Saturday, May 31, 2003

Hackers and Painters

An essay by Paul Graham - Hackers and Painters. He says:

What hackers and painters have in common is that they're both makers. Along with composers, architects, and writers, what hackers and painters are trying to do is make good things. They're not doing research per se, though if in the course of trying to make good things they discover some new technique, so much the better.

He also has many more interesting observations.

[via Richard Schwartz]

Rationally Consistent Beliefs

The Philosophers' Magazine presents Battleground God. Can your beliefs about religion make it across our intellectual battleground?

In this activity you'll be asked a series of 17 questions about God and religion. In each case, apart from Question 1, you need to answer True or False. The aim of the activity is not to judge whether these answers are correct or not. Our battleground is that of rational consistency. This means to get across without taking any hits, you'll need to answer in a way which is rationally consistent. What this means is you need to avoid choosing answers which contradict each other. If you answer in a way which is rationally consistent but which has strange or unpalatable implications, you'll be forced to bite a bullet.

My result - Congratulations! You have been awarded the TPM medal of distinction!You suffered zero direct hits and bit 2 bullets.

This compares with the average player of this activity to date who takes 1.37 hits and bites 1.09 bullets. 46.83% of the people who have completed this activity, like you, took very little damage and were awarded the TPM Medal of Distinction.

Friday, May 30, 2003

Print your own Graph Paper

How cool is this - Graph Paper Printer allows you to design and print your own graph paper.

Ned remembers the feeling of how precious graph paper was when he was younger. I remember this feeling too. Somehow it was not like other paper - it was precious and I always felt guilty if I wasted a piece.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

I feel the need to share the books that are currently on the pile next to my reading chair.

Pattern Recognition by William Gibson - short, sharp sentences that seem designed to interrupt the flow. Of reading. You get. Used to it. After a while. Try reading this and Proust at the same time to maximise contrast.

The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius - life was simple in 500AD - God was the source of all perfection and happiness.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley - the definitive dystopia.
Swann's Way by Marcel Proust - swirling sentences that never stop.

The Road to Oxiana by Robert Byron - travel through Persia and Afghanistan in the 1930s - with wit and sarcasm aplenty.

On the Shopping List:

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy - next classic on the must read list.

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson - coming soon.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Time in Domino RSS Feeds

I have just spent some fun time fiddling to get the correct date formats in my new RSS feed.

The initial RSS feed date code in FreeDomblog does not validate, but I found that Johan has some code that works (almost). Here it is:

y:=@Right("00" + @Text(@Year(t)); 4);
m:=@Right("0" + @Text(@Month(t)); 2);
d:=@Right("0" + @Text(@Day(t)); 2);
h:=@Right("0" + @Text(@Hour(t)); 2);
mm:=@Right("0" + @Text(@Minute(t)); 2);
s:=@Right("0" + @Text(@Second(t)); 2);
z:=@If(zone > 0; "+"; zone < 0; "-"; "Z") + @If(zone=0; ""; @Right("0" + @Text(zone); 2) + ":00");

RSSDate := y + s1 + m + s1 + d + "T" + h + s2 + mm + s2 + s + z;

It works OK for Timezones east of GMT (ie europe, asia etc, but not for TZ west). I have a server in TZ -8 and it returns:

This is because in the evaluation of @text(zone) returns "-8" for western zones because zone is a signed integer.

@abs (Absolute Value) will remove the sign from the integer and solve the problem.

If you replace the formula for z with this:

z:=@If(zone > 0; "+"; zone < 0; "-"; "Z") + @If(zone=0; ""; @Right("0" + @Text(@abs(zone)); 2) + ":00");

then all is well.

Monday, May 19, 2003


clevercactus! is another take on the personal datastore, mail manager, RSS reader, Blog poster and handy-dandy place to search for stuff. It is a java app with a real GUI (instead of browser-based access like ZOË). A Beta is currently available for download and evaluation.
On first impression the GUI makes it feel more responsive and allows for easier config and setup of feeds, mail etc. It happily imported all my saved mail (I use Mahogany to create mbox files from Domino via IMAP - so I can take mail home for
It only seems to have full-text searching - none of the clever indexing and association that I like in ZOË (Ed promises me something sometime ...). However, you can create your own hierarchy of topics and feed mail or RSS into these specifically. I'm currently testing both FreedomBlog and DominoBlog versions of this site and clevercactus happily reads both RSS feeds.

[via Erik's Weblog]

Starship Dimensions

Jeff Russell's STARSHIP DIMENSIONS - ever wanted to see a Super Star Destroyer side by side with the Enterprise to get a comparison of scale? Wonder no more.
[via Ned Batchelder]

Creator 5300

The Mac that Lego built - a lovely story from the BBC on what to do with a PowerBook 5300 and a bit of Creator.
We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him Better, Stronger (but alas no) Faster.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Excessive Gullibility

Computer Banishing Ritual - a spell to free oneself from Excessive Computer Enchantment

Many good folk have found themselves ensnared in a growing web of computer generated artifice and glamoury. While computers are sometimes a useful tool, one must take care to have a healthy relationship with them. If you have found that they seem to be draining your time and energy away, or slowly invading your soul, then this spell is for you. If you are seeing pixels, icons, and dialog boxes in your dreams, it may already be too late, but give this spell a try anyway.

I'll leave you to form your own opinion on the above matter. Mine is quite rude.


WinFS is not a File System

This story in The Register indicates that in Longhorn WinFS will sit on top of NTFS and is not a replacement for it.
This is a backdown from the original position that WinFS was the base level of management for the file system and NTFS would be an emulated API for backward compatibility.

Maybe it will be in the version after the next version of Windows. I don't retire until 2028, so I still may see it during my working life......

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Can PowerPoint Deliver Information?

The Cognitive Style of Powerpoint - a new essay by Edward Tufte.

In corporate and government bureaucracies, the standard method for making a presentation is to talk about a list of points organized onto slides projected up on the wall. For many years, overhead projectors lit up transparencies, and slide projectors showed high-resolution 35mm slides. Now "slideware" computer programs for presentations are nearly everywhere. Early in the 21st century, several hundred million copies of Microsoft PowerPoint were turning out trillions of slides each year.
Alas, slideware often reduces the analytical quality of presentations. In particular, the popular PowerPoint templates (ready-made designs) usually weaken verbal and spatial reasoning, and almost always corrupt statistical analysis. What is the problem with PowerPoint? And how can we improve our presentations?

[via Jason Kottke]

Theme Song for Firmware

The Open Firmware Song - another entry in the "way too much time on their hands" category.

Monday, May 12, 2003

LDD Admin Kit

Lotus Developer Domain: Adminkit
The Administrator's Kit provides resources for Lotus system administrators. Resources on this page change regularly, so check back again.

Death to the Extremist

Death To The Extremist is very curious indeed.

A non-Domino post for the benefit of Ed Brill.
Not that this is unusual for me.
I see Notes & Domino all day and sometimes it is better to think about other things.
There are plenty of links here to other non-Domino blogs and resources. Go and look over the fence every now and then to see what others are doing.

[via BoingBoing]

Friday, May 09, 2003

iText PDF Library

iText is a Java library that allows you to generate PDF files on the fly.

The iText classes are very useful for people who need to generate read-only, platform independent documents containing text, lists, tables and images. The library is especially useful in combination with Java(TM) technology-based Servlets: The look and feel of HTML is browser dependent; with iText and PDF you can control exactly how your servlet's output will look. iText requires JDK 1.2. It's available for free under a multiple license: MPL and LGPL.
There is also an online tutorial.

[via The View]

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Cocoa Gestures

Cocoa Gestures adds mouse gestures to any Cocoa program such as Mail, Address Book, iCal, TextEdit, Safari, Chimera, OmniWeb, Path Finder, Stone Design's great suite of applications like Create, and many others.
Gestures allow you to execute functions in a program by clicking a mouse button (optionally with a modifier key pressed) and move the mouse in a certain pattern, for instance down to open a file. The gestures are represented by a combination of up, down, left and right motions.
[via the register]

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Oblique Strategies

This freeware application is a handy little utility meant for creative types. It spits out a random oblique strategy from one of the hundred included in the Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt third edition (the 1979 edition). These little anecdotes are meant to assist you when you're having a tough time with the creative process. The original card set describes them as "Over one hundred worthwhile dilemmas".

More info at oblique strategies
Palm version here

Integrating IBM Lotus Domino with the J2EE Platform

IBM Software Services for Lotus is pleased to announce the availability of Integrating IBM Lotus Domino with the J2EE Platform (ND650). This five-day course combines instructor lecture and demonstration with hands-on exercises and guided practices that teach Domino developers how to add J2EE technologies to an existing Domino application to take advantage of e-commerce functionality. Participants set up their own development environment running the IBM Lotus Domino Server, IBM WebSphere Studio, and the IBM DB2 Universal Database. Within the development environment, participants build a variety of Java programs to extend the messaging and collaboration capabilities of Domino by adding e-commerce solutions managed by the IBM WebSphere Application Server. This course focuses on servlets, JavaBeans, and Enterprise JavaBeans for handling business logic and data access throughout the enterprise. It also introduces Java Server Pages (JSPs) as a mechanism for presenting information to users. For more information, see the Lotus Training and Certification Web site at

[via CLiPpings]

Domino and WebSphere Integration

Patterns: Custom Designs for Domino & WebSphere Integration

In this IBM Redbook we describe the Application Integration patterns, and how, together with one or more of the other Patterns for e-business, they form Custom designs. We first discuss the application integration methods, how IBM Lotus Domino 6 and IBM WebSphere Application Server V5 can be integrated, and then move into Hybrid Runtime patterns, where both Domino and WebSphere Application Server exist. We then expand our discussion of Hybrid Runtime patterns to include Directory integration as well as Collaboration patterns.

This is an excellent introduction to Domino/WebSphere integration.
Do yourself a favour and read at least the first five chapters. What are you waiting for - it's free.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

The Devil's Dictionary - pick a word, any word.

iTunes DRM Summary

iTunes Music Store Digital Rights Summary covers all the basic details of AAC vs MP3 and how the DRM works with iTunes.
Article content is below:

This is a brief summary of Apple's Digital Rights Management System based on available information.

For the purposes of this article:

DRM = Digital Rights Management.
Protected AAC = AAC purchased from Apple's Music Store.

Apple introduced their new iTunes Music Store which features AAC formated files available for download. The new files feature a form of "Digital Rights Management"... aka Copy Protection. First word of Apple's work on this technology with respect to MPEG4 (AAC) was in a article in February of this year. At that time, DRM incorporation into the MPEG4 standard was set to be accomplished by June of this year.

How it Works

Surprisingly few details about the implementation of the AAC DRM have been revealed. The following represents a list of restrictions and capabilities for consumers as gathered at this time:

- Protected AAC files have the extension: .m4p -- ripped AAC files are .m4a

- Unlimited CD Burning of Protected AACs

- Only the iPod and Apple's iTunes, and it seems Quicktime-based apps currently allow playing of these Protected AAC's.

- Up to three computers (at one time) can be authorized to play Puchased AAC's. Deauthorizing your computer and reauthorzing new computers is relatively simple.

- Playlists containing any Protected AAC's can only be burned 10 times. You must change the list manually before you can burn again. [ Tech Note ]

- Burning a Protected AAC to a CD strips all encoding and DRM. That CD can then be used as any CD song is used. The quality of the song on the CD is identical to the AAC version. However, then ripping the song into MP3 or AAC will result in loss of some quality. While ripping a song into any lossy compression format will result in loss of quality -- recompressing these previously compressed songs may exaggerate the quality loss. Your results will vary depending on the exact piece of audio. Anecdotal evidence suggests re-ripping into AAC yields better quality than re-ripping into MP3.

- Transcoding from Protected AAC to MP3/AIFF from iTunes is prohibited by iTunes.

- If you're listening to a shared library or playlist, iTunes skips any purchased music in the list (if the computer is not authorized to play the music). To listen to a purchased song in a shared library or playlist, you need to double-click the song. If your computer is not authorized to play songs purchased by the person who is sharing the song, you'll need to enter that person's Apple Account ID and password to hear the song. [ Tech Note ]

- According to Apple: iTunes will only play AAC files that are created by iTunes or downloaded from the Music Store. "Other AAC files that you find on the Internet or elsewhere will not play in iTunes." However, Anecdotal evidence does not support this. Users have reported being able to play AAC files encoded outside of iTunes. [ Tech Note ]

- AACs you rip from CD yourself (via iTunes) have no restrictions.

- Authorization/Deauthorization appears to be based on a central server model... as Apple claims that "Initializing the drive will not deauthorize the computer. If you will be initializing the drive, deauthorize the computer first, then initialize the drive." [ Tech Note ]

Other Tips

- If your music store download gets interrupted, iTunes should restart when you reconnect. Tech Note
- Easily Adding Art to iTunes: MacOSXHints
- Sharing Music over IP: MacObserver

Office SendTo Fixup

There are two things that you need to do to ensure that the SendTo functions in Office XP work with Notes.

The first is to ensure that "Lotus Notes" is the selected option in IE's Tools/Internet Options/Programs/E-mail section.

The second is the ensure the following entries are in the win.ini of the workstation:

Simple enough when you know how.....

[via Chris Toohey]