Monthly Archives: May 2008

Aquamacs – I am home

If you like Emacs, and are looking for version that plays well in OS-X land, it looks like Aquamacs is what you want.

As an aside, following the instructions here, to download and install MIT Scheme, will get you ready to self study Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs. Eli Bendersky blogged his effort to read the book.

If you’re concerned about learning Lisp to use Emacs, you don’t have to. But if you care to dip in, defmacro’s The Nature of Lisp is a good read.

If you’re looking for Python support, check out this write up (M-x run-python just worked out of the box – nice Aquamacs!).

There are many versions of Emacs available for OS-X beyond Aquamacs and the one that Apple bundles. You can find them on the EmacsWiki. The CarbonEmacsPackage is a popular choice, so is Emacs App. I’ll probably end up experimenting a bit with them both.

There is a great set of Emacs tutorials at IBM’s developerWorks.

Emacs’s Org-mode might be the answer to my note taking needs.

Beyond the Browser

Arpit Mathur, our Flash wiz at CIM, has posted a nifty summary of different approaches being taken to extend the browser’s capabilities to the desktop.

To the list, let me add a few more desktop development platforms, that are network leveraging:

Eclipse RCP

JavaFX

wxWidgets with Python

Firefox, irregardless of Prism, is already a capable sometimes-connected desktop application environment (witness Songbird – an open source project I might dig into, because I am just unhappy with the state of current mp3 players). However, Prism sure does seem interesting and worth keeping an eye on.

And while Arpit did cover the Flash side of things (Air), I love contemplating Flex+Python or Flex+Java approaches. Bruce Eckel’s article in Artima on the subject maps to the way I think. There is a lot of re-use and maintenance problems you solve when you layer an application that way.

An earlier project I worked on was a communications application that utilized a Flash UI hosted in a C# application. It worked intriguingly well.

Top 3 resources for migrating to the latest Movable Type templates

I’m going to be migrating to the latest and greatest Movable Type templates soon and wanted to collect the best resources I could find. Here are three:

How to upgrade to Movable Type 4 full templates (MT4) – Robert Green’s DIY

Upgrading Your MT3 Templates to Movable Type 4.0 | Movable Type Docs

Movable Tweak: Movable Type 3 vs. Movable Type 4: A Modular Site Approach

(ah, I used ‘top n-number’ in a post!)

Women speakers at conferences, expanding the conversation, some personal experience

Livia Labate, Principal of Information Architecture for Comcast Interactive Media, my team at Comcast, is asking some hard questions around why there are not more women speakers at conferences. She raises the issue here and follows up here.

Livia, meet Jeneane Sessum, writer, consultant, marketing pro, all round social media expert. In her latest post she runs the Industry Standard over the rails for doing what so many other media publications seem apt to do – publish a list of (top or must read) bloggers and not include women.

Livia, meet Shelley Powers, author, Javascript/AJAX extraordinaire who has written a number of posts on the subject, here are two: Progress, Invisible.

Shelley and Jeneane, meet Livia.

Before I mention anything from my point of view and experiences, two more links – one a shocker, and one a think piece:

NYTimes: Sorry, Boys, This Is Our Domain: Research shows that among the youngest Internet users, the primary creators of Web content (blogs, graphics, photographs, Web sites) are not misfits resembling the Lone Gunmen of “The X Files.” On the contrary, the cyberpioneers of the moment are digitally effusive teenage girls. The section this article appeared in? Fashion. Not Business. Not Technology.

Salon: The question isn’t why a blogger like Emily Gould has the spotlight — it’s why other women don’t.

Onward…

I’ve written in the past about why I feel diversity is crucial to a successful gathering where information discussion is the goal.

I’ve never shared the difficulty I had in helping manage the Norg Unconference to meet that ideal.

The Norg Unconference was to build bridges between media technologists, independent bloggers, and traditional newspaper media, to help newspapers, indeed all of us, find a path to build the new news organization, or norg, as Will Bunch called it.

Many in attendance thought it was groundbreaking how it brought together such radically different world views in media such as members of IndyMedia and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

But part of me walked away feeling it wasn’t such a big success – the participants in attendance weren’t a true representation of the real diversity in Philly – and in assisting Wendy Warren of the Philadelphia Daily News and Susie Madrak, in organizing the meeting, which was taking place in the lead up to Emma being born, and me burning the candle at both ends, I burnt some bridges myself, as I fought, prior to the conference, to get folks to work together across views of each other. I partially failed, and lost some friends I believe. For an ideal. I won’t go into details, as I hope bridges can one day be restored, I have no bad feelings.

I leave it at this – it is very, very hard to get people to open up to what others can bring to the table – and do so pro-actively – while looking outside the usual suspects to make it happen. For all my love of the Web’s capability to widen the scope of conversation, it also empowers us to be discriminating in who we give attention to. It’s human nature at play – the Web is an attention economy. You think it’s bad at conferences? Check out who is considered the ‘thought leaders’ in any niche blogging conversation, who is considered the A-list in any blogging topic space.

More background:

kottke.org: Gender diversity at web conferences

O’Reilly: Women in Technology

Dori Smith (Javascript Guru/Author): BackupBrain: Gender diversity at web conferences.

Kimberly Blessing: Where are all the women? (Revisited)

Anil Dash: The Old Boys Club is for Losers

One last question still bubbles…

This is from my earlier post (which has a lot more reference links):

Aren’t we collectively building an architecture of participation? Our face to face gatherings should mirror that. And if they don’t – then they reveal who we truly care about – don’t they?

Garret Vreeland: “The Internet is personal, pervasive, and permanent.”

Emily Gould, formerly of Gawker wrote of her experience sharing her life online in the NYTimes. It’s a weekend must read.

The piece has drawn interesting reaction from here and there, but the response that stood out the most to me was Garret’s:

NY Times, you got snookered. You need editors who’ve had a history on the internet, with experience of the weblogging phenomena going back to the beginning of the revolution.

Why is there such a strong reaction among webloggers to this piece? To us, the lessons gleaned from this article were new eight or nine years ago. Now they’re reflexive, done without thought: Revealing personal information online, is like lending your favorite books. Only lend what you don’t mind losing. Never lend what is valuable to others, without permission. Don’t expect to be forgiven if you do, because you cannot ‘take it back.’

Repeat after me: The Internet is personal, pervasive, and permanent.

Again, louder.

The Internet is personal, pervasive, and permanent.

The sooner you memorize and understand that, the better.

lang:groovy – extend your Spring app with scripting

The Spring Framework offers many ways to ease application development and maintenance, but one that gets my interest really going is its dynamic language support.

codehaus: Dynamic language beans in Spring

codehaus: Groovy and JMX

raible designs: Using Dynamic Languages with Spring with Rod Johnson and Guillaume LaForge

organic thoughts: Spring Meets Groovy!

“the 110 AC outlet”

There’s a good piece in the NYTimes on cloud computing for the uninitiated: Cloud Computing: So You Don’t Have to Stand Still

Traditional companies are also beginning to adapt their computing infrastructure to the cloud. Reuven Cohen is founder and chief technologist at Enomaly, a software firm in Etobicoke, Ontario, that helps companies do just that. While most of its clients are technology businesses, Mr. Cohen says Enomaly is working with a New York-based bank that uses cloud computing to develop and test applications. He says that another customer is a large media business that uses the cloud to process video.

He sees this kind of need-driven use as a “fundamental change in how we manage technology.”

In fact, cloud computing is poised to do for technology what the electrical grid did for power, says Nicholas Carr, author of “The Big Switch,” which compares the rise of the cloud to the rise of electric utilities. The electrical grid streamlined operations for companies; when every home had cheap power and outlets, “you had incredible innovation in how to put all that cheap power to use,” Mr. Carr says. He thinks that cloud computing will prompt a similar cycle over the next decade.

There are practical problems that could turn the cloud into a thunderhead. The technology is still emerging: Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (S3) went offline for a couple of hours in February.

Peter O’Kelly, an analyst at the Burton Group, a technology research firm, says he thinks that many established companies will not save money by moving to the cloud. And Alistair Croll, a partner at Bitcurrent, a consulting firm that specializes in Web and cloud technologies, says companies will not be able to put data willy-nilly into the cloud because of security concerns.

At the same time, Mr. Croll says the cloud is here to stay. “The Web has become the interface” for computing, “the 110 AC outlet,” he says. That is a fundamental shift that could power a new cycle of technological innovation.