It's Just Music!
Thursday, May 25, 1995 by Dave Winer.
It's great to have so many slogans. One for every occasion. You've seen smileys before, I grin on my face, so I make my email grin too. ;->
Try saying it in words. Service with a smile! We aim to please. Dig We Must! Let's have fun!
As I've said before, I love Aretha. But now it's a mature love. Steeped in respect. I've done a lot of thinking. I've even named a product after Aretha. I imagine I feel about Aretha as Steve Dorner must feel about Eudora.
But now I have a new flame! I'm developing a serious crush on Sheryl Crow and her music, the same way I fell for Paula Abdul five or six years ago. I know, how can you compare Sheryl to Paula? Don't ask!
Sheryl is leaving Las Vegas. This is LLL AAA. She likes a good beer buzz early in the morning. All she wants to do is have some fun. No Sheryl, you're definitely not the only one.
I also am really digging Annie Lenox's new Medusa CD.
My PowerPC 8100 loves Sheryl too. My old CD player flaked out a couple of months ago. After struggling to find something that would play thru my HD-1 studio monitors, I found the perfect solution. My Mac can play audio CDs! It's multimedia, and it's darned useful. Never thought I'd do this.
I have the Mac plugged into a Bose table radio that I bought impulsively about a year ago. It's sitting on top of my SuperMatch 21-inch monitor. A cable connects the radio, which amplifies the Mac's signal, to my monitors. The result is a gratifyingly clean and loud stereo sound that makes my work rock. Tapping and humming. Here we are. Yeah!
Apple provides a great little Control Panel for audio CDs. You can drag and drop your play list. I have track 9 repeating over and over and over all morning. Getting into the groove! When the phone rings I bring the Control Panel to the front and click on the stop button.
It's been nice to have some music to accompany my technical writing.
I've been having fun, embroiled in various debates on various lists. The web security issue heated up, and I've been in the loop, thanks to Aretha's ability to host scripts that are embedded in web pages. It's an experiment, an opportunity to learn how this stuff works. So far all is well.
Before making an investment in any particular security scheme, I need to understand what the application is. That's why I want a safe incubator for this idea, to play and experiment and learn. Maybe file system access has nothing to do with the "killer app" for web-embedded scripts? If so, the simplest security would just be to disable all file system verbs from embedded scripts. People are right, scripting is very powerful. So for now, that power is reserved for me, personally. Once we find a killer app, I'll put in the security features to close up the holes, and open up the web-script-runner to all web developers.
Yesterday the whole thing got real interesting with Sun's announcement of their deal with Netscape to embed the Java language in Netscape's web browser. It's good to know that an established technology vendor like Sun can ally itself with an aggressive startup like Netscape. John Doerr, email@example.com, surely must have something to do with this -- he's on the board of both companies! Maybe a strategy is revealing itself?
Anyway, Java sounds cool. I want to write Java scripts, and make them work with my Frontier worm scripts, CGIs, embedded ones, etc. We can hook Java into the Mac OS and all scriptable apps. We should be able to make some magic happen for web content developers, who still prefer Macs, and for clients who surf from the Mac desktop. Let's all work together on security. Do they have a development system? If not, Aretha is glad to help. It'll be cool.
Linking the power of the web with the power of personal computers is a big axis of power. I think we're years and years away from the web being a virtual reality platform. I think Apple and its OpenDoc partners are waiting for a new class of software to link into the web. Today, can we tap Director on the shoulder and say play this thing? Yeah, of course that's totally do-able. Can it be made safe? Sure!
Marc Canter, David Jacobs, David Biedny -- my friends who do multimedia content, should be jumping on this one. The door is opening for all multimedia content developers to play their movies and music, viewing the web as a desktop, the starting point, the receiver of all mouse clicks. Or at least the first ones!
One thing concerns me tho: Java objects are large. If they're scripts, why are they so darned big? I hope someone will explain...
So far the Web has been like a great hippie rock festival. We're all brothers and sisters. I suspect the vibes will eventually change, somewhere down the line, when it gets crowded, but so far there's so much blue sky, we don't bump into each other too often, so we're all friends. Other industries have managed to get along with each other better, with more expedience, than high-tech has. Maybe their influence will rub off? I hope so!
On various Internet lists, a debate has been brewing over CyberDog, OLE and Netscape -- which is the platform for the web? Who should we be following? Whose APIs should I be building on?
I've made my decision. For now at least, it's Netscape. My reasons follow...
OLE is not an option. I work on the Mac platform. Despite Microsoft's excellent efforts, there's no momentum behind OLE in this world. Microsoft may support OLE in all their apps, but I realize that I don't use a single Microsoft app! Am I the only one? And my inner voice tells me that OLE would *not* be a lot of fun. I get low bang for the buck vibes from OLE.
Coming back from this year's WWDC, people seem to have a genuine enthusiasm for Apple's CyberDog, which is a superset of OpenDoc, an API for "part" integration. I hear great things about the team that's working on CyberDog. Apparently there are some carnivores at Apple. Glad to hear it!
But... CyberDog promises a lot, but so far delivers nothing. No one is using CyberDog today to browse the web. I want heat! CyberDog may be a wonderful lighter, but where are the CyberLogs? Apple is supplying kindling but where will the "killer parts" come from?
I think people incorrectly overlook Netscape as a CyberDog-equivalent. It's a read-only version. To edit things that live on a web page, you need to open a separate window in a different app. We can definitely create the links from files on the content developer's hard disk to the web browser, that's not a problem, just an opportunity.
Netscape is read-only, but I'll put my stake in the ground here -- it doesn't matter! Techies sniff, editing should happen in-place, in the browser window. But that creates user interface complexity and confusion. The separate windows approach has advantages: like a fresh menu bar, and a fresh interpretation of the user's keystrokes.
Want to edit this picture? -- select it, and choose Edit Object from the browser's menubar. A helper app launches with the object ready to be edited, and with a hotlink back to the browser. Make a change in the helper app, bring the browser to the front, the window recalculates to reflect your changes. This is what people will want. It's what *I* want.
I've seen something like this work in a new experimental version of the Netscape browser that I have on my hard disk. I can't edit objects in their window, yet, but I *can* edit its menubar, and add my own commands, in exactly the way I described in the previous paragraph. My software and Netscape's. Their platform and my part. The next steps after this are obvious and do-able. I hope Netscape does them.
But my most important reason for working with Netscape is that it's so darned easy to work with them! I get an idea, I call them up, two weeks later I get a new build in my mailbox with the idea implemented.
Collaborative development is my business. I've worked with the best developers on lots of different teams.
The Netscape guys eat red meat! My ideas show up in their product quickly and they do it my way. They don't mind if I win too.
Sing along with Sheryl...
All I want to do is have some fun.
I got a feeling I'm not the only one!
PS: I'd love to get America OnLine in the loop on this stuff. They have great technologists at Navisoft and in Vienna. It would be great if they'd join the party.
PPS: Aretha 4.0b2 is almost ready to go. I think I'll upload it after the long weekend. Or maybe just before. We'll see how the next couple of days go. 4.0b2 has a little surprise in it. Stay tuned.
PPPS: Check out http://www.rock.net. Cool stuff!
PPPPS: I got another job! I'm now a contributing editor at HotWired. They're doing a great job of editing, factchecking and linking my essays. Check out http://www.hotwired.com/Signal/DaveNet/. A new piece appears once a week.
PPPPPS: I'm shopping for international mirror sites. Got one in the UK, one in Singapore, and one in Poland. Wojtek Sylwestrzak, W.Sylwestrzak@icm.edu.pl, says: "We have a direct 2Mbps link to Polish Internet backbone and quite good connections to Sweden, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia." Cool! I still need more mirrors in North America. The University of Kansas is online. HotWired can't handle the load all by itself. If you have a high bandwidth, high uptime mirror site, I could use some help. Thanks!