January 2010 Archives

It is good to see ODF 1.2 Part 1 is now out for public review, according to the OASIS Public Announce Lists. The review is 60 days, ending 26 March 2010. There is a web form. How do you make...
cgitb was originally designed for showing errors and debugging information in web applications. It was later updated to include plain-text output as well, but unfortunately wasn't renamed. This has lead to obscurity and the module is not used as often as it should be. Nonetheless, cgitb is a valuable debugging tool in the standard library.
Yet another example of something we made for the public benefit being patented a couple of years later. Patent 7,058,886 Method and apparatus for declarative error handling and presentation. What is it? The present invention includes a method and device...
A recent article discusses trademark issues in open source software, published in the International Free and Open Source Software Law Review. One thing that interested me is how the fuzzy areas in current law are comparable to fuzzy areas in software distribution; that's what I'll discuss in this blog. The main issue driving the article by Harvey Anderson and Tiki Dare is that trademark law was designed for fixed products and services left under the control of the vendor. Let's turn now to free software. People modify and redistribute it all the time, but to be honest about it, they shouldn't do so under the name chosen by the original developers.
Peter Morville is best known as the founding father of information architecture. His new book, Search Patterns: Design for Discovery, contains a bonanza of screenshots and illustrations that capture the best of today's design practices and presents a fresh perspective on the broader role of search and discovery. Co-authored by Jeffery Callender, Search Patterns, aims not only to inform but also to inspire readers to make search better.
Back in 1984, when the Macintosh 128K had just arrived, I wandered down to Chemung Electronics to take a look at this supposed upgrade from the Apple ][ world. It was okay until I asked the salesman, "so how do I write programs on this thing?" He laughed and said I'd have to buy that separately. They'd even have to special-order it. Today, I find myself reading pieces from a lot of good people (Tim Bray, Alex Payne) who share the dismay of my 13-year-old self. How could Apple release a product so exclusively oriented to consumption, rather than production?
As President Obama prepares to deliver his state of the union, after a year in office, I thought I would take a quick look at what has been going on with the technology agenda. There have been firsts, a few downright scary incidents and some good progress as the government really enters the Digital Age.
Listening to Apple's earnings call and then absorbing the chatter across a number of technology, investing and Apple-focused sites, and finally, watching the stock go up, down and sideways, I am reminded that when you are working from the wrong narrative, faulty storylines are destined to emerge. The analysts who got Apple's story wrong before are the same folks dazedly staring into space as they contemplate Wednesday's Apple Tablet announcement, and how it feeds the next leg of Apple's growth while throwing a lifeline to print media.
I had missed this, but academics and practitioners of standards-development might like a reminder about Egyedi and Blind's The Dynamics of Standards (it came out in 2008.) From the introduction: The key observations that most of the impact of a...
IBM's patent provides a way annotating a schema so that the text fragments found in element content can be implied by the software to belong to an element and therefore to have some simple type. Sound familiar? ISO SGML (IS8879:1986) provides a feature called tag omission. This is a way of annotating a schema so that text fragments in element content can be implied by the software to belong to an element and therefore to have some element type.
In this age of digital media it is even more critical that we keep track of our digital assets. Lightroom has many features to help you organize your images. The best website I can recommend to you to delve deeply into industry standard organization practice is dpBestFlow.org from the American Society of Media Photographers and funded by the Library of Congress. The site is full of suggestions and videos. Get ready to spend some time there! There are many websites and books devoted to this topic. You should do a little research before embarking on this adventure.
Looking back at 2009, the most significant technological innovation in our office was the adoption of jQuery. Basically, our web developers now don't say "We can do that in JavaScript!" but instead say "We can do that in jQuery!" jQuery...
Late last year, Schematron turned 10. Over the last 10 years, Schematron has been one of those projects where there have only been nice people involved and good memories. No empires have been built and no corporations have used it...
A lot of C# developers run into trouble with the private keyword. This post from the author of Head First C# shows that it's not hard to understand the mechanics of the private keyword.
What we can see there are three separate requirements:
  • Conditional type assignment: it can change depending on the version
  • Parameterized type assignment: it changes based on out-of-band information, not data in the schema or instance
  • Declarations that are not needed are marked, so that it is possible to generate each clean version simply; useful for other utilities too
As far as I can tell, XSD conditionals only allow the first of these, and its conditionals are run-time not compile time.
Several interesting media and reading studies released recently. First, Book Industry Study Group released a comprehensive report on ebooks titled Consumer Attitudes toward E-Book Reading (http://ow.ly/WUYw). This is a major study with many contributors and sponsors, but mostly based on...
Dasein Cloud has introduced support for VMware's vCloud API. Because it is so different from other cloud APIs, the vCloud implementation for Dasein Cloud provides an excellent example of how Dasein Cloud is able to provide a rich experience for each cloud it supports without sacrificing abstraction.
But yes, I do feel outraged when what I consider obvious ideas and uses of Schematron (or XML or SGML)—the kinds of uses I intended to be enabled for the public benefit—are granted to US corporations as monopoly rights. Even if it is just defensive, it sucks. What kind of dumb cycle have we gotten ourselves into?
Time and time again, China has tested the digital world, trying to stifle its free information flow and control the resources that are open to its people. There is a long list of methods China has employed to clamp down on access. As of right now, there is no international standard, nor universal agreement on what is acceptable or not in terms of free speech in the digital world; we are all treading in un-chartered waters. But the threat to freedom of speech in the digital world is very real.
Maybe XML's current job is just to provide a good-enough basis for the next big thing?
One of the many reasons to use Joomla is the built-in search functionality. It's a great way to help your users find information on your site. And setting it up only take a few steps: 1) Choose a module position...
Over the past few decades, statisticians have developed some very sophisticated modeling techniques for finding patterns in data sets. Today, I stumbled on a great analysis of what statistical methods academic bioinformatics researchers use most frequently. It turns out that they rely mostly on simple methods.
The network has been a key witness and participant in the event itself - within minutes, and I mean literally minutes, photos and news of the devastation were posted online. Simultaneously, calls for aid went out and philanthropic organizations began mobilizing the response. Again, within minutes, organizations were sending out information to first responders and aid workers to coordinate their efforts.
Wesabe recently announced a a cool security trick called Grendel that can eliminate the most common kind of data breaches threatening identity theft (the kind that Albert Gonzalez perpetrated on TJX and other companies). Reading the description of Grendel, I realized it uses a simple idea independently discovered by security expert Peter Wayner, to be found in his chapter of O'Reilly's Beautiful Security and his own book Translucent Databases.
In the cloud computing era, just about every small/medium-sized business task has a cloud-based solution. There's simply no longer any need to own a server, and purchasing desktop software should be the exception and not the rule. I don't make this statement lightly -- I actually live it in my company, enStratus. I thought I'd share how we run our business on cloud services.
Nook has 2GB of internal storage (with 1.3 GB usable for your content). You can expand the storage capacity by adding a microSD card to the device. Cards of up to 16 GB are supported and the cards can be:...
Sorry for the hastily written blog post to follow, but time is running out. According to a watchdog site I subscribe to, Thursday is the deadline for the FCC to receive public comments on rules they are considering to uphold...
William here. Digging in with a special blog series on the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) 2010 in Las Vegas. As you probably know, Barnes & Noble acquired Fictionwise in 2009 and used this acquisition to launch into the ebook business...
From the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) 2010 in Las Vegas, sneak peaks at the Copia reader devices. Copia offers an e-reading / social networking combination on six different devices: Ocean-6 - with a 6" e-ink touch screen Ocean-9 - with...
From the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) 2010 in Las Vegas, a sneak peak at a reader device from Entourage called the eDGe. The eDGe, shown in the figure below, has two screens: A 9.7" e-ink display on one side (1200...
From the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) 2010 in Las Vegas, a sneak peak at the e-reader device for Borders stores. This device, from Spring Designs, is called the Alex Reader. Borders and Kobo, its e-book store unit, will offer more...
Recently a reader named Dayne posted a lengthy response to my post about the Nook. It got me thinking and I decided to turn my response into a new blog post. Dayne, you are right about PDF -- the format...
Hi. I'm Russell Jones, formerly Executive Editor at DevX.com. It's good to be at O'Reilly where I'll be working to publish developer-focused titles. I'm looking for information about the rapidly name-changing project Astoria, aka ADO.NET Data Services Framework, now WCF Data Services. If you're an expert in this technology, or if you know someone who is, I'd like to start a conversation.
Cryptographic key management in the enterprise today is broken. It is a failed model of proprietary 'solutions' that is not effective, nor is it scalable. If we expect key manage-ment to work in the cloud, then we need a new...
If you make a process easy enough, you can change the world. In 1995, two MIT graduates set out to make music-making easy. Now millions of people play their product, and the inventors are releasing the developer tools for free.
William here. Blathering on about Ultimate Control Panel (AKA God mode). If you read my last post about the UCP, you may be wondering what this feature is and how it works. So in this post, I'll try to answer...
I bet any parent can acknowledge that the wrapping paper and boxes the toys come in are often more exciting and inspire more imagination than the toys themselves. What kind of imagination can we apply to ensuring that boxes (and resources in general) are not overlooked for their usefulness? What extended life can we give to those things we create and what can we conserve in their creation?"
William here. Wandering the stream on a slow Tuesday. Kids are at school and it's so quiet. By now you may have heard about an alternate Control Panel view some folks are calling God mode and probably because God mode...
William Stanek here, concluding a talk about a scripting/programming bug that was driving me absolutely bonkers. The code bug is this: When you visit web sites and are using Internet Explorer 8 on 64-bit Windows 7, you are redirected to...
It's no secret that I'm a huge believer in Open Source Software and the freedoms, camaraderie, and opportunities that come about as a result of keeping our code -- and our minds -- open. But I also believe in a...
In December, Amazon introduced a new feature for their cloud: EBS Boot Volumes. An EBS boot volume essentially provides the ability to boot from a virtual SAN. This new approach to booting virtual machines offers up a wealth of new capabilities in the Amazon Cloud. Among the security uses of EBS volumes I find most intriguing, however, is the use of EBS volumes in cloud-based forensics.
William Stanek here, continuing to talk about a scripting/programming bug that was driving me absolutely bonkers. The code bug is this: Often when you visit web sites and are using Internet Explorer 8 on 64-bit Windows 7, you are redirected...

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