Archive | February, 2005

What’s your workstation OS?

NewsForge features an article called “My Workstation OS: Mac OS X” Apparently, it’s part of a series that “So far, we’ve heard from fans of FreeBSD, Mepis Linux, Debian, Xandros, Slackware, Windows XP, Lycoris, SUSE Professional, NetBSD, Ubuntu, FreeDOS, Libranet, Mandrakelinux, and Arch Linux. Coming soon: Linspire, Knoppix, Gentoo, Fedora Core 3, and more.” It’s always interesting to read how other developers use their machines.

Open Source XML Editors reviewed on NewsForge

OSNews points to a useful review on NewsForge: Open source XML editors examined. “The eXtensible Markup Language (XML) provides a flexible and efficient way to store, transmit, and express data. The open source community has produced an impressive lineup of XML editing utilities. In this article Ryan Paul takes a look at some of the most useful.”

I’ve used several editors on the Windows platform, like XML and Stylus Studio, and I’m looking forward to trying out a couple of the products mentioned in the article, starting with Quanta.

Google Toolbar

Cory Doctorow posts on Boing Boing: “Why you should love Google’s toolbar

Many web people have been critical of Google’s new Toolbar, which allows its users to choose to have the pages they view parsed for things like ISBNs and have them auto-linked to Amazon, or have Vehicle Information Numbers auto-linked to a VIN registry.

Okay, that’s cool. A toolbar of tools the user uses to manipulate a page is okay. What I objected to was anyone browsing to my pages and not seeing what I have written. If they want to hack it from there, well, that’s the Internet. That’s okay.

The Google Toolbar only works in IE. That’s uncool. Their choice.

Too late for that, I’m afraid…

Dave Winer blogs on Scripting News the sad news that A picture named raskin.jpgJef Raskin died last night. “Via Kottke. He struggled to see his vision implemented, and in the end it was a compromise. Raskin wanted computers to be radically simpler, not just evolutionarily simpler. The Macintosh, a project which he started at Apple, morphed when Steve Jobs took it over to become the evolutionary computer it is. Not sure who was right, but Raskin didn’t live to see his vision implemented. To me it’s a poignant moment, Raskin is a contemporary. The edge is moving through my generation. No way we’re going to die before we get old.”

RIP, Jef. Thanks for making Apple happen.

Jeff Gannon who?

Dan Gillmor on Grassroots Journalism, Etc. points to The Gannon Scandal, Not Continued.

  • Salon: See no Gannon, hear no Gannon, speak no Gannon. “It’s stunning to me that there are questions about the independent press being undermined and the mainstream press doesn’t seem that interested in it,” says Joe Lockhart, who served as press secretary during President Clinton’s second term. “People in the mainstream press have shrugged their shoulders and said, ‘It’s a whole lot of nothing.'”
  • I still find it weird that for two years this guy walked into the White House with Press Corps credentials and asked questions of the President of the United States. Who thought up this crazy idea? Who checked out this guy’s background? What were they thinking?

    And… where is the media? Laura and I again heard Emily Rooney and John Carroll roast this guy on WGBH’s Greater Boston. Where’s the network coverage? Where is the outrage?

    Dan Gillmor and the Google Toolbar

    Dan Gillmor on Grassroots Journalism, Etc. reports Google Toolbar, an Update. UPDATED

    “I had lunch yesterday with several Google folks including Marissa Mayer, the company’s director of consumer Web products, to discuss the new Google Toolbar, which is now in beta.

    “Like several other people, I have raised serious questions about this product’s new “AutoLink” tool. It strikes me as an intrusion into people’s browsers by a company that commands great market share.

    “She listened to my concerns. And she explained Google’s stance — nothing new there, and it amounts to “this is all for the users’ benefit” defense. I am not convinced, however, that Google will end up doing the right thing in the end.

    “As Search Engine Watch asks in this piece: “Why are publishers upset? Can they block the feature that adds links to their web pages? Who rules over content, users or publishers?”

    “Good and fair questions — but Google hasn’t sufficiently answered them.

    “At the very least, Google needs to make some changes in the installation process. As users install the toolbar they should be asked if they want features that change content on web pages. There should be an opt-in process, not an opt-out process, for such things.

    “I have trouble with Search Engine Watch’s Danny Sullivan’s view that publishers of Web sites should be able to opt out of the toolbar changes. In theory, once I have content on my desktop it should be my right to “remix” it in the way I choose.

    “What Google isn’t taking into account is that its market power, and the tendency of users to accept the default — to eat what’s on the plate someone puts in front of them — will tend to create Google’s version of the Web, not the users’ version. We all hates Microsoft’s Smart Tags idea because it gave more, unearned power to Microsoft. Google doesn’t have that same dominance, but it has enough to worry about.

    “Will Google do the right thing? This is a big test.

    (By the way, Mayer said that while Microsoft’s former Smart Tags guy is working for Google now, he’s not involved in the Toolbar project.)

    I’m surprised that Dan isn’t focused on what I see as the large issue here – the copyright violation that Google commits when they alter content they don’t own. On my web site, I plug one of my books, Essential SourceSafe with a link to the publisher’s web site, where you can buy this book. Buying it directly from the publisher benefits the publisher in less cost and consequently greater profit, some of which is passed on to me. The ISBN is listed on the page; the reader is free to copy this number and paste it into a book store search on BookPool, eBay, Barnes and Noble, Amazon or any other book seller they wish. (Better a sale than no sale, right?) But if the web browser has Google Toolbar installed, I’m told that ISBN is turned into a link to Amazon. Who’s making the profit on that link to Amazon? Not me. I’ll bet Google does. So, I lose money on a web page I wrote and support and host, and Google gains? I’m not comfortable with that.

    How different is it for Google to provide this service automatically from the user doing it manually? There’s a fine line between offering convenience to the user, offering the ability to remix incoming content, and the act of automatically rewriting it for the profit of others. Most browsers offer the ability to apply a stylesheet of your own choice to incoming content — bumping up the fonts or increasing the contrast for a visually impaired user for example — and this is a good, empowering feature. But adding or rewriting links for the benefit of third party is different. Isn’t this what some adware does? This is troubling.

    Microsoft gave in to public pressure and published support for a META tag that would disable SmartTag processing on a web page, but this still puts the burden on the author and copyright holder and does not require the software using the page to respect the copyright and license of the content. It needs to be the other way — let writers opt in if they want their work rewritten. I wonder who would opt in?

    Mike Stewart leaves the Fox team

    Whil Hentzen blogs: Mike Stewart leaves the Fox team Many of you know Mike as the test lead for Fox, as well as an incredible motorcyclist, and general all-around ‘characters’ at DevCon and other Fox events. While the leadership of the group has changed multiple times over the last decade, the list of players on the team has been remarkably steady, so it’s sad to see one of them go, and even sadder when there’s no explanation – the headline of this entry is all the explanation we’ve seen so far… read more

    Good fortune and godspeed, Mike.

    CentraLUG meeting, March 7th: Webrick, LinuxWorld wrap-up

    David Berube, our fearless leader, posts: Monday, March 7th – Webrick and Linux World. CentraLUG is having another great meeting on Monday March 7th, and this time, we’ll be covering Webrick, a powerful system for easily creating custom webservers in Ruby. With Webrick, it’s easy to drop a full webserver into any application. We’ll also have a brief recap of LinuxWorld. Per usual, there will be copius amounts of free caffeine.

    It’s at the NHTI. You can get directions on the NHTI site: It’s in the Library/Learning Center/Bookstore, marked as “I” on that map. The room is 146, and it starts at 7:00.

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