Monthly Archives: September 2007

Why I’ve kinda disappeared as of late – the new comcast.net

Take a gander at the new Comcast.net (we’re still in beta) home page :)

As some of you know, I’m part of the development group that builds the systems that drive and support comcast.net.

I’m excited about this latest release – it’s been my pleasure to be part of an awesomely talented team and on this project, I’ve been a primary contributor to the architecture as well as code. In a way, it’s a return to my previous role at Knight Ridder Digital.

I think we’ve built a platform that will enable our product teams to rapidly get new, working features and functionality to customers, where previously, doing so was a chore. This system really sets our UI team free – no longer requiring server side developers to create new functionality or even present new content.

Hopefully I’ll get the chance to to post about the technologies and techniques we’ve employed in its development, like Arpit has about The Fan.

I think it’s safe for me to mention the Web tier using Spring MVC and FreeMarker, with a back-end that resembles something akin to CouchDb, and feeding it all is a very modular, extensible CMS. Each tier is usable in different projects, together or independently. It always comes down to implementation details and I hope to share a few sometime, either here, or on a team blog someday.

You can visit our community blog to track changes to the site and get a short summary here.

tony pierce: “IS EVERYONE OUT OF THEIR MINDS?”

Poetry. Read the whole thing.

“the rex grossman miss teenage south carolina george bushing of america”:

….we allow the lamest people to be the man.

repeatedly.

all of us.

and matt good sings
youre gonna get what you deserve
and not a penny less

bible says its easier for a camel to get thru the eye of a needle
than for a rich man to get into the kingdom of heaven.

because we are attached to the wrong things.

and we’re such liars. saying we’re a christian nation
we dont read the bible and we ignore everything in it when its read to us.
then bitch when someone tells us that we’re not going to heaven.

youre not going to heaven because you hate everything pure on earth
youre not going to heaven because you reject good right here
youre not going to heaven because you dont value love

and heaven is love incarnate. so fuck your whines and fuck your earthly goals.

money is not the way. pretty boy quarterbacks arent the way
dumb blonde beauty queens are not the way.

george bush ryan seacrest maroon five dave matthews

those are your gods

you are the doomed generation

dying to repeat the failures of your parents.

From The Donnas to Rick Rubin

I wish more in the newspaper industry would pay attention to their canary in the coal mine – the music industry.

Rolling Stone: “The Record Industry’s Decline”:

…Overall CD sales have plummeted sixteen percent for the year so far — and that’s after seven years of near-constant erosion. In the face of widespread piracy, consumers’ growing preference for low-profit-margin digital singles over albums, and other woes, the record business has plunged into a historic decline.

The major labels are struggling to reinvent their business models, even as some wonder whether it’s too late. “The record business is over,” says music attorney Peter Paterno, who represents Metallica and Dr. Dre. “The labels have wonderful assets — they just can’t make any money off them.” One senior music-industry source who requested anonymity went further: “Here we have a business that’s dying. There won’t be any major labels pretty soon.”

…More record executives now seem to understand that their problems are structural: The Internet appears to be the most consequential technological shift for the business of selling music since the 1920s, when phonograph records replaced sheet music as the industry’s profit center. “We have to collectively understand that times have changed,” says Lyor Cohen, CEO of Warner Music Group USA. In June, Warner announced a deal with the Web site Lala.com that will allow consumers to stream much of its catalog for free, in hopes that they will then pay for downloads. It’s the latest of recent major-label moves that would have been unthinkable a few years back…

Newsome.Org: “The Lost Rituals of Music”:

I suspect Fred misses the good old days when listening to music was the thing, itself. As opposed to something you do while you’re doing something else. These days everything is compressed. Time. Music. Fun. Back in the day, we’d put Frampton Comes Alive on the turntable, sit back and just enjoy the sound. Same with the Allman’s At Fillmore East, and the best one of all- Europe ’72. We’d read the album covers and the liner notes. We never felt hurried, like we should be doing something else.

Our record collections were tangible. We could browse through them like books. The joy of picking out a record, taking it out of the sleeve and putting it on the turntable was a ritual to our passion.

And a huge kick in the head is the news that Rick Rubin is now a co-President at Columbia Records.

NYTimes: “The Music Man”:

“That’s the magic of the business,” he said. “It’s all doom and gloom, but then you go to a Gossip show or hear Neil in the studio and you remember that too many people make and love music for it to ever die. It will never be over. The music will outlast us all.”

Rick Rubin has been a force in music that has influenced me for the last twenty years. He’s now producing Metallica’s latest and hopefully will return them to greatness. Can any one ‘save’ the music industry? No. But it can be re-invented. And Rubin can play a major role.

As Dave Rogers puts it for Paul Potts, that opera singer that Rubin was gushing about, “the love of the art preceded the opportunity to exploit it, commercially” – that’s something Rubin has always understood. His pursuit of Hip-Hop, Metal, or Roots Rock (the Black Crowes) acts before they were mainstream always made him stand out. His search for the pure soul of an artist, whether it be Neil Diamond or Johnny Cash, exemplifies it.

Rick Rubin being Co-President of Columbia does mark me as old however. He and the music he’s promoted, are no longer on the fringes of the mainstream, and now he’s part of the machine.

Lets hope it gets interesting.

Now on to other matters…

tonypierce.com: “do you know why i know life isnt fair”:

cuz even the donnas had to form their own label. dropped by atlantic after “fall behind me” only made a few suits rich, the donnas are doing their own thing now, shunning their donna c, donna s., schtict and now using their real names, the donnas rocked the world famous viper room last night for their album release party of Bitchin’, which drops today.

Bottom line: The Donnas rock.

Play Like A Girl: “Clean sweeping arpeggios for guitar”:

Oh dear. Two weeks is nowhere near enough time to master a challenging new technique. Our fast-paced culture of instant gratification leads many people to expect to totally kick ass at new skills within an extremely short time. If they can’t manage, they think they either don’t have the “talent” for it or that they must be doing something horribly wrong.

Some skills just take time to develop. And beware: there are plenty of guitarists out there who will lie about grossly underestimate the amount of time and effort they need to master a given technique, just so they will appear more “talented.” This is total bovine excrement. So cut yourself some slack, realize that any skill takes time to develop, and don’t compare your own progress with other people’s.

From my favorite musician’s blog.

Good book: “RESTful Web Services”

Labnotes: “RESTful Web Services: the book you already decided to read”:

If you think the idea of using services as building blocks for your software is the best thing since 30″ displays and free schwag, then you already know this book exists. You also know that SOA is some serious stuff best left for trade magazines looking to sell more ads. Out there in the real world, we can’t get anything done without our power tools. And you heard of the one called REST, they say it’s the best brand around. So anyway, you already decided to read this book, now you just need to make it happen.

Here’s a link to buy the book from O’Reilly or click here to buy it from Amazon and help Labnotes (a terrific blog in its own right).

Honestly, this book reinforces long held beliefs of mine about Web development, while giving me a useful vocabulary and set of examples to use in discussion.

That means it’s invaluable :)

More from Jon Udell and Linux World.

In which I disagree with Marc Andreessen

Marc Andreessen posts thought provokers all the time on his must read blog, but this once, I just have to comment. In “The three kinds of platforms you meet on the Internet” he attempts to clear up confusion about the concept of “platforms” and how they relate to the Internet. Specifically, he describes three “levels” of platforms that you find on the Internet. Go read his post for context. But let me just say that I feel his descriptions are spot on. But the examples he gives for “Level 3″ platforms miss a biggie…

The Web itself is a Level 3 platform according to his definition.

It looks like Fred Wilson agrees with my point of view on this.

1 in 3 Americans Still Believe Saddam Involved in 9/11

Unbelievable isn’t it?

Editor & Publisher: “Hit and Myth: Poll Shows 1 in 3 Americans Still Believe Saddam Involved in 9/11″.

Wow.

The sad thing is, predictably, pundits and experts on both sides of the new media debate (something I have yet to understand) will inevitably point fingers.

Nick Carr: “The people formerly known as informed”.

Dan Gillmor: “Journalists Failure to Dispel Saddam-9/11 Myth is Media Scandal”.

Mathew Ingram: “News flash: Digg headlines not “real” news”.

Fact: Despite the information revolution, despite the advent of 24/7 cable news, despite the advent of 24/7 talk radio, despite the Internet, set aside the Web and participatory media for just a minute, it’s already been determined we’re no better informed about our world than in 1989.

So those who long for the good old days can point your fingers at bloggers all you want.

And those who say today far better than the past can point your fingers at ‘traditional’ media journalists all you want.

The failure is complete. It is across the board.

And it portends terrible things for our democracy and society as a whole.

God: “How many times do I have to say it? Don’t kill each other anymore – ever!”

The Onion: September 26, 2001: “God Angrily Clarifies ‘Don’t Kill’ Rule”:

Responding to recent events on Earth, God, the omniscient creator-deity worshipped by billions of followers of various faiths for more than 6,000 years, angrily clarified His longtime stance against humans killing each other Monday.

“Look, I don’t know, maybe I haven’t made myself completely clear, so for the record, here it is again,” said the Lord, His divine face betraying visible emotion during a press conference near the site of the fallen Twin Towers. “Somehow, people keep coming up with the idea that I want them to kill their neighbor. Well, I don’t. And to be honest, I’m really getting sick and tired of it. Get it straight. Not only do I not want anybody to kill anyone, but I specifically commanded you not to, in really simple terms that anybody ought to be able to understand.”

Worshipped by Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike, God said His name has been invoked countless times over the centuries as a reason to kill in what He called “an unending cycle of violence.”

“I don’t care how holy somebody claims to be,” God said. “If a person tells you it’s My will that they kill someone, they’re wrong. Got it? I don’t care what religion you are, or who you think your enemy is, here it is one more time: No killing, in My name or anyone else’s, ever again.”

…Growing increasingly wrathful, God continued: “Can’t you people see? What are you, morons? There are a ton of different religious traditions out there, and different cultures worship Me in different ways. But the basic message is always the same: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Shintoism… every religious belief system under the sun, they all say you’re supposed to love your neighbors, folks! It’s not that hard a concept to grasp.”

“Why would you think I’d want anything else? Humans don’t need religion or God as an excuse to kill each other – you’ve been doing that without any help from Me since you were freaking apes!” God said. “The whole point of believing in God is to have a higher standard of behavior. How obvious can you get?”

“I’m talking to all of you, here!” continued God, His voice rising to a shout. “Do you hear Me? I don’t want you to kill anybody. I’m against it, across the board. How many times do I have to say it? Don’t kill each other anymore – ever! I’m fucking serious!”

Upon completing His outburst, God fell silent, standing quietly at the podium for several moments. Then, witnesses reported, God’s shoulders began to shake, and He wept.

The Onion: September 26, 2001: “American Life Turns Into Bad Jerry Bruckheimer Movie”: “In the movies, when the president says, ‘It’s war,’ that usually means the good part is just about to begin,” said hardware-store owner Thom Garner of Cedar Rapids, IA. “Why doesn’t it feel that way now? It doesn’t feel like the good part is about to begin at all. It feels there’s never going to be another good part again.”

The Onion: September 26, 2001: “Report: Gen X Irony, Cynicism May Be Permanently Obsolete”: “This earnestness can’t last forever. Can it?” No. It didn’t.

The Onion: September 26, 2001: “Bush Sr. Apologizes To Son For Funding Bin Laden In ’80s”: “I’m sorry, son,” Bush told President George W. Bush. “We thought it was a good idea at the time because he was part of a group fighting communism in Central Asia. We called them ‘freedom fighters’ back then. I know it sounds weird. You sort of had to be there.”

POSTSCRIPT: The Onion: October 3, 2001: “A Shattered Nation Longs To Care About Stupid Bullshit Again”:

“The United States is a free country, a strong country, a prosperous country,” Schuitt said. “Many veterans gave their lives so we would have the right to focus our attention and energies on the DVD release of Joe Dirt, the latest web-browsing cell phones, and how-low-can-you-go hip-hugging jeans. It is a sign of our collective strength as a nation that we genuinely give a shit about the latest developments in the Cruise-Cruz romance. When Mariah Carey’s latest breakdown is once again treated as front-page news, that is the day the healing will have truly begun.”

POST POSTSCRIPT – Six years later, Bin Laden is still free, our troops are deployed in a nation building exercise in a previously dictator led country we decided to dismantle that had nothing to do with the attack – and Afghanistan is sliding back towards the Taliban.

And the day before the sixth anniversary of the attacks headlines were dominated by Britney Spears.

The biggest blogs these days are actually getting TV shows – Perez Hilton and TMZ.com.

And according to Technorati, well, the rest of the known blogosphere is focussed on gadgets and making money.

God bless our troops. God bless the world.

And good day everyone.