Monday, March 25, 2002

Joseki RDF Server

While this is not ready for any serious use the people at HP (who do Jena) have released an implementation of a NetAPI for RDF.

"There are many areas for improvement:

  1. Ungraceful in the presence of errors

    1. Client code does not cope with error codes for operations
    2. Server is brittle with respect to malformed client requests. The client APIs should not generate illegal request (the client code parses RDQl queries before sending to check them on the client side).
    3. Server will crash if any internal error occurs

  2. No protocol versioning
  3. No simple query operation - only RDQL supported.
  4. No query-delete operation support
  5. No security : anyone can update models the server hosts.
  6. Only changes to BDB or RDB models will persist: changes to file-based models are not written back to the file.
  7. Use with relational database stores is untested."
Web, Standard, Enterprise and Data Center - new .Net

On .Net Webserver:
"Presumably, Microsoft is going to market this server as a quick and easy way to deploy a front-end Web server and establish an Internet presence. It will also provide a ready platform for deploying .NET Web services components. This version supports up to two processors and up to 2 GB of RAM. It lacks many of the built-in features of Standard Server and Enterprise Server, such as Remote Installation Services (RIS), Services for Macintosh, Windows Media Services, SharePoint Team Services, and Terminal Services."

Improved "security" in IIS:
"There's no secret formula involved here. Microsoft simply followed the model of most Linux/UNIX software by scaling down the default IIS install to a minimal package with no extras."

On Luna:
"Luckily, this is easy to turn off. Nevertheless, other than marketing reasons and wanting to standardize the NOS interface with the client OS interface, I see no reason for including the Luna interface. In fact, I can't think of a single instance when an administrator would not want to deactivate the interface, which is a serious memory and system resource hog."

On Product Activation:
"Finally, we come to the onerous issue of product activation, which has drawn a great deal of criticism with the release of Office XP and Windows XP. Microsoft has also decided to include product activation as a part of .NET Server, which means that any retail copies of .NET Server, as well as many copies that are preloaded on OEM-purchased servers, will require activation via the Internet or by phone. Software copies purchased through volume licensing do not require activation.

While this was a major annoyance for desktop software, it is unacceptable for NOS software. First, a lot fewer copies of NOS software are in use, so I doubt that much money will be saved with this draconian approach to fighting piracy. Second, I don't expect any savings recouped by Microsoft from this antipiracy strategy to be passed on to IT departments in the form of lower software prices. Yet it is IT departments that will be most inconvenienced by this policy. Third, and most important, I still don't trust this amorphous protocol that transfers information from my systems to Microsoft, and on a server—where confidential and mission-critical data is stored—that is a much more serious concern than on a desktop machine. ",2000025001,20264171,00.htm

Saturday, March 23, 2002

An Open Sourced *Certified* J2EE Server?

Sun has announced that not only will reference implementations and compatiblitiy kits be made without fee and open sourced but they are paying US$3 million to fund testing of compatibility.

Friday, March 22, 2002

Introduction to DAML

"As the ambitions of RDF and XML have expanded to include things like the Semantic Web, the limitations of this lightweight schema language have become evident. Accordingly, a group set out to develop a more expressive schema language, DARPA Agent Markup Language (DAML). Although DAML is not a W3C initiative, several familiar faces from the W3C, including Tim Berners-Lee, participated in its development"

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Use Mozilla *and* Make Money

Howard is (obviously) an avid follower of Web browser development news, and he says the fact that those APIs are identical has been overlooked in most articles he's read about browser rendering engines. "I have noticed quite a few authors missing this KEY point," he says with a little laugh.

He also notes, "At Mozilla's site, hysterically enough, they actually refer programmers to Microsoft's site for documentation on the browser from a programming perspective. Again, because the API is identical. I am sure that saved them a TON of money and insured a TON of conversions." These conversions have, sadly, been primarily from Netscape/Mozilla to Explorer over the years, according to Howard. But now things may start going the other direction.

Tuesday, March 19, 2002

New Version of JanosVM

"The Janos Virtual Machine (JanosVM) is an Open Source virtual machine
for executing Java bytecodes. Unlike any available virtual machine,
the JanosVM supports multiple, separate process-like entities (called
"teams" in the JanosVM) within a single VM, without reliance on any
underlying OS or hardware support for such separation. The JanosVM
supports separate per-team heaps, per-team garbage collection threads,
inter-team thread migration, safe cross-team reference objects, and a
spiffy tutorial. Designed to support asynchronous termination of
buggy, uncooperative, or malicious Java bytecode applications, the
JanosVM provides robust and scalable multi-process support within a
single virtual machine.

The JanosVM exposes the primitives needed to build a multi-process
JVM, allowing users of the JanosVM to build their own Java-oriented
operating systems. The JanosVM does not provide a complete
environment for running untrusted user code. Rather, it provides
clean and efficient building blocks for building robust Java-based
operating systems. For example, when combined with the custom
runtimes available on our site, the JanosVM provides an environment
for safely executing untrusted Java code in an active network."

Monday, March 18, 2002

G4 five times faster

"...the Apple/Genentech venture has been able to deliver more than five times the performance of a comparable2-GHz Pentium 4-based system running the standard software: "This breakthrough has enabled Apple to demonstrate the sheer speed and capability of it's most advanced machine..."
Mono and Linux

"Now, another of my goals with Mono, and this is sort of a less important goal, is to be fully compatible with the .NET framework. That means, take an application built for Windows and deploy it on Linux. Maybe not Office, because that thing is probably going to be hooked up to 10,000 things in the OS. But definitely applications that ISVs develop, and just saying, "Well, you can deploy it on Windows or you can deploy it on this cheaper computer..."

"I do like Java. You have to know that I do like Java. I think that Sun was not very receptive to the needs of the community. The community wanted to make changes, wanted to extend things, and they were not quite receptive."
Interview with Joel

Does code rust?

"It may be true for the software that Eick evaluated. It's not true for the software that I've written, because I tend to refactor and clean things up regularly. Half the time when I go into a function to fix a little bug, I figure out a cleaner way to rewrite the whole function, so over time it gets better and better."

"In fact, given the obvious lack of skill of the Outlook programmers who retain the mistakes of earlier versions, I don't think that even the author of that argument would think that having the same guys rewriting Outlook would do much good! In cases like this, I would find a handful of more experienced programmers and charge them with quiet, continuous improvements to the existing code base. I would give them a large block of time to improve code during which no new features were expected or permitted. A few months, though, not the two or three years that a rewrite would require."
Navigate, Throw Up - 3DOSX

3D filesystem interface for OS X.

Saturday, March 16, 2002


The Online Journalism Review has an article about Newsblaster which is the result of a DARPA funded project called TIDES.

TIDES is an ambitious technology development effort focused on the automated processing and understanding of a variety of human language data. The primary goal is to make it possible for English speakers to find and interpret needed information quickly and effectively regardless of language or medium.

Our objective is to develop a new generation of language analysis software that will multi-lingually and translingually analyze, categorize, and conceptually index gigabytes of text/hour, detecting topics, extracting entities and relations, automatically linking related documents and knowledge, and spotting important/novel information. The result will be multi-modal content-based analysis of a collection of documents using textual labels, running text, tables, geo-displays, timelines, and link displays. The primary target for demonstrations will be news.

A list of all the projects associated with TIDES:

A demo of the TIDES technology called Newsblaster:

Columbia University is also working on a project called PERSIVAL. Healthcare consumers and providers both need quick and easy access to a wide range of online resources. The goal of this project is to provide personalized access to a distributed patient care digital library through the development of a system, PERSIVAL.

All projects (which include things like automatic summerization, multimedia generation and corpus annotation).


Friday, March 15, 2002

RDF Visualization Tool

Curiously, this tool uses Jena and not the W3C RDF API even though it's a W3C tool.

`Serious software companies don't ship open source. They may start with it but they build products on it,'' Card added. ''You just have to be serious about the business and I don't think they are serious (about Netscape).'' - Jupiter Media Metrix analyst David Card.

Thursday, March 14, 2002

P4 vs G4

The Register article was wrong. I found a better article which objectively discusses the P4 vs G4.

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

G4s don't suck

"As for SSE2 vs. Altivec, SSE2 is a toy by comparison. Its architecture does not offer the range of generalized high precision capability that the altivec instruction set does. It is filled with bandwidth limitations, particularly its tiny number of harder to use registers that make it nearly impossible to keep the pipeline full, and it is capable of basically no parallelism whatsoever with the regular FP unit on the processor (which means it must start and stop each unit to switch back and forth, and the lack of generalization makes this an excruciating performance penalty). The small number of registers in particular makes the P3 a better scientific computing processor than the P4 for real world applications because the P4's pipe is too deep to keep it filled. This can be graphically demonstrated with fully optimized applications that force significant branching on real world data. "
Revenge of Mozilla

"Hebrew is now supported on Solaris. By itself, the sentence is weirdly enigmatic. But it's a heck of a lot more significant than the simple fact that some users of Sun hardware can now render the Hebrew alphabet accurately while Web surfing. It means that somewhere out there, someone right now is hacking a few lines of code that will make life better for someone else, and we all get to benefit. "

Monday, March 11, 2002

AOL goes Linux and Mozilla (at last!)

According to Newsforge AOL is going Linux for it's servers and has a client that's ready (boring). The client (version 8) is rumoured to be based on Mozilla's Gecko rendering engine. Of course, version 7 was supposed to be Mozilla as well. So the Netscape version will be the only 100% pure Mozilla based browser. It's good to see that the reason is better standard support something that IE sucks at (although give me good DHTML performance too!).

Sunday, March 10, 2002

.Net Gumbo

While I don't like posting stuff from other web logs I found an interesting post to reinforce my distrust of multiple languages in .Net.

The example is using C# classes and just calling it from C# and VB.Net.

The difference in results is explained because overloading behaviour is not standard. It's up to the compiler of the language. So VB.Net find the "closests" method in the class hierachy. C# uses the direct parents class (as I would think).

You can produce enough bugs using one language, forget about trying to figure out the problems caused by cross language integration.
Ontopia Knowledge Suite(TM).

Ontopia AS, providers of advanced topic map tools and services and co-creators of the topic mapping standards, today announced the release of version 1.3 of the
Ontopia Knowledge Suite(TM).

Topic mapping is a new paradigm for organizing, retrieving, and navigating information resources. Through the provision of a 'knowledge layer' that is independent of the information resources themselves, topic maps help capture and manage corporate memory, improve indexing, and enable the integration of information that spans multiple, disparate repositories. Topic maps are based on an international standard, defined by the ISO, and are interchanged using the Extensible Markup Language (XML) defined by the W3C.

The Ontopia Knowledge Suite (OKS) comprises a full-featured Topic Map Engine written in 100% Java; the Ontopia Topic Map Navigator Framework, a framework for building J2EE compliant web applications; integration with full-text search engines; and an RDBMS backend for persistent storage of very large topic maps.

New functionality

Version 1.3 of the OKS adds significant new functionality in the form of a query engine and schema tools. Among other enhancements, all components now support Java2 version 1.4, memory consumption has been reduced by on average 30%, and support has been introduced for version 1.2 of LTM, the Linear Topic Map notation.

The query engine, which utilises the 'tolog' query language, enables complex queries to be performed on topic maps. For example, the following query against the well-known Italian Opera topic map, returns a list of cities in descending order of the number of premieres they hosted:

select $CITY, count($OPERA) from { premiere($OPERA : opera, $CITY : city) | premiere($OPERA : opera, $THEATRE : theatre), located-in($THEATRE : containee, $CITY : container) } order by $OPERA desc?

The schema tools allow the validation of semantic constraints expressed using the Ontopia Schema Language (OSL), and the development of more intelligent, schema-aware end-user applications. For example, it is possible to constrain associations of type "born in" to have exactly two roles, "person" and "place", each of which must be played by topics belonging to the superclasses "person" and "place" respectively.

In addition to providing customers with much-needed additional power,'tolog' and OSL are major contributions to the projects currently underway in ISO to develop a Topic Map Query Language (TMQL) and a Topic Map Constraint Language (TMCL).

Together with the Navigator Framework, these new features enable customers to build powerful topic map-driven web portals that integrate information from a variety of sources, provide much more intuitive navigational interfaces for end users, and greatly simplify web site development and maintenance.

New Omnigator

To coincide with the release of version 1.3, there is also a new version of Ontopia's popular free topic map browser, the Omnigator.

The Omnigator is a generic application built on top of the Ontopia Navigator Framework that allows users to load and browse any conforming topic map, including their own. Designed primarily as a teaching aid to help newcomers understand the topic map concepts, it is also an extremely useful tool for debugging topic maps and for building demo applications.

Some of the new features in the Omnigator 6 include plug-ins for performing querying and validation, the ability to display class hierarchies (in both text and graphics modes), better stylesheets, andan improved statistics printer. The Omnigator 6 can be downloaded for free from

New product structure

As of version 1.3, the Ontopia Knowledge Suite will be offered in three different editions, corresponding to the needs of different groups of users. Each edition is available under either a Development License (D) or a Runtime License (R). OEM licenses are also available at negotiable prices.

PERSONAL EDITION: $500 (D), $5,000 (R)
- Includes the Topic Map Engine and the Omnigator.

PROFESSIONAL EDITION: $2,000 (D), $20,000 (R)
- Includes the Topic Map Engine, the Navigator Framework, thefull-text integration, query engine, and schema tools.

ENTERPRISE EDITION: $3,000 (D), $30,000 (R)
- Extends the Professional Edition with the RDBMS backend for persistent storage of very large topic maps in relational databases.
More Mono

* Mono now builds on OS X .
* Mono is now self hosting on Linux (although it still seems to crash).

Mono on Linux, Windows, OS X, Solaris and various BSD Unices before JDK 1.4. Following the thread it seems so much like Java:21 % is spent in Array.Copy, 20 % of the time is spent in the various StringBuilder.Append and 15 % is spent in String.BoyerMoore (searching). However, the quality is still way behind that of Java for things like JITing and basic functions (as you would expect for a relatively new, smallish team).

Thursday, March 07, 2002


Now how Steve got the company back from the brink:

1. He focused strongly on bringing cost in line with WinTel PC's. If I remember correctly, he hired away a top manager from Compaq to re-engineer Apple's supply chain (cost reduction).

2. He introduced radically new computers for the home and education markets (iMac). He did this by springing a surprise on competitors (surprise is very important to keep competitors off-balance and stunned, preventing them from regrouping and attacking).

3. He focused on satisfying customers in strong holds like printing and publishing, education, scientific and graphics. He made computers and developed technologies to satisfy this market e.g. beefed up QuickTime, robust AppleScript, cheaper computers for education markets and a dedicated sales force for the education market.

4. Apple's CFO I guess was instructed to start building a war chest for a couple of quarter's worth of losses. The target was $4 billion, as that amount has been stable for the last few quarters in the balance sheet.

How can a company gain advantages in these 4 arenas?

D'Aveni says that there are the new 7 S's

Speed: is related to the churning out of advantage after advantage in each arena. Apple has been regularly churning out product innovations like Airport, Mac OS X, iTunes, iMovie and novel form factors etc.

Strategic Soothsaying: Steve Jobs setting targets to become the center of the Digital Hub is an example of this. Steve or any body else from the company, as far as I know, has not postulated the next aim.

Superior Stakeholder Satisfaction: Satisfying stakeholder is very important. The most important stakeholders are the customers. Apple has obviously been doing very well as they won the best Computer Support Award from ZDNet. The lowliest stakeholders are the shareholders and company executives.

Surprise: Apple has consistently surprised customers and competitors alike by introducing the iMac, Airport, iMovie, Final Cut Pro and lean mean laptops like the iBook and PowerBook G4.

Shift the rules of competition: Apple shifted the rules of competition from MHz and RAM to aesthetics. All Apple computers look beautiful, while the competitors suck.

Signaling Strategic intent: Apple clearly in early 1997 interviews signaled it's intent to provide better products and services to it's customers. When Dell started to make inroads into the education market, Apple signaled it's intent not to lose this market by creating a focused in house sales force, appointing a vice president for educational sales and aggressively providing discounts to education systems around the country to make sales. Recently it went to court to prevent Microsoft from donating used Pc's and its software to schools.

Simultaneous & Strategic thrusts: Apple consistently made multiple thrusts in software, hardware and customer support (Knowledge Base).

Wednesday, March 06, 2002

A computer scientist looks at game theory

I consider issues in distributed computation that should be of relevance to game theory. In particular, I focus on (a) representing knowledge and uncertainty, (b) dealing with failures, and (c) specification of mechanisms.

Tuesday, March 05, 2002

Agoric Computing - Applying Market Forces to Computing (Getting Agents to Work?)

"For a variety of reasons, this work explores essentially pure markets as models of economic organization for computation, supported by a minimal "legal" framework of foundational constraints. A large body of economic theory and historical experience indicates that markets are, on the whole, remarkably effective in promoting efficient, cooperative interactions among entities with diverse knowledge, skills, and goals."

It has a rather full explanation of getting agents to work.

"The following argues that agents at a higher level can accomplish adaptive automatic data structure selection, guide sophisticated code transformation techniques, provide for competition among business agents, and maintain reputation information to guide competition."

Links to the papers:
Fabian Pascal and Relational Databases:

1A. Can you name the 'truly relational DBMS' that you have mentioned? 1B. Can you tell us anything about this new technology that makes use of true relational technology?

My reference was not to a relational DBMS per se, but rather to a recently developed technology which can be used to build truly relational DBMSs, as well as other software tools. Unfortunately, I am not at liberty to say much about it at this time. What I can say is that the tables in RDBMSs implemented using this technology would truly resemble mathematical sets and would not have the inherent physical ordering of rows and columns that current SQL products impose on tables. It is, of course, up to the industry to use this technology, but given the way in which it operates, I would not hold my breath (see question 4 below).,289483,sid13_gci804576,00.html

eWeek recently published a set of performance values on various databases. Showing that MySQL, Oracle were the fastest and DB2 and SQL Server were the slowest.,3658,s=702&a=23115,00.asp

According to Fabian: "Oracle is not a truly and fully relational DBMS, only a SQL one. MySQL is essentially a file manager.",289483,sid13_gci799976,00.html?FromTaxonomy=%2Fpr%2F284872

Friday, March 01, 2002


Some interesting points:
* There is no standard VM, everything is JITed to an executable.
* The Mono project requires the MS implementation.
Another RDF Query language.

While I haven't worked if it is distinctly different or just a grammatic skin over other query languages Versa is interesting none the less.