September 2009 Archives

Cakewalk has been reprogramming PCs into music studios since the days of DOS. Today, CTO Noel Borthwick explained the deep, technical details of how the architectural changes in Windows 7 will help (and sometimes hinder) audio processing.
More projects seem to be coming across my desk that ultimately involve building information systems whose primary requirements come from legislation or regulations. And sometimes even the detailed requirements. Legislation is sometimes quite a nice Requirement Specification: it is expressed...
I have always thought the context-senstive { a^n, b^n, c^n: n >=1} s was a kind of theoretical construct that you would never see in a real-life XML document. Today, I have actually seen one!
I'm interested in hearing about good open-source training materials for GNU/Linux use and administration.
The mobile network has created unprecedented opportunity for the world. It truly is pervasive - spanning out across geographies and socio-economic boundaries to enable sustainable participation, growth and potential prosperity on a previously unimaginable scale.
A few months ago, a client wanted to dip their toes in the semantic web. So I took a fresh look at the status quo, and where the current sweet spot is. Here are my conclusions, and how things panned out for this particular job.
These all seem the right way to do things: a user decides what it needs for specific uses, is pragmatic or generous about timing, and doesn't exclude any of the technical eco-systems from equal participation. I think it also represents a real challenge to the software vendors: starting 2011 they will have to compete on features, quality and support, not file format: they won't have the supposed lock-in to benefit or excuse them from providing value.
Programmer Taran Rampersad planned all along to write a review of Masterminds of Programming: Conversations with the Creators of Major Programming Languages -- but his reading impressed him so much he ended up writing a review for each chapter. He brought plenty of personal knowledge about languages to his reading of the book.
The use of algae as biofuel has also become one of the hottest areas of development in an increasingly aggressive alternative energy sector. Large, traditional oil companies are increasingly creating joint ventures with bio-savvy startups, while others, seeking an opportunity in pond scum, are going it alone.
Agile's next challenge is selling executives on the idea of rapid iterative development without rigorous up-front planning. As Agile becomes a default mode of the development for most technology departments, it will need to be properly positioned in the Board room. How will Agile's evolution affect the way that the business views technology as a "profession".
Thanks so much to those who took the time to leave a comment to our Talk Like a Pirate and Think Like a Pirate post. We have our winners.
Yesterday, the FCC proposed rules that would create more government control over the Internet and force Internet providers (including wireless) to treat all Web traffic equally. There could be unintended consequences.
A solid refactoring, the kind that you don't do every year, also needs to involve a tooling up, but scoped to making the new desired architecture something that programmers won't subvert but find natural. In a way, the programming languages become the interfaces that provides the boundaries for the layers of the system.
The phrase "government standards" has to be one of the most boring (or, depending upon your context, terrifying) phrases in the English language. The term conjures up institutional green walls, documents crammed full of acronyms, bored looking bureaucrats shuffling paper from one department to the next, their whole purpose in life to stamp a bit of ink in the designated place on each form that comes in so that it can be ferried off to its ultimate destination in thick tomes that make "War and Peace" look like a light read.
The Sunlight Foundation wants to redesign the FCC web site, but experts in taxonomy recommend a more deliberate strategy.
It will be interesting to see how big a widget can get: can it be a full word processor? And what makes widget so different from applets?
The functions in Python's resource module help you probe the current resources consumed by a process, and place limits on them to control how much load your program places on a system.
Network Security Podcast.Mather.090915.mp3 Martin McKeay: I had a chance to interview Tim Mather about his (along with Subra Kumaraswany and Shahed Latif) upcoming book, "Cloud Security and Privacy". I find it interesting to hear about how much the idea of...
Online security is critical for any website or application. To outsmart your enemies you have to think like them. O'Reilly has a number of books that tell you what to be on the lookout for and how to protect your online property from attack, as well as learn about vulnerabilities you may not be aware of. Share your best security advice and tips for a chance to win an ebook!
Dr. Oboler published a new report on Tuesday and this time he has targeted Facebook and with good reason. Despite a prohibition in the popular social networking website's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, Facebook has remained a happy home for Holocaust denial and racist "white pride" groups.
For some markets the success/domination by Microsoft is much stronger than blanket figures indicate.
Cloud computing took another big step forward this week with an announcement from Vivek Kundra, the federal Chief Information Officer, that the Federal Government would begin using cloud computing. The symbolism of his announcement being made in Silicon Valley should...
A few days ago, I bought iLife '09 at a university bookstore (Apple, by the way, has the most liberal academic pricing I know of—I got the academic discount because my daughter is a student at the university) and attempted...
Have a bookshelf full of O'Reilly books like our Facebook Fans Michael Pelikan and Kay Bieri do? Use it to win more! Take a picture or record a short video of your books and post it on the O'Reilly Media Facebook Page before 5pm PT Thursday, September 17, for a chance to win two ebooks of your choice. Keep checking back -- the number of pictures are growing by the hour!
The iPhone is the first truly 'personal' computer; more personal to its owners than the PC ever was. Talk to iPhone owners (not to mention, the 20M iPod Touch owners), and this truth bubbles to the top again and again.
I had the privilege of hearing Thomas Friedman talk about his latest book, Hot, Flat and Crowded and how accelerated globalization is presenting us all with new challenges and opportunities that need to be met head on if we want to sustain our planet and way of life. Challenges and opportunities that will not only take innovations in energy technology, but also information and communications technology.
A lot of Schematron can be implemented directly in a mildly enhanced version of RELAX NG without (I think) explosions, before it all runs out of steam.
Although the W3C's XML Pipeline Language (XProc) hasn't even left the stable yet, people are already looking beyond its original purpose. XProc was designed to solve the problem of how to describe the joining together of multiple XML processing steps. So, the question is, how do you extend XProc to handle new features like explicit concurrency...

HTML 5 comics

By Rick Jelliffe
September 11, 2009 | Comments: 0

CSS quirrel is an online comic that is good for a few laughs. You can tell it would be funny if you knew what on earth they all were talking about. Actually, most of the comics are really paired with blog items giving the back story. It is a really cute format. Read on for a few of my favorites.
During the Summer of 2001, I spent a great deal of my time thinking about bombs: how to build them and how to make them look authentic. No, I wasn't a terrorist, I was a prop maker for an advertisement produced by a friend of friend, a filmmaker named Dave and his partner Ben who wanted me to develop a series of spy-themed devices, including a fake bomb, during the months of July and August. Tuesday, September the 11th, 2001 was not the day to have a fake bomb-making lab in your Lower Manhattan apartment, and I wonder if any other prop makers had similar thoughts in the days after the attacks - "I've got a weird lab that would be tough to explain."
Last week was an exciting week for the Virtualization and Cloud customers and potential adopters. During VMWorld 2009, a handful of announcements by the cloud computing "picks" and "shovel" providers marked the beginning of the "Cloud API War". Folks, what's at stake here is vendor-lock in (for provider) and interoperability and portability for customers. Cloud API standards when adopted by providers can also enable zero barrier to exit and allow customers to freely move their workloads across public (e.g. Amazon EC2) and private clouds (customer virtualized internal platform).
Apple's "It's Only Rock and Roll" iPod event yesterday had the feel of a paint-by-the numbers session. All tactics and little magic. Here's why...
But seriously, what is the point of keeping this kind of rubbish?
The W3C Systeam's blog has a hilarious item W3C's Excessive DTD Traffic. Apparently, generic XML systems are trying to download the DTD using the DOCTYPE declaration system identifier (i.e. what it is for) on XHTML files, or downloading the schemas from the namespace URI (i.e. not what it is for) for documents with XHTML fragments. And it is a lot of bogus traffic. W3C does not want to cop having to serve dumb XHTML requests for DTDs and schemas. A different DOCTYPE and a lazy loading parser policy would help. But I think all the ISO/MathML special character public entity sets should be built into XML.
Today I upgraded from iTunes 8 to 9, and when the new version launched, all my podcasts and iPhone apps were gone. iTunes had moved them (along with some of my music files) to a folder called "Previous iTunes Libraries." Somehow I managed to wipe them from my iPod Touch as well, but getting them back was easier than I thought.
Collapsing bubbles. Converting a DTD with tag omission to a regular grammar. Needing the stack for less. Term rewriting. On the fly addition of rules. Are SGML-family documents trees? SGML as a centre of gravity no more?
Thanks so much to those who took the time to leave a comment to our Labor Day Weekend Question post. We have our winners.
A week ago last Friday, Apple unleashed Snow Leopard (aka OS X 10.6) on the world. So far, there haven't been many rumblings either way, although the trade press has been generally kind. We thought it might be a good idea to check in with Chris Seibold, author of the upcoming Mac OS X Snow Leopard Pocket Guide, to get his take on how things have been going.
High performance gateways are a potential use case for efficient weak validation systems.
We seem to be getting to the stage of finally having several credible candidates for language class that can cope with SGML-family systems.
My new book "Hacking: The Next Generation" is now available.
Python's Fraction class implements numerical operations for rational numbers.
Now by now you may be saying Rick, are you really saying that SGML can only be described by some kind of seven-level grammar? Zut alors! And HTML and XML too?
Here is Melvin Conway's foundation point from his 1963 paper defining coroutines: "That property of the design which makes it amenable to many segment configurations is its separability."
Back in 2000, Joel Spolsky published the first version of his "Guerrilla Guide to Interviewing" about hiring developers. Since then, he's published revisions to that article as well as including it in a book on hiring developers. I don't know when I first read it but it certainly stayed with me. Given how frequently people around me reference these sources - especially the guidance about the people to target ("smart and gets things done") - it seems to have resonated with many others out there also. That said, over the last few years I've managed a group that's done a fair bit of hiring and, while I love the confidence of that article, it's not enough for us.
We get tons of great feedback on oreilly.com; most of it positive, all of it appreciated. We hear how much people like the content, the format, the authors, and the forums. One additional thing that we're especially interested in, though, is hearing about how O'Reilly has helped you. Has a book helped you build a great project? Has attending a conference given you an edge at work? Has a training course helped you to advance your career or start a new one? Please tell us! We're going to leave this post open for comments through Tuesday 9/8; after that we'll randomly choose 5 commenters to each win a free O'Reilly Ebook of their choice. We're really looking to hearing from you!
As the Oracle Essentials: Oracle Database 11g book was published just as Oracle Database 11g Release 1 became generally available, this blog entry will provide you with some quick highlights of a selected number of the new features and capabilities that are in Release 2 and not covered in the book.
The innovation enabled by the services and connections made possible by the network, is potentially our single, greatest hope for a progressive future. We can plod along making incremental progress, but we need innovation, that pure 'aha' kind of innovation that turns routines on their heads and changes everything.
People buy new gadgets for every imaginable reason. In J.D. Biersdorfer's case, an apartment renovation prompted her to purchase one. "I wanted to have an extremely portable PC with me when I was living out of a duffel bag and sleeping on people's couches while my own place was unlivable," explains the author of O'Reilly's Netbooks: The Missing Manual. "It turned out to be a great solution because many of my friends have wireless networks (or neighbors that have unsecured wireless networks), so I could stay linked to the Internet even while couch surfing all over the city." Based on her personal experiences and research for the book, J.D. offers five important things to consider when buying a netbook.
New series of blog postings on Silverlight and related technologies
Snow Leopard, the latest iteration of Mac OS X, arrived on August 28th. Whenever a new operating system arrives we have to research our applications before upgrading. (Don't forget that Windows 7 is coming at the end of October so our Windows colleagues will be facing this very soon as well.) Luckily, it seems, that Lightroom 2.4 and the Creative Suite 4 applications will run under Snow Leopard. John Nack has posted an FAQ regarding the Creative Suite 4 applications on his blog. Click here for the PDF.
In this Digital Information Age, that way is constantly evolving, growing in scope, both in terms of possibilities and challenges. An education represents one of the foundational steps on that path, and as such it arguably plays the single largest role in preparing our children to participate in the global economy.
I found that that an interesting section Ken Krechemer had contributed to the Wikipedia article on the Standardization of OOXML had been deleted for being an editorial. Anyway, I hope Ken doesn't mind me taking the liberty of reprinting it here.
I loathe making documents with numbered headings or any kind of definite design in Word Processors. I find numbered headings and lists annoying in Word at best, maddening in Open Office at worst, so I have been using AbiWord today. If you want to take a design-driven approach, then most Word Processors just suck. AbiWord is a non-nonsense, calm-feeling free WP not targeted at very large documents. It has a native XML format pretty simple for transformations into and out of, and basic ODF and OOXML import/export.

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