Monthly Archives: October 2004


“As Mr Bush has often said, there is a need in life for accountability.
He has refused to impose it himself, and so voters should, in our view,
impose it on him, given a viable alternative. John Kerry, for all the
doubts about him, would be in a better position to carry on with
America's great tasks.” [Scripting News]

The end of IT Departments?

The end of IT Departments?. Read.


My thoughts? It's an obvious case. There are simply too many
different technologies at play to have an expert on staff for each of
them. For example, where I work, I consider myself an “expert” when it
comes to desktops, our memberships database, Access, end-user support
and training, SOHO networking, etc. I'm not an expert when it comes to
running a web server or an email server. (Although I do know something
about it.). So we have our ISP run the email server, and a hosting
company host our website. Those are outsourced technologies, we don't
have another full time IT person on staff to handle them because it
wouldn't make for a full time job. My personal opinions on our ability
to absorb some of that internally notwithstanding, that has been
commonplace all over the small business world. I think large
corporations are catching up too.

What do you think? [Life of a one-man IT department]

Halfbrain's DNA

Halfbrain's DNA. In this week's column, Under Gmail's hood,
I mention Johnvey Hwang's nod to Oddpost as a Gmail forerunner. I left
out part of the story because, well, I'd forgotten — it's been a
while. But a pair of excellent postings
from Koranteng Ofosu-Amaah, a Lotus/IBM developer, refreshed my memory.
Almost five years ago, a company called Halfbrain (which was acquired
by Alphablox, which was acquired by IBM)
made DHTML do things nobody thought it could — like implement a
spreadsheet, for example. As Ofoso-Amaah notes, some of that DNA found
its way into Oddpost/Yahoo. And some of it found its way into IBM's
WebSphere Portal. Thanks, Koranteng, for setting the record straight.
And please do keep blogging! I would love to hear more IBM voices. [Jon's Radio]

Eye opener

Eye opener.

Ruby, Rails, and TextMate. Following the release of the updated PickAxe
book, I’ve been taking my updated Ruby talk on the road. First I hit
Amazon, and since then I’ve made it a standard part of my No Fluff Just Stuff repertoire.

It’s a fun talk to give for a number of reasons. First, I’ve
started using the TextMate editor
during the talk. It’s great for this kind of things. It knows about
Ruby, it looks nice and clear when editing text on a projector, it supports
folding, and I can run the code with a keychord. It takes a lot to get me
off Emacs, but this editor just works for these presentations.

The other thing that makes it fun is when I build an application at the
end. I start by screen scraping a sales rank from an Amazon page, then
scrape n at a time using Ruby’s threads. I then publish the
results as RSS and stick them in a database using RSS. The crowd really
gets into it when I then say “but of course you’re probably more
interested in an enterprise way of doing this. You’ll need an Object
Relational mapping layer that gives you full transparency, CRUD support,
linking, subclassing, etc etc…”. And then I implement it in two
lines of code using the ActiveRecord of RubyOnRails. Then we build up
validation, event handling, and so on in a totally natural way. Then we
finish off with a simple Web application written using Rails to query the
sales rank data we’d previously fetched.

It’s generating some buzz—I think Rails may well be the
framework to break Ruby into the mainstream.  

If you write web applications and hasn't seen Dave's 10 minute “show don't tell
video yet then please go watch it now — It's a real eye opener about
how easy web development can (and should) be! Watch it even if
you've no idea what Ruby is, or are wedded to
Java/Python/Whatever. You can't help but smile as Dave evolves a
working database web application before your eyes and with so little effort.  [Curiouser and curiouser!]

Never get involved in a land war in Asia

Never get involved in a land war in Asia.

Rumsfeld's War. Excellent PBS Frontline special tonight on Rumsfeld's War.
Can't say there is any radically new material here, but it does a good
job of peeling back the layers of politics and exposing the
decision-making process, the personal battles, and the complete failure
to anticipate the need for massive peacekeeping forces post-battle.

Lots of insight into the Joint Chiefs vs DOD battle. Make no mistake —
under the US Constitution the military answers to the executive branch.
Thus it has always been. Thus it should be. But Rumsfeld and the Bush
Administration charged ahead with a plan that had focused on the
rebuilding of Iraq without accounting for the mess that would arise
once the governing structure fell.

Rumsfeld and the neo-Conservatives had an aggressive, far-reaching
strategy for the Middle East, starting with Iraq. What they didn't do
was spend enough time thinking through what to do if part of the plan
failed. All their scenarios required unequivocal victory. And as any
good scenario planner knows — if you don't have a few scenarios of
failure you're going to get surprised.

Well worth watching if you can catch it on a rebroadcast. Wish I had known it was coming on I would have saved it on my DVR.


How timely. Over lunch today I watched last weeks first part of The Power of Nightmares
– a BBC documentary about how America has reached it's present state of
affairs with Rumsfeld, Cheney and co. It's a long story which
starts with the neocon view that liberalism and individual freedom have
lead to moral decay in America and follows their path and from the
philosophy of Leo Strauss to the Axis of Evil.

Intriguingly the basic neocon premise is exactly the same as that of the islamic jihad movement. That a sublime end
justifies any means including whole sale slaughter. The neocons
need the fight against the axis of evil/the war on terror to soften
the people up for phase 2 — in which, presumably, everyone becomes a
fundamentalist christian. Both groups would have had a warm welcome at Uncle
Joes dinner table:

“You cannot make a revolution
with silk gloves” — Joseph Stalin

The first part of the documentary covers the period of Nixon, Ford and
early Reagan. Of particular interest to me where the role of
Donald Rumsfeld and TeamB
in helping to craft the lie that was how the American public saw the
Soviet Union. It was both interesting and bothering the way the
CIA's black propaganda in Europe came back to haunt them when the
neocons began flexing their muscles.

If Bush gets re-elected we can expect more of the same. It's not
only in
the interest of neoconversatives to make people more frightened — it's
their basic plan! Expect more rigid state control. Expect more
and nastier anti-terrorism legislation (and the terrorist acts it will
be a response to). Expect more fundamentalist christian ideology
in politics. Expect more sabre rattling. Expect more
democracy at the point of a gun. Expect new and scary enemies (they're surely
doing their best to create them).

And, if Kerry wins…? Well expect exactly the same thing. These guys are
powerful and they're patient. When Rumsfeld and Cheney failed to
get their way back in the 80's they didn't pack up their toys and go
home. Instead they waited for a better opportunity. I don't see them or their cohorts giving up
just yet. Not while Amerika remains to be saved.

By the way I loved Dave's suggestion
that Europe and Asia should join forces and liberate America
🙂 I only hope we're not so stupid as to get involved in a
land war in the USA.

You fell victim to one of the classic blunders, the most famous of
which is “Never get involved in a land war in Asia”, but only slightly
less well known is this: “Never go in against a Sicilian, when *death*
is on the line.”. Hahahahahah. [Vizzini falls over dead]
The Princess Bride

Part two
of the documentary is tonight and covers how the neocons got into bed
with the Islamic revolutionaries in Afghanistan.   [Curiouser and curiouser!]

Audio of How To Run Your Own Software Business presentation

Audio of How To Run Your Own Software Business presentation. Niall Kennedy posted an audio file of the How to Run your Own Software Business panel at the OS X conference.

When talking about getting started as an OS X developer, certain
subjects often get more time than they need: dealing with piracy and
legal issues get an unrepresentative amount of time. (Maybe because
these are easy to talk about?) If you’re a developer, you spend more
time working on your software than you do anything else. Then there are
other very important issues such as customer support, marketing,
figuring out pricing, building a website, and so on.

If worrying that your software will get cracked prevents you from taking the plunge, don’t worry. Your software will get cracked. But you can have a successful business anyway.

(If your software doesn’t
get cracked, then that’s probably something to worry about. It means
you either spent way too much time making it uncrackable—or it wasn’t
interesting enough to crack.)

A panel is too short to talk about everything, so (when I have time)
I’ll elaborate on some of what was said and mention some things that
didn’t get covered. []

Why I Heart Bloggers

Why I Heart Bloggers.

Because I can catch up on conferences I couldn't attend in person!

BTW, I'm hoping to restore comments soon in case you want to add
more links to this list. Maybe 2005 will finally be the year of the
library conference blogger!  [The Shifted Librarian]