Scripting News


Public libraries and recent computers

Time marches on, and it's clear our computers are going to keep getting obsoleted by the manufacturers, leaving us unable to run software that doesn't move along with them.

It's as if you couldn't read a book just because it was written 10 years ago. We don't throw away vast amounts of knowledge every couple of decades anywhere other than tech.

We should do something to get systematic about preserving the ability to study and learn from software that was made in the past. Clearly software is going to be a long-lasting kind of literature. It's time we take some steps to preserve access to it, not just locking it away in museums.

It would be great, for example, if I could go to the NY Public Library and get some time on a Macintosh running System 9, so I could check prior art of some software I wrote that only ran on that OS, that never made the transition to Mac OS X.

Pretty sure the libraries don't have the money for this, but perhaps this is something the people who made billions off the software legacy could help with here, put something back for future generations?

 11/3/2013; 10:03:01 PM.

Frontier/Mac doesn't run on Mavericks

The new version of the Macintosh OS does not run the OPML Editor or Frontier, because major toolkits that it depends on have been removed from the OS.

As far as I know, there will not be another version of the Frontier kernel for the Mac, so if you want to keep running the software, you can't upgrade to Mavericks.

Frontier is licensed under the GPL. I put a snapshot of the code into a Github repository. It would be great if someone ported it to the new operating system, or to Linux, where it will likely be more stable. It might even run faster!

I'm still using it on my desktop iMac (running the last version of the OS before Mavericks) and on my Windows servers, where it runs fine. I also have a PowerPC-based Mac that will never be upgraded. I've learned from experience with past platforms that it's a good idea to keep an older machine around. For example, I've wished, when working on Fargo that I could launch MORE to look at prior art. Instead I had to rely on memory.

One approach to using Frontier/OPML Editor on the Mac would be to install a Windows emulator and run it there. I run it that way on my Mac for testing releases and it seems to work quite well.

A brief history

The first version of Frontier shipped on the Mac in 1992. That's a 21-year run. Pretty good!

Lots of things happened first in Frontier. Blogging tools, RSS aggregators, podcasting, XML-RPC and of course OPML. Manila and Radio UserLand.

It's a great environment, with integration between the database and the scripting language that has yet to be matched anywhere. Its editor both for code and data is an outliner, another coding breakthrough.

I'm proud of it. I wanted to spend the rest of my career working in Frontier, but it looks like that's not going to happen. But we'll try to bring at least some of the ideas from Frontier to JavaScript, which is where I'm doing much of my coding nowadays. And hopefully from there the ideas can spread. I think a lot of programmers would benefit from all the integration in Frontier. It's higher level.

This is an about page for the first version to be released for free on the web, in 1996. It gives some idea of the kind of foundation we built on.

Mail list

Also there's a Frontier-User mail list on Google Groups, if people want to communicate.

 11/3/2013; 9:35:41 AM.

A plot for a science fiction horror movie

Takes place in the near future.

A young Zuck-like hacker not only understands how to write scalable server apps, and has no principles about people's privacy (or really anything, for that matter), he's also a lawyer.

He starts a Facebook-like service, but it's better in some way (still need to come up with this element), but there's a twist. The user agreement can be customized for each user. But they don't do it for everyone, just a few. They know where you live, and whether you own the house you live in.

Here's the nasty thing they do.

They plant seemingly innocuous language in the agreement (that no one reads anyway) that says you sign over all your property to them.

Not sure where it goes from there exactly.

Probably not all that great an idea.

 11/2/2013; 11:02:41 PM.

It's even worse than it appears. © 1997-2013 Scripting News, Inc.