July 2008 Archives

When Steve Jobs implied he wants Safari to take over as the world's dominant browser, I thought he meant on the desktop. I was wrong; it took an iPhone app to make me realize free software needs to move into new ecosystems to help users take control of their computing and their data.
Microsoft's Sam Ramji promised to answer the tough questions about his company's open source efforts. Here's the big one: will Microsoft fix its open source patent license?
Radiohead Remix: Tim Sinnott, GIS, ArcMAP, and Google Earth
Radiohead shot an entire video using LIDAR and released the dataset for people to remix and render as they see fit. In this first article of a four-part series, we profile Tim Sinnott. Tim used ArcMAP and Google Earth to create a fly-by of Thom Yorke's face over Kansas. Read the article to listen to a short audio interview and watch Tim's rendering of the data.
I have put a new version of the ISO Schematron validator up at Schematron.com.

Text Processing at Maximum Speed and Power

By O'Reilly Media
July 29, 2008 | Comments: 0
Text Processing at Maximum Speed and Power
Learning the vi and Vim Editors, Seventh Edition — The standard guide for vi since 1986, this book has been expanded to include detailed information on vim, the leading vi clone that includes extra features for both beginners and power users. You learn text editing basics and advanced tools for both editors, such as writing macros and scripts to extend the editor, power tools for programmers, multi-window editing — all in the easy-to-follow style that has made this book a classic. Browse the book.

Stay Competitive in Your I.T. Career

By O'Reilly Media
July 28, 2008 | Comments: 0
Stay Competitive in Your I.T. Career
Final Week to Save 15%

Student Success Story: Last time the O'Reilly School of Technology highlighted Ingrid as Student of the Month, she was in the midst of taking our Web Programming Certificate Series. At this point, she has now completed fifteen courses, five Certificate Series, and is currently working on her sixth — the new PHP/SQL Programming Certificate Series.

Here's what she has to say:

"I truly enjoy my work more now that I have a better understanding and grasp of programming. I also get much more interesting work assignments and get more out of my work. [OST] courses are a challenge and so much fun to do!" —Ingrid Mifflin, Systems Librarian

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I am pleased to see that the W3C MathML WG has produced a new draft XML Entity definitions for Characters. These are the latest and greatest mappings from the characters to Unicode.
Linus Torvalds on Linux Distributions
"And when it comes to distributions, ease of installation has actually been one of my main issues - I'm a technical person, but I have a very specific area of interest, and I don't want to fight the rest."
The uuid module implements Universally Unique Identifiers as described in RFC 4122.Module: uuidPurpose: Generate unique identifiers for objects.Python Version: 2.5Description:RFC 4122 defines a system for creating universally unique identifiers for resources in a way that does not require a central...
Two big Microsoft/Open Source announcements today: 1. Microsoft has become a sponsor of the Apache Foundation. 2. They are contributing an ADOdb patch for a native driver for PHP built by the SQL Server team.
The computer industry is certainly not recession-proof, but the Open Source convention that's just wrapping up had more attendees than last year (we were up to about 2000), and discussions about starting businesses based on open source seemed to take place everywhere. And I don't mean just free software: open source concepts apply to hardware, creative content, and other materials. Big topics included virtualization and the next stage of virtualization: cloud computing. Perhaps those are the practitioner's solution to multicores.
Randy Pausch, PhD, best known the Alice 3D programming environment for kids (of all ages) and The Last Lecture passed away earlier today.
Openness: the survivalist's ideal becomes the authoritarian's buzzword
An essential issue for making sure the good survivalist benefits of FOSS are not swamped by the corporate agenda abetted by authoritarians, is that FOSS (and open standards intended to allow FOSS) has to be architected for hackability. People are used to thinking that a technical standard is bad when it disenfranchises normal geeks (in favour of an elite or minority) rather than good because it enfranchises non-geeks.
Alex Martelli at OSCON: Google's Uber Tech Lead On Code Reviews!
Alex Martelli, a well-published Python developer and Google's Uber Tech Lead, has some fairly strong convictions about code reviewing, and he's not afraid to share them. Alex believes that there's not enough code reviewing being done in the open source community, and enumerated several of his convictions for O'Reilly News at OSCON 2008. He also addresses the increasing availability of tools for organizing code reviews, and some lessons that even the largest companies can take to heart.

New O'Reilly Radar Report

By O'Reilly Media
July 24, 2008 | Comments: 0
New O'Reilly Radar Report
Open Source in the Enterprise — Using open source in the enterprise — the question is no longer "if," but "how?" The low cost, easy access, and expansive license terms of open source are certainly attractive — especially since IT budgets have decreased 3-5% every year, while software costs have increased, and IT staffs have been tasked to create web services and pursue Web 2.0 initiatives.
New Book: Intellectual Property and Open Source
"Clear, correct, and deep, this is a welcome addition to discussions of law and computing for anyone — even lawyers!" — Lawrence Lessig, law professor at Stanford Law School, founder of the Stanford Center for Internet and Society

Most legal sources are too scattered, arcane, and too hard to read. Intellectual Property and Open Source is a friendly, easy-to-follow overview of the law that programmers, system administrators, graphic designers, and many others will find essential.
Mark Shuttleworth and the Art of Software Engineering
Mark Shuttleworth's life to date seems more like the daring hero of a science fiction pulp magazine than that of a programmer. A South African programmer working on the earliest Debian code, he founded a company called Thawte which specialized...
The ability to create an "instant" communications experience through the Web is the strength of the Comet recipe. The use of long-polling via the XMLHttpRequest is a critical technology to meebo. It enabled meebo to implement low-latency bi-directional communication on any modern computer that can access the Web, without the need to download software.
The question about open source in the enterprise is no longer "if", but "how". Bernard Golden is the author of a new O'Reilly research report about adoption statistics and usage of open source in professional development and business -- who are hiring more open source people than ever.
Nathan Torkington at OSCON: What's Coming up on the Radar
O'Reilly blogger Nathan Torkington spent some time with James Turner of O'Reilly News at OSCON 2008 in Portland. He shares some of the trends and technologies that he thinks will play a big role in the near future, including open source biology and the rise of mobile computing.
Lefkowitz: Open Development Lifecycle, Quintillian Rhetoric, Juggling
Who needs Agile or RUP? r0ml builds upon Quintillian's Insitutes of Oratory (from 80 AD) and the Compendium of Juggling to create a working model of Open Source Software Development. Robert Lefkowitz (r0ml) discussed software development methodologies at Tuesday night's OSCON session...
Damian Conway has a well-deserved reputation as the mad scientist of Perl. His opening night keynote at OSCON 2008 combined Perl programming, the difference engine, quantum mechanics, and general relativity to produce variables which travel backwards in time.
Perl hacker and Googler Brad Fitzpatrick just announced a Google-supported, community-driven project to support the Perl language on Google's App Engine.
As much as I love Radiohead, there is only one man and one band who has/have proven he/they understand the way the music industry now works. Please support him/them. (AKA "The Slip will remain free for download indefinitely." (AKA, AKA:...
I had a brief talk with leading MySQL develop Brian Aker today about one of the biggest turns in MySQL history: this morning's Drizzle announcement. Brian presented Drizzle as an irrevocable fork of MySQL. To me it represents four deliberate steps in one. Drizzle also calls to mind a lot of the complaints just published by Margo Seltzer in the Communications of the ACM.
Tim O'Reilly Reflects on 10 Years of OSCON
It's been 10 years since O'Reilly held the first OSCON. At the latest edition of O'Reilly's open source convention, Tim O'Reilly sat down with O'Reilly News to talk about the anniversary. He also reflected on how open source has changed in that period, whether Web 2.0 (a term he helped coin) has met his expectations, and how the nature of technical book publishing has changed.
Larry Wall at OSCON: Open Source as a Parenting Experience
Larry Wall, father of perl, likens the history of perl to raising a child. In this live interview at OSCON 2008, Larry talks about perl's rebellious teen years, the role of the benevolent dictator, and dual licensing as a quantum physics phenomenon.
Anthony Baxter at OSCON: Google Apps Engine and You
Anthony Baxter, one of the lead engineers working on Google's new App Engine, spent some time at O'Reilly's source convention, OSCON, talking about the features that App Engine can offer to developers. James Turner interviews Baxter for O'Reilly News at OSCON in Portland.
Vector Linux SOHO 5.9 Deluxe -- Not Just For The Office
You get all the reliability and stability of Slackware, better performance than vanilla Slack (at least on my hardware) and the features and most of the conveniences users of distributions touted as user friendly have come to expect.
Pia Waugh, President of Software Freedom International sat down at O'Reilly's open source convention, OSCON, to talk about some of her interests. These include how women are entering the computer field worldwide and her work getting laptops into the hands of children across Australia and the Pacific islands.
Jim Zemlin at OSCON: The Mysterious Work of the Linux Foundation
Jim Zemlin, the executive director of the Linux Foundation, talked with O'Reilly News at OSCON, the O'Reilly open source convention. He demystifies the role that the Linux Foundation plays in helping to promote Linux use, provide legal defense, and broker cooperative work between Linux related projects.
Tuesday's OSCON Event Schedule
OSCON is happening right now at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon, bringing together thousands of experts, visionaries, and hackers in the trenches to explore all that open source has to offer. Today's afternoon sessions include: ...and more! For more information about OSCON and to view the complete event schedule visit our OSCON 2008 site.
What to See at OSCON 2008
OSCON 2008 -- O'Reilly's annual open source conference -- is going on now. O'Reilly News interviews Allison Randal, co-chair of OSCON, for a quick survey of what's new and interesting in the world of open source. Here's what to see and do and what to watch for in the world of free software for the next year.
The base64 module contains functions for translating binary data into a subset of ASCII suitable for transmission using plaintext protocols.Module: base64Purpose: Encode binary data into ASCII characters.Python Version: 1.4 and laterDescription:The base64, base32, and base16 encodings convert 8 bit bytes...
Terry Childs: San Francisco's Imprisoned FiberWAN Administrator
Is Terry Childs a Maniacal Hacker-Terrorist or a Capable and Dedicated System Administrator. While the mainstream media paints a colorful picture of villain and vice, Paul Venezia of infoworld uncovers a different story. What if this is just the case of job termination gone wrong.
Data messaging formats represent the life-blood of any distributed application. The ability to pass information back and forth between disparate systems becomes crucial for any organization, but for companies such as Google, the challenge of setting up communications between the thousands of different servers that host the various Google services forced the need for a specialized format that met their needs in particular.<

This is part 3 of a series in which I’m trying to implement a RESTful social bookmarking web service using the XRX (XForms, REST, XQuery) architecture. I’ve covered setting up queries in eXist and using Orbeon to expose those queries with nice URLs in the previous parts. This time I’m going to look at how to handle PUT and POST to make a read/write web service.

Investing and the Social Networking Life Cycle
Social Networks have been around since the inception of bulleting board systems in the mid 1980s, and each one of them seems, for a time at least, to be the radical new paradigm that establishes how people will interact with one another over the web. Certainly, this seems to be the case to those investors (whether individual or corporate) who pay surprisingly stiff premiums in order to be a part of the next big wave, yet in truth social networking sites have a surprisingly consistent "life-cycle" that seems to play out regardless of the "angle" that the sites have.
Why are these people so scared of openness? This may seem a strange and provocative thing to say. Surely ODF is the open technology and OOXML is the proprietary technology? Surely we know this because "ISO" is the organization which is just the puppet of MicroSoft while OASIS is a bastion of community openness!
Simon Delivers, the first online grocery store in Minnesota, is shutting down.
Behind the competing technologies for Internet application development--which impinge directly on the plans of Internet providers and dot-com businesses--lie some basic problems with Internet standards and protocols. Each technical problem is also a metaphor for difficulties in the way people interact, both online and off-line: we don't know how to handle many-to-many connections, we don't know what will happen next in time, and it's hard to split tasks between systems.
Speed, Search Engine & Conversion Rate Secrets
Website Optimization — Is your site easy to find, simple to navigate, and enticing enough to convert prospects into buyers? Website Optimization shows you how. It reveals a comprehensive set of techniques to improve your site's performance by boosting search engine visibility for more traffic, increasing conversion rates to maximize leads and profits, revving up site speed to retain users, and measuring your site's effectiveness (before and after these changes) with best-practice metrics and tools. Learn more.

What people are saying about this book:

"Andy King has drawn attention to the inherent synergy between search engine marketing and web page performance. Andy is a thought leader and genuinely understands the complexity of website optimization. The depth of research and experience in this book is astonishing. This book is a must-have for best practices to optimize your website and maximize profit." — Tenni Theurer, Engineering Manager, Yahoo! Exceptional Performance
Dan Kaminsky: Upgrade Your DNS Now!
DNS is the fundamental human-friendly abstraction of the Internet. It maps names such as oreilly.com to addresses computers can understand. Yet there are flaws in the protocol, which mean that malicious users can redirect your request for oreilly.com for their own nefarious purposes. Security researcher Dan Kaminsky discovered this danger and convinced the major DNS providers to work around the flaw. Here's how you can protect yourself and your information.

Get ready for OSCON 2008!

By O'Reilly Media
July 15, 2008 | Comments: 0
Get ready for OSCON 2008!
This year at OSCON, we're celebrating two anniversaries: 10 years of OSCON and 30 years of O'Reilly. Stop by the O'Reilly booth (#313 in the Expo Hall) to join the festivities -- and take a shot at winning some...
The Emerging Carbon (Computing) Age
In the early 1970s, the integrated circuit came of age, marking the ascention of what could best be described as the silicon era. Silicon, the most common material in the Earth's crust, proved to be remarkably useful for its ability...
Knowing what's on your phone--and on those of your employees
Jonathan Zdziarski, while helping to develop an open toolkit for the iPhone, uncovered a fascinating trove of information that the iPhone offers to anyone who knows how to get at it. He now provides never-before-published guidelines to getting information off of an iPhone and on the computers to which it has synched, in iPhone Forensics, currently offered in RoughCut online format.
The global slowdown is beginning to take its toll on more exposed hardware and consulting companies. On Friday, July 10, Sun began sending out pink slips to more than 1000 employees, primarily in the marketing and sales areas as part...
Social Networking and the Flock of Canadian Loonies
Flock 2.0 (http://www.flock.com) is a comparatively new browser, based upon Mozilla Firefox, that was designed from the ground up as a Social Networking "application". Designed to cover the major domains within that field - blogging, media manipulation, search, syndication and social community interaction - Flock represents a novel approach of using the browser in a dedicated fashion as both the vehicle and the gateway for devotees of social networking services.
The other day a coworker asked about a simple way to format an XML file. Basically, he just wanted to get some nicely indented output to look at. At first he try get things working with Eclipse's XML editor. From...
Neo4J: A Different Database (+ Expect More Bad Java News)
Foocamp attendees, beware, we're covering you from afar. Peter Neubauer twittered about Neo4J this morning and it caught my eye. "Neo is a graph database. It is an embedded, disk-based, fully transactional Java persistence engine that stores data structured in graphs rather than in tables." Is this to be believed? Something interesting happening in Java?
Audio: Rep. Culberson on Twittering, Energy, and Science
In this 24 minute interview, John Culberson backs down from the partisan call to arms he issued this week on Twitter. He discusses transparency and technology in Congress, and the efforts to clarify the rules governing which web sites a member of Congress can participate in. Culberson also talks about wind energy, nuclear energy, oil exploration, doubling the budget for the National Science Foundation, and interesting innovations in Carbon Nanotubes which could dramatically change the way we use and store energy.
Free Pylons Book in Alpha Release
Wow, I just noticed there is an alpha version of the Pylons book out.  I know there are a lot of people using Pylons, see here, here, here.  Finally Reddit, a massive SQLAlchemy+Pylons website, open sourced their code.  Pylons is...
Python Geek Watching:  PyAtl July Meeting Notes
July Atlanta Python Programmer Meeting RecapStarting at 6PM, a bunch of PyAtl  people met at Six Feet Under, and had a lot of fun just being geeks, and doing stuff like measuring the length of our beards.  After dinner we drove over...
O'Reilly published Building Scalable Web Sites, High Performance Web Sites, and now Website Optimization. How similar and different are these three books?

Live Webcast Today at 17:00 GMT

By O'Reilly Media
July 10, 2008 | Comments: 2
Live Webcast Today at 17:00 GMT
Success Factors: What traditional business really needs to know about Web 2.0 — Based on direct experience consulting in the field, and backed by O'Reilly's thought leadership on Web 2.0, this webcast is for the rest of us: executives and professionals working in "traditional" (non-Internet native) business trying to take advantage of new trends. We'll explore the underlying organizing principles and success factors in building and executing a Social Web strategy.

The webcast is live, free, and approximately 45 minutes. Join us Thursday, July 10 at 10am PDT (17:00 GMT).

RailsConf Europe - Final Days to Save!

By O'Reilly Media
July 9, 2008 | Comments: 0
RailsConf Europe - Final Days to Save!
RailsConf Europe 2008, happening 2-4 September 2008 in Berlin, will feature presentations, keynotes, and tutorials by experts from the full spectrum of Rails techniques and practices. Seasoned Rails practitioners and newcomers alike will find a program honed to their particular interests and needs. Register by 15 July and save up to €150!
Let Our Congress Tweet.  Sign the Petition.
Social network is just beginning to affect the way the governed relate to The Government. Let's not close the door on congressional access to tools like Twitter, Qik, and Identi.ca. The Sunlight Foundation urges the Congress to clarify rules and remove restrictions on member web use. If you want congress to let member tweet, sign the petition by tweeting.

Theory In Practice

By O'Reilly Media
July 9, 2008 | Comments: 0
Theory In Practice
Anyone who develops software for a living needs a proven way to produce it better, faster, and cheaper. The Productive Programmer offers critical timesaving and productivity tools that you can adopt right away, no matter what platform you use. Master developer Neal Ford details ten valuable practices that will help you elude common traps, improve your code, and become more valuable to your team. Learn more.
The Software Behind the Mars Phoenix Lander
What kind of software does it take to send a 700+ pound device millions of miles away to land safely on another planet? Peter Gluck is the project software engineer for the Mars Phoenix lander mission. In this interview with O'Reilly News, he describes how rocket scientists write and manage code, and why you're not likely to see NASA's source code any time soon.
For those of you in the United States who care about things like the ability for those in whom you elect to represent you to speak their minds without fear of being censored if their opinions go against those in whom are in "control" of the system, you might find interest in learning just what it is that's being proposed such that these same "rebels" will have no other choice than to say nothing.
The most interesting development within the XML world of late is AtomPub. It abstracts the details (however simple they may be) of REST and provides them in a well specified protocol. Instead of writing home grown RESTfull web services, merely...
The new XSD 1.1 draft has some revisions to the assertions system. The traditional argument against XSD 1.0 was that it had too little bang per buck: 1.1 has more bang, but more buck.
Making Easy Things Easy & Hard Things Possible
Learning Perl, popularly known as "the Llama," is the book most programmers rely on to get started with Perl. The bestselling Perl tutorial since it was first published in 1993, this new fifth edition covers recent changes to the language up to Perl 5.10. Reflecting years of classroom testing and experience, this edition is packed with exercises that let you practice the concepts while you follow the text. Learn more.
I suggest..an ISO standard giving definitions for different kinds of openness. Openness is a motherhood term now, so of course there will be surprises and debate about what kind of motherhood we actually mean. My opinion, for what it is worth, is that RAND-z and RF is necessary but not sufficient for openness, and that governments embarking on an open standard policy need to put in place some patent-limitation plan which would bring existing, market dominating, royalty-bearing standards into the RAND-z fold by, say, 2010. This necessarily will mean that some successful consortia and even some SCs within ISO will have the ground cut out from under them
This is part 2 of a series exploring implementing a RESTful social bookmarking web service using the XRX (XForms, REST, XQuery) architecture. In the last part I looked at how to set up eXist with a bunch of XML and...
As a follow-up to last week's article on SimpleXMLRPCServer, this week covers the client-side library xmlrpclib.
Is the Long Tail Getting the Short End of the Stick?
The idea has gone from statistical curiosity to a deeply entrenched belief - especially in Silicon Valley: We are moving toward an economic state where it no longer becomes necessary to invest just in the top 1% of all ideas, but that instead an investor could create strategies using the web to take advantage of the statistical long tail - small niche markets (perhaps only one consumer deep) that in the aggregate can prove more lucrative than the blockbuster.
Jesse Robbins Quote from New York Times
Jesse Robbins, Chair of the Velocity Conference, was quoted in today's New York Times in an article On the Web, More Outrage Over Outages written by Brad Stone. Here's a quote: Jesse Robbins, a former Amazon executive who was responsible...

Mastering XML Transformations

By O'Reilly Media
July 3, 2008 | Comments: 0
Mastering XML Transformations
XSLT, Second Edition — After months of anticipation and delay, the W3C finally released the XSLT 2.0 standard in January 2007. The updated edition of this book offers practical, real-world examples that demonstrate how you can apply XSLT stylesheets to XML data using either the new specification, or the older XSLT 1.0 standard. Want to find out how the 2.0 specification improves on the old? This book will explain. Learn more.
IT workers are in general perhaps better prepared for the upheavals in that emerging world than most - a world where knowledge, flexibility, indepence of action and thought, and an ability to network will prove to be the most desirable characteristics, but that nimbleness comes at the cost of not tying yourself down to the older society's expectations. Even if the economy does manage to avoid the worst of the doldrums, these are traits to encourage in the days ahead.
I want to explore the XRX (XForms, REST, XQuery) architecture, so I’ve set myself the challenge of implementing a social bookmarking web service modelled on del.icio.us as described in Chapter 7 of Leonard Richardson’s and Sam Ruby’s RESTful Web Services,...
With csound you can make any sound you can think of, and then write your own opcode in c if you think of something they haven't.
Search engine indexers are aware of (X)HTML and know what to look for when indexing those documents, but if the indexers were tuned to look for RDFa and WAI-ARIA Roles, would the semantics of the document be quite so important? If arbitrary XML on the web is ever going to happen then machine-readable annotations will be an important driving factor for content indexing, and the explosion in client-side XSLT that will follow.
Audio: Luiz Barroso on Energy Proportional Computing
Luiz Barroso talks about the concept of Energy Proportional computing and how he thinks DRAM and disk manufacturers could do a better job creating devices consume energy in proportion to the computing to perform. Barroso and Holzle analyzed 5000 servers at Google over six months and found the average CPU utilization was between 15-45% - the region in which a computer operates the least efficiently. At issue is the fact that most manufacturers maximize efficiency to SPECpower which assumes that the computer is running at 100% utilization.

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