past. And when it's all over we'll be friends, I hope.
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Greenspun: "While Microsoft is trying to replace Google with MSN Search, Google will be trying to replace Microsoft Office with Google Web-based Office."
Giles Turnbull reviews aggregators for Mac OS X.
Steve Hooker offers free Manila hosting to any weblogs.com author. Steve is a pleasure to work with, a real pro. There are other such offers in the works. Note, we won't have to wait until July 1 to do these transfers, and I will install redirects, so links won't break.
No question, Orlowski is writing comedy. I laughed five times reading this. Especially the parts about BloggerCon. "The only way I would attend such a conference is with a bottle in front of me or a frontal lobotomy."
Dan Mitchell takes issue with Orlowski's piece. BTW, the free hosting was for four years, not two.
Press release: "The Mozilla Foundation today announced the immediate availability of a new preview release of its next generation web browser, Mozilla Firefox 0.9."
Adam Curry reviews Blogmatrix Jager.
Thanks to Doc Searls for explaining what's going on with free hosting at weblogs.com. So far there are 44 sites that will looking for new homes shortly after July 1. If you're running a Manila hosting service and would like to adopt one or more of these sites, that would be great. If you can work with people to convert their sites to other formats, that would be great too. If you have an offer to help people with free weblogs.com sites, please send me a link and I'll pass it on.
Engadget: "With our crack-like addiction to RSS feeds we’re pleased to see that SmartPhone users have an interesting option to view RSS feeds on their phones."
Steve Rubel: Contrary to Reports, RSS Feeds Can Be Searched.
Monday, June 14, 2004
Steve Gillmor: "If John Lennon were alive today, he might be releasing direct to Net via RSS enclosures."
Jager for Windows supports RSS 2.0 enclosures and HTTP and XML-level redirection.
According to John Palfrey, Gator, the adware scorge of Internet users worldwide, is going public.
Some professional reporters mean well, but still can't get the story right. I spent an hour on the phone with the reporter, I didn't say the things she says I said. It's totally mangled. Oy. RSS 2.0 is extensible, and it's totally clear now that Atom is no more "open" than RSS is.
BBC: The seven-year-old bloggers.
Highly recommended, the PBS biography of Ronald Reagan.
Audio for 1/2 of the Bill Gates keynote at ADAPSO in 1991. I'm on this tape proposing that Apple and Microsoft work together on interapplication communication, which is the pre-Internet precursor to XML-RPC and SOAP. I talked much faster 13 years ago. There's another tape out there somewhere, where Gates says okay, he'll work with Apple, but I don't seem to have it. The rest of the story is here.
Tim Berners-Lee: "There would have been a CERN Web, a Microsoft one, there would have been a Digital one, Apple's HyperCard would have started reaching out Internet roots."
The Guardian: "It is always necessary to declare an interest when the journalist is writing about something with which he or she has a significant connection. This applies to both staff journalists and freelances writing for the Guardian. The declaration should be to a head of department or editor during preparation. Full transparency may mean that the declaration should appear in the paper or website as well."
I'm looking for info on some really strange hubcaps.
Two years ago today I stopped smoking. Today I occasionally want a cigarette, but much less than I did a year ago, and that's much much less than two years ago.
On that day: "It's going to be a light day here on Scripting News. Lots of non-Internet stuff going on." Indeed. Shortly after writing that, I stopped at a Woodside gas station and got two packs of Marlboro Lights. Rolled down the window and lit one. Drove to the cardiologist's office. I was having severe chest pain. Weakness. Difficulty breathing. A feeling of doom.
When I got to the office they wanted to put me on a treadmill, but I refused, I felt too frail. They did an EKG. Nothing wrong. Then an ultrasound. Also normal. The doctor sat me down and said there's probably nothing wrong with my heart, but let's do an angiogram just to be sure.
We walked over to Sequoia Hospital, luckily it was downhill. I undressed, signed papers. They explained that if they found a blockage they could fix they'd put in a stent. I said I hoped that's was what it was. They wheeled me into surgery, put me half-under. I was sort of conscious through the operation, but have almost no memory of it. I woke up in a private room, with no idea what had happened.
A couple of hours later the cardiologist came in. I was still in a daze. He was yelling. I got the impression I was very sick. Didn't know what was happening. Later somehow I learned that I had four blocked arteries feeding my heart and that they'd do bypass surgery on Monday. I cried and cried. And learned a lot. Maybe I'll write some more about it.
On the Sunday before my surgery, I said to Tori -- "You know I haven't decided to stop smoking yet."
Then after the surgery, not sure which day it was (probably Tuesday morning) in the ICU, the surgeon comes to see me, really sharply dressed, with a sharply dressed woman with him (not sure who she was).
The doctor says "You're a computer guy, right?" I said I was. "What's the word you guys use for seeing something?" I asked if he meant visualize. "That's it!" he exclaimed.
"Now I want you to visualize yourself as a smoker." Since I had been trained in meditation, I thought I was about to be deprogrammed. Okay, I'm visualizing.
"You're dead!" he said and started laughing.
What do you mean? I asked. "People like you who keep smoking are usually dead within three years," he explained. Gulp. Somehow, in all the doom and gloom it had never really sunk in that I had almost died. If I had waited another couple of weeks to deal with this, well, I don't even like to think about it.
Anyway, that was the moment. That was when I decided to stop smoking.
Sunday, June 13, 2004
Maybe the IETF has found the answer for itself and for the W3C. Perhaps both should start processes to create a format for syndication and protocal for content management. Maybe then we can see the strengths of each process. Standards organizations compete. Maybe if each had to work to get developer and content support, a better format will emerge. It's been proven that competition makes for better listening.
Time: Meet Joe Blog.
Gotta try the Findory Blogory. Love the name.
Terry Heaton: "The Federal Communications Commission yesterday took the first step towards reassigning frequencies to enable high-speed, wireless broadband in the US."
I can now convert audio cassettes to MP3 format. The first things I'm going to convert are exercises and lectures from Jeru, my meditation teacher. This is really important because he died a few years ago, and the tapes are not easily available, if they are available at all. I'm converting one of two Quantum Light Breath tapes first. Amazing stuff. I have more Jeru tapes. I also have a recording of a keynote with Bill Gates, Larry Tesler, Dave Liddle, Esther Dyson and myself from 1991. This is so cooool.
Turns out I only have a tape for half of the 1991 keynote. It ends at the moment I ask Bill Gates and Larry Tesler to work with each other on a common interapplication communication layer. Tesler was an exec at Apple and they had the Apple Event Manager. Later in the session, Gates said he'd bake it into Windows if Apple would give it to them. In the end, Apple wouldn't answer the question, and it never happened. How different the world might be today if they had gotten together on this in 1991. Desktop networking could have been much more powerful much sooner. I'll have the recording available for download tomorrow morning. It's 35MB.
Adam took Freecache for a ride.
Daniel Abrams wonders about SOAP interop.
Scoble is cleaning out feeds. I'm seeing the opposite problem. I am now hosting the weblogs.com sites started in Y2K, most of which are inactive (or so it seems, I've yet to quantify this). All of a sudden I'm hosting hundreds of inactive RSS feeds, and since this base of sites was where RSS was bootstrapped, there are a fair number of subscribers. I need a way to tell the aggregators, forget it, these sites are in mothballs, stop asking for the feed. A couple of years ago I proposed a way to do this, but as far as I know only Radio and NetNewsWire support it. If you know of other aggregators that do, please let me know. It's important to support both HTTP and XML level redirects because some authors don't have control over HTTP.
Ben Hammersley, a reporter for The Guardian, objects to the idea of XML-based redirects. I've heard this before of course, but the fact is, a lot of people can't change how their HTTP server works. Still it's important that they be able to tell aggregators that their feed has moved, or that their feed is finished. It's so disheartening to see this constantly reduced to religious terms, when it's a user issue. Further, Hammersley is not an independent observer, as this post clearly shows, he has a strong partisan opinion. Even so, the Guardian, a respected UK publication, has assigned him to report on developments in the RSS community as if he were independent. Puzzling.
Saturday, June 12, 2004
Ole Eichorn: "Have you ever wondered about all the unused keys on your keyboard?"
Adam Curry: "After a few minutes I forgot that he wasn't talking to me. But just like a radio host, he is talking to me."
Rogers Cadenhead: "Raymond kept all 150,000 of his open source tulip bulbs through April 2002, his last month on the VA Linux board."
Susan Kitchens needs some help exporting her Manila site.
On this day two years ago, I pointed to Brian Buck, a member of the mid-90s Frontier community who was fighting bone cancer and writing about it on his weblog. Seeing the link reminded me that it had been too long since I checked in. I just did, bad news. He's got a big tumor, is back in chemo, and according to Brian, it's not looking good. He's a young man, and was always very generous in the community, a kind spirit. Makes all the other michegas seem so small and unimportant.
Interesting argument about the white-on-orange XML buttons. Reminds me of a story. In 1995 or 1996 or so, before the dotcom boom, I was driving from SF to Calistoga, via US 101. In San Rafael, I passed the Marin Civic Center, which had a big electronic billboard facing the highway, one where the message can vary depending on what's going on. That day the sign simply said http://www.marin.org/. I bet just one in a thousand of the drivers knew what that weird word meant. But I knew and I laughed out loud because it was such a cool use of technology, and a harbinger of things to come. Today it wouldn't even make an impression because URLs are so commonplace, in fact, you'd probably be surprised if they didn't tell you how to find them on the Web. Now I'm not going to tell you I know for a fact that the white-on-orange thingies are going to be as ubiquitous as Web URLs in the physical world, but maybe they will be, and it doesn't hurt anyone to see a little thing they don't understand, happens every day, all over the world, and somehow we survive.
As an illustration, I bet only 1 in 10 Scripting News readers understand the paragraph above, or the picture below. How do they cope with the confusion? They probably just skip it and get on with their lives.
Friday, June 11, 2004
I did my first audio Morning Coffee Notes this morning.
The users control RSS, always have.
The Skelecosm: Why I Chose RSS 2.0. "Which standard is easy enough to implement in Notepad, and guaranteed to work everywhere?"
Doc Searls: "RSS is opt-in authenticated email."
Cringely: "I give credit to Dave Winer of Userland Software for inventing web logging, and I think the idea then was to publish, to share your thoughts with everyone else. But most people's thoughts aren't really worth sharing. Most web logs are little more than lists of annotated bookmarks and the value of those bookmarks can probably be best derived through a web aggregator, in which case people would be writing not to be read but to be counted, which isn't nearly as much fun."
Rome is a set of "Java utilities that make it easy to work in Java with most syndication formats."
Andrew is playing with his new Gateway DVD player.
Slate: "He accidentally zapped himself with spyware, then spent days documenting his attempts to get rid of it."
Don Park: "Why is Korean cuisine so spoon-centric?"
I went out for Chinese dinner in Waltham last night after seeing both Kill Bills on Wednesday. Now Asian women seem like Kung Fu godesses, I expect them to say something clever or to swing around Japanese steel. One of the stars of Kill Bill is a Chinese-Japanese-American living in Tokyo, but there are lots of other shrewd, powerful and sometimes demented and cruel Asian women in the movie.
US Army War College: "What if you were given a tool that would monitor the flow of new information on your favorite web sites and let you know what is new on each site?"
Thursday, June 10, 2004
BBC: "Ray Charles has died in Los Angeles aged 73."
Microsoft is publishing security alerts via RSS 2.0. It's the perfect time to do this, the email channels are clogged, and the people who need to be alerted of security issues are exactly the kind of people who, in 2004, are likely to use an aggregator. There are still a few glitches to work out, but the feed is in pretty good shape, and can probably be used in most aggregators. Computerworld and Insecure.Org also have security feeds, providing triangulation.
Something is not quite right when people say "RSS is not going away anytime soon" and then say they want peace not war. As a longtime sports fan, I believe the time to declare victory is after you win, and then be humble, because your challenger is waiting in the wings (wait till next year, they say as you pour the champagne). My old friend Jean-Louis Gassee, the genius of sexual metaphor, calls this tactic, which is common among adolescent males and Silicon Valley tech companies, premature congratulation. It's bad practice. Be humble. If you like Atom, say you like Atom, no problem with that. But if you dis the format that created the market that you hope to dominate, well, as Mrs Landingham says, I don't even want to know you.
I keep forgetting to say who my favorite West Wing character is. My favorite Simpsons character is Grandpa, which shows that sometimes my favorite isn't one of the stars. And so it is with TWW. My favorite is Leo McGarry's assistant, Margaret. She gets the best lines. She's a fanatic, but really smart. And a total team player. A red-headed fox. Crazy and funny. Joined at the hip with Leo. Sassy.
Slashdot post on Google and RSS.
Ed Brill: E-mail vs RSS.
RSS2WAP does what its name says.
Travelocity isn't finished haunting me.
Marc Andreessen: "First it was email, then web, then IM, then Napster/ Kazaa, then Apple iChat, now RSS. One thing after another."
Tony Perkins and Dan Gillmor will lead a discussion about weblogs and social networks at the Churchill Club in Silicon Valley, June 17, 6PM.
Something troubling about this post from Jeff Veen, a former colleague at Wired. He's glad to have an intermediary to sort out all the weird formats showing up on his RSS desktop. "Leave the hard stuff to someone else," says Jeff. "It wasn't supposed to be hard stuff," say I. It was supposed to be transparently simple. We're in a bad place, because after the next level of hard stuff it won't be possible for an intermediary to sort it out. Then we'll bemoan the lack of support of "standards" but the problems won't get solved, and eventually we'll give up and move on. Why we can't learn from the mistakes of the past is the mystery of the human hive.
Last night: "The aggregator developer community has embraced Atom. At this point Google could afford to concede the point, they've managed to get what they probably wanted, a third major syndication format."
Wired: "TV watchers can now connect their basic TiVo Series2 DVR to a home network and share content between two or more TiVo boxes in the same household, schedule recordings using the Internet, play music and view digital photos -- all features previously available with the company's home media option for an added fee."
What I like about this piece is the author's unabashed advocacy of RSS. We tend to tiptoe in the RSS community, but what's wrong with saying what you think? I got involved in this stuff because I wanted a more decentralized system for moving information, ideas, and opinions around the Internet. So let the ideas flow.
As predicted by the weather guys, the heat wave has broken. It's 72 degress outside and the temperature is falling. I don't have an indoor thermometer, but I would wager it's still in the low 90s, 100 percent humidity. Not great sleeping weather. But relief is on the way. Whew. After listening to the latest Gillmor Gang radio show last night, I had low-grade nightmares about the lies enterprise software companies tell their customers, and the poor lot of a tech analyst in the early 21st century. What you have to say to earn a buck. Oh the humanity.
Wednesday, June 09, 2004
News.Com: Google mulls RSS support. Cool.
I agree with most of what's in today's News.Com article about Google and RSS, but there are several things I take issue with.
Political Wire: Poll Shows Kerry With Solid Lead Nationwide.
ModTorrent is a "drop in solution for Apache servers when deploying the BitTorrent file swarming technology."
Steve Hooker: "Fear, uncertainty, doubt!"
NY Times: "TiVo, the maker of a popular digital video recorder, plans to announce a new set of Internet-based services today that will further blur the line between programming delivered over traditional cable and satellite channels and content from the Internet."
Jim Moore is organizing a rally for Sudan in Cambridge tonight.
Today's forecast -- high of 95. Tomorrow's high 65. How do they know this stuff? Hope they're right! Postscript: At 1:30PM it's 95, only one thing to do.
Roger Ebert: "Tarantino has made a masterful saga that celebrates the martial arts genre while kidding it, loving it, and transcending it."
11/02/95: "Our new cave needs curtains and party favors."
Next Monday, June 14, is the two-year anniversary of my surviving heart disease and quitting smoking.
Wikipedia: "The Soup Nazi... required customers to his soup restaurant to follow his meticulous, seemingly arbitrary soup-ordering instructions to the letter, lest they be refused service by his insistent avowal, 'No soup for you!'"
BBC: "Poorer people regard smoking as one of the few pleasures they have access to, Health Secretary John Reid has said."
Last year on this day: "Don't mistake comfort for truth."
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
Howard Rheingold gave a talk at Berkman today. Approx 25MB.
David Weinberger talked about his next book. Approx 25MB.
My webcam is at Berkman today. We're between meetings. At 4PM the room should fill up again, providing more interesting distractions for the terminally bored.
Great picture of Jim Moore and David Weinberger.
After Newsweek's RSS feeds come online, God is the next one to pop.
Stonyfield Farm blog. "A chance for you to look inside Stonyfield and get to know us, and us to know you."
eBay is the latest tech giant to support RSS 2.0. The announcement comes from their senior manager of developer relations, Jeff McManus. There's a feed for special offers and announcements, and one for system status messages. Thanks to Micah Alpern for the pointer. Internet News has the story too.
Bernie Goldbach: Opera with RSS.
MacWorld: How AirTunes Works.
Ray Daly: FeedDemon and Bloglines.
Roger Benningfield: Newzcrawler vs FeedDemon.
Morgan Pugh: FeedDemon.
Wired: "From fancy hotels to fast-food joints, the number of venues offering high-speed wireless Internet access is expected to grow at a heady clip this year. But industry analysts aren't expecting laptop users and their credit cards to follow."
Boston's Logan Airport now has wireless. "The Logan Wi-Fi system is available in nearly all public areas of Terminals B, C, D & E." $7.95 for 24 hours.
It's in the low 50s this morning, as it has been all spring, but later today a heat wave is sweeping into the Boston area, with highs in the 90s. Oh my god. I'm totally not ready for this. I'll be indoors in air conditioning all day at Berkman, listening to Howard Rheingold, David Weinberger and Mary Rundle. I may record the Rheingold talk, if I am permitted to do so.
When we were developing SOAP in 1998 and 1999, another group was working on WebDAV. SOAP was higher level, you could create a toolkit that mapped SOAP calls on the procedure-calling mechanism in any scripting system. I never understood WebDAV, so I hired a smart young guy to implement it for UserLand (he works at IBM now). Never happened.
There were three groups at Microsoft, one working on WebDAV, another working with Allaire on WDDX, and a third working on SOAP. Anyway, if this were a horror movie, we'd say They're baaaaack, about the WebDAV folk. Amazingly, they're talking about retrofitting weblog APIs to be part of WebDAV. What an stunningly stupid step backwards.
Some corporate programmers are amazing that way, rapidly driving off the cliff to get off the high road and quickly get mired in the mud. Glad I'm not involved in that debate. Eventually even SOAP got mired, so we stuck with XML-RPC. Oh for the good old days, when we could ratify a standard proposed by Evan in a matter of hours. Look at all the overhead that's come into it. Blogging as a technical art, may almost be over, the standards nazis are taking over.
Monday, June 07, 2004
Had a phone talk with Steve Rubel today where I said several times that my goal is to have the users take over. Then just a few minutes later Doc Searls posted this gem. That's what users-taking-over looks like. This is the moment I've been looking forward to, when I could point to a mind bomb from a user. Adam Curry got to this bomb four years ago. That's okay, we need more converts. Let's not wait for the cable and content companies to lead us to the promised land, we'll just create our own network, like we did with weblogs, and share with the pros when they're ready. Now don't the arguments about which format is the coolest seem just a little on the silly side??
Sub-directory of all reviews so far.
Sarah Gilbert reviews Jyte.
Thomas Winningham reviews Sharpreader.
Doc Searls: "Why didn't Apple build an FM transmitter into this thing?"
I miss the Talking Moose.
Steve Kirks reviews NetNewsWire.
Bill Ives reviews NewsGator.
Adam Curry reviews Nucleus.
Keep the reviews coming.
Nick Bradbury: "If you're a long-time FeedDemon user, especially one who has tried competing products, would you consider writing a review?"
Doc Searls says RSS could be a big deal for public radio.
Jeffrey Veen: "That's the Secret Service..."
Furl helps "you save, share, and recall anything you find online."
del.icio.us is somewhat different from, but related to, Furl. It's a group bookmark manager.
Mark Pilgrim, in 2002: "Dave, I'm sorry I was rude to you. This town is big enough for the two of us."
John Battelle on Bill Gates on Google.
NY Times: Contest over Blackberry Patent.
Scott Rosenberg: "America would have been a lot better off if Ronald Reagan had never been president."
Five years ago I said here that it was time to do something about patents, if we wait, there will be a meltdown. I don't think too many paid attention. Today patents are central to every software strategy, not because we're all going to be defensive with them, as so many say. They're a hedge by investors, in case Plan A doesn't work (selling a product to customers) perhaps Plan B might (suing to get money from companies who sell products to customers). Deaf, dumb and blind are the customers themselves, who might act in their own interest and only buy products from non-patent abusers. (And as in the Blackberry case, sometimes the abuser doesn't even market products, but sometimes they do.)
Sometimes things are so obvious, of course people see the problem coming, it must be like smoking cigarettes. You know it's killing you, but you do it anyway? I'm not saying I'm any better. In a week it'll be two years since I gave up a 31-year two-pack-a-day habit.
The first three links today are like that. Google on cruise-control, like Silicon Valley of the past. What was John Warnock's answer to TrueType? Or Apple's answer to Windows? Or Netscape's answer to MSIE? The day of reckoning is coming for Google, and they're trying the same plan that failed every SV tech juggernaut that came before. The valley has a two-pack-a-day habit too, I guess. (The answer, btw, is to insulate yourself with developers who depend on your technology.)
And the US has an addiction for bedtime stories. We, as a country loved Reagan because he told such good jokes and looked so good in a cowboy hat. Listening to the current president get lost between his tongue and his lips, again, as usual, made me yearn for The Great Communicator, who only looks great in comparison to the current leadership. Clinton was a great communicator too, and dishonest like Reagan and Bush, but as they say, when he lied no one died.
Sunday, June 06, 2004
Sun is offering weblogs to all its employees.
7/9/96: "The day every Microsoft employee has their own web page, accessible to the public, with pointers to all the people they work with, inside and outside of Microsoft, that's the day when Microsoft will be fully committed to the net."
I want the total wireless experience, a tool I can hook up to my weblog from anywhere in the US, maybe Europe, what would you recommend?
John Kerry's tutorial on RSS. Smart. Teach a man to fish...
Scoble: "The new Nikon D-70. That's a sweet camera."
Buttress: "Automatically download and run .torrent files from RSS feeds."
Greenspun: "Here's an idea for a restaurant."
In response to yesterday's Bootstrapping piece, Chris Westbrook, a blind computer user, has settled on Sharp Reader, although he wishes "it had a sound notification when new headlines were obtained."
BBC: "Teenage boys and girls are using blogs, easily publishable online diaries, in many more similar ways than has been predicted."
Rick Klau: "RSS works. Politics aside, it works."
Susan, we're aware that RSS might be easier. What's in the way? A couple of things. First, we're waiting for a breakthrough idea. And second, a bigger problem awaits us after that, how to get competitors to put aside their differences for the greater good. I've privately proposed some small steps in that direction, but so far, no motion.
JFK: "A rising tide lifts all boats."
Saturday, June 05, 2004
Former US President Ronald Reagan died today at 93. Film actor, corporate spokesman, two-term California governor, two-term president. Conservative. Survived assassination. I paid for this microphone. Are you better off after four years of Carter? I didn't know we were selling arms to Iran. Win one for the gipper. Where's the rest of me?
Listening to the TV reports of the Reagan presidency, you'd think we had been governed by God Himself for eight years. I liked what his son said, I paraphrase. He was very personable, a genuinely nice person. But for such a nice person isn't it strange that he didn't have any friends? That's where the coverage should start. The paradox of the man. They're interviewing James Watt on MSNBC now. He was a pariah during the 80s. Not no more. Now he's a man of Great Inner Peace because he served under the mighty Reagan. Hoi. The press only deals with stories in the extreme. Tomorrow on Meet The Press, Russert will be trying to trick some current politico into actually saying something. And twenty years from now, when that same person is dead, they'll be saying what a religious experience it was being around him. Feh. Reagan was a smelly old dude, even when he was Prez. Sorry he's dead, but he lived to 93, and he wasn't really alive for the last few years and truth be told, I'm much more concerned about the young Americans dying in Iraq for no good reason that I can figure out.
1992: "In my life's journey over these past eight decades, I have seen the human race through a period of unparalleled tumult and triumph. I have seen the birth of communism and the death of communism. I have witnessed the bloody futility of two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf. I have seen Germany united, divided and united again. I have seen television grow from a parlor novelty to become the most powerful vehicle of communication in history. As a boy I saw streets filled with model-T's as a man I have met men who walked on the moon."
Really Simple Syndication: "I'd like the vendors to participate, in several ways, by keeping pricing and technical information about the products up to date, and to help us understand features supported by their product, and how they compare to competitive offerings. Of course, I'd like to have the claims verified by users of the products."
Jonathan Dube: 101 ways to improve your news site.
Sean Gallagher: The Syndication Standards Dance.
Bay City News: "San Francisco downtown streets are expected to become the scene of anti-war demonstrations on Saturday."
Orlowski: "Not content with asking for an arm and a leg from consumers and artists, the music industry now wants your fingerprints, too."
NY Times: "Kerry is able to unleash a kennel full of attack dogs, all standing to gain from impressing the man who could be their boss."
Russell Beattie: "Does Silicon Valley have blinders on?"
Rogers Cadenhead: "I joined the RSS board for three reasons."
A snapshot of the super-nasty politics in syndication-land. He characterizes the proposal to clarify the RSS 2.0 spec in response to requests from aggregator developers as a "shitfest." There's no way to win with people like this. This is a problem with open development on the Internet. People form opinions with very little information.
Mary Jo Foley: "Redmond's counting on new RSS feeds, newsgroup readers and online-chat tools to provide the backbone for its new and improved community platform."
SJ Merc: Google, Yahoo face off in suit.
Friday, June 04, 2004
A proposed clarification for the RSS 2.0 spec is ready for review. If there aren't any deal-stoppers, we'll make the changes early next week. Thanks to Nick Bradbury for help with the encoding examples and to Brent Simmons, Greg Reinacker, Jake Savin, Dare Obasanjo and Matt Mullenweg for help working out this proposed clarification.
News.Com: "Search giant Google, which is building up its Web-based messaging services, has quietly acquired an e-mail software company."
InfoWorld: "Contrary to published reports, Sun Microsystems Inc. has not made a decision as to whether or not to release its Java platform under an open source software license, company executives said on Friday."
Rob Fahrni misses the Scripting News cactus. "When I saw this picture, from your drive across the country, I knew it was the perfect place!"
The W3C made a pitch for Atom, but according to Matt May "we generally failed to, as they say, win hearts and minds." If Atom turns them down, as it appears they will, the W3C can start with RSS, which has a much larger installed base, is better-known and has a five-year head-start. It's the front-runner by a wide margin. Anyway, I'm still in Boston through the end of the month, which is right down the street from the W3C. They might want to try to talk with me about this. I have strong opinions, true, but I don't bite.
If you want the W3C to help RSS, send me an email, and let me know if it's okay to publish it. Not sure exactly what I can do with the emails, but it couldn't hurt. Be sure to say what your interest is, if you work at a tech company, are a blogger, publisher, tool or aggregator developer, or are a user of any or all of the above.
Comments I've received, in reverse-chronologic order.
Don Park thinks RSS at the W3C makes sense.
OJR: "I haven't been to the New York Times home page in years and yet I read 20 articles a day in the New York Times,"
Wired: "I'm amazed that this patent was filed so late and was approved. It's a double-click."
The Demo: "On December 9, 1968, Douglas C. Engelbart and the group of 17 researchers working with him in the Augmentation Research Center at Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, CA, presented a 90-minute live public demonstration of the online system, NLS, they had been working on since 1962."
7/24/00: "Imagine if you couldn't write a story because Dean Koontz had already written it. What if the idea were as basic as Boy Meets Girl? That's what's going on in another creative space, software."
We talked about the Really Simple Syndication site at last night's meeting at Berkman. We're going start a project to create a simple catalog, with brief descriptions, of all the aggregators. Lisa Williams and Shimon Rura are going to work with me on this.
We won't have a meeting next Thursday, June 10, because it's commencement day at Harvard.
Thursday, June 03, 2004
OJR: RSS Feeds Can Build Web Traffic, But..
Engadget: "Damn, Phillip, you have enough iPods yet?"
Another NY Times bit about R.S.S. Scroll down to "Simple Charity."
I finally got a chance to read the WSJ article about RSS. They gave me authorship credit for the format, appropriately. I know how long they worked on the story, so it's much appreciated. The Guardian, in a deeply flawed article, said something very different about the origins of RSS. One wonders how they would react if I claimed to write an article of theirs that made a big difference in the world. You launch so many ideas, when one succeeds, it's nice to get credit for it. Anyway, there's no doubt why one got the story right and one didn't. The WSJ assigned a reporter, and he thoroughly researched it. The Guardian assigned a politician, and he wrote an ad for his cause, and they ran it as a news article. I hear that journalism works differently in the UK. Damn right about that.
John Robb's instant analysis of the Tenet departure.
Skip's Italian Food Blog.
Martin Schwimmer doesn't know how he got hit by adware.
Burningbird: "I can’t be the only person who is uncomfortable with the premise behind Spirit of America."
Gizmodo reports on a sub-$50 digital camera you can buy at Walmart.
In 1991, I wrote a training manual for Stewart Alsop's Demo conference (it's now Chris Shipley's show) that coached software developers on how to demo software. The piece is a little dated, using software buzzwords of the time, but the basic ideas never go out of date. Focus on comprehension, find the memorable feature, know that your prospect isn't as interested in your software as you are, practice your demo with friends, never use new software in your demos, and watch out for competitors who try to derail your pitch.
In the last few days we wasted way too much time because of a curveball thrown by a couple of really nasty competitors. It's true, we're competing over something that doesn't make money, a format, but as they say in academia, the less there is at stake, the more vicious the competiton, or something like that. I've been Mr Naive about this.
I'm going to work with users, they seem to appreciate what I do. The techies and developers, until further notice, are bums. I almost want to say I hate what the technology industry has become, but when has it been anything but back-stabbing, low-road bullshit. We could be so damned powerful if we just worked together, but that clearly isn't what's going on.
Seth Godin: "It's sad to see someone choosing to be stuck."
I've said many times, competitors can be your best teachers. They're perfect mirrors, look at a competitor and you can get an idea of what people see when they look at you. A good competitor knows you as well as anyone else, and vice versa.
I point to the competition when they're playing reasonably fair. It's not always good for business, but I assume our readers are smart, and that they'll make the right decision given all the facts. And by assuming readers are smart, we attract smart readers.
Wednesday, June 02, 2004
Really Simple Syndication: "Dave, how I can explain to my large media corporation higher-ups why it's not a bad thing that they lose traffic if their readers are using our RSS feeds instead of visiting the site?"
A milestone, the first NY Times article about RSS. It's not the greatest or most insightful piece. They spell it funny, with periods after each of the letters. But it's the paper of record, so I guess now we can say it's officially happened. Funny that they didn't mention their own feeds.
Gizmodo: "There's an ethical dissonance between trying to support the artists you like and the industry you hate (and who hates you)."
Six Flags has the greatest TV commercial on the air. It's hauntingly good. When it came on during one of my TiVO-recorded programs I watched it repeatedly, and then watched it in slow motion to see how they did it. Debunks the theory that people skip commercials with DVR's, quite the opposite, if your ad is good enough I'll watch it over and over. And this is one smart company. I went to their website, and there in big spot in the middle of the page it says "Click to see our new commercial." And so I did. Happily, it's the same one that was so mesmerizing on TV, and it's just as amazing on the Web.
Now wouldn't it be great if Taco Bell put all their dog commercials on the Web. Yo quiero Taco Bell commercials!
Scoble is hosting a blogger's dinner in NYC on June 16.
Louisville doctors are considering face transplants.
Adam Curry reviews the Nucleus BitTorrent aggregator.
Ben Sinclair: "In response to Dave Winer's RSS-specific weblog for users, I've created my own Syndication for Users weblog."
Christopher Allen is working on an Edit This Page capability for PHP.
We're getting nowhere with The Guardian on the lack of proper disclosure in Ben Hammersley's story about the supposed "wars" in the RSS community. The editors take weeks to respond, when they do they say the same thing over and over, they think his conflicts were adequately disclosed, but they don't explain why.
I asked two people who were not subjects of the Guardian article to look into it, Rogers Cadenhead and Lance Knobel. Both concluded that The Guardian had not properly disclosed Hammersley's conflict, in violation of the standards of the publication. Lance's and Rogers' pieces were posted publicly, weeks ago, and have yet to get a response from The Guardian.
This is the arrogance of big media. They are not accountable to their readers, or to the subjects of their coverage. We're supposed to accept whatever they pass off as journalism. A software developer that worked this way, on receipt of a bug report from a user, would simply blame the user for the bug, and when that didn't work, say it's not a bug at all. Now certainly some developers do this, but we are harshly critical of them. It's time to apply the same standards to journalists. They often claim their thorough research sets them apart from bloggers, but when it clearly doesn't, they don't respond.
It's an op-ed piece that's not labeled as such, and no opportunity was provided for an opposing point of view. An even more thorough investigation would show that the points Hammersley made are straight from the hype on the mailing lists, but this time they appear under the banner of a respected publication. This not only gives a black eye to the technologists, but it also discredits The Guardian.
Disclaimer: This is my opinion only.
Tuesday, June 01, 2004
Julie Leung: "If you give a girl a blog then she'll want an RSS feed. And if you give a girl an RSS feed, she's going to ask for an aggregator."
Don Park: "Iraq will be worse even if Iraq becomes a strong ally of America and Iraqis are drowned in everything American for the next 50 years like Korea has been."
Ian Bicking: "Sorry for wasting your time."
Darren Barefoot says the Smug Canadian needs to check his facts.
Miseldine: "187 days smoke free." Good work!
The Smug Canadian makes a good point, sometimes we have to get involved and try to fix the world. But, imho, this isn't one of those times.
An announcement I missed when I was in Europe in April. "BMC Software agreed to acquire Marimba for $239 million in cash."
Ray Slakinski: "Nucleus will download a specified RSS file, and look for .torrent files that match any of the specified keywords."
Computerworld quick-study piece on RSS.
A medical weblog aggregator from Jacob Reider, MD.
Jeff Jarvis is promoting a site called Spirit of America. I don't know much about it, and I don't sign up for political causes I don't know much about. I see other bloggers singing glowing praises for it, but sheez, how could they know? I don't think bloggerdom should be used like TV talk shows. I said I don't stand up for causes I don't understand. I guess that's a polite way of saying that I don't even like what they're doing. I think we need to get over ourselves in America, our time is just about over, unless we stop guzzling so much gas and start electing leaders with brains, morals and courage. I feel I have to say I like Jeff, I really do, he's come through for me twice at BloggerCon, and I appreciate that. But his politics are 180 degrees opposite mine, even on tactics. I think the best thing the US can do for the world is get our own house in order and stop trying to fix the world, something we're exceedingly bad at.
© Copyright 1997-2006 Dave Winer.