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

Ken Novak's Weblog

daily link  Saturday, January 29, 2005

Amazon A9 has photo yellow pages:  Very cool: search for a service near a zip code, get a map that shows where things are, then see photos of the storefront and neighboring strees.  "A9's so-called block view allows users to see storefronts and virtually stroll the streets of 10 cities, including New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, where the company has collected more than 20 million photographs. It took a few days in each city to gather the images using trucks equipped with digital cameras, global positioning system receivers and proprietary software. "You can virtually go to an area, see the business and walk around the block," A9.com Chief Executive Udi Manber said of the service in an interview. "You get a feel for the neighborhood."  ..

He added it takes just a few days to capture an entire city and that the eventual goal is to eventually add as many places as possible across the country. Other cities currently available are: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Seattle and Portland, Oregon."  So I looked for pizza, it knew I lived in zip 94303 from a previous registration, and found most of the local places.  I picked one I've visited frequently and saw shots of the street I know well.   Could be fun just to find stuff where I'm going to travel, or to revisit neighborhoods where I used to live.

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daily link  Friday, January 28, 2005

Xgrid: High Performance Computing for the Rest of Us: Apple's quick setup grid, in use at many academic institutions.  Released Jan 2004.  A Feb 2004 presentation has good examples from U Utah, including a PDF with rendered images.  Controller and client run only on OS X today; agents can be OS X or Linux.  A Stanford project is looking for volunteers to contribute time for chemistry research.

Cringely points out how cheap fast computing is getting. "Imagine a Mac Minicluster running Apple's xGrid software. Start with a 16-port fast Ethernet switch and stack 16 Mac Minis on top. That's a 720 gigaflop micro-supercomputer that costs less than $9,000, can fit on a bookshelf, and can be up and running in as little time as it takes to connect the network cables. High schools will be sequencing genes."

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BEEP framework for building application protocols: Well written FAQ, technical intro and examples (like a reliable syslog protocol).  Used in the xGrid system that runs on OS X.  9:34:48 AM  permalink  

daily link  Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Extension Room :: Nuke Anything: A nifty Mozilla/Firefox extension that adds a right-click button for removing any object from a page.  I read that it can be used to remove ads before printing pages, or remove frames, or debug pages in development.  8:44:08 AM  permalink  

daily link  Tuesday, January 18, 2005

World Wide Panorama - Brooks Leffler - Refuge on the California Coast: Great site at Berkeley for panoramas, starting with Asilomar.  10:54:04 PM  permalink  

Wired 13.01: The BitTorrent Effect: Nice intro to the software and its effects. "One example of how the world has already changed: Gary Lerhaupt, a graduate student in computer science at Stanford, became fascinated with Outfoxed, the documentary critical of Fox News, and thought more people should see it. So he convinced the film's producer to let him put a chunk of it on his Web site for free, as a 500-Mbyte torrent. Within two months, nearly 1,500 people downloaded it. That's almost 750 gigs of traffic, a heck of a wallop. But to get the ball rolling, Lerhaupt's site needed to serve up only 5 gigs. After that, the peers took over and hosted it themselves. His bill for that bandwidth? $4. There are drinks at Starbucks that cost more. "It's amazing - I'm a movie distributor," he says. "If I had my own content, I'd be a TV station."  [Update: It just passed 1 TB.] ..

[In] November Jon Stewart made a now-famous appearance on CNN's Crossfire. Stewart attacked the hosts, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson, calling them political puppets. ..  Delighted fans immediately ripped the segment and posted it online as a torrent. Word of Stewart's smackdown spread rapidly through the blogs, and within a day at least 4,000 servers were hosting the clip. One host reported having, at any given time, more than a hundred peers swapping and downloading the file. No one knows exactly how many people got the clip through BitTorrent, but this kind of traffic on the very first day suggests a number in the hundreds of thousands - and probably much higher. Another 2.3 million people streamed it from iFilm.com over the next few weeks. By contrast, CNN's audience for Crossfire was only 867,000. Three times as many people saw Stewart's appearance online as on CNN itself..

"Blogs reduced the newspaper to the post. In TV, it'll go from the network to the show,"  [and for that matter, MP3 reduced the album to the song]

The P2P technology company Kontiki produces software that, like BitTorrent, creates hyperefficient downloads; its applications also work with Microsoft's digital rights management software to keep content out of pirate hands. The BBC used Kontiki's systems last summer to send TV shows to 1,000 households. And America Online now uses Kontiki's apps to circulate Moviefone trailers. In fact, when users download a trailer, they also download a plug-in that begins swapping the file with others. It's so successful that when you watch a trailer on Moviefone, 80 percent of the time it's being delivered to you by other users in the network. Millions of AOL users have already participated in peercasting - without knowing it."


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daily link  Saturday, January 15, 2005

Flexbeta seems an interesting site for investigating beta software releases.  They have articles, and also links to recent software, like VMware Workstation for Windows 5.0 Build 11888 Beta, with a direct link to a 51mb .exe download.

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daily link  Friday, January 14, 2005

Google Mini 4.2 appliance: "Once installed the Mini crawls the content and creates a master index of documents ready to be accessed by a searched query. The software recognizes more than 220 different file formats, including HTML, PDF, Microsoft Office and WordPerfect. It can index up to 50,000 documents.  Besides this, it helps site administrators to improve their site usability by generating reports on page errors and broken links, and provides reports on search term frequency that can be used to identify the most searched information and user’s expectation from the web page."  2:09:16 PM  permalink  

daily link  Sunday, January 09, 2005

Web Access Log Analyzers: A long list of packages maintained by Uppsala Univ. in Sweden.  12:24:19 AM  permalink  

daily link  Saturday, January 08, 2005

Attack of the Killer Xanga: How a blog entry on Xanga turned into a denial-of-service attack on another website (in this case, slashdot search). The comments about and by the hackers involved give a view into their motivations.  10:21:49 AM  permalink  

Google Suggest: Way cool interface that suggest search terms and estimates numbers of hits as you type.  Wonder when it will make it into their toolbar?  Here's info on how it works.  1:09:18 AM  permalink  

daily link  Friday, January 07, 2005

MaxMind - GeoIP Free Country: "GeoIP Free Country is a free version of our MaxMind GeoIP Country database. GeoIP Free Country enables you to test out our products, and the MaxMind GeoIP Country database is a [paid] drop-in replacement for GeoIP Free Country, should you require greater accuracy."  10:37:08 PM  permalink  

daily link  Thursday, January 06, 2005

Windows vs. Unix software costs: Interesting analysis of a change that I've noticed in the last few years:  Commercial Unix software is now cheaper than Microsoft software.  There has been "price change - in opposite directions for Microsoft and the rest of the world.  When you bought those 20 NT boxes to run SQL-server 7.0, say in March of 1999, those SQL-server licenses were a lot cheaper in both absolute and relative terms. SQL-Server 7.0 started at $508 per machine. You didn't need an enterprise class CPU license because users were counted as concurrent users [while now it counted as identified users]  .. On the Unix side both the hardware and the software are cheaper today, but on the Windows side only the hardware is. ..

Unix software is now a lot cheaper than Windows software for similar levels of power and support. It's often not true among PC companies - HP and Adobe generally still charge more for their Unix products than their Windows products- but it is consistently true when you compare open market prices to Microsoft prices.

If you ask business people which costs more, Unix or Windows software, you usually get the kind of look reserved for idiots. Everyone knows Windows software is cheaper - that's a big reason so many people agreed to put up with the poor quality to begin with. Even three years ago that was true if you set scale aside as a consideration. Sybase for Unix was more expensive than SQL-Server for Windows - and people ignored the fact that Sybase served hundreds of concurrent users on big HP and Sun gear while SQL-Server worked for tens of people on Wintel gear. Today it's not true at any scale - and that's a big win for Unix."  Why is this? My guess is the competition Unix is taking from Linux, which is cheaper still.   Windows hasn't yet felt as much competition from Linux.

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Fiddler HTTP Debugger: "Fiddler is a HTTP Debugging Proxy which logs all HTTP traffic between your computer and the Internet. Fiddler allows you to inspect all HTTP Traffic, set breakpoints, and "fiddle" with incoming or outgoing data. Fiddler is designed to be much simpler than using NetMon or Achilles, and includes a simple but powerful JScript.NET event-based scripting subsystem."  Another key tool:  IE 5 Web Developer Accessories, including View Partial Source:  "highlight the area of the Web page for which you want to view the source, right-click on it, and select "View Partial Source."  [via John Sequeira]  3:27:06 PM  permalink  

Understanding Citrix's SpeedScreen Latency Reduction (SLR):  Description of how Citrix improves upon terminal server on high-latency links.  Reminds me of mainframe terminals and the "local echo" and "keyboard lock" buttons!  "Citrix has long talked up as a benefit of MetaFrame Presentation Server.. imagine a situation without SLR where a user is typing a document via an ICA session with 400ms of latency. .. To the user, it would appear that there is a half-second “lag” when typing.

To address this, SLR’s Local Text Echo causes the ICA client to behave a bit differently. When enabled, a user pressing a key on their keyboard causes that key code to be sent to the server. However, at the same instant, the local ICA client software also draws the appropriate character on the user’s screen even though the actual screen drawing instructions from the server are bogged down in the 400ms latency between the client and server. Then, once the ICA client finally receives the actual updated screen from the server, it doesn’t have to update that character on the local screen .. [It] works really well. It works with all different fonts and font sizes. ..  complex things such as highlighting and deleting large chunks of text exhibit the lag associated with the actual latency...

The other major SLR feature is something called “Mouse Click Feedback.” This addresses another common problem in Citrix environments with high latency, namely, the fact that users click on a button, become impatient, and click on a button again before the first click registered. Then, when the application’s response finally makes its way to the user, whatever the user clicked on comes up twice.  Mouse Click Feedback works by adding the hourglass symbol to the arrow cursor the instant the user clicks the mouse anywhere within the boundaries of the remote ICA application.  [The mouse isn't locked, but users generally respond to the hourglass by waiting] ..

SpeedScreen is automatically used on a MetaFrame server whenever a user connects to a session that has between 150 and 500ms of latency. As long as the client supports it, it's used."  In another article, the author notes that SLR consumes more bandwidth, sometimes as much as 20% more; thus it's a tradeoff of more bandwidth for less latency.

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daily link  Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Notes from ITP: Flickr-as-web-services edition: Clay Shirky reports on his students' latest obsession: pictures via Flickr.  10:57:35 PM  permalink  

Wysiwyg Wiki: Directory of efforts and hints for adding user-friendly editing to wikis.  PerSpective is one interesting implementation in .Net, released under GNU.  PurpleWiki caught my eye because of its support for fine-grained linking (like Englebart's Augment), although without wysiwyg.  10:56:21 PM  permalink  

ARSC Really Simple Chat - Manuel Kiessling's Homepage: "ARSC is an easy to install, simple to handle, cross-browser and cross-platform compatible, high-performance open source web chat system written in PHP, using MySQL. "  Has a nifty feature for use during meetings -- normal web interface for users, customized display for a projector.  10:20:38 PM  permalink  

Folksonomies - Cooperative Classification and Communication Through Shared Metadata: Well written examination of the use of free form tagging in public services like Flickr and Deli.cio.us.   The author sensibly suggests that authors of more formal classification systems might learn about their user behaviour and preferences by incorporating an add-on folksonomy and studying how it is used.  The author also asks how these systems might work in intranet or work environments. 

I have a further suggestion in this line: utilizing social network info.  I notice that folksonomies have two kinds of use: (1) referencing items that I made, which use only my tags, and (2) referencing items made by anyone.  It'd be great to have something in between:  reference the items that I or my nth degree-of-sepration friends have tagged.  [via the always-insightful Clay Shirky]

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Pew Internet & American Life Project has a new, short report on blogging: "By the end of 2004 blogs had established themselves as a key part of online culture. Two surveys by the Pew Internet & American Life Project in November established new contours for the blogosphere: 8 million American adults say they have created blogs; blog readership jumped 58% in 2004 and now stands at 27% of internet users; 5% of internet users say they use RSS aggregators or XML readers to get the news and other information delivered from blogs and content-rich Web sites as it is posted online; and 12% of internet users have posted comments or other material on blogs. Still, 62% of internet users do not know what a blog is. "  Also: 82% of blog creators are long-time internet users -- ie, have been online 6 years or more, and 70% have broadband at home.  The jump in blog readers in the last 18 months from 12% to 27% stands out.  9:50:32 PM  permalink  

daily link  Monday, January 03, 2005

What is Konfabulator?: Haven't tried it but it looks very nice.  "Konfabulator is a JavaScript runtime engine for Windows and Mac OS X that lets you run little files called Widgets that can do pretty much whatever you want them to. Widgets can be alarm clocks, calculators, can tell you your WiFi signal strength, will fetch the latest stock quotes for your preferred symbols, and even give your current local weather. What sets Konfabulator apart from other scripting applications is that it takes full advantage of today's advanced graphics. This allows Widgets to blend fluidly into your desktop without the constraints of traditional window borders. Toss in some sliding and fading, and these little guys are right at home in Windows XP and Mac OS X. The format for these Widgets is completely open and easy to learn so creating your own Widgets is an extremely easy task."  11:55:26 AM  permalink  

daily link  Sunday, January 02, 2005

What the Bubble Got Right: Paul Graham's happy review of the bubble, from Sept 2004. "When one looks over these trends, is there any overall theme? There does seem to be: that in the coming century, good ideas will count for more. That 26 year olds with good ideas will increasingly have an edge over 50 year olds with powerful connections. That doing good work will matter more than dressing up-- or advertising, which is the same thing for companies. That people will be rewarded a bit more in proportion to the value of what they create. If so, this is good news indeed. Good ideas always tend to win eventually. The problem is, it can take a very long time. It took decades for relativity to be accepted, and the greater part of a century to establish that central planning didn't work. So even a small increase in the rate at which good ideas win would be a momentous change-- big enough, probably, to justify a name like the "new economy.""

My favorite pithy quote: "Nerds tend to eschew formality of any sort. They're not impressed by one's job title, for example, or any of the other appurtenances of authority.. I thought it would be useful if I explained what a nerd was. What I came up with was: someone who doesn't expend any effort on marketing himself."  (See also Paul's classic Why Nerds are Unpopular).

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Copyright 2005 © Ken Novak.
Last update: 11/25/2005; 12:07:39 AM.
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