Archive for January, 2010

Memory Versus Facts

According to an old in-house version management tool, I started my first JSPWiki instance on a desktop PC at my employers premises in December 2001 or January 2002 (I just found a blog post about that starting point). In my case, the first documented and archived version was based on JSPWiki 1.6.11beta; the configuration file was dated January 29th, 2002. How fast memory fades: a couple of weeks ago I couldn’t recall an exact date, and I told Bruno it was probably somewhere in 2004 that JSPWiki entered my life…

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Not For Me, No

I held back from publishing my thoughts about Apple’s brand-new iPad last night, because I was very disappointed. But thinking it over made no difference, so here’s my official point of view: the iPad is just a blown-up iPhone. It looks great, is probably well constructed, but it’s missing features that I find essential, like a memory card slot, a (fast) USB connector, a Flash player, multi-tasking, and massive amounts of memory. What’s worse, all those missing items are ways of opening up the machine to the rest of the world, which is what I want: I want to choose where I go find movies and books and pictures and applications, and not be dependent on the whims of a single company that controls the hard- and software in my hands. So that means: no iPad for me, no – I’ll wait for the competition to do better (can you say Android?). If you want  more views on the iPad, start with “Insanely great? Ars reacts to the Apple iPad” over at Ars Technica.

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Now here’s an interesting discussion: The Real Reason Outsourcing Continues To Fail. In the words of the author: “it’s arguable that PDI (ie. the Power Distance Index) differential is the one, single, leading cause that relates to how providers and buyers have a hard time seeing eye-to-eye during the outsourcing process“. It is well known that cultural differences are an important risk factor in the outsourcing business (like in many other human ventures, of course). I suppose many “western” companies have had bad experiences with outsourcing in the last two decades – my employer certainly did! I do wonder though: how long will it take for the PDI’s in different parts of the world to approach each other to such a degree that te PDI factor effectively looses its significance? Or will local cultures be strong enough to resist such a nivellation?

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A few days ago, Dave Winer wrote about the future of Radio and Manila, and that story explains a small part what has been going on at Userland. I must admit that I hadn’t thought of going through the discussion forums at the Userland sites to get more info about the situation over there – to be clear: that’s not where I expect to find company news. Anyway, it seems that the connection troubles were (are?) being caused by a virus… not a good sign for a healthy company that tries to make a living of hosting Internet sites. The final result isn’t too comfortable, if you ask me. I’m missing a lot of details, and that means I’m having more than a few unanswered questions:

  • is Userland – the company – still alive?
  • what’s happening with Manila? From Dave’s piece I gather that it will be open-sourced – or is it not?
  • what will be happening to the EditThisPage.com sites? Will they go the way of Radio Userland, or will they stay where they are?

In my view – and please do note that I really appreciated what Userland has done in the past – there are too many unknowns to stay at EditThisPage.com, which is the reason you’re reading this on a WordPress site, of course.

There is good news in this context as well: Dave Winer has picked up his involvement in the development of Frontier, the kernel of tools like Manila, Radio Userland and the OPML Editor. Now if Manila goes the open source way, and if find the time to refresh my Frontier skills… well, at least I would not have to create my own WCMS from scratch ;-)

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Mockingbird | Wireframes on the fly is an online tool for webdesigners, allowing them to mock up the structure and layout of webpages and websites. The way it works reminds me of the beginning days of PageMaker and other DTP tools of the previous century: laying out different types of “containers” on a paper page isn’t that different from webpage layout when you see (do) it on the same screen. Mockingbird handles text, images, forms and even links between pages, allowing you to to click your way through your mock-up as if it were already a site. The tool is currently in beta and free, and you don’t even have to sign up if you’re just trying it out. Remarkedly, Mockingbird isn’t built with Flex or Flash, it’s just Javascript. For a more extensive evaluation, read this recent Sitepoint Design View column on the subject.

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No More Doubts

Today, just like a a few other times during the last weeks, the EditThisPage.com server is “too busy” or “dropping connections”; to put it in human terms: the server (and all the sites hosted on it) are unavailable”. Not that I needed confirmation, but it proves that I have made the right decision to move to another blog hoster, in casu WordPress.com. I am making more frequent backups as well, which is pretty easy in WordPress using the “Export” function. Too bad that this backup does not include the images I have uploaded…

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Here’s a good question: “Why is the news media comfortable with lying about science?“. Let me add my own question: “why would other subjects be treated differently?” As long as “making money” is more important than “bringing news”, there’s little hope for objectivity, thruth, and professional reporting.

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