July 31, 2003
And a little more Graham...

Furthermore: If you're bored with the daily grind of your object oriented programming job, there's also a fun read on what it takes to solve problems that are actually interesting.

The problem is airline route optimisation, not for the airline but for you, the lowly customer:

If you want to do a simple round-trip from BOS to LAX in two weeks, coming back in three, willing to entertain a 24 hour departure window for both parts, then limiting to "reasonable" routes (at most 3 flights and at most 10 hours or so) you have about 5,000 ways to get there and 5,000 ways to get back. Listing them is a mostly trivial graph-search [...] The real challenge is that a single fixed itinerary (a fixed set of flights from BOS to LAX and a fixed set back) with only two flights in each direction may have more than 10,000 possible combinations of applicable "fares", each fare with complex restrictions that must be checked against the flights and the other fares. That means that the search space for this simple trip is of the order 5000 x 5000 x 10000, and a naive program would need to do a _lot_ of computation just to validate each of these possibilities.

That is SO cool...

What's even cooler is that the company that makes this stuff only accepts programmer job applications in the form of actual running code to solve famous algorithmic problems. No "Must know Java, must have 20 years experience, must be 25 years old" there.

Some more company info

Posted by Claus at 03:32 AM
Paul Graham on object oriented programming

Paul Graham - who writes great articles about software and software languages, is the designer of the Arc language and also author of good resources on spam filtering - has written a piece on Why Arc Isn't Especially Object-Oriented

The funniest reason he gives (and a good one too) is this:

Object-oriented programming generates a lot of what looks like work. Back in the days of fanfold, there was a type of programmer who would only put five or ten lines of code on a page, preceded by twenty lines of elaborately formatted comments. Object-oriented programming is like crack for these people: it lets you incorporate all this scaffolding right into your source code. Something that a Lisp hacker might handle by pushing a symbol onto a list becomes a whole file of classes and methods. So it is a good tool if you want to convince yourself, or someone else, that you are doing a lot of work.

It is so true. Objects shouldn't be everywhere. Except of course when you do it in the style of the best scripting languages where you have all the other ways of writing software, but you also have implicitly all of the nice metadata that object oriented techniques can make so powerful use of.
Of course the movement to reduce the cost of definition of classes and objects - which is happening in most languages through either new modes of writing (modern IDE's a la my description of software pragmatics) or through a "multiple language strategies" approach.
The latter is the TIMTOWTDI principle of perl: Programming languages should be as flexible in letting you aggregate meaning as natural language is. Suppose you have some objects already and you want to work with stuff like that. Then the most obvious way to arrive at your data is to be able to construct new objects from prototypes, so your language should allow for that. Suppose you know the data in your object. Then the most obvious thing is list constructors as in lisp. There are many other styles of expression and they should all be able to blend.
When your language forces you to design through one particular strategy then the fun that was design quickly becomes the tedium that is programming.

Posted by Claus at 03:06 AM
VC's past bottom

Although the dot.com boom shows that VC's aren't necessarily a sign of good times and certainly not one of good technology, you need money to grow technology. So the news that funding has stopped sliding is good. this report says that VC spending for the second quarter of the year showed a sequential increase for the first time in about two years.

Posted by Claus at 01:03 AM
July 30, 2003
Du får mere energi! Du opbygger muskler, og du får mere energi! Du kommer i form. Du får energi!

Nogen skulle fortælle copy-writers p? tvshop.com at det kun er på TV at gentagelse fremmer forståelsen.

På ovenstående produktside er TV manuskriptet skrevet direkte af som produkttekst. På skrift er der bare andre grænser for hvor hurtigt man kan gentage et pitch, s?

Lige nu uden fragt!
Dine l?r, hofter, arme og skuldre bliver muskul?se og sp?ndstige! Fordi Orbitrek Platinum simulerer naturlig gang, lider dine kn? og led ikke overlast.
Du opbygger musklerne! Du f?r mere energi og du har det sjovt imens du tr?ner!
Du forbr?nder fedt! Du opbygger dine muskler! Du f?r mere energi med Orbitrek Platinum!

Med Orbitrek Platinum sk?ner du dine kn? og led pga. de eliptiske bev?gelser. Du forbr?nder kalorier og du opbygger dine muskler. Sidst men ikke mindst f?r du en masse energi! Du f?r det godt!
TV-Shop tilbyder desuden at betale fragten!

...bliver til sidst lidt for meget.

Posted by Claus at 02:27 PM
July 28, 2003
Super cool neuro images

The Laboratory of Neuro Imaging at UCLA has a collection of super cool stills and quicktime movies of the brain. They are either composited from actual measurements or illustrative models. At the more entertaining end is a Cortical Journey with serious Matrix envy as the movie runs from an outside view of the brain through evermore detailed sections until you find yourself in a mesh of green neurons and finally descend along a dendrite into the core (soma) of a neuron and pass along with a merry group of neurotransmitters across the Axon Hillock down an axon towards a synapse.
It may be just for show, but as such it's an awesome animation.

Posted by Claus at 06:59 PM
Road to eternity

Bop Hope has died.

Less than 2 months after turning 100, Bob Hope has died of pneumonia.

IMDB entry

Posted by Claus at 06:31 PM
The bottomless pint

Mitsubishi has developed iGlassware - the glass of beer that automatically tells the waiter that a refill is needed.

It may be a joke, but it seems to be a very seriously executed one at that.

Via slashdot.

Posted by Claus at 06:20 PM
July 27, 2003
Legends my foot...

These guys are full of it. This guy isn't. So sad that Eric Sink's company has a as its main mission to make SourceSafe suck less. Why not just do something right from the start.

Posted by Claus at 07:43 PM
Basketball will never be the same...

Height or rather a shortness thereof has now become a problem that you can just medicate your way out of, as
the FDA Clears use of growth hormone on healthy kids

U.S. regulators on Friday approved use of a growth hormone for boosting the height of children who are short but in good health.

If you're hoping for a career in basketball, short of course means "less than 2 metres tall", se let's see the boundaries of application shift gradually.

Posted by Claus at 03:39 PM
July 26, 2003
Free wifi: Good not bad

A WiFi backlash is in process. The nature of the backlash: "Wifi won't generate billions of revenue". That is however no reason for a backlash but rather it is a good thing. To think that there's a way to wire the world that cosst so little that we can have essentially free wireless. Imagine the possible uses of that.
Witness the leapfrogging possible:

Even though it didn't distribute the computers and PC cards necessary to tap into the service, the Internet Users Society Niue built a comprehensive network -- which includes solar-powered repeaters in coconut trees -- to give everyone on the island and its visitors open and free Wi-Fi Internet access. About 300 of the island's residents own computers, according to Bill Semich, president of the nonprofit.

What's not to like? Boingo shares? I think I'll get along without them.

Posted by Claus at 11:39 PM
MSN: Just search elsewhere

A slashdot thread alerted me to the at the same time scary and hilarious results of 'Linux' on MSN.

The results are clearly not best possible, not even Microsoft could pull that lie off. They're just plugs for Microsoft products.

Events like this makes it easy to imagine a world where the copyright cartel has won the battle of the digital realm, where websites are 'pay as you go', where you yourself have to put up your sites as 'pay as you go' sites because the majority of consumers are using a 'trusted' operating system that protect their eyes from freedom.
It could all come to happen. People are actively trying to make it happen.

Posted by Claus at 06:38 PM
Preserving the public space while blogging

Weblogs are turning into an interesting space for debate on politics and other issues where people disagree violently. The joy of the blog is that you get to say anything you like. It's yours. However if that freedom is to mean anything then it comes attached with an obligation to honor dissent at least to the extent of acknowledging it. This can be quite annoying of course if somebody is trolling your website.

That's why TrackBacks are such a wonderful opportunity to allow comments but still let your own site be about your opinion and not of those who disagree. It's simply a mechanism to tell other people that somebody elsewhere disagrees or has an opinion related to your opinion. That's why I disagree with Mark Pilgrims Comment Posting Policy [dive into mark] on TrackBacks:

Trackbacks are remote comments and are subject to these same rules [as local comments].

IF the rules were "no defamation, no ads, no off topic comment" that would be fine, but the rules are also "Not all posts have comments enabled, and this is intentional. Some posts have comments enabled for a limited time, and then no more comments may be added; this is also intentional." and then it really matters that TrackBack's are remote.
It helps the integrity of the weblog if TrackBack's aren't censored. TrackBack's acknowledge the fact that nobody owns an online discussion, and I think they should do so to any extent technically possible as long as defamation and off-topicness (commercial or otherwise) isn't an issue.

Posted by Claus at 10:46 AM
July 24, 2003
More Digital Freedom

Doc Searls has written a soon to be classic piece about liberty and corporate censorship as it applies to the web and the internet. Brilliant stuff. Read it.

It tackles the monopolistic tendencies of the copyright wars, and of the current American government head on, in an open and level headed manner. It's all cluetrain stuff, but the important news is that it is written post DMCA, post Napster, so the celebratory 'We're all going to get along and make sense and be important' stance of ClueTrain is tempered with a knowledge that other forces are also at play and that they need to be addressed in a proper account of the internet.

Posted by Claus at 11:41 PM
15 minutes of fame can be damaging to your health

In a doubly sad turn of events, the story of the 'Star Wars Kid' has turned ugly as his parents file for damages:

[...] his parents are claiming damages of $160,000 from the families of the four classmates who digitized and published the video. Ghyslain's parents claim their son was so humiliated, he is undergoing psychiatric care and may be marked for life by the experience.

Doubly sad because the kid got hurt (reports on this appear to be true although the lawsuit does not help the credibility of the parents IMO) and because the life of the story is now extended with this parody of justice.
For a while there it looked like a happy ending as some nice people tried to exert a little damage control on the kids behalf, but now it seems that blogs and newsgroups have finally grown up as a medium, being the target of defamation lawsuits...

More precise news coverage on the lawsuit. (And check those Google ads to the right: When I load the story they're for ambulance chasers and light sabre replica vendors)

Posted by Claus at 10:44 PM
The rediscovery of "simple tools"

Following up on the disruptive abilities of web services a brief recap of what the disruption is all about. It can be paraphrased like this "Web services are unix-style 'simple tools' for business processes"

The "simple tools" philosophy of the unix system environment is the style of development that carefully avoids to build monolithic systems to solve specific tasks, but rather solve all problems by ad-hoc assembly of a long list of simple tools that "do one thing well" through the shared metaphors of the unix shell, files and pipes. The simple tools philosphy is in contrast to the idea of the 'Integrated Environment' - invariably huge, comparatively closed, 'total' systems with an answer for everything. While there are many good reasons to work inside huge monolithic apps (the "simple tools" style has never been able to make sense of GUI's for instance) the simple tools philosphy is remarkably powerful for many problems, as anyone who knows the awesome power of the command line will gladly confirm.
The portability and end user simplicity of (good) open source build processes are evidence of the remarkable power of the simple tools philosophy.
The economics of simple tools comes from the network effect of integration. The total value of 'grep' comes about as a sum of (part of) the value of all the simple toolchains 'grep' is used in.

The way this particular webservice pitch goes traditional business software is entirely about expensive, closed source, monolithic, hard to integrate apps. The value of their constituent parts comes about as a fraction of the single toolchain (the monolithic app) they appear in.
Web services are to these apps as simple tools are to complex IDE's.

The latest buzzword that attempts to do for web services what the shared metaphors of the unix environment (files, pipes, processes) do for the simple tools is the Enterprise Service Bus.

Or we can just let Jon Udell explain the whole thing: The ESB, the quintessential simple tool in this context - the Active Intermediary, and finally let him wrap up with a toy example of what this kind of open, ad-hoc, transparent integration can do.

The essential concept for the simple tools is that each tool along the chain is really transparent to the next tool. Only the data in the pipe matters. That is why web services need to focus not on API's and programming interfaces but on data representation API's. And this is why SOAP is already under fire from REST interfaces. In SOAP the data interface is tied into the API, the action interface and that's just not very transparent. Hmm, I think I just started another very lengthy post by accident.

Posted by Claus at 12:31 AM
July 23, 2003
Nobody wants to buy software

Loosely Coupled sees a disruption in Siebel's future (and in may other futures by the way:

The really bad news for Siebel %u2014 along with Oracle, PeopleSoft, SAP and every other packaged enterprise applications vendor %u2014 is that people don't want to buy software at all. They don't even want to pay for it %u2014 and with hosted services, they don't have to.

It's tough to manage, tough to maintain, tough to install, and expensive to boot, so who can blame them. The alternative to software being proposed is still being fleshed out, but the core of the new world of software is being fleshed out:

  • Don't sell the software - sell the service it enables instead. People want to accomplish goals. If they don't need the hassle of an IT department to accomplish them that's just better.

  • Commoditize the interface and price the data instead. SOAP, XML and other inventions along with decent open source tools to leverage these technologies is cutting down the cost of the software/program logic itself. It's the data provided or managed by a service you pay for.

  • Make sure your solution isn't just 'remote software'. If you're actually selling remote interactive interfaces to essentially the same product you used to distribute locally, you're doing it wrong, says Loosely Coupled. This is one of the murkier theses. Jim Gray of Micorsoft research has the numbers on distributed computing, and I'm not sure they favour the argument.

Posted by Claus at 09:38 PM
In 'Other sports'...

Oddly, ESPN covers the war in Iraq amid other sports coverage. The sports twist:

Uday Hussein, the murderous and erratic oldest son of Saddam Hussein and the former head of the country's Olympic committee, was killed along with his brother Qusai on Tuesday in Iraq. [...]Much of Uday's notoriety abroad stemmed from his position as head of the National Iraqi Olympic Committee, which was accused of torturing and jailing athletes.
Posted by Claus at 09:18 PM
July 21, 2003
Cleaned up feeds

I've cleaned up my feeds using nasty CDATA escapes, both the RSS 2.0 one and the RSS 1.0 one. The FEED validator now OK's the feeds, so readers don't choke on them anymore.

Posted by Claus at 10:18 PM
Closing of America II

The RIAA are suing everybody and have kranked up their legal gears to 75 subpoenas a day to violate your online privacy, as reported by Dan Gillmor. This is wrong and should be stopped, but it is unlikely to be since nobody - except online pundits like Gillmor - seems to fight against it.
Wouldn't this practice of mass privacy invasion be illegal if it occured in physical space? Imagine an organization finding it appropriate to obtain access to 75 homes per day to enforce their copyrights. Wouldn't that be unthinkable?

In Danish:
Retten til online privatliv er ligeså dårligt beskyttet som den er diffus at definere. Spørgsmålet om præcis hvad der udgør barrieren mellem privatsfære og offentlighed er svært. Jeg er fristet til den definition at digitale data om dig faktisk bør regnes for private ligegyldigt hvilke betingelser du oplyste dem under. Publicering eller oplysning af dine persondetaljer (det vil også salg af adressekataloger, etc.) bør som udgangspunkt være forbudt.

Posted by Claus at 09:41 PM
SCO's protection racket

The nasty business practice of SCO continues apace as "SCO readies new Linux licensing program".

The SCO Group is preparing a new Linux licensing program that it claims will allow users of the open-source operating system to run Linux without fear of litigation.

In short, it's nothing but a protection racket trying to suck a little money out of Linux users trading on the fear that IBM might lose the lawsuit over Linux. It would be honorable after winning, but right now SCO is just trading on fear. Any gangster would be proud of their ingenuity.

Posted by Claus at 12:12 PM
July 19, 2003
Breaking up is hard to do

And while Echo/Necho/Atom/Pie has found yet another name, Dave Winer realizes he has lost this one, and stops wielding Userlands copyright like a blunt weapon as posted to Sam Ruby's blog. Ruby's posting comes with a 'maybe we can get along' hopeful message, but two comments down we learn from Bill Kearney that

Atom isn't about RSS. Atom is a lot more than just syndication.

That has to be a new record in forgetfulness, or if not, it is exactly why Winer, and other reinvention critics, is right about the Echo/Necho/Atom/Pie* project.

* I would like your comments on a related matter:
Does Echo/Necho/Atom/Pie sound more like

  1. A John le Carr? novel taking its title from a nursery rhyme

  2. Just a nursery rhyme

Posted by Claus at 09:08 PM
Echo => Necho => Pie => Atom

Personally I liked Necho for 'the RSS that can't be called RSS because Dave will be angry' but the new name is Atom. The other one was cool because it sounded almost like 'necro' or 'nether' and therefore had a cool ring of death or illicitness to it. Of course Atom already is too crowded and used name, so lets see how long it sticks. I would like to propose a new name : ATGNWT (at newt) - which just means All The Good Names Were Taken.

Another interesting point about ECHO is the discussion on escaping content. Some people argue to do it with an old school layered approach, where the content is just binary data. But clearly if mixing XML vocabularies in something as relatively simple as a weblog is too hard to do, then that really takes a lot of bite out of XML.

Posted by Claus at 08:47 PM
Watch your language!

Don Park is applying for AdSense:

I wanted to play with AdSense so I applied for it just now and started obfuscating four letter words in my blog so Google won't think I am a porn site.

Good point. Does Google tell you that this would be a good idea?

Park is not doing such a good job as a self censor though. Three posts below in a post about broadband Google's porn buying audience will learn that Park was recently "at the receiving end of a gang-bang".

Another issue with AdSense for weblogs: The suggested adds are invariably adds for 'weblog stuff', and not the stuff you write about - if you manage to escape the blogs about blogs disease once in a while.

Posted by Claus at 08:10 PM

"The Genuine Article" is a piece on a little 2? man operation (I'm just guessing from their website), Featurewell, syndicating journalism online. It's probably never going to make billions of dollars, but it is probably a nice little business to run.

Posted by Claus at 02:31 PM
We are biomass for the processing of information

And some more Jakob Nielsen, this time on Information Foraging:

Information foraging's most famous concept is information scent: users estimate a given hunt's likely success from the spoor: assessing whether their path exhibits cues related to the desired outcome. Informavores will keep clicking as long as they sense (to mix metaphors) that they're "getting warmer" -- the scent must keep getting stronger and stronger, or people give up. Progress must seem rapid enough to be worth the predicted effort required to reach the destination.

Like it. Concept adopted.

Posted by Claus at 01:20 PM
PDF's are great for portable printing

Jakob Nielsens "PDF: Unfit for Human Consumption" rant is being blogged heavily. Of course no one blogs the implied statement: PDF's are great for digital distribution of paper documents. This is a true and valuable revolution and people who don't recognize that are forgetting how hellish printing material retrieved from the net used to be - if you could retrieve it at all. I love PDF's for that.

For online use PDF's are terrible (just like Flash, but in contrast to that abomination PDF's weren't made for content originating online), and Jakob Nielsen's alertbox is completely to the point of course.
Furthermore we all know (from the Sklyarov case if nothing else) how detestable Adobe's position on right of use and copyright is.

Posted by Claus at 01:16 PM
Cleaning up bad HTML

Sjoerd Visscher:

We have a simple client-side clean-up script that extracts well-formed XHTML from the WYSIWYG editor. It even handles pasted HTML from Word rather well. I discussed it with my collegues today, and we are willing to make that script available as open source if people are interested. (We'll have to wrap it up nicely first, so it can be used easily by others.)

What Sjoerd Visscher does not have is comments or trackback (is that Radio, or just Sjoerd's use of Radio?) so I'll just post a 'please do', right here.

Posted by Claus at 01:00 PM
Build your own buttoned campaign

If you have another issue than Warnock's Dilemma you feel strongly about, you'll need some buttons. Hence, the button auto-generator.

Mena Trott took it for quite a spin.

Of course all the cool kids just render the buttons from text using CSS. Check out how searchable, and scalable those cool 'I'm more standards compliant than you are' links to the right (on Visscher's blog that is) buttons are!

Posted by Claus at 12:38 PM
Trackback and forward links

TrackBack auto-discovery is disabled for intra-blog links. Probably a good idea, but that doesn't mean that intra-blog updating should not take place. It should take the form of automatic discovery of references to self, and of forward links. Pages with backwards or forward references would make a lot of sense for building coherency of blog entries, bliki style.
They should have their own template tag, since obviously this is something else than other peoples TrackBacks. Nonetheless, a link to that page would look great right next to the comment(n) and the trackback(n) post notes on the default template.

Google is evidence that this feature would beat topic based coherency features.

Posted by Claus at 12:19 PM
Anti IE campaign

TimBray is organizing an anti Internet Explorer campaign, complete with campaign graphics, much like the ongoing (no relation to Bray, pun intended) "No to Warnock's Dilemma" campaign here on classy.dk. But it a pity that this page does not do browser detection. I've looked at it with Mozilla firebird and not only was the anti-IE warning not removed, but the site actually looked just the same. Sure, the fact that font scaling actually works is a definite plus, but still - from a client perspective one has to say of the campaign, 'Where's the beef?'. It might be there, but they're not dishing it out.

I am completely on board with the Longhorn FUD campaign however. Let's give them some of their own medicine for a while. (Scoble tells us that Google does work on Longhorn. Good to know that it did when it suddenly doesn't)

Posted by Claus at 11:38 AM
July 18, 2003
Colorblind? Webdesigner?

I am only a little of both, so I was happy that my style sheet was almost approved (i.e. suggested) by colormatch. Insted of just a drop color picker, you get a drop color scheme picker.

Here's another nice reference on color - part of a book excerpt on color for the web.

Posted by Claus at 07:05 PM
People are sheep

You've all heard the stories about movie-business veterans who can tell the total box office gross a movie will make just by looking at the amount of people queued on the opening night. For fast, colorful, summer action movies we can all play as is evident from the "Summer 2003 Movie Comparison":

From the nicely done graph it is evident that predicting final gross is a matter of simple ballistics, and final gross can be reliably guessed from first weekend gross.
Exceptions to this rule will also be genre exceptions, bringing a different audience with different behaviour to the movie theaters.

Posted by Claus at 05:11 PM
July 16, 2003
Geek legislation

Talk about a geeky proposal for a legal principle:

Our thesis is that legal regulation of the Internet should be governed by the layers principle - the law should respect the integrity of layered Internet architecture. This principle has two corollaries. The first corollary is the principle of layer separation: Internet regulation should not violate or compromise the separation between layers designed into the basic architecture of the Internet. The second corollary is the principle of minimizing layer crossing, i.e., minimize the distance between the layer at which the law aims to produce an affect and the layer directly affected by legal regulation

From "The Layers Principle: Internet Architecture and the Law".

I like the idea. It highlights at least some of the ridiculous attempts at legislation in cyberspace, by understanding (correctly) that the basic architecture is not something the individual can change, and that it would not only be unjust, but a downright violation of my basic rights, if the medium in which I express myself (i.e. lower layers of architecture, like e.g. the http based servers and clients this message reaches you through) had built in mechanisms to examine the data I pass around.

Unfortunately (for the principle, but great for us) the nature of simulation and virtual machines means that you can always travel up and down the layer stack via simulation embedded in a layer under your control - as I have previously explained. Cory Doctorow's short story ownz0red covers the same stuff beautifully in the first couple of pages.

Posted by Claus at 11:22 PM
The closing of America

Howard Dean is guest blogging for Larry Lessig:

The Internet might soon be the last place where open dialogue occurs. One of the most dangerous things that has happened in the past few years is the deregulation of media ownership rules that began in 1996. Michael Powell and the Bush FCC are continuing that assault today (see the June 2nd ruling). The danger of relaxing media ownership rules became clear to me when I saw what happened with the Dixie Chicks. But there's an even bigger danger in the future, on the Internet. The FCC recently ruled that cable and phone based broadband providers be classified as information rather than telecommunications services. This is the first step in a process that could allow Internet providers to arbitrarily limit the content that users can access. The phone and cable industries could have the power to discriminate against content that they don't control or-- even worse-- simply don't like

Scary perspective indeed, and a very real threat. Dean doesn't even mention the hideous Fox 'News' or other parts of the News Corp. republican campaign (New York Post with the original WW2 graves on the cover attacking France is also owned by News Corp.)

For a look at what Dean and others are up against check out this impressive list of books by right wing assholes. I wish I knew a nicer word for this kind of thinking, but I don't. The American right (well, some elements of it - of course there are decent poeple too) has a unique disregard for opinions other than their own, that is threatening all the life, the liberty and the pursuit of happiness for anyone who dares to disagree.
And these right wingers are the same people telling us about the totalitarian nightmares of communism. It's time for a new banner on classy.dk I think : 'Ideas don't pervert people. People pervert ideas'.

Posted by Claus at 11:00 PM
"Worse is better" - the roots

Just found "The Rise of ``Worse is Better''" - what seems to be almost the definition of worse is better, as discussed e.g. at LL1.

I have intentionally caricatured the worse-is-better philosophy to convince you that it is obviously a bad philosophy and that the New Jersey approach is a bad approach. However, I believe that worse-is-better [...] has better survival characteristics than the-right-thing.

Via Bram Cohen - who looks to be a very clever guy. I should probably get into Python like the rest of them (or Ruby, like some of the other rest of them) Perl6 on the other hand does look like it will be great, even if only for us braindamaged perl users.

Posted by Claus at 08:57 AM

Noticed the 'Right now on relate-a-zon' link to the right (main index only)?
It's just one more case of Just-Blog and Classy's Kitchen following modern webtrends closely. First we integrated our way to the amazing Relate-azon game itself through snazzy graphing and image hosting webservices maintained on classy.dk. Then we did the AdSense shuffle, and stole the 'CGI on the client via JavaScript' idea from Google's ad inclusion scheme.
You're welcome to view source, but if you won't, the link on right is maintained simply by adding

<div id="relateadiv" class="myowncssclass"></div>
<script src="http://www.relate-a-zon.com/razo/rightnowjs.asp"></script>

to your page. Go ahead. Do it today!

The nice thing about it is that the CSS class is all your own, so the content is styled by you not relate-a-zon. Of course the exact CSS intersection can be worked on by enhancing the spec of the embedded material, but it is pretty straghtforward as is.

Posted by Claus at 01:47 AM
July 15, 2003
This is not a blog - it is a bliki

Here I thought I was blogging, and then it turns out I have been secretly bliki'ing instead:

So I decided I wanted something that was a cross between a wiki and a blog - which Ward Cunningham immediately dubbed a bliki. Like a blog, it allows me to post short thoughts when I have them. Like a wiki it will build up a body of cross-linked pieces that I hope will still be interesting in a year's time.

That is exactly the goal of classy.dk. Sometimes posts are short things unrelated to anything. Sometimes they are 'part of a series' and fold nicely into a more coherent structure of text and meaning (I hope).

By that definition, Ongoing is certainly a bliki. Sam Ruby maintains a distinction between 'essays' and his weblog, but the structure of comments on his weblog is intricate enough that he is really authoring a completely different medium. I think we need ONE tool that will let you publish hypertext, thread comments, and blog in one package. But wait, isn't that just a CMS? Not necessarily - Thinking in a webservices vein, I should be able to use MoveableType for blogging, use another plug-in comment and trackback engine (because blog-comment engines aren't naturally threaded; a bad mistake) and then run an accompanying Wiki using the same comment engine.
How hard can that be? Lets first publish a trackbackable threaded comment engine. Once that's done

Posted by Claus at 12:59 AM
It's all about me

Don't miss RageBoy's fantastic attack on the self-help genre:

The "valorization of narcissism" (a phrase used by Philip Cushman in his excellent book, Constructing the Self, Constructing America: A Cultural History of Psychotherapy) proceeds apace with this latest (and not-so-excellent) entry in the mushrooming genre.
Posted by Claus at 12:56 AM
2003 email adresses of construction companies in japan

The title of this post has to be the weirdest Google search referral in the classy.dk server logs....

This post generates tons of comment spam, which obviously explains why the term was in my referrer logs originally. Somebody is crawling for this kind of information. I've deleted all the comments in question. The all have wording along the lines of the latest one: We would like to have the complete address, contact numbers, contact persons of major construction companies with their activities in Japan.
Also, whether they are importing scaffolding from India

Had to close comments down because of the increased spamming.

Posted by Claus at 12:03 AM
July 14, 2003
Q: Why the browser? A: Read on

A while back - following on Marc Canter's reboot talk, I asked about his web outliner, 'Why simple webapps, why no rich clients?'. Tim Bray has almost the same answer I suggested:

Which is not to say that the browser is the right answer for everything. Here's an overgeneralization which I think works. All computer applications fall into one of three baskets: information retrieval, database interaction, and content creation. History shows that the Web browser, or something like it, is the right way to do the first two. Which leaves content creation. [...] The browser makes a lousy funnel through which to pour your soul into a computer, and I don?t see any reason to expect that to change.
I agree. And I also like the 'sharecropper' analogy used by Bray for developing on closed platforms.

What he forgets to mention is that due to the lameness of the current US governments notion of monopoly control, even browser based services can be co-opted by the platform owner. Or they can try, at least - as MS is about to start doing with Google - complete with all the old monopolistic tricks. Search will be MS search unless you go out of your way to avoid it. I'll wager that the Google toolbar is likely to suddenly stop working in future versions of Explorer.

Then comes the interesting question: Has platform lock-in moved inside the browser? Will there be a mass-exodus from IE because it doesn't work with Google just like there was a mass-exodus from IBM hardware and OS/2 because it wasn't Windows?
Have we completed the move away from hardware to the degree that data (aka content) is finally king?

Posted by Claus at 09:41 PM
The vanity blog-implosion?

A self fullfilling prophecy, in light of the intense Winer flamewar and other recent bloxplosions: The world of A-list bloggers is undergoing a gargantuan vanity implosion. Possible Escapee's are the bloggers who actually write about something (InstaPundit (Sadly, at aleast from a euro-perspective), maybe Gilllmor and as entertainment BoingBoing). Possible non-escapee's: The Trott's, Winer, Scoble, Searls.
I think people will tire of the 1000 voiced conversation when it loses the interest of novelty - surely, they will tire of the 2000 eyed navel staring.

And yes, I WAS first (no Google matches anyways) to coin the inept 'bloxplosion' - You'd think the 'new words containg parts of the word weblog' space was actually filled by now.

Posted by Claus at 07:48 PM
Tour de France - Alpe d'Huez II

UPDATE : Casper fortæller mig at det er mig der ikke kan mine Coltrane plader.

Etapens tema for gyldent vrøvl var 'Mader kommer med kulturelle referencer som Leth sætter pris på'. De nominerede er:

  • Det er det rene John Coltrane det her - 'Blue Train' (om US Postals 'tog' i front for feltet). Pluspoint for at kunne Coltrane pladen.

  • Og her er det som Charles Bukowski siger 'Al magt til postbuddene' Desværre for citatet hedder Bukowskis bog der er oversat med denne titel 'Post Office' på engelsk, så minuspoint for ikke at vide at det er Bukowskis oversætter der har fundet på citatet. Også minuspoint for at bruge vitsen for mange gange i transmissionen.

  • Mader ser en nominel 'stjerne' agere 'vandbærer' og kommenterer at sådan var det ikke i gamle dage.
    Leth: Ja, det er en anden tid nu.
    Mader: Dengang var det B.S. Ingemann - nu er det B.S. Christiansen. Ren nonsens poesi, så det bliver enten en top eller en bundkarakter. B.S. af fineste art.

Posted by Claus at 02:05 PM
Tour De France - Alpe d'Huez

I TV transmissionen taler Brian Holm over sig om g?rsdagens etape, som Richard Virenque vandt og siger p? sp?rgsm?let om Virenque kan true Armstrong(efter hukommelsen s? kun "words to that effect"):

Nej, de havde fuldst?ndig styr p? ham. Vi [Telekom] var i kontakt med dem undervejs, for at høre om de ikke kunne lade være med at presse på for vi ville gerne have Aldag hjem. Og de sagde at de ikke pressede på overhovedet.

Med andre ord, en lidet overraskende afsløring af at der ikke køres på det hele og at der handles lidt i porten under løbet. Man skal ikke have set mange cykelløb for at forstå den pointe, men alligevel fingerer Jørn og Jørgen overraskelse: 'Hvad er det dog han siger! Er det hele afttalt spil?'.

Ja, det er det.

Posted by Claus at 10:46 AM
July 12, 2003
Desktop Linux: Still for geeks

David Weinberger is checking out life
as a Linux novice and he is struggling. Of course. Weinbergers expectations for how things are supposed to work are failing in ways he does not even begin to capture in the post.

  • Filesharing with windows is not 'on by default' and does not do autodiscover by default.
  • Installing applications routinely means actually building the application. So you have to be sure to get RPM's not source
  • RPM's don't magically double-click install (I think - I don't use desktop Linux but only command line Linux)

In short Linux is still rather geeky stuff.

Posted by Claus at 11:24 AM
Free trade should be more than free trade among industrialized countries

Your Farm Subsidies Are Strangling Us, says the presidents of Mali and Burkina Faso:

Apply free trade rules not only to those products that are of interest to the rich and powerful, but also to those products where poor countries have a proven comparative advantage.
Posted by Claus at 11:08 AM
keeping metadata and styling complete separately with HTML and CSS

From Don Park's Blog:

AdventCode now uses just 5 HTML tags and CSS to control the XML/XSL output
Posted by Claus at 02:08 AM
Good specs don't need a Dave

Robert Scoble is (of course) on the anti-ECHO team.

Who is gonna be the Dave Winer (er, evangelist) who forces Google to implement Echo the same way that IBM implements it? Or, who is gonna be the Dave Winer (er, evangelist) who forces Microsoft to implement Echo the same way that Sun does it? Or, who is gonna be the Dave Winer(er, evangelist) who forces Moveable Type to implement Echo the same way that Google does it?

I wonder who is the SMTP evangelist at IBM/SUN/Microsoft? IS it one and the same, or is it just that they actually DO care about interop? Who is the TCP evangelist? Who is the HTTP evangelist? Good specs for important software do not necessarily require a sponsor even if they require an editor.

Posted by Claus at 01:55 AM
Only 15 years late...

ming jeschwad:

I don't know what you like most about NT/XP, but Remote Desktop Connection just rocks

X Window was available in 1986 and shipped officially in 1988. I wouldn't have wanted to go to university without it.

Final Winer notes

Kindly compare balance with unbalance.

Maybe a 'help Dave' foundation should be created, since clearly something is wrong (and it's not Aaron Swartz or Tim Bray).

Posted by Claus at 01:23 AM

relate-a-zon.com is now a reality. And Krag at least gets the game. Sufficently so that he redid a tour to get the highscore both for cheapest and shortest route from Ginger to Ginger.

Posted by Claus at 01:07 AM
And then Mark Pilgrim proves me wrong

So none of the ECHO people are doing something nasty? Not strictly true. Mark Pilgrim certainly is with the Winer Watcher. If blogging is personal space, then surely Pilgrim is stalking Winers space, no matter how justified he thinks it is. This is maybe the blog worlds first true case of paparazzi activity, and certainly the most vicious persecution of an individual (presidents and royalty excluded) I can remember on the web.

I think a bold 'Shame on you' is in order.

On 'no matter how justified': This is how bad Winer gets. So in all fairness I'll add a Shame on him.

Posted by Claus at 12:46 AM
July 11, 2003
Nobody's out to harm you, Dave. They just want to play.

I was tempted to use the flamebait title

The internet interprets Dave Winer as damage - and routes around him

but thought better of it. On the other hand I think the description is accurate as a pattern appears to be emerging of a Winer on a mission to selfdestruct.

The aggressive debate over RSS seems to mostly be aggressive due to Winer. There's an interesting counterpoint in Winers largesse in describing the content of blogs and his pettiness when it comes to the protocol underpinnings. No willingness to discuss anything it seems.

Obviously there are plenty of flaming bloggers around, but the primary ECHO backers aren't among them.

Arguments against a new shared standard are shallow at best. That the project to develop the new RSS is currently in 'feature explosion mode' is unsurprising. It is just beginning after all. Let's hope that the criticism that the spec changes too much leveled by other people also won't hold up when the dust settles. At least Sam Ruby seems like a nice guy who just wants something standards compliant (i.e. applying XML best practices if there is such a thing).

Fighting has now moved on to another discussion on XML-RPC, SOAP or just REST as publication API (I think we should just all support WebDAV - so that's closest to the REST position). Personally I would like some REST applied to the discussion itself.

I can't really figure out the battle lines. I've yet to see the most prominent ECHO backers do anything spiteful. The whole pledge to Dave thing seems downright absurd and the attack (by Mygdal) on ECHO that there's FUD at play is obnoxious. They started a couple of weeks ago. Designing stuff takes time.

Winer is also busy censoring the Userland community. John Robb's weblog got pulled - and rumours abound that Winer did it personally. It's time to head for the exits if you're a Userland user apparently. Put your stuff in a place where you know it will remain yours. (And by the way, isn't "It should be, net-net, good news for Manila and Radio users, and for the weblog community" just a nasty thing to say in public?) In contrast to that, Dave thinks Tim Bray is saying something awful here. Come again? He is being nice.
Then there's the paranoia on Google's use of the word 'DEPRECATED' to describe the old RSS specs. They are exactly that. It just means that if you're starting to implement now, you should use a more recent spec. And Google isn't to blame, Ben Hammersley is - AFAIK he doesn't work for Google in any way shape or form. Even if he did, why should Google be accountable to Dave for the use of the word?

Posted by Claus at 11:20 PM
I want to be a spokesperson

Only spokespeople get to say glorious crap like this (on Saddam's missing weapons of mass destruction):

"I think the burden is on those people who think he didn't have weapons of mass destruction to tell the world where they are."

I think I might have misunderestimated Ari Fleischer.

Posted by Claus at 10:56 PM
Don't make me think !

Ever been to a store where they asked you to fill out a questionaire before they would show you some products? If you shop online I'm sure you have - but it would never happen in the physical world, because a sales rep understands that the concrete always wins. This basic observation seems to be what this post is about.

This is related to a previous post on how people search. You don't start by defining a strategy for your search, you just look at the first thing you can get your eyes on and test 'is this it?'. Only when that fails do you try to establish context and refine your search from there. Concrete always wins. Ideas and concepts are only there to help us when thinking concretely fails.

Incidentally, that's why Google was such a revelation, because all of a sudden concrete thinking worked for web search. Previously you just knew that you would need a strategy to succeed in a search, using plenty of expert options to rule out bad matches, or alternatively spend a lot of time poring over the first 20 results pages (which by the way is a strategy in itself - known as 'brute force')

Posted by Claus at 09:25 AM
The war on criticism

Oddly related to the fight against Warnock's dilemma is this Onion piece: Bush Asks Congress For $30 Billion To Help Fight War On Criticism

"Sadly, the threat of criticism is still with us," Bush told members of Congress during a 2 p.m. televised address. "We thought we had defeated criticism with our successes in Afghanistan and Iraq. We thought we had struck at its very heart with the broad discretionary powers of the USA Patriot Act. And we thought that the ratings victory of Fox News, America's News Channel, might signal the beginning of a lasting peace with the media. Yet, despite all this, criticism abounds."
Posted by Claus at 02:55 AM
July 10, 2003
Google's cache, public space, and copyrights

CNET has a report on how Google's cache raises copyright concerns.

"We are working with Google to fix that problem--we're going to close it so when you click on a link it will take you to a registration page," said Christine Mohan, a spokeswoman at New York Times Digital, the publisher of NYTimes.com. "We have established these archived links and want to maintain consistency across all these access points."

Google offers publishers a simple way to opt out of its temporary archive, and scuffles have yet to erupt into open warfare or lawsuits. Still, Google's cache links illustrate a slippery side of innovation on the Web, where cool new features that seem benign on the surface often carry unintended consequences.

BUT: CNET gets it wrong, as does the New York Times and Google for that matter. The problem is not that the pages stay up, but rather that they go away. The approach copyright holders is taking to the webspace (that information presented on the web is really a service, and that copyright holders may discontinue that service) is a threat both to consumers and to public space and to freedom of speech. The CNET piece has ample evidence of this: When some public office publishes material on the web, that material should be a matter of public record - and not something you can yank from the site if it turns out to hold unpleasent surprises for you. The same thing should go for other web content. If you have presented me with information, I should have the implicit right to hang on to that information, simply because my right to hold you accountable for having published the information is essential. Everything in our history tells us that there are no good reasons to hold a contrary position to this and that the right to know is essential for the right to speech to hold any meaning.

Digital copyright law as it exists should be illegal and if we all had good constitutions it would be unconstitutional.

Posted by Claus at 11:17 AM
The software radio is approaching

Radio is about to change for the better as cell-phone 'software radio' chipsets start to ship

Sandbridge's chips create chameleon-like radios for cell phones capable of changing from one interoperable wireless standard to the next. The radios flip among Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), Global Systems for Mobile Communications (GSM), and any of a clutch of other wireless standards using either software stored in the phone or downloaded over the air.
Posted by Claus at 10:55 AM
July 09, 2003
Been in a wired meeting room lately?

NYTimes covers the spreading habit of WiFi based continuous partial attention.

Out of one ear, he listens to a live presentation about cable television technology; simultaneously, he surfs the Net on a laptop with a wireless connection, while occasionally checking his mobile device %u2014 part phone, part pager and part Internet gadget %u2014 for e-mail.

As far as I am concerned people bringing their laptops and their work to meetings are about as annoying as cell-phones in a movie theater or concert hall. As with every new technology, there's a brief period of hipness before the social disgrace of not giving the people your currently around your attention really settles in. Oh, and by the way - I have yet to see a 'live-blogging' worthy of reading.

When the tech becomes a nonintrusive extension of the social situation that is another matter of course.

Posted by Claus at 09:36 AM
July 07, 2003
The numbers

Could somebody please enlighten me on the difference between this kind of box office numbers and this kind of campaign financing.
The language used by NY Times to assess the 'power' of the candidates by looking at their fundraising ability is strikingly similar with the lingo used by Hollywood box-office trackers. The primaries seem to be turning into a sports fight on funding. Could it be that elections have now gone so deeply meta that the public relations of the fund drive is beating the politics the funding is used to promote for media interest?

Posted by Claus at 11:01 PM
Dean and democrats

I am not a big Kevin Werbach fan, but he has posedan interesting question: Is Howard Dean Barry Goldwater? Meaning, "Dean is probably too liberal and too New Englandy to get elected, but he does provide a voice for liberal sentiment without the usual excuses of a democratic that is routinely attacked as morally inferior". That is an interesting point.

Posted by Claus at 10:52 PM
Code completion for the masses!

And then Tim Bray goes on to tell the story of an ancient (well, 1990) Search UI

The idea was that any time you clicked on something, the software tried to figure out a reasonable way to combine what you%u2019d clicked on with your most recent result
That is, code completion on on tree structured data - essentially dynamic xpath generation. I can only say that I really think this is the way to play. Only the structuring must be fast and nonrestrictive. Language does not follow hierarchies trictly. That why we like it so much. When logic is just too hard to come by, we say what we want to say in slightly incongruous ways anyway. This information is still useful and should be searchable.
Posted by Claus at 10:16 PM
Publishing to the web

It is a fact universally acknowledged that any new momentum gathering idea will be in need of a standard. Such is the conclusion one draws from a discussion on Tim Bray's ongoing of a thread on intertwingly on Yet Another Protocol. This time, publishing to the web is being reinvented. My question: what is wrong with WebDAV? It's there, it does sorta what is wanted, it's metadata savvy and extensible. It does what it dows well - with enough versioning that the Apache project is basing the new subversion versioning tool on it.
Through the apache project is is universally available as open source on almost any toaster.

Why it a new thing really required?

Posted by Claus at 10:06 PM
July 06, 2003
Comin' Home Baby

The father of such amazing tracks as 'Memphis underground' and 'Comin home baby',
Versatile flutist Herbie Mann dies. He had a rather uneven repertoire, but his best work is great - and he was part of the first wave of latin-jazz pioneers, before the whole jazz samba thing took off with the famous Stan Getz albums.

Posted by Claus at 12:47 PM
July 05, 2003
The digital Dean campaign

The recently completed Reboot 6.0 mentioned what is turning into the story so far (if not the political reality) of the presidential race, namely the digital grassroots movement that is the Howard Dean campaign.
One place from which support does not appear to be forthcoming is The Washington Post: Short-Fused Populist, Breathing Fire at Bush is the title of a piece on Dean, and...

The man who would be president after 11 years as governor of a one-area-code state is confident enough to tell voters that if he could balance the budget, provide almost universal health care and protect open space in Vermont (pop. 609,000), he could do it for the whole country

...is the quote.

Posted by Claus at 05:46 PM
Let the music play

The godfather of deeeeeeeeeep soouuulll is no more.
Barry White has died - of kidney failure at age 58.

Posted by Claus at 05:39 PM
July 04, 2003
Relate-a-space bookmarklet

The following Javascript bookmarklet works on (some) amazon product pages and brings you into Relate-a-space at that point (when Just implements the Relate-a-space playground....)

Drag this link to your toolbar to use it

The usual Javascript bookmarklet security caveats apply. The code will know about pages you load, and clicking on the link will let me send you anywhere. But I don't.

I'm working on a version using material in the html nut the URL of the product pages. This will work for more pages. Amazon's default URL scheme no longer quotes the ASIN unfortunately.

Posted by Claus at 09:47 PM
Relate-a-zon goes beta!

After some intense alpha testing and a beautiful collaborative development effort, Just's wonderful game Relate-a-zon has finally gone beta. Gone are all the miscounting bugs, and the feature set and gameplay is easily good enough for some serious fun to be had.

Give it a try. It is extremely addictive once you conquer the initial confusion. The object of the game is to navigate between two products via Amazon product recommendation relationships. This is quite entertaining and a good test of your intuition on how people think. It is extremely hard to have a strategy for play, you just have to go with the flow of the relationships.

Just has also graciously provided classy.dk with an opportunity to enter the 21st century: The route maps are generated and served by the classy.dk kitchen server and used by Just (pun intended) as a web service when generating the hiscore pages.

Ref: A truly spectacular sample of a pioneering route

Posted by Claus at 02:29 AM
July 02, 2003
X-ray specs

That stable of mail order catalogs, X-ray glasses that let you check out what people look like naked are finally becoming a reality in a new scanner designed for airport security checks

She stepped into a metal booth that bounced X-rays off her skin to produce a black-and-white image that revealed enough to produce a world-class blush.

I can't wait for the portable version.

Posted by Claus at 03:41 PM
July 01, 2003
Google watching for techies

The unofficial resource for data on Google's DNS scheme and other stuff (like how the toolbar obtains pageranks) and of course data on that internet weather phenomenon known as the
Google Dance

Posted by Claus at 03:41 PM