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Some new photos

It's going to be ages until I get time to scan in the Fuji slide film I was talking about. In the mean time I have shot another roll and plan to shoot more this weekend, so I thought I may as well upload the Ektachrome ones I have scanned already. I haven't done any photoshopping (other than a few dust removals) so please excuse any slightly off colour balancing.

07:49 AM, 27 Sep 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Conference Envy

I'd give my right leg to attend this year's OOPSLA and Dynamic Languages Symposium. (Can't give my right arm - I need that for typing).

Attending Designfest or hearing Avi Bryant give a talk titled "Data Refactoring for Amateurs" would be worth the air fares alone.

02:58 AM, 25 Sep 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Richard Hammond (Top Gear) in critical condition

TOP Gear presenter Richard Hammond has been injured in an accident while filming an edition of the programme, the BBC said.

Hammond, who often drives high-performance cars as part of presenting the show, has been taken to hospital following the incident at an airfield near York.

...

He said: "At 5.45pm (on Wednesday) evening we received a report via the fire service of a male person trapped in what was described as an overturned jet car which had been driven on the airfield.

It sounds very serious. Various reports are saying that Hammond is in a "critical condition" and in a special "neurological unit".

Top Gear presenter hurt | NEWS.com.au

Update: He was doing 280 mph at the time aiming to set a new UK land speed record in a jet powered Vampire. Sky News: Top Gear Man In Crash.

Apparently the Vampire is powered by a Rolls Royce Orpheus jet engine and accellerates from 0 to 272 mph in 6 seconds. One, two, three, four, five, six. There - you're now travelling 272 mph.

Further Updates:

  • TV host 'improving' after crash | BBC online,
  • Hammond in a serious but stable condition | BBC Top Gear,
  • Jeremy makes statement,
  • the BBC ask for messages of support to be sent via email.
  • Doctors at Leeds General Infirmary said they are 'reasonably optimistic' that Richard Hammond will make a good recovery despite having suffered a significant brain injury

08:29 PM, 20 Sep 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Widgets are the new screensavers

Remember when you had that old Mac Plus, or maybe an LC or some such, and you used to go scouring your friends, swap meets, bulletin boards etc, for that new cool screen saver? Somehow you would rotate back to Flying Toasters every now and then, but I remember a lot of cool screen savers.

They didn't really save your screen, it was more like computer popcorn.

I think widgets are a lot like that. A very few are useful (like the survey widget I used on a recent post from MajikWidget) but most are popcorn.

Of course there's nothing wrong with popcorn. I like popcorn. And I like Asteroid. Happily they have come together in this Asteroid widget from Widgetbox!

Update: Well just like the screensavers of yore, widgets han hijack your computer! Or your blog at least. It seems that the site that submitted the asteroids widget (www.80smusiclyrics.com/games.html) replaced the Asteroid widget contents with advertising some time after I wrote this post.

As a replacement, this widget will get a new game every time urbaniacs.com releases one.

08:35 PM, 12 Sep 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Nikon CoolScan 5000 scanned photos on their way

I shot a few rolls of film last weekend. Both were E6 (slide) film - one Kodak Ektachrome 100 the other Fuji Velvia 100. The comparison between the films is quite striking, but I'll get into that later. Processing was expertly handled by Vision Graphics who are right behind my apartment in St Leonards. Why have I been going all the way to the Lab?!

It's also been an experiment for me since I'm doing my own scanning with a (borrowed) Nikon Super CoolScan 5000 ED. I haven't finished with the colour calibration yet but here's a sampler of what's going to be uploaded to my 23hq photos later this week.

20060911 Preview

The camera is a Canon EOS 30 and the lens is a Canon Ultrasonic 24-80. The locations above include Dee Why, Woolloomooloo, San Francisco and Singapore (ok, so there were a few shots already on the roll before last weekend ;)

12:03 AM, 11 Sep 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Michael Schumacher Wins! Retires!!

Ferrari LogoWhat a night in Formula 1. A crazy stewards decision, Alonso fighting back only to suffer a blown engine, Kubica getting his first podium in his third F1 race, Schumacher winning and thus closing the drivers title fight to two points...

All par for the course in the exciting world that is F1.

But nothing compares to Michael retiring. Love him or hate him - he's a champion and he's done more for the sport than most. I can't believe he's retiring. He didn't sound like he wanted to retire!

Mark my words though, he will win the chanpionship this year. In the drivers conference he referred to his upcoming "3 wins", and Ferrari management are already calling him an "8 time world champion"!

Can't wait to see Kimi in a Ferrari too!

Update: Sorry for the horrible typo of Schumacher in the heading. I was correct in the body - that's what happens at 2am in the morning people.

12:03 PM, 10 Sep 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

OpenDarwin shutting down?!

Hexley - the Darwin OS MascotWell I can see that this is old news, but the demise of OpenDarwin is very sad. I must say I didn't realise what the original goals of the OpenDarwin project were, but it will be missed as a ports management community. I found OpenDarwin ports far better maintained and managed than fink and now it looks like I'll have to move back. Very sad.

Update: I can breathe easy - it seems that darwinports is continuing and will now be hosted by the (sort of) new Mac OS Forge. Well that's a relief.

11:04 AM, 08 Sep 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Issue with comments fixed

Thanks to an email from a would be commenter I discovered that some html quoting code I recently added to this site's code was over-quoting the url used for the ajaxian followup comment code.

It's now all fixed so please feel free to resume your normal rate of one comment every month or so :)

06:50 AM, 08 Sep 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Software development - finally into the 21st century?

I've been thinking lately about the changes I see in the programming landscape. Partly it's a personal journey thing, but there are definitely some major shifts going on.

<preramble>

Firstly there's the growing acceptance of so called scripting languages like Ruby and Perl as legitimate for application development. There is certainly a shift from pre-compiled to just-in-time compiled and also from static (aka. strong) to dynamic (aka. weak) typing (excellently discussed by Steve Yegge).

Secondly there is a move away from the previously accepted wisdom that it's better to pick a language and stick to it. Domain specific languages have been around for a long time (think SQL, awk, Excel macros) but are now being accepted in less traditional areas. Although some people are still confused about how to decide what language/environment to use, many are starting to see the wisdom in choosing a language that allows for the most natural description of the real world problem.

Vista Smalltalk
changes everything...

</preramble>


I have been enamoured with Smalltalk for some time. I have yet to use it in a commercial project for many reasons but one is the difficulty of deploying it to what users might call a "normal environment" (eg. Apache/Linux for web apps, Windows for gui apps).

The lack of integration with "modern" gui operating systems is particularly frustrating because when it comes to rapid gui app development, nothing comes close to Smalltalk. Not even Cocoa. It' not just the language or the frameworks, it's the entire environment. And that is the problem, because it's not immediately obvious how you can mess with the smalltalk os environment and not lose some of the power.

Vista SmalltalkVista Smalltalk changes everything. I've been following this guys blog for some time, but I think this is the first screenshot. Just look at those Vista native windows. A corporate PC user won't realise that he or she is using an application that finally realises the power of 1970s computing, but the developer will. And for hosted applications - just see how identical the in-browser application is - with no web specific application code.

I'm no Microsoft fan, but I will give them some advice. Give this guy money now. Lot's of it. If the libraries were shipped with Vista, this would beat Cocoa hand over fist (excluding multimedia, OpenGl... ok in a whole bunch of non-corporate areas).

Sheesh - I might even need to own my first ever Windows machine. At least I can dual boot a MacBook ;)

Update: As pointed out by a reader in the comments, Dolphin Smalltalk achieves the same sort of platform integration for existing windows versions. I must confess to being ignorant about Dolphin Smalltalk since I had previously avoided it because I traditionally avoid windows. I promise to investigate it and report back! Certainly products such as Cincom Smalltalk use their own widgets rather than native OS ones which is another (perceived at least) issue, but I'll hold judgement on Dolphin until I have checked it out.

Update 2: I've been taken to task for my admittedly "hand waving" statement that Smalltalk has been traditionally difficult to delploy. Without stating it, I was really combining technical issues with human issues. Human issues being your client or manager saying something like "that deployment procedure looks a bit wierd - and the widgets are non-native. You'll never be allowed to use that".

What I am excited about (and unashamedly hoping to promote) is that now is a time when we have the chance to promote uncommon thinking when it comes to software development. This is why I specifically linked the changes in attitude to scripting languages with this new Smalltalk framework.

I apologise that some of my reasoning was not clearly spelt (or thought) out and that some people may have taken away the thought that there has never been a Smalltalk implementation useful for traditional application deployment.

Thanks to the commenters in the comments and via email.

03:29 AM, 07 Sep 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (3)

Is RSS republishing stealing?

Pirate Flag

I blogged a while back about RSS republishing vs. plagiarism.

I asked the question about whether RSS republishing was plagiarism. I gave an example of a site that scrapes RSS feeds (including mine) and republishes the content on a different site where they hope to get clicks on their google ads from the traffic the content generates. It was a fairly benign discussion and I wasn't too annoyed. I am, however, going to build on it now so you might want to read it first for background (make sure you come back for the survey below though. You know you just can't help yourself with those online survey widget thing-a-me-bobs ;).

Today I found an altogether nastier version and I thought I would try to codify a set of tests for determining if an instance of RSS republishing is acceptable or not.

  1. Does the copier pretend that the content is their own original content?

    eg. in the first copy I found, my site was sort-of clearly cited as the source and linked. in the case of vintagecomputermanuals.blogspot.com, no mention of my site is made. In fact the entry clearly says "posted by Vintage Computer Manuals"

  2. Is the primary or secondary aim of the copier to boost traffic to your site?

    eg. feedster.com is clearly trying to get eyeballs for itself by republishing my rss, but ultimately the tool is designed to help people find my content. gooddigest.com clearly adds no value and is solely using republished RSS in the hope that people will click their ad's

  3. Is the copier using your content in a way that would bring disrepute to you or your site

    People I know have had their content used in "adult themed" sites in order to gain search traffic. Someone who doesn't know how all this works (ie. most Internet users) are going to associate those people/brands with the content presented alongside

  4. Is the content copied presented unmodified and in context?

    eg. copying and rewriting someone else's blog to make it sound like yours is just plain bad - as well as sad
Survey

Having decided an instance is unacceptable, it's unclear what I should do about it. Certainly I'm considering writing a short set of terms under which I will license my RSS feed. I don't think creative commons will work because some aggregators who I would like to republish my feed are effectively using it for their own commercial gain.

One practise I will try and adopt from now on is to include a link to my own site (an old related post, etc.) in most blog entries. The only reason I became aware of the vintage computer example above was because it appeared in my referrer stats by virtue of having links to some old posts of mine (with fully qualified links). At least a reader might eventually find my site and realise that it is the source.

What do you think? Is the republishing of RSS ever justified? Is any publiscity good publicity? Is the RIAA right and shoudl all content reproduction be controlled by encryption and lawyers?

PS: Yes I am familiar with the term splogging (spam blogging), I just didn't want a buzzword to get in the way of the discussion.

Update: Read about one man's success and a (hopefully) reformed splogger on The head lemur

09:06 AM, 04 Sep 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (1)

And I thought _I_ was taking vintage computing a bit far

Vintage Computing on Cassette

[Editors Note: This blog entry is also out of the archive of never-quite-published blogs of yesteryear. With DB of Tram Town donating some of his historical Mac hardware to an upcoming digital history exhibit at the Melbourne Museum, this entry I penned in January 2005 should see the light of day.]

I couldn't quite get my Apple //e card reading files off an AppleTalk server and couldn't find any reference material for the Apple //e Workstation card (which implemented localtalk and AFP network booting, printing etc).

But I did find this digest entry with a network that puts mine to shame:

I am sitting in my shop. Upstairs in the Library is a Mac 8500 that sports among other things a Sonnet Cressendo G3 450Mhz CPU upgrade and OS X running on a Conner 4 gig SCSI I recovered from a PeeCee, reformatted and installed in a 40 meg external case. That Mac is on my Network from Heck connected by way of a router to a LONG CAT5 wire and a hub to the basement shop. Down here I have a Quadra 950 running System 7.5.3 Appleshare 3.0.3 and Localtalk Bridge.

Also in the shop are 2 IIe(s) with Workstation cards a IIgs IIe upgrade ROM 1, and a ROM 3. Both IIe(s) are accelerated but the 2 IIgs(s) are running at standard speed. all IIs are hooked to a Localtalk network that also includes a IWII on a localtalk card, and a IWLQ also localtalk. Also in the shop are a Performa 6200CD (ethernet slot card), Performa 578 on an Assante EN/SC SCSI<>Ethernet box, a 8100 on standard 10BT, a 386 with a Appletalk ISA card, a Pentium II Pee Cee and a Laserwriter IIg hooked in to both the Ethernet AND the localtalk network (I found this far easier to print to via the IIs in that you don't need the LT Bridge that way)

Got all that?

At least Bart doesn't have any Un*x boxes, affording me one avenue of feeling superior ;)

PS: I made the cassette image with the awesome says-it.com cassette virtual cassette generator

Update: It's worse than I thought. Looking back at the time I drafted this, I wrote a patch for an Apple ][ emulator, bought a Kinesis keyboard, read the Be developers guide for fun, upgraded a Color Classic. People might think I'm a nerd or something...

06:53 AM, 03 Sep 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Good Sense vs. Hyperbole

[Editors note:I drafted this blog entry last December but never published it. The extra freedoms we recently re-gained (ie. tweezers and nail clippers) have been more than obliterated by the new war on moisture.]

Looks like I might be able to take tweezers on board my flight on Sunday after all as US Transportation Security Administration chief Edmund Hawley is expected to announce a relaxation of the post 9/11 ban on airline passengers carrying sharp objects.

Such common sense is generally applauded by the public and attacked (ie. made into a story) by the media, as witnessed in the frenzied response to Amanda Vanstones comments last month.

This time, however, the media seems to be taking a reasonable stance and it has fallen to the US Association of Flight Attendants to provide the silly response:

"When weapons are allowed back on board an aircraft, the pilots will be able to land the plane safely, but the aisles will be running with blood," said Corey Caldwell, a spokeswoman for the Association of Flight Attendants.

It just doesn't get much more hyperbolic than that!

02:28 AM, 03 Sep 2006 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

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