Archive for the 'announcement' Category

Friday, May 15th, 2009

Geek Thoughts: plan to Save The World

My plan is to start unsubstantiated rumors about the SUV Flu, and by association cause people to distance themselves from said implicated devices. You can help.

Despite denials from the CDC (you know they’re in the pockets of the auto industry), SUV flu is serious and spreading fast. You might already have it and not realize it. The SUV flu spreads primarily through close contact with gas-guzzling vehicles, such as so-called Sport Utility Vehicles. California has been hit the hardest, with sources reporting that in a small hamlet outside of Oxnard over 3000 drivers have been seen staggering away from their parked vehicles, and further reports indicate that up to 80 top epidemiologists nationwide are stranded and unable to commute to work.

Transmission occurs primarily via exhaust emission and requires close contact between source and recipient because contaminants do not remain suspended in the air and generally rise directly to the ozone layer. Contact with contaminated surfaces (including bucket seats and 4-wheel-drive shifters) is another possible source of transmission.

The estimated incubation period is unknown and could range from 1-7 days, but more likely 3 years or 36,000 miles.

Patients with uncomplicated disease due to confirmed (or unconfirmed) SUV flu virus infection have experienced inflated ego, increased road rage, chronic lack of consideration for others, decreased awareness of nearby traffic, fatigue, vomiting, or diarrhea. In West Palm Beach, 95% of patients with SUV flu met the case definition of opprobrism.

Anyone showing signs–however faint–of possible SUV flu should pull over, immediately self-diagnose, and proclaim the results on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, or a nearby blog. If you are somehow still disease-free, carefully avoid contamination vectors mentioned above. Please help spread the warning about this dangerous disease, using the hashtag #suvflu.

Be careful out there.

More collected Geek Thoughts at

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

Yahoo!: One year gone

As of today, I have been out of Yahoo! for a full year. And what a year it’s been… I guess that means I’m now free to recruit…any good XML people still wearing purple? -m

Monday, May 4th, 2009

When the experimenter wants to believe

The universe is deeply, fundamentally weird. At the quantum level, all kinds of non-intuitive effects are the building blocks of, well everything. So what if not just observing, but believing in a particular outcome could influence the actual outcome of an experiment?

Something like that could explain a lot: many of the claims of perpetual motion machines, cold fusion a la Stanley and Pons, the placebo effect, Steorn Orbo technology (previous discussion), and numerous similar endeavors. Who’s to say that some aspect of what we call consciousness doesn’t involve some kind of probability manipulation?

The conventional scientific method would be at a loss to deal with such a situation. True Believers would proclaim miraculous results from their experiments, but Skeptics would be unable to reproduce the results. Strong skeptics would set up million dollar rewards to prove crackpottish claims under “controlled conditions”, and nobody would ever collect.

Such a conceit is the basis for a story I’m working on. The first drafts were written 18 months ago, as part of NaNoWriMo 2007. I may be ready for some early reviewers by the summer. Interested? -m

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Five ways to stay informed about swine flu

  1. Don’t panic. Panic == not thinking clearly.
  2. Avoid Twitter until symptoms subside. Probably HuffPost and Drudge too.
  3. Think ahead. If you don’t already have an Emergency Preparedness Kit assembled, well, that was kind of dumb. Over your next few trips to the grocery store, gradually get stuff for one.
  4. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. If in doubt, ask a doctor.
  5. The article is pretty even-handed, worth a read.


Sunday, April 26th, 2009

XForms validator: disabling Google ads, no more blank pages

Thanks to those who wrote in with bug reports about the XForms Validator: something changed recently and made the inserted Google Ads script confuse browsers, resulting in a blank page where you’d expect results. I’ve turned off the response-page ads, which were only getting in the way, and the problem seems to have vanished. Carry on. :-) -m

Friday, April 24th, 2009

I’ve always thought that the EXSLT model of developing community specifications worked well. Now a critical mass of folks has come together on a similar effort, aimed at providing extensions usable in XPath 2.0, XSLT 2.0, XQuery, and other XPath-based languages like XProc. Maybe even XForms.

Check it out, subscribe to the mailing list, and help out if you can. -m

Monday, March 30th, 2009

The Geek Thoughts Manifesto

Never trust a document with “Manifesto” in the title, nor that document’s writer.

More collected Geek Thoughts at

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

Netflix watch: Taming of the Shrew available instantly

The 1980 BBC version with John Cleese. Available for instant watching, but will go away on April 01. Apparently lots of BBC stuff is supposedly going away soon. (I’ve never linked to a Netflix title before, let me know if it doesn’t work) -m

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Geek Thoughts: Amazon backtracks on text to speech

With apologies to a real news site. (02-27) 16:14 PST SEATTLE, (AP) Inc. changed course Friday and said it would allow copyright holders to decide whether they will permit their works to be read aloud by the latest laryngeal apparatus, a feature that has been under development for several thousand years.

The move comes nearly two weeks after a group representing authors expressed concern that the feature, which was intended to be able to read every book, blog, magazine and newspaper out loud, would undercut separate audiobook sales. The average American can use their larynx to read text in a somewhat stilted voice.

Amazon said in a statement that it, too, has a stake in the success of the audiobook market, and pointed to its Brilliance Audio and Audible subsidiaries, which publish and sell professionally recorded readings.

“Nevertheless, we strongly believe many rights holders will be more comfortable with the text-to-speech feature if they are in the driver’s seat,” the company said.

Amazon is working on the technical changes needed for authors and publishers to turn text-to-speech off for individual titles.

The Web retailer also said the text-to-speech feature is legal — and wouldn’t require Amazon to pay out additional royalties — because a book read aloud doesn’t constitute a copy, a derivative work or a performance.

More collected Geek Thoughts at

Monday, February 16th, 2009

Crane Softwrights adds XQuery training

From the company home page, reknown XSLT trainer and friend G. Ken Holman has expanded his offerings to include XQuery training. The first such session is March 16-20, alongside XML Prague.

I’ve always thought there is great power in having both XSLT and XQuery tools at one’s disposal. I’ve seen people tend to polarize into one camp or the other, but in truth there is a lot of common ground, as well as cases where the right technology makes for a much more elegant solution. So learning both is easier than it seems, and more useful than it seems.

If you will be around the conference, take a look at the syllabus. I’m curious to see others’ reactions toward the combined XSLT + XQuery toolset. -m

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

XSLTForms beta

XSLTForms, the cross-browser XForms engine (written about previously) that makes ingenious use of built-in XSLT processing, reached an important milestone today, with a beta release. Tons of bug fixes and additional support for CSS and Schema.

If you’re thinking about getting involved with XForms and are looking for something small and approachable, give it a look. -m

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Call for speakers: MarkLogic user conference

This year’s Mark Logic User Conference is May 12-14, in beautiful San Francisco. Attend the conference at no charge as a speaker! Submit a proposal for a breakout session on business applications, technical implementation, or best practices. Deadline is February 13th. Thanks! -m

Monday, January 26th, 2009

MarkMail 2.0 launches

If you’ve seen MarkMail before, you may be pleased to know that a new version launched last week, including new features (like saved search sets) for power users. If you haven’t seen MarkMail before, what are you waiting for? -m

P.S. If you could use something like this behind your firewall, ping me.

Monday, January 12th, 2009


Busy week ahead. Minimal posting. -m

Monday, January 5th, 2009

T.V. Raman in the New York Times

My friend and XForms conspirator T.V. Raman was written up in the New York Times. (Link) [If the link happens to not work because of NYT’s stupid content policy, access the article via a search on Raman’s name on Google News.] Raman has done all kinds of great accessibility work that benefits everyone, photon-dependent or not.

Great picture too–love the closed laptop. -m

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

RDFa parser in XQuery now open source

After a delay, the code to my RDFa parser in XQuery is now available under an Apache license. Go get it. This is some of the earliest XQuery code I ever wrote, so go easy on me. It follows the earlier work on a functional definition of RDFa. And feel free to send in patches. -m

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

XForms for HTML

I’ve heard not a peep about this before, but here it is: XForms for HTML. Let’s read this together. Feel free to drop any comments or observations below. -m

Saturday, December 6th, 2008

Recruiting at XML 2008

I’m off to XML 2008 in Arlington, VA. One thing I’ll be seeking is a top-tier QA candidate for XML technologies. If you are that person, look me up. :-)


Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Geek Thoughts: writing contest

To celebrate the unlamented demise of Valleywag, use as many of the ten insulting words you should know (along with any other appropriate words) as you can in a single short paragraph. Post in the comments below. This site is for geeks of all ages, so keep things PG. All right, PG-13. My favorite will be announced later.

More collected Geek Thoughts at

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

No NaNoWriMo for me this year

I’ve successfully completed the National Novel Writing Month challenge–to write 50,000 words during the month of November–for three years running, and now I have three draft novels sitting around. At some point, racking up mere drafts gets to be pathetic, so this November I’m picking one to dig into with a heavy editing pass. I’m stocked up on red pens and ready to go, and maybe a third of the way through at this moment. Other writing efforts, like say this blog, get back-burnered for a few weeks.

The key to editing long works, by the way, is momentum. If you get stuck in one place, you quickly get burned out on it, like melting celluloid in an old-skool movie projector. Onward. -m

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Meade Class, the nexte

Another mead class is scheduled for November 15th in Los Altos. Come join me!

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, Nov. 15, 2008 2:00 – 4:00 pm
991 N. San Antonio Road
Los Altos, CA 94022

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

Light food and drink are included in the class materials fee of $10. Seating is limited. Email Micah at to reserve a spot today.

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

RDFa is a Recommendation

Haven’t mentioned here that RDFa is a W3C Recommendation. I’m thrilled that something that I’ve been thinking about for a while is ready for prime time.

Also, as of this writing the first page of results at Google still prominently links to a terribly outdated draft of the spec. The first page of results at Yahoo! nails it. Just sayin’.


Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Judging organic beer

This weekend I’ll be judging organic homebrew at the Seven Bridges Cooperative in San Jose. Yes, not only is this beer carbon-based, it’s certified. :-) If you’ll be there too, be sure to look me up. -m

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Possible downtime

I’m upgrading to a bigger and better internet service plan. Some possible downtime in the near future… -m

Monday, October 6th, 2008

To any recently downsized eBayers

I know what it’s like to be laid off, I’ve been through it twice. If you need help connecting up with a new gig, whether at MarkLogic or a hand-off to one of the zillion headhunters that constantly harry me, let me know. Send me email and I’ll do what I can. -m

Monday, September 29th, 2008

My energy plan

Cringely writes that a mandatory ban on incandescent lighting would cut U.S. electricity consumption by 18% within a year. What else could have a big impact?

The Onion Radio News reported on a new eco-friendly Hummer that kills its owners. (aired Aug 7, 2008) That’s not bad, but a tax on SUVs of one dollar per pound per year would be fine too.

On a more serious note, telecommuting could significantly reduce energy usage. Twenty percent of person-days should be doable within a year, averaged across all industries and workers. I wonder what percentage of petroleum usage that would represent?…


Sunday, September 21st, 2008

My economic plan

Levy a $24,000, one-time tax, payable in installments over 10 years, against anyone who took out an interest-only mortgage (or various other high-risk instruments) during the previous 10 years, using the full nasty power of the IRS to collect (garnishing wages, etc.)

Take the proceeds and give it to homeowners who did NOT engage in high-risk activities as a tax refund.

Since taxpayers will be bailing out wall street anyway, why not move the blame closer to where it belongs? -m

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

What I’m Reading

Going away for a week (so possibly minimal posting here). What am I bringing to read?

Check some of these out. What do you like to read when travelling? -m

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

Trying to read _Playing for Keeps_ on an iPhone

Mur Lafferty’s new superhero novel is making the rounds. She’s encouraging everyone to buy a printed copy on August 25 (buy it here) to make a nice impression in the bestseller lists. I’m a sucker for these kinds of promotions. The full text also recently appeared on the Escape Pod feed, under a Creative Commons license. It’s a whopping 35 megabytes, including illustrated comic book covers…a nice touch.

It would be really nice to have this with me to read during spare moments without the bulk of the printed book. Hmm.

My question is: how I can read it on an iPhone? Ebook support isn’t that great so far, especially for the PDF format. I know about the data:url trick, but it doesn’t work with 35 megs. Has anyone successfully set up an iPhone to read this book? What software and/or conversions did you use? Comment below. -m

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

MarkLogic RDFa parser

This post will be continuously updated to contain the most recent details about an XQuery 1.0 RDFa parser I wrote for Mark Logic. It follows the Functional RDFa pattern.

At present there is little to say, but eventually code and more will be available. Stay tuned.