Posts in 2006

Blogosphere: reportage or junk food?

Steven Downes responds to Miguel Guhlin with a post which sums up nicely why I find myself turning to the blogosphere more and more instead of the more established news channels. Steven is countering the assertion that reading blogs is like eating junk food, offering "sugar high intellectual bursts". I have all but given up on television news - in the UK only the Channel 4 news offers anything remotely resembling a probing analysis of current events, and this only sporadically.

Agents and mashups

I’ve been thinking about software agents. Again. I’ve just read Paul Browne’s post, What comes after Java and .Net? Agents. The concept of autonomous software agents is one which has preoccupied me for years, ever since I researched this for my MSc thesis. There is so much that is attractive about this idea, but it somehow never quite gains traction. The software agent paradigm is problematic, both conceptually, and technically. Definitions of software agents vary - (I don’t want to rehearse them here, but Wikipedia has this to offer), and the concept presents some tricky technical challenges.

Rest protocol advice

{10 things to change in your thinking when building REST XML Protocols}( by Kimbro Staken. Kimbro’s work on XML databases was a real influence on XCRI developments, so this is food for thought. This was previously published at and was retrieved from the Internet Archive

Time to switch (back)?

Tim Bray ponders whether it is time to switch from MacsOS to an opensource OS. I switched from an Intel-based laptop running Linux to an iBook around 18 months ago, but I have so far resisted the temptation to upgrade to a MacBook(Pro). Funny thing is, Tim’s quick list of the Mac hardware features he could not live without is pretty much the list of hardware features I tend to cite when I’m in Mac evangelist mode, number one being the fact that I open my iBook and start typing immediately, and then close the lid when I’ve finished.

If I have seen further, it is by being thrown up by the mosh pit of my peers

With all due respect to Issac Newton, I love Kathy Sierra’s effort to bring his noble sentiment up to date. The always readable Sierra has written a great post about the wisdom of sharing ideas freely, even with competitors, instead of jealously guarding them. She differentiates between Knowledge Sharers and Knowledge Hoarders - especially in the particular flavour of knowledge we call ‘expertise’, and quotes a wonderful line from David Maister’s The Trusted Advisor:

Datebk6 - software as it should be

I just upgraded Datebk5 on my Palm PDA to Datebk6. Looking back, I realise that I have been using this application continuously since 1998, and have upgraded at each opportunity, as the upgrades have always offered some new functionality that I could use. I can’t think of any other software that I use where this is true. The Datebk application represents all that is good about software - it does just what it needs to, in a low-profile kind of a way.

More Rails than Rails?

A while ago I wrote about the Rails influence on Java frameworks. It seems that the Rails lesson has been applied to a combination of Netbeans (in its 5.5 beta version) and Glassfish. A week or two ago Geertjan explained how to use a couple of Netbeans wizards to generate Entity classes from an imported relational database schema together with a default set of JSF backed JSPs, to generate a basic, but working, web application which allows the user to list, add, edit and delete records from any of the included database tables.

Joke for a Friday afternoon

Some sly humour at SOA integration with Flickr and Some of this is too close to the bone….excellent! Found via Scott This was previously published at and was retrieved from the Internet Archive


The other day I found myself using my cellphone’s inbuilt camera to photograph a UML diagram which had been hand-drawn on a white-board. The results were poor, and I ended up having to transcribe it by hand. I was intrigued to stumble across scanR, a startup who offer a service to process low-quality photos of white boards and paper documents. Haven’t tried it yet, but they do offer a free trial.