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Journal Journal: Nerds hacking NerdTV #42

On bootload: Nerds hacking NerdTV #42

  `... Journal #42, where we stuff NerdTV from
    MPEG-4 downloads onto DVD so we can
    watch it on TV instead of the computer.
    Where writing Code & selling code goes
    in fits and starts. ...`

NerdTV on DVD

  `... The NerdTV mpeg-4 video, mp3, ogg
  vorbis, and aac audio, and text
  transcripts offered on this site are
  licensed under the Creative Commons
  2.5 License and are copyright by NerdTV
  LLC and PBS. ...[0]`

If you haven`t yet seen, hear or read the NerdTV shows then now is as good a time as any to do so. Bobs been making great TV for programmers, hackers and nerds for a long time. What makes it great to watch, is Bob gets the nerd bit. From `Accidental Empires` to `Electric Money`, `The Pulpit` and now NerdTV, Bob informs, interviews and cracks the odd corny joke. Besides anyone who prefaces their contact details with, `Tell Him He's a Dipstick` understands that for all the huff and chest beating about technology, the key is not to take things too seriously.

  `... Its not that I am so smart, but
  that my friends are smart ... [1]`

So back to NerdTV. Personally I usually just read the transcripts first because its more convenient than downloading the mpegs and trying to get it to play. But today at work a Sunday. A cold, raining, summer, Sunday R , decided to see if he could squash the mpeg4 videos onto a DVD so he could watch it on TV. So instead of NerdComputer its really NerdTV.

  `... why I had given R the Sony DVD-RW
  , but I couldn`t think at the time why ... later on this would bite me ...`

So he downloaded the eleven or so shows whacked them onto the network. The question at the time was asked why I had given R the Sony DVD-RW , but I couldn`t think at the time why. later on this would bite me.

Grabbed the commercial dvd burning software we have and proceeded to see how many would fit on the Sony DVD-RW. As it turns out 5 shows would fit. Now remember that each show is a compressed MPEG4 file of about an hour and about 90Mb in size each. So 5x90Mb is approximately 4.5Gb. Well the five could just be squeezed onto the disk.

Once on the disk the software had a DVD authoring tool allowing you to quickly

        * create the title
        * add a background image
        * select an image the chapter title
        * assign chapter label

then burn. The burning machine takes about 5 to 10 minutes to burn a full CD so we figured it may take a while to burn the DVD. Well two hours and twenty minutes later the DVD was burnt. And presto when we put the sucker into the Sony DVD player it worked. Like a charm. It was a great end to a rather slow day. We did get a fair bit of work done. It just didn`t feel like at the time.

As soon as I got home I wacked the DVD into my Sony machine and .... doh! ...will not play DVD-RW. So I had to watch on the computer, sort of defeating the original purpose.

Cooking up a DVD

So you have some friends over and you have nothing to watch? How about a DVD? What about some NerdTV? Soon your friends will marvel at the programming wizardry of Andy Hertzfeld [1] and the technical know-how of Anina [2].

If you want to cook your own NerdTV DVD make sure you have the necessary media to match your hardware. Ability to read the DVD on commercial players is still hit and miss for us so if you find a media that works, stick with it. Check your ingredients and read the recipe. And don`t forget to have fun.


Carefully locate the following ingredients. Make sure you have the correct licensed software. Also make sure the DVD media will play on your particular DVD player.

        * five parts NerdTV
        * one part Media, TDK Single sided 4.5Gb, DVD-RW 47AC
        * one Sony DVD/CD Burner.
        * one part Sony DVD player, DVP NC625
        * one MS Windows 2000 operating system.
        * one copy of Nerosoft DVD copying software
        * one part Creative Commons license details
        * one burn PC, in this case an old P6 166 with 1Gb RAM


If you your NerdTV DVD to work your going to need to experiment with your hardware and software.

        * Download the NerdTV files. They are around 90Mb each.
        * Add the DVD media to the DVD burner.
        * Start the burning software.
        * Select the number of NerdTV stories you want to burn. Between 5 and 6 should fit on a 4.5Gb single sided DVD
        * Create the necessary DVD menu using the DVD authoring software.
        * Make sure you comply with Bobs CC license
        * Burn
        * Wait for approximately two and a half hours until well done.
        * Place in your DVD player and see if it works
        * Admire your handywork & share with friends.

So there you have it NerdTV on your TV. [3]


[0] NerdTV license, `Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial ShareAlike 2.5 license`:
[Accessed Sunday, 18 December 2005]

[1] Andy Hertzfeld, `Transcript of NerdTV #1`:
[Accessed Sunday, 18 December 2005]

[2] Anina, `Transcript of NerdTV #9`:
[Accessed Sunday, 18 December 2005]

[3] NerdTV on flickr, `2005DEC190856`:
[Accessed Monday, 19 December 2005]

It's funny.  Laugh.

Journal Journal: He is not the Messiah #39 7

Journal #39 where I`m stoned by the angry /. mob for questioning their beliefs. (I was prompted to reply after reading 'Torvalds Says, "Use KDE"'. This is a reprint of my journal article, Not the Messiah #39 with corrections.)

'... Brian: I'm not the Messiah! Will you please listen? I am not the Messiah, do you understand? Honestly!
Woman: Only the true Messiah denies His divinity! ...' [0]

The only statements Linus make that I listen to, or really care about is ones concerning the kernel.[1] Everything else I temper with the knowledge that Linus, like all of us have personal preferences. His prefereces are not mine. So while I might read about them, I certainly don't waste sleep over them.

'... I think it was, "Blessed are the cheesemakers." ...' [1]

But thats not to say we shouldn't question them. The Gnome Vs KDE debate has raged ever since KDE has used Qt. And for good reason. If we frame the debate slightly differently say with respect to freedom. You can see there is always going to be a clash between software having the latest functionality, usability and niceness with restrictions verses the freedom of doing anything you want, without restrictions. Even at the expense of functionality.

'..."He's not the messiah; he's a very naughty boy." ...' [2]

The error of choice, Linus makes (his own to make). Is that he wants the pragmatic solution to a problem. This is his strength in developing the kernel. It is also his weakness. If taken at a personal level there is nothing wrong with it.

'... He has given us... his shoe! ...' [3]

When you get the followers picking up their thongs and shouting in agreement and apeing their leader this a problem.

'... You've got to think for yourself! You are all individuals! ...' [4]

So say after me kiddies, You are all different! Make your own choice when it comes to desktops. Don't listen to Linus, Choose your own. He's not the messiah; he's a very naughty boy.


[0] Wikiquote, `Monty Python Life of Brian quotes:

[Accessed Wednesday, 14 December 2005]

[1] The Linux Kernel Archives, `Kernel HQ the origin of everything wrt the Linux Kernel. Where it is dicussed, disseminated to death. Where Linus really is the the Messiah sometimes & a naughty boy most of the times.`:

[Accessed Wednesday, 14 December 2005]

[2] Wikiquote, Life of Brian, Ibid.
[Accessed Wednesday, 14 December 2005]

[3] Wikiquote, Life of Brian, Ibid.
[Accessed Wednesday, 14 December 2005]

[4] Wikiquote, Life of Brian, Ibid.
[Accessed Wednesday, 14 December 2005]


Journal Journal: /. gone 2 seed #37

slashdot gone to seed #37

  Journal #37
  shown as goonmail@netspac[ ]
  ['e.n' in gap]
  http://goonmail. ... Excellent
  Welcome back goon (2774)
  goon's Latest 24 of 575 Comments [0]

Sig to noise

Since 1996 I`ve been making crappy comments and observations on slashdot. And I must say while I still like to frequently check the stories. I find them less interesting. The comments are less informative. Innovation less than inspiring. Its not just the dilution of smart readers that is a problem.

...with a uids in the 200K region
  Slashdot reminds me when AOL users
  where let out of their sandpits onto
  the Internet. ...

It`s the complete lack of innovation that annoys me. I can`t get an rss feed of my posts meaning I have to view the page to see updated comments or journals. And can all be summed up as a highly skewed sig to noise ratio. Why then do I continue to read the articles? Maybe its to respond the posts like those below.

Short memory

In a slashdot article [1] I corrected an factually incorrect post

Wrong. Dead wrong.

The Senator you are refering to is (ex) Senator Brian Harridine [2]. You can read here an interview on ABC Radio, AM (22 June, 2005) [3] on his Senate retirement. Harridine was a independent hardliner from Tasmania. The Senator you refer to is Richard Alston [4], Liberal Party Hack & now gracing the powers of London as Australia's High Comissioner in the UK.

... Thankfully Alston lost his
  powerseat during following elections ...

No it has to do with fixed terms in the senate. You can read this in reference 1.

... Alston was exposed as the luddite
  nutjob he trully was and the sun once
  again shone. ...

No (unfortunately). He was among other things appointed 'Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Information Technology at Bond University in Queensland'.

Is this a Sponsored article?

On a slashdot story [5] I made a comment [6].

  Even the CEO shared an office at Google
  for several months after he arrived.

`Packem in`, but not too tight. No mention of googles corporate niceness is complete without mentioning [7]. I woudn`t necessarily be so cynical but look at the *cough* authors. Since when do CEO`s pen articles for Magazines? This alone should send out a warning sign to readers of the article.

The `Data drive decisions` line is a crock. No amount of data will allow accurate future decision making and is illustrated clearly by Clayton Christiansen`s talk on ITConversation, Capturing the Upside [8].

One of the things that has always puzzled me is why google has to communicate the `dont be evil line` everytime they get a chance. My interpretation of this is spin. I can imagine Google has to enforce the perception they are not some intelligence gathering tool for the state. [9] The golden rule for PR is repeat a short message, loud and often. So often the perception becomes reality.

Self serving fluff

On the same slashdot story I picked up a few stooges [10], [11]

  This isn't an article on how great
  Google is. This is an article by
  somebody in Google management trying to
  explain how Google handles its
  employees, and why it has been

Full marks for citing the authors but this is not Journalism and should not be paraded as such.

This article is spin. Avoid the hard questions. Tell your story, repeat the lines you want the market to hear. Repeat it often.

The way it works in real journalism is balance. Test the assertions made by Schmidt with critical questions. Get them to answer the hard questions like cookie privacy and copyright. Where is the Journalist asking the hard questions to the CEO & paid consultant?

You wont get this with the self serving fluff you are reading. I would not bat an eyelid if this article was on the google blog page. For it to appear on Newsweek requires a different standard.

geeky way

On a slashdot journal [12] I responded [13]

I know it might *hurt* but try another keyboard till you can find a replacement. If you want to kown the the really geeky way - pull it apart, see if you can fix it yourself, post the requisite googleing.

This is a hunt ...

On a slashdot story [14] I responded [15]

  '... kill, and eat emus during his
  frequent, clandestine trips to
  Australia. ...'

No need. You can get emu in the supermarket along with Kangaroo, Crocs, Buffallo, Camel etc. I'd be a lot more impressed with hunting Taipan, Hoop snakes & Dropbears in season.

[0], `old /. account`:
[Accessed Friday, 9 December 2005]

[1] slashdot, `Australian Senator Wants to Censor the Net: [1] slashdot, `Australian Senator Wants to Censor the Net:
[Accessed Friday, 9 December 2005]

[2] Australian Parliament Hansard, 'Validictory, Senate Hansard, 21 June, 2005':
[Accessed Friday, 9 December 2005]

[3] ABC AM, 'Brian Harradine bids farewell to the Senate':
[Accessed Friday, 9 December 2005]

[4] Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, 'Richard Alston
Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom':
[Accessed Friday, 9 December 2005]

[5], `Googles 10 Golden Rules`:
[Accessed Friday, 9 December 2005]

[6], `Is this a Sponsored article?`:
[Accessed Friday, 9 December 2005]

[7], `Who watches the watchers?`: [7], `Who watches the watchers?`:
[Accessed Friday, 9 December 2005]

[8] delicious, `Clayton Christainsen, Capturing the Upside talk on ITConversations, 2004MAR17, Runtime: 1Hr 48m, 37.3Mb`: [8] delicious, `Clayton Christainsen, Capturing the Upside talk on ITConversations, 2004MAR17, Runtime: 1Hr 48m, 37.3Mb`:
[Accessed Friday, 9 December 2005]

[9], `Spooks on board, article about Google hiring exNSA staff.`: [9], `Spooks on board, article about Google hiring exNSA staff.`:
[Accessed Friday, 9 December 2005]

[10], ` self-updating, market-cap watcher`: [10], ` self-updating, market-cap watcher`:
[Accessed Friday, 9 December 2005]

[11], `Self serving fluff`:
[Accessed Friday, 9 December 2005]

[12], `orthogonal, slashdot fans! Help me`:
[Accessed Friday, 9 December 2005]

[13], `try another keyboard`:
[Accessed Friday, 9 December 2005]

[14], `Pale Vegetarians?`:
[Accessed Friday, 9 December 2005]

[15], `If you think thats a hunt. This is a hunt ...`:
[Accessed Friday, 9 December 2005]


Journal Journal: Sophism,valid critics & hype Pt. 2 #34

Sophism,valid critics & hype Pt. 2 #34

  `... Because of the clout of your cash,
  you could get a company like Star Bucks
  to partner in an enterprise whereby
  visitors to Star Bucks could print off
  their own personal newspaper,
  customized so that stories, columns,
  comics and even ads are relevant to
  their particular interests and
  needs.... [0]`
This would be a great example if it had not already been tried and failed. Remember [1], Joseph Park and Yong Kang? Kozmo had a deal with StarBucks. You can see what happened in e-dreams [2] a film by Wonsuk Chin. Needless to say this approach didn't stop Kozmo biting the dust - though to be fair Kozmo`s business idea was pretty lame.

New blood
For all the smarts in the room I cant really get the gist of what went on. I can see the photos, tick, read the transcript, cross, but where is the audio or AV link? Also looking at the photos all I see is grey hairs [3]. Wheres the young upstarts? The new generation ready to kill and eat the Microsofts, Amazons and eBays?

Compare this to yCombinators yak feast where instead of Architecture Astronauts spouting about the potential of ideas you have practical examples and advise on how to achieve them [4]. Then you see the results a swag of startups funded to the tune of USD$6000 each by Paul Graham and yCombinator [5]. Less talk more practical advise and guidence and a small injection of funds. Not all will make it, but for 6K you can fund lots of small Coelophysis [6] type companies will start to take on the current Postosuchus [7] companies and eat their bones.

Pure vs Applied
But all is not lost. I view this talk as an example of pure ideas. Much like the difference between pure and applied maths. The concept (Web 2.0) is explore, understood and defined. You need to understand your market to build it.

But while O`Reilly can get away with ideas, words and ultimately nuture and shape the tech future, VS`s are rooted in the practical generation of money. Here`s where I don`t get it. Who was the talk for? Early funding for startups? If this is the case forget it. yCombinator has an approach is much more suitable for startups, more understandable and according to Joel more likely to attract and harness the tech-talent. [8]

BS detection
I followed this link from JOS (Joel On Software) article. Joels a sort of BS detector of fluffy ideas (eBay and Skype, Something Rotten in AdSense [9], etc). And I can understand the viewpoint of Joel, because in the end there are 2 types of ideas for practical people. Ideas that can be built into something and ideas that cannot. Reading the transcript, it is difficult to decipher the pure ideas and I dont see any applied ideas.

No wonder Joel is bamboozled.

[0] Brad Burnham, `We don't get it`, [Accessed Wednesday, 26 October 2005]:

[1] Google search, `What happened to`, [Accessed Wednesday, 26 October 2005]:

[2] e-dreams , `e-dreams: A Film by Wonsuk Chin`, [Accessed Wednesday, 26 October 2005]:

[3] ceonyc @ Flickr, `Union Square Ventures Sessions 1 - Peer Production`, [Accessed Wednesday, 26 October 2005]:

[4] Kevin Hale, `Kevin Hales Notes Startup School`, [Accessed Monday, 17 October 2005]:

[5] Paul Graham, `What I did last summer`, [Accessed Wednesday, 26 October 2005]:

[6] Coelophysis, Dinosaur from BBC, Living with Dinosaurs. Small vicious cornivore from the late Triassic period. [Accessed Wednesday, 26 October 2005]:

[7] Postosuchus, Ancient reptile from the BBC, Living with Dinosaurs. Large reptile that competed with Coelophysis in the late Triassic period. Ibid.

[8] Joel Spolsky, talking about yCombinator visit. [Accessed Wednesday, 26 October 2005]:

[9] Joel Spolsky, `Something rotten in AdSense`, [Accessed Wednesday, 26 October 2005]:


Journal Journal: Sophism,valid critics & hype #33

Updated: personal journal
Sophism,valid critics & hype #33

Summary Journal #33, reading I came across `... In a provocative essay entitled The Amorality of Web 2.0, Nicholas Carr skewers the idealism of folks like me and Kevin Kelly, both of whom have pointed out the potential of Web 2.0 to harness collective intelligence. Carr makes some good points -- even I am getting worried that the Web 2.0 hype is getting out of control ? [0] ...`

I noted that Joel Spolsky [1] is also making some valid comments on the concept of Web 2.0. I like to think Joel as a sort of `BS meter`, challenging what is clearly wrong or pointing out what should be corrected as in `Something Rotten in AdSense` [2].

But the irony of the Carr article [3] featured in his blog with user feedback, is that it includes both RSS & Atom feeds, Google Ads and a book order page from Amazon. All very Web 2.0. It is clear that Carr has a reason to shoot holes in IT based business models as he makes a living out of it and is the author of `Does IT matter?` [4].

`... it reminds me of the joke, ``how may Harvard MBA`s does it take to sink a company? And how many does it take to clear up the mess?`` ...`

But clearly Carr uses the same technology he is criticising. Its the distinction between pure and applied that clearly eludes Carr. Web 2.0 is an idea that where applied properly to business problems can improve profit.

There is a place for valid criticism and pointing out the emperor is wearing no clothes. But Web 2 is just an idea and I for one would like to invent my future, choose my destiny, `warts & all`. Rather than wait for someone else - readers of the Harvard Business Review, no doubt to invent then impose & charge for a potentially inferior ideal.


[0] Tim O`Reilly, `The Amorality of Web 2.0`, [Accessed 25, October 2005]:

[1] Joel Splolsky, `Something Rotten in AdSense`, [Accessed 25, October 2005:

[3] Nicholas Carr, `The amorality of Web 2.0`,[Accessed 25, October 2005]:

[4] Nicholas Carr, `Does IT Matter? Information Technology and the Corrosion of Competitive Advantage`, [Accessed 25, October 2005]:


Journal Journal: Quick note on RSS #30

  Journal #30, Mucking around with RSS &
  Perl this week. Fine tuning regular
  expressions. Listening to Dave Winer on
  ITConversations about RSS. Reading
  about RSS on JOS. RSS stands for
  `Really Simple Syndication` and
  simplicity is its focus.[0]

Really Simple Syndication
In a Joel on Software forum, I answered a query by Rudolf F. Vanek on RSS Feed creation. [1]

  `... What SW do you guys use to publish
  RSS Feeds? ...`

More questions need answering? For instance
        * Do you want the feed generated by your code or third party app, thus saving time & money?
        * What language are you using, planning to use?
        * What version of RSS are you planning to use?

By application
If you are looking for a product and not interested in coding a solution to generate RSS , then try some third party service like the poster above suggested. [2] There are limitations (update times, RSS version choice, length of items in file etc) but no coding requirements.

By code
If you are a developer, what language are you familiar with? Perl, Python, PHP, c# or lisp? Most langauges have libraries to help developers build valid RSS files without having to hand code to the specification. Of course you can do this if you like. But after the first couple of posts doing this will be akin to doing your morning yoga asana, `Surya-namaska`[3], over and over again. It may be good for you but, but not something you want to do all the time.

For me I use Perl (you can substitute you favourite/current langauge) and the CPAN module XML::RSS .[4] There are plenty of example bits of code and the module supports 0.9, 0.91, 1.0, 2.0 Rss formats.

`What is the difference between the formats`, you ask? If your not sure of the merits of each, then pop over to this RSS tutorial [5]. I chose to support version 2.0, the same as Dave Winer of, the creator of the RSS format.

[0] `Mark Nottingham`, RSS Tutorial for Content Publishers and Webmasters:
[Accessed Tuesday 13, September 2005]

[1] `Rudolf F. Vanek`, RSS Feeds Creation, What SW do you guys use to publish RSS Feeds?:
[Accessed Tuesday, 13 September 2005]

[2] `Quinton Mawhinney`, Theres other alternatives available from third party companies if you dont have anything to make feeds with, like feedforall and free sites like,, etc:
[Accessed Tuesday, 13 September 2005]

[3] `Surya-namaska`, A sana or exercise called the Sun Salutation pose:
[Accessed Tuesday, 13 September 2005]

[4] `XML RSS`, creates and updates RSS files in various different formats, 0.9, 0.91, 1.0, 2,0:
[Accessed: Tuesday, 13 September 2005]

[5] `Mark Nottingham`, Ibid.

Mirror of bootload: groking software, bit by bit into plain english

User Journal

Journal Journal: More things todo #20

  Things todo list, pod2blog & other
  stuff. List things completed. Some
  reading. Spammed by phone.

Things to do

Outstanding things in todo list. The move to using OpenOffice (writer) as a frontend is working well. Using POD as an inbetween format is even better. Been thinking about adding the pod files into a DB to perform as a cache and reduce processing delays. Also look into parsing OpenOffice Calc. I use calc for time recording and planning schedules.

  Add more as you think of them

  • Revisit, Pod2blog things todo #11.
  • Automate to parse dirs instead of single files.
  • Add sxw meta data such as word, character count.
  • Add sxw link information and process inline.
  • Think about adding grading as in Information Quality.
  • Finish semi completed articles.
  • Update About.
  • Thinking about adding delicious, backpack links.
  • Parsing *.scx files
  • Changes made to documents.
  • Subversion remote access.

Things completed

  Add more as you think of them

  • Sorted articles from journal posts.
  • Sorted completed from semi complete articles.
  • Added reliable bolding, italics, headings, preformatted text.
  • Added code, docs etc to subversion.
  • Write-up on pod2blog cache design.
  • Recompiled & installed Dot, Visigraph.
  • Played with technorati, delicious, backpack.
  • Reduced blog RH column to reduce clutter.
  • Removed inline style sheets.


Read a couple of good articles that explain social bookmarking tools.

  • Social Bookmarking Tools (I) [0]
  • Social Bookmarking Tools (II) [1]

A discussion of the article can be found at, Social Bookmarking Services Revisited. [2]


[0] Tony Hammond, Timo Hannay, Ben Lund, and Joanna Scott, Social Bookmarking Tools (I):

[1] Tony Hammond, Timo Hannay, Ben Lund, and Joanna Scott, Social Bookmarking Tools (II):

[2], Social Bookmarking Services Revisited:

Mirror of bootload: groking software, bit by bit into plain english


Journal Journal: ssc (linux journal) dirty tricks campaign pt2

fight for open source resources

I made a post a couple of days ago bemoaning the fact that commercial interests are always on the lookout for an easy feed. In this case it was about google getting into bed with wikipedia .

A couple of posters responded pointing out how even if google somehow subverted wikipedia the gpl code, data and more importantly the community would simply rally and route around any such attempts. They pretty much convinced me - along with the fact that an organisation had been organised to guide wikipedia. This is an important point that had alluded me.

Back in 2003 I noted in 'LinuxGazette' + (lawsuit ? '.net' : '.com') that SSC the parent publisher of Linux Magazine trying to assimilate the linuxgazette - even though it was non-commercial and they have no ownership. Their interest is understandable. The brand and 100 or so past articles give SSC free credability to the detriment of the user community. Sure they hosted the site... paid the server costs. Now they want their pound of meat - the brand, articles to enhance their own brand. Its all about control over someone elses hard work - but is it going to be a taking of the commons?. I alluded to this exact point in the slashdot post wrt google and wikipedia. The lesson I learnt is not where there is strong leadership.

hands off

Reading the latest issue on the back page of issue 111, Ben Okopnik neatly sums up how to deal with the SCC dirty tricks campaign ...

  • '... Never let a bully's intimidation attempt pass unchallenged ...'

Well put Ben. Keep up the struggle - the rest of us need open resources like linuxgazette - free from commercial interest just as much as software.


Journal Journal: MelbourneIT Lapse ... one of many

Slashdot story on MelbourneIT Lapse needs a repsonse.
  • '... With universities forced increasingly to find creative new ways of fundraising, Melbourne Uni took an unprecedented step. It set up a new company, Melbourne IT, to run the names operation and, in December 1999, floated the body on the stock market. The stock rocketed far above the listing price. ... [ABC 4 Corners, Domain Games, 05/06/2000, Stephen McDonell]

So when you say ....

  • ... Melbourne IT are very much a corporate entity now. They have share holders, and have a large emphasis internally on sales (much to the dismay of the employee I know). This so called "weekend rule" could be applied to many many other corporates as well .... The notion that this situation was bred from some type of government "weekend rule" is ridiculous.

I have a bit of a hard time thinking the core of the organisation retains its *sheltered* workshop origins. Of course MelboureIt is not exactly a *squeaky clean organisation* as they make out to be. Those with long enough memories remember the share allocation irregularities that resulted in the Domain Games story by ABC 4 Corners investigation.

  • ... Four Corners explores the Melbourne IT float and asks whether the university may have undersold its domain names monopoly, which had been essentially a public asset. Is it better that such an asset is in public or private hands? ... [ABC 4 Corners, Domain Games, 05/06/2000, Stephen McDonell]

Those interested can read from the ABC 4 Corners investigation and some other snippits from the Auditors General report.

  • ... The report also examines whether "hot floats" like Melbourne IT are executed to the benefit of a well-heeled and well-connected clique, with the "mums and dads" left out of the picture, or whether the Government's vision of a shareholders' democracy holds true. .." [ABC 4 Corners, Domain Games, 05/06/2000, Stephen McDonell]

For the non-Australians, a investigative story by 4 Corners is equivalent to say UK BBC, Horizon or US PBS or CBS 60 Minutes expose. As a *public listed company* it is not something you look forward to. I may be wrong, maybe it is just plain incompetence.


Journal Journal: chandler: Is it dead in the water?

The promise
I remember when Chandler was first mooted. Finally an open souce project that has a vision of how to store and communicate small bits of information. Traditionally these types of applications have been lumped together with *ugly* (but accurate) acronymn, PIM.

Free the data
This is an important step in applications. Historically data is trapped or obfusticated into applications. Once you enter the data in it you can only get at it by jumping through the fire breathing coding hoops. Ocassionally its open souce (mozilla mork) but commercial applications take this to a new level - (think MS Outlook Express).

Updated Agenda?
For the younger /.'s this is not the first crack Mitch has had at this market. In '88 Mitch Kapor (father of Lotus 123, Notes) Agenda was released into the PIM market to some success. The runs are on the board. Could Chandler be the answer?

  • ... A major lesson learnt from the last two years, is that we took on too much, and had too high an ambition level for the near-term. This "great leap forward" strategy didn't pan out. Instead, we have primarily switched to a "dog food" strategy to quickly develop a first release that is minimally usable, on a day-to-day basis, for us within OSAF and for our info-intensive, techno-savvy early adopters. ...

Release early and often
Well after 0.4 release I dont see anything compelling. It has trouble working on Windows, it's monolithic and appears to be *weighed* down in specifications of how to do things rather than results. Chandler looks good on paper but in clumping email, calandering, PIM and other messaging it has lost for me its original appeal. I want it usable now. Even if it is a little bit at a time. For me like its name sake (Raymond) I'm still searching for a usable application.

So there you have it I've trashed a computer industry veteran who has runs on the board but has failed to deliver. Whats an alternative. Well one example is a Gnome app called Tomboy. Its a simple mono, GTK based note taking applet that is searchable. It allows you to click on links according to mime types and load an application. It has spell checking (along with references to various IBM patents). But the single kicker that has moved Tomboy into my sights is the integration of Tomboy with Evolution (unix version that mirrors crappy Outlook in too may ways) and Beagle The Gnome desktop is now using Tomboy as the *PIM* input and building a plugin to Evolution (email, calander), Beagle (searching). So bit by bit it's making Chandler less attractive to me.

It helps to have access to an open souce platform. Release often and early. Build an application (especially a first version) to do one thing and do it well. Get a result. Dont bloat a product with features if it is not vital and work out how can you work with other applications. Tomboy may only have a short shelf life or morph into something else in as it develops but it works right now and does the job.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Blog this week: slashdot, joelonsoftware, perlmonks
'not impressed' [1]: acvh [2] - '... The games available at release and soon
  after do not look very interesting ...'

yes the Japanese games are different but there is a good reason. Firstly
the system is not capable of running a full blown title as per PS2.
So the designers are really forced to rethink their game style (and do
they think) to fit the limitations of the hardware format. Take for
instance konami with MG. They release MG but not *solid*, but Acid [3].
Same franchise, different game style (with a card twist) [4].

Konami already make a slew of GBA games [5] so they pretty well undersand
their market. Its a different market to PS/XB.

Remember Digimon [6], small animals, monsters fighting, computers and
CARDS ... it's a bit like a digital D&D for those old enough /young
enough to remember. All appeal to a very specific market.

After attending a ACMI game time symposium [1] in Melbourne this year
I had the chance to hear/see *Tetsuya Mizuguchi* [7], Gamespot
interview [8]. He talked for about an hour about game design and a
bit about some upcoming titles for PSP [9], [10]. I now understand a
bit more about *Japanese* game style and take my hat off to true innovators.
No cheesy ports of your [insert your top 10 title here] PS2, PC games here.
All *new* original ideas.

Joel on Software forum:

        Christopher Baus / Microsoft in Trouble: [12], [13]

        Overall not a bad article. I wish it was a bit longer and expaned on
themes of *growth*. (IBM still grows but why cant MS?). Maybe thats
the idea behind the book - highlight short essays and see if there is
a market to expand?

But 2 things to me dont ring true to me after reading the article:

'... Consumers want their data to be securely managed, and they want
it everywhere, all the time. They don't want it locked up on their PCs. ...'

Access not distribution: I don't hear the outcry for data everywhere,
just access to data fullstop. Applications everywhere lock up your
data into boxes. You have to work hard to get at it. Getting access
to your data on your PC. Then selective data access to the Web. MS
works hard to lock your data up (Outlook Express for example). But
Linux, Mac they are all as guilty.

'... Microsoft can't force relevance into the desktop. This is also
why WinFS on the desktop is a waste of time. Consumers don't want to
manage their contact database schemas on the desktop. They want google
to do it for them. ...'

Ability to search: This statement ('WinFS on the desktop is a waste of
time') is pure bollocks. Walk into any office and you will see the
nightmare of data management. "Where is it" is the catchcry. Imagine
the revolution of a search engine on the desktop integrated into
applications but not via a network connection. It is no *silver bullet*
but can you remember the Internet before Yahoo, Alta-Vista and Google?

I often think MS missed entirely the archive and retreival (only just
getting into search) of data paradigm just like they missed networking.

        Out of Sight, Out of a Job, [14]

        Not a bad article for mainstream. But does it perpetuate the myth of
the atypical programmer cliche` of *pizza eating, softdrink guzzling
male youth - a prime candidate for the *business machine* to exploit ...
oh I mean facilitate? (read the Sean Carroll's and Napters of the world)?

Also I'd challenge the view that:
'... other type of programmer that is doomed is the developer with poor
social skills ... traditionally been a haven for the eccentric and socially
awkward. ...'

    Social skills? What about online social skills. Many a software developer
may be articulate in the written word, yet shun face time? When it boils
down to it, 'talk is cheap'. Developers who are skilled in some *desirable*
area who demonstrate 'operacy', even in the face of competition is going to
have an opportunity to work. I see a lot of people with *soft* skills who
now boast of their *non-technical* expertise (accountants, PM's, MBA's).
But if you cant do it in code, all the talking and com skills wont help you
(though it may help you organise a team to do it). Maybe the reason for
the shift is something other than just *traditional* com skills?

'... The great advantage that local resources have over distant ones is
presence: Face-to-face meetings and talks remain vastly more productive
than phone calls, and phone calls are vastly more productive than instant
messages, or, worst-of-all, e-mail ...'

        Face time to who? Other developers, internal company, clients? In fact
the Internet and POTS (plain old telephone system) which predates the
Internet actaully extend presence. Is it 100% critical for *face time* for
all occasions? No. Face time can be optomised to where its required most.
Negotiating deals with clients, external meets with other technologists

What I would have liked to have read more about is the *business acumen* of
developers and the relationship between ability to build, assemble, then
*SELL* software (and make money).

I don't believe that the *socially challenged* developer is doomed but
the *entrepreneur* challenged one is. For example India is taking away
jobs from US companies (or US companies are feeding them) because of the
(necessary) entrepreneur skills that India builds though intense competition.
They simply have exploiting cost, law of diminishing firms, lowering
transaction costs.

Free software and news groups also pose a challenge. In the face of free
and open code how do the successful rise to the challenge? Through
communication skills, entrepreneurship?

        Why Is Usability So Hard [15]
        this is a great article and certainly one I would like included.
what separates this one from others:

        *describes real problem (usability) - real and not going away
        *article is generic - will be useful in 1 month as it will be in
          5 years
        *easy to read - (practiced what is preached and data is chunked)
        *good ideas - presented ooze *thought* behind them
        *framework -outlines steps to good design

I dont want to suggest that it needs any real changes but if additions
are made be sure to include:

        *a few 'real world examples' may enforce the points made.
        *change 'websites' to 'internet enabled applications, devices'

Read in conjunction with Paul Grahams (Made in the USA, [16] and Taste [17]) the
flipside of usability they form powerful insights into the contemporary
software malaise.
        The Vim advantage [18]
                gvim, vim cover 4 of the major wants you listed above:

        * syntax
        * resource (only reason emacs sucks)
        * folding
        * X platform features

        the kicker I've usually found is when you are working on a
        machine w/o enough resources [19] for emacs OR some foreign machine
        that only has vi (elvis). Then most of the editing attributes
        you found in vim, gvim are still there .. just degraded.

        Plus vim has reference book [19] and other docs [20] for those who want to
        get it and an active developer [21] community (scripts [22] etc).

        All hail *Bram Moolenaar*
        Apollo 12 at 35, [24]
        read and drool: AGC, DSKY and more (Score:5, Informative) [25]
        by goon (2774) on 11-18-04 23:15 (#10861798)
        ( | Last Journal: 09-24-04 9:26 )

        for those who where not around here's some links to the AGC, DSKY and more:
        *Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) [26]
        *slash article with source code listing [27]
        *Simulation of Apollo Guidance Computer [28]
        *DSKY [29]

        [1] not impressed, acvh
        [3] Solid Gear Acid,
        [4] TGS 2004: Metal Gear Acid Hands-On: Turn based Metal Gear turns out to be quite a blas
        [6] Digimon World 2, Walkthrough/FAQ

        [7] ACMI game time symposium, Melbourne, Oct 2004,
        [8] Testsuya Mizuguchi, software developer Sega Rally (Sega) 1994, Rez (PS2)

        [9] Q&A: Tetsuya Mizuguchi, Rez creator tells what's holding the Japanese
                game industry back.
        [10] PSP, Playstation Personal,
        [11] PSP Site Launches, Launch Titles Confirmed,
        [12] Best Software Essays, 2004,
        [13] Christopher Baus / Microsoft in Trouble,
        [14] Out of Sight, Out of a Job, Larry O'Brien,
        [15] Why Is Usability So Hard,
        [16] Made in USA [16], Paul Graham,
        [17] Taste for Makers, Paul Graham,
        [18] the vim advantage,
        [19] Vi IMproved - Vim, by Steve Oualline, English,
        [20] Vim Documentation,
        [21] Vim News,
        [22] Vim scripts,
        [23] Bram Moolenar,
        [24] Apollo 12 at 35,
        [25] read and drool: AGC, DSKY and more,
        [26] Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC)
        [27] slash article with source code listing
        [28] Simulation of Apollo Guidance Computer
        [29] DSKY,


Journal Journal: good guys, bad guys. dvd rce. gnome saves the day

good guys
for the year and a bit I've been able to regularly catch up with an old show that I hadn't watched for some 20yrs. every friday afternoon, 1400 I could watch, pretty much add free on Channel 31 (which transmits from deep within the bowels of story hall). At the time it was last on tv I was at uni where I remember the 'absolutely positivly' t-shirts for sale in the story hall lobby.

bad guys
That was until the ABA decided to stop commercial transmissions. Well this was pretty much the end of friday afternoon episodes. Well so I thought.

  • ... all this mucking around is because of rce ...

dvd & rce
I noticed my favourite haunt, minatour, you can get the box set for $450AUD which is a bit steep. Oh well. That's until amazon uk discounted it for £45 delivered. Hmm looking better. But then what do I play it on. Could try it on my ps2 scee3000 but hacks only apply to 1000 early models. (remember that ps2 are regionalised much like dvd players). That leaves either trying to see if DVD region X works. I could try to mod the machine but purchasing such chips is illegal in AUS. Didn't feel like laying out another 14 pounds so back to the drawing board.

I got the ps2 back in 2000 with the intention of using it for games, CD's and DVD's. But rce means I can't play anything but region 4. What happens if I want to get a region 2 dvd not released in aus?

This is where gnome, linux, some fancy hardware come to the rescue

gnome and xine: the good guys win
so what's left? Gnome. I recently had a hardware and software upgrade on the linux desktop machine. It has a dvd player. Why didn't I think of it before. Whacked in the disc. Loaded up xine, played around with the vision controls and whammo, no more rce.

The board has a late model NVidia graphics card so I'm now looking out for a suitable cable to run the signal to the tv. But cripes now I can do some coding while I watch my weekly episode. This week, 'Old Dog with New Tricks'. Only 2700min left to go.

This is why I like linux :)

User Journal

Journal Journal: Pub interaction model

goon discussed at joel on software ~ social interface design forum

        Pub interaction model

        The Pub interaction model aids scanning of topic information. Is it good
        enough to copy existing models?

        In my many travels into SIC (Social interactive community) sites that I
        have noticed a re-occuring interaction model that takes advantage of
        everyday interaction models most would be familiar with. I call it the
        'Pub interaction model'. It probably has some fancy technical name [0].
        But for the sake of argument, Pub [1] will do.

        What was the last time you went to a Pub (party, class or lunchroom are
        equally good alternatives)? Imagine walking into the Pub for the first
        time. Think of the questions you ask yourself as you enter the room?

                *How do you choose which group you want to join?
                *How do you strike up a conversation with complete newcomers?
                *How do you splice a question into the discussion?

        The list goes on. Can you see the similiarity between entering a Pub,
        finding a suitable group, topic and engauging in conversation AND
        choosing what group, topic to reply in a JOSSID forum? [2]

        But how does this relate to software design and SID? [3] Well I actively
        look for 'Pub' like interaction models as a way to quickly choose what
        forum I might be able to interact. I can quickly scan the room visually
        (whos in the room, what topic groups are operating) and aurally (whos
        saying what) then dive in.

        In terms of software lets look at some examples.

              Email clients are a common example. In Thunderbird [4] and Outlook
              Express for example you can filter your inboxes (walk into the pub and
              label social groups), then scan the number of topics (listen to the
              conversation) to see number of emails.

              FogBUGZ [5] also uses the Pub model when showing a customer problem.
              Allowing the person(s) responsible to see the whole discussion at a
              glance (though in the past) to resolve a customer support issue.

              Social interaction sites such as Slashdot or Perlmonks the Pub model I
              look for here is the slashdot front page [6] or Perlmonk Monastry gates [7].
              Both mechanisms allow me to see what groups are discusssing what threads
              and allowing me to make decisions.

              Another example where this model is used is blogs (soap box sites).
              The example here is Monologue [8]. I can quickly scan the site with the Pub
              model to see if theres a worthy topic to read. There is no feedback on this
              site (hence the term soap box) but I can see the person talking, scan the
              topics and skip the noise [9].

        But is copying existing models good enough?

                '... a particular state of the neurones in the brain is more likely
        to be followed by another specific state than by a random state ...'

        Edward de Bono argues in his book, 'New thinking for the new millennium' [10],
        that patterns or paths that are built you are less likely to change.


                '... the downside of patterns is that once we have set them up we are
        trapped by them ... we also need the ability to challenge these
        patterns from time to time in order to set up better patterns ...' [11]

        This may be a new field of software development so avoid the trap of
        simply replacing existing social models, roles or modes of interaction.
        While you have the chance, don't be constrained by 'old' patterns or paths
        we observe. Experiment and develop better group interaction models instead.

        While I find the Pub model advantagous to use and software developers
        continue to implement them, are we are missing out on designing better social
        interactions instead of accepting some possibly inferior alternative(s)?


        [0] Aggregator (eg: news aggregator)
        [1] Public house or Pub.
        [2] 'Joel On Software Social Interface Design' forum.
        [3] Social Interface design
        [4] Mozilla Thunderbird email client
        [5] FogBugz
        [6] Slashdot front page
        [7] Current monastic discussions on Perl
        [8] Mono blog is Monologue
        [9] For example, Todd Berman: Responding to a Response
        [10] New Thinking for the New Millennium, Edward de Bono, P14
                  Viking Press, 1999.
        [11] New Thinking for the New Millennium, et.,al. PP14-16.

Linux Business

Journal Journal: tale of 2 technologists

goon in response to #10094868

'... wouldn't you agree Linus got a measly sum compared to Steve Jobs ...'

the salesman
different generation, different locale. Jobs was around at the birth of the PC revolution. He's had plenty of time to create products (hardware + software), make mistakes and sell to a large domestic then international market. I dont think Jobs has ever given away code. Jobs has a knack (and the appropriate reality distortion field ) to foster an ideas environment, root out the better ones (for good or bad: read Insanly Great and think Andy Herzfeldt (And another thing)), take a punt and back the idea to the hilt.

For that Apple, Next, Pixar have delivered big bucks.

the engineer
Compared to Jobs and Apple, Linus and Linux are babies. Linux is a product of it's time. Just like in Victorian England where amateur gentleman had the time (and money) to ponder, think, question and execute their way into the industrial revolution, Linus tucked away in his bedroom with a donated '386 and copy of GCC gave heart and life to the GNU suite of tools in the form of the Linux kernal.

This is one big block in the Information revolution that is now occuring. And while Linus maybe currently *worth less* than Jobs the potential for Linux to generate new wealth is staggering.

In Killer App, Downes and Mui argue that moore + metcalf = law of disruption + coase . Linux and the birth of the Internet has in a way directly influenced this. Anyone who can exploit these effects and sell products stand to make $$$.

Linux is a product. How Linus utilises his time, programming and creating or selling: Its up to him.

'... Beyond that, make $$$ by selling some commercial software that people are not willing to write for their own enjoyment or use. ...'

think diesel not ford
or to put in a different light ... produce software that others have yet to think of or cannot do for themselves. Not everyone want's to sit behind a keyboard and have to understand computers. But to think you can make a living the old way, ignoring mr more and metcalf and hope that distruption and coase go away is shere lunacy.

I like to think of Linux as revolutionary as the Diesel engine (which by the way was not patented and possibly led to the early death of Rudolf Diesel) and Jobs as a Ford like figure. Though the analogy would probably be better with Gates.

To me Linus has unleashed the software equivalent of the Diesel engine. I can leave it to your imagination what legacy Gates and Jobs will leave.

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