Internet Presence :: Words that mean much more then 'web site'. A presence on line is about being found. It's about being noticed, and it is about interactivity with your client.
Adam Gaffin Offers A Few Tips for Christopher Lydon
When I read Christopher Lydon’s description about the “New England Common” discussion he’ll be leading at the upcoming Media Giraffe conference, I was a little confused. He writes:[W]hy don’t we at the core of New England have something like the group blogs we admire — the aggregative web power — at the Huffington Post, say, [...]read more:
I'm installing Windows Vista on my laptop. Wish me luck. I got a free DVD at Gnomedex, so figured why not? Update: Upgrade failed (froze), going to try a clean install.read more:
EMI hit by EU rethink on Sony/BMG merger
Media.guardian.co.uk - Sat Jul 15, 03:33 pm GMTread more:
Fighting for justice in our lifetimes
I took a course on the History of the Civil Rights Movement when I was at the University of Virginia. Taught by Julian Bond, a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the course’s readings alone were enough to make any thoughtful American think long and hard about social justice, as was the opportunity to research local reactions to the movement (see my paper on Virginia’s Massive Resistance movement). One of the thoughts I had at the time was about what I would have done if I were alive in the movement years.
Now, of course, I know: I would have been performing somewhere rather than protesting. Because that’s how the quest for justice played out today: my colleagues and pastors from Old South were at the State House rallying for equal marriage while I was rehearsing the Gurrelieder at Tanglewood.
—Someone with less of an axe to grind than mine, by the way, should look at the signs on both sides of the street from today’s protest and learn what can be learned from them about the protesters. The thing that struck me—and again, I’m biased—is the preponderance of identical “Let the People Vote” signs, professionally made (by VoteOnMarriage.org, who don’t merit a link but who also apparently trucked in cases of water), on the anti-equal-marriage side, and how the few off-message signs that appear on that side of the street are incoherent and threatening, while just about every sign on the pro-equal-marriage side is handmade and many of them are funny or thoughtful. I especially like this rebuttal to the specious “let the people vote” argument.
Fortunately there are others out there who are more proactive than me, including the Tin Man, who has decided to take advantage of his current between-positions status to try to make a new career in gay-rights law.
For more context on the constitutional convention today—and the protesters—check out Bay Windows’ liveblog. To take a look at what the other side is saying, see VoteOnMarriage.org’s “Arguments for Marriage” page, which is a fine collection of strawmen.read more:
Who says college kids are getting dumber?
WSJ: Free, Legal and Ignored. The subhead says it all: Colleges Offer Music Downloads, But Their Students Just Say No; Too Many Strings Attached. The article is about the unsurprising-to-anyone-except-Napster miserable failure of subscription based music services to take hold in universities. Compared to the complicated barrage of restrictions on the music offered by Napster, the students come across as models of common sense:
- While Cornell's online music program, through Napster, gave him and other students free, legal downloads, the email introducing the service explained that students could keep their songs only until they graduated. "After I read that, I decided I didn't want to even try it," says Mr. Petrigh, who will be a senior in the fall...
- Purdue University officials say that lower-than-expected demand among its students stems in part from all the frustrating restrictions that accompany legal downloading. Students at the West Lafayette, Ind., school can play songs free on their laptops but have to pay to burn songs onto CDs or load them onto a digital music device.
- "People still want to have a music collection. Music listeners like owning their music, not renting," says Bill Goodwin, 21, who graduated in May from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. USC decided last year that it was finished with Napster after fewer than 500 students signed up...
There’s also a telling quotation from the director of the Campus Computing Project, who says, “The RIAA’s push to buy into these services strikes me as protection money. Buy in and we’ll protect you from our lawsuits,” which is one of the kinder descriptions of the unfriendliness of the industry that I’ve read lately.
I’m still waiting for someone in the industry to wake up and understand that their path to profitability lies in supporting good music and making their rich back catalogs available, not in fighting the fans of music tooth and nail. Today, three years after the birth of the iTunes Music Store, there are still many albums and tracks that can’t be found anywhere online—some by major artists (just try tracking down any non-album Sting tracks from before the late 90s), some by minor artists on major labels (Annabouboula, anyone?), and some by great cultural figures (I’d gladly pay through the nose for access to e.e. cummings’s Six Nonlectures as digital files, or even on CD). Instead we get American Idol and Rock Star. What, no one ever told these guys that a steady diet of candy can kill you?
BTW, for a good counterexample, check out Verve’s deep catalog—including a bunch of rare Impulse! recordings—though they don’t quite get it right; they support both iTunes and Windows Media, but no DRM-free offerings. But at least they’re opening up their catalog.read more:
230 years young, and still controversial
In the echo of the Supreme Court’s resounding affirmation last week of the rights of individuals to a fair trial, of the limits of the power of the executive, and of a system of checks and balances—in other words, the principles on which our country was founded, ill-defined war or no—this 230th anniversary of the independence of our country seems especially dear. So I like to turn back to the source of much of that dearness, as well as to look around for some other words of inspiration. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in the last letter of his life, ten days before his death:
May it [the Declaration of Independence] be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. That form which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God. These are grounds of hope for others. For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.
The emphasis, of course, is mine.read more:
New Releases for February 15th
Five for February 15th
has already stated, it's tough concentrating on this week's releases when next week looks so massively promising. Here are a few notables though. If none of them catch your eye, check out the Rutles 2 DVD giveaway we just kicked off (for those of you who are reading this via RSS, you're gonna need to open the website in an actual browser - sorry).
- Camper Van Beethoven - Discotheque: Live Chicago I'm not really sure why I chose this disc to link. Most of their stuff is available for download via archive.org.
- Dread Leppelin - Chickens And Ribs I know the joke should be old by now, but it still cracks me up. It features a guest appearance by Billy Zoom.
- Mahi Mahi - Remove Your Body This came out a few weeks ago and I forgot to mention it. I always bitch about the music scene in Providence, but when someone releases an album, I forget to write about it on the site. Sorry about that.
- They Might Be Giants - Here Come The ABCs Speaking of children's music, have you seen the Pancake Mountain site? I've probably already linked it, but the Fiery Furnaces "Mouse House, Moose Hoose" clip is too crazy to not mention several times.
- Wedding Present - Take Fountain I wanted this album to be absolutely amazing, but I'm having trouble getting into it. I'm gonna give it a few more tries - I can sense that there's some great material hidden in there.
New Music in New Places: Visual Music Event Creates Electro Zen Garden
The Electronic Zen Garden is a contemporary music performance combined with a multi-media visual spectacle, all of which is based on the traditional Japanese Zen garden concept. Using interactive software, four performers will project images on a 12-foot-high lumina column while music from sixteen speakers surrounds the audience. Just as in real Zen gardens, audience members will only be able to see parts of the image and hear parts of the soundscape at any one time, giving every individual a unique image and sound experience.read more:
The 5th Annual Independent Music Awards kicks off Canadian Music Week
The spirit and success of independent music is stronger and louder than ever. Hundreds of artists, who don't fit in with the ever-narrowing radio formats, are none-the-less breaking through to a hungry public and winning the support of fans, media and tastemakers across the nation. These artists will be honoured at the Canadian Music Week Festival (CMW) with the public presentation of the 5th Annual Canadian Independent Music Awards show, simply titled "The Indies".Centrediscs' Jasper Wood is nominated for Favourite Classical Artist / Group.read more:
Releases: Quicksilver, Miranda IM, Clickonic, Foobar2000
- Quicksilver 1.0b49 by Blacktree
- Quicksilver is a Mac OS X application that allows you to find what you need quickly and easily, while keeping your hands on the keyboard. For example, if you want to launch an application hidden in the depths of your file system, simply activate Quicksilver with a keystroke, type a few letters of the application's name, then hit Return or Enter to launch it. - posted by sryo
- Miranda IM 0.5 Preview Release 1 by Miranda IM Team
- Miranda IM is a lightweight instant messanger with plugin support for all major IM network, and many more features. - posted by sryo
- Clickonic 1.0.4 by Sergey Gagarin (Inform Seg@)
- Clickonic.dll is a LiteStep Desktop module, that provides the ability to view folders on the desktop. Unlike the IconDesk, it is less customizable, but it completely supports drag-and-drop operations, so you can place your icons like YOU want... - posted by sryo
- Foobar2000 0.9.3 beta 1 by Peter Pawlowski
- Foobar2000 is an advanced audio player for the Windows platform. Some of the basic features include ReplayGain support, low memory footprint and native support for several popular audio formats. - posted by sryo
Releases: ThemePark, Megazoomer, DeskBrowse
- ThemePark 3.1b3 by Geekspiff
- Use ThemePark to create or modify the way Mac OS X looks, as well as to change the appearance of individual applications. Just draw titlebars, buttons, and other widgets in the graphics editor of your choice, and move them into ThemePark to create a new theme or modify an existing one. Also use ThemePark to create icon sets that can change every icon on your system, even common document icons. - posted by sryo
- Megazoomer 0.3 (8th April 2006) by Ian Henderson
- Megazoomer brings full-screen windows to the Mac. Just press Command-Enter, and the front-most window grows to fill your entire monitor. Press the same keys, and it shrinks again. - posted by sryo
- DeskBrowse by SGS International
- DeskBrowse is an innovative web browser for Mac OS X with a strong focus on workflow, stability, and speed. - posted by sryo
Non shell-related news:
After finding four official National Geodetic Survey benchmarks during an interesting walk around downtown New Orleans, it was time to meet at Antoine's for dinner. The famous restaurant has been continuously operated by the same family since 1840. Through wars, the Great Depression, epidemics and storms, the culinary treasures continue to be served. The French Quarter, where the restaurant operates, was fortunate to not have any water damage, although the winds took a toll and repairs are still underway. After dinner, my son and his friends headed for the music they wanted to hear. For me, there was only one place I had in mind.
I had not been to Preservation Hall for more than thirty years but I remembered exactly what to expect. The sound of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band is unique and inspiring. The musicians are polished and professional. I talked with the trombone player during break and he told me he was a professor of music at a local college. To hear him and his colleagues play you would never see a piece of music. It seemed to come from their soul. The saxophone player told me he read music when he was a boy but that now it comes from the soul. From their web site are a coupe of great quotes. "Musicians in New Orleans are born to entertain. There's nothing wrong with that, because I'm happy when I play. I love what I do". "We play gospel music here. We play old spirituals. We play military marches. There's no end to the variety of music that we play. But we play it all our way. And the more we play, the more the level of happiness rises. Just to watch our audiences go wow when we play, that gives me a good feeling and makes me want to put out more."
The amazing part to me is the coordination. There is no sheet music, no conductor, not even subtle leads from one of the members. All seven -- trumpet, two trombones, tuba, drum, tenor saxophone, and piano -- played as one. Soloists knew when to stand -- at times several would stand -- the crescendos and decrescendos were perfect and soft harmonies were flawless. These are truly great musicians. Walking a half mile down Bourbon Street back to the hotel there were dozens of "bands" playing at peak volume. It was a different world than Preservation Hall. I prefer the latter.
After Sunday brunch overlooking the mighty Mississippi River, it was time to head for JazzFest. The temperature was 90, the humidity was 100%, the crowd was 100K+ and there was no place to sit. In spite of this it was a great experience. The Paul Simon performance, in particular, was worth the price. Nice to see the 60+ performers -- he was amazing in every respect. Digital music is great but nothing compares to a live concert. The big screen made you feel like you were in the front row (even though there were no chairs). Regrettably, Fats Domino (78 years old) cancelled at the last minute for health reasons. Lionel Richie took took the stage instead.
On Monday morning it was a pleasure to make a presentation to a group of networking and IT executives at the English Turn Country Club. The topic was, guess what, the future of the Internet. With the incredible humidity, I do not regret not being a golfer and staying for the afternoon.
With regard to New Orleans,I found a mixed story. The water marks, damage, and debris were staggering. One can see why a huge number of people have been displaced and why housing is the main issue on many people's minds. I spoke to a number of residents who were working in the service industry. The common thread was that they were hopeful, courteous, and wore smiles on their faces even though they had every reason to be bitter. One person told me there was three feet of water in the second story of his house. He and his family moved in with a cousin -- eight people in a small home. The only good news is that there are plenty of jobs. The biggest tragedy may be that there are only five schools open in a city that was once more than a million people. read more:
Business Leadership Forum - Day 2
Day two of the Business Leadership Forum at "the auditorium"opened with a big-screen video made for the event by Tom Friedman, author of The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century. Less than four hundred years ago, people still thought the world was flat and that ships would "fall off" the globe if they went too far. Then people figured out that the world was round, not flat. Now we are all realizing, thanks to Tom's book, that the world is indeed flat. Tom Friedman totally gets it and tells it very clearly.
1989 marked the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rise of Windows. This was followed by Netscape going public in August 1995 which triggered the dot-com boom which triggered massive over-investment in fiber optic cable which enabled extremely low cost transfer of information on a global basis. A revolution in web applications enabled collaboration using interoperable standards-based protocols. These three things flattened the world and brought us from the industrial age to the information age. The end result, Tom says, is that when the world is flat, whatever can be done, will be done. The only question is "will it be done by you or to you". He says it takes an innovative flare, not vanilla ice cream -- which everybody can make -- but "whipped cream with a cherry on top".
Kunio Nakamura, President of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. (otherwise known to most of us as Panasonic) with classic Asian sincerity, paid great homage to IBM for all that his company had learned and how it was supported during a significant transformation. Matsushita was founded in 1918 and now has sales of $75 billion with $3.4 billion in profit and 335,000 employees. Their management philosophy is that the company is a public entity, that the customer comes first, and to start each day anew. Their largest single product is TV's but it is only 8% of revenue. The company was in crisis condition in 2000, reached the survival level in 2006, and plans to achieve global excellence by 2010. A key element of this comeback is management innovation, a key part of which is using IT to drive productivity. This may seem obvious but Nakamura-san pointed out that culturally productivity was thought of as something that can be nudged by maybe 10%, whereas American companies think of doubling and tripling of productivity. He said Matsushita wants to change from a lead ball to a soccer ball. I have heard many CEO's describe corporate strategies over the years but never have I seen a CEO use the terms "IT" and infrastructure as extensively as Nakamura-san. He outlined how the company plans to invest $1.5B in IT over five years to integrate their procurement, production, distribution, sales & services from material & component suppliers all the way through to customers. He plans to use IBM as the company's innovation partner. read more:
Intro to Roman Rendezvous Stories
Index to Roman Rendezvous stories
Study: legal music far outweighs P2P on portable music players
Study: legal music far outweighs P2P on portable music players: Only two years ago we were told that 'stolen' was the most common format on digital music players. A new study suggests that this is far from the truth. (Via Ars Technica.)
Without knowing the methodology of the original study, this is difficult to evaluate, but it agrees qualitatively with what I see in my immediate circle. I wonder to what extent the decay of P2P downloads may be an indirect effect of fear of malware, especially since so many of the P2P programs have been notorious for adware and spyware with security and stability risks. Are malware writers RIAA's best friends?read more:
Deeyah & Young Maylay A Deadly Combo!
In one corner you have Deeyah the exotic and sassy princess of the East also dubbed the Muslim Madonna by the UK media. In the other corner is Young Maylay hard edged from the merciless streets of LA also the actor/voice in GTA San Andreas game. Both talented artists in their own rights have now joined forces and come together to create ?What Will It Be??.The beat of ?What Will It Be?? is sexy and seductive yet the lyrical content that Deeyah and Young Maylay present in the song is tough, thought provoking, controversial and very much a sign of the turmoil filled times we are all living in. The lyrical content is already creating controversy and waves within certain circles of the Muslim communities for it?s direct, truthful and extremely defiant and rebellious tone and delivery.In a time where more socially and politically conscious music and attitude is needed within popular culture - here we go, Deeyah and Young Maylay provide exactly what the doctor ordered and are creatively a truly deadly combo! May we hear more music and messages like this from these two and others in the near future.We eagerly await the music video for ?What Will It Be?? as it?s already rumored to be even more controversial, hard hitting, edgy and sexy.read more:
Jay Sean charts in Holland
Jay's album & single (Eyes on You) is really starting to take off in Europe, in-particular Holland. Eyes On You is now up to no.18 in their chart & rising week on week with media awareness growing all the time to Jay as a phenomenal live performer. Coca Cola are trying to pin Jay down to a Live event happening this month, which will see reaching a huge national audience as the event is broadcast live on TV.read more:
Concert review of Sonatina for Recorders and Piano in Norwich
On Sunday, 2 February 2003, Ross Winters (recorders) and Christopher Green-Armytage (piano) gave a delightful recital of works for recorders and piano at the King of Hearts Arts Centre, Norwich, which is housed in a beautifully restored, old building. The programme was devoted to British and German works for recorders and piano of the 20th century, and included compositions by Gordon Jacob, Edmund Rubbra, Antony Hopkins. Christopher Green- Armytage also contributed two delightful piano pieces by Chopin, Nocturne, Op. 62, No. 2 and Mazurka, Op. 17, No. 4, and John Ireland's Sonatina for piano solo, which was appropriate because John Ireland had taught Alan Bush composition for five years, 1922-1927, and remained a close friend of his former pupil until he died in 1962. The concert concluded with Alan Bush's Sonatina for descant, treble and tenor recorders and piano, Op. 82, which Ross Winters described as a most "substantial and important work", a fitting end to his programme.
The Bush Sonatina
has three movements; Introduction and Allegro
, Andante quasi larghetto
, and Vivo
, which are written for treble, tenor and descant recorders. Beginning on the treble recorder, there is a short introduction, followed by a beautiful melodic passage in folk idiom. The second slow movement on the tenor recorder exploits the dark, rich, sonority of the instrument. The third movement opens with a vivacious horn-pipe melody on the descant recorder, followed by a more reflective passage on the treble recorder; this movement returns to the horn-pipe motif on the descant recorder and ends with a great flourish. The Sonatina
was beautifully performed by Ross Winters and Christopher Green-Armytage.
Alan Bush composed his Sonatina in 1975 at the request of Ross Winters, who had completed his studies in Amsterdam in 1974 and was about to embark on his career as a recorder player. Ross Winters wrote to the composer, saying "it would be a great kindness if you would consider writing a piece for me". This Alan Bush gladly agreed to do the following year, and the work was dedicated to Ross Winters, whom Alan Bush described as "a phenomenal performer" on the instrument. The first performance was given by Ross Winters (recorders) and Alan Bush (piano) at the Wigmore Hall, London, 11 January 1976. Ross Winters has performed the work on numerous occasions since. The Sonatina was published by Nova Music, London in 1981. read more:
Just me, HTML and Windows
Have you ever been in a situation when you just need to correct an error or a mistake on a web page but you are nowhere near to your usual trusted workstation?
If you ever hand-coded your web pages, or even web application scripts such as ASP or PHP, you don't really need any extra software installed. On Windows box, for a quick job of updating a web page you can just make do with what already installed on Windows out of the box.read more:
Internet Explorer 7 in Windows Update
Are you ready for the newest IE 7 (Internet Explorer 7)? Internet Explorer 7 (or IE 7 for short) will be a nice advance from where Internet Explorer...read more:
Ten questions for Joe Clark
Russ interviews Joe Clark, an influential accessibility expert and consultant, on such topics as captioning and subtitling, opening new windows (please avoid!), skip navigation, title attributes, forms, tables and more.read more:
Uniform Resource Identifier: Generic Syntax
This specification defines the generic URI syntax and a process for resolving URI references that might be in relative form, along with guidelines and security considerations for the use of URIs on the Internet.read more:
CSS Cheat Sheet
Designed for printing and storing near your desk, this handy quick reference includes a properties list, CSS syntax, selectors and pseudo selectors, media types (for linking), units, the box model, and inheritance and the cascade.read more:
Back from @media 2006
The trip to London and @media 2006 was a real success, for me at least. I had so much fun and listened to so many great people and talking to many interesting people. It was simply a blast to be there.Me and my colleague came to London the evening before the event started. We [...]read more:
Leaving for @media 2006
Today I´m leaving for London and @media 2006. I´ve been waiting for this event for such a long time now. Last year I had a ticket but changed work so I couldn’t go. But this year it’s really happening. Me and my colleague (Swedish) are going from Skatteverket. (Swedish tax authority).So “everyone” is going to [...]read more:
Firefox Hack: Suppress New Windows
Pinder has a great tip for suppressing the target='_blank' property of anchor links which opens new windows. Apparently, the new release of Firefox advanced preferences for this no longer works, it has been overridden by a new advanced preference.To turn it on, go to about:config and set browser.tabs.showSingleWindowModePrefs to TRUE. Alternatively you can addread more:
A new Google trick: how to get links from high PageRank sites
There's a new trick that some webmasters use to get high rankings on Google. Just like the trick we mentioned in a previous issue of our newsletter, this new technique exploits security holes of other web sites.read more:
All about Google Desktop Search
Google Desktop Search is a program that runs on your Windows computer. It allows you to search your hard disk for files.read more:
find -perm 777 your first ssh security stop
Want to get hacked? It's easy, just 'chmod 777' everything the next time you install a bbs or photo gallery application. Don't want to get hacked? Read on and 'find' how hackers see, and exploit the unsecured areas of your system.read more:
Publishing: Good reviews, bad reviews, and hurting oooh so many feelings.
Well, apparently you aren't allowed to have an opinion on the web anymore. I got flamed by an author after posting a personal review of his book. It wasn't an objective review, I didn't mark it as such, but I wasted a good deal of my life between reading the book and then turn that around with the extra hour I spent writing the review so I figured I'd put my real thoughts in there. Anyway, seems the author had some comments.
Guess what? Authors need to learn that not everyone can write a book. I don't care how technically able you are, how smart, or how much of an industry professional. I don't care if you've been writing X for Y years where Y > Z and Z is my age... Just because you've been working on technology since before I was born doesn't mean you have the ability to produce a book that is able to capture a wide audience and instruct them in a given area. I'll throw some points to back this up.
Microsoft Windows is a great piece of software and some insanely talented developers wrote the OS. But guess who wrote the documentation? Sure as hell wasn't the people that wrote the OS. What about the CLR? Super smart people doing super smart things over there. But how many of them dare write a book about it? Adam Nathan did a great job, but I think he took more than a year writing his. What about Brad Abarams and the annotated CLR? Well, that isn't a book of explanation but rather a book of comments that was very tactfully edited. The people that really write about the CLR are the tech writers that produced the oh so complained about .NET Framework SDK Documentation. If you think it's bad now, you wouldn't want to know what it would look like if there wasn't a dedicated team of technical writers with English degrees working on it.
You see, just being an expert isn't a license to write a book. You have to take many considerations into play. You have to design content around your audience, get down off of your soap-box, and explain things in a detail that your readership will comprehend and gain value from. It appears Edward doesn't agree with me. I pointed out that I got nothing from the text of his book, but then he points me to the free source code download. I already knew about the download and had perused the source before and after posting the original review, but I don't think that is important or relevant. When you buy a book, you are buying the material that you can read while you are in a bus, in your car, on a plane, while you are walking down the hall, or if nature calls on the toilet. You really aren't paying for the source code. The source code is an extra in the world of publishing. It is nice if the readers make use of it, but you want to provide everything in the text if you can. Popping between book and source is annoying, and even worse, nearly impossible when the book and source aren't logically connected.
Raise of hands, if I gave you a 65k file whose name was Form1.vb and I told you the compiled program would represent a rather complex regular expression validating GUI called ReLab, what would you do? How easy would it be to quickly find the information you needed in that file? Would you even bother trying to understand the behemoth? What if the text of the book didn't tell you about the code itself, but rather about the program and how it worked? What if they just gave you a bunch of pictures of the UI and some walk-throughs of how it would work? What would you say the target audience is when the book is filled with pictures and there is a huge backing source repository that contains almost no explanation?
You don't have to answer all that if you don't want, but I'm interested in what you have to say. Good or bad, wrong or right, I don't care, because this is MY opinion, but I'm interested in everyone else's opinion. I'm tired of paying 40-60 bucks for a book that doesn't stand on it's own merit. If the source is really what I'm buying then why give it away for free here http://www.apress.com/book/supplementDownload.html?bID=213&sID=1895. What in the hell would I buy the book if everything important is in the source code shown here http://www.apress.com/book/supplementDownload.html?bID=213&sID=1895. Go ahead, download it and check it out. It isn't easy to digest by any means, and the book itself won't help you at all.
Edward is taking this as a personal attack, but everyone that knows me knows better. I buy a book a week at least. Some are great, some are mediocre, but I never, ever buy the bad books. I invalidate them during my initial review process and I rely on my professional insight to quickly spot and discredit the bad ones. I don't always take the time to give those I've spotted a shining review on my blog, but there are certain things that really get my goat and this was obviously one of them. You can't ask for just good reviews as an author. When was the last time a movie released with not a single bad review somewhere on the web or published in some newspaper? But, "Oh", the actor says, "You'd like the movie better if you understood how many shots it took for that scene you didn't like and the technical difficulties behind it"... In reality, I don't care if it took them 1 shot or 50 shots, I don't care if the author produces 1 line of code or 50 thousand lines of code. I see the end result, I see what I read, and I'm going to rely on perusal process within the bookstore before deciding to buy. If you aren't going to give me the material in your book to enable that process, then I'm not going to buy your book, AND I'll post an honestly bad review.
Anyway, I responded to Edwards comments, and put my own right after. I'm sure the comment space will get heated if you are into that. In conclusion, don't put your heart and soul into a book and then get all parental when someone doesn't like it. If you can't take the criticisms, then you shouldn't be publishing. Build on it, forget about it, discount it, do whatever you must, but don't whine and use political bullshit to try and get me to take my criticisms down.
Solving big business problems in our little toolbox application. A use case for Project Distributor.
Project Distributor: Introduction to our distributed web service model
So Darren and I have put in about a month now on the Project Distributor website. We are starting to reach that critical point where the site is pretty cool, we have plenty of users, we are thinking about running out of the allowable bandwidth for the demo site, and all sorts of other things that tend to happen all at once. Now, there are some problems you can design yourself out of, and others that you really have to throw some money at. Our latest enhancements can be summed up in a short list.
- Buy a domain name and start hosting in two places. Project Distributor.com should be up fairly soon to accompany MarkItUp.ASPXConnection.com
- Have people host their own versions of the application. And that means a big source release is in the future. At this juncture risk fragmentation.
- Design away fragmentation with a series of ingenious features that will make everyone want to use the application at hand.
I'm here to talk about the last two, since Darren already bought some additional hosting for us. The concept will be to release a fairly stable version of the application so that groups can host tools, code snippets and other source/binary releases for their teams to share. The application is very lightweight and easy to set-up, so it won't require a bunch of hand holding and configuration to get up and running initially. From our standpoint we solve a number of issues at this juncture. The most obvious problem is what we classify the Lutz Roeder use case. .NET Reflector is the key type of application we'd love to get hosted because it makes it a bit easier to find, not that Google does a bad job, we'd just like to get a bunch of tools in one place, with some features for feedback, new releases, and some cool client tools for publishing.
Now, Lutz would put his application up and he'd whack our bandwidth. He is the prime example of someone that should be hosting their own tools, but possibly using our interface. He doesn't have to, we haven't even asked him yet in fact, but if he decides to do so, then all the better for the web application moving forward. Users such as Lutz probably want a certain level of control over their own sites as well in terms of branding and controlling access. This will only come from hosting the application yourself (and maybe some other features we'll see later).
From a security standpoint many teams will also want to host their own servers. In this manner they get control over the hardware their sources and binaries are stored on. They can accept tools up to any maximum (instead of our imposed limits) and provide unlimited download bandwidth if they choose. Or they can take advantage of our gating mechanisms to make sure their server doesn't get overloaded with downloads and open their tools up to the public.
The only major problem from this source release is that the initial problem we were trying to solve, promoting the visibility of tools, starts to erode. You see, the more sites that host their own tools the harder it is to find the right site with the right tools. We are trying to solve this in a number of ways. The first is allowing users of a site to store bookmarks to other projects and external resources. This is only a temporary fix, because it still doesn't allow a mass search and categorization infrastructure required to truly promote the visibility of the tools being hosted. We have to come up with a solution that brings all of the sites, but we don't want to create just another portal or gateway site. That is boring. Now you have the background, so how will we solve the fragmentation issue?
Designing away Fragmentation
I won't lie to you, I've implemented this model several times, but have never had a project that was capable of really showing off the feature set we are about to talk about. The concept is to unify all of the sites, by allowing them to easily manage views of data from all of the sites combined. Each site owns their own content, maintains their own users, but in turn peers with other sites to obtain additional content.
Web services provide a dual feature set in this model. At the current level they allow us to generate really great client-side tools for managing, well, your tools! We have a drop-client target right now so you can drag and drop new releases to existing projects in just a few seconds. Some new tools for working with build systems to promote the source code up to the server are in the works. We natively integrate with your RSS reader and will have our own alert services in the drop client just in case you don't have one. There aren't any search or local caching features, but those are also planned for the drop client so you can background download new releases, just like Windows Update.
That doesn't solve fragmentation though, that just makes me realize how much work I have left to do. The second feature of web services lies in the ability for each site to aggregate data from the many other sites that are out there hosting the application. Remember, everything we make available at the service layer can also now be remoted. The more caching we put into the data layer, the more performant the entire process will be, and we can even tune the caching depending on whether the data layer is merging off-site contents or database contents.
I'm sure there is another name out there somewhere, but for the past 2 years I've called these peer sites. Each instance of the project distributor will have a number of options allowing for adding peers that will be aggregated and added to the local collection while users traverse the site. The first step is to get the peer sites running in a read-only mode. And set up some really great options so the entire process can be controlled. This solves a number of use case scenarios for us including the following.
- Fragmentation can be mitigated through proper configuration. If everyone aggregates 5 or 6 sites into their peers, then we have a huge network now of interconnected peers and users can pick and choose which one they use for purposes of searching the tool network.
- Peer connections are unidirectional or bidirectional. Access is configurable. Teams can include tools from external sites while keeping their own tools completely private. They can exist behind a DMZ or a private network.
- Users can host their own personal tool sites in the same manner as the team sites. They can configure statically which projects to make available even. In this way you can build a collection of personal tools that you love, and have the latest information automatically update on your machine for your perusal.
Peer sites solve plenty of visibility issues, but that is pretty much all they solve for now. We still want to enable all of the features available to the client tools. After all, the web service methods and proxy infrastructure is in place to do so much more.
Well, we want to solve another problem. That is where you edit your data. A master site is where the users, groups, projects, etc... are all hosted, but thankfully, you'll be able to log in through any site (assuming it is peered with your master site) and then edit your own projects and such. This is a remote principal context and is actually one of the cooler features associated with the peering functionality of project distributor. We'll be fully secure in our login and credentials region, but unfortunately we'll still be transferring data in open text in the short term. Maybe we'll fix that with enough push back.
A clone site is where we empower a site to act on behalf of a master site. For me, my local project distributor is currently cloned to the main project distributor site. What does this mean? Right now it means I get all of the data from PD, and that users who trust my site can log-in to their project distributor accounts and cross edit data. Pretty nice if you ask me. It basically means you can fully host a project distributor installation and never, ever have to install a database server. Users can just act on behalf of a remote server.
This isn't a super reusable model like some of those you read about in the popular software architecture books, and it probably accounts for why master/peer/clone sites don't exist very often. The considerations for every option are heavily customized to the problem being solved, and I'm sure we'll be making modifications or updating the configuration context for a while. Right now you can independently configure your primary server type, whether master or clone, whether or not users can use you for a pass-through authentication and edit server, whether or not web services are enabled so peers can enable unidirectional only communications, setting up asymmetric security credentials. Man, you name it and it is in there
For the peer section we have full and selective modes. A full peer pulls all of the data on the remote peer locally for display (in a delay caching manner, just like you'd expect, unless you set up a scheduled pull which is also possible). I expect most people to configure full peers because they really are really easy to set up and maintain. A selective peer is where you specify the groups/projects that you want to display. This is best for a user setting up their own personal toolbox who wants to select a couple of items from many different peers.
We have an extensively exhaustive configuration module already and we'll be continuously adding more to it. The concept is to easily modify your toolbox to your own designs without having to touch the code. If we haven't given you enough options to satisfy your need then we'll have to make something up, because I'm just about running out ;-)
These are the basics of the model ideas I have for project distributor. That doesn't mean Darren doesn't have other great ideas happening as well. He has some pretty extensive UI enhancements, but I'll let him talk about those. We even have another product idea that is kind of a bolt-on for project distributor, but that is probably a couple of months out putting it into next year. Unfortunately we have too many ideas for our own good right now. Better than not having any ideas I guess. I'll try to drop some code with some of the ideas above, that way you can get a look at how the entire system is implemented. I have some diagrams as well, but I'm far too tired right now to add the img tags to the HTML view.
Language parsing and compiler design doesn't have to be hard, but boy this book really sucks!
How'd you like that for an opening title? Did it grab your attention? Hell, your reading this far so I guess it did. The book I'm focusing on here is Build Your Own .NET Language and Compiler and please, don't click the link and then go buy it. I don't care about the 50 cents worth of referral money I'll get if you do. I wouldn't even recommend the book if I got 50 bucks of referral money (well, money talks, so maybe I would).
The book starts out with the basics of parsing and regular expressions and all that jazz. But the extent of the code is a bunch of screen shots. We are writing a parser/compiler dang it, we aren't WYSIWYGing our way through life at this point, you have to show some real frigin code. What you end up with is a bunch of screen shots of many tools for writing a compiler, but not really the code, unless of course you go grab the CD and break through all of the code without a lick of explanation from the book. God I hope the code is well documented with comments, or you just bought an issue of Compiler's Illustrated and this isn't the Swimsuit edition. I'll include some of my own links at the bottom, where I give actual code for many of these processes.
OK, so you get to see a bunch of tools, and what do you get? Well, you get a bunch of half-assed tools (sorry for the language if your kid is reading my highly technical blog... In fact, if he/she is I could use some interns, must type 50+ WPM and be proficient at C, C++, or C#). A mathematical expression evaluator is the first. I think it is always the first. People always trivialize math. So make sure you look at all the pretty pictures and try to glean some wisdom from the text. I have a mathematical expression evaluator by the way, it's called calc.exe and from what I can tell it has shipped since 16-bit windows. He also makes an attempt at a regular expression workbench. You can't have enough of those (actually I'm not being sarcastic here, I always appreciate a new regex tool), but then he never writes anything or demonstrates compiler technology that uses regular expressions. Does he go into NFA/DFA technology? Well, he does talk about it for a few sentences. BNF format? Again a few sentences here and there. But wait, another tool is what you get and this time it is a picture of a drop-down menu with all sorts of really tantalizing names (convert from BNF to XML, display a BNF parse tree, display formatted docs, etc...). At this point use one of the pages to catch the drool coming off your lip, because that is as close as you'll get in this book to anything cool.
OK, so forget the tools. At some point he actually starts talking about real compiler technology. I think around chapter 7 maybe? I really should dig up the TOC on Amazon, but I'm only going to waste enough time on this book to finish this posting. Anyway, they start talking about the various parsing techniques. Recursive descent (RD), Top-Down, Bottom-Up... I think there are some other odd names they throw in there to mystify the reader. After reading all of the major compiler design books I shouldn't be mystified by something that could classify as a 4 Dummies book (unless it is something like Cross Dressing 4 Dummies, I could probably use that after my Halloween party)... Anyway, they really don't do the entire process justice, and I think at some point some more tools are used, Yacc might be mentioned, and bam, back to the pictures.
At this point I want to identify the worst problem I found throughout the entire book. Apparently the author didn't have time to finish the code so they left a bunch of exercises for the reader. Nah, nah... You don't leave the compiler as an exercise in a book on how to write a compiler. You leave bits and pieces, but not the important stuff. Going through my Knuth books, I'm actually surprised when he leaves problems as exercises that require more know-how than what has been provided in the chapter. I don't mind exercises for the reader, but there is a limit people. Imagine getting back from Home Depot with a 300 page picture book on building a house, that had a bunch of pictures of completed homes, and some text offering that the building of the house will be left as an exercise for the reader. Doh!
At the end of the book, it is apparent I'm not going to get anything of use and then it starts talking about code generation. Oooh, something with some meat. In reality, they've been naming their nodes for the calculator in such a way that the name of the node was pretty much the name of the op code that was going to be called. They may have some Quick Basic implementation code spits as well, but I'm confused at this point (and mystified) because I've been thumbing this book for an hour. In reality the act of spitting IL is probably worth an entire book of it's own (oh wait it is Inside Microsoft .NET IL Assembler and you really should buy this one so I get 50 cents). That isn't fair because that book is actually how IL functions and not how to spit it. But I'd think one does precede the other since eventually your going to run out of node names to match to IL op-codes and when opComplexOperation isn't mirrored by OpCodes.ComplexOperation I just don't know what you'll do.
How fair of a review is this? Well, I've read actual compiler books, quite a few of them. I've implemented my own parsers and compilers many times for many different circumstances. I don't think it is a hard process and I think extending the process to a more general development audience is important. There should be a relatively accessible book on writing your own .NET languages, but this book is certainly not it. I'll keep looking around, I hear there is another book focused on .NET language generation and I'll have to search it out. Maybe an O'Reilly publication? Can you get an accurate review from something in about an hour's time? Well, I read fast, the words were quite large, most of the content was entirely familiar and only about 30% of the page material was text, so I'd hope so. Take this for what it is worth, but if I see any referral money for that book, I'll know someone is going to be laughing hysterically when they get that book in a 2-3 days from Amazon. PS: I didn't and won't buy the book. I spent a couple of hours at Borders today running through two books that caught my eye when I was really looking for a great .NET Localization book. I need to dig up Michael Kaplan, since I'm sure he has written something somewhere.
Lexer/Parser/Compiler Code and articles for different types of parsers
Lexer, Parser, Compiler, Oh My! Postings, with code, on even more lexer/parser stuff
ftp://ftp.cs.vu.nl/pub/dick/PTAPG/BookBody.pdf A more hard-core text on parser technologies
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How to rip and compress DVDs in Mac OS X
A couple of months ago, I got a Mac Mini* and immediately (of course) hooked it up to my TV so I could use it as a media center. (That’s probably a good topic for a separate post.)
Since then, I’ve ripped my DVD collection onto the Mac so any movie I own is only a few clicks away. Here’s how you can do the same thing:
1. Insert a DVD in your Mac’s DVD drive
These directions are optimized for feature films, not TV shows or other things you might find on a DVD. However, with a little creativity you should be able to adapt these instructions to serve your purposes.
2. Use MacTheRipper to do a “Main Feature Extraction” to your Mac
I use MacTheRipper first because it allows me to archive a raw VIDEO_TS folder that I can re-compress later if I want. For more detail about doing a simple DVD-to-disk rip, see the first half of Mark Pilgrim’s excellent how-to video.
Here’s what my MacTheRipper settings look like:
3. Use HandBrake to compress the movie
This part is critical because there aren’t many programs (including Front Row) that know what to do with a raw VIDEO_TS folder. But nearly any video player (again, including Front Row) can handle an MP4 file, so that is what we will convert this movie into.
In HandBrake, I use the XviD encoder with a target size of 1000MB (about 1GB). This produces a very watchable picture at a reasonable file-size.
Here’s what my Handbrake settings look like (click to enlarge):
Put the video file in your Movies folder, and enjoy!
You can obviously keep your movies wherever you want, but I keep mine in the Movies folder (under my home directory) so Front Row can access them.
Give it a try!
Feel free to try this yourself, and let me know if you have questions!
* * *
* The Mini was a gift from my generous Grandpa, who you may recognize from his occasional comments on this site.read more:
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