Archive for July, 2008

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

The rare benefit of easily-mockable names

From the observing-the-human-condition department.

Seems I have a hard to pronounce name. For the record my first name has a long I; it’s MY-ka, not MEE-ka. When someone gets it wrong, I don’t hold anything against them. Afterall, how to pronounce any given name is pretty arbitrary.

But there are a few names that are easily mockable. Either a letter of two off from a word with a less favorable meaning, or a shared name with an infamous person–a few notable examples being a popular figure in the XML world and one of the current U.S. presidential candidates. I find that in these infrequent cases, an easily-mockable name can be a useful thing, since it allows me to immediately flip the bozo bit on any commentator/blogger/reporter who chooses to engage with the mockery. Without such low-hanging invective, sometimes it’s harder to tell when somebody is an idiot.

If you want to constructively criticize someone, go for it. But make sure to use founded, fact-based arguments that can stand on their own without resorting to childish attacks. Go forth and na-na-na-boo-boo no more. -m

Monday, July 28th, 2008

eRDF 1.1 Proposal Discussion

The W3C RDFa specification is now in Candidate Recommendation phase, with an explicit call for implementations (of which there are several). Momentum for RDFa is steadily building. What about eRDF, which favors the existing HTML syntax over new attributes?

There’s still a place for a simpler syntactic approach to embedding RDF in HTML, as evidenced by projects like Yahoo! SearchMonkey. And eRDF is still the only game in town when it comes to annotating RDF within HTML-without-the-X.

One thing the RDFa folks did was define src as a subject-bearing node, rather than an object. At first I didn’t like this inversion, but the more I worked with it, the more it made sense. When you have an image, which can’t have children in (X)HTML, it’s very often useful to use the src URL as the subject, with a predicate of perhaps cc:license.

So I propose one single change to eRDF 1.1. Well, actually several changes, since one thing leads to another. The first is to specify that you are using a different version of eRDF. A new profile string of:


The next is changing the meaning of a src value to be a subject, not an object. Perhaps swapping the subject and object. Many existing uses of eRDF involving src already involve properties with readily available inverses. For example:

<!-- eRDF 1.0 -->
<img class="foaf.depiction" src="" />

<!-- eRDF 1.1 -->
<img src="" class="foaf.depicts" />

With the inherent limitations of existing syntax, the use case of having a full image URL and a license URL won’t happen. But XHTML2 as well as a HTML5 proposal suggest that adding href to many attributes might come to pass. In which case this possibility opens:

<img src="" class="cc.license"
href="" />

Comments? -m

Friday, July 25th, 2008

Complete this sequence…

In C, if you find yourself writing large switch statements (or rafts of if statements), you should consider using pointers to functions instead.

In C++, if you find yourself writing large switch statements (or rafts of if statements), you should consider using objects and polymorphism instead.

In XQuery, If you find yourself writing large typeswitch statements (or rafts of if statements), you should consider using _______________ instead.

Comment here. -m

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

Off to a Mark Logic conference

This one’s internal. If you’re a Mark Logic employee, look me up. If not, well, expect things to be slow around here for a couple of days. -m

Monday, July 21st, 2008

Review: Web 2.0: A Strategy Guide

Actually, instead of a review, let me quote the opening testimonial from the inside-front cover.

Competing globally with dynamic capabilities is the top priority of multinational executives and managers everywhere. Rethinking strategy in a highly networked world is the big challenge. How can your company navigate successfully in this turbulent, highly networked and socially connected environment? …

If this does it for you, I couldn’t recommend this book more highly. -m

Friday, July 18th, 2008

The iPhone lines go on and on…

At least at the Burlingame Apple Store. Lines wrapped all the way around the corner and to the back. They were turning folks away within 20 minutes of opening Friday. Some had been there since 7 am.

No iPhone for me. Yet. -m

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Website Optimization is on the shelves

Andy King’s Website Optimization is now in print from O’Reilly. This book covers it all: performance, SEO, conversion rates, analytics, you name it. If you run a web site, you’ll find this useful. I tech edited and contributed a small portion, about the growing trend of metadata as site advantage. Go check it out. -m

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

Starting to wrap my head around XQuery 1.1

Looks like a reasonably-sized revision. The first public working draft seems downright thin, in fact, relative to all the SHOULDs and MAYs in the requirements document. In particular, I’d like to see progress on 2.3.16 Higher order functions. (Then do we get a book XQuery: The Good Parts? …kidding..)


Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

Top Down Operator Precedence in Python

This article made my day. Very similar approach to what I did in WebPath, but even cleaner. Great explanation and performance numbers. -m

P.S. Thanks to Crock for pointing this out.

Monday, July 14th, 2008

Selling a domain

Someone overseas, whom I consider trustworthy but haven’t actually met, wants to buy one of my domains. Great!

There’s not huge sums involved, though it’s a hassle to move the money and coordinate the transfer. Readers: Any advice on how to complete the transaction? Escrow service? Anything lighter-weight? Comment below. -m

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

Mead Classe the thirde

My next Meade Classe will be on Saturday, August 2nd, which happens to be Mead Day. Come learn…and taste. Full details:

Mead brewing and appreciation class

Mead, honey wine, “the nectar of the gods”. Whatever you call it MoreFlavor Los Altos is sponsoring a class to help you learn more about this wonderful fermented beverage and equip you to brew your own.

Saturday, August 2, 2008 2:00 – 4:00 pm
991 N. San Antonio Road
Los Altos, CA 94022

Taught by an award-winning meadmaker: Learn about

  • Different types of meads
  • Brewing techniques
  • How boiling affects mead
  • The three most important factors in mead brewing
  • How to taste and evaluate mead

Food and drink are included in the class materials fee of $10. Seating is limited. Email me at to reserve a spot today. -m

Saturday, July 12th, 2008

Grand Theft Oregon Trail

That’s my game idea. Unfortunately I won’t have time to develop the idea, so somebody else go for it–just mention my name in the credits ;)

My 7-year-old has just discovered Oregon Trail, or more accurately Westward Trail, a respectable online clone.


Thursday, July 10th, 2008

Easing back into xml-dev

Traffic ain’t what it used to be there. But since I’m at a core xml technology company, it makes sense to participate again. Now, are there any topics left that haven’t been hashed to death? (hint: yes) -m

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

Google Protocol Buffers: what’s missing from this picture?

Today Google announced Protocol Buffers, described as “think XML, but smaller, faster, and simpler“. Language bindings for C++, Java, and Python. Oddly not even a whisper about JSON, which is a much more apt comparison. And along with that, no JavaScript implementation. So why the omission?

My guess is that it wouldn’t compare that favorably with JSON. The extra needed compile step is a hassle, and doesn’t give enough of a relative benefit for Ajax applications. But perhaps this will unleash a torrent of people asking for ‘binary JSON’. OK, maybe not… -m

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

Save up to 65% on Capacitors and Resistors

Nope, not spam. You can now order electronic components from Amazon, advertised right on the front page for me. What can’t you get on Amazon? -m

Saturday, July 5th, 2008

My Horrible Realization…

The old rule: only even-numbered Star Trek movies are any good.

The new rule: only odd-numbered Indiana Jones movies are any good.


Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

Yahoo! now indexes RDFa

I haven’t seen an announcement about this, but try the following query on Yahoo Search: [] (link). It shows documents containing RDFa, with Digg at the top. Since this is a Searchmonkey ID, it’s also usable in Searchmonkey to actually extract the metadata and use it to customize search results.

Does your site use RDFa yet? -m

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

The deal that wouldn’t die

Commentators, having long since run out of useful things to say about YHOO+MSFT, only bemoan how it continues to drag out. In reality, deals of this size do tend to take a while. Microsoft (and specifically Ballmer) aren’t walking. Why?

Because they need Yahoo. They need search share–the deal with Google only puts on more pressure. But they also need a non-schizophrenic brand under which to put all their audience attractors. In short, I’d say MSFT has been terrible at tactics (and non-intimidation-based negotiating), and YHOO has been mediocre at strategy and terrible at execution. Maybe they are meant for each other…

Prediction: by the end of the year 1) some kind of deal happens, and 2) Yang is out as CEO. $28.

Disclosure: I still hold long YHOO shares

Disclosure: The irony of this post is not lost on me