Archive for May, 2006

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006

WWW 2006 photos

Check ’em out on Flickr. -m

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006

Visualizing Tags Over Time

Check out the presentation page, with a link to the paper. Because someone asked, my name got top biling due to the prestigious “alphabetical” reference system. -m

Monday, May 29th, 2006

“This drive has reported a fatal hardware error to Disk Utility”

I’m on the IT eqivalent of emergency life support for a few days. I returned to a DOA hard drive. If you’ve sent me mail in the last week or so, think about re-sending it. See the comments for the gritty details. -m

Sunday, May 28th, 2006

I’m Back

I’m safely back home, but my main blogging/email/web machine is seriously hosed. Good thing I have tomorrow off from work. :-( Expect light posting here until further notice. -m

Friday, May 26th, 2006

XHTML2 and XForms presentations

Steven Pemberton has done several recent talks on XForms,

XForms tutorial at XTech and WWW

The Power of Declarative Thinking – same slides for the talks at XTech and WWW

I attended at least parts of both of the WWW talks, and I can report that they were well-attended and well-received. -m

Friday, May 26th, 2006

iPods in Scotland

Limited and insecure network connections have kept me from writing more, but man are there a lot of iPods in Scotland. They’re everywhere. Finding a power adapter for a PowerBook, on the other hand, is nearly impossible. -m

Update: See the comments here to view (or add) your travel tips.

Friday, May 19th, 2006

Heading out

I’m heading out shortly to Edinburgh. How much will I be blogging from Scotland? Good question! Depends greatly on connectivity, fatigue, and opportunity. In that order (I think). -m

Wednesday, May 17th, 2006

XML 2006 Call for Participation

As long as I’ve got conferences on the brain, I need to mention the XML 2006 Call for Participation.

XML 2005 was great, and this year looks like it could be even better. Deadline for regular talk and tutorial proposals is July 19. -m

Wednesday, May 17th, 2006

InfoPath going mobile?

Seen on Bill Trippe’s blog.

Gray Knowlton, who indentified himself as a Senior Product Manager for InfoPath 2007 said the next version of SharePoint will “include InfoPath Forms Services, which will render InfoPath forms to browsers and html-enabled mobile devices, and this will not require InfoPath on the form fillers’ desktop, nor will it require any advance download on the part of the person completing the form.”

This is, as far as I know, breaking news. Nice work, Bill!

Now, the big question is, how well will it work outside of IE? -m

Tuesday, May 16th, 2006

Reminder: come see me at WWW 2006

At WWW I have a short presentation on Yahoo! Go on Friday. It’s one-fourth of a 90 minute slot, so don’t expect any huge revelations.

You might also see my name on another paper, Visualizing Tags over Time on Wednesday (nominated for Best Paper) (!). I won’t be presenting, though I did help a bit with the project.

Anyway, if you’re making it to Edinburgh this year, look me up next week. -m

Tuesday, May 16th, 2006

Come Yahoo! with me

The following is a blatant job posting. If you’re not into that kind of thing, feel free to skip.

In Yahoo! Mobile, we’re working on an amazing project which, unfortunately, I can’t say much about just yet. We’re growing, and we need some more talent. All of the following are in Sunnyvale, CA and have the full benefits package. Relocation is always a possibility for the right candidate.

Web Guru/Developer: If you dream in semantic XHTML and prefer command line tools to read and write web pages, this is the job for you.

Release Engineer: On the other hand, if you dream about virtual IPs and consider Apache config files a second language, you’d be happy in this challenging position.
There’s more openings than these; I’m just highlighting a few here. If you’re interested, or just looking for more details, email me. If you’ll be at WWW next week, you could also look me up in person. -m

Monday, May 15th, 2006 vs. blogging

My friend Kimbro Staken has mostly stopped blogging, instead relying on Several others on my RSS reader are trending similarly.

Until very recently, I was doing the same. For me, posting links is a way of keeping the ‘pilot light’ burning when I didn’t have enough time to do full postings–on, posting a link, writing a short description, and clicking in a few tags takes 30 seconds. One can do it without interrupting whatever task led you to an interesting URL. But only once in over six months was that enough to stir up some discussion.
And discussion is what I want to stir up again, hence more focus on the blog. Thoughts? -m

Saturday, May 13th, 2006

New Theme

Since switching to WordPress, I’ve gotten some gentle reminders along the lines of changing the default theme. Well, I’ve done it.

I still don’t understand why so many themes have a huge image taking up half the space ‘above the fold’, but nevertheless, Tony Greer‘s excellent theme I’m using here was easy to customize, is squeaky-clean for validation, and has a few other nice features. Comments? You know the drill. -m

Saturday, May 13th, 2006

Overheard: SOAP=Snakes On A Plane

Heh. (heard by way of mnot via yaron) -m

Friday, May 12th, 2006

Rumor: Softbank iTunes phone?

According to

Apple and Japanese telecom giant Softbank may be developing a new mobile phone that can download songs from iTunes

Wait a minute, is that the same Softbank that owns the biggest chunk of Yahoo! Japan? Yep. This is utter speculation, but I’d watch the Apple+Yahoo! space, particularly for mobile… -m

Friday, May 12th, 2006

Nifty Firefox trick

If you’re like me, you often get email messages with long URLs that wrap, which are a pain to actually get into a browser. Easier on Firefox though:

Go to about:config and change editor.singleLine.pasteNewlines setting to 3 or add: user_pref(“editor.singleLine.pasteNewlines”, 3); to your user.js file.

Excellent! -m

Thursday, May 11th, 2006

Is rel=’nofollow’ a failure?

The argument behind rel=”nofollow” was that spammers were trying to game the system to get link credibility for thier sites. Having a way to flag links that haven’t been human-reviewed so that they don’t count toward PageRank (and similar algorithms) would remove that incentive, and spammers would go away.

Fat chance. You haven’t noticed it here because of moderation (a similar way of enforcing human-review and removing incentive to game the system), but the spammers have already been hammering this site. A 3-second check would show that their efforts aren’t working, but if someone has a bot slamming thousands or millions of sites, apparently it’s not even economical for them to direct their spew–they keep on trying.

Even as the dis-incentives pile on, levels of spam activity increase. Nofollow doesn’t work, because it doesn’t live at the same level where the problem occurs. Comments? -m

Tuesday, May 9th, 2006

VOIP over cell

PC World. T-Mobile prohibits VOIP over their network. Anyone care to report on their experience running VOIP over any cellular network? -m

Tuesday, May 9th, 2006

More Mozilla Foundation movement on XForms

By way of Alan Beaufour and Frank Hecker, more great news. -m

Tuesday, May 9th, 2006

WS-Addressing is a Rec

Pronounced “wreck”, as the old saw goes.

I can’t be the only one for whom this document makes no sense, which I mean in the broader sense of ‘how does this fit in to the rest of the world’. Many times, looking at the testimonials gives some idea what’s going on. Let’s see…

…frees Web services from the classic HTTP request/response


Many other specifications, such as WS-Trust, WS-ReliableMessaging, and WS-Coordination, leverage this facility…

This calls for a new category, WS-Whatever. Sigh. -m

P.S. Looks like Mark Baker has similar thoughts.

Monday, May 8th, 2006

Going Mobile

I’m going to start covering mobile developments more here. If you have any scoops, let me know. -m

P.S. Comment moderation has already paid for itself here. Sorry, spammers. (No, not really)

Sunday, May 7th, 2006

Motorola’s software developer networks join forces

According to CNet, Moto is gathering their development programs under one roof. Does this give any hope for a decent mobile browser from these guys? If so, I’m all for it. -m

Sunday, May 7th, 2006

Postel’s Law, AI, and crashing

Some semi-random Sunday thoughts. Why is it that a badly-formed web page will probably still work, but a badly-formed software program (say, a browser) will for certain kinds of bugs crash hard?

I think the answer comes down to intent. Even with a missing quote or closing tag, it’s still mostly obvious what should be done with a web page. Different browsers might make different assumptions resulting in different render trees, which ain’t good, but neither is it catastrophically bad.

On the other hand, if a software program attempts to, say, write to memory it doesn’t own, a serious error is hand. Attempting to continue could seriously compound an already-bad situation. Why is the program trying to do this? Here the intentional gap is far wider. For example, trying to save an open document might overwrite the still-good-on-disk version with random garbage. No, in the face of serious bugs, the only reasonable course is to cut the losses and terminate the program on the spot, ideally saving a core dump for later human inspection.

So, what if, someday, the hard-AI problem is solved (though I prefer cultured intelligence or “CI” to “AI”–consult my audio show for details on that). Say you have a future version of the Linux kernel, and an intelligent supervisor program. Now, if a memory access error occurs, the CI can take a look, consult the source code which it has handy, and figure out exactly what’s going on. In the case of minor errors, the stack and variables can be patched up, bugs automatically filed, and life (and the misbehaving program) can continue on. In the case of serious errors, at least things could be more gently shut down.

Far fetched? Perhaps. Things like Amazon mechanical turk make me think that the only thing to be gained by solving hard AI would be ecomomic (including turnaround time) efficiencies. Then again, sometimes making something more efficient enables its use in entire new realms. Imagine taking the same system, and unleashing it on the non-well-formed web… -m

Saturday, May 6th, 2006

Is there an information architect in the house?

I need to remodel my blog. Pretty easy, if you want to blow away all your previous content and start fresh. A bit trickier if you want to preserve all your old content and the URLs at which each page resides.

Aside: for some reason, every single change to my blog (including first starting out) has happened in May. Kind of weird:

  • May 2002 – begin (Blogger)
  • May 2004 – I wanted centralized control of my own data, so switched to a home-grown system
  • May 2005 – I switched to the awesome PyBloxsom, which had much better developer support
  • May 2006 – I switched to WordPress, for reasons outlined here.

Each of these had a slightly different way of laying out the URL space, which I’ve preserved. Why go to the trouble? The main limit with my particular PyBlosxom setup was that my “golden” copies of postings were synced between my ISP and home laptop. In short, it was very inconvenient to post from anywhere but @ home. I want to be able to post more, including from work and on the road, and WordPress fits the bill nicely. Since I’m not consulting anymore, all the fiddly bits in PyBlosxom aren’t as appealing anymore.

Also, it’s a good opportunity to rework the comments policy, and hopefully get some good discussions going here.

With some apache mod_rewrite magic, I’m nearly done. Any comments on the new setup can go, well, right below here. Thanks! -m