I put a new area up at Bitsplitter, the Bitsplitter Link Blog. “So what’s the difference between the normal blog and the link blog?” one might be expected to ask. Well the link blog is for short mentions of things that I want to come back and look at when I have some more time, the main blog is for commentary and things that I know I was interested in and I want to share. There is an additional aspect to the link blog however, it’s actually more PDA friendly than the normal blog. This blog that you’re reading now is minimally formatted so that it displays well on PDA screens, but the articles that I link to aren’t always good for small screens. On the other hand, the link blog is both PDA friendly and links to items that are PDA friendly. The link blog came about because I wanted a way to get certain links that I was bookmarking to transfer over to my PDA so I could read them when I wasn’t sitting at my desktop. Rather than making up something new, I decided to just put them in a blog. I didn’t want to clutter up the main Bitsplitter blog with a bunch of junk that I wasn’t even sure I would be interested in. So I started a whole new area.
Havoc Pennington posted an entry in his weblog about picking a language/architecture/platform for Linux desktop development. I found the post as a whole to be very informative. I think his observations about needing to proceed with a completely unencumbered set of tools and technology are right on:
I just got back from dinner with a friend who’s working at Akimbo. I hadn’t heard about the system before, but he says it has turned out quite well. It’s a video on demand system with actual content available. Unlike the video on demand systems being setup by cable companies, it’s not just a replacement for Pay Per View. The system pulls content from all sorts of content providers, allowing these producers to monetize their content without having to go through the cable companies (or other nefarious media organizations). Wooohoo!! This is the other half of the iMovie and GarageBand style empowerment of individuals to produce rich media. There should be a way to get that content out there, and make money off it if that’s what you want, without having to bed down with a cable network. I could see a system like this allowing grassroots producers to create shows that wouldn’t get picked up by the existing media distribution channels - and yet still reach wide and geographically dispersed audiences. Should be great for indie films. Great idea, good luck guys!!!
I found the paper Why Functional Programming Matters linked off a page about Haskell. Both make some interesting points about the general features of functional programming. In particular I like the comparison between lazy evaluation and pipes, which is something I haven’t run across before in descriptions of that feature. The Why Functional Programming Matters paper jumps into some very specific examples in the process of making its point, which is something that in general I don’t find very convincing. It’s easy to find examples of problems that work well in certain languges or using certain programming styles. But the statements made about being able to compose programs from other full programs and the lack of side-effects leading to better modularization are good points. Haskell looks quite interesting, but I think I’m going to stick with trying to learn Scheme first.
The South by Southwest Music and Media Conference is currently going on in Austin TX. I wasn’t able to make it, but I’ve been hanging around in a couple of Freenode.net IRC channels and listening to the discussions. Fast Company has a series of transcripts that they’ve uploaded to their blog section, and there’s a SocialText Wiki that has chat logs from some sessions. So instead of picking and choosing at this point what I want to comment on, I figured I would leave those resources to provide a bit of an overview of what’s going on down there in that most un-Texas of Texan cities.
There’s an interview with Jeff Dionne up at Linux devices. Jeff did much of the original work on uClinux, a port of Linux that first supported architectures without memory management units. He’s been around for quite a while, and I try to listen to what he has to say. I remember reading posts from him back when I was initially getting involved with professional use of Linux in embedded systems, and his insights have been valuable ever since. I particularly liked his response to question 10:
Textually.org posted about an article in The Feature about mobile presence, social networking, and geolocation. I first heard about the GEOPRIV working group just last month, and haven’t had much chance to read up on the project. But Howard covers both general commentary about mobile presence, information about the stadards push (or war, whichever you prefer), as well as a pointer to BuddySpace. BuddySpace is an open source Jabber messaging client with support for presenting the buddy list as a geographical map of the location of contacts. Now that’s some cool work. Really makes we want to get a Palm Jabber client working. There is an open source Jabber client for Palm devices, but it requires a Java runtime on the device so I haven’t tried it out yet. This might provide enough inspiration for me to actually agree to that nasty license thing I would need to click thu in order to download the Java VM for Palm.
The Wikipedia is one hell of a badass project. Great information, technically well done, up to date - it’s got everything that most people would ask for. Unfortunately for me, I have some oddball requirements. Such as wanting the Wikipedia to display well on my Clie. There do seem to be some Palm specific and general PDA related feature requests in the SourceForge tracker for the project. But I’m sure the Wikipedia developers have enough to do already without catering to the ultra-dweebie .001% of the computer using population who would be interested in accessing the site from a handheld device. So in the meantime I created the Wikipedia PDA hack. It’s just a few lines of perl which make it easy to jump from one printable view of a page to another. It’s not perfect, there are some pages it doesn’t pick up (for some reason some nodes direct to the edit view of the page). And it explicitly redirects to the English site. If you find these bugs just too terrible to deal with, you can always just grab the source and fix them.
Russell Beattie has two great posts in his blog, the first about web services becoming more like Unix style tools and then some further discussion about the similarities and differences between the two styles. I groove completely the the beats Russ is laying down. Usages like this are something that made me happy the first time I read about REST. REST seemed to make it easier for arbitrary tools to participate in the series of commands. My comments tend to blend XMLRPC, REST, and SOAP - cause I tend not to pay too much attention to specs and just hack out whatever seems to work for me. Just a couple of quick comments I want to throw into the mix.
Engadget had a post about a novel delivered to cell phones in 1,600 word installments, which sounded interesting but I held off posting about it for a while. The concept does have some initial “neat” factor to it, but I wanted to mull it over for a little while. This post is really about communication methods changing and shaping the content of communication, and not just about this novel delivered to cell phones. The novel does display a lot of factors I want to talk about however. Most important, that the structure of the novel was based in part on the delivery method. Not just that it was broken up, but that the author chose a writing style that was more concise and action oriented. But that got me thinking about how often communication is not targeted to the methods being used. In particular, the use of hyperlinks in web pages. The use of links we see today is almost nothing like the way they were intended to work. If you want to see the way they were intended to work, take a look at online documentation about programming languages. Just about anything from the Java docs at Sun should do. Links have mostly turned into menu items, leading to other areas you can go to and not necessarily threading together thoughts or concepts.
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