Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Amanda Hesser, Mr. Latte, and Me

Amanda Hesser, Mr. Latte, and Me is this morning's epistle from The Morning News.

It includes these lovely quotes:

I did not speak any Italian besides the phrases molto bene and doppio macchiato, which mean respectively I like your dress and I am too weak and small to drink espresso straight, so Graham shooed me outside and ordered for both of us.

...and so becomes loveable (for me, at one point, for refusing to cook from one book because she couldn't stand the typeface) ...

ZOË 0.4.3

ZOË Maintenance Release 0.4.3 available now. Also includes a link to more documentation.

Finding Nemo

Pixar's latest - Finding Nemo is coming in May. More stuff here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

MS Personal Cloud Storage

Kevin sent me this link - How MS will know ALL about you. This is someone's spin on a MS R&D project to retain the information context you constantly move through - as we were discussing last week. I love the bit where the author tells us that to accomplish this you'll need to have a dbms as the OS filesystem. Lucky for us this has been part of the next Windows OS for the last 10 years.


Next time for sure.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

WebSphere Install Tips

Michael Braly finds some wrinkles doing a Websphere Install. You never know when these tips will come in handy.

Is AppleUniversal.com a tipping point

It is interesting to read the back and forth over whether Apple has, or has not, made an offer to purchase Universal and/or BMG from Vivendi.

To me this would be a good strategic move, assuming they can afford it. If you put this together with Sony owning CBS, then Apple's action might just become the tipping point to wrest the balance of control of digital media from the big studio/media companies.

Microsoft might feel obliged to then jump on the bandwagon and also buy a media company. All of a sudden, computer companies are in a very strong position to control the music and video "content" that is becoming an increasingly important reason to own, or even more importantly, upgrade a personal computer.

The delivery plumbing for music or video become a service bundled as part of the OS (iTunes or Media Player), and then the only issue becomes figuring out a payment method. Maybe a dotMac account.........

Update - Cringely thinks the opposite. He thinks Steve Jobs couldn't manage all those temperamental artists, given how temperamental he is. He seems to run PIXAR acceptably.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

imgSeek

A friend (Hi John!) just sent me a link to imgSeek.

imgSeek is a photo collection manager and viewer with content-based search and many other features. The query is expressed either as a rough sketch painted by the user or as another image you supply (or an image in your collection). The searching algorithm makes use of multiresolution wavelet decomposition of the query and database images.

Live LWM Demo

Live Demo of Lotus Workplace Messaging is available now on LDD.

It has a very simple, clean interface and does basic mail and contacts well.

Three

3 Australia is available from today.

Domino 6.5 Beta

Lotus Notes & Domino 6.5 Beta Program is off and running.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Agent Frank

AgentFrank is another approach to the Personal Intelligent Intermediary. Another java-based effort, with lots of links to related topics like semantic web research (including HP, AT&T and IBM).

Agent Frank's ultimate purpose is to accompany an infovore and assist along the way.

REST vs SOAP

We have been having some discussions about how we approach a new application project, and the topic of REST vs SOAP was raised. I'd never heard of REST, but went for a surf and found quite a lot of interesting reading (see links below).

From what I have read, we were/are currently using a REST-style (I like the term RESTful) Architecture without having previously heard the term. The REST argument is that HTTP already has the appropriate methods (GET, POST, DELETE etc) to provide a complete and comprehensive interface for interaction. SOAP is a complex and superfluous addition which only increases verbosity and then requires WSDL to define interfaces for interaction. REST proponents argue that a simpler interface is as powerful, more comprehensible and is already in place. They quote the SQL syntax (SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE) to illustrate a relatively simple model that seems to suffice for data manipulation.

REST is not anti-XML, just anti-SOAP. We use GETs and POSTs to query and then return XML, but it is raw, not wrapped on a SOAP envelope.

As our applications are for internal use only, our approach, which we now recognise and some form of REST, does not need to provide discoverable interfaces. We do use Servlets and Java Agents to provide access via URLs, using GET and POST - these become the APIs. It then becomes relatively simple to recreate the URL on a different platform when the time comes.

Given that our current application server is Domino, we are using a RESTful architecture by default, as SOAP is not available on Domino. Don't tell me about the dodgy LotusScript SOAP client-only code, you can't have credible SOAP support without two-way support implemented in the product, not hand coded/decoded messages as an afterthought. The story here from IBM is well known by now - want the latest - get WebSphere.

Domino is becoming more of a clustered, replicating store to us. HTTP and XML allow is to server non-Notes clients pretty well. We will move on, eventually.

Joel covers the SOAP-boosters arguments well. He says:

Yes, SOAP is more complicated than URIs with XML responses, but only if you are the kind of person who hand codes your web services calls. The point of SOAP is that you use higher level languages to call it and to implement it and then it's easier and better and typesafe and all that good stuff.
We are hand coding our calls at the moment. Can't find the SOAP methods in Designer.

He then goes on to highlight the perennial technology hype rollercoaster that we all loathe and gleefully participate in:

The real problem with SOAP is that it's the poster boy for Web Services, which are just the next step in a long line of technologies that has been way overhyped by bored trade rag editors and conference organizers and web pundits.

Some more opinions:

REST + SOAP by Sam Ruby

REST vs. SOAP at Amazon (Tim O'Reilly)

Joel Spolsky

Mark Pilgrim

The State of WebServices

More, REST, Info.

Even more REST vs SOAP links

Monday, April 14, 2003

Personal Knowledge Management

A bit of recognition - Ed Brill points to the story below. He implies that Lotus are thinking along this path. I would hope so.

I'll be interested to see where they end up on the balance between personal and corporate knowledge. I'm interested in keeping "my" context - and taking my personal part of it away when I leave this contract and move to another job.

And a boost for the ego, first thing on a Monday morning !

Friday, April 11, 2003

ADmitMac

ADmitMac is coming soon. It allows OSX to authenticate to Active Directory and requires no changes to the AD Schema. More details and PDF here.

Personal Discovery

After using ZOË for a few days and reading a number of other people's thoughts, I think there is a growing move towards this class of tools for "elite knowledge workers" or other smart people. I want a personal Discovery Server that understands my mail, follows my browser, reads RSS feeds and lets me manager a personal taxonomy. In this context a weblog turns into a personal notepad for reference and reflection, some of which turns into the "public" weblog, the rest for intenal consumption only.

NetNewsWire is a slightly different approach, but also targeted at "smart people". I like the way you use it to both read feeds and create your own weblog.

If I were Lotus I'd be thinking about how to get there from here. My feeling is that Discovery Server encapsulates the Lotus/IBM approach - knowledge is owned by, and valuable to an organisation. Contrast this with ZOË and NetNewsWire tools which are aimed at a more personal level. The personal is what Apple and the people that develop on OSX seem to care more about.

ZOË - Part 2

ZOË also does a good job as an RSS reader. However at work we are an Active Directory shop and have just installed the evil MS Internet Security and Acceleration Server (we just call it the poxy server). It is configured for "windows" authentication - which won't allow simple username/password authentication. Therefore ZOË and most other tools can't authenticate ...

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

ZOË

ZOË is worth a look. It is an interesting approach to personal mail archiving, indexing and management. You specify multiple mail accounts (POP or IMAP) and multiple RSS feeds to import/monitor and all text gets collected and indexed. It also builds some structures from the data it collects.

It is built with java, so it is nice and portable. I have it running on Win2K at work - pointed to Domino running IMAP and another version at home on OSX. There are however, some additional extras for OSX users (coz we're nice people).

The current version is 0.4.2, so don't expect it to be perfect, but is a very useable now. The interface is very simple (see review below for screenshots), a structure is there, but only becomes apparent when you start searching for stuff. I'd like to be able to tweak the taxonomy, to say this subject belongs with that and goes over there, but that is just my calvinist aesthetic peeking through.

More info here and a John Udell review.
[via Volker Weber]

Interview with the Dolphin

Talking to the Dolphin - a fun way to start the day.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

ParseHTTPArguments

I have been fiddling around with this bit of java to parse input from HTTP GETs and POSTs. The class parses either type of input into the same data structures that can then easily be pulled into documents in a Notes java agent. I am a very rusty coder, it is really a melange of a number of bits of found code glued together with a bit of guesswork.
ParseHTTPArguments.java is the parser class.
AlarmNew.java is a sample agent to give you an example of how the parser is called.

The original code came from one of QuickelSoft's java articles. See the one about CGIArgs - after you register.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

DB2 Backend - not as far away as you think

Yesterday I went to our quarterly Lotus PSP Roundtable Briefing (Hi Anne and Matt) and one of the topics was LEI 6. An interesting new feature is called Virtual documents. These documents reside wholly in an external datastore (such as DB2, SQLServer etc) - but they appear in the database in views and as documents. The end user cannot discern any differences between Virtual and real documents, but turn LEI off and the documents disappear. It also supports Virtual Agents which allow you to run stored procedures in the backend dbms from out in Notes.

It occured to me (and Matt) that it would only be a small step from here to the fabled Domino 7 DB2 backend. You'd just have to smooth over the installation and administration interface, but all the hard stuff seems to be done.

Lotus Workplace Messaging

John Banks-Binici on Lotus WorkPlace Messaging is an interesting read over at LDD.
This initial spin on this product was that it was a scalable messaging server for those who did not need the full Notes (or even iNotes) experience. Browser-based simple mail for a vast multitude who would use it from a kiosk or shared machine - for those who weren't "knowledge workers".

Now it seems that the scope is creeping. LWM 1.0 will now also support POP clients. The 1.1 release provides iCal standards-based calendaring & scheduling along with a preview of IMAP support.

Sounds like a pretty effective mail solution to me.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Zen Error Messages

Julian (who also did his own) tells me they originally came from here. There are many more poems in this story than the mail I received. It also includes the authors names - so go have a look, load the banner ad and help pay for it.


Haiku poetry has strict construction rules : each poem has only 17 syllables; 5 syllables in the first, 7 in the second, 5 in the third. They are used to communicate a timeless message, often achieving a wistful, yearning and powerful insight through extreme brevity.

Here are some reinterpretations of the impersonal and unhelpful Microsoft error messages with Haiku poetry messages.

Your file was so big.
It might be very useful.
But now it is gone.

The Web site you seek
Cannot be located, but
Countless more exist.

The Tao that is seen
Is not the true Tao until
You bring fresh toner.

Stay the patient course.
Of little worth is your ire.
The network is down.

Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order shall return.

A crash reduces
Your expensive computer
To a simple stone.

Program aborting:
Close all that you have worked on.
You ask far too much.

Three things are certain:
Death, taxes and lost data.
Guess which has occurred.

Windows NT crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams.

You step in the stream
But the water has moved on.
This page is not here.

Yesterday it worked.
Today it is not working.
Windows is like that.

Out of memory.
We wish to hold the whole sky,
But we never will.

First snow, then silence.
This thousand-dollar screen dies
So beautifully.

Having been crashed
The document you're seeking
Must now be retyped.

Serious error,
All shortcuts have disappeared.
Screen. Mind. Both are blank.

Isn't that better than "your computer has performed an illegal operation?"

Star Wars Models

Star Wars Origami Models - lots more to choose from at freepapertoys.com

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