Thursday, September 29, 2005



Talking about web 2.0, techcrunch praises a new web 2.0 wiki application called JotSpot. It uses a normal editor, not the funky mediawiki markukp. It also has a number of helper apps, such as a blogger, a calendar, a directory, a todo list, a poller, a forum, a project manager, an engineering manager, and RSS aggregator, a bug tracker, and help desk.


writely, the AJAX word processor

This is my first and only test of writely, the AJAX word processor.

just fine. I copied this text from my writely browser window and pasted it into my blogger edit window. It seems to have come across just fine.


Browser-only office applications

Slashdot has a posting about AJAX-based word processing, spreadsheeting, and presentation building applications. These are great examples of the Web 2.0 -- where the network is the operating system and apps ride on the 'net. As long as one has a browser, one is in business. Moreover, many of the web apps are open-source and can be downloaded to a server for internal use.

This would sure beat the corporate lag in updating corprate desktop.

And speaking of corporations and Web 2.0, here is an intersting comment suggesting Microsoft's recent reorganization is an admission on MS's part that Web 2.0 is here to stay.


Revolution in Manufacturing

There have been two Charlie Bess EDS Blog posts on manufacturing in the last few days that have struck me as leading indicators of significant change. One suggests some implications for nano-manufacturing. The other highlights personalized manufacturing. Indeed, here is a podcast of MIT's Neil Gershenfeld on this same subject.

Once we get to the point of "personalized nano-manufacturing" this world will truly be a different place--from clothes to utensils to toys to work. Imagine designing a diamond coated razor that never gets dull, or bio-degradable micro-bots that clean the cholesterol out of arteries. Please pass the bacon!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005



Here is a nifty service:

CiteULike is a free service to help academics to share, store, and organise the academic papers they are reading. When you see a paper on the web that interests you, you can click one button and have it added to your personal library. CiteULike automatically extracts the citation details, so there's no need to type them in yourself. It all works from within your web browser. There's no need to install any special software.

Because your library is stored on the server, you can access it from any computer. You can share your library with others, and find out who is reading the same papers as you. In turn, this can help you discover literature which is relevant to your field but you may not have known about.


First Podcasting Symposium

Over 100 organization sent representatives to the 1st academic symposium devoted to podcasting at Duke University going on today. The event itself will be podcast and (RSS'd). At the symposium, Duke introduced its DukeCast--a service to upload, organize, search, and download podcasts. This inlcudes not just personal podcasts, but class lectures, speeches, administrative notices, etc. A person can even subscribe in iTunes. I'm impressed!


Social Robots?!?!

ITConversations RSS'd me with a link to a talk by Natalie Jeremijenko describing projects to build and release packs of robotic dogs into populated areas to sniff out and find high concentrations of environmental toxins.

This sounds like the intro to a horror movie. Benign robotic dog packs doing good. Then along comes an evil genuis and infects them with a virus and the dog packs start hunting humans that give off "guilt" pheromones. We haven't had dog packs in American populated areas for a couple of generations. But I have lived in parts of this world where hungry dog packs room the streets. There is a reason we eliminated the Wolf from the lower 48. Packs of bulldogs, or dobermans, or even german shepards are just as vicious.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Google Video

Google blog announced the availability of the first episode of "Everybody Hates Chris" on Google Video until 29 September. No special viewer required, but Flash 8.0 is required. This, my friends, is the future of TV.

With the passing of Don Adams, I sure wish Google Video had all the the "Get Smart" episodes on demand. I'd even pay$0.99 to watch, just like I pay iTunes. You can bet Steve Jobs has already thought of this. Just can't wait.

Elliott Masie has cited my paper here. Since his posting, the downloads jumped from about 100 to over 800. Thanks, Elliott!

Monday, September 26, 2005


Blogger for Word

Architecturally, this creates a client-server app, which I am not fond of. But I should give it a try.


More Web 2.0 Stuff

ITConversations just RSS'd me a link to a Tim O'Reilly podcast on Web 2.0.

Friday, September 23, 2005


Elliott Masie on Learning

At the recent conference (referenced below) our dinner speaker one evening was Elliott Masie. He gave a fascinating presentation on Extreme Learning. In particular, he noted how increasing the velocity of learning thoughout an organization enables it to improve. Rather than take everyone off-line for three days in a classroom, we ought to embed training into the work environment, via social networking tools such as podcasts, wikis, blogs, etc.


Google Predictions

Over on the official Google Blog, there is a posting about how they are using the Widsom of Crowds to forecast IT events, with some success. Based on the Iowa Electronic Markets.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Three Books

Various friends over the last few week have lent me books to read. I, indeed, should read them. They will probably not bubble to the top of my list of books I need to read--a list that grows longer, instead of shorter, the more I do read. Here they are:


Hurricane Rita on Google Maps

Here is a clever hack of Google Maps.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Hedgehod and Fox

At the same conference (as previous post) another speaker referred to Isaiah Berlin's famous 1953 essay entitled, the Hedgehog and the Fox. Here is a excerpt:
There is a line among the fragments of the Greek poet Archilochus which says: 'The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing'. Scholars have differed about the correct interpretation of these dark words, which may mean no more than that the fox, for all his cunning, is defeated by the hedgehog's one defense. But, taken figuratively, the words can be made to yield a sense in which they mark one of the deepest differences which divide writers and thinkers, and, it may be, human beings in general. For there exists a great chasm between those, on one side, who relate everything to a single central vision, one system less or more coherent or articulate, in terms of which they understand, think and feel-a single, universal, organizing principle in terms of which alone all that they are and say has significance-and, on the other side, those who pursue many ends, often unrelated and even contradictory, connected, if at all, only in some de facto way, for some psychological or physiological cause, related by no moral or aesthetic principle; these last lead lives, perform acts, and entertain ideas that are centrifugal rather than centripetal, their thought is scattered or diffused, moving on many levels, seizing upon the essence of a vast variety of experiences and objects for what they are in themselves, without consciously or unconsciously, seeking to fit them into, or exclude them from, any one unchanging, all-embracing, sometimes self-contradictory and incomplete, at times fanatical, unitary inner vision. The first kind of intellectual and artistic personality belongs to the hedgehogs, the second to the foxes; and without insisting on a rigid classification, we may, without too much fear of contradiction, say that, in this sense, Dante belongs to the first category, Shakespeare to the second; Plato, Lucretius, Pascal, Hegel, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Ibsen, Proust are, in varying degrees, hedgehogs; Herodotus, Aristotle, Montaigne, Erasmus, Molière, Goethe, Pushkin, Balzak, Joyce are foxes.


Whiskey Speech

I am at a conference today. One speaker referred to the famous Whisky Speech by Judge Noah S. "Soggy" Sweat, Jr. in 1952 as a state representative before the Mississippi House. Mississippi did not repeal prohibition until 1966. Until then, legalizing alcohol was a very controversial issue.

My friends,

I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be. You have asked me how I feel about whiskey. All right, here is how I feel about whiskey.

If when you say whiskey you mean the devil's brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster, that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the evil drink that topples the Christian man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it.


If when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer; if you mean the stimulating drink that puts the spring in the old gentleman's step on a frosty, crispy morning; if you mean the drink which enables a man to magnify his joy, and his happiness, and to forget, if only for a little while, life's great tragedies, and heartaches, and sorrows; if you mean that drink, the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars, which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools, then certainly I am for it.

This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Web Services with REST instead of SOAP

When we talk about implementing Web-based Service Oriented Architectures, we immediately rush to the standard Web Service technologies of SOAP, WSDL, and UDDI. REST is just a simple way to create a service that uses native http/html instructions without the over head of SOAP. In the most simple case, one just adds a request to the back end of a web address, like the following:

One receives back an XML stream. No SOAP, but a Web Service just the same.


Federal XML Standards

Joab Jackson of GCN reports on the revision of the Federal XML Developers Guide.


Bidding War over AOL?

Elinor Mills of CNET via ZDNET speculates that Google may try to buy AOL before Microsoft merges MSN into AOL. At the heart of the matter is that AOL now uses Google for search, but the new AOL/MSN would use MSN search.


From Information to Integration Management

EDS Fellow, Charlie Bess, makes a good point that in service-oriented architectures the focus must shift from information management to service integration management.



Slashdot pointed me to the Uncyclopedia. It is full of lies, slander, and utter nonsense. Here is the Wikipedia entry on its embarrassing poor cousin. A sample entry:

Arghh, I'll wagger you didn't know that...

From Uncyclopedia's roughest captains:

Monday, September 19, 2005


DVD Exchange

Gina Keating of Reuters via Yahoo News reports on the Peerflix website that allows registered users to trade old DVDs for a 99 cent commission.


The Long Tail

Steven Johnson's blog
pointed me to an interesting blog by Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine, subtitiled, "A public diary on the way to a book." The essense of the theory is:
The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of "hits" (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail. As the costs of production and distribution fall, especially online, there is now less need to lump products and consumers into one-size-fits-all containers. In an era without the constraints of physical shelf space and other bottlenecks of distribution, narrowly-target goods and services can be as economically attractive as mainstream fare.
So what does this mean for software development? It suggests fewer big apps with lots of features, and more hardened-web service apps that can be orchestrated with BPEL, for example.


Three IT Conversations . . .

. . . I which I had time to listen to. I'll put them on my iPod anyway.


Emergent Hierarchy?

Dave W. at Many2Many offers an insight. allows 'net users to tag 'net content. Once a hundred thousand tags are posted a taxonomy--of sorts--emerges. It is a neat complexity theory application.

A new site,, creates a hierarchy out of the tags. I love this kind of innovation. uses the Seamark Navigator web service, which understands RDF.

Thursday, September 15, 2005



Wired News has a piece on Flock, the next generation browser that has built in support for Web Services--what many people are calling the Web 2.0--like and YouTube.

Here is a reference to a panel I was on.


NextGen Web Programming with Ajax

So how can GoogleMaps get an image to scroll inside a browser when everyone else believes you need a client application to do that? The answer is a next generation web application paradigm called Ajax. It is built on asynchronous JavaScript and XML.


Podcast from the Eye of the Storm

ITConversations has an interview with Sigmund Solares who kept his New Orleans ISP DirectNIC up through Hurracaine Katrina and beyond.

ITConversations also has an interview with the famous Craig Newmark who's Craig's List website is helping displaced persons find each other.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


The first Google Site (from Wayback)


Right Angle Sidewalk Chalk Art

Looks 3D, but is only 2D!


Searching Blogs

In an earlier posting I mentioned Google's inablity to keep up with the Blog-Buzz. Well, apparently they have heard me! Juan Carlos Perez of IDG news via reports the new Google Blog Search. Try searching for my blog. Then click in the upper right hand corner to sort by date to see that they are about 1 day behind. Also see this comment.


Sun over Dell

Jonathan gets a little worked up over the new Sun x86 servers known as "Galaxy." As part of the press release, Sun flew a plane over Dell Hqs with a banner telling Dell to watch out. Sun also challenges Apple to a "pod duel." See minute 51 of this video.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Managing On-Line Communities

An acquaintance pointed me to several references that discuss aspects of on-line communities that are, to some degree, applicable to the new blogosphere and wiki-space communities. The first analyzes the characteristics of various MUD participant-types and how they interact with each other.
Bartle, Richard (1996) Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players who Suit MUDs.
In essense, the four main player types are achievers, explorers, socializers, and killers. The MUD can encourage or discourage each of these player types by the suite of capabilities that are engineered into the MUD.

The second describes the creation and management of a virtual world.
Morningstar, Chip and Farmer, Randall (1990) The Lessons of Lucasfilm's Habitat.
In sum, "cyberspace is defined more by the interactions among the actors within it than by the technology with which it is implemented" and "detailed central planning is impossible; don't even try."

The third uses an agent-based system to model social behavior.
Epstein, Josh and Axtel, Rob (1996) Growing Artificial Societies: Social Science from the Bottom Up.
And the last is:
Herz, JC (2002) Harnessing the Hive. (Abstract and Full Text.)
Where it is argued that the open source business model of people freely contributing to a shared body of knowledge can actually produce economic value.

Thanks J.C.

Monday, September 12, 2005


The Six Dumbest Ideas in Computer Security


Real-Time RSS Image Summarizer

CNet reports:

A site called 10x10 offers a very cool way to track current events for all you visual types.

Every hour, the site automatically scans RSS feeds from several major news sources and calculates the 100 most important words and images from that hour. The site is then updated and appears as a collection of 100 images next to an ordered list of words, all of which are clickable and lead users to the news stories they relate to. 10x10 archives its findings on a daily, monthly and yearly basis, and using its "History" feature, users can look back at any hour of any day, going back to November 4, 2004.

Rquires Flash 6.0.


Electrify Yourself

SciAm reports on a back pack that generates electricity as you walk. Unfortunately, the back pack weighs quite a bit -- 20 to 30 kilos -- but most of that is battery weight. Maybe I could just stick it in the trunk and have it generate electricity as I drive over pot holes.


e-911, etc.

Jonathan says:
Did you know that any cell phone in the US, whether it's been "activated" or not with a calling plan, can make a 911 call. Know why? Because there is an overriding public interest in the provisioning of emergency services - that supercedes the interest of any individual corporation. Personally, I appreciate the availability of the service. I've never used it, but I'm glad it's there.

He goes on to raise an interesting question about what internet services have the same social value of the 911 service and thus should be subjected to the same universal availability regardless of one's ability to pay. He cites FEMA's use of document sharing, text messaging, email, VOIP, etc. in the rescue effort. At what point do these technologies become social utilities? And if they are, which company's file format or transmission protocol are we to use? Should public service documents be published in MS-Word format? Should emergency text messaging be in AOL AIM protocol? VOIP vis Skype?

This is a job for Congress!

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Skype Virtual Call Center

Doc pointed me to Dina Mehta's blog, where she writes,

I've been taking turns manning the virtual call centre we have set up using Skype linked to KatrinaHelp, to help cover 24 hours of the day. I am beginning to understand what it feels like to be a call-centre operator :).

Skype KatrinaHelpWhat amazes me though, is that I can volunteer my time, sitting in my living room at home in Mumbai India, and be of use to help those seeking information about their loved ones who are missing on that other side of the world. This morning, I was on a shift for a couple of hours, and I received about 8 calls on our Skypein number, and made a few on SkypeOut. It was really rewarding to be able to point the callers to resources and hook them up with those offering help. And they were so grateful someone was listening to them, and that they did not have to figure out how to navigate pages on websites and wikis.

Imagine how it would be to have a virtual Skype phone bank. One that is not just virtual, but ad hoc. Just-in-time emergent support. Always on when we have a bank of volunteers from all over the world, and at all hours. Our way of reaching out and helping those in distress.

Just-in-time emergent support! Complexity Theory doesn't get any better than this.


Absence Grows Teams

Just discovered an interesting piece in the Harvard Business Review by Majchrzak, Malhotra, Stamps, and Lipnack which argues that under the right circumstances a dispersed team connected through collaborative software will be more productive than a collocated team.
The scores of successful virtual teams the authors examined didn't have many of the psychological and practical obstacles that plagued their more traditional, face-to-face counterparts. Team members felt freer to contribute--especially outside their established areas of expertise. The fact that such groups could not assemble easily actually made their projects go faster, as people did not wait for meetings to make decisions, and individuals, in the comfort of their own offices, had full access to their files and the complementary knowledge of their local colleagues. Reaping those advantages, though, demanded shrewd management of a virtual team's work processes and social dynamics.


Looking for Blogs

The WSJ notes that Google and Yahoo reindex so slowly that they are not good places to find the real-time buzz in the blogosphere. One must use Technorati or Feedster.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


How I failed the Turing Test


Satellite Photos of New Orleans

Google Maps now has satellite images of the inundated New Orleans. Here is the Superdome, surrounded by water.


NerdTV now available for download

NerdTV is a new weekly online TV show from technology columnist Robert X. Cringely. NerdTV is essentially Charlie Rose for geeks - a one-hour interview show with a single guest from the world of technology. Guests like Sun Microsystems co-founder Bill Joy or Apple computer inventor Steve Wozniak are household names if your household is nerdy enough, but as historical figures and geniuses in their own right, they have plenty to say to ALL of us. NerdTV is distributed under a Creative Commons license so viewers can legally share the shows with their friends and even edit their own versions. If not THE future of television, NerdTV represents A future of television for niche audiences that have deep interest in certain topics.


Maynard G. Krebs is Dead

Or, for the rest of you, Gilligan. AP via Yahoo reports Bob Denver's death at age 70. It makes me happy just to think about both of those roles he played.

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