Now blogging at diego's weblog. See you over there!

jdk 1.4.1_02 released

I just saw that Javasoft released JDK 1.4.1_02. The download location is the same as for all 1.4.1.x releases. Here are the Release notes for 1.4.1_02. Many fixes, including apparently some related to video cards (for example, this one) that I had mentioned some time ago.

Categories: soft.dev
Posted by diego on February 28, 2003 at 11:12 PM

on ENUM

Jon Udell writes briefly about ENUM and "the loss of practical obscurity". ENUM's definition is part of the charter of an IETF working group whose main goal is to come up with a spec to map phone numbers to fully qualifies domain names (FQNs), and it is also being integrated with SIP (the Session Initiation Protocol) which is a standard designed for conferencing, telephony, events notification and instant messaging, and other applications that require a notion of presence. An interesting discussion.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on February 28, 2003 at 11:02 PM

on data and views

First post on the newly created spaces category! Partially taken from an email I sent yesterday to the dev-list...

A couple of days ago Greg Greg posted an entry on 'Data Views' and some things he would like to see in software that deals with information. I agree with most of what he says, although I think that sometimes it's not so easy to make views purely "virtual" while making it clear for the user what's going on. Many people assume that information is "physical" somehow, and they might be confused by seeing that an item deleted in a certain place disappears from another. So UI elements are really important to making this work properly and to avoid confusing the user. That said, spaces will definitely include a way to create "dynamic spaces", essentially views generated against a query. A space today is already that, although you're not allowed to really modify the query that creates them. That mechanism just needs a bit of an extension for dynamic spaces to exist.

Besides the idea of dynamic spaces there is something else I'm calling "cross cutting filters" (the 'cross-cutting' liberally borrowed from 'cross-cutting concerns' such as those that AspectJ deals with) that basically define an orthogonal category of filtering on a space. This is not new, other programs do it as well, although I want it to be easier and more frequently used in spaces. An example of a cross-cutting filter would be "see unread only" or "see sent msgs only" or "see RSS msgs only" and so on. Additionally, cross cutting filters will be accessible for user-defined tags for the items. (kind of like categories). This will allow to make a space (which is commonly a reflection of a real-world activity or task) to be filtered by information-dependent parameters, and so make it much easier to navigate. I will talk about this in more detail over the next few days, and post some screenshots.

Categories: clevercactus, soft.dev
Posted by diego on February 28, 2003 at 7:29 PM

google, ads and ... television

Some new ideas about where Google is heading (here is my previous most recent-link on my thoughts on the subject), in part spurred by a new ad program they announced recently. Jason, Martin and Dave voice their thoughts (and concerns). Dave also adds a link to this comment from Google Village. Jason also has an entry from yesterday that has some relation to all this (in that Google seems to be behaving a bit more aggressively).

The common reasoning behind all the comments is that the Google strategy could well be about Ads: that is, the targeting of ads in various forms through the massive and accurate "map of the web" that Google has built and maintains. If that's the case then there might be some truth to what I was saying earlier, that Google is going after the portal space, since portals are at the core ad-based business. This quote from Martin's entry says it all:

when someone uses TRADEMARK BLOG as a Google term, Google collects some amount of money from LEGALZOOM.COM and LITMANLAW.COM for paid advertisements. Neither the advertisers nor Google share that money with me. In this sense Google is a craven free-loader - exploiting an advertising medium not paying for content (dramatic overstatement indicator on).
I had never thought of it that way, but I guess is that it's partly true. Google essentially uses other people's content to place advertisement, by becoming the "middleman". In a sense, this is what a TV station does: they give you shows that you want to see, and in exchange they show targeted commercials in between. Flipping through channels could be like searching! Okay, better not to get carried away with the over-extended TV-Google analogy. But there are some similarities...

Now the conclusion that follows this reasoning is that Blogger's value to Google was not only as a system to detect deeper inter-link relationships, but also as a highly targeted, massive ad space. Since blogger's service is free and centralized, users couldn't really complain, could they? They could upgrade to premium of course. And then you've got something like Geocities essentially, but with a backend that provides more sophisticated content creation and management.

Could it be? Intriguing...

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on February 28, 2003 at 7:15 PM

more fixes

A couple of small things really... first, while I fixed the RSS 1.0 (RDF) feed so that it would display full entries, I forgot to fix the RSS 0.91 feed (and I don't even have 2.0 feeds yet, just when are we going to stop with this nonsense of having to support so many different versions of RSS? Let's just pick one and be done with it!). Then the individual archive pages (categories, daily entries, etc...) had no design, and so no links back to the main site. So I had to update that too... this might account for some bizarre inter-entry display in the past 2 hours or so. Hopefully it's fixed now--if the rebuild of all the pages finishes before the universe implodes, the server's been quite slow for some reason. (Btw, I found that Mark went through some similar configuration issues about a year ago... entries here and here).

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on February 28, 2003 at 7:11 PM

RSS fixes

As usual, something wasn't completely right with the new design. Jonas, in a comment, pointed out that the RSS feed for the site was using excerpts rathen that the full entry body. That's an easy enough fix. Then I wanted to add the RSS feeds for categories. That turned out to be slightly more complicated (but not as much as I expected), a little digging through the MT docs was enough. Here are the steps:

  • Get an MT RSS template, and copy it into a text editor somewhere (any of those in the Index Templates list --accessible with the Templates option in the MT blog menu-- will do. I chose RSS Index 1.0).
  • In the same Templates page, choose "Create new archive template" from the "Archive-Related Templates" section.
  • Create the new category by typing in a name (I used "Category RSS Index 1.0") and copying back the text previously pasted on the text editor.
  • Now the template has to made active. For that I had to go into Blog Config, option "Archiving", and select "Add New". For "Archive Type" I selected "Category" and for "Template" I selected the one I had just created ("Category RSS Index 1.0" in my case). Before saving the configuration, I set the archive name to a combination of category name and "-index.rdf" by setting the name as follows: "<$MTArchiveCategory dirify="1"$>-index.xml" (without the quotes).
And it's done! Rebuilding the archive files automatically built the category RSS indexes.

Finally, I added the links to the page by modifying the loop that creates the list of categories with links as follows:

<div class="sidetitle">
Archives by Category
</div>
<div class="side">
<MTCategories>
<a href="<$MTCategoryArchiveLink$>"><$MTCategoryLabel$></a> (<a href="http://www.dynamicobjects.com/d2r/archives/<$MTCategoryLabel dirify="1"$>-index.rdf">RSS</a>)<br>
</MTCategories>
</div>
(The text in bold is the addition to provide links to the RSS feeds to each category).

Now, the next step is to configure the Creative Commons License and the RSD file...

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on February 28, 2003 at 3:51 PM

superstrings

sstr.jpgFrom the Journal Nature (requires login), a paper on how new gravity measurements constrain string theory forces:

[...] we report a search for gravitational-strength forces using planar oscillators separated by a gap of 108 Ám. No new forces are observed, ruling out a substantial portion of the previously allowed parameter space for the strange and gluon moduli forces, and setting a new upper limit on the range of the string dilaton and radion forces.
Here's the summary in plain English from Scientific American:
The first measurement of the gravitational constant came more than 100 years later, but testing gravity over very short distances has proved difficult. Now scientists have examined the gravitational attraction between two objects just a tenth of a millimeter apart--the smallest gap yet for such trials. The findings, published today in the journal Nature, set upper limits for some of the forces predicted by string theory.

Categories: science
Posted by diego on February 28, 2003 at 11:48 AM

movabletype

I've just made a donation for MovableType. As I finished the upgrade I realized I hadn't done that, and Ben & Mena definitely deserve it (and more!). MT is truly good software, maybe not for everybody (configuration can be a bit tricky for some things), but still, stable, simple for all it does, and with a nice UI to boot. It takes a lot of hard work to create good software like this.

Related to MT, I think I found a bug in the export/import process. After the import, one of the comments was missing a part (the movable type export uses a line with dash characters '-' to separate entries, and the comment had dashes in it). The final result was that MT thought the additional two parts of the comments were actually entries that it couldn't parse, and it created empty entries for them (and the original comment was cut off). So I had restore the full comment from the archives by hand. But apart from that, as I said earlier, the upgrade went flawlessly.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on February 28, 2003 at 11:28 AM

redesign comments

On a comment, Bernie asked me to write updates on how the use of the new design progresses, how I find categories and so on. It's a good idea, and I was definitely going to do it anyway--I'm learning a lot and coming up with new ideas when going through this process. Definitely recommended! So this entry contains some comments along those lines. (Greg also had some comments earlier regarding this subject.

Russ commented that he likes the new design. Thanks!! He adds:

I think anyone who's blogged for a while does this - I did it the other day myself. Sometimes it calls for a major redesign to get you back on track, sometimes it just takes a reminder of what your spending so much time doing and why. My redesign earlier this month really energized me. It just felt fresh and that was great - but then I got into a rut a few days ago, and worked my way out of it by remembering that what I'm doing is supposed to be fun... That always helps.
I agree completely. I guess it's easy to get into routines and be relaxed about it. And a redesign (CSS and reconfiguration pain notwhistanding) is really refreshing and it made blogging feel 'new' again. In my case, I was also increasingly feeling that having two blogs was becoming a bit of a straitjacket, but this is related to his next paragraph, were he makes an interesting point regarding categories:
My opinion on categories is quite firm and very simple: it's all me. I have no desire to start dividing up what I'm talking about so that someone can filter out half of what I'm saying. It doesn't work that way. Categories always comes up after I start one of my anti-Republican rants (reminder: they still suck) and I get comments or emails about how I should have categories so they can edit these types of opinions out. Yeah right... if you like what I have to say about tech or mobile or culture or family you can't just suddenly decide I'm an idiot when it comes to other important issues. What do you think my brain stops working suddenly? Bozos... Okay, sorry. I'm getting hot under the collar again. Anyways... categories are out.

Diego, however, and a lot of other people feel the need to have them. I can see how they're useful for dividing up topics especially when you have a project that you're supporting like Spaces.

Mostly, I agree with Russ. Blogs for the most part are personal and that means you have to take the good with the bad. When I started blogging, I started off with one blog (no comment) and then instead of creating categories I started another one (Abort, retry, fail?). For whatever reason as time passed having two distinct blogs to write on just created confusion. So Russ's approach is right, I think, not just on first principles but for practical reasons as well: it preserves blogflow. There's no decision to be made. You just write. Regardless, I do think that we by nature "filter" what others say, categories or not. I'm used to that from writing... and I think it's a bit inevitable.

But aren't two blogs just like having categories? No, IMO. Categories are a looser way to separate and connect things. The main blog is still "all me" as Russ says, but it can be separated, particularly for different "threads of thought" in a relatively non-intrusive way. More importantly, if I'm using the blog partly to talk about spaces (or whatever other specific project), they are very useful I think (we'll test this hypothesis in the next few weeks/months, though...). Crucially, RSS feeds can be created for each category, so if there's something definite that people want to know about, such as spaces they can look at those entries and subscribe to that feed only (something that Russ mentions as well). Also, some thematic blog-hubs like javablogs work better if the people that are contributing only post about things in a certain category. It seems that there can be a fine line between "blogging" and "discussing topic X", and for the latter it seems that maybe a mailing list, specifically targeted, would potentially be a better fit. But blogging is better. More open, more flexible, and so on. So the tendency to mix them is potentially what creates confusion (both in the writer and readers).

Anyway, I don't know if all of this makes a lot of sense. I guess I'll have another crack at these ideas later.

Categories: personal, technology
Posted by diego on February 28, 2003 at 10:42 AM

the joy of MAME

Tired of the 150 million bump-mapped polygons per second of your PS2 or Xbox? Don't want to look anymore at those 1024x768 video-like images on 32 bit color? Nostalgic for a bit of Donkey Kong, 1942, or (gulp!) Galaga?

1942.pngThen MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator, pronounced 'Maim' in English) is for you! :-) MAME simulates the hardware environment of old arcade machines on a PC.

I used MAME a few years ago to play classics such as Zaxxon and Space Invaders. At the time, it was a bit flaky. Over time (as it happens) I simply forgot about it. For whatever reason I remembered it today. It's improved a lot. Here is the download page, but you'll actually need to do a little digging to get actual game ROMs to play--For whatever reason the copyright holders of the original arcade games have been chasing down these ROMs online, even though no one can play the games anywhere anymore, and they have been pushed underground. A lot of it can be found in various USENET newsgroups. Worth a bit of searching, if only for 'educational purposes.'

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on February 28, 2003 at 12:45 AM

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