November 29, 2001

What is Rebol? (via Ashok,

What is Rebol? (via Ashok, via Phil...)

Celestia is awesome. (via sweetcode)

Celestia is awesome. (via sweetcode)

Some random notes on OSD.

Some random notes on OSD. (Thanks to Mike Tavis for debugging my pinboard OSD and pointing out its major flaws...)

November 27, 2001

Aren't librarians great? The History

Aren't librarians great? The History of InterLibrary Loan (ppt) (html+js) (plaintext) has some really interesting insights.

November 22, 2001

Jeff at WebSlice has a

Jeff at WebSlice has a nice story about "Mobile Toys dot" (No longer "dot com", just "dot"...)

On the PostScript theme: how

On the PostScript theme: how to hang your printer for a half-hour in 20 lines of beautiful code.

Thinking in PostScript. Still one

Thinking in PostScript. Still one of the great programming languages. I wonder, is there a Postscript-equivalent for 3D, with the same sort of flexibility? Does X3D come anywhere close? (apparently not, from a very quick skim of the FAQ...)

Heh. I saw a 3d

Heh. I saw a 3d printer today (and some stuff produced with it; white, not colour). Much fun. Quite slow in action, apparently, and noticeably low-resolution (~60dpi?) compared with the stereolithographic alternatives. But incredibly useful.

November 21, 2001

So, let me tell you

So, let me tell you (this being written for my regular reader, Mum, in case you decide to upgrade from Win95...) about this Linux-on-a-laptop business. It's not as bad as TheReg might have you believe. But then, it could still be a whole lot better.
My newish Sony GR114 laptop has been really useful already - running a small network in the office, as well as being mobile. It's also a whole lot quieter than my main machine. And of course there's plenty of spare diskspace, in two partitions. For some inexplicable reason - I'd been playing with PHP and MySQL on the webserver over the last couple of weeks - it seemed a good idea to install Linux as well as Windows 2000.
Well, to cut a long story short, Debian didn't recognise the laptop's network card or the video driver. The network is fairly standard, so that was quite easy to fix, but getting the X Window system to work with the laptop's fancy graphics (ATI Radeon Mobility) was a bit trickier. Non-standard(-ish) hardware aside, I felt the Debian install just required too much prior knowledge - like, diving into cfdisk at the earliest opportunity; do you want to put /var, /usr or /upchuck on that partition? So I gave up and cut some RedHat 7.2 CDs instead. I was really surprised when these booted into a graphical installer which seemed pretty friendly. (I still had to know which parts of the filesystem to mount on which disk partitions. Why?). No surprise, though, that the X graphics wouldn't start.
But hey - RedHat got the network right first time. On my first login I could ping, ftp, wget files from the outside world. It didn't even ask me any nasty networking questions during installation. I reckon that's better than most Windows installs. So, pulling down the GATOS video drivers was quick and easy. Then, I was away: hacking XFree86 config files, getting the nasty RedHat graphics out of my lilo.conf, starting GNOME, installing Ximian...
Sure, RedHat has some weirdness (huh? what's this "/sbin/"? and where did lynx disappear to?) and Linux doesn't run Groove. I might install another distribution next week, to keep learning about the underlying OS, but I doubt it.
Best of all: the feeling that I've been missing out on a whole lot of interesting things.

November 20, 2001

The Economist: "Infringements of civil

The Economist: "Infringements of civil rights, if genuinely required, should be open to scrutiny, and considered a painful sacrifice, or a purely tactical retreat, not as the mere brushing aside of irritating legal technicalities". BBC: "MPs are angry at the lack of time they have been given to scrutinize a bill that will have serious implications for civil liberties. In total, the Commons has been given just three days to look at the legislation". Observer: "As Home Secretary, [Blunkett] has ordered foreigners to study British traditions before they receive citizenship. Will the young and the alien now learn that Britain is a country where the presumption of innocence and habeas corpus are dispensable fripperies, where the police can search without a warrant and where you can be jailed without a judge, let alone a jury, hearing your case?"

Celebrity Blogmatch

Celebrity Blogmatch

Animated graphs of arbitrary networks.

Animated graphs of arbitrary networks. The slow-in-slow-out animation is good, but the concentric graphing model is really smart.

What is Conzilla?

What is Conzilla?

A few days without blogging.

A few days without blogging. Back with Debian on the laptop. (Mostly, anyway... still working on the X bits...)

November 14, 2001

What does this mean, I

What does this mean, I wonder? Someone put quite a lot of work into making it look that way...

Jon Udell has it. (This

Jon Udell has it. (This from the guy who wrote "Practical Internet Groupware", of course). On Reed's Law: "There's no free lunch; it always costs something to form communicating groups. What's becoming clear is that we must identify those costs, and begin to think architecturally about how to reduce or reallocate them".
And - the first time I've seen this so concisely - "There is another kind of cost, though, about which we know much less. I call it the cost of context assembly, and it is the bane of all groupware systems". This is exactly the problem addressed in my CPC model for Groove applications.

November 13, 2001

Part 10 Section 93 of

Part 10 Section 93 of this (PDF) seems to have slipped past the newswatchers. Rock-star shades are definitely no longer de rigeur here in sunnie England - and that includes travelling through British airports, folks.

This subsection confers power on any constable in uniform -
  1. to require any person to remove any item which the constable reasonably believes that person is wearing wholly or mainly for the purposes of concealing his identity;
  2. to seize any item which the constable reasonably believes any person intends to wear wholly or mainly for that purpose.
Beside which, internment (detention up to six months without trial) pales into insignificance. (Oh, did you miss that? It's OK - only applies to foreigners, really...)

Well, troove.net disappeared pretty quickly

Well, troove.net disappeared pretty quickly - the server flaked out (circumstances beyond my control!), and it's now (temporarily) running at http://www.cabezal.com/troove/home/ instead.

November 12, 2001

troove.net "will be an intelligent,

troove.net "will be an intelligent, independent 'web-zine' for Groove users and developers"... starting soon...

Reports from the O'Reilly P2P

Reports from the O'Reilly P2P conference last week.

November 11, 2001

Ken Kesey - RIP -

Ken Kesey - RIP - "Poets have to come up with the vision and they have to turn it on so it sparks and catches hold".
(Sadly, my sister didn't know who Ken Kesey was. But then, she was never obsessed by psychedelics...)

Installing Drupal is incredibly easy.

Installing Drupal is incredibly easy. Even knowing absolutely nothing about mysql or PHP (or Linux or Apache) I could have done it blindfold. Now to make it work nicely... the documentation kindly omits to say that categorization is really important (heh! just as well I knew that already!) and the defaults are all backwards, but we should be up and running shortly.

"We are able, by a

"We are able, by a mixture of sleight-of-hand and raw processing power, to persuade an IBM 4758 running IBM's ATM (cash machine) support software... to export any and all its DES and 3DES keys to us... banks are vulnerable to a dishonest branch manager whose teenager has $995 and a few hours to spend..." (via The Register). Dialectic wins out every time.

November 09, 2001

Of course I have bad

Of course I have bad things to say about Groove. Just not very often; and mostly in private, only occasionally hitting surface in a very tangential way when I'm at low ebb. Mostly, my dislikes are either incredibly specific - "hey, this doesn't work" - or too vague to write down without sounding like an incoherent freak. At least I'm on nobody's org-chart.

Tangentially, then. Is Groove vernacular? That's a relative term. How about dialectical? The vernacular - forged in the white heat dialectic of open development, say - seems at odds with building stuff in private (or is that, "in secret"?).

But, on the other hand, we're having lots of private conversations inside groove spaces (and I've made a point of connecting some of those to more public places, with groovelog / rendezvoo / easyweb - this will continue, likely with sharepoint and drupal). Those conversations aren't markets, yet. They're not secret societies, either. Here we're getting closer to Groove's big, under-discussed, challenge. Is it really OK to do stuff in private? I mean, to have conversations in private; to build code in private? Even in these times?


linux.oreillynet.com/features - brings plenty of

linux.oreillynet.com/features - brings plenty of good stuff together. Including "noisy python"? (wrappers, but interesting things wrapped)

Hehe. I get a mention

Hehe. I get a mention in Mark Pilgrim's weblog: "if Groove is ever going to take off, it'll be because of Hugh" (!) Of course I have to disagree: if Groove is ever going to take off, it'll be because people pay money for it... (btw, Mark has a good book about Python).

What is groupsupport.com?

What is groupsupport.com?

November 08, 2001

"CityDesk is a desktop application

"CityDesk is a desktop application -- I'm running it on my own Windows 2000 laptop. It produces plain ol' static HTML files which are then ftp'ed to a generic web server (in this case, Microsoft IIS 5.0).". Some of the same thinking behind EasyWeb (which is getting some cracking use now).

Broadband? DSL is pretty good,

Broadband? DSL is pretty good, all considered. Enough for a mid-sized office. Could Wokingham use an office-like Internet cafe?

Meanwhile, I installed Moveable Type

Meanwhile, I installed Moveable Type today. Experimental, not yet sure if this will stay around. Good stuff, though; strange to be using a linux shell. This is probably just a stepping-stone (now I have more disk) to something heavier, like drupal.

Having pulled his earlier post

Having pulled his earlier post saying Groove was a "closed box" (I wonder why?), Dave Winer's reduced to publishing love-letters instead. Meanwhile Userland's ex-military CEO has more interesting links.

November 06, 2001

David Reed on broadband and

David Reed on broadband and IP transparency. More here. I'm reminded of a P2P conference where the mobile-networks people were talking about per-application-type billing, everyone seemed to think they were in cloud cuckoo land but nobody said so. With the huge sunk cost of 3G licenses, the mobile networks have a real financial need to charge per application, but doing so would wreck the medium-term infrastructure.

What is the Eclipse Project?

What is the Eclipse Project?

November 04, 2001

So, last week, I was

So, last week, I was talking to some people about Groove application development (not unusual), and we were debating development languages. Right now I'm using JavaScript by default: it's easy to debug, and I'm part of a huge group of people who have built enough DHTML to become very acclimatised to JavaScript's weirdness (eg. the prototype-based function/class stuff, which makes inheritance a royal pain but makes functional programming dangerously easy). Nevertheless, it's not likely to be my long-term platform, and nor is Visual Basic ('orrible, ugly, despicable), nor C++ (all the templating stuff passed me by a long while ago), nor Java (much though I love the language and respect J2EE). COM is an important interface structure, and for Groove I need something which works with that. C# is almost the default choice at this stage.
There's another, though: Python.
C# seems really quite elegant (well of course, given that many of the ideas came from Java and they'll have bypassed all that AWT-vs-Swing drear...), and I know just from a cursory glance that the learning curve will be smooth and seductive. But it's part of the development kit from a company which not only appears to own much of America, but also gets away with monstrously explicit bait-and-switch such as J#. Of course Microsoft are impossible to ignore. I'd just rather not be in their pocket.
Python, on the other hand, is still a foreign country to me. Should have dug into Zope properly several years ago when I had the chance. Still, it's now properly on the agenda. (Just as soon as I can clear the decks a little here...)

Bushwhacked (apparently the work of

Bushwhacked (apparently the work of Chris Morris): "a part of our campaign against diplomacy, intelligence, freedom, clock, tire, the freezing of food..."... bizarre and increasingly obscene. (via vowe)

November 03, 2001

"Now is the appointed time".

"Now is the appointed time".

November 02, 2001

Hexagram 57.

Hexagram 57.

Ashok says, "the darkest time

Ashok says, "the darkest time is the hour before dawn". Must be later than it feels, then.
Ray says, job satisfaction ~= 1/(number-of-direct-reports). Hmm.
Instead I feel like Sisyphus ("the absurd hero"). Deadlines which don't pay. Must imagine oneself happy.

'BEHEMOTH was also a strange

'BEHEMOTH was also a strange bicycle. At 580 pounds fully loaded (plus me), the name was apropos even without its acronymic coding: "Big Electronic Human-Energized Machine... Only Too Heavy." A 105-speed transmission helped me schlep it over mountains...' (here, but start here)