March 2010 Archives

I don't know whether to be pleased or furious about this. It is a patent on a certain implementation technique for validating parts of documents with selected Schematron rules.
The Conkeror web browser presents a familiar model for Emacs users as well as provides an interesting take on what the future of the web browser might be. The web is an application platform and Conkeror makes that platform highly customizable while adhering to the core concepts of the web such as following links and viewing document representations.
In this blog, I want to suggest two great influences on CJK typesetting which can be understood as principles or generators of many CJK graphical idioms: the first influence is rather mechanical: that having square ideographs has consequences that tends to generate certain kinds of designs and ways of expressing those designs; the second influence is cultural and graphical: the influence of mystical diagrams associated with Taoism.
In 2002, at the International CES trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada, Mark "the Red" Harlan, then Chief Evangelist for a scrappy little start-up called Danger, Incorporated, demonstrated an early version of a wireless internet device called the "hiptop" (later known as the T-Mobile Sidekick). He explained that it was a prototype, costing many thousands of dollars to produce, then he navigated to the Notes application, typed in a message, hit enter, and waited a moment while the Note synced to the Danger servers via wireless connection. Then he put the device on the floor, and dropped a bowling ball on it!
A follow up to my previous posts about writing outside of technology. This one focuses on my upcoming graphic novels set in the fantasy universe of Ruin Mist as I thought it might be fun to share my experiences with...
Will a mobile browser change the marketplace of wireless surfing? Didn't someone already ask that question three years ago?
A follow up to my previous posts about writing outside of technology. This one focuses on my fantasy novels set in Doamanse, the Magic Lands, which you can learn more about at http://www.themagiclands.com/. If you thought the floating mountains in...
One in five teenagers in the US have received an unwanted sexual solicitation online acorrding to the Crimes Against Children Research Center. The National Crime Prevention Council suggests that more than half of American teens are exposed to some sort of cyberbullying and the Kids Helpline found as many as 70% were harassed online. Our kids need to know how to protect themselves...
We're at an immature stage in the development of cloud computing. Today, the cloud represents the exception to way organizations manage technology. As the decade progresses, cloud computing will mature and evolve into the core of all IT systems along the path described in these five levels of cloud computing.
A follow up to my previous posts about writing outside of technology. This one focuses on my fantasy novels set in Ruin Mist, the World of many Paths. The name Ruin Mist comes from an elvish saying which speaks of...
Alex Brown has a recently blogged on Document Format Standards and Patents. Some points of interest: Alex expects the customXML feature should be taken out of the new OOXML Strict (the dialect of OOXML which represent what National Bodies actually...
Today we lost WOXY. It has happened before, so I personally haven't lost hope that WOXY will return. Nonetheless, the news is rather sad. What is also sad is that it represents a larger loss of streaming content. I don't...
Recently on a trip I talked to some very interesting development people, who were quite worried about a large XML implementation they were in the middle of. They were surprised that it is possible to have XML without a XSD...
Catching my eye at the moment: XML Prague 2010's Proceedings are out now. (PDF) W3C SC34 has its quarterly meeting, in Stockholm. I hope to be able to reveal a couple of interesting developments from this, pending acceptance at...
I just heard of the death of Robin Milner, which seems to have been quite unexpected. Professor Milner was interviewed in Masterminds of Programming in relation to his work on the ML language.
In addition to its parsing capabilities, ElementTree also supports creating well-formed XML documents from Element objects constructed in your application.
A fun follow up to my previous post about writing outside of technology. This one focuses on my childrens picture books and a series called Bugville Critters. All 16 of my original Bugville Critters books have been published. The latest...
I see that the W3C XML Security Working Group has updated the Working Draft of their non-normative XML Security schemas in RELAX NG Compact Syntax. RELAX NG's creator Murata-san made a comment on the schemas on the DSDL-comment mailing list:...
Can HTML rival print for quality? I took a fresh look at hyphenation, body text fonts, sidebars, and dynamic layout.
Last year Microsoft published my 100th book; it was a huge milestone in my professional writing career. When you give yourself to the craft of writing and have spent your life helping others and helping the communities you've lived in,...
Get a strange email from an account you think you recognize? You might want to take a closer look. Recently, an email told me, I just won a cool $1,000,000 from an account with the address "award@microsoft.co.uk". A quick look...
Since our limerick contest was such a hit last year, we decided to host it again! Today, we're encouraging you to write a limerick that is either tech-themed or that references O'Reilly Media or one (or more) of our books, conferences, or webcasts. Anything goes, so long as it fits the standard form of a limerick and is a PG rating. We'll run the contest until 11:59pm PDT and then randomly pick three winners out of a hat to win a free ebook of your choice.
Twitter has been a fun experiment for me the past few months as I take a break from tech writing and focus on my creative side. Interesting, Twitter usage study out from Barracuda Labs. This annual report follows their 2008...
Tomorrow, the F.C.C. is putting forth to Congress a 10-year plan focused on developing high-speed Internet access as the dominant communications network. Up for debate includes a recommendation for a subsidy for Internet providers to wire rural parts of the...
[If you are in the NYC region, I'll be speaking at PICC in May.] (I originally wrote this for system administrators, but it applies to other fields too.) The hardest part of writing documentation is getting started. It is hard...
China's national standards body CNIS has a draft document out Guide for the Implementation of the Inclusion of Patents in National Standards. (For an English translation see the first column of this.) Wang Yiyi's China's Approach to Standards-related Intellectual...
Been awhile since a post, been out enjoying the real world. Wanted to post about the iPad, which ships/shipped on April 3, 2010. iPad was big news at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Didn't talk much about it....
Python's xml.etree.ElementTree library makes it easy to use XML data in your application or library.
The first reports of BigTable, CloudDB, and the other innovations that have come along now to be casually categorized as NoSQL, emphasized their architecture. I assumed that these experiments would stand or fall on their fundamental designs. I arrived at Boston's NoSQL Live conference hoping to untangle the architectural choices behind each technology and lay out their implications in long, straight lines that could lead to decisions about their deployment. Now I wonder whether they'll compete like other projects do, citing their features more than their architecture.
Recently, I became interested in maximizing lookup performance in R. Many problems require looking up values in tables. I decided to perform some tests to show how different lookup mechanisms performed in R. If you're not familiar with R, here's a short description. R is a very popular language (and environment) for working with data. You can download a current version from The R Project web site. R was designed to make it easy to define and manipulate vectors and matrices.
One thing we've learned from the (relatively) new field of behavioral economics is that people tend to remember the pain towards the end of something, not the total pain. Thus if a painful surgery ends with a long period of...
Today I have been preparing a course I'll be teaching touching on JQuery and XPath, and I thought I'd make a little graphic showing the increasing incremental power of CSS1, 2, 3, XPath 1, XPath 2, XSLT1, XQuery, XSLT2. On the way, looking at proposals for CSS selectors, I found a fascinating comment from one of the WebKit (the leading FOSS browser engine) developers.
I see the upcoming Scala 2.8.0 comes with a packrat parser. Packrat parsing is an implementation technique where you have a parser with memoi-zation to avoid re-parsing. Derivatives are a technique used in RELAX NG validators. Here is a little example of each.
A developer preview was just released of a new open source tool called echotracker that aims to collect interesting information about the people you communicate with and present it to you as you're reading your email. Currently, echotracker's offering is modest. It runs as an Outlook plug-in.
The log cheat sheet presents a checklist for reviewing critical system, network and security logs when responding to a security incident. It can also be used for routine periodic log review. It was authored by Dr. Anton Chuvakin and Lenny Zeltser
Consistent use of indentation is important in a langauge like Python, where white-space is significant. The tabnanny module provides a scanner to report on "ambiguous" use of indentation. The simplest way to use tabnanny is to run it from the command line, passing the names of files to check. If you pass directory names, the directories are scanned recursively to find .py files to check.
Building a great software team requires more than just a good tool, technology, or technique. That's something we learned time and again from the many brilliant people who contributed to Beautiful Teams. It's an idea that seems to really fascinate people: that when a team build great software, even the right programming tools or best practices, solid processes or methodologies can't make up for a team that doesn't start with trust and respect (not to mention skill, talent and good ideas).
Aside from Halloween shots those glowing red eyes in images don't belong. Of course, the best way to deal with red-eye is to avoid it altogether. So how does it happen? When the light from your flash enters your subject's eyes it bounces back from the retina. The retina is rich with blood vessels and colors the returning light red. If your flash is close to the lens (as are many on camera flashes) that light bounces right back into the lens and the eyes appear red. The farther away from the lens you move your flash the more you decrease the chance of red-eye. So the best way to fix red-eye is to get your flash off of your camera. I think more people are beginning to realize this.
This week, I spent some time at RSA, an event where security vendors and professionals connect. As I have mentioned in past blogs, security is paramount to the sustainability of the network. If we are to leverage the network as...
Looking for new insight into programming? The newest installment in our 97 Things series might just be what you need. I had a chance to ask editor Kevlin Henney a few questions about the book earlier this week so I could understand a little bit more about programming essentials (and why he wrote the book) for myself.
The UK newspaper The Guardian has a really useful long 12-part series Climate Wars. I don't think anyone wanting to get up to speed on the so-called Climate Wars could find a better introduction, given the controversy, and without having to buy in to every statement there of course. Pearce summarizes his view that In many ways, ...(this)... is a Shakespearean tragedy of misunderstood motives. He is scathing about professional skeptics and the media.

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