October 2008 Archives

Greg-Kroah Hartman discusses why he believes the Linux kernel supports more devices than any other operating system ever has, why binary-only drivers are impractical, immoral, and illegal, and how the kernel development process contributes to the inevitable world domination of free software.
Think back to the dot-com boom of the late 90s: now you're ready to enjoy (or re-enjoy) my Halloween skit from 2000: The Morphs of Bentham.
Trying to predict the future is always tough, but in many ways its toughest for those in college, trying to figure out where they'll find jobs when they graduate ... especially if the thrust of your interest is in technical fields. It used to be that you could look at the industry as it stood and pick the job that you wanted to graduate into, but increasingly it is likely that the job that you'll have within ten years doesn't even have a name today.
Silona Bonewald is an established technologist as well as an experienced political consultant who believes that well-designed and well-applied technology can improve communication, transparency, and governance in political systems -- and state legislators are listening. Here's how you can help her improve democracy.
100 Strips old, that is. Hard to believe that over a year and a half has past since we launched the comic strip, but the strip odometer just clicked over to triple digits.
SIL has just released a fork of Open Office 3.0 with Graphite integrated: Graphite is their leading-edge rendering system for non-Latin complex scripts. And Qianqian Fang's Wen Quan Yi (Spring of Letters) project is making screen fonts for all Han Ideographic characters in Unicode.
The biggest theme I kept running into at this year's SD Best Practices conference was the centrality of communicating with users and team members. Scott Ambler and Terry Quatrani presented the results of a survey on modeling tools, and in this blog I draw some conclusions about communication and other themes.
Daniel Appelquist talks about Mobile 2.0, a one-day event scheduled for the Monday before the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. Appelquist discusses the event and why he prefers to the more open, standards-based approach of the Mobile Web over the development of native applications for mobile devices.
Can Microsoft's idea of "document archetypes" and "interoperable templates" be ramped up to provide a fresh new approach to both better document interoperability and better descriptive markup?
Learn how to swap custom views using RubyCocoa in your interface.
We haven't quite found the sweet spot for deploying apps to the cloud; the dependence on traditional databases and relatively complex environments make something like dropping a Pylons app on some random service pretty troublesome.
Vote flipping election machines? That's just fodder for conspiracy theorists, right? Well, no. Here's a video from Video the Vote documenting the problem and plea for Technical Voters to demand open source, transparent voting machines.
We spend a lot of time updating our site, and we spend a lot of time agonizing over which book or article or course to feature where. Yet there's one question we need to ask regularly. How do you find what's most useful and interesting?
In this interview Sunlight discusses the importance of transparency in government, and how technologists can help filter and process the vast amount of data that the US federal government produces.
Have you ever put your iPhone (or other phone) near a clock radio or answering machine, and heard a loud staccato buzzing? If so, you're not alone. Reports of iPhones making consumer electronics buzz and click are common, but why does it happen? We talked to a couple of RF experts to learn what's going wrong, and what you can do about it.
Here is a very messy and repellent diagram. (If I remember, it was an old Taiwanese table assigning bopomofo letters to buses or trains for particular routes.) But rather than sneer, we should ask ourselves what graphical/writing problem is this layout solving?.
Here is a quick list of the current CSS specs and drafts from W3C.
Most potential buyers of Building Embedded Linux Systems don't know about the contributors' impressive credentials. Here are some of the people who brought you the second edition.
This is the first of a series of monthly columns in the blog associated with the Algorithms in a Nutshell, published October 2008 by O'Reilly Media, Inc. All algorithms are fully implemented and available in the online code repository associated with the book.
Cloud computing has been "the next cool thing" for at least the past 18 months. The current economic climate, however, may be the thing that accelerates the maturity of the technology and drives mainstream adoption in 2009.
Back on Earth Day 2008 I blogged about how Verizon Wireless is "Going Green" with SOA and EDA, and measuring the resulting ROI by reduction in tonnage of hardware in the datacenter. Reduction of hardware means less power consumption from...
OpenFormula actually defines an exchange formula language which has explicit delimiters, but also allows (and partly defines) application-specific user interface languages, which allows spaces and other delimiters. An ODF spreadsheet that used IS29500 syntax when saved, even if it didn't follow full Open Formula, would not be conforming.
The Android isn't the same as the iPhone. Its got a different philosophy behind it.
Dr. Andrew Weaver may be one of the most famous people you've never heard of. Weaver, a professor at the University of Victoria's School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, is one of the world's leading experts on climate modeling. He was served as lead author for last year's ground-breaking report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; and when the Discovery Channel needed someone to analyze the potential impact of their "Project Earth" geo-engineering schemes, they turned to Dr. Weaver for help. On the heels of the recent World Wildlife Federation report on vanishing sea ice, we thought it might be a good idea to chat with Dr. Weaver about the current state of the art in climate modeling, the political realities of effecting carbon reduction, and why certain proposed geoengineering ideas terrify him.
Is ODF the new RTF or the new .DOC? Can it be both? I suggest that perhaps the looming challenge for document standards is not in deciding or developing perfect formats, but in integrating the packaged world of documents with the fragmented world of web resources. ...First, a potted history of the document format landscape over last 25 years...
ProjectLocker.com now offers Git hosting as well as SVN!
Most Netapp environments do not take advantage of multiple user accounts and passwords. It's safe to say that anyone capable of logging onto a Netapp is likely to be someone that properly knows how to administer it. The Netapp API allows more remote tools to manipulate a filer, reducing administrative overhead, but increasing the risk of compromised security.
I'm taking a break from writing to attend a local Salt Lake City Tweetup sponsored by Wells Fargo "Someday Stories". I've just heard a fairly inspirational from Danny Gibbons, one of five finalists in the Wells Fargo "Someday Stories, something you can learn about for yourself and then vote to determine who you feel is most deserved of the grand prize of $100k to help in fulfilling their dreams.
For years we've heard about the risks and failures of electronic voting. But election fraud takes place outside the voting place as well--in fact, a lot of it is aimed at keeping people away from voting places altogether. Today, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Common Cause, and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law have released comprehensive reports describing schemes found on the Internet that expedite fraud--and how to combat these schemes.
I'm not sure many people really understand what is truly great about the Web and why it works. Most developers see the web as a technology platform and nothing more. HTML, JavaScript, and CSS are simply tools that must be used to satisfy requirements. The sad part is that this lack of understanding will cripple the web and hurt users.
Everyone's been nervous for months, watching the market numbers, the stock prices, the declining sales figures. In the IT department, it's not been uncommon to see programmers with one window open on code, the second on the app the code's supposed to generate ... and the third on a steady stream of plummeting financial indexes and bad news about the economy. Then, about two in the afternoon, your project manager taps you on the shoulder - special meeting in ten minutes. When you stand up from your cubicle and look around, you notice that there are several security types idling in the hallway ... and you know, instinctively, what that meeting's going to be about.

The smtpd module includes classes for building simple mail transport protocol servers. It is the server-side of the protocol used by smtplib.

I have been helping several clients lately migrate part or all of their infrastructure over into the Amazon Cloud. The biggest concern I am seeing relates to whether or not their existing web applications will work OK in the cloud. You need to consider some things.
Screencast showing how to create a RubyCocoa application which pulls search results from Amazon using their Web API and populates a table.
HTTPS is available on Google App Engine now!
From REMIX: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy, Lawrence Lessig's *HOT* off the presses new title:
For more than a decade, we've been waging a war on our kids in the name of the 20th Century's model of "copyright law." In this, the last of his books about copyright, Lawrence Lessig maps both a way back to the 19th century, and to the promise of the 21st. Our past teaches us about the value in "remix." We need to relearn the lesson. The present teaches us about the potential in a new "hybrid economy" -- one where commercial entities leverage value from sharing economies. That future will benefit both commerce and community. If the lawyers could get out of the way, it could be a future we could celebrate.
It didn't take long for someone to say that the the financial crisis will bring about "Capitalism 2.0". In this article I talk about the overuse of the "2.0" modifier throughout media and identify three characteristics common to the everyday introduction of a new "2.0". With Money 2.0, Sport 2.0, Sex 2.0, Religion 2.0 has the "2.0" become the "e" or "cyber" prefix of the late 90s, and is it time to retire it? If so, what is the next "2.0" modifier?
Pundits of all kinds love to preach that the free desktop needs this feature or that software to succeed. They may be right for certain audiences, but they often miss the single essential feature which gives free desktops an amazing evolutionary edge.
A tectonic shift is taking place in the economy right now, one that is punishing those that have been most abusive of the trust of customers, investors, governments and the taxpayers in those governments. XBRL (the XML Business Reporting Language) has the potential to help renew that trust.
Raven Zachary and Bill Dudney are co-chairs of the one-day iPhoneLive conference in San Jose. O'Reilly recently talked to them to answer the questions "What's interesting about the iPhone to developers?" and "What hints does the iPhone give to Apple's future plans?"
Hopes are high that we're enter an exciting new world of ground-breaking human-friendly devices. But will humans be able to master all the new human-friendly interfaces? I worried about this a couple weeks ago after I had the pleasure of checking out FILE 2008, the Electronic Language International Festival in São Paulo, Brazil. My conclusion is that such interfaces are hard to design properly, as well as hard to use.
I've been meaning to write an XSLT-based XHTML markup sanitizer for a while now and tonight discovered I needed it sooner rather than later. In case you find benefit from it, here it is.
Jason Fried discusses the day to day operations of 37signals and some of his ideas for minimizing distraction in the workplace. Fried talks about his view that startups should focus on profit and product before accepting venture capital. In this video, Fried's focus on the fundamentals of product design suggest an austerity and simplicity uncommon in an industry suffering from a pandemic of hype.
Many IT positions require extremely competent and qualified people. In many cases hiring the wrong person, could be fatal to an organization. For example, hiring an unqualified CTO could take a large company like Intel down, or hiring a poor developer could bankrupt a small Web 2.0 startup. How do you identify them?
Learn how to create a tabbed content window using CSS and jQuery from scratch. If you don't know about jQuery yet, let me have the pleasure to introduce you to it. It's a very easy-to-use JavaScript library that offers easy DOM manipulation, effects and a ton more.
Simple standalone Web applications only need three layers: presentation, domain, and data source. If you are using Flex or AJAX and don't need to submit any forms, do you still need an MVC framework? I think the answer is no.
I think Ken Krechmer's Adaptive Standards pre-suppose the kind of frameworking and support for modularity and plurality that I have been banging on about for the last decade. An interesting recent quote from him.
Armand Leroi is an Evolutionary Biologist with the Imperial College in London. Leroi is leveraging the ability of computers to analyze sound to create a Cantometric description of traditional music from various cultures. Leroi discusses his research and his new initiative to create a digital Cantometric survey of traditional music.
Roy Fielding's characterizations of what REST is about, made discussing CMIS, is helpful for understanding what PRESTO is about.
The US Library of Congress Thomas project is making user-friendly, structured URLs available as permanent aliases for its legislation. I have been pushing a similar approach, but taking it further, in the PRESTO approach.
Our current financial problems derive, at their foundation, from private transactions that weren't nearly careful enough about the prices of the goods underneath them. Perhaps the answer is to require that financial practices be done in the open. Everyone can see your positions and evaluate them, all of the time. How would that work?
One thing that most people don't realize with virtualization is that its not the actual virtualization layer that is important. It works, they all do. The important part is in the management tools and that's something that's been sorely missing from the Open Source arena for too long.
Test Driven Development works best when each test case targets one aspect of a class's interface. So this post will demonstrate a simple and direct way to test a partial without testing the Views, layouts, and Controller actions surrounding it. On very complex projects, this technique keeps your partials decoupled.
I'm profoundly uncomfortable purchasing devices which, by default, do not provide the freedoms I desire. I'm starting to believe it works against my desire for open, unencumbered hardware.
Learn how easy it is to stylize a form with CSS versus using table tags.
Since dep-hell is something I haven't seen in years yum just sort of keeps on updating my packages, installing new ones, etc. Other apps like PackageKit (a gui updater) have come along, but I've largely ignored them. Now I've discovered how useful yum plugins can be.
Virtualization has been the hottest trend in computer administration for the past decade. But what happens to any administrative software provider, including VMware, if large numbers of major companies move to the cloud? The recent vCloud announcement, coinciding with
Thirteen members of the Norwegian standards body's technical committee walked out recently... If we take these 13, and subtract people who either work for competitors of Microsoft or affiliated with the NUUG/FOSS industry/community, we get...1 person (the esteemed Steve Pepper) by my count...
The credit markets are seizing up, Congress-critters are trying to make the case for spending billions in a "rescue" package, the stock market gyrations are giving people whiplash, banks are popping like sulfur-filled bubbles and companies are suddenly having to make some hard decision about payroll at a time even when they have more than enough work. The end of the world as we know it seems to have come about all at once, and even as people are scrambling to protect themselves, not a few people are wondering just how everything went bad so quickly.
The Obama for America iPhone application is probably the coolest campaign tool I have seen... EVER! Whoever thought this thing up is a genius.
Some of the recent talk on the Mozilla XForms Project's mailing list (dev-tech-xforms) has been about the winding-down in effort on the Mozilla XForms plug-in. There has been praise for the efforts of those developers involved in the project, and quite rightly so. However, some people may be seeing this as a bad sign for XForms in general. Well, not so I say and the reasons for this are three-fold...
The classical approach to the data aspect of system design distinguishes conceptual, logical, and physical models. Models of each type or level are governed by metamodels that specify the kinds of concepts and constraints that can be used by each model; in most cases metamodels are accompanied by languages for describing models.
On Tuesday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer reportedly gas said that the Company will release a new version of its Windows operating system as part of a new cloud computing platform in a matter of weeks. Call it "Windows Cloud" for now, but how seriously should we take his words?
While Hurricane Ike has long since faded into the ether, its effects on the economy continue to mount. One of the more significant (and unexpected) - Ike knocked several oil refineries and gas distribution centers offline for the last couple of weeks.
Late yesterday, Amazon announced that coming this fall, developers will be able to run Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server instances on its EC2 cloud services. With Microsoft about to announce its own cloud platform this month, Windows-based web developers suddenly have options.
In a surprise announcement just a few moments ago, Jeff Barr, Amazon Web Services lead technical evangelist announced they would now be supporting Windows on EC2. This is a /HUGE/ deal, especially when you consider the fact that Microsoft is rumored to be preparing a competitor to EC2, something they will supposedly be announcing at the PDC in November.

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