February 2010 Archives

The noisy and very visible fight over the standardization of OOXML at ISO took attention away from what could have been a bigger fight in which the ODF/OOXML antagonists (and me) were on the same side, and the other side...
Should public cloud providers reach into the guest operating system to perform various functions? I've always held that a public cloud provider should treat the border between the hypervisor and guest operating system as a sacred barrier that should never be breached. The fear in public cloud computing is giving up control. When a public cloud provider reaches into your virtual machine, you lose too much control.
As we struggle to stay on top of everything that crosses our paths, are we missing opportunities to get more out of the information? Are we becoming too much of a "right now" society? Are we able to delve into an issue at length or stick with a topic that doesn't have a quick pithy answer? My fear is that in our quest for quick information, we may be losing a vital tool in books.
About 2 weeks ago, I put in my notice at Internet Broadcasting, setting out for things bigger and better. In the meantime I've been reviewing projects, contacting vendors, and updating documentation. While I've been doing that other administrators are secretly...
There is so much focus on Social Computing but it strikes me that much of what goes on with YouTube/Vimeo/Flickr content is not personal but very impersonal, in the same way that a private diary is actually very impersonal (man being a social animal): someone documents or declares to the world at large "I did this" or "I liked this". The same goes with much blogging and twittering. The content posted on the Flicktubeos are not MacGuffins designed to merely provoke conversation, and where they are (such as attempts at viral marketing) we feel cheated or that the social contract has somehow not been honoured: the conversation and comments afterwards are the pleasant fallout from the bomb, not the bomb itself. The content is there to fill the universe, to make the external reflect our internal life more: it is a form of cave decoration. All an excuse to link to some great performances.
A friend commented that the print/website we work on, for the Australian Government Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), unintentionally provides a kind of cost/benefit summary for drugs prescribed or dispensed by doctors, dentists, pharmacists and the new nurse practitioners (a new breed of super-nurses.)
Apple has finally released an update to its image processing software application. Aperture 3 arrived on the scene several days ago. With this release we photographer humans once again raise the question "Is it time to switch?"The answer may not...
It's absurd to talk about the cloud as being "more secure" or "less secure" than an internal data center. In fact, for most needs, a cloud infrastructure can be secured appropriately to an organization's risk profile. Even if you are concerned about the security issues with cloud computing, it's highly unlikely those concerns justify the extra costs associated with internal data centers and managed service providers over the cloud.
What's calling to me tonight is to honor my friend and colleague Doug Fieger, leader of the rock band The Knack who had a monster commercial hit with "My Sharona" in the late 70s.
Photoshop Project Managers John Nack and Bryan O'Neil Hughes join O'Reilly author Deke McClelland and I for a discussion about the future of Photoshop on the 20th Anniversary of the application's release.
It looks to me that HTML5 needs to have a better story on allowing adequate plurality for <video> that does not marginalize FOSS (and boutique) developers, especially smaller poorer ones, sole players and hobbyists.
Microsoft has pages out now which detail the extensions to OOXML they are using in Office 2010.
Tajikistan has been rated the country least likely (of the former Iron Curtain or Eurasian countries) to be able to adapt to climate change. But, superficially, when you look at the annual mean temperatures, there seems to have only been very little change in the recorded 65 years: at most just over 1 degree in a couple places. Yet Tajikistan may be a good example that what is on average global warming may in fact have very different local effects. The point isn't the warming, the point is the change and how people can adapt.
One of the best things about Rails is that it's under constant development. New features appear constantly, and the upcoming 3.0 release even streamlines the architecture substantially. This wonderful track record of incremental development gives developers an ever-better set of tools to work with, but is really difficult for those of us documenting those tools in old-fashioned ink and paper. I'm very happy to announce that O'Reilly has released the Live Edition of Learning Rails, which brings the book up to date from its original November 2008 release (covering Rails 2.1.0) to last month (covering Rails 2.3.5), as well as incorporating errata.
When I help people learn about non functional requirements, I draw a lot of material from the first book that Jennifer Greene and I wrote for O'Reilly, Applied Software Project Management. So when I recently wrote a Q&A about non-functional requirements, I realized that a few especially relevant things that Jenny and I wrote in our chapter on understanding requirements that could be really helpful to readers. I'll post them here, and try to tie them in to the questions we've been getting.
Some of the most fascinating technical writing I've encountered recently was written 170 years ago. How is that possible? And just how different was it? The Joiner and Cabinet Maker is a recent re-issue of a long-forgotten 1839 book on an apprenticeship in woodworking. Unlike most books of the time, it covers the first few steps into woodworking in detail, rather than providing a vague general description or covering only advanced techiques. This reprint, though, goes beyond the usual simple reproduction or even explanatory notes. It includes notes, yes, but also a detailed introduction, a recreation of the projects in modern prose and photographs, DVD slideshows, SketchUp diagrams, and an appendix on the techniques used to print the originals. Though it is intended as a book about woodworking, it also does a tremendous job demonstrating changes in technical writing.
The traditional request/response API model that exists for nearly every single cloud provider API is a very wasteful model that eats up computing resources both with the cloud provider and with systems interested in monitoring for changes in the cloud infrastructure. Instead, cloud providers should move to an event-driven API model.
Microsoft provided an extensive preview of its upcoming replacement for the aging Windows Mobile platform at the Mobile World Congress convention in Barcelona, Spain today -- and by most accounts, they've come up with a big winner. Not only did Microsoft take the huge, painful step of breaking from the existing Windows Mobile platform completely, they managed to meld the Zune's music and video capabilities, social and business communications, location and mapping services, a brand-new phone interface, and the icing on the cake -- mobile Xbox game play, something that no other phone manufacturer can even come close to at this point -- into a multi-touch-capable powerhouse that fits in your pocket.
Recent claims that Adobe is blocking HTML5 are glaringly wrong, reflecting mostly the incompatibilities between the two organizations, the W3C and WHATWG, sharing the process. Ideally, I'd like to see the W3C take its consensus-based process seriously, and the WHATWG agree to abide by that. Realistically, I just can't see either part of that happening. The W3C is too willing to bend; the WHATWG too unwilling.
Uwe Zdun and Paris Avgeriou's paper "Architectural Patterns Revisited - A Pattern Language"
The most interesting comment I have read recently about the pattern language movement is the comment that Gang of Four style software patterns are only necessary when the programming system does not have adequate power or capabilities to directly state the pattern.
Despite what people seem to be saying, I'm really not hating on the iPad. I'm just disappointed that it's not the breakthrough device it could have and should have been. So here's a little fable inspired by Grimm's Fairy Tales about why a compromise in between "too big" and "too small" isn't always "just right."
The importance of the user experience (UX) is now at the forefront of technology trends and applications. Users not only expect it; they now demand it, and businesses often grapple to achieve better UX for their software. The "UX factor" can certainly make (or break) any software's viability and appeal -- whether it's for a Web, mobile or desktop experience.
From The Economist an article dealing with general fragmentation of technology in financial firms, and the issue of people needing to use ad hoc desktop applications comes up: a manager says 'The big task of management is to manage down the number of spreadsheets'.
Technology is playing a critical role in sports, both improving the experience and extending the life of any particular event. Fans can connect with their favorite teams through their online communities; they can play digital games as their favorite players and participate in Fantasy Football leagues with people from around the globe. All of which serve to increase the interest and affinity viewers have for the game, creating ties to players, organizations and the league that fuel multibillion dollar apparel and merchandising industries.
With so many people searching for jobs, it's important to stay up on the newest technologies, or constantly improve in the areas you're already involved in. At O'Reilly, we publish books that help you zoom in on the details of specific programs and languages, so you can stay competitive in your field. Leave a comment with the name of an O'Reilly book that will make you more marketable for a chance to win three ebooks of your choice.
Q. What is the difference between a Taxonomy and an Ontology? A. Not much.
What a wonderful age we live in! An age where almost a quarter of a million non-obvious ideas without prior art are invented every year.
XPath is a family of small query languages for XML: they have a simple data model and syntactically were based on directory paths: so to find the attribute id of the parent of a chapter element which has a title...
This blog takes a quick look at the capabilities in Oracle Database 11g Release 2 that can enable database consolidation to take place on the Sun Oracle Database Machine.
Over the years, the IT section has been pro-actively trying to improve security, to lock the system down, and keep commercial information safe. However, these steps also prevent the engineers from getting their jobs done, so they are all circumvented. The more that the official, central SOE is locked down, the more that the remote users have banded together to make their own unofficial SOE that doesn't get in the way.
Based on the recommendation of a couple of friends I sat down at my computer and decided I would do the upgrade from XP to Windows 7. Little did I know what I was committing to! Like many a blind date, where you hold out hope for Mr. Right, but open the door to a guy wearing too tight pants and smelling slightly of dirty socks, I found myself facing a situation fraught with mind-numbing discourse and disappointment. What did I do wrong?
Most people know PARC as the place that famously turned Steve Jobs on to graphical user interfaces in the 1970s. You may not know that since about the same time PARC has been hosting talks by a diverse range of speakers, which are free of charge and open to the public. If you live in the Bay Area, it's definitely worth keeping an eye on the schedule. Check out A Behind the Scene Look at Google Maps Street View by Luc Vincent an Engineering Director at Google.
When a company like Apple launches that sexy new product (iPad), one can be reactive (Amazon) or be caught flat-footed (Adobe). It's easy to look at today's market situation and say who's winning or losing. The more interesting conversation is to determine what someone can do to compete or take advantage of this changed topography.
The technical challenge becomes, how can we have an SOE today that will allows us to adopt an alternative SOE in a couple of years time? In economic terms, there is an opportunity cost in adopting any particular SOE: the cost of not being able to move to an alternative technology in the future. The emphasis on a standards-based procurement and SOE policy seems key in this. But so does a larger vision that factors in the opportunity costs of not being able to take advantage of objective architectural and technical advances (some of which may turn out to be fads too!), and does not just use license fees and help-desk costs as the bottom line.
Kindle-killer? Maybe. Larger version of the iPhone? No, not really. Revolutionary game-changer? Are you kidding? Well, it's February 2, Groundhog Day, and this morning Cupertino Carl popped his head out of the ground and saw his shadow—which means another six...
With Macworld Expo & Conference 2010 mere days away, it is about time to stop worrying over what it means that Apple has pulled out of the show; to put aside the discussions about how revolutionary the iPad really is; and, instead, to focus on what will be happening at Moscone Center in San Francisco next week.
In the early part of the 1990s there were two basic approaches for building large information systems.
The target of CSDL is modeling the Entity Data Model (an entity-relationship (ER) model.) It shows that a smaller targeted schema language can be much more satisfactory than the unconstrained kitchen-sink approach that claimed the XSD effort.

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