# Friday, 29 November 2002

UseitCom Flash And WebBased Applications

Useit.Com: Flash and Web-Based Applications. The Internet is changing. Although people have primarily used it to read email and Web pages, more functionality-oriented applications are now emerging, with the goal of providing new features that do more for users. [Tomalak's Realm]

For anyone developing apps delivered over the Internet, very interesting reading - includes .NET or Zeepe (which I am tempted to give the subtitle 'WAFFLE' - Web Application Framework - Fast, Light, Efficient. In the light of the above article, perhaps the E should be Ephemeral).

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Yet Another Weblog Link Tracker Heres My

Yet another weblog link tracker. Here's my Technorati Link Cosmos. This one ranks your inbound blogs according to their own number of inbound blogs. I like the name. (Thanks, Ton!) [Seb's Open Research]

I suppose its fun to play with this stuff for a while, but does one return? So much information stored there, but really, apparently so little that's useful done with it.

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Learning Resources The Users Perspective E

Learning resources: the user's perspective. Joseph Hart has started an interesting new weblog on online learning resources. I've subscribed to his RSS feed. In the following post, Joseph puts the finger on an important unsolved problem: locating relevant resources.

Sabbaticizing. [...] When I began this project I was focused on collecting repositories of online instructional resources and putting the collection together in a form that could readily be used by instructors at Eastern and other institutions, perhaps via a web site or portal.

Now, after just a few weeks, I've found that there are innumerable online instructional repositories (depending upon how "instructional" and "repository" are defined)--far too many to simply provide a listing and expect that instructors will be able to effectively use the list.

I've also found that there are many overlapping categories, concepts, interests and approaches: digital libraries, learning objects, metadata standards, open source software, instructional repositories, XML, etc. What seems most needed, at least for my purposes in assisting instructors to use online repositories, is a set of guidelines about locating, evaluating, acquiring, and fitting online resources into course planning and revisions/expansions of courses.

At this point there are many more repositories available and under construction than there are guidelines for using collections of learning resources. Instructors don't have the time to search hundreds of repositories containing thousands of learning objects. The promise of interlinked repositories or master repositories is just that, a research promise that may not be fulfilled for many years. So, the question is, How can online instructional resources best be used now? I do not yet have a good answer to this question. [EduResources--Higher Education Resources Online]

I'm concerned that many good resources are underused, not for lack of quality, but because they are for all practical purposes "unfindable". I suspect resource authors will each have to take up the responsibility of providing and maintaining part of a shared, overall map of what is out there, if they want their resources to be used. [Seb's Open Research]

From my experience, maps etc are really not much help; its the amount of information that is just overwhelming. IMHO, what is needed is a system by which the quality floats to the top and the dross floats to the bottom. The question is how do you measure quality; Google uses page ranking which is a sort of peer review and it works reasonably well over the huge, dynamic and active web. Its unlikely such algorithms will work for (school) learning resources. As part of a EU research project, Bristol Uni (I think) were doing a project to implement a distributed search system which included user ranking - what's happended to this I dunno, probably died a death. Despite projects such as Cybrarian, the UK govt and broadband consortia seem to have largely ignored this problem - note quite tru, the UK govt approach is "Kite marking" and providing a single source via Curriculum Online, but this misses the vast quantity of high quality stuff there is out there.

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# Tuesday, 26 November 2002

Backend A Hrefhttpbackenduserlandcomform

Backend: Formats for Blog Browsers. "I'd like to tell you a story about how I tripped over what may turn out to be a very interesting common feature of weblog software." [Scripting News]

Just for info.

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# Friday, 22 November 2002

Comments On Blog Browser Post A Hrefhttp

Comments on Blog Browser Post.

Marc Cantor posts some additional thoughts on my query about whether a blog browser is that revolutionary.

A few key points to respond to:

The idea of a blog-browser or new kind of NON HTML based browser has been around for a while and something Dave has talked about and evangelized - for many years.  I myself have hated HTML since it's inception

This is precisely what we launched with Macromedia Flash Player 6, defining the emerging category of rich clients, that can both live within and outside the web browser; which offer radically richer user experience than what HTML can provide, and which use a web services-based architecture to integrate with remote data and logic (is that micro-content?).

In fact Dave has requested (on multiple occasions) that MacroMedia create a browser with Flash - so that text could be rendered pretty and anti-aliased (among other reasons.) But needless to say nobody at Macromedia understood what Dave was talking about.

It's not true that Macromedia didn't understand this idea.  We've continued to improve the richness of text and document-centric abilities in Flash, and will continue to do so.  Because the object model is rich enough for text, forms and XML, there are now projects delivering full XHTML and XForms support natively in Flash. 

Additionally, though, there's no reason to try and bury HTML.  For a huge range of document-centric content and applications, it has enormous advantages that will continue to play a role in the Internet client landscape.

As for including a full HTML browser/renderer in Flash, it would kill the ubiquity (and thus viability) of the Flash runtime by bloating the download and install to the point where it would take 3 years to achieve ubiquity instead of the 12 months that it takes now.  IE and Mozilla do the job of HTML fine, and there's no need to try and replace or integrate this. [Jeremy Allaire's Radio]

Perhaps Radio Case does something along the lines of what Dave wants, or could do (since blogs are HTML difficult to see how one has non-html blog browser unless one is just rendering the rss feeds, but a lot of those contain html)....


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Increasing Permi

Increasing Permissions for Web-Deployed Windows Forms Applications

Oh well, that's easy then - but then perhaps it shouldn't be easy - but then it is only a bit of one time work hidden under an MSI and away you go. Hmmmm.

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# Thursday, 21 November 2002

On The Big Day Of My First Story For OReillynbspA Hrefhttpwww

On the big day of my first story for O'ReillyWhat's New in Visual C++ .NET 2003, and people directed here, they got an empty page-). I lost everything on a hard disk Sunday including Radio. We're in the process of trying to restore stuff (as time allows with work deadlines all week) but for now, thats the drill. In the meantime, old stuff is available either through manipulation of the dates in the http link or Google, and the following stories have been restored:

Multi-paradigm design and generic programming

Is COM Interop Fundamentally Flawed?

Its the Runtime Stupid

Introduction to .NET Languages, VS.NET and Extending VS.NET

[Sam Gentile's Weblog]
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From Open Challenge BLOCKQUOTE Dirltr StyleMARGINRIGHT 0

From Open Challenge:

I hate cutting and pasting under linux. X-windows apps do it one way. GTK apps do it another way. KDE apps do it another way. None of them work together nicely.

Is this actually true? If so, Linux is lost, sunk, hopeless - the support desks will disappear under a mountain of calls.

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# Wednesday, 20 November 2002

Eservices Need To Improve At An Esum

E-services need to improve. At an e-summit in London¸ the UK government admits there is a long way to go to achieve its targets for the knowledge economy. [BBC News | TECHNOLOGY]

"Transport congestion, education attainments, health service improvements are all issues that can be tackled on the web," said Dr Kearns.

Oh please do tell me how health service improvements can be tackled on the web. That these people think this is to my mind deeply deeply depressing. Like many others, I have had recent experience of the Health Service. I can't fault the nurses, but I can fault a service that has a severe lack of beds. We were, eventually, lucky. In the hospital where my father spent his final days there was not a single computer - neither he nor the nurses needed a computer or a broadband link, he needed pain management and dignity.

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Radio Case Now Has The New Buttons

Radio Case now has the new buttons.
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# Tuesday, 19 November 2002

Blair Pledges 1631bn For Broadband

Blair pledges £1bn for broadband. UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has promised to give every school¸ university¸ hospital and doctors' surgery a high-speed link to the internet. [BBC News | Front Page]

...BT will introduce a new broadband hybrid service, dubbed midband, offering speeds of up to 128K and available to 97% of the population.

The service will be available on existing telephone lines but it will not offer the always-on advantage of true broadband. It is due to be piloted in March....

Um, that's bonded ISDN then?

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My Good Friend John Burkhardtnbsphas Som

My good friend John Burkhardt has some good push-back on Joel's latest well-done essay: The Law of Leaky Abstractions.  "While I agree with a lot of it, I'm not sure I buy the idea that because an abstraction might have a performance penalty in some cases, its a leaky abstraction.  And there certainly are some that seem well cemented by now.  For example, how much .asm have you written in the past 5 years?   And I don't know anyone who can hand code floating point Pentium assembler better than the compiler.  We tried to be sure, but couldn't do any better.. And I hear VS C++ is about to get even better." [Sam Gentile's Weblog]

It still a leaky abstraction, 'cos without understanding what's happening inside the processor you won't understand why all those tax calculations don't add up properly?

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Udell And Others On Internet Microclients E

Udell and others on Internet Microclients. Jon Udell picks up and comments on a piece by Anil Dash on the emergence of microclients on the Internet.

I like the microcontent idea. It strikes me, though, that perhaps there won't be a single all-purpose client, but rather a diverse collection of little tools that flourish at the intersection between a services-rich Internet, and an integration-savvy desktop.

The concept and reality of web services intersecting with rich and smart clients is right on the money.  But today even these applications are still browser contained.  While folks can build desktop-resident Internet software, it's still too challenging.

But it raises other more interesting questions --- will these microcontent applications result in a flurry of new software on desktops, creating management and maintenance challenges for IT and end-users?  To what degree does this fly in the face of the centralized management benefits that have driven so many applications (and nearly all content) into the network?

I'd be interested to hear from folks what kinds of content and applications they'd want to use through microclients? [Jeremy Allaire's Radio]

Perhaps a different buzzword to pick up on - not construct but 'Microclient'? - or a new demo; Microcontent client?

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Leaky Abstractions Or Why You Have No Idea Why

Leaky Abstractions - or why you have no idea why it doesn't work.

Most excellent.

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The Truth About RDF

The truth about RDF.

As I watch Mark Pilgrim and Shelley Powers and Tim Bray and others struggle with where RDF is at, ... Before there was a World Wide Web, there were big technology companies with ambitious plans for networking and application integration, and interop between competing software. Apple had OpenDoc and Taligent in partnership with IBM and a bunch of other companies. Microsoft had Cairo and various mail and database APIs, some in partnership with other companies. It seemed every company had their own roadmap, the industry made mundane mature products, PCs and Macs; and mostly incomprehensible white papers and bookshelves of incomprehensible documentation, and not much inbetween.

Then along came the Web and blew that all up. You didn't even need to read the docs to figure it out. Just View Source. That was good because there were no docs.

So I am a disbeliever of anything that requires as much documentation, head-scratching, hand-waving, and eyes-glazing-over as RDF does in 2002. Forget the problems with the formats, that can be dealt with later, after you figure out how to explain it to someone who knows a lot about computers, networks, users, XML, HTTP, etc. If you can't explain it to me so that I understand what you're doing -- you've got a big problem.

It's a cute, and all-too-common tactic to say that people who don't get it are dumb. I'm not dumb, but RDF makes me feel that way. After all these years, I've concluded that if I can't understand it, it doesn't have much of a chance in the market. All the powerfully successful technologies of the past have had simple explanations anyone could understand. If RDF is one of those, I strongly believe it must too. Therefore I conclude that it isn't.

[Scripting News]

The principle is a sound argument and one I strongly agree with - view source isn't quite enough, though on reflection it is probably enough to at least get started with something reasonable. RDF and rather too much that's coming out at the 'mo leads me obfusticated and stone cold.

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# Saturday, 16 November 2002

Minicopters for travel.

Whilst I occasionally fly a radio controlled helicopter, a chum with experience of the real thing comments:

Mr Bunniss has his work cut out. "Business travellers" will instinctively *push* to get out of each others' way, as well as *pull*.

Pulling is OK (positive g), but pushing too hard bends down the rotor blades - which have to have an element of flexibility - to a point where they collide with the tail section.

When this happens you suddenly find yourself firmly strapped to a collection of (fairly heavy) non-aerodynamic bits, some of which are flying off in all directions and most of which is plunging rapidly earthwards.

There's some early black & white footage of just such an event at a Farnborough air show. It's quite impressive -- from Bond-ian whizzer to unguided missile in about 3 milliseconds.


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# Friday, 15 November 2002

Longhorn Alpha Preview Longhorn Is Now

"Longhorn" Alpha Preview. "Longhorn is now considered a major Windows release by Microsoft, and early alpha builds are now testing at the company's Redmond campus. Last month, some of those builds leaked to the Internet, causing a stir in the Windows enthusiast community. I take a look at one of those builds here." [sellsbrothers.com: Windows Developer News]

Including the snippet: "Display Properties application, which was written with the new .NET-based Avalon APIs (Figure)."

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SIAA Lobbies To Shut Down Other Free Access Resources

SIAA lobbies to shut down other free access resources.

More Sites Targeted For Shutdown. Having successfully shut down PubScience, a site that offered free access to scientific and technical articles, commercial publishers are now looking to attack other sources of free information. The lobbying campaign is led by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), a trade association of commercial electronic publishers. According to the SIAA, "it is fairer to charge researchers for the articles they use than to charge taxpayers for the cost of running a Web site that makes them available for free." As Peter Suber comments, "Let's get this breathtaking assertion straight. When the research is funded by the government and the articles donated by authors, then taxpaying readers should have to pay a second levy to read them, and pay it to a third party with no role in the research?" Suber calls the SIAA action "piracy." It's hard to disagree. By William Matthews, Federal Computer Week, November 13, 2002  [OLDaily]

[Seb's Open Research]

Um, this is all going to get very messy. I'm not sure that articles are, as a generality, 'donated' by authors but are written during their paid for time. Reader's are going to have to pay somehow for access (and lets face it they are paying ISP charges of some sort, so web access isn't free) its whether it is via taxation or via a fee to a commercial host. What is weird, IMHO, is this generates such heat (piracy), and this in a country in which you have to pay for health care. 

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Minicopter To Revolutionise Travel Inve

Minicopter 'to revolutionise travel'. Inventors are working on a miniature helicopter to help commuters get to work. [BBC News | TECHNOLOGY]

I dunno, need something a little more radical than this - all those whirring blades and really we need to get away from the internal combustion engine.

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# Tuesday, 12 November 2002

Web Publishing For Everyone Today A Hrefhtt

Web Publishing for Everyone. Today, Macromedia launched Macromedia Contribute, a powerful new desktop application that aims to unleash web publishing for everyone, while providing control to web professionals ultimately responsible for websites and applications. It's amazing that after 8 years we haven't had technologies like this --- it's still much much too hard for the average end-user to use the web as a personal communications and publishing tool. Norm Meyrowitz, our president of products, ruminates here about this fact. We went through years of everyone believing they need "content management systems", and have learned that what we really need are powerful, usable, and affordable tools that are pragmatic and open, not expensive, complex, and inflexible, which has become the norm in content management. On a side note, Contribute opens up some interesting potential synergies with the weblog universe -- Dreamweaver MX Templates + Contriute could make a powerful one-two punch for enabling a far greater number of users to easily publish weblogs. [Jeremy Allaire's Radio]

Also follow the rumination link. I am in awe at how people can write this garbage and sound so sincere - but that's why I'm not in marketing!

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# Monday, 11 November 2002

IMG Height50 AltA Picture Named Bushgif Hspace2

A picture named bush.gifYesterday I wrote a very simple suite in Frontier called aggyBaby, that uses the new aggregator XML-RPC interface to build a very bare-bones but super-fast static page of the latest stories from the channels I've subscribed to. I think I'll release the UserTalk code in the hope that someone will convert it to Python and/or Java. [Scripting News]
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# Tuesday, 05 November 2002

Something Like This Is What Im Looking For On Windows Zeepe Netnewswire

Something like this is what I'm looking for on Windows (Zeepe). Netnewswire
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ping Getting Tired Of Having To Do This Is It The Internet Thats Unreliable Radio Userland Or My Firewall Dunno

ping - getting tired of having to do this. Is it the Internet thats unreliable, Radio Userland or my firewall - dunno!
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# Monday, 04 November 2002

Why You Should Move To C The Migration

Why you should move to C#. The migration to the .NET platform offers many development choices. This top 10 list explains why C# is an important offering and why you should consider moving to C#. [.netWire Headlines] I haev been doing a lot of stuff with C++ lately and don't agree with all of this but here it is anyhow. [Sam Gentile's Weblog]

If these are the top 10, .Net is in trouble. The trouble with the article is it says rather too often "you can do this [dire thing] in C++, not C#". Most (and certainly MS VC++) compilers will give you warnings on those dire things these days. 

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# Saturday, 02 November 2002

I First Got Notice Of LSW DotNet ReflectionBrowser Release 10 From

I first got notice of LSW DotNet Reflection-Browser Release 1.0 from the Dotnet-Products mailing list. I asked how if it was was different than Lutz's free and most essential kick-ass tool Reflector (whoo, just noticed new version there

Highlights Smalltalk-like code browsing.
References / Callers / Callees / Implementers
Built in Decompiler + Disassebler C# / Smalltalk / PCode
Documentation View and Substring - Search
Multiple Browser-Wndows / Navigation Hierarchy
The differences I got from the company:

it differs much.
Built in decompiler and disassembler.
totally different code-navigation possibilities ( Callers / Callees / Implementers / Type References / Assembly References / Event Handler, Field & Property references )
Navigation-History, Type-Filters and member Filters.#
It allows to browse code in the Smalltalk way.
Download here
[Sam Gentile's Weblog]
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Give it a title, does it work?

Oh my goodness me, I've been hit by the won't post on 1st on month bug. What is wrong with these people?
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Technology Ramblings :: What the frell is the Semantic Web

That's about right (or my understanding as well) - difficult isn't it, no wonder it doesn't work. Its taking years to get agreement on the schema for learning/education product, can't see the whole web being wrapped up that easily.

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W3C Close To R

W3C close to ratifying SOAP 1.2. Possible patents may cloud Web services specification adoption [InfoWorld: Top News]

I wondered when WebMethods would poke their head above the parapet.

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ZeroInstall Extensible Client PlatformsEM

Zero-Install Extensible Client Platforms. The Net needs zero-install extensible client platforms.  Java WebStart and .NET meets some of the needs, but both require the user to install 6 to 20 megabytes of mostly unused code and lacks the ability to incrementally update and extend the platform.  The same applies to Flash.  Unless the platform itself can be updated and extended incrementally, its not zero-install in my opinion.[Don Park's Blog]

Hmmm, we're small and with the new install technology, incremental. With some new stuff going in, possibly optional components which is another way of saying incremental. But it does rely on nMB of stuff that's already there - nothing that does anything 'real' is small anymore. Years ago, your app was it, it relied on the BIOS for disc io and the OS to load it but that was it, now one relies on a big fat OS to draw on the screen, provide windows etc - but relying solely on what is definitely already there is better than demanding 6-20MB download just to say "Hello World".

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Rivals Come Up Short I

Rivals come up short in decision. In explaining her decision, a federal judge says Microsoft competitors would have unfairly benefited from a harsh antitrust remedy. [CNET News.com]

Very interesting what this one says - to paraphrase, "I ain't going to break up MS and give it to some spoilt rich kids". Fair enough and right, IMHO the whole darned thing was ill conceived by the DoJ 'cos they kept listening to the very specific winges of the rich kids rather than working out what was generally wrong with MS - "this is our sandpit and you get to play with that grain over there".

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# Friday, 01 November 2002

Well Everybody Is At It About Me Like All These Th

Well everybody is at it: About me. Like all these things, its uncanny what it knows - how does it know I work up stairs? But for Jerry its (almost) tragic.

And apparently, Zeepe just is.

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