Archive for May, 2008

Thursday, May 29th, 2008


Bumped into XRX today. XForms + REST + XQuery. I like the sound of this, and XForms on the client just got a whole bunch easier…

I’m seeing multiple signs that the confluence of XForms and XQuery has legs. (And REST just plain makes sense in any situation). -m

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

XForms Validator on Google App Engine?

I registered ‘xfv’ on Google App Engine. Too bad there doesn’t appear to be any significant XML libraries supported. I have XPath covered by my pure-python WebPath, but what about Relax NG? Anyone know of anything in pure python? -m

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

OK already, XQuery has FLWORs, I get it

A very short rant on the state of XQuery tutorial materials on the web (not naming any names or linking any links).

I get it. Thank you for your fanatical emphasis on FLWOR constructs, but there is much more to it than that.

A few introductory sources don’t fall in to this trap, though. Mike Kay’s stuff. Priscilla Walmsley’s O’Reilly book for another. I’m pretty much finishing up reading it so I’ll review it here soon. -m

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

XForms Ubiquity

I just found out about a nice little XForms engine called Ubiquity. (Having dinner with Mark Birbeck, TV Raman, and Leigh Klotz certainly helps one find out about such things) :-)

It’s a JavaScript implementation done right. Open source under the Apache 2.0 license. Seems like a nice fit with, oh maybe MarkLogic Server? -m

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

XQuery Annoyances…

If you are used to XSLT 1.0 and XForms, you see { $book/bk:title } and think nothing of it. XSLT 1.0 calls the curly-brace construct an Attribute Value Template, which is pretty descriptive of where it’s used. Always in an attribute, always converted into a string, even if you are actually pointing to an element.

In XQuery, though, the curly-brace construct can be used in many different places. Depending on the context, the above code might well insert a bk:title element into your output. The proper thing to do, of course, is { $book/bk:title/text() }. Many XSLT and XForms authors would omit the extra text() selector as superfluous, but in XQuery it matters.

What’s worse, depending on your browser, you might not see any output on the page within a <bk:title> element (or a title element of any namespace). Caveat browser! -m


Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

The two-line CV

In my about page, I’ve written my CV in two lines. Why don’t you try it, then link back to here?

I’ve been known to use this as an interview question, and it’s quite a bit harder than it looks. A clever candidate will turn the paper sideways giving themselves more room to write “two lines”, but that’s not the point. This exercise forces one to really think about their qualifications, skills, and experience; one’s “unique selling proposition”.

Writing short, as opposed to rambling on, is notoriously difficult. Someone who can do that with their own CV is off to a good start in my book. -m

P. S. Mark Logic is looking for some high-caliber XML and web folks. Contact me offline if you know anyone looking…

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

Mark Logic

You probably noticed the byline on my recent Yahoo! developer network posting. It, and a few more posts still in the pipe, list me as a “SearchMonkey Team Alumnus”. So yeah, it’s official, I’ve hung up my exclamation point and moved on to something else.

Specifically, Mark Logic, where a group of impressively talented people reside, recently including Norm Walsh. My first day there is tomorrow, so I don’t fully know what I’ll be working on, though it does involve
the core server, and taking it from it current state of awesome raw bare-metal power into something more akin to a application development platform.

Mark Logic strikes me like this: think back 10 years or so to all the hype and introductory articles around this new thing called XML–how it would enable whole new kinds of applications though the miraculous abilities of “markup” and perform realtime structured search over the results. It turns out that all these dreams were missing one critical piece, a way to do all the fancy indexing and repository management needed to make that happen. And the MarkLogic Server, to a very good approximation, IS that piece.

So what do I think of SearchMonkey at this point? No change, really. Good riddance to the ten-blue-links result pages. It’s breaking new ground in search, and Google will have a hard time stomaching an equally radical (and potentially revenue-impacting) change. SearchMonkey is really good news for the lowercase semantic web, including microformats and RDFa. It’s doing all the right things for the right reasons. The project will do fine without me. :-)

I had a good run at Yahoo! and I’m proud to have accomplished all I did there. Onward. -m

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

Are microformats right for your site?

Yeah, more than ever before. See my article on Yahoo! developer net. The stuff I talk about here is currently live in the indexer. -m

Friday, May 16th, 2008

Bonus points if…

you can spot me in this pic. Have you tried out SearchMonkey yet? -m

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Power outage

I’m posting this during a power outage. Since I re-rigged my telecom setup with the Ooma box, I put all my telecom and internet boxes on a UPS. I’d been itching for a power outage to test it out. Temperatures are close to 100F today here, and with all the AC units working, I got my wish. It’s somehow good to know that nothing about a DSL line depends on local power working.

Test successful.

If you don’t have your cable/DSL modem an router on a UPS, maybe now is time to consider it? -m

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

Reminder: SearchMonkey developer launch party Thursday

Reminder: Thursday evening at Yahoo! Sunnyvale headquarters is the launch party for the developer-facing side of SearchMonkey. In case you haven’t been paying attention, SearchMonkey is a new platform that lets developers craft their own awesomized search results. If you’re interested in SEO or general lowercase semantic web tools, you’ll love it. Meet me there. Upcoming link. Party starts at 5:30. -m

Update: The developer tool is live. Rasmus has a nice walkthrough.

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Little Brother is out

Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother is now shipping from Amazon and other stores. I reviewed a pre-release copy of it and liked it. But the best part is–like Cory’s other books–it’s downloadable right now, for free, under an open content license. I can attest that this is an effective strategy for getting your name and your work out into the wild. If you really like it, then please purchase it in a convenient portable package, also known as a printed book. :-) -m

Friday, May 9th, 2008

FunctX XQuery library

In the new-to-me department, here’s a library and description of useful XQuery functions from my friend Priscilla Walmsley. XSLT 2, also. -m

P.S. Mark my words, more news is coming…

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

14 ways…

When making hash browns xkcd style, there are at least 14 ways it could go badly.

  1. That’s not a potato, it’s a misshapen rock.
  2. Unexpectedly flammable tennis racket.
  3. Sparks landing on gas can.
  4. Food poisoning via undercooked hash browns due to limited flame contact time.
  5. Broken plate fragments.
  6. Dripping, flaming gasoline.
  7. Swing and a miss; balance lost.
  8. Flaming potato fragments in the eye socket.
  9. Diving catch ends badly.
  10. Spontaneous combustion.
  11. Tennis elbow.
  12. Repetitive stress injury.
  13. Fork misfire.
  14. Heat death of the universe.

(17 if that fork is a dangerous crossbreed) -m

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Quote of the day

Wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready made with a mesh of associative trails running through them…

The prescient Vannevar Bush, who foresaw (among other things) the importance of hyperlinks. -m

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

What I’m Reading

The Minority Report and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick. This volume has all of Dick’s earliest short and medium-length fiction. It’s PKD so you know it’s good, but this one really gives insight into how he developed some of the themes that came to dominate his later work.

Even these early stories are filled with mind-blowing premises, which are only just the beginning before things get really weird. Highly recommended. -m

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

Maker Faire photoset

Up on Flickr. Anita and I had a blast. We spent about 8 hours and saw maybe half of everything. -m

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

Weekend Project: save $75/month with Ooma

New gear, an Ooma VOIP box. I plan to post more technical details soon, but the short story is that you get a sleek little box that goes between your dsl or cable modem and your router, and you get unlimited local and long distance calling. For free. For life (or 3 years, according to the TOS). Check out the Flickr set of the unboxing experience.

WIth this, I plan to turn off my landline, to the tune of about $35 a month, and by not using our mobile phones for so much long distance, reduce the calling plan for another $40 a month. The one-time cost for the box set me back about $231, so I will be even in just over 3 months. (Only recently, these things were retailing for $599.)

How do these guys stay in business? I’ll write more about this too, but the short story is that bandwidth is really, really cheap, monopolistic efforts of telecom companies notwithstanding.

So far I’m really happy with it. The online Ooma Lounge isn’t as good as Vonage’s system–for one thing, you can only see voicemails, not any kind of call logs. But the features that are there Just Work. The documentation is short and simple but thorough. Setup was a breeze.

Have you tried Ooma? Comment below. -m

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

SearchMonkey dev party

If you have webdev skillz, you might be interested in the SearchMonkey launch party on May 15. Good food, good drink, good coding. Space is limited, but I have a few invites to share. Comment here or contact me offline if interested. -m

Thursday, May 1st, 2008


Today happens to mark the 6th anniversary of my blog. To celebrate going into year seven I’m refocusing it, including a new name: Micahpedia.

Blogging is an important skill, a subset of the overall skill of managing your online persona, so it’s worth devoting some attention to. The ego-burst doesn’t hurt either. My concrete goal is to get in the top 10 search results for the query [Micah], though I face some stiff competition including the prophet.

From an SEO perspective, “Push Button Paradise” wasn’t the greatest choice of name. It suffers from the common SEO mistake of being excessively clever and/or cute reflection of what I happened to be working on at the moment, namely XForms. If you see the old name standalone, or in a blogroll, or in an RSS reader, you still don’t have much of an idea what it’s about or who’s behind it. True I get pretty good ranking on the exact phrase, but nobody searches for that…

I will continue SEO tweaks on this site as time goes on and welcome any advice from any of my 7 readers.

In short, Micahpedia is about what I’m reading, writing, thinking about, and working on. I have plenty to say about these things. :-) The best is yet to come. -m