Ted Leung on the air
Ted Leung on the air: Open Source, Java, Python, and ...
Sun, 25 Dec 2005
Tue, 20 Dec 2005
Chandler 0.6 is released

We released Chandler 0.6 today.

After spending lots of effort trying to build up all the application areas at once, we decided to put all of our effort into building out one area, so that people would have something that they could use. The area we decided to build out was the calendar, since there's a real need for a good calendar solution. So this is our first step into calendar land. This version doesn't have every feature that you'd like to see, but it's a good start. The new project web site has some screenshots and some Flash movies that demonstrate some of the features. Features of note include: the ability for two people to share the same calendar (both people can create and update events) via a CalDAV server and support for managing events in different time zones. OSAF is providing an experiment CalDAV service for people who want to kick the tires. This service is using Cosmo, our Java based CalDAV server. Cosmo is licensed under the Apache License, and uses Apache Jackrabbit. There are still some sharp edges, but we are going to start using this version of Chandler as our day to day calendar at OSAF.

On the platform side of things, we've completely done away with our old XML based mechanism for describing Chandler parcels (extensions) and switched over to a system that uses Python to do the same thing. We've spent some decent effort on developer documentation, and we ought to be ready for brave souls to try to write some parcels. There are few sample parcels included in the distribution, including a simple (and I do mean simple) RSS feed reader, an interface to Amazon wishlists, and an interface to Flickr.

As always, bugs, patches, comments, and questions to the Chandler design or development mailing lists.

[23:37] | [computers/open_source/osaf/chandler] | # | TB | F | G | 10 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Julie at SXSW

For those of you following what Julie is up to, she'll be at South By Southwest (SXSW) for a panel. At the moment she's up on the front page of the SXSW site.

[12:00] | [computers/internet/weblogs] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Mon, 19 Dec 2005
The rest of ApacheCon

I just uploaded the last of my pictures of ApacheCon US 2005. If I promised to e-mail you a picture, you are next...

Here's what's left of my thoughts on this year's con.

I like San Diego better than Las Vegas. There aren't as many things to do, but I never did any of those things anyway, and I did spent a lot more time (if that was possible) talking to people this year. The new production company, Full Circle Productions, did a great job. As far as I was concerned all the logistics were handled very efficiently.

I chaired a number of sessions, mostly of friends or people who were talking about something that interested me: Lenya+Jackrabbit, CalDAV, Web Services, and Ruby on Rails. It's hard for me to get excited about going to conference sessions on technical topics, because quite frequently I can visit the website, read the docs, and achieve the same level of understanding in approximately the same amount of time. Every once in a while, someone does stuff in a session that is hard to figure out from the docs, and these sessions are more worthwhile for me. I really liked Brian McCallister's Ruby on Rails talk. He used quicktime moves to playback executions of the various Ruby on Rails scripts, while he narrated what happened. Great style.

This year ApacheCon had a mini business track that ran through Monday. Monday ended up being a bad day for me because I set, but failed to turn on the alarm clock, thereby missing Cory Doctorow's keynote, which I was actually interested in seeing. I walked in a bit late to Simon Phipps' The Zen of Free, but I liked what I heard. I agree that open source governance is going to become a bigger issue in the future, and that lots of people who don't currently see the value of this will do so in the coming year. I need to get Simon's slides and have a good look at them to see what I missed. Jim Driscoll did a presentation called Open Source for Business and Profit. There were a couple of really good suggestions that Jim had for companies trying to climb the open source learning curve. I need to get a hold of his slides as well.

That leaves the keynotes. I missed Cory Doctorow's. I already blogged a bit about Tim Bray's, but here are a few more tidbits:. Good quote "I'm going to ssh into your internal Tivo". Tim was sitting in the back of my presentation - I was wondering what he was doing there, since my presentation is absolutely at the novice level. Apparently he was gathering fodder for his keynote, because he related several things about what happened during the session (two FOP committers met each other in real life during the Q&A). Tim commented that we (the Apache community) are a very polite community and that perhaps we were too polite and that we needed to wade into some of the various controversies roiling the web. I guess I need to make the web services barbs in my talk a bit sharper. His keynote was wide ranging, from an announcement, to serious talk about multithreaded hardware (he brought a Niagra for show and tell). He suggested Erlang as a language to look at for how to deal with concurrency problems, and suggested that Apache is going to run headlong into all of the problems related to highly concurrent hardware. He also ventured briefly into Beyond Java territory, but alas my notes say no more than that. He concluded his keynote with a "thanks" (he was one of the users of the stream of patches that became Apache httpd), and an admonition: "Don't screw up". Indeed.

There was an Oracle "keynote" before the lightning talks. It was pretty bad. It was basically a product pitch, along with an announcement of a future donation of Oracle's ADF to the MyFaces project. If you are coming to ApacheCon to get the Apache community on your side and interested in your proposed project, this is not the way to do it.

Sadly, the Intel keynote wasn't much better. The speaker seemed to be in awe that he was speaking at ApacheCon. I expect a keynote on Open Source from the world leader in microprocessors to be a bit better than "wow, I am so impressed" and "please don't me mad at me if I got it wrong". If you want to become part of the community, take some time to understand what the community is about, and find a way to show us how your issues are our issues. More multithreaded/multi-cored hardware, some open source BIOS, and contributions of security code for Harmony.

I fell asleep for the middle section of Jaron Lanier's keynote. But it wasn't the content that put me to sleep, it was just 5 days of full steam ahead catching up with a guy who was sitting on the floor with his back against a wall. Lanier started out on his disagreement with RMS on building a free operating system. Lanier didn't think that cloning Unix was that interesting -- I think that he was right. From there he launched into a discussion about the Singularity. Lanier doubts that such a thing will actually occur, and points out that the bigger software projects get, the more they fail. He went on to talk about how software is brittle -- it can't improve incrementally, and it accumulates in layers. The problem with this is that ideas, critical ideas, get lock in along with the software design. And because it is hard to go down into the layers and get them out, those ideas get locked into our ideas of how computers ought to be. He cited the example of how there used to be a debate about whether the notion of a file was a good thing or a bad thing. He felt that hope for the future of software was going to come from "the other side of computer science" - robotics, simulation, etc. In order to interact with reality, you can't use protocols. Then there was an interlude where I fell asleep. When I woke up, he was just starting into a section on "What might a server of the future look like?". Lanier believes that computer interfaces will become more intimate (he is the VR guy after all), and that this will drastically impact existing servers. All of a sudden, timing becomes primary, because the server must be able to keep up to maintain the intimacy of the interface. He believes that the architecture of the net itself will have to change in order to accomodate the impact speed of light realities on these interfaces and the servers that provide them. He (third time's the charm) also brought up the problem of programming multicore processors, and mentioned partitioning applications across cores as a possible solution (one core for the AI, one core for the rendering, etc). The last section of his talk was about the style of the open source community. He said that the open source community naturally gravitates towards an additive style (here's a patch that adds x) versus a subtractive style. It's easy to keep adding stuff (ease is relative), but when you are dealing with a user interface, you sometimes need to subtract in order to get to a good interface. Lanier suggested that we need a more vigorous form of subtractive culture in open source. He hearkened back to the earlier portion of his talk where he talked about brittle software vs natural selection/evolution, and said that the key thing in evolution is selection. Selection subtracts, and it works by death or broken hearts (someone didn't get chosen as a mate). He would up with some jokes and stuff. It wasn't the most organized keynote that I've ever heard, but it was definitely the most thought provoking of the whole conference. I hope I get the chance to hear him again when I'm not bushwhacked by 5 days of ApacheCon.

[23:32] | [computers/open_source/asf] | # | TB | F | G | 2 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Fri, 16 Dec 2005

There are lots of things going on in the building that houses OSAF. Now there's one more. Mitch Kapor and Todd Agulnick have been working on a Firefox extension to syncronize Firefox bookmarks between multiple computers. Foxmarks just went into beta.

[12:39] | [computers/internet/www] | # | TB | F | G | 2 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Tue, 13 Dec 2005
ApacheCon 2005: Ok, Tim, I'm not jaded anymore

Yesterday I was wandering the halls at ApacheCon, and I passed Tim Bray in the hall. He commented to me that I looked "jaded", which is pretty true. I've been coming to ApacheCon for a bunch of years, and I've seen a lot of the talks by now. This morning was Tim's keynote, which I'll describe in detail in a later post. I had been looking forward to the keynote because I was pretty sure we weren't going to get a heavily vendor oriented keynote, which has happened before.

So I was disappointed when Tim said that he was going to make a product announcement (his first time ever in a speech), and I was unenthusiastic when the announcement turned out to be about a Sun version of Derby. That all changed about a minute into Francois Orsini's demo. Francois is working on Derby at Sun and is a long time Cloudscape engineer (Derby is derived from Cloudscape). So what kind of demo could change my mind? Francois showed how you could use Derby as a local store for Firefox by talking to a copy of Derby via Firefox's ability to talk to Java. His application was a simple tax app and he showed how you could fill in a form, quit (or crash) the browser and have that data returned to you when you restarted the web app.

Adam Bosworth has previously written about the need for local synchronizable storage for the web browser, and I know that the Mozilla folks have been investigating embedding SQLite, for just these sort of reasons. That effort is slated for Mozilla 1.5 or later. It seems to me that what Francois has done is to make that capability available today. I spent some time talking with Francois over lunch, and it turns out that he also has some code that wraps Derby in a way that is AJAX friendly, which means that AJAX applications can do similar tricks without needing the use the embedded Java support.

All of this is pretty cool. Mike Radwin from Yahoo was sitting behind me, and he and his companion were making excited noises while Francois was showing his stuff. I also IM'ed a few ASF people and their reactions were the same. Apparently the conference backchannel lit up as well, but I neglected to sign in to IRC, so I missed that.

It's likely the Francois is going to start up a blog in the near future, and he'll let us know how / where this code will be available.

Update: Francois's blog is up and running now

[13:46] | [computers/open_source/asf] | # | TB | F | G | 8 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Mon, 12 Dec 2005
Short report from ApacheCon

I've been at ApacheCon since Friday night, and it's been even more non-stop than usual. The ASF hackathon ran the same two days as the conference tutorials. I've been catching up with a bunch of old friends, as well as meeting some people for the very first time. One of the people that I've been happiest to meet is Susan Wu, the ASF's Chief Media Officer, and one of the founders of the feather, a group blog devoted to more business/marketing issues around Apache, and Open Source software in general.

Other people that I've talked to in person for the first time include Leo Simons, Upayavira, and Scott Sanders. Scott is working on a web based RSS aggregator called FeedLounge. FeedLounge has some nice AJAX touches and is written in Python. For reasons that I can't talk about yet, I'm going to be paying attention to what's happening with FeedLounge.

One interesting phenomenon is that I've spent a lot of time talking to people about photography stuff. Maybe I missed it in previous years because I wasn't interested, but there are a lot of photography geeks in the ASF. I've had people offer to let me try lenses and flashes and all sorts of things. We've been swapping tips like mad. There's even been talk of a digital camera BOF one of these evenings. This year, we have an official photographer, Julian Cash, who's been wandering all over taking photos and talking about his Human Creativity project. It's been interesting to watch him at work, to see how he poses people, how he lights them, and so forth. I even got to sub my camera for his. We were going to take a group photo of all the hackathon participants (we are pretty bad about group pictures) when his Nikon locked up. I had grabbed my camera on the way out to the picture, just in case I'd have a chance to shoot while Julian was setting up. He ended up using my camera to do the shoot. That was kind of cool, and watching Julian and Cliff work the photos over in Aperture was pretty cool as well. There are several people here using Aperture, and most of them seem pretty satisfied with it. I've taken some photos which will go up on Flickr as I have time to put them up.

[12:10] | [computers/open_source/asf] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Tue, 06 Dec 2005
What I see

out my hotel window -- I got upgraded to a "view room"

71106291 5634634395

Sure wish I had a tripod...

[23:47] | [photography/pictures] | # | TB | F | G | 5 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Thu, 01 Dec 2005
Quick Aperture Impressions

Here are some quick impressions of Aperture...

My hardware configuration is a 1.25GHz Aluminum Powerbook with an ATI 9600 Mobility GPU. This is the absolute bottom configuration that Aperture will run on. So far performance is acceptable but noticeably slow in a few cases -- I don't think that this is surprising given my hardware -- I already knew it was painfully slow at other tasks. I've put my Aperture library on a 7200RPM external disk, which is definitely helping.

I've been using iPhoto 5 til now. I haven't used Photoshop or any of the fancy RAW converters (or even Canon's DPP package or that matter). My general impression is that things are a bit more responsive than iPhoto on the same pictures.
Due to disk space limitations on my internal drive, I was copying off my iPhoto libraries to the external disk after burning them to DVD. So I've been importing these libraries into Aperture. It takes roughly an hour to do a DVD sized photo library full of Canon Digital Rebel XT highest quality JPEGs. The import can run in the background and doesn't totally pound the CPU, so I can still work while I am waiting.

The big issues being raised in the dpreview and Rob Gailbraith forums are related to the quality of the RAW conversion and the control of white balancing. I haven't gotten to the iPhoto libaries that have RAW images in them (iPhoto didn't support the XT RAW's until 10.4.3 came out), so I can't comment on these issues yet, and I might not be able to since I don't have another RAW converter to compare against. Some people are also complaining about the Aperture library "file" which is really an OS X package, which is really just a directory. So you'll be able to get stuff out of there if you need to, and it means that you'll be able to use UNIX tools and scripts to do stuff if absolutely necessary.

The organizing / rating / searching workflow is a lot better than iPhoto, and there are tons of keyboard shortcuts. The support for dual displays is nice -- I have it set to what's called Alternate, which shows a single image on the Powerbook display regardless of what I'm doing on the main display. I was hardly doing any adjustments to my pictures using iPhoto, and it seems that Aperture has all the adjustments that I actually know how to use. Not coming from Photoshop, I guess I don't know what I'm missing.

Things that I know I am immediately going to miss (and yes, these are not "pro" features, I understand that):

1. Frasier Spier's excellent FlickrExport plugin for uploading to Flickr. I guess I am going to have to figure out how to use the official Flickr uploader for a while.
2. Integration with the OS X screensaver

I got my copy through a friend at Apple, so I didn't pay full price. Given that my hardware is at the botttom of the pile, I'm pretty happy so far. It sure beats iPhoto, which is all I really have to benchmark against. I'll probably have to wait till tomorrow to get to my RAW's and see whether I can find any problems there. The big problem I really wanted solved is the organization/searching problem, and I think I'm going to be almost completely happy there. A secondary problem is the managing insufficient disk space problem, and here it's a sideways move. We'll have to see how that really turns out in actual usage. There's still a whole bunch of stuff that I haven't tried, so I'm sure there will be more posts on this.

[00:19] | [photography] | # | TB | F | G | 9 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post

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Ted Leung FOAF Explorer

I work at the Open Source Applications Foundation (OSAF).
The opinions expressed here are entirely my own, not those of my employer.

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