August 30, 2003


Windows NT comes with an embedded Prolog interpreter?? Wow.
(via Chris Double)

Going Underground

The Real Underground. Incredible. (via Chris Langreiter)

SVG fun

Peter Schonefeld has a great SVG Fun website, chock full of examples and code. Via Jim Ley, who says: "Peter is one of those incredibly annoying people with both technical and visual skills, who can create great looking sites that get the techniques across too"...

August 29, 2003

403 Forbidden

Let's put this in the category of "self-inflicted denial of service": the server disappeared, it seems, because I didn't pay the bill. Ahem. All better now.

August 27, 2003

High fidelity

The new sittingroom is finally wired for sound - although it took all evening to lay yards of cable underneath the floor, and to wire up our 240-volt converter. It sounds OK. Not awesome, but good enough.

Is there something missing? Gabriel Weinreich has some fascinating insights:

Most popular music today is created electronically, and so can be heard only through loudspeakers. The question of fidelity becomes trivial. By contrast, if you want to reproduce perfectly the acoustical experience of being at a string quartet concert, you're out of luck...
Playing a solid body violin through Weinreich's prototype speaker, I was astonished by the degree to which the violin's characteristically undistinguished sound became suddenly responsive to vibrato. The sound took on something of the beauty usually associated with old wood, worn varnish, and Italian labels. As a violinmaker, I have spent years trying to coax this kind of quality from my owninstruments. Now here it was, emerging in full flower from the open ends of four plastic sewer pipes...

SVG WikiWhiteboard

From Danny Ayers: a WikiWhiteboard for JSPWiki. Just what it says. Very neat!

August 25, 2003

The company they keep

Here's a "gang of seven" to be really proud of. China, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Qatar, Israel, and The United States of America. More...

Creative Archiving

Danny O'Brien on the BBC's online archive plans. Incredible stuff.

Dangerous precedent

Ben Hammersley says "it's about the time this nano-publishing journalism-of-the-future meme started to get off its collective bottom", grabs laptop and satphone - and now he's reporting from a Kabul in which sightseeing overcomes fatigue. Go Ben!


Neil Finlayson wants Paid-for Groove Spaces:

'Paid-for spaces' would be anathema to some but I suspect it would translate into a tipping-point for Groove .... just as commerce vastly expanded the reach of the Web.
Hey Neil, what do you have in mind? Clinical consultations? Interesting stuff.
Here's a story we spun at Agora, to some execs at a consumer-products firm who were sponsoring an artist (not Avril, but let's say it's her for this). Teenagers. Give them their own shared space tools: "Avril News", "Avril Chat" and (rockin') "Remix Avril With Your Friends". That could be direly awful, or it might be really a lot of fun for a lot of people. But the "Remix" thing becomes a game, with prizes for great remixes, and the top prize is... Avril in your shared space for a week! How cool is that?!!!
(Scott, was this your idea?)

August 24, 2003

Groweş sed and bloweş med?

Seasons in New England seem to turn with rather more angular momentum than I'm accustomed to. The weekend's been warm and clear, but the breeze has a distinctly autumnal undercurrent. Eventually I'll get to know the Days (Labor, Columbus, Memorial and whatnot) which mark the changes.

August 21, 2003

Acrobat and InfoPath

Jon Udell on Acrobat and InfoPath:

the ongoing integration of XML into PDF is about to shift into high gear... So far, XML data hasn’t been a first-class citizen of the PDF file — especially those PDF files that represent business forms. Acrobat 6 blasts that limitation out of the water. It supports arbitrary customer-defined schemas, [Adobe senior product manager] Myers told me. That’s a huge step forward, and brings Acrobat into direct competition with Microsoft’s forthcoming InfoPath.
Fascinating - I need to see this. InfoPath impressed me enormously because (although, as Jon says, it's not really "a first-class native citizen of the Web" since there's a required client component) it really is XML-native. The whole thing is just XML, XSD and XSLT. Acrobat, on the other hand, is this weird not-quite-PostScript.

Jon says: "Adobe can help by making SVG easier to deploy and use". Amen. SVG is really good - and I'm utterly baffled by Microsoft's continued use (in SharePoint2, for example) of VML.

And: "Microsoft can help by making schema-aware data gathering easier to deploy and use". Ahah. Here, with InfoPath, Groove have a trick or two up our sleeves...

Sobig in a nutshell

Jack Schofield in The Guardian has a good summary.

The problem with SoBig is that it does not exploit a flaw in Microsoft Windows. If it did, we could patch the flaw and stop it. Instead it exploits flaws in human nature and the internet's email system.

Sobig power law

Like many of you, I'm inundated by the Sobig.F worm. Yesterday: 570 copies of it in my inbox. But there's a massive disparity: my work email got none (likely because of the company's perimeter scanner), and none of my family received any either, despite their active use of email. (They also never get spam...)

To explain this, I suspect that my 570 SOBIGs came from a small handful of infected DSL- or cable-connected users who have my email in their address book. Which really shows a design flaw in the worm; those most likely to be targeted would also be "most connected", and possibly also the least likely to become accidental vectors in this nasty game. Which is quite different from Slammer or Blaster propagation.

Despite its infrastructural impact, I still don't think Sobig is very scary. The truly bad viruses are those which make your machine a zombie, 0wned. Owned by whom?

August 16, 2003

Social software and trust

Must-read from Michael:

What wasn't anticipated was having NGO's willing to join the same virtual spaces as government entities. This just doesn't happen in the physical world... The shared space was viewed as a neutral place to share and consume information... Groove provided an architecture where no one agency, government, or NGO "owned" the data.

August 14, 2003


Um, yes.


Still no clue how to date the construction. Any suggestions?

Fifty years

From a copy of the Boston Sunday Globe in our kitchen.

WASHINGTON, June 13 - This city, which used to be an overgrown Southern town, passed its first week with no racial segregation in restaurants and bars with the dignified aplomb befitting its status as a world capital.
The first few days of operation under a United States Supreme Court ruling that an 1873 law required all public places to serve any well behaved person, including Negroes, dispelled the misgivings of those who feared "incidents".
No Negroes sought admission to the swanky Mayflower and Shoreham cocktail lounges and night clubs up to Friday evening and smaller hotels reported no difficulty on account of the few Negroes who sought and obtained service in their restaurants...

More up-to-date coverage here.

In the same issue, Everest was front page news (but we don't have the front page!).

August 13, 2003

Dark Materials

Cory has discovered Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy. (Confusingly, the first book is called "Northern Lights" in the UK but "The Golden Compass" in the USA. Even more gratuitous than that Potter Philosopher/Sorcerer switcheroo).

+1. They're really good. Pullman wears his metaphysics on his sleeve a bit too much, but it's a gripping tale well told.

August 11, 2003

Reality intrudes

We moved house recently. Complete turmoil.

I liked the new windows. There's a long story here, but a couple of pictures will suffice for now. The old house featured ugly, sticky, patched-and-painted, rattly windows; impossible to open without at least two hands, difficult to close without dropping, and impossible to leave ajar. Like this:

whereas in the new house, we have...

...double-hung, oiled oak, sash windows. They were covered with years' accumulation of grime, varnish and paint, but it's very rewarding to fix them up. Especially when they slide so well. Bliss.

The flipside of this artsy renovation ("fiddling while Rome burns", some would say) is that we do have bigger, more urgent problems. Inexpressibly defective plumbing, for one. I've lived in some odd places, but never a house where the upstairs bathroom waste pipes simply opened onto the sitting-room ceiling below (until the ceiling collapsed). So we have a hole now.

It'll take some time...

August 08, 2003


Jens-Christian Fischer: "I plan on removing the SAVE button".