July 30, 2002
A quote to distract

I need to finish up my OSCon writeups, pulling my head around what I got, and will get, out of the week. In the meantime, in a recent conversation, Chris Dent tossed out a nice turn of phrase:

" meaning in the universe is revealed and created in a collaborative and evolutionary process."

This is part of a group discussion of Being There by Andy Clark (albeit a discussion that has wandered somewhat widely).

Posted by esinclai at 06:38 AM
July 25, 2002
URLs from Bioinformatic Keynotes

Some URLs as mentioned in Ewan Birney and Jim Kent's keynotes, for later review...

UCSC Bioinformatics page


Bioinformatics.org web site

Posted by esinclai at 12:08 PM
July 24, 2002
Visualising WebLog Frequency

It's manual and an incomplete implementation, but this quick piece entitled a thermal mapping of my weblog is a nice way to think (or start thinking) about how to do some visualisation via color for weblogs. The granularity is probably insufficient, and the pure 'raw numbers' aspect of it (these are the number of 'significant' posts on a given day) feels both a bit dry, and a bit fluffy. But it's a thought-start.

(from corante's weblog log)

Posted by esinclai at 11:55 PM
July 23, 2002
State of Onion Recap

John Adams (who had battery, which I don't unfortunately) did a nice job of encapsulating Larry Wal's State of the Onion 6.0.

Posted by esinclai at 11:13 PM
OSCon Tutorials Day 2

The second day of OSCon has gone nicely. Python/XML tutorial was quite meaty, though not moving too fast for a relative novice like myself. The overview of how to do software development right (see slides for some good detail) was pretty good, if perhaps a bit wide ranging. What doesn't necessarily come across in the slides, that I'd pass along to those people I'd pass the slides to personally, is the importance of taking control of those elements in your work life that you can.

Probably good advice anyay.

Larry Wall's State of the Onion was, as expected, delightful and humor filled. Transcript should be postable soon.

Posted by esinclai at 10:49 PM
DSpace at MIT

Over lunch yesterday, the MIT guy sitting with us made reference to the DSpace project. His description implied that one of the sub-elements is to be distributed collections management, which comes over to some of the bibKat interests I have. Probably warrants further reading (should get a recursing websnagger on this box, though the battery is failing, for this purpose...)

Posted by esinclai at 02:11 PM
XSL Formatting Objects

Setting aside this online document (book) on XSL Formatting Objects for further study (and for referral to AZ, as we touched on it briefly last night.

Posted by esinclai at 12:37 PM
July 22, 2002

Only because I'd been interested in iCal a long time ago do I find Apple's support of the standard, as nicely documented here to be heartening.

But, oddly, I can't recall the application I wanted iCal for..... Probably something back in the days of AIDA, when we were trying to build better team scheduling for ourselves. Maybe Eric remembers....

Posted by esinclai at 11:45 PM

OK. I've isolated some of what I hope to catch here at OSCon. A smattering, at least, though rife with conflicts (and I haven't even touched on the BOFs yet...

Bolded items are more likely choices... Where no item is bolded, I'm still torn...

Schedule of Sessions

Tuesday AM: Python and XML
Tuesday PM: What Works in Software Development
Tuesday PM: State of the Onion, Perl Quiz Show

Wednesday AM:
08:45 - 09:30: Lessig Keynote
09:30 - 10:15: Stallman Keynote
10:45 - 11:30: Introduction to Perl 6 | Apache Xindice | Open Source and Java
11:30 - 12:15: Introduction to Perl 6

Wednesday PM:
13:45 - 14:30: RMS & Miguel | XML Specifications Update | Perl 5.8
14:30 - 15:15: Preparing for Perl 6 | XForms | Enterprise PostgresSQL
16:30 - 17:15: Perl Lightening Talks
17:15 - 18:00: Perl Lightening Talks | Apache and SSL | Configuration Management | Python Catalog of Packages

Thursday AM:
08:45 - 09:30: Birney Keynote
09:30 - 10:15: Kent Keynote
10:45 - 11:30: Content Management in Perl | Web Service Discovery Techniques | Legal Issues for OS Projects | Introduction to Moveable Type
11:30 - 12:15: WRDLpy | Ask Slashdot

Thursday PM:
13:45 - 14:30: CPANPlus | Stupid XSLT Tricks | mod_perl 2.0 | Pythoncard / PyCrust
14:30 - 15:15: NetTopBox | Perl and XSLT | Writing Apache 2.0 Modules
15:45 - 16:30: Real Life War Stories and Perl | Writing Maintainable Perl | Microsoft Shared Source | Python Lightening Talks | OS in Government
16:30 - 17:15: OS in Government | Regex Guru | Teaching Learning Perl | W3C and OS

Friday AM:
08:45 - 09:30: Pangaro Keynote
09:30 - 10:15: Ngan Keynote
10:45 - 11:30: PerlNet | DocBook | RT Tracking System
11:30 - 12:15: Cocoon

Friday PM:
13:45 - 14:30: Writing Secure Perl | Jabber Developer Overview | Dave Winer | Security and OS
14:30 - 15:15: Poor Woman's Desktop Mapping | Digital Rights Management (Perens) | Outrageous uses of Jabber | OS in Commercial Software Development
15:45 - 17:15: Town Hall

Posted by esinclai at 11:05 PM
First day of OSCon

So I've arrived for my first OSCon in a couple years. Some thoughts:

The giveaways aren't as cool. Or at least, the bag doesn't seem as nice as the satchel from last time. Nitpicky to be sure. The meals and other amenities are just swell.

And a tip for those attending (or for myself attending next year): request a room in the East Wing of the hotel. The West Wing (despite the namesake tie-in) is a walk away and not quite as 'nice'. Further, according to this mention the rooms below floor 9 have no broadband (but since the 802.11 network is up, it may be a moot point).

The audience is largely unchanged. Still a the broad swath of people from varying walks of life; I've met the usual developers in the trenches, and even management types from some institutions of higher education.

O'Reilly still brings in the usual list of Internet 'luminaries' of course, who are recognisable. Which is one of the benefits of one of these sorts of conferences, as opposed to a mega-conf like JavaOne (I expect). This is nicely combined with the approachability of most of the people.

Oddly, ran into a former colleague from my days at Indiana University, who has relocated to DC, working for PBS building web sites for their children's programming. Seems like this happened in the last three years, just since the last time I saw him in Bloomington. Interestingly, it sounds like a big part of the job there is corralling the varying developers at each of the local stations to form a cohesive web site and development environment.

Tutorials attended: Intro to Python (too much to cover in three hours, yet less meat than anticipated) and Intro to XLST (meaty and well done).

note: need to upgrade to get trackback running...

Posted by esinclai at 07:19 PM
July 15, 2002
OS Con

Going to O'Reilly's Open Source Conference this year, having missed the last two. Excited at getting back into some different learning structures, getting to meet some new people, hear some more good things. Maybe even attend the WebLog BoF....

Which reminds me. Gotta make a schedule... So much to do!

Posted by esinclai at 09:48 PM
Newton RSS Reader

On his RSS oriented weblog, Ben Hammersley posted recently a citation for Raissa, a NewtonOS 2.0 RSS reader.

This is cool on so many ways, even though I have no chance of ever getting to use one (my newton(s) have been dispersed over the last few years, albeit with some reluctance, the better part of valor).

But dig. It uses RSS for news aggregation. On a handheld. No AvantGo necessary! It repurposes an old hardware and OS literally abandoned by its manufacturer in what may be described colloquially as a fit of pique. It is LGPLd (so Free and in Libre, but not Free as in Constricting).

There are so many keen things yet to be rediscovered....

Posted by esinclai at 09:42 PM
July 12, 2002

Floyd Norris of the NY Times has a nice oped-ish piece today, Real Reform: What Bush Might Have Said [registration required, but you already did that anyway....]. These sorts of pieces are usually like shooting fish in a barrel, especially as they come with the hindsight of judging market and public reaction. But this one's quite good, imho.

Posted by esinclai at 07:10 AM
IP Worries

Joel has an interesting, if I think somewhat flawed (but I haven't sorted my thought out yet) piece on IP Rights at Gene Expression. He proposes, in effect, a pre-sale condition for IP, rather than a post-creation monopoly. See the Commentary for some interesting rebuttals.

And thanks to Matt for pointing me to Gene Expression in the first place...

Posted by esinclai at 05:50 AM
July 10, 2002
rushing up to surround me

So this week seems to be my week for rediscovery of bits of my past. In new and interesting ways... This discovery type is what Michael Babcock and I used to refer as the Lattice...

First, I've become reminded of knowing Andy Lester. At the YAPC mentioned previously, Andy gave a lightening talk on, in essence, the necessary politeness or tolerance for the furtherance of geek culture in general, but in my mind it applies as cleanly, or more so, to the necessary interplay in the workplace.

Now, granted, most tech workplaces can be somewhat heated places. Decisions tend to be required on less input and time than one wants. But Andy makes salient points about how a necessary set of behaviors can at the very least ease that trouble - and moreover, how improper behavior can hinder goals of groups.

What did surprise me was that Andy didn't cite another Eric S Raymond piece, on "How to ask Questions the Smart Way." Though somewhat polemic, it does provide good tools that can, if implemented pragmatically, help resolve a certain number of conflicts.

Andy figures importantly in my and Anne's past in Chicago. We got to know Andy via the Indie-List Digest and his non-affiliated Chicago Shows List, which we would received weekly while we lived in Indiana. Well, when we decided to move to Chicago, we got in touch with Andy for tips, etc.

As I recall, at the time Andy, living in Palatine, had to come into the city each week to pick up a copy of the Chicago Reader. So on his next Thursday run in, he gave us a call, and we all went out to eat at one of the diners in the Grilled Cheese Corridor. It was fun, and a great way to feel a bit welcomed to the city.

Since then, he's gone on to better things - a family (including the wedding service that spawns the occasional "Well, we have chicken fingers" story), improved jobs, and working on The Perl Review (the current issue has a nice piece by brian d. foy on the Facade Pattern). Good stuff - and who would have thought that contributing to an ISBN oriented perl module would be considered cool by your peers...

A second past-as-surrounding event occured when I was reading through Andy Clark's Being There, a nice little cogsci work. In a discussion of how we approach perception as infants, he starts talking about babies and perceptual cliffs and inclines. It all seemed eerily familiar. And checking the citations, I discover it was based on the research of a former acquaintance from Indiana U., who we'd hang out with periodically.

The Clark book, btw, is very good. Once I'm done working through the ideas (which neatly intersect and inform (perhaps, "afford" is the right term) some of my thinking on parallel and distributed systems), it should come back up for further discussion.

Posted by esinclai at 09:39 PM
July 02, 2002
Compare And Contrast (in the pit)

Mike has a nice review comparing and contrasting (as we learned when we first learned to write) Blush's American Hardcore (which I've read and enjoyed for it's oral historification) and Legs McNeil's Please Kill Me (which I've not read, but now really do feel I should). Recommended reading for this evening.

Posted by esinclai at 09:23 PM
YAPC 2002 - The Movie

Geeky and fun, YAPC 2002 - The Movie is an entertaining - if tremendously large - download.

Whets one's appetite for OSCon, which I'll be attending this year (on my own dime, but attending nonetheless).

Posted by esinclai at 08:41 PM

I've been playing with Blogtoaster a bit lately. It's a fairly simple - and thus elegant - tool. Basically, you register with the MSN IM entity a set of WebLogs which ping weblogs.com to watch, and it sets a notify to your MSN IM account when they update.

It thus, of course, is a bit dependent on two entities - the blogToaster service (provided by Simon Fell) and the weblogs.com service as provided by UserLand.

Note that there's also a jabber oriented version of the same service model.

note: Mike Whybark somewhat correctly points out the availability of Blogrolling, which is similar - it provides a quick and easy way to list out sidebar entries, and - being live and javascript drive, can drive visitors to your website an autmatic notification that links you're interested in may have been updated. This is comparable, but not quite the same. In the Blogtoaster model, I choose that I want to be notified of updates. In the Blogrolling model, I passively choose to tell my visitors of these updates. Both have worth, and I've already started toying with the Blogrolling stuff this past weekend.

My essential concern - though these are often light bandwidth services to provide, they are still not free for the providers. How this economy sorts out shall be interesting.

Posted by esinclai at 05:39 AM