"Rumours of my death are vastly exagerated:

Anchor for this item  posted Friday, September 15, 2006 at 3:48 PM MST

Felipe Gaucho's Blog: HTML is dying:
" The last decade of the XXth century was marked by the HTML advent, from a simple language rendered by the Web Browsers to the standard de facto of Internet contents: web-pages, mail and business applications. Several interesting innovations were applyied to the first draft of the HyperText Implementation in order to support the e-commerce demand, including multimedia tags and dynamic web layouts. No doubt the HTML is the most sucessfuly language in the software industry but, despite this amazing supremacy in the web publishing, it seems the end of HTML life-cycle is coming.

The problems of the HTML in the nowadays business scenario
While the HTML was growing in the popularity and the browsers were becoming more sophisticated, the users were experimenting other ways of interacting with the computers. Operational systems with easy usability, real time games and desktop suites with friendly layouts had pushed the users expectative to a higher level and then the Html started suffering its own restrictions. Some of these restrictions are enumerated below:"

Let me get this straight ... it's limited, it faces restrictions, and so it's dying.

I don't buy it.


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"Wink is a Tutorial and Presentation creation software, primarily aimed at creating tutorials on how to use software (like a tutor for MS-Word/Excel etc). Using Wink you can capture screenshots, add explanations boxes, buttons, titles etc and generate a highly effective tutorial for your users"
Ayup, it's true. I just watched a Wink walkthrough of SDN's "Introducing Design Patterns in XML Schemas" ... good enough, though the pacing is pretty poor.

Wink HomePage (Wink at DeBugMode Forums) ... schweeeeeet!
Here are the reviews I found:


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Dig this: Reap What You SOA" (in Sun's September "Inner Circle" newsletter) - "The Gartner Group estimates that the cost of maintaining the integration points between systems absorbs 75 to 80 percent of all IT budgets" ... 75 - 80 percent!

"SOA leverages Web services. Web services are playing out to be the technology of choice for SOA because Web services are open. But the rationale for SOA comes down to the fact that developers shouldn't be writing middleware. Developers should be writing applications. All of the middleware machinery should be generated by products. Then applications run on SOA, mostly using Web services standards and products to create shared services that transport data and process transactions.

You don't just press a button and create an SOA. SOA is about the big A. You have to architect the system. And there are obstacles that will make it difficult to move to SOA, such as the organizational changes needed to ensure success. It's a journey, but the rewards — business agility, faster time to market, end-to-end security, reduced vendor lock-in, and cost reductions — make the going worth it.

One important idea is that SOA is more "wrap and reuse" than "rip and replace." It's a combination of building and buying, but the emphasis should be on taking existing systems and turning them into loosely coupled, business-grain services. After all, SOA is an architectural style for integration."


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I'll up my "yuppies" somewhat: snotty prigs!

Anchor for this item  posted Thursday, September 14, 2006 at 3:03 PM MST

In a comment to Eric Meyer's "Angry Indeed" I replied, in part,

"[T]there’s something else operating here too: my gawd, maybe you don’t realize the awe you inspire … “Box Model Hack” and such. You and tantek? Guys like you are what inspired me (past tense, note) to keep sloggin’. (So on the day I set up and read through a 250 page technical document and produce with a long list of quibbles large and small. *shrug* Nobody much cares? Fine. But I know that I’ve guarded your back. Now’days you got bigger fish to fry? *shrug* Hey, no blame. But: I quit. Past tense. Done deal … a long while back.)"

On a whim I visited Tantek's Thoughts and found, completely in keeping with the epoch, "Fight bad ideas not people", which reads in part:

"We are not at war.

Ideas are at war. We are merely their pawns and canonfodder.

Fighting a war by fighting people is merely attacking symptoms rather than causes.

In the long run, fighting a war by fighting people is only as effective as fighting a disease by fighting the people that have contracted it rather than fighting the disease itself."

Now it just so happens that (with Krisna Dass louder than I dare in the background) I was thinking, "I was on the hippie bus in '68 and '69, I trained airborne infantry (49th Loyal Edmonton Regiment) and did communications intelligence ... and my sympathy is more with the mohawk-haired gunman than with the snide simpering bougeois who routinely castrate democracy." So I thought I'd share a bit of that with Mr. Tantek.

Ha! Try reaching him ... he's a star ... the "Comment" at the base of his posts links to nothing, and there's no proletarian "Contact" to be found; mere email is beneath him. Noooooooo, such as he aren't to be triffled with by mere citizens.

To yuppies all I say: Fuck you and the horse your rode in on. Yuppies ... diseased pretenders to artistocracy ... full of entitlement but with not a glimmer of what nobility means.
To pseudo-goths and skin heads, bristling with antagonism and agression: "Who the fuck do you think you are? Get the fuck outta my face!

"Fight bad ideas not people"? Ok ... the idea you manifest and perpetuate is what I fight. Is all.

p.s. I was a Trotskyist, a card-carrying of the International Socialists. And let me tell you: compared to what we have long known about realpolitik tantek's well-intentioned prattlings are a child's babbling. But then hey, him and his friends can't arrange decent tech_docs, so really *shrug* they're amateurs.


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Leaving W3C QA Dev. from Bjoern Hoehrmann on 2006-07-16 (public-qa-dev@w3.org from July 2006):

"Many parts of the HTML and XHTML specifications are incorrect and/or very unclear. Over the years you just get used to the fact that the HTML Working Group simply disregards any issues people raise about their Recommendations, so instead we tried something more clever, raise issues on draft specifications."

Ohhhhh get over your precious self! You're right, it's true ... and all I can think is that I'd applaud if you fell out of your tree onto your head. Since when has anybody given a shit about good documentation?! In " Spring 2004 Travelog: Part 9" Hixie writes,

"The detailed spec problem is the big issue. There has simply never been a Web specification written in enough detail for this kind of work."
Well nooooooo shiet Batman! With everyone bellowing, "Release quickly! Release often!" who the hell is gonna do the shit work? Yaaaa ... me. Nope, been there done that. Screw you all.

I've been doing tech_docs pro bono for years and decades because I will no longer subject myself to the bullshit of successful companies i.e. yuppies and their ilk.

You pay for crap, you reward crap, you aid and abet crap, you put up with crap, you suck back crap by the bucket and then you want long boring documents to be right.

I do "correct, complete, comphrehensive" pissed drunk. But that's not valued. So choke, dewd ... really.

Gawwd, yuppies' sense of entitlement makes me gag!


Lemme explain my resentment. Recall how the firefighters died in the WTC collapses cuz their radios didn't relay the "Get the hell outta there!" message? That was 2001. I was talking better comms for EMS in the mid-70s. But that was just me. And yuppies thrive on personality politics ... the cult of personality.

I blame yuppies because, as individuals, they have the sensitivity and education and training and charisma to change things. And they don't ... cuz they're filled with their sense of narcissistic entitlement. (Do a literature search for "sovereignty" and "social pathology".) They're responsible because they've been pulling big salaries for decades ... and blow it every chance they get, cuz they just shrug.

I don't like being poor. It sucks. But it sucks worse to be you. So I'm not. Is all.


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Intuit Press Release- Intuit and Google Forge Alliance

: "For the first time, small businesses can use QuickBooks to market themselves online by listing their businesses on Google Maps™, creating and managing advertising campaigns with Google AdWords™ and posting their products for sale on Google through Google Base™ – a free product listing service."

David Card - Google-Intuit Integration Promising:

"If there's anything remotely like a univesal small business platform, it's QuickBooks."

Ayup ...

Almost exactly two years ago, having watched a brilliant business opportunity drain down the gutter (Buddy's divorce took a turn for the worst and he crawled into a bottle; he drank away his little company's payroll, leaving me on the hook for what I'd done to start our collaboration.) I left Nova Scotia and returned to Alberta after 20 years away. One of the very first things I did was to snoop Intuit to find someone to chat with ... and I did find someone ... "AlphaDog" I'll call him. My pitch? That Intuit, with QuickBooks, was positioned to use Web2.0 in a way that would rival SourceForge.

But I'm just me. I can't say my idea perculated up to catalyze this deal. I can, however, say that in the absence of intelligent risk capital (most VC is bait; I'm no fish) folk like me are fiddling in the streets. Oh-wooops, no ... it's worse: I've often made ready cash busking, but this is Alberta, and I don't play red-neck music.

SNAFU


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Eric's Archived Thoughts: W3C Change: Introduction
"When I posted about the W3C, a few people responded with, “All right, fine, you’re angry with the W3C. So what’s your alternative, smart guy?” A fair enough question.

While I applaud the efforts of the WHAT WG and the microformats community, I’m not advocating a complete dismissal of the W3C.

[...]

If the W3C can get back on track, I wouldn’t want to see it replaced. If it can’t, then it will be replaced, no matter what I or anyone else has to say. That doesn’t mean it would cease to exist, of course. It would simply become less and less relevant."

My reply (off the cuff):

If you get blown off … what happens to those of us with considerably less “star power”? *shakes head* Personality politics … social pathology … HeyHo.

Eugene Kim posted an interesting letter written by Frank Lloyd Wright, about his (Wright’s) relationship to professional associations. I’m thinking about “Leaving W3C QA Dev“, of course. I’ve never been one to suffer fools gladly (which cost me) and now, in my later years, I’m even less willing to bend and take it with a smile (if you know what I mean). And yet entities such as associations and committees are the bullwarks of civil society. Until and unless we synthesise alternatives, which isn’t likely any time soon.

My work started with using punched cards to create a database (No, not COBOL, no computer involved: sorted and searched by running knitting needles through holes along the cards’ edges.) and continued through VRML and Indymedia. Today I’m grinding away like Spinoza working a lens … there’s just nothing simple about “drawing attention to effects of the basic problem”. With all the tech we’ve marshalled it’s still (and always?) a matter of discourse. So I’m betting on “People of good will sharing deeply about simple things”.

To become “less and less relevant” … that’s merely evolution, no? And evolution is the process of selecting adaptive processes, yes? So I suggest it falls to the charismatic and gifted individuals in the community to stand fast as principled practitioners as we create means to reduce the noise (I did DSP for fun … ham radio, yuh know?) and methods that enhance the signal. More: I’ll suggest we’ve good will enough.

I can just hear the voices … you’re "just angry" and Joel has gone mad … yoiks!


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[testing ITToolBox's auto-blog function from the km-select group
Near miss: the function wrongly assumes that I have only one blog and so the item went to the one that I used most recently. *bzzzzzt*]

"we are developing an internal twiki for our corporate kbase/portal

we are having discussion as to what kind of knowledge that should be capture...Read More..."


Here's the reply I posted on that site. (I resisted the urge to point at HyperScope.)

I think you've put your finger on a substantial and significant bottle-neck / can of worms / source of confounds. Suspecting that some elegant transclusion will ultimately resolve this, in the moment I can only say, "Not just you!"

Not 30 minutes ago I was discussing homepage design with someone who's launching a rather nice Forum system ... should they allow comments in their blog or somehow drive respondents into the demo forum they had set up? Does blog activity differ from forum material?
I've been banging away at this for a while and keep coming back to the thinking behind "purple numbers" (thanks to Chris Dent for that post!) ... what stays still when the layout of a page changes? what changes when a single variable in a large paragraph is modified?

Good luck. I remain convinced that the mythical pony is around here somewhere and suspect it'll be uncovered if we persist with our best efforts.


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Praxis - double-take

Anchor for this item  posted Wednesday, September 13, 2006 at 7:22 PM MST

Qantas Homepage

Remember it takes a college degree to fly a plane but only a high school diploma to fix one. Reassurance for those of us who fly routinely in our jobs.

After every flight, Qantas pilots fill out a form, called a "gripe sheet," which tells mechanics about problems with the aircraft. The mechanics correct the problems, document their repairs on the form, and then pilots review the gripe sheets before the next flight.

Never let it be said that ground crews lack a sense of humor. Here are some actual maintenance complaints submitted by Qantas' pilots (marked with a P) and the solutions recorded (marked with an S) by maintenance engineers. By the way, Qantas is the only major airline that has never, ever, had an accident.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.

P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.
S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.

P: Something loose in cockpit.
S: Something tightened in cockpit.

P: Dead bugs on windshield.
S: Live bugs on back-order.

P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet per minute descent.
S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.

P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
S: Evidence removed.

P: DME volume unbelievably loud.
S: DME volume set to more believable level.

P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
S: That's what friction locks are for.

P: IFF inoperative in OFF mode.
S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.

P: Suspected crack in windshield.
S: Suspect you're right.

P: Number 3 engine missing.
S: Engine found on right wing after brief search.

P: Aircraft handles funny.
S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right, and be serious.

P: Target radar hums.
S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.

P: Mouse in cockpit.
S: Cat installed.

P: Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.
S: Took hammer away from midget


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In his EEK Speaks blog, Eugene Kim (of BlueOxen / ''Purple'' fame) posted this pair of items that resonated with a peculiar harmony for me:

"Wright on Professions" - I often talk about the craft of collaboration, and how we need to treat collaboration as a discipline. There needs to be enough cognitive structure there so that we can get better at collaborating on collaboration. You have to be careful, though, because over-formalization creates its own set of problems, and the line between that and just-enough structure is a thin one.
After JeffShults and I wrapped our April Tools for Catalyzing Collaboration workshop, MattTaylor approached me and showed me a letter FrankLloydWright had written to TalmadgeHughes, the head of the AmericanInstituteOfArchitects on January 22, 1945:
My dear man:
You put me up against the same old hard-spot! Forty years past I've had to seem uncooperative and ungracious by refusing to join the Institute. Perhaps I can make clear to you why I refuse again.

I do not join the A.I.A. because I am more interested in Architecture than in the Profession and I felt, as I still feel, able to serve not only Architecture but the Profession better outside the Institute than in it.

I crave good-will and the comradeship of my kind -- every man does. But I've felt that I couldn't do the work I wanted to do inside any "Profession." I've had to be a free-lancer and become anathema to the good old guard: the A.I.A. As I then felt, I still believe that Architecture (my real objective) is more than ever Discipline in deciding this matter.

I believe no man can really cooperate except as he maintains the independence of his Spirit."
[Wright goes on to deprecate interdependence; I happen to think that interdependence is a step beyond mere independence ... perhaps Wright was just showing his age's aversion to dependence in its simplistic form.]
We have to start talking more seriously about what [collaboration] is, but at the same time, we can't get so caught up with it that we become a Profession (in the worst way) and lose the essence of what we're supposed to be about.
I have chosen to speak my peace haltingly rather than glibly mouth the more highly valued sophisms and lose touch with the essence of my thinking.


"Developing Shared Language" - DrummondReed recently wrote about the IdentityRightsAgreements session at last month's Internet Identity Workshop. While the outcome was fruitful, Drummond wrote, 'The biggest frustration was that after an hour and fifteen minutes we were just really getting started - we needed a good half-day on the subject.'

JamieDinkelacker told me a similar story last year in describing a SOA gathering of gurus. The goal was to share knowledge and to advance the state of the art, but the participants spent most of their time arguing over the definition of 'services.'"
There's a real social benefit to being able to smile obligingly and nod warmly ... regardless of whether or not any sort of meaning has been communicated. Such is the sophistication that greases the gears of our industry and economy. And we're all of us worse off for it, though a few are astonishingly wealthy.


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Kibble

Anchor for this item  posted Tuesday, September 12, 2006 at 6:47 PM MST

Systems management software may include RSS soon
2RSS.com :: RSS feed directories, software abd scripts, articles and news, & more

? NuJournalism | Rational rants | ZDNet.com
Google exec challenges Berners-Lee: ZDNet Australia: News: Software

Information Research Weblog

Rojo - Story: CNN Exchange Enters Messy Clusterfuck of Citizen Journalism

Propylon presents Legislative Workbench Bill Drafting System

adaptive path ? blog

Dan Pink | A Whole New Mind... and more

Genomatix Software GmbH - BiblioSphere - http://www.affymetrix.com/products/software/compatible/pathway.affx


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Joel on Software; "Ruby Performance Revisited"

Throughout the "Has Joel gone soft in the head?!" reaction to this topic ("Seek and yee shall find") I've had the feeling that uncertainty (the real stuff, not the FUD kind) was playing a role in this. Joel's post here makes it clear that this is the case:

"Even classic, simple CRUD applications -- the kind of application that basically just shows you a table from a database and gives you operations to add, delete, and edit records -- often discover somewhere down the line that there's something enormously computationally intensive that they want to do ..."

Pre-xactly!! My paradigmatic experience was this: we needed Built-In Test Equipment for our aircraft landing system. Since dropping tin cans full of cash-paying customers is frowned upon (passengers are squishy) the prime mandate read something like "Better to fall over and burst into flames than transmit false data." So BITE was prime. The fundamental design decision had to do with choosing a (simple, clumsy, tedious) rules-based expert system (Is that redundant?) or a system based on (sophisticated, elegant, efficient) AI. Hovering in the air was the fact that we weren't in the BITE business. The tipping point came when we started projecting resources. (Call me mashochistic; I like matrix management!) With the expert system we could ball-park requirements as well as we could with any other aspect of the project. But with AI? Most cases were quite quantifiable, but with a few others ... spin spin spin we just couldn't get our estimates into some sort of closure. We weren't in the business of developing BITE, and we weren't theoretical mathematicians. Exit AI stage left ... too much uncertainty.

If I can say "in most cases 10X slower; rarely 50X times slower" then I can make an informed decision ... right or wrong I'll know why I did what I did. When I can say ""in most cases 10X slower; rarely 50X times slower, but maybe in a few cases a lot slower than that" well hell's bells, WTF. I mean, really. I'm not against having fun ... homo ludens and all that ... but rainbow-coloured smoke always makes me wonder where the mirrors are.

Anybody who's gone through full FMECA knows how to tumble probabilities. If something is imponderable then it's relagated to hobby status ... not ready for prime time. Is all.


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*as usual, posting a new item makes the title of the previous item disappear. blogger.com is going to lose my blog ASAP; I'm sick of this crap*

"Assume that the cow is a sphere" sez the theoretical physicist; the punchline to a joke about how to optimize a dairy farm. But really, sometimes experts are like that. So, really, let's start at the beginning, yes?

"The value of following an agreed-upon process in software development is well-established. But what sort of process? How complex?"
--"Does process matter?" at 128.ibm.com/developerworks/

"What's missing from most of the Agile dialog that I find are methods for fixing, or working with, dysfunctional organizations. That's been the case so much that I've narrowed my interest in Agile to just that: how can you make Agile software development work in crappy situations, and/or when do you give up?"
--"Dysfunctional Agile, Agile-in-the-Large" (where I found the joke) at redmonk.com/cote/

"Imagine that we had a way of sending actors from Broadway to Hollywood that involved putting them in cars and driving them across the country. Some of these cars crashed, killing the poor actors. Sometimes the actors arrived in a different order than they had set out, because they all took different routes. Now imagine a new service called Hollywood Express, which delivered actors to Hollywood, guaranteeing that they would (a) arrive (b) in order (c) in perfect condition. The magic part is that Hollywood Express doesn't have any method of delivering the actors, other than the unreliable method of putting them in cars and driving them across the country. Hollywood Express works by checking that each actor arrives in perfect condition, and, if he doesn't, calling up the home office and requesting that the actor's identical twin be sent instead. If the actors arrive in the wrong order Hollywood Express rearranges them. If a large UFO on its way to Area 51 crashes on the highway in Nevada, rendering it impassable, all the actors that went that way are rerouted via Arizona and Hollywood Express doesn't even tell the movie directors in California what happened. To them, it just looks like the actors are arriving a little bit more slowly than usual, and they never even hear about the UFO crash.
That is, approximately, the magic of TCP."
--"The Law of Leaky Abstractions" at joelonsoftware.com

"But should just this one person truly check in, you think, the whole team will be moved to a better ground. Even if team members backslide, and all do, they won't forget this vivid instance of accountable behavior and the simple, unambiguous actions that supported it.
One self-respecting person, you reflect, with even a modest degree of personal engagement, is all it takes to start this team on the path toward much greater achievement. No permission is required for the pursuit of greatness, no consensus to improve your own results. All the orgs and re-orgs in the whole damn corporate universe, all the resources consumed and processes proceeding can't stop one honest person from making sure he spends his time wisely. And that's all that is needed to get the ball rolling.
Why not believe, you think. Pretend. OK. So from this one moment of surpassing individual and dawning team clarity, this whole group will quicken, will revive."
--"The Elements of Check In" at safari.oreilly.com

Last week I wrote a note to a friend talking about how closed and over-controlled some nominally OpenSource projects are. In effect ... because the self-identified elite core group keeps in touch back-channel, to maintain exclusivity i.e. excluding others. We can talk about "disruptive technologies" but essentially it's still a game of turf-control ... foundationally and primarily zero-sum. I was saying how my church-mouse siddha perspective keeps me zoned in on my goal: doing my bit to avoid Global Gulag, not contributing to dynamics that drive us in that direction.

I related to him how the big avionics R&D project I helped drag out of the ditch benefitted from informal morning meetings. (see ''ScrumDevelopment'' - YahooGroups) 5 or 7 key team leaders, early morning, as regularly as practicable ... just checking in ... lateral, non-linear ... anecdotes, complaints, questions from interest and curiosity ... in the end as good as any military SitRep. Fact was that we all of us cared about the project and we none of us were protecting turf. Is all. The only thing left was to actually do the work. But at least we had our feet on the ground.

To wrap this up:

"Ansu Sharma suggests that Enterprise 2.0 is same as Web 2.0. I disagree: [4 major points follow]"
--"Enterprise 2.0 ? Web 2.0: A Proof in Four Steps" at annezelenka.com


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Smug and arrogant? Complacent and self-satisfied?

Anchor for this item  posted Monday, September 11, 2006 at 11:05 PM MST

*this accidentally ended up in another blog. for the record I think it's really shoddy (and typically blogger.com) that the "Change Date" function does not display in FireFox. Lame, lamer, lamest ... month after month, year after year ... friggin' tedious. I built navaids. I sure as shit dread that these kidz ever do.*

The Long Tail and CreativeClass.org ... aesthetically these two are worlds apart. But what I notice as odd is how both overlook basic usability.

LongTail ... is it sane to have such a huge page? The designer evidently took it for granted that all readers are using large/wide screens. But even then: what's the sensse of having two parallel tracks of text? It's a silly idea poorly executed. I can't think that Anderson knows no better.

"The Creative Class" ... just the name makes my skin creep. And the layout, well, pure Holywood ... everything packaged as though promoting the latest smash hit. But notice: to "Read the Article" you have to click on the teeny icon ... no text has been used as a link. Such elegant design, yet nobody had the wit to treat the links with some effective CSS?

Smug ... that's all I can think. I guess it's a class thing: success breeds contempt for others.


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