January 2009 Archives

Peer-to-Patent, a research project affiliated with several patent offices, and Article One Partners, a commercial venture, are trying to bring public participation into the patent system. This article describes and compares these organizations, highlights a new "post-issue" site erected last week by Peer-to-Patent to seek prior art on patents that have already been issued, and tries to tease out the social and economic trend represented by the organizations.
Distributed version control systems have brought up some pretty important questions. A DVCS adds a good deal of complexity to an already complicated system. Source control is rather sticky business as it not only deals with complex content, but the...
...if you're willing to edit one or two configuration files and install a few packages you can make Slackware speak your language, working in whatever language you are most comfortable with.
This week's podcast has excerpts from interviews with Craig Newmark of Craigslist and Linux Device Driver Guru Greg-Kroah Hartman. There's also a audio tour of the O'Reilly web site, and a new podquiz that can score you a book from...
Just a small fyi, Pylons has a nice new website, and a dirt simple install procedure...just one line: curl http://pylonshq.com/download/0.9.7/go-pylons.py | python - mydevenv...
When times are bad, especially this bad, it is tempting to increase the level of cheerleading, but it may be better think more carefully and critically about future technology, especially green tech, so that we spend our precious resources most wisely.
Despite the Barracuda issues, Seagate is probably one of the better consumer drive vendors out there. I give them credit for offering recovery services to anyone that needs it; although I have the benefit of making that statement without...
whurley has a /brilliant/ idea: Bring the power and capabilities of cloud computing to the higher education masses by creating a national computing cloud. But will leveling the high tech education playing field with a national computing cloud bring about a high tech revolution by giving access to anyone who makes the effort to gain a college education what at present time is reserved for the privileged few? Or is it just one more bill we tax payers would get stuck with without any real chance of it adding more to both our economy and our society than what it will cost to create and maintain?
Before we load up on more highway projects, more unnecessary bridges, and more downtown renovation projects, it may behove us as a society to ask the question about whether it will be more beneficial in the long run to use our brains (real and virtual) and the marvellous networks that we have created with our brains to solve these pressing problems in a way that will benefit not only ourselves but our children's children.
I've been banging on the RESTful services/XRX bandwagon for a while now, and the good folks at O'Reilly have kindly consented to let me get out the entire trap drum set for an O'Reilly Webinar entitled "Building RESTful Services with XQuery and XRX".
I was pretty amused recently when two people I respect went at each other over vulnerability disclosure, quickly devolving into name-calling. It's always fun to watch a flame war (nobody got compared to Hitler, but one person did get compared...
Is Microsoft evil in the way that Big Tobacco is evil? That is the flavour of some comments I have been reading recently: X works for Microsoft therefore that is enough to discredit their opinion on moral grounds alone. But software does not give you cancer.
Schematron's assertions are held in rule elements, but is Schematron a rules language at all?
Dennis Sosnoski has a good article Schema for Web Services - Part I: Basic Datatypes up at InfoQ. It looks like being a series, and Dennis knows his stuff. It is about some gotchas with data binding.... There are many parts of XSD which don't play well for use in automated data binding systems, but I suspect many of Dennis' gotchas in this article are just intrinsic to exchange rather than being flaws in XSD datatypes, necessarily.
The computer field has evolved to the point where we see even more value from free and open source software. As for Software as a Service (SaaS), it has proven a great boost to free software--and vice versa. But I suspect the main driver that will elevate free software to world domination is an economic consideration I haven't seen anyone discuss.
At the Arisia Science Fiction Convention last weekend, I moderated a panel with SF Writer Lawrence Watt-Evans and comics fan Israel Peskowitz. We spent 45 minutes reeling off a list of the webcomics that we love, past and present. In no particular order (ok, in alphabetical order...), here's the list we came up with, along with the status of the comic when known. Remember, even when a comic is no longer active, it may have a huge archive worth perusing.
I've been running OpenSolaris 2008.11 on a laptop, a virtual machine, and a test server configuration for about six weeks now. I promised earlier that I'd write a few articles on how well everything worked and on the differences in...
If you've never experienced a SellsCon (a DevCon hosted by Chris Sells), you need to drop what you're doing during the third week of April and plan a trip to Microsoft campus to find out what you've been missing. (HINT: A *TON*!)
This week's podcast has interviews with SF writers William Hunt and Lawrence Watt Evans, commentary on the technological thrust of the new Obama administration, and the weekly quiz....
Great, we have an Administration that is embracing electronic transparency. Getting the data is only half the struggle. Now, it is your turn to make sure that this data is parsed, distributed, and displayed in compelling ways. If you are looking for something "important" to contribute your time to, take a look at Sunlight Labs' "Apps for America" contest. We're at the ground floor of a revolution in open-source, political technology, and this is your chance to contribute.
In 15 years, Haskell has gone from an academic, research-only language to a language usable for real world programs. Real World Haskell co-author Bryan O'Sullivan reflects on the changes in the language and its community when enable the rest of us to stretch our minds as we write software in the real world.
I'll be leading a few veteran CIW instructors in a Webinar later on today entitled Are You Teaching the Right Stuff? More details are available at: http://www.ciwcertified.com/webinars/2009-01-21.htm. Many of the presenters are respected authors and educators - come on over...
I miss a few things - we don't get oranges this far North as often as we used to, and coffee and cocoa have become considerably more dear. Shipping has gone way up on them and because a lot of the cacoa growing areas were overfarmed in the last decades, but overall I'm not hauling around an extra fifty kilos of fat due to lack of exercise and processed fast food - can't argue the beneft of that.
That was fast? The Obama Administration launched the new whitehouse.gov as soon as the new President was sworn into office. Here are the before and after pictures. What do you think of the new site? What is your advice for the new Administration's webmasters?
They say code is poetry. So then is poetry code? Not sure, but that's my justification for posting this to my O'Reilly blog. My apologies to those in whom feel this is out of place on a technical blog. But...
Haskell can be a mind-bending language to learn, if you come from a procedural/OO mindset. It's worth the work, according to Real World Haskell co-author John Goerzen. The concepts of purity, laziness, and type safety can help you write better software in whatever language you use.
Paver is a useful alternative to make, especially for Python-based packages.
The compileall module finds Python source files and compiles them to the byte-code representation, saving the results in .pyc or .pyo files.
Twitter is the only social media tool that has proven itself in the business arena. While some tools have serviced niche uses for specific industries, Twitter's global appeal to business and the amount of value it adds are unmatched. The irony of this situation is that any attempt to recapture that value necessarily destroys it.
We describe how to use recursive backtracking to solve a search problem. We design a staged deepening algorithm to solve FreeCell solitaire games. This material is not drawn from the book, but rather helps to place the graph searching algorithms in a better context.
I've had a lot of positive feedback from readers for including Heroku in Learning Rails. Its web-based interface is the easiest way I know to get started with Rails programming without getting trapped in installation challenges. They're changing gears a...
I'm going to do something that's just not done. There's this unwritten rule in journalism that when you write, your goal in doing that writing is to be the authority, to ask the hard questions of those who are the experts or the ones with power, to then render these in a compelling story to you, gentle readers, while at the same time never extending beyond the bounds of the page - or in this case the screen - to, well you.
Many email systems mark email coming from an SMTP server in the Amazon cloud as spam. As a result, you can't use traditional mail delivery techniques for sending out form submissions or program alerts from the cloud. In this cloud tip, I describe how you can successfully send legitimate email from an Amazon EC2 instance.
Obama's technology-savvy election team worked very effectively to leverage a new world order of YouTube, social networking, and blogging tools to promote his agenda, connect with a nation of voters, and raise campaign funds. But does he really know what...
The W3C's RDF effort has, in the main, been an enormous flop. Now it seems that RDF/Semantic Web is in a much more solid position than before, and if it is positioned now as a technology that fits in and augments existing systems, it has a chance of working. RDFa, RDF Schema in Schematron, GRDDL
PHP's application deployment model is difficult to beat. Perl has lacked something similar for years -- until now. Byrne Reese and Aaron Stone address the gap between CGI and mod_perl with mod_perlite, one of the features Perl 5 needs most.
Solar power represents in many ways the purest form of energy available to our energy hungry culture. The sun's energy is endlessly renewable (well, for at least the next three billion years or so, at which point, we'll likely have too much of it), produces no greenhouse gases, and is available nearly anywhere.
Chances are that when you think about supercomputing, you think about big machines (or lots of machines) all running full bore while performing complex calculations to determine weather patterns or wind-tunnel simulations. Secondarily is the assumption about power - you need lots of it, as well as ways of cooling those systems down (which requires even more power).

Tech Nomads

By Kurt Cagle
January 14, 2009 | Comments: 5

I have a terrible secret. I'm ... I'm a ... well, a tech nomad. On any given day of the week, you stand a good chance of finding me at Starbucks, plugging away on writing articles or hacking on code. You'll find a lot of us here, tech nomads ... I suspect that we single-handedly keep Starbucks afloat in these hard economic times, laptops out, heads down, plugged into our respective iPod soundtracks. In my case, baristas throughout the entire greater Victoria area know me by name, occasionally even giving me my drinks for free. They know a tech nomad when they see one.
This week's Podcast has tech tips from two O'Reilly authors. You'll learn about a nifty replacement for 'grep', and how to keep Wordpress up to date using Subversion. There's also a new quiz, your chance to win a free O'Reilly...
We'll, let's just start by saying we've constructed an infrastructure for daily life with no future. That's pretty disturbing, isn't it? I customarily refer to this as the greatest misallocation off resources in the history of the world. Having poured all our post-WW2 wealth in it, we've made ourselves hostage to the psychology of previous investment -- meaning we will desperately try anything to keep it all going, to sustain the unsustainable, at all costs. Thus, we'll be squandering our dwindling resources in a gigantic act of futility. That's the Big Picture end of the story.
Three ideas converged for me today. Why aren't tax laws available online in easily reusable formats? How can we make this happen?
Anne Thomas Manes of the Burton Group raised quite a few hackles in the IT press yesterday when she asserted that SOA is Dead. Anne has the chops to talk on the subject - beyond her respectable career as an SOA Analyst for the Burton Group, she was also a former CTO of Systinet, an SOA governance company that eventually was bought up by Hewlett Packard, and was one of the early architects of the WS-* architecture ... so when she says "It's dead, Jim", people listen.
Social Networking and Community 2.0 have both become critical parts of the web infrastructure, so it is perhaps not surprising that the W3C, keeper of all things web, is now weighing in on the topic. On January 15-16, 2009, the W3C will host the Workshop on the Future of Social Networking in Barcelona, Spain, where it will pull together vendors, project leaders, and social networking experts to explore the ramifications that social networking has for the web, and whether the W3C should establish a formal working group dealing with Social Networking related issues.
Bruce Schneier has earned his reputation as IT Security's top pundit -- but I'd like to make a plea for Schneierists to not accept every word he has written as utterly factual (even though he does totally rock).
The Python core developers released Python 3.0 in December 2008, following closely behind Python 2.6. Python creator Guido van Rossum generously agreed to discuss the present and future of the popular programming language, as well as the history of the Python 3.0 revision.
The potential benefits of being able to expose even a portion of data that businesses and organizations produce in a compatible manner would be huge - it would, indeed, be a major boost for businesses that are built on or around the Internet as well as provide the framework to turn much of the economy into a Mashup Economy. The problem, of course, is standardization.
Attention, users of Blogging Software, like Word Press, there is now a serious Python competitor, Zine. The lead developer is Armin Ronacher, a wunderkind Python developer it seems, he is still in college, yet has written an amazing slew of...
A small Python utility to extract saved text area content from Firefox session files.
Here is a little table showing some of the characteristics of the various packaging formats used by modern XML-in-ZIP applications. ... To me, this is the only feasible route to format convergence: getting agreement on what almost everyone already supports (the low-hanging fruit), neutralizing any gratuitous limitations where there are legitimate areas of difference (extensibility), and supporting alternatives as a practical mechanism for allowing market/bazaar forces to determine the viability of different vocabularies and subformats (plurality.)
The current enthusiasm we see everywhere for crowdsourcing and peer production seems ripe for application to pedagogy (see Crowdsourcing childhood education).
The release of the Amazon Web Services console has had a number of people predicting doom for cloud tools providers. On the contrary, by removing a barrier to experimentation that has kept people out of the cloud, the Amazon Web Services console should bring more people in the cloud and benefit tools providers whose value propositions are beyond Amazon's core value proposition.
In case you need to catch up, Anne Thomas Manes of Burton Group declared that "SOA met its demise on January 1, 2009, when it was wiped out by the catastrophic impact of the economic recession!". I'm not against finding a new name for this thing that we have been until-recently-referring-to-as-SOA but I still am looking for a reason why....
I spent about an hour yesterday morning on the phone (at Canada's rather obscene cell phone rates) speaking with an "editor" for Continental Who's Who. The pitch is pretty typical (and I had an idea what was going on, so I decided to follow through with it) - you get an email congratulating you on being selected for inclusion in the Who's Who directory of "famous people", please send in the email in order to confirm your selection.
...the whole world smiles with you. No it's not a typo, the acronym for the W3C's Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL) is pronounced "smile", and the SMIL Animation module sure makes me smile; even more so given the fact that I've seen it mentioned, outside of the usual multi-media circles, three times last year and once already this year...
For the most part, new EXQuery functions would simply represent wrappers around existing XQuery extension functionality in order to provide a consistent interface between databases. It would also set a bar that determines the minimal expectation of such databases and data systems and provides a way for new entrants into the field to be able to XQuery scripts without having to refactor code.
Understanding the art of prognostication is not that dissimilar to understanding weaving. Few things ever occur out of the blue - they just hadn't emerged out of the background noise just yet, and as such when they do appear,...
What are the true costs of getting fresh strawberries in Oregon in January? I don't know. Can we find out?
The recession that started in January 2008 looks to be four phased. The first phase, The housing collapse, actually started in August 2007. The financial meltdown hit in September 2008, and likely will continue through to March 2009 or so....
The incoming Obama administration has, even before taking office formally, pledged between $650 and $800 billion dollars worth of public works initiatives, a massive shift away from the laissez faire approach of the outgoing Bush administration. Of that, it...
For publishing, 2009 is shaping up to be truly ugly. The publishing industry has faced a number of factors that, individually, provided quite a challenge, but collectively they may end up likely significantly altering the industry profoundly over the...
Here in Victoria, my corner gas station has a liter of regular unleaded gas for CAN$0.80, about US$3.00 a gallon. Six months ago, a similar liter cost nearly $1.50, more than $6 a gallon when factoring in the dramatic...
Another area where the rise and fall of oil will have a big impact is going to be on climate change amelioration efforts. Reducing carbon emissions is a considerably more hot button issue politically when the price of gasoline...
While other IT sectors may be struggling, one area that will likely be quite hot will be in the cloud computing/hosted services market. This particular market has been the subject of a great deal of hype over the last...
As cloud computing goes, so do two complementary technologies - application services, and web services. It's easier to split these into two distinct sections, though it should be kept in mind that they are simply different manifestations of an...
(Warning, this gets technical). This may seem a rather odd statement - after all, "web services" in the traditional SOA sense have been around for the last decade, give or take a few years. I believe, however, that while...
The syndication model has long been a major facet of the way that the web works, but for the most part its been a largely single direction notification mechanism - you publish content, this updates a syndication queue, then...
I'm beginning to despair about XForms, which is perhaps a good sign. XForms is perhaps the oldest of the W3C technologies that has yet to either die completely or really dramatically take off, and for all that it has...
Within the realm of computational semantics, there is still a fairly broad disconnect between triple pair semantics, the use of RDF (or turtle notation) to create atomic assertions, and the realm of semantics as reflected on the web. I...
Poor IE. Like the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield, it seems to have a hard time getting much respect these days. Within Microsoft it has long been the unwanted stepchild - ignored when Microsoft shifted gears towards server-side technologies in...
This particular look forward is definitely longer than what I have written in years past, and for those of you who have managed to wade through the admittedly voluminous text I both admire your fortitude. This has been a hard...
Everyone seemed to be anticipating that a new version of the Mac mini would be announced at the Macworld conference today. But then... nothing.
It's a great day for musicians!
This week's podcast has a commentary from editor Kurt Cagle on the potential opportunities that this year could bring, a conversation with Tim O'Reilly about ways the SEC could leverage search technology, the answer to last week's quiz and a...
Real World Haskell has revealed a huge gap in my experience with functional languages as well as presented me with an opportunity to make major strides towards growing as a programmer.
Is Digg Sexist? No. Is the community it attracts "sexist"? Likely. This post is a response to the recent criticism, a diagnosis, and a prescription for future collaborative filtering evolution. The problem with the current iteration of collaborative filters is that they don't account for more than one dominant preference cluster.
Can Digg increase your overall audience growth? It could, but it's usually a long and painful process.
I'll be speaking at the International Conference on Cyber Security 2009 in New York (Jan 5 - 9).
The bz2 module is an interface for the bzip2 library, used to compress data for storage or transmission.
In which the author recounts his adventures getting an IPv6 tunnel hooked up to his home network.
After eight years in business California-based MadTux, an online retailer specializing in systems preloaded with Linux, has closed.
My New Year's Resolution for this year is simple: practice. You don't have to achieve (or even aim for) total mastery for the practice to be worthwhile.
The Internet is still broken, but no more broken than normal. The risk level is acceptable for the average user, even though if a single user were being targeted, there's a good chance an attack would be successful. This is how it's always been. Let's go back to our lives.

News Topics

Recommended for You

Got a Question?