Sunday, December 14, 2008


This little triptych makes me happy... I love wearing these vivid purple socks, but they're nearly five years old. Luckily I still had the yarn leftover from making them, and the soles of handmade socks consist of "stockinette stitch" which is easy to darn. Done! I plan to get at least another five years out of these.

Monday, December 08, 2008

The HTTPMail proposal I mentioned here now has a discussion list. I've already received a few good comments, building a list of changes to make when I go back into editing the draft. However, I'm in no hurry to do so. People are still discussing1 what they think it's for; which use cases they believe in or not, and which use cases I forgot to mention. That's a good discussion to have before nailing down what features it has to have.

[1] discussion so far on the general Apps Discuss mailing list; discussion really hasn't started up on the special purpose list yet.

Friday, December 05, 2008

This is pretty exciting news from Amazon: they're launching a service to freely host public data sets. Part of building was about that problem, but Amazon can do a better job of storage than a smaller organization can. Problems still to be solved:
  • finding the right dataset -- somebody needs to do data-focused searches on terms like "lyme disease" or "lung cancer mortality", and this probably needs a bit of ontology work
  • automatically generated visualizations appropriate to well-known kinds of data
  • Wikipedia-style annotation, comments, highlighting: people not only mining and analyzing the dataset in private, but also in public and benefiting from each others work
Add this to the long list of data-oriented Web efforts in the last two years (palantir, swivel, flu trends, flowing data to which I owe a hat tip, and more), and it's the hot thing calendaring was a couple years ago when eventful and meetup were launching. Financial services were the first I saw to do sophisticated dynamic online visualizations of data, followed by Google Analytics, and it's only starting from there.

Monday, December 01, 2008

I'm following up on my last rant on multiple transports. It's a topic with nuance, but I still think it's a worthwhile caution to avoid multiple transports in non-realtime standard protocols.

Yngve talked about multiple transports used by Opera Mini for cell phone Web browsing. This is in the context of what appears to be a proprietary protocol; at least it's not standardized. Opera Mini talks to a transcoder run by Opera, so interoperability is mostly handled by not having multiple vendors of the client or the server. Skype was another example, but again Skype does not use a standard. More generally, Yngve talked about TCP-based applications that need to bypass firewalls and can use HTTP as a tunnel. Yngve, you're right about the general world of protocols, but what do you think about broadly standardized protocols?

Ralph and Joe pointed out that there are multiple implementations of BOSH, the HTTP binding for XMPP. This is interesting; I was aware of the proposal but had no idea how widely adopted it is. If it really becomes universally supported in servers, then we could write any new application on top of XMPP and it will work over HTTP as well as natively over TCP. Now that's interoperability!

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