Archive | June, 2003

Hittin’ the fan….

I’m disappointed to see a (un)civil war breaking out in the blogging community over RSS and a proposed new technique, nicknamed “Echo.” While there are surely limitations to the older formats (lack of well-formedness, difficulty in parsing), there is the undeniable situation of an existing standard, or standards. ASCII had limitations, too, but tearing it all down and replacing it with a new format might not have been the right thing to do. Progress and evolution of a standard to a better one is better than breaking everything out there.

From [Jon’s Radio]: Voices. So many voices in this most tumultuous of the many tumultuous moments I’ve lived through, in my five years of involvement with the RSS phenomenon. So many people taking time away from friends and family, this weekend, to consider the matters at hand. So tempting to simplify it all as a silly-season little-endian/big-endian tempest in a teapot. So much at stake. Update: So sad the voice that started it all has, for now, gone silent. Further update: And now is back, thankfully.

Crossing the beams would be… bad. So would pressing that button.

Crashed the laptop hard this morning, just clicking on Windows Explorer. Restarting Outlook took many minutes, so I decided it was time to do some personal folders cleanup (after a backup, of course). Dropped about 20,000 messages from email lists with good archives, and decided to compact the file. Warning: don’t try this at home kids, except perhaps overnight. In LookOut, er, Outlook 2000, File, Data File Management, Settings…, Compact Now, puts up a silly dialog with “Compacting” and a Cancel button. For hours. No progress indicator, no clues. What does “Cancel” do? Is it partially compacted, rolled back, or corrupted? (I know which one I’d guess.) How long will it take? What’s the result? No clues.

Welcome to User Interface Hell.

Two hours later, and it is done thrashing the hard disk. The result? No change in size. Sheesh.

A shutdown and restart (for unrelated reasons) and Outlook hangs on startup. Another shutdown and restart and I get a message starting outlook that the “Send to Bluetooth” option hung up Outlook the last time, and allows me to disable it.

Do computers ever behave the same way twice?

FSF Counsel statement on SCO-IBM lawsuit

The Chief Counsel for the Free Software Foundation, Eben Moglen, responds to the numerous requests FSF has received for comment on the SCO-IBM lawsuit. The short, sweet summary: “SCO, knock it off.” Slashdot responds here with the usual assortment of punditry and flames (link set to a score threshold of 4 for better S/N).

European Software patents…

Patenting unique ideas for exclusive licensed use is an abomination to the software culture I was raised in. Good ideas should be shared, enhanced, amplified and refined. The *expression* of those ideas should certainly be copyrightable, to preserve, for a limited time, the rights of workers to protect their hard work from cut-and-paste. But, if I come up with a clever idea, say, of letting a customer order from my web site with a single click, well, that might be my competitive advantage for the week or month or year until my competitors can figure out how to duplicate my work, by which time I better have come up with a whole lot more clever refinements. That’s the nature of competition.

Also, I don’t believe that the patenting process fits well with the intellectual, rather than concrete physical, nature of the process.

Finally, if a patent is to be used, as is the rule within the mechanical community, the innovation must be shown to be sufficiently unique, and not just a clever extension of previous work. I don’t think we yet have the cataloguing, nor the examiners the in-depth knowledge, to make that determination.

From Slashdot: pdajames writes “An article at ZDNet UK says that the EU bureaucrats aren’t even considering the numerous anti-software patenting opinions out there. According to a well-connected lobbyist group, they have determined there will be patents, and the only question is what kind.”

Microsoft Retires Visual Studio 6.0 and SQL Server exams

According to this page on the Microsoft site, the Visual Studio 6 exams will no longer be offerered after June 30, 2004. I interpret the cryptic note “no candidate requirements to retain certification” to mean that current certifcation holders do not have to take exams. A few years ago, Microsoft was glad to terminate certifications left and right. I took core and elective exams three times to retain my MCSD certification. Now, I think they are facing dwindling numbers and will do what they can to artificially bolster those figures.

I thought the MCSD (“Solution Developer”) idea was a good one, but I don’t believe that Microsoft was ever able to estalish sufficient credibility and desirability for earning the certificate.

Disclaimer: I was a significant contributor to the VFP 6.0 Distributed Solutions examination.

National Do Not Call Registry Opens…. and crashes

250,000 people had signed up by 10:30 AM, and 370,000 by noon, meaning 1000 sign-ups per minute. It was a lead story on several news networks this morning. I tried to log on to do it, and got “Document contained no data.” Perhaps it hasn’t crashed, but it’s not surprising that the site is laboring under the load. From the main FTC site: “Due to high registration volume, you may experience slow response time.” Who doesn’t want to opt out, after all?

Try: or

The .gov site reports 635,000 by 2:30 PM and 735,000 by 5 PM. Trying to post at 6 PM, I get the site, but it times out reponding to my submission. I note the site is an ASPX extension. I wonder how many more registrations they could have had if they’d chosen a more scalable technology.

I logged in and registered Saturday morning at 7 AM without a hitch.

The New York Times has a story here.

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This work by Ted Roche is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.