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 These days, I mostly post my tech musings on Linkedin.  https://www.linkedin.com/in/seanmcgrath/

Friday, May 27, 2005

Don't think - just type

via John Naughton (who writes a very good column in the Sunday Observer BTW), comes this keyboard.

I'd love to try one to see what would happen. Like many middle aged geeks I'm fairly fast at a keyboard but I don't hit the right keys with the right fingers. I don't look at the keyboard when I type ... unless I start thinking about the process of typing ... then I look at the keyboard and then [insert flushing noise] my accuracy rates drop right off.

If there was nothing on the keys when I looked down what would happen? Total mental meltdown? Dactyl dystopia? Apoplectic annualry syndrome?


Blog archive blip and a killer service offering idea

I totally don't understand how this happened. I promise I wasn't trying to game the blog archives...

Now that I think of it, I twice read an amusing story by one of Ireland's greatest wits - Flann O’Brien aka Myles na Gopaleen. It concerned a book mauling service whereby - for a suitable fee - books in the libraries of the wealthy would be annotated and mauled, better to edify their owners.

How about a blog archive creation service which, for a suitable consideration, would create an archive of wonderous blog postings? An aggrandising opus suitable for brandishing at job interviews and the like.

"Do you contribute to the technical community?".
"Oh, yes, my blog contains a gazillion items of erudition I have gushed forth over the years. Just google for me and you will find them..."

I can smell a competition coming on...Hitlers diaries mark II, maybe even a new twist on the Turing Test :-)

Timeless factoid about life on earth

Fact: In any notation, the really interesting stuff always ends up in the comments.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


WIKI-Wishing: Defn. Using a WIKI to keep track of, or remotely take part in, an ongoing event that you could not attend but really wish you could have attended in person. See also the closely related FLICKR-Wishing concept as evidenced by sites such as this.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Delicious phrase alert

Doesn't the phrase "semantic prime" sound absolutely gorgeous.

It has just occured to me that I have never, ever heard the phrase used in the context of data modelling (say XML schema development. to pick a random example) although hunting for semantic primes is surely part of the job of modularising any non-trivial semantic markup application?

I'm a tad surprised is all...

Monday, May 23, 2005

It is *in* the database. Right?

Doesn't "in/on" the database sound so much nicer than "referenced from" the database?

What does it mean really for content to be "in" a database anyway? If the content in question is document-oriented content, like wordprocessor docs or web pages, "in" doesn't always mean, um, "in". Especially in so-called Enterprise Content Management Systems.

Tales of 'in' and 'on' in database management

OpenDocument now an Oasis Standard

IBM, Sun Microsystems, and Others Develop Royalty-Free Standard for Office Applications Document Format.

I predict great things for the OpenDocument notation. BRW, if you have't yet seen OpenOffice, you really, really, should take a few minutes to look at it.

From the press release:
    "XML doesn't always mean open. You can hide a lot in a file format." -- James Governor, principal analyst at RedMonk

Ain't that the truth.

36 years of Jython

The first post was in 1969 when I was 4 :-)

More seriously though, Brian Zimmer et. al. are moving closer and closer to a new alpha release of Jython. Watch that space.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The biggest shock to received wisdom since the irrational human acceptance of the 404

    "It very well may be that, in the future, we’ll look back and realize that microformats were the bootstrap needed to haul the web into semanticity." -- Eric Meyer

Amen to that. The standard wisdom in this space is that you start by digging out pure, pristine semantics and then put them into a formaldehyde solution with the lable:

on the bottle. From these, you generate mere renderings. (X)HTML is only for such throw-away renderings. Second rate, derivative, impure things...XSLT/CSS are prophylactics that insulate the high priests from the possible infections that renderings carry around on their hind legs.

Real XML vocabularies on the other hand, are ones in which domain specific concepts have their own custom tags dammit! Tags I say! Tags are the rightful home of the most hallowed Universals of noun-ness : from cars to coffee pots to chalk to cheese.

He who would slide semantics into (gasp!) renderings under the banner of nasty vomative attribute skullduggery will suffer the death of a thousand first order predicates...

Or so the received wisdom would suggest. Just as received wisdom suggested that the Webs failure to deal with link integrity would render it useless. Just as received wisdom suggested that the only way to find stuff in a large corpus is to have everything classified beforehand. Just as received wisdom suggested that SMS was too limited to act as an effective human-to-human communication tool.

Good arguments all. Simple, elegant and wrong. Every one of them.

Semantics is next up.