Monday, March 21, 2005

Archive.org

Originally posted on: http://geekswithblogs.net/meshel/archive/2005/03/21/26889.aspx

After a short pause due to technical difficulties (I lost my disk on key) I now return with full strength to listen to audio content from the web. Those famed podcasts.

Actually instead of buying a disk on key, I bought one of those all-in-one MP3 players, so it plays MP3,WMA,ASF,WAV, FM Radio, and can also record (voice or FM radio), and store documents on it. I settled for a 256MB model, which seems quite enough for my needs. This is mostly for in-car listening, but for the past few days I have been sick in bead, and found out that it was also more comfortable than using the computer for it, since all controls are near - with no need to go to the computer every time the phone rrrings.

One of the main places I go for content to is, http://www.itconversations.com it has some excellent recordings. and I always look for ones that might inspire me, or teach me new things. out of this batch the one I liked the most was: Brewster Khale - Universal Access to All Knowledge this person is one of the founders of http://www.archive.org mostly known for the way-back machine (the internet archive) which is what I had known about, but it turns out that in recent years it has grown to include many other bits and scraps of information (if you can call full length movies bits :-)). The motto says it all “Universal Access to human knowledge” that is the goal of the site. Of course they do not claim to hold all of the human knowledge, but they are trying to collect as much as possible and doing a good job.

The talk is pretty inspiring, and it is evident that it was inspiring to the audience as well, who couldn't stop asking questions, I had a few myself - but I came a little to late ;-)

After this (or more accurately during) I went to visit the site, and it is full of data, the problem is, it is very hard to find anything interesting, if you don't already know what you are looking for. It is choke full of info, and also organized pretty good, but there is simply to much to sort through. I felt like I needed guidance.

Go visit there, I'm sure you will enjoy!


Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Me - Unfashionable - I guess

 Originally posted on: http://geekswithblogs.net/meshel/archive/2005/03/15/26374.aspx

I used to be all the rage about Open Source, and Anti-Microsoft - you know, Micro$oft is the source of all evil and such...

But I grew up I guess. Now I'm not so hip, I guess I like Microsoft, and Google and IBM etc. Why?
What I really like about them is the R in the R&D, the fact that the big companies have huge research facilities, that work all day at new ideas and new technologies, the edge beyond the cutting edge...

This is really what pulls at me - my dream to be at such a place. Obviously, there are real world goals behind this - these facilities need to show their worth by issuing usable ideas and technologies. But they are given the time to do so. http://research.microsoft.com/

http://sandbox.msn.com/

 http://www.research.ibm.com/

 http://labs.google.com

These companies spend huge amounts of cash on staying ahead, they really think forward even though it might appear otherwise at times. Sometimes these companies miss on great ideas that they developed there (the known case of XEROX and the windows concept, not to mention the mouse). Some really talented people work at these places, and those are places I would like to be at.

Sadly it seems that it would be hard without an appropriate diploma (which I don't have).

Out of these the most disappointing is the Google labs, they are the most focused on now - and providing the next beta for Google, but I guess Google is still a very young company that hasn't gotten far ahead (at least in the published stuff - you know maybe they are hiding the really advanced stuff :-() If anyone knows a way for me to get into this - I would be grateful! (ain't that lame? I should just send my CV? do I even stand a chance?)

Just a note: these sites are choke full of information, you can get smart just from reading....

Sunday, March 13, 2005

ConnectionStrings.com

 Originally posted on: http://geekswithblogs.net/meshel/archive/2005/03/13/26195.aspx


I usually don't re-post like this, but this is important enough :-)

So Via Raymond Lewallen who got it via Peter Samwel

Here is http://www.connectionstrings.com/ where all your connection string needs will be answered (except for a connection string to your bank's database)

Have fun, I will


Monday, March 7, 2005

Why don't we talk about MSN?

 Originally posted on: http://geekswithblogs.net/meshel/archive/2005/03/07/25508.aspx


Mike Torres (MSN - Early adopters and "influencers") asks why? please answer him...

I just deleted a lot of blah-blah, let me just answer his question from my side. Let me just say that I am an early adopter as long as it doesn't cost me money (I would spend money on those stuff, just that I don't have it to spend :-) donations are welcomed....

First, I'd like to say to you Mike is that I did try out MSN, I actually did it because I read your blog. So look at 2 - more bloggers increase exposure especially with blog readers - if the blog has some worthwile content - we read it. So here is the list
1. Yes, do give us more developer APIs - make it easier for bored devs to develop interesting applications using your services - this requires documentation as well I guess.
2. Yes, More bloggers from the team (We like to hear the dirt :-) not mareketing blurbs)
3. Yes, More personalization
4. More customization would be even more appriciated than personalization - moving squares around is nice, but I want my own CSS if possible. Even my own scripts (how about those Google Ads, or maybe MSN ads that could generate me some income? - would help me buy gadgets maybe :-))

I don't know if doing this would help at all, you do realise being where you want MSN to be is also connected with luck (lots of it) and corporate image (in your case being part of Microsoft) - this has nothing to do with the butterfly - which is nice in my opinion...  Being underdog helps - but Google or Amazon (which generate a healthy part of this rave you want) are not even close to being underdogs.

Sunday, March 6, 2005

FireFox Only applications? I think not! (actually I hope not)

 Originally posted on: http://geekswithblogs.net/meshel/archive/2005/03/06/25408.aspx

I like this blog thingy :-) I read something somewhere, write something about it (this system apparently does auto trackback) He notices my trackback, has something to say about it... That in fact fits to post I've been thinking of writing. I love this!

Anyway, Firefox only, this is actually what scared me originally. You see Microsoft is developing is developing XAML which to my understanding is pretty much the same thing... And these will take time to converge as DHTML did. If anyone thiniks a few years back and why the whole IE only thing started, it was in part a Microsoft marketing plan that gave free stuff to all those small devs who put that logo on their page. And due to uncompatible DHTML capabilities, notice I'm not saying tags or language, it was simply not as easy to accomplish the feats possible with IE in Netscape (there was no Mozilla yet). You could do it... but even the best cross-platform scripting libraries I saw were not giving the same functionality for both browsers (in the end Netscape still behaved differently, and usualy worse than IE).

The compatibility reached today, is mostly, finally better standards compliancy from both browsers, and also the fact the Mozilla/Firefox designers understood, that in order to beat/fight IE they at least have to join them a little, so they implemented many of the IE additions, just so that people could browse most sites with their new browser. This is the biggest success of Firefox in my opinion - it is a great browser, but in fact it wouldn't be such a huge hit if not for this single fact...

Anyway, if Firefox only applications start (and are starting) this in my opinion is bad for me, as developer, and not so good for the unknowing end user, since what works for them so good at their home computer where their grandson installed Firefox for them and put in some nice links for them to use. Will not work as well when they go on vacation to florida and use the Internet kiosk to browse for their email...

So I do not like the thought of seeing that much dreaded FireFox only icon anywhere, some people will think it a way to get back the Microsoft, I just see it as a bad idea for a browser that is based on openess and supporting industry agreed upon standards... XUL is not an industry standard - when you make it so, and get more than just one engine to support it (think about how many XML parsers are out there, that's what should be for XUL as well before it is a standard) it should (it already is basically) be able to work on any platform, and provide the required capabilities, I'm not sure it fully does that now (saving files to disk etc...). It should of course support and be secured! I don't no spyware being installed as easy as an ActiveX script.

Why will MS initially win this game? You think the wide install base? well yes, that is one good point for them.. But the reason that they can win this is the mass of developers that will develop in XAML. Not because it is better or marekted more, but because Microsoft is sure to come up with such a great IDE for developing XAML that it will just be easier to do it for the average developer - which means most! whoever has more and better utilities will win.

So Mozilla foundation, if you really want to push XUL.
1. Get it adopted by the industry (W3C/ITEF)
2. Develop some GUI for developing XUL!!!! and do it before Microsoft releases Longhorn!

This is Open Source so anyone can actually take up the lead (maybe IBM or HP?)...

Also check out:
MyXAML  here:
http://www.myxaml.com/ and here: http://www.myxaml.com/marcclifton/ (a blog of the developer) another effort in the same direction


Thursday, March 3, 2005

Some Cool and Redundant XUL

 Originally posted on: http://geekswithblogs.net/meshel/archive/2005/03/03/24882.aspx


Reading today some long ques of blogs, I have been on vacation for a few days, without any computer close by (I got to points where my hands were itching to type, but it is better without computers sometimes).

Vacation was great, Israel has some beautiful sites and things to see, if you like nature, now is one of the best times to come and see awesome sights. I'll be glad to provide tour help...

Anyway reading James Governor mentioning a XUL application that does Amazon,  I rememberd that a few years ago, I was raving about this at work, I downloaded a few tutorials and started building some application, just to see what would come out... I also remember sidebars, and back then I developed a small side bar for the company I was working for (never shipped anyway). But since then, I didn't much hear anything about it, and didn't know if it was even supported by the newer Mozilla/Firefox (Gecko engine if you want to be specific).

So reading that post, I fired up my firefox to that URL, and saw an excellent example of a usefull application. Smart Client anyone? XAML? They left out some functionality to Amazon (that does support these through their API) i.e. a link to amazon instead of putting a button in the application.

I was so happy, and immidately started looking for other XUL applications (google was very helpful providing filetype filtering)

Here we go:
1. Google XUL search - simplistic but oooh! it has colors. Notice that this is hosted ON google.com
2. This - which looks like a XUL Blog reading UI (aggregator beginings???)
3. Mail application - doesn't seem to work for me, but I guess more than just trying is needed.
4. XUL Example viewer - a cool use for the technology to actually teach that technology!
5. Edit Your XUL in XUL - a XUL editor written in XUL
6. Bugzilla Interface - probably needs some parameters inputted to make this show something.
7. Just another Website interface - compare with this

Sadly, there aren't that many. I assume as the market share of Firefox/Mozilla continues (we hope) to grow, we will see more and more of these, they are simply very easy to make, and provide a much better GUI experience than a web page. Such an application can also aggregate many web services/APIs and allow building a robust application that gets all the cross platform and functionality already offered by Mozilla.

To learn more about XUL you are welocomed to go to XULPlanet which has some resources for you to go with... Here is a nice writeup of XAML Vs. XUL old but apparently still true.