Monday, December 26, 2005

We're getting very, very close with CalDAV. Draft version 09 is submitted and I'm sure it will be posted soon. There's not a lot of open issues remaining (one is how to use ETags, which is the topic of lively discussions in both the CalDAV and the WebDAV mailing lists). Interoperability is pretty good already -- I got a great reception at ApacheCon when I demo'ed Chandler publishing a new event to a calendar shared on Cosmo, and then used Sunbird to refresh the shared calendar and see the new event (note that Chandler 0.6 was just released so you can do this too). We'll have one more interoperability event in January before likely finishing the draft and submitting it. We plan to do pseudo-last-calls in WebDAV and CALSIFY WGs but if you've been waiting to read the draft, it's great to get comments even before last-calls.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Tom Evslin posts with several reasons why Web sites don't provide APIs -- and yet predicts that many more will provide APIs in the future. I can add one more reason, and that's the risk that with an API, somebody would build an application that presented the data through an alternative UI, and the site would lose eyeballs. For example, if Yahoo Group calendars could be sucked down in iCalendar format, people would probably visit the site less often and receive fewer ad impressions.

Still, I agree with Tom that despite all these forces against opening up APIs,
there are even stronger forces for having APIs -- competitive advantage. Some company hoping to compete at lower cost will provide the API and try to make up the revenue in other ways or simply survive with less ad revenue. If the service is more valuable with the API people will move to that service. I hope that in a year or few, people won't stand for a calendar Web site that doesn't let them use a standard API to have direct access to their own calendar data.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Favorite Songs of Stalkers

6. "I Will Follow You", by Ricky Nelson
"I will follow you
Follow you wherever you may go
There isn't an ocean too deep
A mountain so high it can keep me away"
5. "I will Follow", by U2
If you walkaway, walkaway
I walkaway, walkaway...I will follow
4. "The Power of Love", by Air Supply
Even though there may be times
It seems I'm far away
Never wonder where I am
'Cause I am always by your side
3. "I'll Drive All night" by Celine Dion
So just remember -
I'm gonna make you mine
I'm gonna drive all night
till the morning light
I'm gonna roll till dawn
with the windows down
and the radio on
You know I'd drive all night
just to hold you tight
2. "Nothing Can Keep Me From You" by Kiss
Wherever you are, that's where I'm gonna be
No matter how far, you'll never be that far from me
Some how I would find you, move heaven and earth to be by your side
Oh, I'd walk, this world to walk, beside you
1. "I'll Be Watching You" by Sting
Every breath you take
And every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I'll be watching you
0. Christmas Bonus Stalker Song:
He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!
O! You better watch out!
You better not cry.
Better not pout, I'm telling you why.
Santa Claus is coming to town.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I posted to a couple IETF lists about, a nice productivity hack -- a command-line for the Web. Since I'm always looking up IETF WG charters, internet-drafts and RFCs, I found the existing 'rfc' command and added two more.

To jump to an RFC: rfc xxxx
e.g. 'rfc 2822' (don't forget space)

Internet-Draft Database Search: (shows list with filename substring match): ids keyword
e.g. 'ids dusseault' to find draft-dusseault-caldav-08, but not draft-ietf-webdav-rfc2518bis because 'dusseault' isn't in the title of that one
To jump to a WG charter: wg wgname
e.g. 'wg imapext'
Now Dan Gurney has extended the 'rfc' command so you can use text as well as numbers. You don't have to remember that iTIP is RFC2447, just type 'rfc itip' in the interface, and see results. Thanks Dan!

BTW I personally setup yubnub to work on the address line or search box in Firefox so I don't even go to yubnub before typing my command. One less step on the way to what I need!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

For those who follow my crafty pursuits, I've just posted pictures in the gallery of the mini-quilt I finished this weekend. Well it's more of a wall hanging made with quilting (no piecing).

Also if you saw the Butterfly Quilt for Ally, posted earlier on the gallery, well everybody loves it and wants to be my niece too. I don't have an opinion from my real niece (she's only one year old, after all, and extraordinarily easily bored) but her parents love the quilt. Whoo hoo!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

It's been a busy few weeks, which is why I'm only now posting about another IETF meeting although it happened Nov 7. The meeting was the XML-PATCH-OPS BOF, and here are the official minutes.

The SIMPLE WG has been working on some HTTP extensions and using XML in order to allow instant messaging clients to interoperably edit buddy lists (stored on the IM server) and other configuration data. Special functionality to modify/retrieve XML stored on an HTTP server is rampant these days, so it seemed like a good idea to consider general mechanisms, rather than only design mechanisms limited to SIMPLE use cases. So Jari Urpalainen has been working on a general XML diff, or patch algorithm -- like Unix diff files, only specialized for XML (operations that can add or remove branches from the XML tree structure, rather than operations on lines as in text diffs).

Once the SIMPLE WG was potentially working on such general mechanisms, it seemed like a good idea to hold a BOF (Birds Of a Feather) meeting to see if there were general use cases and find or identify other potential IETF participants. Some places where we thought we'd see interest:
  • WebDAV allows authors to collaborate on documents stored on HTTP servers. Sometimes these documents are quite large and it would be useful to be able to upload changes without sending the entire file again. In fact, Adobe engineers have talked to me about this -- some of their WebDAV functionality is intentionally designed to limit the number of times large files are exchanged between client and server, so that the user isn't constantly waiting for slow uploads or downloads. Obviously an XML patch format only works if the document is in XML, but some Adobe tools do support XML formats (e.g. InDesign). Another piece to this puzzle is the HTTP PATCH operation I've proposed, an idea I intend to come back to shortly particularly if I get any help (hint, hint).
  • The NETCONF WG is pursuing ways to interoperably configure network devices and has also settled on using XML and HTTP. They've got very similar problems of wanting to make small changes to large data sets.
  • Large Web pages in XHTML could be edited using an XML diff format to upload only changes.
  • Large Web pages in XHTML could be downloaded faster using RFC3229 and an XML diff format. A text diff is used today but an XML diff format could be even more efficient, particularly for...
  • Blog feeds. Today, a blog feed can be a large XML file, in Atom or RSS format. Today, if the ETag or Last-Modified timestamp of the blog feed changes, the newsreader client downloads the entire file. Similarly, to add a single new post to the feed, blog editing tools may have to upload a new feed file (unless the server does this magically somehow). This is really just a special case of the general "large files being shared" case, but since blogging generates so much traffic it seemed worth mentioning.
Anyway, even with all these potential use cases, the only people who came to the BOF meeting with definite interest were SIMPLE WG participants. There wasn't even enough interest from outside SIMPLE to merit a separate mailing list, let alone to add non-SIMPLE requirements or
to form a separate effort. So the work proceeds on the SIMPLE mailing list. Still, I plan to keep up with Jari's work and possibly help him generalize it further -- for example, we may add the ability to make changes to text values of XML elements without replacing the entire text value.

Note that there exist other XML diff formats, but none of them are standardized. Microsoft's got one, the W3C has tackled this both for rdf and more generally (though the W3C didn't have any guidance for the IETF when we asked about this BOF), and it's been the subject of several theses: treepatch, diffxml and a survey.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

In the past the IETF tried to discuss in a green-field manner how to internationalize email addresses and other email headers. None of the many options seemed really low-risk, however, and those discussions didn't get very far -- rat-holes being very frequent, and people having very different notions about what a solution could look like and what the outcomes and side effects might be.

The BOF I attended last week, however, was much more focused: it was about whether or not the IETF should charter a group to work on a specific experimental solution for internationalizing email addresses as outlined in several draft documents. That solution focuses on SMTP, so that "consenting adults" in an environment that wants to do i18n addresses may do so, and SMTP agents have a reasonable way to deal with these addresses when communicating to the wider world. It's a somewhat transitional approach, acknowledging that existing Mail User Agents (MUAs) and Mail Transport Agents (MTAs) won't immediately be able to handle these.

The discussion was mostly abour risks and unknowns. Some of the risks:
  • It's not known how (and when, and by whom) IMAP would be updated to handle i18n addresses, and how clean that could be.
  • It's not known how POP would be updated to handle i18n addresses (Chris Newman stepped into the line of fire here)
  • It could be difficult to manage VCards, iCalendar objects, and Web pages where mailto URLs and email addresses appear. Some of these support i18n, some don't; even ones that do may have incompatible representations.
  • Although i18n addresses are supposed to remain within these groups of consenting adults and be transformed before transmission to non-i18n MTAs, it's not known to what extent these would actually leak out.
  • When these do leak out, the user experience of email users with non-i18n MUAs could be unsatisfactory.
  • There will probably be serious difficulties when non-i18n MUAs are used to try address mail with i18n addresses -- it's possible that sometimes only an i18n address is known and the user can't figure out how to enter it or isn't allowed to by their software.

Normally the IETF is rather risk averse when there are so many unknowns, particularly when 'Net fragmentation might occur. In the past the IETF has gone around and around trying to get more certainty before even chartering a working group. This time, however, since there have been so many discussions and stalled related efforts before, the attendees took a leap into the unknown and approved the working group -- unanimously, I believe. Imagine Admiral Farragut's sailors taking a "hum" and deciding together to damn the torpedoes.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

"Eye of Newt" Jello shots

Although it's been pointed out to me that doing jello shots at parties is more of a twenty-something activity than thirty-something, I don't care. I never did jello shots before so dammit, at our party this past weekend, I was determined to do jello shots.

The ostensible excuse was the Hallowe'en theme: orange jello shots with black "eye of newt" in the bottom. I used black tapioca pearls, the kind that are served in "pearl tea" which I love. I found packages of dried black pearls in an Asian grocery store and this worked well.
1 large package orange jello
2 c. boiling water
1 c. mandarin vodka (or other clear liquor)
1 c. cold water
1 pkg tapioca pearls (five servings)

Boil tapioca pearls -- I found it took longer than the advertised 5 minutes. Drain and rinse and distribute into little paper Dixie cups (I used about 20 but these were smallish shots). Mix boiling water and jello powder to dissolve then add liquor and cold water. Pour mixture into cups and put into the fridge for about an hour.

The paper cups are important because you have to squish the jello shot out into your mouth. Leaving the jello solid too long before serving means that the pearls get harder so don't prepare too far in advance.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Calendaring News: I haven't blogged about this in a while, so here's what's up.

  • The CALSIFY WG met at the last IETF for the first time. We found authors to revise the iCalendar suite of standards (RFC2445, 2446 and 2447). We're meeting in November in Vancouver to discuss progress and open issues on these.
  • The CalDAV proposal for standardizing calendar access (personal, group or public calendars) is going very well. We're very close to a draft we can last-call at the IETF. I'm proud to say that OSAF's Chandler and Cosmo both do some CalDAV and can test basic interoperability with other clients and servers like Sunbird and Oracle's server. I'm demoing some of this at Educause next week.
  • We're starting to think about what extra metadata is needed to do public event calendars well -- for example, good location information. There's a technical committee within CalConnect talking about this, including EVDB/Eventful people.
  • Another new CalConnect committee is discussing the application (and perhaps in some cases, adaptation) of these standards for use on mobile devices.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

I can't write as humourously as Stitchy McYarnPants of the Museum of Kitschy Stitches (Vols. I, II, III, IV and V). I'm not as up-to-date as knittykitty of the the You Knit What blog. And even (or especially) my husband thinks I'm the last person to be an authority on this subject. However, I scanned some choice pattern pics from my small collection of "antique" (meaning, completely out of style) knitting and crafting books to give you: What Not to Knit.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people.

George Bernard Shaw

Monday, August 29, 2005

Ekr explained the corrective eye surgery I just went through. Since I've been wearing glasses since I was five (and had limited use of contacts because of allergies) this perfect vision feels quite different to me -- perhaps my own self-image was more tied into the wearing of glasses than I had realized. Anyway I'm very happy and periodically almost giddy at this improvement.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Philippe said that the CalDAV panel at OSCon was full of very interested people. I'm quite gratified and quite sorry that I couldn't be there (at 6pm PST I was fast asleep recovering from meetings lasting from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm in Paris time yesterday).

Philippe also pointed to this blog commenting on OSCon, CalDAV and various calendar product and server providers.

Monday, August 01, 2005

My ideal cultural week (or so) in Paris
- 1 day in 7e, up Eiffel Tower to see whole city, then walk around Invalides and École Militaire (would have been even nicer to go into Army Museum)
- 1 day bike tour of Giverny and Monet's garden, being restored and regrown the way Monet grew it in order to paint it. Interior of Monet's house also fantastic due to the dozens of Japanese prints that influenced his aesthetic.
- 1 day Louvre to focus on the grand gallery, 19th centure and famous works of art I hadn't seen yet. Favourites include Ingrès and David's portraits of women.
- 1 day Centre George Pompidou, include main collection and special expositions (this time: Africa Remix)
- 1 day Versailles, include Grand and Petit Trianon as well as main buildings by going for the day pass
- 1 day Musée D'Orsay -- no, make that two, there's so much to see here and I really wanted to go slowly due to my interest in the impressionists and symbolists
- 1 day seeing the Galliera de Mode (not very big) and, inspired, go clothes shopping
- See the end of the Tour de France -- bonus!
- Pop into Musée Cluny for medieval textiles, tapestries, roman baths, stained glass and other cool stuff
- Every day: tiny cups of espresso at street-side cafés, baguettes, cheese, olives, pastries, and sometimes crêpes, ice cream, mussels, frites, duck, foie gras, prosciutto and rocket (roquette) salad

What I still wish I could do:
- Musée Marmottan has still more Monet works (than can be seen at Giverny or Musée d'Orsay) and it's on Bois de Boulogne which features in so many history fact and fiction books
- Rivoli Museums
- Musical Instrument museum
- Chartres
- Orangerie museum in Tuileries, Tuileries gardens themselves
- Grand Palais and Petit Palais
- More time browsing books and shops on left bank

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Project Management for Sailors

Have you ever heard project managers talk like this?

We decided to take a different tack with the rollout project, after we ran afoul of the ordering processes. Julie was swamped with acquisitions paperwork and helping Sam learn the ropes, so we deep-sixed the new hardware. Office scuttlebutt is that the boss wants to cut expenditures so it's easier to go with the flow on that one. The OS upgrade project had a minor hitch, but that project is on deck now -- all we have to do is tie up the loose ends and it'll be all sewn up. That will put us on an even keel for the rollout and if nobody rocks the boat the support team will stick with us until the bitter end.

Although this is fictional I've heard all these colloquialisms in the office, and probably only recognize them as nautical because of an interest in etymology and a couple years of sailing. A non-sailor or person for whom English wasn't their native language might have a hard time seeing where these come from (and thus, how to use them properly). Herewith, a guide.

To take a different tack is a change in direction while sailing. Tacking itself means to progress by changing directions frequently, like zigzagging. This is necessary to make progress into the wind: a boat can sail quite fast when it's pointed nearly into the wind, but it can't make progress directly into the wind. Thus the boat zigzags so that the wind comes over the port side first, then starboard, then port. Don't replace with the word "tact" as Michael Rubin did.

To run afoul is to hit a snag, a complication, particularly in laws, regulations, contracts or processes. On a sailing boat a fouled rope is one which is caught up in another rope or another piece of equipment. Fouled ropes can cause quite a tangle if sailors keep doing what they're doing.

Swamped is quite suggestive, as a swamped boat is literally filled with too much water. A swamped boat is not only heavier but also sits lower in the water and presents much more drag on the water, so no wonder a swamped boat moves so slowly.

Learning the ropes is exactly what a sailor does on a new ship. Sailing ships have very individualistic rigging, often the result of years of modifications and jury rigs.

Deep sixing is burying something in six fathoms of water (a fathom is six feet), deep enough for it to be gone.

Scuttlebutt was the term for ship-board gossip. A butt is a cask of a certain size. A scuttle is a small hatch on deck. Thus, the scuttlebutt is a butt lashed onto the deck near the scuttle. Often this butt contained fresh drinking water. How a propos that today this might also be called "water cooler talk".

Go with the flow is simple -- it can apply to the flow of a river but also to the tides. Leaving harbour when the flow (the tide) leaves is much easier than going against the tide.

Hitch is a specific kind of knot tied in the middle of a rope. When winching a rope, winding it or running it through a cleat, a hitch would temporarily stop progress. However, it's not as bad as a fouled line.

On deck meant something physically on the deck of the boat, the exterior top surface where people stand. This probably migrated first to baseball where the batter going next is said to be on deck.

Tying up the loose ends meant to literally clean up the long ends of lines (ropes) hanging off a rigging once it was rigged. Loose ends were dangerous on ship, causing fouled lines and getting in the way of sailors moving around. Naturally this was always the last step in rigging, part of doing the job well.

All sewn up probably refers to the shroud around a corpse prepared for burial at sea. A corpse ought to be weighted down by something like a cannonball. The cleanest way of doing this was to put the cannonball and the corpse together in a piece of sturdy sailcloth and sew up the edges. After being sewn up there was nothing left to do before burial.

Even keel is a ship's position. The keel is the center bottom line of the boat from front to back. A ship with an uneven keel, dipping into the water more at either bow or stern, was probably badly loaded. An uneven keel meant that the ship wouldn't sail as efficiently because it would not present an optimal profile for water resistance. More generally it simply means going smoothly, steadily, without waves rocking the boat.

Rock the boat is too simple to need much explanation...

Bitter end is a very specific end of a line (rope) -- the end that goes around the bitt, a kind of deck post. I guess sailors would be told to pull on or coil the rope until they reached the bitter end.

(Sources: take another tack, deep six, scuttlebutt, all sewn up; also other pages on same sites)

Saturday, June 25, 2005


Originally uploaded by hamstermacaroni.
Mimi is the master of taking friends shots including herself. Or at least so I conclude based on a sample of one photo. This is me and Mimi at a Giants game a couple weeks ago.

This posting has also been a test of the flickr photo-blogging tools. They're impressively easy to use, at least with a blogger blog.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Kim Cameron is working on the "Laws of Identity" and discussing them on his blog. Kim defends the choice of the word "Laws" quite strongly:

I tried to explain that the laws are not what Bob Blakley calls "desiderata" - things that we would like to see. They are the objective characteristics of an enduring identity system at Internet scale.

Oh, but how often we turn out to be wrong about these seemingly objective characteristics. Kim's Law 5 on Pluralism of Operators and Technologies understands that there will be more than just one identity authority, but wishfully states that there must be one "encapsulating protocol (a way of agreeing on and transporting things)". This reminds me of a heated BOF three years ago at the IETF for a WG I ended up being heavily involved in, chartered to take the Jabber protocol and standardize it as XMPP. At the time there was already another IETF WG doing instant messaging, and a friend of mine got up at the microphone, objecting to the formation of the WG, clearly quite upset, saying:

But you can't have two instant messaging protocols! That's like -- that's -- that's like having two IPs!

Of course the irony is that the IPv6 WG was probably right down the hall working out how to co-exist with IPv4 during an extended, possibly interminable transition period. And today we have both XMPP and SIMPLE and gateways between instant messaging protocols -- not just two, but probably more like eight (including MSN, AOL and other pre-existing systems). Much as we'd like computer systems to be simple, considerations of backward compatibility and competition between aesthetic models, among other things, keep things exciting.

Monday, June 20, 2005

I finished a knitting project in March, a purple shawl in Old Shale lace pattern. I just got around to posting the pics this weekend.

Monday, May 30, 2005

America is full of fat people, right? Well, I've been subject to the same delusion. I think it took hold firmly in 1993, when I drove from Waterloo, Ontario, to Milwaukee, for a few days at GenCon, and for some reason was struck by seeing all the fat people in the streets of Milwaukee. Was that simply observer bias? Who knows. Now I live in California and it's very clear to me that Californians don't tend to be obese, but I still had the meme in my head that "Americans are fat" even if California big cities might be some fitness-oriented exception.

Well, I'm encouraged to hear I might be wrong. It seems this is a common myth, and that other well-off countries have similar weight profiles, as explained by Paul Campos in a TCS interview (I keep reading TCS for exactly this kind of myth-busting material though many articles are more boring). I wish the article provided links supporting the claims, because there were a few quite interesting tidbits from the article:
  • The CDC had previously estimated 400,000 deaths from obesity in 2004 but has recently had to revise that figure significantly downward (following CDC links, I see the surgeon general now says an "estimated 300,000 deaths[/year] may be attributable to obesity").
  • The classification of "overweight" in children is defined as the heaviest 15% of children for a particular age cohort. That would mean nearly a million children are labelled overweight because they're defined that way. According to that methodology, 15% of children in a third-world, famine-wracked country would also be overweight. I can't find evidence at CDC of this methodology but there was a study showing that 16% of teens had been found to be overweight [*].
  • There's no strong evidence that Type 2 diabetes -- one of the diseases justifying the labeling of obesity as an epidemic -- has increased, let alone having increased due to weight factors.
  • The governor of Arkansas has written legislation proposing that body weight index be part of kids' report cards. If I were in Arkansas I would write him personally to indicate my disgust at such misguided and potentially harmful interference in the family.

One nasty statistic I picked up myself from the surgeon general's note is that "Overweight adolescents have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults". Yikes, oh no! But combine that with the claim that 60% of adults are overweight or obese, and a sensible person will see that so-called overweight adolescents would have only a slightly higher (if measurable) tendency than non-overweight adolescents to become overweight adults. Sigh.
I completed another long-term project this weekend -- though it was supposed to take only a couple months, I dawdled for over a year. It's a silk-mohair cardign, pattern and yarn chosen to show off some really marvelous Toulouse-Lautrec buttons I found in Vienna. More details and pictures can be found on my knitting gallery.
One of the projects I've been very involved in at OSAF has been the Cosmo project, an effort to take existing open-source WebDAV server technology and turn it into an easy-to-install, easy-to-administer "sharing server" for use by Chandler -- but also supporting standards that make it easy for any client to share too. Last week, Mitch did a demo with Cosmo in the background for the first time and it went smoothly. Thanks BCM!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

I have completed a big long-term hobby project, and given it away (I think it was quite a surprise) so now I can reveal what I was working on: a king-size Amish-inspired wedding quilt. It's at the top of my crafts gallery right now if you want to take a look.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

I needed to cancel a credit card I wasn't using, so I called up their toll-free line and tried to navigate their voice-activated automated menu. The automated system repeated all the choices ad nauseum, misheard me, and of course didn't have an option for "Cancel this goddamn card". I tried to say "Cancel card" and "Cancel" hoping that would either trigger some bonus feature or get me out of the system and talking to a human. I tried to say "Talk to representative". At some point the system offered the option of "Help me with something else" but when I said that it misunderstood me. Finally the system gave up on me -- literally said it couldn't seem to help me -- and that it would transfer me to a live person (thank-you).

I got some satisfaction, however, when they asked me why I was cancelling their card. "Because of the automated voice assistance system", I said -- and this was typed in without comment by the operator. I only felt the teensiest bit bad for lying.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

I'm concerned about conferences with serious gender imbalances, much like Kathy Sierra and Shelley Powers with their recent posts on ETech. However, it's not ETech I'm thinking of.

To put it bluntly, a knitting conference can be hostile to men. The interaction style is touchy-feely -- women walk right up to strangers and fondle their knitted garments, invading personal space. Although some have said that men aren't discouraged from attending and in fact receive positive attention for being there, this can be of the form of "How nice it is to have men attending", "Is this knitting book for your mother?" (ref) and "I'm sure your wife will love this yarn.

All the instructors at knitting conferences are female, and one wonders if the mostly-female program committee could have something to do with that. In the expos or markets, one finds patterns for shawls, purses and female garments. Although some of the market vendors are male, they are clearly there as "booth bunnies", to attract women to look at the yarn. Some of the male vendors are even pressured to wear demeaning and ridiculous knitted vests.

What can we do about it? Well, we can be more equal in our language, for a start. Articles like this, although mentioning a few knitting men, are given titles like "The yarn is flying as more women discover the joys of knitting." Vendors like Habu textiles are taking a step in the right direction, offering stainless steel yarn, which is sure to appeal to men. Joe, a male knitter, has some other great ideas, such as making the act of knitting into more of a competition.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Researching Bali, found this:

The once beautiful Bale’s and other buildings have long since fell into a state of disrepair. It was as if the villagers had ‘locked-on’ to the ring of the till from the tourist dollar. This was more than evident when I had a short but sharp conversation with one of the souvenir sellers:

Tourist: I was here 18 years ago and I am surprised at the change in the village.

Seller: (Abrupt tone) What’s wrong with the village?. Now I have a motorbike. We have TV and electricity and... a phone!

It was my point precisely! Too many cultures in this world are decimated by the tourist dollar. Not only that, the intrusion of the modern world has an overall affect upon the social, religious and political aspects of that society. So much so that it literally forces the entire socio-cultural structure to undergo a metamorphosis in order for adaptation. Having said that, tourism is good for the state of the economy in any country. However, when it has a serious affect on the core culture of that country, then it becomes disadvantageous.

Much as I'd love to visit other countries and have them be all picturesque and unique, I can't begrudge a Balinese his motorbike, TV, electricity and phone. I wouldn't give up my conveniences to live in the style of my grandmother, nor would I appreciate pressure to maintain the religion of my ancestors. A tourist like this one would have to stop being a tourist (being one of those intrusions), go back to the country of his own ancestors, give up his own conveniences etc. for me to take those sentiments seriously.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Philippe pointed me to David Berlind's list of Technology's top ten failures. Two of them are directly about calendar standards, asking for the ability to schedule meetings and share calendars. Another two are email related. Good news, David, we're working on the calendaring standards, and calendar and email implementation issues for you, already. Sorry I can't -- personally -- help you with phones and printing problems just yet.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Who is your favorite Philosopher?

Ekr points out that the question "Who's your favorite philosopher" does not have an analogue in all fields. In highly technical fields, you wouldn't ask "Who's your favorite cryptographer" or "Who's your favorite biologist". OTOH it's common for musicians to talk about their favorite pianist or favorite composer, for painters to have a favorite painter, and for writers to be asked about their favorite writer (it's a formula interview question particularly for writers). So I guess that means that in not only asking the question but insisting on it as a valid or important question, David Brooks is implying that philosophers are like artists, their work subject to aesthetic judgements, preferences and stylistic likes and dislikes. I'm not sure that's what he intended in bringing attention to the question.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

There's lots of action in the online calendar world. A fair amount of it gets brought to my attention, which is lots of fun.
  • Ted pointed me to Mosuki, and I hope to meet some of the creators shortly. It's more oriented towards personal calendars than the other sites but it does allow you to share.
  • I met Brian Dear a few months ago and heard about EVDB. Now that it's announced, I can talk to others about it too. Scraping sites for event and venue information sounds like a really valuable service.
  • Kragen Sitaker showed me a calendar site that seemed pretty cool. Rather than try to scrape every page, his demo let the user pick certain text, send it to the demo site and it would turn that text into an event (pulling out date, time and location if it could) on your calendar.
  • Brian posts about Upcoming, a public events site with feeds to let you know about event categories you're interested in, and a way to add events you want to your personal calendar. It has a HTTP/iCalendar interface that allows users to synch into iCal. According to, upcoming is the biggest new thing with hundreds of bookmarks.
  • So far, Trumba's newly announced OneCalendar gets a rather less enthusiastic response. Trumba consists of several ex-Visio guys according to their press release, and like EVDB they have high-powered investors so expect some noise. Already you can synch with Outlook which has got to be a highly desired feature.
  • Of course, we are working on some of the same stuff too, only with a federated server approach. When you share your calendar with Chandler you can share it on any WebDAV or CalDAV server (see also recent article). We're working on a WebUI for such shared calendars so that the calendar owner or their friends can view the shared calendar or individual events just by going to the URL in the browser. We may do tagging just like everybody else, too.
So far I don't use any of these, there isn't quite enough "there" there, whether it's users I want to share with or features I need. My calendar is in iCal, stored locally, and I don't even share it with anybody, though I do share one other person's iCal calendar. But I don't think that isolation will last long given the exploding options.

I wonder what Yahoo, Google and Microsoft are going to do in this space? Yahoo has more of the world's calendar info than any other site at this moment, because of its excellent support for group calendars. What will Yahoo do with that data? If it does not expand its features soon, possibly allowing users to synch up calendar data on the site with their client software, Yahoo will soon see its calendar data decay and vanish. As for the two gorillas, I really don't have any idea whether they will buy, innovate, or crush.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

with this ring: photog=Eujin

Thursday, March 17, 2005

In response to my last post, Mark pointed out that .NET's HTTPClient supports pipelining. Heikki said that Mozilla put in support for this but it isn't turned on normally because so few servers support it. Furthermore, Heikki reports that tests showed only a 7% performance increase when Mozilla uses pipelining. The Mozilla FAQ is a good start for information on this though it doesn't have the data.

The application I had in mind (Chandler) does more synchronization than browsing over HTTP/WebDAV. For example, if the user decides to work offline, and while offline moves a bunch of resources from one collection to another, then goes online again, Chandler would have to issue one MOVE request for each moved resource. With pipelining, Chandler could theoretically fire each request off and wait to start seeing the responses come back in order over the same connection. The only thing limiting throughput is the bandwidth and MOVE requests and responses don't take up that much. Without pipelining, Chandler has to wait for each response before sending the next request. Now this work is limited by latency, multiplied by the number of resources being moved.

Still, I don't consider this proof that pipelining would be useful. It would be great to see more data one of these days -- assuming, of course, that there really is a performance problem in the first place.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Are there any open source HTTP client libraries that support pipelining? Are there any open source libraries that solve an isomorphic problem with a different protocol? So far I'm not turning up anything but this is the kind of thing that is a little hard to Google for.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

At the gym last night I was lifting weights and a man started this converstaion.
Man: "What are you going to do with all those muscles? Beat up the boys?"
Me: "Yup."
Man: "Well then, stay away from me.

What am I supposed to make of that? Seriously, I'm asking here.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

... So this hat doesn't fit me. The question is, would it fit a guy with a size 7 3/4 head? Joe, you might or might not want to click through :)

Monday, February 14, 2005

There are a whole bunch of "Working Group last calls" going on for email-related technology. Roughly, these are calls for reviews of Internet-Drafts before they are submitted to become standards. I called for reviews for an IMAP Extensions working group document which adds annotations (like properties, or metadata) to emails in an IMAP server. The Lemonade WG has issued last calls on these documents (all last calls on the mailing list and the documents themselves are linked from the Lemonade charter page):
  • the Catenate proposal, used to allow clients to more efficiently work on draft messages stored on an IMAP server
  • URLAUTH, which lets one user show an attachment to another user without sending them the whole attachment (basically I give you authorization to view my copy on my server)
  • Server-to-server requirements for email event notification systems -- intended to allow voice mail and email servers from different vendors work together more smoothly
  • The BURL draft, allowing clients to forward an email without downloading and uploading it again as email systems currently require.
There are also upcoming improvements to the performance and extensibility of the LIST command which is the heart of IMAP, and ongoing improvements to access control, both coming to a head in IMAPEXT. If you're interested in email protocol and developing standards for those, this is an exciting time for that. I guess that means about 7 of us globally are excited right now :)

Sunday, February 13, 2005

I attended a knitting convention this weekend, and learned how to do japanese short rows, double crochet (which is like a cross between knitting and crochet), and twined knitting which is a three centuries old Swedish technique a.k.a. "Tvåändsstickning". The marketplace was also amazing and very tempting and dangerous to my wallet.

The "gallery" at the Stitches conference is very ad-hoc -- it's on the backs of the attendees. Here's a few pics of people I saw.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

It's starting to become well-known that well-published suicides inspire more suicides. There's an explanation on, but I'm dissatisfied with the references to heroic portrayal as the explanation for the phenomenon. The Wikipedia entry is much more complete, but it still explains copycat suicides by refering to the media "glorifying the deceased." This "reward" theory is simple--that the media encourages copycat suicides by providing attention and glory as a reward for suicide. The standard sources also explain that media coverage may provoke admiration of the deceased in eulogizing him, and by explaining the causes of the suicide and thus implying that suicide is an understandable or normal response to those causal events.

The reward theory has been debunked somewhat in Cialdini's book Influence,
the Power of Persuasion
. Some brief reasons to doubt the reward theory:
  • Even consistently negative publicity encourages copycat suicides
  • Copycat suicide demographics are surprisingly similar to the original suicide (e.g. 35-year old women don't tend to see Kurt Cobain's suicide as one to copy no matter how much glory is supplied)
  • Deaths which are not publicized as suicides but which might have been (car and plane accidents) provoke a rash of similar deaths even though there's no glorifying of suicide.
Cialdini's model to explain copycat suicide is more sophisticated than the simple "reward" model -- Cialdini calls the effect "social proof" and it goes beyond just suicide to explain how people copy the actions of those they consider similar enough to be role models. So even if the suicide is criticized unanimously, someone who feels similar (same preference in music, perhaps) will find actions to emulate. In fact, the criticism from the dis-similar people may strengthen the bond felt towards the role model. The bond may be strengthened by the copycat feeling that society is against both himself and the original suicide and provoke feelings of solidarity. Thus, a society that reacts to some unusual person's suicide by criticizing their unusual taste (goth clothes, punk music, or playing dungeons and dragons) may in fact create a self-fulfilling prophecy in calling that taste dangerous and then see a spate of suicides in a population sharing that taste. There's also some evidence (again you can reference Cialdini who discusses Goethe and his hero suicide Werther) that even fictional suicides inspire copycats.

Dorothy Parker seems to have intuitively understood this. I recently read Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin, a look at literary culture in the Twenties by examining the lives of Dorothy Parker, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Edna Ferber and Zelda Fitzgerald. Dorothy attempted suicide several times in her life, each time via a different approach, and damaged her own health and reputation. In her short story "Big Blonde", Dorothy wrote:
There was no settled, shocked moment when she first thought of killing herself; it seemed to her as if the idea had always been with her. She pounced upon all the accounts of suicides in the newspapers. There was an epidemic of self-killings -- or maybe it was just that she searched for the stories of them so eagerly that she found many. To read of them roused reassurance in her; she felt a cozy solidarity with the big company of the voluntary dead.
The subtlety of the copycat suicide effect probably means there's no easy solution. It doesn't work to have the media to portray suicides negatively -- that doesn't prevent the social proof phenomenon and may even strengthen it. We probably don't want to instruct the media to entirely suppress news of suicides. Even if we did that, there's still fiction and possibly other art (music lyrics?) -- and even if we censor art there's still deaths-which-might-have-been-suicides.

Despite these subtleties, most journalism codes around discussing suicide in the media focus on the glorification aspect. E.g.
a licensee must not broadcast a program which depicts suicide favourably or as a means of achieving a desired result (ref)

The WHO report from 2000 also talks of glorification and acceptance of suicide as an understandable response, but it goes even further, stating that "certain types of coverage may help to prevent imitation of the suicidal behaviour" (p 6). However, I've not yet seen evidence of that, and I worry that is merely wishful thinking. If Cialdini's model is closer to being correct then the very type of coverage that the WHO report suggests may do more to encourage copycat suicides by mourning the deceased, providing details of their life and families, and providing "risk indicators and warning signs" which can trigger the role model effect.

Update: I've never updated a Wikipedia page before, but this seemed a good time to try. I added the paragraph on Cialdini's social proof model.

Monday, January 31, 2005

I got annoyed on the drive to work today, listening to NPR's Morning Edition program. The show was covering California's new display hardware tax and recycling program. I guess "coverage" always means looking for flaws, but this was silly.

Here's the facts: California is adding an electronics recycling fee, which retailers apply based on size of display, from $6 to $10 per display. This includes laptops, monitors and TVs.

Morning Edition added the factoid that California pays recyclers $0.48 per pound to process the displays, to chew them up and sorting the resulting bits into plastic, glass, etc. From this factoid and the fee rates, Morning Edition concluded that the tax would certainly not pay for disposal. They gave an example of a 53 lb monitor, which would be taxed at $10 at time of purchase but would cost $25.44 to recycle.

With the information provided so far in the program, I could see immediately several flaws in their argument. First, not all monitors are that heavy. People buy 5-10 pound laptops, pay $6 or $8 fee at purchase time, and those only cost $2.40 to $4.80 to dispose of. Second, there's time-value of money: the $10 paid for the 53 lb monitor is paid years before that monitor has to be recycled, and if the state saved that money it could accrue interest.

Even if you say that this year's recycle fee income should cover this year's disposal costs (rather than allocate the fee to one item over its life) it's entirely possible that the program does pay for display recycling. It works if people buy more lightweight displays (for which they overpay on the recycle fee) than heavy displays (for which they underpay). At the same time, it also works if people buy more displays per year than they dispose of -- also a reasonable possibility.

This kind of thing in the media bothers me more and more. It makes me think "How stupid do they think I am?"

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Today was the first Interop event for CalDAV. Sadly, I am not there, having cancelled a trip due to a cold. But I'm excited to hear about preliminary successes. It's only been a couple months since people started developing code to this spec, so this is great progress!

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