I remember the early days of the web -- and the last days of CD ROM -- when there was this mainstream consensus that the web and PCs were too durned geeky and difficult and unpredictable for "my mom" (it's amazing how many tech people have an incredibly low opinion of their mothers). If I had a share of AOL for every time someone told me that the web would die because AOL was so easy and the web was full of garbage, I'd have a lot of AOL shares.
And they wouldn't be worth much.
Read the rest in Why I won't buy an iPad (and think you shouldn't, either)
The biggest disappointment of HTML5 is that it not only encourages bad behaviour, it defines it. HTML4 and XHTML1 did great work to reform the lingua franca of the Web; HTML5 by contrast <em>specifies how</em> it ought to be sloppy. This will not end well.
Read the rest in ongoing by Tim Bray · HTML5
If there are 300 implementations of a specification, all different, but you take the 4 "important implementations" and write a specification that is precise enough to cover what those 4 "important implementations" do, exactly, precisely, and normatively require ("MUST") that behavior, then you inevitably wind up of making many of the remaining 296 implementations non-conforming, because the MUST requirements are too stringent. The process then favors the 4 "important implementations" over the 296 other ones, and makes it harder for any of them to be offered as compliant implementations. This is an example of "structural bias", as I wrote about earlier. This problem is widespread in the HTML specification, and unfortunately really difficult to eliminate.
Read the rest in Over-specification is anti-competitive
No other computer language is designed to work when ill-formed, nor should it be. Such ill-formedness is analogous to the excessive use of default arguments in programs, a practice which ultimately can cause serious maintenance issues and unexpected behaviors in your programs that can be very difficult to track down. If something doesn't work, as a code creator, I want my code to throw an exception so I can figure out the problem, not simply ignore it until I end up blowing up a rocket because of a misplaced semi-colon. I realize that this is a browser issue rather than an HTML 5 issue, but the philosophy in the latter very much drives the former ... especially when you figure that nearly all HTML content produced today is generally the result of an automated process (via WYSIWYG editors, BBCode and similar alt-markup languages, database output, Wiki filters and so forth, rather than being hand coded).
Read the rest in Dancing Naked in the Streets: A Madman Takes on HTML 5 | XML Today
The only tragedy about IE6's passing is that it didn't happen three years ago, and involve giant snowmobiles with poison-tipped 12-inch spikes embedded in their treads.
Read the rest in Cartoon: IE6 RIP
For many in the HTML camp, its practical nature has transcended mere practicality to become a deeply philosophical choice. It is by default accessible, semantic, and extensible. Visitors to the site can print the content, copy it, re-size it, steal it, and manipulate it with external stylesheets and scripts. Libraries like eCSStender, jQuery, IE7.js and their brethren have enabled cross-browser use of advanced properties, abstracted away the ugliness of the DOM, and brought an old, recalcitrant browser into line. Open source advocates love HTML because no company controls the core technology and none can demand license fees for it. Students and aspiring web developers world-wide prefer it for its price, which, in contrast to purchasing (or pirating) a copy of Adobe’s expensive software, looks awfully good.
Read the rest in The Withering Away of Flash.
As one CBC staffer told me, many CBC members have willingly supported the business agenda of telecom companies because the industry can be counted on to make campaign contributions, and they face no political backlash.
Read the rest in The Seminal » Why Are Some Civil Rights Groups & Leaders On the Wrong Side of Net Neutrality?
The fundamental problem I think with using XML to write down graphs is:
People looking at XML expect they are looking at a hierarchical Tree.
So writing a Graph in an XML Tree is just going to always fail the simplicity test. This might come from using the XML DOM or looking at HTML, XHTML, but it’s pretty embedded in the mind.
Right now I’d dismiss any XML format for any “simple” or “obvious” way to write down RDF graphs that will be accepted by new users.
Read the rest in RDF Syntaxes 2.0
I was talking not long ago with editorial folks at an unnamed media company that rhymes with “The New York Times.” There was some possibility of my blogging over there. They were intrigued, but couldn’t fit it into their grand plan, at least not right away. The problem was resources were already allocated and such an endeavor takes months to mount and costs tens of thousands of dollars.
No it doesn’t, and that’s the problem with Big Media.
Read the rest in I, Cringely » Blog Archive » The Problem With Big Media: Why One Tablet is Not Enough
Read the rest in Mozilla revs up Firefox 3.6 speed by 15%
building surveillance capability into telecommunications architecture amounts to a breach-by-design, and a serious security risk. As the volume of requests from law enforcement at all levels grows, the compliance burdens on telcoms grow also—making it increasingly tempting to create automated portals to permit access to user information with minimal human intervention.
Read the rest in Surveillance, Security, and the Google Breach | Cato @ Liberty
When I buy an audiobook on CD, it’s mine. The license agreement, such as it is, is “don’t violate copyright law,” and I can rip that CD to mp3, I can load it to my iPod or any number of devises—it’s mine; I can give it away, I can sell it; it’s mine. But when you buy an audiobook through Audible, which now controls 90 per cent of the [downloadable] audiobook market, you get a license agreement, not a property interest. The things that you can do with it are limited by DRM; the players you can play it on are limited by the license agreements with Audible. Audible doesn’t do this because the publishers ask them to. Audible and iTunes, because Audible is the sole supplier to iTunes, do this because it’s in their own interest....
Anyone who claims that readers can’t and won’t and shouldn’t own their books are bent on the destruction of the book, the destruction of publishing, and the destruction of authorship itself. We must stop them from being allowed to do it. The library of tomorrow should be better than the library of today. The ability to loan our books to more than one person at once is a feature, not a bug. We all know this. It’s time we stop pretending that the pirates of copyright are right. These people were readers before they were publishers before they were writers before they worked in the legal department before they were agents before they were salespeople and marketers. We are the people of the book, and we need to start acting like it.
Read the rest in Doctorow, How to Destroy the Book | Electronic Frontier Foundation
Meanwhile, there's an increasing presence of XML in the world, because at the end of the day the underlying premise that XML made was not that messages needed to be efficient, but rather that they be understandable.
Read the rest in XML: Pushing Up the Daisies? | XMLToday.org
After spending a long time in the functional programming world, and using Erlang as my go-to language for tricky problems, I've finally concluded that purely functional programming isn't worth it. It's not a failure because of soft issues such as marketing, but because the further you go down the purely functional road the more mental overhead is involved in writing complex programs. That sounds like a description of programming in general--problems get much more difficult to solve as they increase in scope--but it's much lower-level and specific than that. The kicker is that what's often a tremendous puzzle in Erlang (or Haskell) turns into straightforward code in Python or Perl or even C.
Read the rest in prog21: Functional Programming Doesn't Work (and what to do about it)
Windows is an enormous collection of design mistakes that work well enough to get by.
Read the rest in The Cathedral and the Pirate
the "ideas" that get patented in the software business are abstract and intangible. There is no objective way that patent offices or courts can decide whether two ideas expressed in different language are equivalent, or whether an idea is "obvious". Independent innovation is rife - two good programmers given the same problem will tend to come up with the same solution. Infringement is impossible to avoid: having come up with a solution to a problem, there is no effective way of searching the patent databases to see if the idea is "off limits" because someone else grabbed it first. There is therefore a lack of natural justice in the system. I have seen cases where small start-up companies like my own have become a thorn in the side of big players, and have been put out of business (or nearly so) by the threat of a patent infringement lawsuit. They have not wilfully done anything wrong; they might even have a perfectly good defence; but the mere threat of legal action is enough to kill their business stone dead, because their customers will walk away.
Read the rest in Saxon diaries :: Patents: an Open Letter to my MP
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