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Wed, 29 Sep 2004
Frontier is a message in a bottle

I spent some time tonight listening to Dave Winer's Coffee Notes regarding the open source release of Frontier. I remember when Frontier came out -- it was during my first Macintosh user lifetime. Listening to Dave's notes took me back to those days -- 3M Machines -- 1 MHz, 1 MB RAM, 1 MegaPixel display. And here I sit at 1.25GHz, 1GB RAM and more than 2M 24bit color pixels. I'm glad that Dave was able to convince UserLand to do this. There's been a ton of software over the years that's just died and gone away, which is real shame. That entire effect is one of the reasons that I want to see open source software succeed.

I'm curious to see the internals of Frontier. The integration of a scripting language and an object database is exactly what we're building at OSAF. The outliner in Frontier is a cousin of the ThinkTank/More outliners, which are still better than any other outliner (commercial or open source) that I've seen. Just getting a glimpse of that will be worth it.

I like the thought of Frontier as a message in a bottle for the future. I also wonder how many other bottles there could be if we could unlock some of the software that's died away. Symantec More? Apple Dylan? Symbolics Genera? Lotus Agenda? Common Knowledge Arrange?

[00:46] | [computers/open_source] | # | TB | F | G | 4 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Bloglines Services: a step towards rich client web services

Early Tuesday, Mark Fletcher posted the news on Bloglines' new REST based web services API. I'm glad to see that NetNewsWire and FeedDemon, the RSS aggregators of choice in our house, among the initial supporters. Marc Hedlund has an article showing a Groovy implementation of RSS aggregator that leverages the Bloglines services. The initial support in the API is for notification, syncing and getting a blogroll.

A rich client like NetNewsWire/FeedDemon integrated with a web based service like Bloglines has the potential to offer users the best of both worlds, and I believe this is a glimpse of the world yet to come. While I've looked at Bloglines and seen some features that I like (most of which related to social aspects like recommending feeds that I'd like), I've never considered using it seriously because it won't work for offline mode, and because I believe that RSS aggregators are going to talk to my mail, address book, calendar, and other applications running on my machine. If Bloglines services exposed that social information, then I could have my rich client that integrated with local services, and still get the benefits of the Bloglines service -- that means being able to leverage the social information harvested by Bloglines within NetNewsWire. The API doesn't support it today, but there's no reason that it couldn't.

This general architecture applies to situations other than RSS aggregation, of course. This sort of thing is what I envisioned when I read Tim O'Reilly's essay All Software Should be Network Aware.

[00:15] | [computers/internet/microcontent] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Tue, 28 Sep 2004
An entrepeneur's blog

[ via BuzzMachine ]

Excite founder Joe Kraus has started a blog about life as an entrepeneur

[00:09] | [misc] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Sat, 25 Sep 2004

Sander Temme is back to working on mod_zeroconf. The thing I'd really like to see is a version of mod_zeroconf or Apple's mod_rendezvous the works for apache2. I'd like to switch over from Apache 1 to Apache 2 (mod_dav_svn), but I'd like to have zeroconf support.

[17:50] | [computers/operating_systems/macosx] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Fri, 24 Sep 2004
Programming Language Sliders

A few weeks ago there was a trio of long discussion threads on Lambda the Ultimate. The title of the threads was "Why type systems are interesting". In part II there was an very interesting exchange between (mostly) Paul Snively and Anton van Straaten that is a good summary of my thoughts on programming language design/evolution. Some comments which are especially representative are titled: Short Uptime, Striving for Positivism, and Sliders Are Fascinating! I've been trying to advocate that the current generation of dynamic language folks learn from previous generations. In the meantime, those previous generations have also been moving forward. I hope to see languages which have a slider between dynamic and static typing. Mostly I've been looking at the example of the Lisp derived languages. The LTU thread has given me a few things to put on my "to learn list":

For completeness, here are the other two parts of the thread:
Why type systems are interesting - part I
Why type systems are interesting - part II

[00:25] | [computers/programming] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Thu, 23 Sep 2004
Microcontent personality disorder

The wired world is slowly absorbing pieces of me. There's the weblog, where I write prose, del.icio.us has my bookmarks, and now Flickr has got my pictures. Never mind the social networking sites. And the feeds, the RSS and Atom feeds. The blog feed, the category feeds, the comment feed. All the del.icio.us feeds. Flickr feeds from friends. Feeds, feeds, feeds. Oh, and don't forget to feedburner your feeds into one mega feed. I have microcontent personality disorder. I won't even start on multiple e-mail, IM, and IRC personality disorder -- I need a whole display just for communications!

[00:04] | [computers/internet/microcontent] | # | TB | F | G | 7 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Wed, 22 Sep 2004
NetNewsWire 2.0 public beta is out

Brent Simmons has announced the NetNewsWire 2.0 public beta, so now I can talk about this excellent product.

Everyone has their favorite features in NNW2, and I'm no exception.

  1. The embedded browser. When Brent first put this in, I ignored it. Once it got tabs, I loved it. I'd say that more than 75% of my web browsing is now done using the embedded browser. It can can open way more tabs than Firefox can, and NNW preserves your tab settings across sessions and (rare crashes). The only thing I miss from Firefox are bookmarklets and ad killing (does PithHelmet work on embedded Webkit browsers?)
  2. Brent did a bunch of performance work that really helped my long feed subscription list.
  3. Marsedit is a great editor -- it worked out of the box with my Metaweblog support for pyblosxom, although that's probably because Adriaan broke the support in with Ecto. Actually I'm torn on this at the moment, because I finally got around to trying Ecto 2, and it has a lot of the features that were MarsEdit only, particularly multiple posting windows. Ecto 2 also has nice support for del.icio.us.
  4. The Dinosaurs and Bandwidth stats windows. Now I can find out who's slacking on their blogs, and which blogs dont' support gzip and 304 handling.

All in all, NNW2 is the only aggregator that I've tried on any platform that fits my style of reading. I've tried Shrook PulpFiction, and NewsFire on the Mac. Bloglines isn't an option for me -- I am disconnected enough that a web app doesn't cut it (although I'd love a way to get those social statistics that Bloglines has). There are still bugs in the beta (I helped report them) but Brent has be really responsive to bugs on the beta list, and I am very confident that the bug count is going to go down. If you're on the Mac and have a heavy feed load, go give it a try.

(As an aside, it's also been interesting to see the difference between NNW's combined view, which creates a Webkit browser instance for every post in the combined view (in my case, that's a lot), compared to FeedDemon, which uses the Windows IE browser component and an XSLT stylesheet. Webkit is doing something right because NNW's combined view works pretty well even with all those instances. Meanwhile, on Julie's Thinkpad, FeedDemon, which uses the IE component, and Outlook, which also uses the component, are constantly locking up, running out of memory etc. )

[00:05] | [computers/operating_systems/macosx] | # | TB | F | G | 7 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Tue, 21 Sep 2004
pebble bed nuke
The September issue of Wired has a very interesting article on pebble-bed nuclear reactors. I have no idea if the theory behind these is good, but if it is, then it seems like a technology that lots of countries ought to be investigating. Here in the U.S. we have nuke fear. I still remember Three Mile Island from my childhood (we lived at the other end of Pennsylvania, but we still saw/heard a lot about it). When I was at MIT, I didn't know a single person in Course 22 (or NukeE) that wasn't also in ROTC or headed for a career involving nuclear propulsion. Of course, there weren't that many people in Course 22 anyway.
[00:19] | [misc] | # | TB | F | G | 6 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Mon, 20 Sep 2004
Ok, ok, Flickred

We've been fooling around a bit with Flickr this weekend. Here's my Flickr page. Flickr's been very easy to use, and the iPhoto Plugin has made it very easy to upload photographs. I also managed to figure out how to e-mail pictures from my cell phone, although I'm not fast enough with T9 to be effective at titling and describing photos. I've been shooting pictures on the phone and then using the Bluetooth connection with the Mac to upload the photos to a holding directory and then importing them to iPhoto. But the repetitive keystroking needed to upload the photograph and then delete it (on the phone side) is making me nuts. If anyone has a good way to batch transfer photos from a Nokia 6600 to a Powerbook, I'd love a tip!

[00:05] | [computers/internet/weblogs] | # | TB | F | G | 4 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Sun, 19 Sep 2004
The architecture of Getting Things Done

Ben Hyde (Chooce me Matie: get things done or it’s a flogging:) and Oliver Steele (Responsive User Interfaces and Effective People) have each written posts looking at David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) from a software architecture point of view. GTD means many things to many people, and I always learn something from the various viewpoints. Ben likened GTD to "a real time control system master scheduling module", while Oliver described GTD as

a really sophisticated priority queue, and a decision procedure for deciding what to execute immediately and what to place in the queue. Each item in the queue has metadata: whether it has multiple steps, whether it requires additional information, its priority, external deadlines, and the context that the item requires: people, place, time, and energy

Oliver had begun by looking at how to make a responsive user interface, and then went on to describe the application of a sophisticated GTD priority queue to user interface architecture. I really agreed with many of the ideas that Oliver talked about in his post. I found the reference to SOAR and blackboard architecture to be interesting. We are reaching the point where lots of systems need to incorporate "AI"-like functionality in them. Witness the JSR for rule-engines, as an example of this trend.

[23:39] | [computers/programming] | # | TB | F | G | 1 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Sat, 18 Sep 2004
Ubuntu (which means "Humanity to Others") is a new Debian based distribution which looks very promising. OSNews had an interview with Jeff Waugh (from the GNOME team, and one of the Ubunto developers) as well as a bevy of screenshots.

I hope that the Ubuntu community is able to stick to a 6 month release schedule, and that there will be a significant and bidirectional cooperation with the Debian project.

[23:26] | [computers/operating_systems/linux/debian] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Fri, 17 Sep 2004
Where'd that come from again?

I've always found it hard to remember where stuff on my system came from. I download a large amount of stuff, and keeping track of it is a real pain. On Mac OS 9, the origin of a downloaded file used to be stored in the Finder's Get Info comments. Recently I discovered the Download Comment extension for Safari, which restores this functionality for Safari. Unfortunately, I don't use Safari as my primary browser (I do use it as a secondary browser -- yeah call me crazy). At the moment Firefox is my primary browser because of the ability to save groups of tabs of bookmarks, the tabbrowserextensions plugin and the excellent Adblock plugin. Unfortunately, I'm stuck on Firefox 0.8, because that's the last working Firefox, tabbrowserextensions setup that I could get to work. I haven't tried the Firefox 1.0PR, but probably will this weekend.

[23:22] | [computers/operating_systems/macosx] | # | TB | F | G | 4 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
One app that I just started using is AntiRSI, which a nice OS X app that prompts you to take a break so that your RSI doesn't get worse. I found it via this nice ONLamp.com article.
[22:31] | [computers/operating_systems/macosx/tips] | # | TB | F | G | 1 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
del.icio.us linkblog
I know that many of you probably already know about del.icio.us and have probably heard too much about it. So I'm not going to comment on the REST based social-bookmarking system, other than to say that I have a set del.icio.us bookmarks, and it serves the purpose of a linkblog, so I'm just letting you all know that it's there.

Also, I have delicious category for delicious hacks, which includes useful/interesting tools that work with del.icio.us.

[00:09] | [computers/internet/microcontent] | # | TB | F | G | 5 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Thu, 16 Sep 2004
43 Folders
Merlin Mann has started a blog called 43 Folders, named for the number of folders needed to implement David Allen's "tickler file" If you're interested in Quicksilver, Getting Things Done, or general computer productivity (on a Mac), 43 Folders should be at the top of your aggregator. And get the del.icio.us feed too.
[23:15] | [computers/operating_systems/macosx/tips] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Gestural Keyboard for Powerbooks
This year at OSCON I met Leland Johnson, who (to my surprise) recognized me from my blog. One of the things that he told me about was the very cool MacNTouch keyboard, which a replacement for a Powerbook keyboard that allows you to make gestures as well as type. This seems quite cool, although it would be problematic for folks like me who switch between the Powerbook keyboard and an external "full size" keyboard.
[23:05] | [computers/operating_systems/macosx] | # | TB | F | G | 1 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Wed, 15 Sep 2004
caller id = 000-000-0000?!
Yesterday I discovered that someone called my home office line 9 times early in the morning. The interesting / horrifying thing was that my caller ID reported their phone number as 000-000-0000. I was very brief when they called again and turned out to be a telemarketer. It seems that caller ID spoofing technology is out in the wild.
[23:33] | [gadgets] | # | TB | F | G | 17 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Tue, 14 Sep 2004
Can You Really Disconnect?
Techdirt has an article titled Can You Really Disconnect? I found it to be quite relevant since we just got back from a week long vacation, where Internet and cell phone access were minimal. So, you can disconnect. But when you get home, you'll have over 1000 mail messages and an even larger number of RSS items to slog through...
[23:16] | [computers/internet] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Sun, 05 Sep 2004
Lunchbox multiprocessor
Most of my Intel hardware is between 3 and 6 years old. I keep saying that someday I'll replace one, but I haven't quite done it yet. But this Small Form Factor dual Opteron box from IWill has got my attention.
[23:50] | [computers/hardware] | # | TB | F | G | 2 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Sat, 04 Sep 2004
TiVo Olympics indeed
I'd love to have the enthusiast's sports coverage that Jon Udell described in his column this week. Just replace gynmastics with skating...
[23:48] | [computers] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post

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Ted Leung FOAF Explorer

I work at the Open Source Applications Foundation (OSAF).
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