XML and software
XML, web and software in general, with notes on Radio Userland resources

Ken Novak's Weblog


daily link  Tuesday, December 23, 2003


Metacrap: "Putting the torch to seven straw-men of the meta-utopia."  Excellent rant y Cory Doctorow on why meta-data doesn't help much.  Jon Udell's comments on LinkedIn narrow user input, and the way that Google could derive better info than they ask for as metadata.  "I'm skeptical as to the benefit of a parochial reputation system such as LinkedIn, which requires extra effort to join, to feed with metadata, and to use. If we have (or are rapidly evolving) a global reputation system that can absorb and contextualize our routine communication, then parochial systems will need to deliver huge amounts of extra value. "

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BlogStreet : RSS Ecosystem: Neat collection of RSS processing tools, including

  • WAP reader
  • RSS generator from any web page
  • javascript panel for reading recent entries on a page
  • IMAP converter, so you can read RSS in a mail client
  2:35:56 PM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, December 22, 2003


Info-Share - Collaboration software for conflict management in Sri Lanka:  More details on the Sri Lanka peace process use of Groove called Info-Share, with contacts provided.  Collaboration spaces listed:

  • Track One, a "one text" negotiation space, where "a third-party facilitator draws out the stakeholders' underlying interests, help them create a series of proposals and ultimately assist them in selecting one."
  • Conflict Transformation Library, containing 400 MB of "documents and texts ranging from studies on child soldiers to handbooks on conflict resolution to a comprehensive audio-visual compilation of documents related to the on-going peace process"
  • Peace Partners, with a database of people in government and non-governmental agencies involved in the peace process, guides for donor support, and shared calendar
  • Peace Tools, "developed by experts in conflict resolution," with "a comprehensive way of mapping Sri Lankan peace process activities"
    • A map of conflict and analysis assessment;
    • A framework for conflict transformation and peace building;
    • A Sri Lankan multi-sector reconstruction framework;
    • A peace stakeholders framework
  10:19:04 AM  permalink  


daily link  Sunday, December 21, 2003


High Performance Zion Visitor Center - Photovoltaic Panels: Cool 360 degree views of Zion center, highlighting energy savings and generation, in a beautiful setting.  11:14:18 AM  permalink  

Groxis: knowledge management, data mining and information mapping tool called Grokker.  Currently searches your own data and creates clusters. Has announced plug-in to integrate Google search results, to be released in early January.  $49 with 30-day free trial.  11:11:54 AM  permalink  

Update on Quovix: "as it turns out, the community approach is good for the smallest jobs. Quovix has set up sub-communities that are good at things such as Java and feeds them, on a rotating basis, micro projects that take a few hours. Customers win because they normally can't find anyone willing to take on small projects, and Quovix developers get a steady enough stream of small jobs to make it worth their while." 

And an explanation from the CEO's Blog: "I don't really like selling us as an alternative to offshore outsourcing but, after four years, it seems to be the message that customers understand. Yes it is cheaper, yes, it does involve resources from around the world. The reason it's cheaper isn't because someone in Russia is willing to work for $7 per hour. In fact, we pay our members the same rate no matter where they live. It's cheaper because a) we don't have the overhead of people sitting around getting paid while requirements are being developed, b) we're not paying the team to train themselved on the toolsets that will be used, c) we don't engage highly skilled workers until all the upfront planning has been done and they can go immediately to work."

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daily link  Friday, December 19, 2003


Making Web Services Work at Amazon [Dec. 09, 2003]: "In order to create conditions for success, the terms needed to protect the rights of both the developers and of Amazon itself. While providing a degree of openness in order to foster creativity and adoption, the license needed also to sustain Amazon's business model. Practical issues include ensuring data freshness and preventing excessive server load. These needs were met with licensing constraints including one API call per second, a ban on reselling data, storing non-price relevant data for 24 hours maximum and pricing data for 1 hour maximum, and a mandatory link to amazon.com.

The next issue was that of protocols. Should they support SOAP or XML over HTTP (that is, REST)? In the end Amazon provided both and let developers make the choice. Despite it being the "standard", only about 15% of Amazon web services calls are made with SOAP, the remainder with REST. "

  1:44:47 PM  permalink  

Project Cyrus: "The Cyrus Electronic Mail Project is continuing to build a highly scalable enterprise mail system designed for use in a small to large enterprise environments using standards based technologies. The Cyrus technologies will scale from independent use in small departments to a system centrally managed in a large enterprise. "  Open-source development based at Carnegie Mellon, using IMAP, IMSP, SSL, etc.  Many docs at The Cyrus Wiki, including Cyrus Technology Overview.  10:27:49 AM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, December 15, 2003


Biculturalism: "What are the cultural differences between Unix and Windows programmers? There are many details and subtleties, but for the most part it comes down to one thing: Unix culture values code which is useful to other programmers, while Windows culture values code which is useful to non-programmers. This is, of course, a major simplification, but really, that's the big difference: are we programming for programmers or end users? Everything else is commentary."  Excellent review of what seems an interesting book by Eric S. Raymond, "The Art of UNIX Programming."  4:50:09 PM  permalink  

css Zen Garden: The Beauty in CSS Design: Great demo of CSS-based designs (downloadable too).  See also StrangeBanana, "a generator that automatically creates graphic webpage designs. You can see StrangeBanana at work by going to the StrangeBanana Generator page. What you see there will be a unique webpage design which have never been seen by anyone else before. If you want to, you can use that design for your own website"  4:34:53 PM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, December 12, 2003


Internet Scout Project - SPT: "The Scout Portal Toolkit (SPT) allows groups or organizations that have a collection of knowledge or resources they want to share via the World Wide Web to put that collection online without making a big investment in technical resources or expertise... Although the default settings on a newly-installed Portal Toolkit will be optimized to allow a portal builder to set up a useful portal site with a minimum of effort, there will still be some aspects that the builder will need or want to configure themselves. To allow the non-technical builder to perform this task the Toolkit includes a web-based configuration tool that does not require any knowledge of HTML, Unix, or other behind-the-scenes technical details."  9:30:24 AM  permalink  

What Are Topic Maps? Interesting XML format for organizing web-based info. "The most common use for topic maps right now is to build web sites that are entirely driven by the topic map, in order to fully realize the their information-finding benefits. The topic map provides the site structure, and the page content is taken partly from the topic map itself, and partly from the occurrences. This solution is perfect for all sorts of portals, catalogs, site indexes, and so on." Several resources are listed, including a tool collection.  9:23:51 AM  permalink  


daily link  Wednesday, December 10, 2003


worldKit :: easy web geovisualization :: Examples: "WorldKit is an easy to use and highly flexible mapping application for the Web. It's a Flash based app, configured entirely by XML and requires no programming or extra software. It's in the style of World as a Blog, with many more features: customizable design elements, multiple projections, thumbnails to plot paints, ...

If you have any sort of geographic information .. such as environmental data, weblog, site visitors, travel diary, photo albums, news .. on worldwide or local scale, check out worldKit. Take a look at the examples, and the manual. Download for free, for personal or non-commercial use."

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daily link  Tuesday, December 09, 2003


Ebay makes a business of its online auction data: "This year it quietly began licensing that information to about 20 customers, who each pay $10,000 a year and up for access, said Randy Ching, vice president of platform solutions at eBay. 
While the direct revenue benefit to the company is relatively modest -- eBay's revenues are expected to be as much as $2.1 billion this year -- the company will focus on its data business in the coming year as it works to establish its information as the "de facto guide for buy and selling", Ching said... , PGA.com's Value Guide sets the market value for a used Ping Eye 2 Driver at between $10.09 and $19.08 based on 374 transactions. Other customers include Intuit Inc.'s (Nasdaq:INTU - news) Its Deductible division, which depends on eBay information to help users of its TurboTax tax preparation software to figure the fair market value of their donated items -- from used jeans to hard-to-value gadgets like cell phones.  Elsewhere, Andale Inc. uses the data in its Sales Analyzer software that helps eBay sellers price their items most effectively. "

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daily link  Sunday, December 07, 2003


The File-Sharing Debates: "Why do the publishers and movie studios let the library get away with it? For that matter, why don't they object to the Blockbusters of the world, who let people rent movies by the millions?’   “The answer is, ‘Because they don’t have a choice.’

Copyright law requires copyright holders to give up their ability to control distribution of those works once they have put them into the stream of commerce. This principle, commonly referred to as the ‘first sale doctrine,’ is codified in Section 109 of the Copyright Act. The first sale doctrine gives libraries and video retailers the right to rent and sell prerecorded videos and video games without the authorization of the copyright holder.” 

Hmm. I wonder if a vendor supplied a tivo-like Internet appliance, and did a Netflix-type subscription service, so my in-house appliance always had a certain limited amount of digital content ready to go.  The appliance network vendor could prove that only an exact limited number of copies of any given work was in appliances at any one time. 

  6:37:40 AM  permalink  


daily link  Saturday, December 06, 2003


Imagine Islands Entirely Powered by Renewable Energy: "Software company Artificial Life has unveiled its first educational online game called Eco Champ which specifically aims to educate and entertain with renewable energy as the focus. .. The company said they are targeting young Asian students aged between 12 and 18 years and secondary schools in Greater China and Asia. .. A player has to maintain the power level of a virtual island by installing renewable energy sources of six different kinds: wind, solar, wave and tidal, hydro, geothermal and biogas in the appropriate locations by taking into account the most relevant factors for the efficient use of these resources in the corresponding locations such as wind, temperature patterns and elevation level. "EcoChamp Home PageScreen-Shots

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Socialtext -- Enterprise Social Software: "The service runs on Socialtext's own Kwiki implementation of the wiki standard. Each Socialtext account gets 1GB of storage per member and has no bandwidth limit... You can assign one or more categories to each page and view all the pages in a category as a blog. Members can e-mail new pages to the wiki, optionally specifying categories. By the time you read this, each Socialtext account should able to launch as many different wikis as needed and invite the appropriate team members. " $30/mo per user.  6:27:26 AM  permalink  

The End Of The Laptop?: "Home servers and smartphones will eventually replace notebook computers for most users." Ends with nice summary of Treo tools, noting they still require too much user customization.  12:40:28 AM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, December 05, 2003


Cringely on software failures: "Software development projects fail all the time, no matter what their size. The Standish Group, an IT-research firm in West Yarmouth, Mass., has been keeping track of this phenomenon since 1994, and the good news is that we are doing much better at completing projects than we used to. The bad news is that in 2000, only 28 percent of software projects could be classed as complete successes (meaning they were executed on time and on budget), while 23 percent failed outright (meaning that they were abandoned). Those numbers are improvements over a 16 percent success rate and a 31 percent failure rate when the first study was done in 1994. ..

According to the Standish Group, more than $275 billion will be spent on software development this year, covering about 250,000 projects. That means that if the recent success and failure percentages apply, $63 billion in development costs will go down the toilet in 2003 alone."  Cringely applies this to touch screen voting after 2000: who wouldn't expect it to fail?

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daily link  Tuesday, December 02, 2003


Information Patterns - Toucan Navigate: "Toucan Navigate delivers maps and core GIS functionality to members of Groove shared spaces including: 1) Co-browsing or the ability to have entire teams seeing the same map concurrently regardless of their physical location. Zoom changes, panning or layer visibility are propagated to all space members. 2) Co-editing of map features and attributes, or the ability each member has to add, edit and delete map objects in a decentralized manner."  3:56:01 PM  permalink  

Informational Design - Dr. Sam Savage: Stanford author of a book and an Excel plug in for modelling.  Nice philosophy:

  • The Industrial Revolution .. involved harnessing the power of physics. To grasp the power of physics with our hands often requires an industrial designer to develop an appropriate handle. Some important handles include the steering wheel, the light switch and the typewriter keyboard.
  • [In the] Information Revolution, the power we are harnessing this time is not physical, but abstract and mathematical. The field of Informational Design is evolving to help us to grasp this power not with our hands but with our minds. Thus the goal of the informational designer is to develop a mindle. Some important recent mindles are:
    • Spreadsheet models, which allow us to grasp the results of different investment strategies 
    • Radar screens, which allow air traffic controllers to grasp the locations of aircraft 
    • Medical Imaging, which allows doctors to grasp what's going on inside our bodies 
  10:28:01 AM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, December 01, 2003


Bloglines:  A service for browser-based RSS aggregators.  6:32:55 PM  permalink  

Summary of VOIP limitations: 

  • no 911
  • no guarantees of service
  • no constraints on junk call: solicitations and junk fax: Don't expect to have a "do not call" or "can spam" list enforced.
  • no assurance that identification and its release are in accordance with end-user's expectations
    • You can't assume that the 'caller ID' data presented to you is accurate
    • At this point, there's no mandated assurance that you can initiate VoIP calls that will suppress disclosure of your identity, IP number, etc.  -- that is, no 'private call' assurance
  • The legal and regulatory levels of privacy afforded to conventional telephony may not apply: If you want privacy, you'll need to put in place your own solutions (as will those with whom you communicate) and hope that your measures are "good enough."
  6:21:45 PM  permalink  

Copyright 2005 © Ken Novak.
Last update: 11/25/2005; 12:00:44 AM.
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