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False Positives Adventures in Technology, SciFi and Culture from Toronto

Sunday, March 14, 2004

How to earn a week of Skiing....the hard way

After finally getting the Server restored, and working the next 16 hours, I'm off on a previously booked ski trip to Quebec city. And trying not to think, too much, about the looming deadline. I love deadlines, and the get big whooshing sound they make when they rush by....

Friday, March 12, 2004

Where have all the spammers gone?

I'm going to jinx myself but, I've gotten no spam today, where I would "normally" get 20 to 40 pieces (most caught by my filters). Is this a national Span holiday? Is there a conference of spammers going on? Are they all talking to their lawyers about the lawsuits launch this week? Whats going on!

Thursday, March 11, 2004

The Starup Insanity

Via A random blog: "The startup mentality. comes Why are there Serial Entrepreneurs?

'Being part of a start-up is about more than get-rich-quick dreams. It's an emotional commitment to a hurried, harried, adrenaline-driven way of working. For those who can cope, it seems oddly addictive.'

  • Gambler’s Fallacy.

  • I won’t work for big companies anymore.

  • I can’t work for big companies anymore.

  • It’s not the company, but the work.

  • Big companies are no longer hiring.

  • The valley is really one big company already

  • Start-ups are addictive.

I would add: It's not the work it's the people. There are a bunch of people whom I would easly work with again. There arealso a few people with whom I would not work with again for any reason (or maybe only for cash up front). Okay maybe I need a 12 step program?

Looks like some other interesting reading under Product Bytes

Very Ultra DSL, really soon.

In the hope of having happier thoughts : the Globe and Mail, Globetechnology reports on "Broadband at warp speed"

Using 2 new upgraded technologies BCI (Bell Canada) hope to provide 16 megabits a second in early 2004, and 22 mbps as early as next year. Currently Sympatico's Ultra service does ~ 3 Mb down (and 600 Kbp up). The the local Cable company (Rogers) is also testing service at like speeds.

The How is two new technologies now ready for rollout. The first is OPI-DSLAM, which is a device that sits at the other end of the DSL system used by Bell through its Sympatico Internet service; it replaces the older DSLAM, which is limited to about six megabits a second. The second is the Nortel 6500, a technology that can deliver and manage fibre optic lines close enough to the home to realize superhigh speeds.

I found a older reference to the OPI DSLAM here:Reaching Farther With DSL dated from Oct 2002 and talks about proposed "fibre to the neighbourhood" (FTTN) initiatives and the related challenges. Here's more info on the Nortel Networks Optical Multiservice Edge 6500

I'm already 200 feet away from a central switch. If they ever run the fiber above ground, I suspect that I'd be out that night tapping it.

22 mpbs is very good. However, how many TV signals could I stream at a time over that? I wonder how much brandwidth a single channel needs? (leaving aside issues on the Server, Caching, etc.) Hopeful I'll get a change to use their Video on Demand soon.

Now they need to come up with a good marketing name, if they don't just keep "Ultra" as the high end.

On a related note: IP World show coming to Toronto in the fall

170 people Dead, and 600 wounded by bombing in Madrid

I heard this early this morning from the radio. More details onThe Globe and Mail.

Bloody hell. Made all the more awful by the fact that Elicia and I where at the Atocha train station station last November, arriving from Sevilla on one of those trains. The ETA Basque separatist group is suspected in this massacre, based on the type of materials used, and a van that was stopped at the end of February. The timing of the attack would appear to be related to the Spainish General Election this Sunday.

I remeber that when we boarded the (EVA) train (in Sevilla), we did go though a security check and pass thought what I thought was a metal detector.

This is the current exerpt from CNN :

A coordinated wave of bomb attacks on Madrid's commuter train system today killed at least 186 people and wounded over 1,000 at the height of the city's rush hour. There has been no claim of responsibility in the bombings, but Spanish officials are blaming terrorists from the Basque separatist group ETA..

Here is a pdf of the Madrid subway map planometro.pdf (~ 90 Kb) I got from here The Atocha train station (Atocha Renfe is the metro/subway station) is in the lower Right half part on the Blue No 1 line (Plaza de Castilla / Congosto). has more info on the station, including this : Atocha is the largest and most used train station.

Russell Beattie blogs about this. Russell has just returned to the US, with his (Spanish) wife and child, after living for several years in Madrid.
His wifes family is OK.
Boing Boing has an entry with links to Spainish Bloggers and this image is going around wrt the bombing :

Update > 5pm EST, Via the BBC : A statement attributed to al-Qaeda claims responsibility. Although "other indicators pointed to .. Eta". Perhaps they are working together? Current count of Sadness : at least 190 people.

Massive demonstrations are planned for tomorrow at 7PM in cities all over Spain. Expect live blog coverage.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Robot builder could 'print' houses

Via New Scientist: "Robot builder could 'print' houses"

A robot for "printing" houses is to be trialled by the construction industry. It takes instructions directly from an architect's computerised drawings and then squirts successive layers of concrete on top of one other to build up vertical walls and domed roofs.
Engineer Behrokh Khoshnevis, at the University of Southern California, has been perfecting his "contour crafter" for more than a year. "The goal is to be able to completely construct a one-story, 2000-square foot home on site, in one day and without using human hands," he says.
The first house will be built in 2005. If the technology is successful the robot could enable new designs that cannot be built using conventional methods, for example involving complex curving walls.

If this works out the applications could range from low cost housing in the both the First to Third worlds ("Press 'A' for instant Afgah village"), to custom built high end houses.

Local content on the map

Yahoo puts local content on the map

This only works for US address so here's an example for people playing along at home : 235 2nd St San Francisco, CA 94105-3124. Kind of Cool! and if you select an restaurants "point" you can get further information.

Wonder how long before I can do this on a GPS enabled Hand held device?

Russell Beattie : Map Results to your Mobile picks up on the same story from a different starting point and a different slant..

This is pretty great. Now if Yahoo was smart (and I'm *not* trying to give it ideas since their online solution is similar to what our WaveSpotter J2ME client does on the mobile side) they would hook up their new Yahoo Maps with the new Point of Interest locations (POIs) to their mobile services section. They already have everything in place to enable this instantly - they know my user name, and that's associated with my Yahoo Mobile profile with my phone's number and capabilities. I should be able to look up a map on Yahoo, and if I'm logged in, click on a button that says "send to my mobile" and off it goes - a WAP Push message with the map at the top and the POIs listed at the bottom.

Of course Yahoo - like most American portals - probably doesn't take mobile phones seriously yet so this won't happen for at least 9 months to a year if ever, so that's nice to know. It's amazing it took them this long to add POI data to their maps.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Tomorrow After the Day

OJR article: Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer Looks at the Future of News: "David Brin envisions a future in which the world is plastered with e-info -- virtual Post-It notes, e-advertisements and other data -- that we can access via glasses, earbuds and other technologies that link wirelessly to databases and instantly deliver information to us."

S-trolling...refugee tongues -- Russian, Finnish, Polish....specs tuned to omit adverts...a penny cam somebody had stuck on a lamppost...With enough savvy eyes at work, consensus-reality must come closer to reality itself....member of a liaison-club...beckoning from the Lindbergh-Rutan Skydock...

via datacloud

Here Kitty....

from Obsidian Wings

"Animal behaviorists have documented that cats left alone too much in small urban apartments can sometimes develop bad habits, such as clawing furniture, overeating, and assassination."

basements do the same to me .........I just don't get the advantages of the high "Bell Tower" vantage point.

iPod media reader offloads digital camera memory into your MP3 player

Via Boing Boing: A Directory of Wonderful Things:

Belkin has shipped a six-in-one media reader that plugs into your iPod -- plug the reader into your iPod, stick the Compact Flash, SmartMedia, Memory Stick or whatnot from your camera into the reader, and your photos are offloaded onto the iPod's hard-drive, freeing you up to take new shots. When you get home, plug your iPod into your computer and offload your archived photos. Smart, smart, smart. Link

I was speculating last fall when some sort of Digital Camera to micro HD would happen. I see 2 big advantages to this : Freeing up the smaller memory card to the bigger / cheaper HD is one (saving me from having multiple cards at minimum). Backing up the data is another (for longer trips, as insurance against losing the card or camera, or card failure. i.e. peace of mind). Now what I really what is to be able to back up the data from my Handy Computing / Communicator / Media device into a cyberspace CVS repository and do so transparently, incremental, and wirelessly. But that's for next year......

Monday, March 08, 2004

Coffee is 'health drink'

Coffee is 'health drink'.

Well that's one thing I've been doing right over the years. Exactly one thing.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

I just got noticed by Chad Dickerson (InfoWorld)

Chad Dickerson: March 02, 2004 Archives: Lotus Notes and RSS

Anyone who knows me or reads my columns regularly know how I feel about Lotus Notes. Those feelings aside, I did just come across a Notes-based RSS aggregator via Lockergnome's RSS Resource. The instructions for the R5 release are available, as well as instructions on how to get it working in R6.

The simplicity of RSS triumphs in yet another environment.

This is one of those good news, bad news things : I just got noticed. Isn't this wonderful....Oh c**p everyone is looking at me, is my fly up or down....I expect a flood of hits over the next while added to the steady stream of people looking for R5 RSS Lotus notes solutions.

To those people : I hope you find the solution useful out of the box. If not tell me what you like what you don't, how you would like to / hope to use it. I've already had some wonderful feedback and suggestions. Thank you. And thanks for the Link Love Chad.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Getting on the open road: J2EE fundamentals for ASP developers

Getting on the open road: J2EE fundamentals for ASP developers

Thursday, March 04, 2004

The subtext of the Business / Creative process

Via The Doc Searls Weblog: for a glance at "life inside an advertising agency" It's an except from Truth In Advertising (QuickTime, ~3.5 Mb). absolutely hilarious. And scarily common on the Tech Consulting side too.

Nik Shenoy's - Thoughts about Java Agent Performance in Domino R5"

Via benpoole I discovered Nik Shenoy's "Java Agent Performance in Domino R5". Nik is also a Toronto based Domino Developer. His blog entry is particularly interesting given the number of people interested in running my own RSS News reader on the server.

Java Agent Performance in Domino R5

I was chatting with Weidong Huang from Reader's Digest a few days ago about some weird behaviour in the Domino Java class loader. It's actually pretty interesting, but it requires some historical context first.

NOTE: It's possible that most of this applies to Domino R6, but I've only personally tried this in R5.0.12.

A couple of years ago, we were developing a system to manage magazine article editing workflow. We made a design decision to implement some software in Domino, using XML and Java. We came up with a set of classes to represent the problem domain, rendered the data into XML format and then used XSLT to display the data in HTML format. In essence, this would allow us to implement an MVC architecture and keep things fairly clean, while simultaneously providing data export functionality via XML.

The architecture actually worked fairly well, but we ran into some serious performance problems. The built-in XML handling provided by XML4J was insufficient for the task, so we decided to use Xerces for XML parsing and Xalan for the transforms using XSLT. To keep things simple, we were using standard Domino Java agents to render the results to the browser. This is where we hit our first major hurdle.

The Java class libraries for Xerces and Xalan are large. You can attach them to an agent, but that incurs a rather severe run-time hit to load the libraries. It seems that Domino stores these as attachments in the agents and detaches them to create the run-time environment each time. In any case, response time was unacceptable.

The good news is that you can get around this performance bottleneck by installing the Java libraries on the server and telling Domino about them via the JavaUserClasses variable in the NOTES.INI file on the server. In order to compile agent code that uses the system-loaded libraries, you'll have to do the same thing on the client side so that Designer can see the same class environment. Pre-loading the classes on the server greatly improves the performance of agent execution, but it comes with a price. If you want to change those libraries, you'll have to have direct access to the server. Also, modifying those libraries generally requires a server restart. Finally, you'll have to make sure that the paths to those libraries are relatively short since Java has a 256 character limit on the classpath variable and Domino tacks on a whole bunch of it's own libraries when the server loads.

That solved the biggest performance issue, but we still had another problem because of all the XML generation going on. It takes some time to generate our XML files, and it was unacceptably long to do this every time the client made a request. We needed to cache the data in many cases so that navigation was faster. This is where it would have been nice to have been working with servlets, because there didn't seem to be a way to keep an in-memory cache for the XML data across requests using agents. Once the agent was done, all the data and context disappeared. I eventually implemented a cache that wrote XML data to Notes documents. That worked, but it still took a second or two to read the data and create the DOM tree.

It always bothered me that there was no way around that, because we didn't have time to do a servlet implementation of all the user interface code. Well, Wei discovered that classes loaded via the JavaUserClasses statement having static members are cached across agent calls. In our original implementation, we included our home grown classes as a small JAR file in each agent. It was small enough so that load peformance wasn't a big deal, and it allowed us to update the template in development without having to restart the server each time. This implementation broke when we moved the class to the server because some of our other caching code assumed that everything could be recycled when the agent was finished. Unfortunately, that assumption was no longer valid when the data was being shared across agents.

So, it looks like it is possible to share in-memory data across subsequent runs of a Domino Java agent. I have reproduced this behaviour in a test example in R5.0.12, and Wei has shown this to be true in R6. I can't guarantee that the class will remain loaded, but it's something to look at if you're having performance issues with Java agents in Domino. This also means that using static variables in classes loaded via JavaUserClasses may result in threading problems if you're not careful.

Nik has some other content worth reading too.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Just In Tokyo: and A Place So Foreign

Just In Tokyo: PDF: Just In Tokyo, a cheap, handy, printed guide to Tokyo. via Boing Boing . Justin knows his stuff, so I'll be reading this before my next trip to Tokyo (soon I hope!)

Also, I'm 3/4 the way though Cory Doctorow's A Place So Foreign and 8 more Places. Got to love stories with Toronto and Ontario references. And I just bought his Eastern Standard Tribe. Perhaps I'll go to his March 27 book signing @ Bakka Books

Monday, March 01, 2004

Edit CSS Plugin

For Mozilla based browsers

It allows you to edit your web page's CSS in the left sidebar and watch the change in realtime in the browser pane. This is as cool as it gets in web design if you ask me.

Via Russell Beattie and benpoole

Sunday, February 29, 2004

Enthusiasts Call Web Feed Next Big Thing

Yahoo! News - Enthusiasts Call Web Feed Next Big Thing via Slashdot, and a bunch of other places.

One of the important points made by CmdrTaco and a few other places is that calling it RSS Feed seems unfriendly and very uber-techie, especially when it may not be RSS but RDF or Atom. Perhaps we should refer to them as News Feeds (cause they tell us that there is something new) or Web Feed, or Speed Feeds (CmdrTaco suggestion). This might be important for the ordinary user, whether for personal use or business use.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Global reality: TimeZones+ Daylight Saving Time, is hard

One sure sign that people are getting into real-world web services projects is when you start to see timezone awareness ...

[Via Loosely Coupled weblog]

coordinating TimeZones are hard, then add in Daylight Saving Time, when or if it takes effect, and except to go completely insane! I've donate a few handfuls of hair to this.

here's a couple of reference links :
World Time Server : (Time Zone Database by subscription for ~ $400 year)
This site Daylight Saving Time is one of the best I've seen explaining the history and "Why". Plus a chart of DST around the world with links to some explaining to the how it gets decided for each country.

After looking over this you 1) go out and get really really drunk, 2) try to talk for boss (and or the customer) out of it 3) decide that 400 dollar is not that much to pay to keep track of this all 4) go out for more drinking cause you still have to find a good way to implement this.

again from Loosely Coupled weblog:
Why is timezone awareness such a big deal? Because it only becomes a problem in a highly distributed, decentralized environment. So long as there's a single, central point of control, then it's easy to wriggle around timezone issues by pretending they don't exist. You can always decide that, since the data center is in Colorado, all transactions will logged using Mountain Time. Or if the company headquarters is in New York, you can decree that everything happens according to Eastern Time. Tags: ; Technorati Tags:

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Behavior versus Context

A article [Via A VC] on "Behavior versus Context". Can you say Permission Marketing

I think the Internet is slowly becoming the medium of choice for almost all marketers.


Because it has the reach, the frequency, the measurability, and the ability to target like no other medium. And its incredibly easy to buy. More reach. More frequency. More accountability. More efficiency. Easier to buy. How can you beat that? You can't.

what's in an IPO?

Wired has a good article in their latest issue: The complete guide to google, which actually starts by talking about the challenges any company goes through when pre-, in- and post-IPO. Just the first section alone makes it worth reading. Oh, yes. It talks about Google too. :)

[Via d2r]

Explaining RSS to your Boss

Via Scripting New: Forbes comments on The Coming RSS Revolution and does a reasonable job explaining what RSS is (in terms non-tech people can understand), as well as sources for Feeds Yahoo! has separate RSS feeds for national, international and politics news sections, to name a few. (Yahoo! is very well done, see this link, available on their main news page, currently bottom left. )

The answer to the "Why RSS news feeds" question is: control. Rather than what for email newsletter to come to me (push) I can poll a larger number of sites an at a glance see if there's anything interesting to read. A good feed has a title which lets me know if care about the topic. My News, My Way, on My Timing. (There are news readers for Outlook, to make it intergrate with your email program, and any corporate site (intranet) can easy have a RSS feed(s) added.)

The article also mentions several RSS New Readers, (good lists are here or here ) and RSS Aggregator sites such as (with more than 500,000 RSS feeds) which lets you search RSS feeds to get new and opinion much faster than the mainstream media sites can.

More on Feeds :
Get IT news in RSS form from InfoWorld,
IBM developer info from IBM developerWorks RSS feeds,
A R R A S @ o n l i n e is maintaining a list of Lotus Notes/ Domino Blogs and their news feeds,
and Sun's Java net has a list of Java related feeds here
and BlogStreet is a directory of Blogs (and notes their feeds) with a few interesting slices and dices on the Blog ecosphere.

Much more under the Category:

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Memorable Quotes from Life of Brian (1979)

Memorable Quotes from Life of Brian (1979), because " No one expects The Spanish Inquisition!'"

Monday, February 23, 2004

MySQL Profits From Open Source

Another MySQL database server article :Wired News: MySQL Profits From Open Source as the mainstream discovers that you can get what you need for $500 a server rather that thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. Also mentioned are other alternatives DB's such as PostgreSQL, Berkeley DB, and Firebird. These may not yet be ready for running your ERP systems today but they will be in a couple of years (which is why SAP has invested in the company behind MySQL AB)

What's up with blogging, and why should you care?

The current state of Blog-dom (Bloger-hood? Blog-osphere?), both out side and within (or from) the corporate world (which is a more recent event). Via What's up with blogging, and why should you care? - TechUpdate - ZDNet

What's all the fuss about blogging? It looks and smells mostly like writing, self-expression conveyed in a chronological format that invites comments and the inclusion of a variety of media types and links, similar to a Web page or e-newsletter. In fact, blogs (weB LOG) provide a way for non-programmers or HTML jockeys to present their writings, ramblings, diaries, rants, marketing spiel, political advocacy, research or whatever online communication with simple, yet increasingly powerful tools.

It also notes the development of RSS new readers, and RSS search engines:
The combination of blogs, RSS and intelligent searching--and future generations of those technologies and concepts-may not be the 21st century equivalent of the Gutenburg printing press, but they will play an increasing important role in forming the opinions that lead to decisions big and small across personal and professional spheres.

All in all a good article from Dan Farber.