November 2008 Archives

Last week, the final judgment was issued in the SCO v. Novell lawsuit. Later in the week SCO filed notice of intent to appeal. We thought it might be a good time to check in with the chronicler of all things SCO, Pamela Jones of Groklaw, and see just where things stand.
Python's readline module provides an interface to the GNU readline library for interacting with the user at a command prompt.
Last week I posted a blog entry on Twenty Rules for Amazon Cloud Security. In that article, I provided 20 things you can do so that you can feel confident in the integrity of your Amazon EC2 instances. As I...
Updating Fedora from one release to another is still a bad idea even with Fedora 10. But, the biggest issue for me is that Adobe AIR for Linux Beta 1 doesn't install on it.
The Amazon EC2 cloud computing model introduces new classes of security concerns as you look to deploying web applications into the cloud. These twenty rules for Amazon Cloud security will help you protect the integrity of your cloud deployments from many different kinds of security threats.
This is a brief interview with Andy Oram about the state of the technology publishing market. What are the trends in online publishing, and how does it affect O'Reilly? In this interview, I ask Oram about his views on free books and I ask him to talk about some of the trends he has identified in computing and technology.
A generic XML editor that works reasonably well for non-technical users seems to be a myth. Would a simple generic XML editor for end users be a valuable tool? What would it look like?
Henry Liu and Justin Edelson authors of the just released JRuby Cookbook talk about JRuby, the current state of the Java platform, and some of the compelling benefits of integrating a language like Ruby with the Java platform.
Highlighting the importance of the phrase "data backup" with an "Are you kidding me?"-type moment, it seems Facebook has some serious "'splaining to do" as to how they /lost/ my (and I assume others) application notification settings.
Implementation schemas are used to test documents that they only contain structures or values that can be accepted by a particular implementation of a standard schema.
Once you have Rails installed, it's time to explore the foundations of how Rails applications are put together. It's not quite programming yet - it's more looking around to figure out how the pieces fit together.
I spend a significant amount of my working day staring at a web window pane within a browser. That browser may be written in C++ but is increasingly likely to be written in JavaScript or Python of even Java, not necessarily because these languages are any faster, but because these languages are generally easier to work with.
At 7:30 eastern this morning, one of my brothers called to tell me that he is, "being attacked by hackers." He was about to fall prey to a common scam. He did have some bad stuff on his computer (his existing anti-virus had indeed failed him), but it was trying to get him to pay to remove itself and a bunch of phantom viruses that didn't really exist.
At OSCON 2008, Mike Hendrickson interviewed Jason Hunter about a site which archives 34 million email messages from 6,470 open source mailing lists. Mike asks Jason about the technology behind and how MarkLogic's products can scale to handle Petabyte-scale data
Over the past year, the news editors at O'Reilly have been shifting their focus a bit, adding coverage of green tech, biotech, innovations, economics and other non-computer areas to the existing news coverage. We may not be able to change human nature, but maybe we can make it irrelevant.
In the next few years a lot of people will be generating XBRL documents, in particular for financial filings to regulators. And a few years later a lot of people will be figuring out what to do with all that data too... I decided to take a look at whether XBRL could, keeping the same instance syntax and concepts, have a schema language transplant so that Schematron was used instead of XSD.
I bought a Windows PC this weekend and got ESET NOD32 Antivirus with it. What struck me was the elaborate security theater ESET puts you through to register for updates.
XML databases have long been something of a niche category in the database world, trying with varying degrees of success to provide the level of ease and accessibility for semi-structured content that is a hallmark of SQL databases, while at the same time providing as much of the sophisticated processing that XPath enables for stand-alone documents. The need is certainly there – a significant amount of the total "data" in the world does not necessarily fall neatly into Ted Codd's relational table structures without significant shredding – yet XML databases have had a hard road to acceptance, in great part because each one offered their own (typically very distinct) mechanism for getting at that data.
A friend in the industry who works with ODF gave me a heads-up about a new Gartner report, available on Microsoft's site which he describes as "delusional". Of the three pages, I pretty much agree with their first and third pages. Towards the middle it gets a little, err, nutty to me.
ISO/IEC JTC1 (the international standards body that looks after Information Technology standards) has just published two documents from its recent meetings in Nara, Japan. Along with the publication of IS29500 today, these represent a kind of line being drawn underneath the OOXML episode. JTC1 also addresses the "one standard" issue but needs to go further on reform of accelerated processes like the contentious "fast-track" submission.
I am delighted to see that the free site for ISO publicly available standards finally has the OOXML standards available:
I take minutes in two conference calls every week. Every call starts at the same time -- I look up the number in my calendar, dial the phone, then launch a Vim instance. I've written a few Vim macros to...
An Editorial. Doom and gloom seems to be the order of the day. The stock markets seem to be making daily 4% to 5% drops, followed up by the very occasional 5-6% surges (perhaps the epitome of random walks happening...
Earlier this week, Microsoft announced that they're going to stop selling their consumer security product OneCare, and instead they're going to give away for free an AV product based on the same technology. I've had several people ask me questions...
Want to install a Rails development environment on a bare-bones Ubuntu server setup? It's not that hard.
There are way too many operating systems and choices within those operating systems to provide a straightforward explanation of installing Rails. To solve that, I'm creating screencasts that show how to install Rails, demonstrating both how to do it and that it actually is possible.
Once upon a time, website programming was a fairly arduous proposition. You could spend months putting together the various back end processing pages in ASP or PHP or Perl, writing included files that, if you were thoughtful about it, may contain some reuse, but overall writing such code by hand almost invariably meant that the code was not only very targeted to one particular use but was an absolute nightmare to maintain.
When you look at the average, non-technical user, they probably should be running AV, because it is pretty unobtrusive, it does catch some things (even if it's not many), and they don't have the same sense of what the real risks are as I do. But, many technical people are like me. We're only going to use security technology if it's easy to use and works pretty well, unless forced to do so by our bosses. That leaves many geeks more vulnerable than they expect. But I know plenty of people who didn't install AV even after an infection, because they thought the price was too high... they'd rather do a very occasional cleanup.
Sean McGrath wrote a great article on the struggle for Open Source to manage complexity. It's a great insight because much of programming is managing complexity. This requirement has fostered "high level" languages and continues to be powerful concept that...
MySQL AB (now Sun's Database group) established a multi-pronged business model long ago: support contracts, dual licensing, and proprietary add-ons all play a role in making them one of the biggest success stories in the area of open source business. Today their MySQL Query Analyzer adds another brick to that edifice. The analyzer can do simple things such as tell you how long a recent query took and how the optimizer handled it (the results of EXPLAIN statements). But it can also give historical information such as how the current runs of a query compare to earlier runs.
Social networking software is making trust more transparent to the user of a service. It is creating a new paradigm shift in computing: it allows people to just use resources without worrying about trust issues. Building your social network and integrating social network trust data into your application will be more important than ever.
While I don't believe that there is a "silver bullet" for security, I do think that end users should be getting a lot more for their money, by getting a better experience (e.g., AV that doesn't slow down their computer) and better security (e.g., AV that is more than one step above "worthless").
The problem with schemas is this: sometimes we need prototypes, sometimes we need archetypes, sometimes we need stereotypes, but transitioning between them is not trivial in any schema language, which may be optimised for particular cases.
It is time that legislators, regulators and procurement officials put an end to end-user license agreements (EULA) that prevent publication of comparative benchmarks.
Many people that are just starting in their software career have not been exposed to the contrast between two very different approaches to solving server side scalability issues. And although efficiently using 100 CPUs is not critical today, in the next five years it will become critical for a projects success. In this article we look at how the cognitive styles of functional and imperative software will shape the computing industry.
Microsoft played a very important role in changing the way the world thought of computers by helping to place a computer in practically everyone's reach. Google has effectively done the same thing in terms of the Internet.
Hiring a service is easy, but to cancel it is usually harder than passing your finals and more boring than declaring your taxes. But what if it was an easy thing to do?
Sun announced massive layoffs of up to 18% of the global workforce as they split the software division into three groups. What do these changes mean for Java? Who is managing the new Application Platform Software group?
Perl is a great language for processing text and automating tasks. It's also a fully-capable modern programming language, with effective modularization and object oriented capabilities. Though that sounds scary, they're easy to understand (and even easier to accomplish, through shiny modern tools such as Moose and Mouse).
How happy the man whose documents are clearly divided into variant and invariant: data versus schemas. But in the real world, often there are data values or structures which have fixed choices, but not completely fixed: a twilight zone. Here is a summary of various ways of validating lists using Schematron, including how to validate data values that are drawn from multiple external glossaries.
Do you trust web based applications with your password? What about trusting a third party web application? Sometimes it's hard to avoid the temptation of using a third party application, and sometimes you may not even know you're using a third party application.
The weeks after a presidential election are a sobering time for incoming and outgoing presidents alike ... as well as for followers of both. It's usually the day where people "come back to the office" and start to assess just how much work needs to be done. In the case of the incoming Obama administration, this to do list is likely already huge and growing.
Rod Johnson and Graeme Rocher discuss SpringSource's acquisition of G2One. In this 20 minute interview, both Johnson and Rocher discuss the differences between Groovy and other scripting languages available on the JVM and why they believe that Groovy on Grails provides the path of least resistance for enterprise web application development.
Spring Python is an offshoot of the Java-based Spring Framework and Spring Security for Python. Version 0.8.0 is out and, and it builds on my favorite FLOSS project, Amara.
Sometimes in computing, as in life, we are surrounded by friends that are standing by to help us. But unless we are aware our friends exist and we give them the information they need to help us, we will not be able to take advantage of their services. Here is a brief overview of five friends you may not be aware of that are standing by to help you with your web application performance.
Sun Microsystems revealed their new enterprise storage solution today -- the first enterprise product to market combining HDDs and SDDs.
If you have done any experimentation in the cloud, you have likely realized that virtual server instances in the Amazon cloud are much less reliable than their real world counterparts. How do you compare availability in the cloud to a physical infrastructure and leverage the cloud to increase overall availability?
In this article, I want put forth a case study to demonstrate how capturing feelings on the social web can allow companies to measure the reputation of their brand.
The software industry is abuzz--almost as much as the legal field--with a October 28 court decision that everyone regards as a verdict on business patents, and that some think it will change software patenting as well. I've just published an exploration of the issue. What I offer here is an inductive exploration based on hypothetical examples.
The Weather Channel app, which was a free download for my tmobile gphone, is a great example of what can be done with the platform.
The array module defines an efficient sequence data structure that works like a standard Python list.
Using Google Charts REST interface it's easy to create bullet bar dashboard indicators without using excessive screen area.
We need to get away from the idea that we should share and synchronize files or application windows and look at real-time sharing of data models within the browser.
Dr. Barbara Simons knows something about electronic voting, enough so that she was appointed to the advisory board for the Federal Election Assistance Commission, the group responsible for overseeing the technological overhaul of the nation's voting systems. So we though she'd be the logical choice to go to for a postmortem of this year's election e-Voting experiences.
What if your web applications could all be quickly customized based on needs of a specific person, role or group? What if you could start out with one general form but it could be easly customized for different roles, groups or class of users? We call these forms CoDA (for Context Delivery Architecture) forms because they can take advantage of the context aware features of the XRX architecture.
Yesterday's blog "Don't say the Internet has changed elections" was all about how elections still rely overwhelmingly on mainstream broadcast media. But an interesting inverse is that the mainstream broadcast media also rely on elections.
Al Gore may have "invented" the Internet (as his critics occasionally charged) but there is no question that Barack Obama is the first successful presidential nominee to fully exploit the medium's potential. While it is always difficult to know any president-elect's exact plans for a topic as focused as the Internet, a look at how he used the power of social networking and the Internet in general provides an intriguing look into the technical side of an Obama administration.
OpenSSH 5.1 includes a feature called visual fingerprints for host keys. The previous representation of a key is a hexadecimal sequence. Perhaps the ASCII art version will be easier to remember -- and verify.
I feel I have to temper the hype over how the Internet has changed elections. There's no doubt that the Internet provides enormous potential, and that people have been using it in burgeoning numbers over the past four years to search for information, share ideas with friends, and form online coalitions. But several key observations show that the tipping point hasn't arrived.
As I write this blog entry, America just found out it has a new President, Barack Obama. It was an emotional night for many people, including me, as much of my peer group huddled over streaming video of CNN election...
Venues such as O'Reilly are not likely to discuss politics or religion often. Yet, as scientists and technologists, when we do have something to say that addresses an important topic where we can offer reasoning and critical thought - let's not be shy about it.
I want to persuade you of the real possibility and high probability that, in the very near future, remote entities will be able target people's on-line presence to capture and leverage their emotional states and feelings. There are some very extreme implications of this from a security and privacy perspective....
Jedi apprentice Federico Biancuzzi contacted the Council and interviewed 27 Master Developers to talk about how they liberated OpenBSD 4.4 from the Empire. Details on the operation are not completely disclosed yet, but you can already see a picture of the Uniform, of the team Team, and of the elite PuffySet.
Does your database management system implement the content routing pattern? How would your applications be different if content routing were "baked in" to each database server? Would a rules-based approach to object-persistence make your systems more flexible?
The struct module includes functions for converting between strings of bytes and native Python data types such as numbers and strings. Here's how to use it.

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