December 28, 2002

Scary movies

The Big Dig looks frightening even from the traffic-free simulation videos. Try the low-bandwidth version of I-93 South for a good approximation of a mildly myopic driver looking for, say, Logan Airport. Or just trying to follow the I93 freeway southward. Or using I93 North towards Route 1: yes, that really does say "left exit". This is underground, remember.

Maybe it's just that I still think in a different vocabulary...?

December 24, 2002

Deleting Code

Ned Batchelder: Deleting Code:

I know it seems drastic to just chop out code that you sweated over... Look at it this way: what are the chances you need to go back and get it, compared to the certainty that you'll have to be looking at those stupid commented-out lines for the rest of the project's life?

December 20, 2002

Happy Holidays

Christmastide seems to have sneaked up on me, somehow. Have a good one.

December 18, 2002

Prior Art


"The claim is it's a system where you have a network; you have a way to monitor who's on the network; and if you want to talk to them you hook them up," said Gregory Aharonian, publisher of Internet Patent News Service, a newsletter that's critical of technology patents. "If you're doing something like that, you're potentially infringing."
But as Phil Windley astutely noted a few days ago, presence is nothing new:
I started to ask myself why I wanted to log into 10 different computers back then and it really came down to one thing: presence. The main reason we'd all log into every workstation in the group was so that we could tell who else was there and communicate with them using "write." We have a VAX8600 and there'd be lots of other students logged in...
I remember doing similar things... in fact, my favourite presence system, and by some margin the most powerful I know, is still the MOO commandline. Here's a snippet of "help #35500":
@@who (pals) for loc - Show all connected `pals', sorted by location.
@@who (liv!) (sick) - Show all players in The Living Room (#17), and those online in the same room as Sick.
@@who (class-SSPC+) - Show all connected descendants of SSPC (#49900).

December 16, 2002

GWS and Radio

Tim Knip (of Suite75) seems to be on the verge of some interesting interop:

After retreiving the files are copied to RU's www-folder, and voila: the 'private' Groove files are now published to the web...

December 11, 2002


LiveJournal may be the Muggles of the weblog world, but their usage statistics are really something. Lots of numbers, and some very pretty graphs.


... has good notes from Supernova.

December 10, 2002

"Office 11"

(via Anil, who says to remember, in sharepoint, blogs are called "lists") What's new for "Office 11" developers?

In "Office 11" terms, a list typically refers to a collection of information in a Web site based on SharePoint™ Team Services from Microsoft. A list is typically a set of records that are shared among the Web site's members. For example, you can create a list of events, a list of ideas, a list of members' contact information, and so on... Lists become first-class programmatic citizens in "Excel 11" on a par with standard worksheet cell ranges.
Hmm... interesting. And the rest: "Document workspaces" (programmatic access to SharePoint's documents/folders lists), XML/schema/XSL in Word; XDocs; and more.

Scripting Groove

Jon Udell has been scripting Groove Web Services, and posts some interesting observations, along with a couple of code snippets (perl, C#).

It's brain-dead simple. If the forum were a newsgroup or a discussion board, and the repository were a Web-based or local filesystem, these little scripts would be utterly boring. But Groove forums and Groove repositories have interesting properties.
In case you missed it, Udell started exploring these themes in his Script Locally, Publish Globally in InfoWorld a few days ago (thanks for the namecheck!). By my counting, either he's been burning the midnight oil for a week, or it really is easy to code this stuff.

December 06, 2002

Spontaneous association

Matt picks up on a Jon Udell post, wherein Jon is challenged by a spam-block:

No ad-hoc communication is going to make it over that activation threshold... If we rule out spontaneous association then we will not have defeated the spammers. They will have defeated us.

To date I've refrained from commenting on the "private-IM-and-shared-spaces versus email" type of spin which sometimes appears around Groove, and this is as good a time as any to say why. IM, and shared activity spaces, won't completely replace email (no matter how bad the spam gets). The rest of my family receive zero spam, but as they increase their online activity that'll doubtless change. Even then, email will remain.

I'm rambling again, but here we go. There are a couple of parts to this:

1: For business communications, email will slowly be sidelined in favour of Groove (and lesser IM-type systems). The benefits of ubiquitous presence, ubiquitous authentication and private shared space are too great to ignore. Email-based systems integration (notification, alerts, workflow) will start using other platforms, too: IM, Groove, Web Services.

2: Spontaneous association has to happen. Communication will out. Email is the worst of all possible solutions for communication, but because it has 100% deployment, it'll continue to be used.

"Communication will out"

Wherever people get together - especially if they have a shared activity - they'll communicate using all means necessary. Using any means available within the context of that association.

In the pre-Napster days of MP3 file sharing, I remember seeing FTP servers where the local up- and down-loaders held threaded discussion conversations. Quite extensive discussions. Using... folders! Yes: someone would write a comment as the name of a new folder on the FTP site. Others would respond by creating sub-folders named for their comments. Any means available within the context.

The challenge - fundamentally a business challenge, and one which I think Groove is well suited to solve - is not to provide the raw communications channels, but to provide an appropriate context for interaction. Give people a good place to do things together, and then build tools around that place (that process, that activity) which afford rich communication.

Spontaneous association then becomes a question not of "how can I talk to x@y", but of "where can I be with x@y". Places, people, and then tools.


Supernova (Palo Alto, 9th-10th December) could be a really good event. Just check out a few from the stellar list of speakers: Howard Rheingold, Jeremy Allaire, Mitch Kapor, Clay Shirky, David Isenberg. And more, including Groove's own firebrand, Mike Helfrich.

Web Services and process

John Hagel has some very interesting comments on Web Services, in an interview with HBS.

A large portion of the operating inefficiencies in our enterprises today is a result of difficulties in connecting existing applications and information. These inefficiencies are increasingly concentrated at the edge of the enterprise, in functions like procurement and sales channel management that have to frequently interact with a large number of business partners. As difficult as it is to connect the diverse applications within the enterprise, the complexity escalates when the connections have to extend to multiple business partners.
Very timely thinking about the decentralized impact which Web Services integration can enable, replacing "big bang" IT approaches with "targeted incrementalism".

December 05, 2002

Read aloud

Dylan Thomas reading from "A Child's Christmas in Wales". What a great voice.

I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve, or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six...

December 04, 2002

Outside OLE2

Sam is reminiscing about the good ole' days when OLE was new and COM was shiny. That Brockschmidt book changed my life.

But not in a good way. It made me give up writing software.

Software in C++, anyway. At the time I was working at Lotus in Dublin, building localization tools. Windows, OS/2, C++. Shortly after being introduced to OLE2, a few things were obvious to me: [a] this was really complex, [b] we'd be using it a lot, and [c] to become an expert would take more effort - more specialization than I wanted.

So, this is the book which made me a marketing guy. I literally didn't fire up a compiler for years afterward. In the process, many things passed me by (in particular the incredible STL).

But hey, I'm writing heavyweight code again, and went through breadth rather than depth. Not a bad path to take.


I'm in this morning's build (of the more-than-daily-build cycle at Groove - quite a slick process, mostly). Perusing the queue, I noticed that Jerry just checked in a fix to an 18-month-old (fairly cosmetic) bug. Really, that just made my day.

Old bugs never die, they just fly under the radar. The only people who notice them are new users...