Sunday, June 30, 2002

The Price of Silence

This made me laugh for a long time. I remember studying John Cage's work in High School and my music teaching telling us that they sold 4 minutes 33 seconds cheaply as blank tapes. Isn't there prior art? Does Billy Joel's "River of Dreams" credit him too (does he have to pay everytime)?

"They say they are claiming copyright on a piece of mine called 'One Minute's Silence' on the Planets' album, which I credit Batt/Cage just for a laugh. But my silence is original silence, not a quotation from his silence.""
The Strange Case of the Disappearing Open Source Vendors

This article is interesting because:
* He uses brackets the way I do (which admitedly is a lot like coding).
* Picks up on the use and cost of software as two distinct values.
* Open source means not only you but many more can fix the code. Cheaper, faster fixes.
* The key to open source lies in the government sector.
* That the GPL is more consumer friendly than proprietary software. That customer lock-in is the enemy of business and the biggest pusher is Microsoft.

The point that he does seem to miss is that a knowledgeable user can reduce the cost of acquiring a product. The usual example is that a car manufacturer both acquires and makes products to produce a car. By keeping the knowledge about producing parts they can at least set a base line or even undercut external production.

Friday, June 28, 2002

Wonderful World of RDF (this is not new)

Google is a Semantic Web Application because it reasons using links. Links are untyped and basically could be thought of as statements. An improved Google may simply be achieved by improving the granularity of it from pages to sentences or paragraphs (sounds a little like natural language parsing to me).

Cyc Argument is also interesting. "In an alternative view of machine-intelligence development, personal computers are already so powerful that they are not the bottleneck problem at all. This is my view.

This view is best likened to priming a pump. Visualize your brain as a knowledge pump. Knowledge goes in, gets stored, combined, copied, or whatever; from time to time, you say or write or do things that are, in effect, ways for your brain to emit knowledge. On a good day, the knowledge you give out may be as good or better than the knowledge you put in."

Thursday, June 27, 2002

Why RDF?

This article seems to miss the point of RDF. I'm not sure why it's so hard to understand that "RDF provides a very natural base for the expression and interchange of such data". Making statements, pointing at name spaces all these things are not magic or even AI. But in one paragraph we go from "we want to tag pages with, say, the last name of the people who created them, is the attribute labeled "lastname", "last_name", "name_last", "surname" or "nom_dernier"" to going back to "the AI game of attempting to classify all knowledge. See Cyc. See Cyc not run."". Then he says that RDF is centralized.

This is similar to the discussion going on in the RDF interest list. If you follow this it gives some nice reasoning behind why RDF and not XML/XML Schema:

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

XWT Makes It...

...onto Slashdot. Hurrah!
Content Wants to be Both

"I see no danger of Corporate America succeeding in solely dominating cyber culture ever. They may continue to encroach on it, but the free alternative will always be there, and much content will continue to remain free. "

" there doesn't seem to be widespread rejection of the concept that we pay for basic Internet access like we pay for other utilities."

"I have myself paid fees for content frequently in the last few years for archive look-ups (e.g,., special reports (e.g,. eMarketer), select subscriptions (e.g., WSJ), tip jars (e.g,. OddTodd), premium communities (e.g., Ryze), games (e.g., EverQuest), lots of "shareware" software, and more. I also continue to buy lots of CDs despite free MP3s on KaZaA."
Programming Through Pictures Part II

The RDF Interest group recently had a couple of links with this which fit in with my previous post.

Before there was XDE, UML and ACE there was intentional programming. I guess it was '95 MS was happy and carefree having just shipped a new version of Windows. Everything was right in the world, they could do anything. Including representation that never dies:

"Software encoded intentionally can be said to be immortal, in that its meaning can be sustained independently of the long term progress in programming notation and implementation techniques."

The analogies being used reminded me a lot of musical notation:

Eidola is a similar type of project which seeks to get around textual representation of code because:
* It presents many features of program structure poorly, particularly large-scale structure.
* It unnecessarily ties the fundamental design of the language to its human presentation.
* It privileges one form of a program over all others, and that form happens to make it particularly inconvenient for software to work with the semantic structure of a program.
* It creates translation messes for alternate visual presentations and storage formats.
* It creates a very high barrier to entry for creative new developer tools of any real sophistication.

At least it would get rid of the eternal curly brace debate:

They even have a 0.0.0 release:

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Stick with Relational Databases

Meta Group talk about the approaches that IBM, Microsoft and Oracle are making to store unstructured data. They also talk about content management vendors differing approaches. Their overall suggestion is that for the next two to three years the architecture and infrastructure is too immature for deployment. Also, that document management vendors will be increasingly commoditized by larger players.

""The war over database structure has been won by the relational database
vendors," says META Group analyst Doug Laney. "Therefore, unless users
have some exotic data types or accessibility needs, they should reject
the blandishments of object-oriented and pure-XML databases in favor of
extending their RDBMS management schemas to encompass these unstructured
data types.""

"Existing content management vendors must realize that the semistructured and unstructured repository market will be commoditized by the RDBMS due to existing presence and costs. Users will increasingly want to standardize on one of the large vendor solutions (IBM, Oracle,
Microsoft, or, to a lesser extent, Sybase), and the content management
vendors must begin supporting these databases as repositories for
content in addition to metadata...User organizations should recognize that enterprise-wide unified management of semistructured and unstructured data and information infrastructure/architecture will remain impractical for the next two to three years, but is moving increasingly in that direction."

.NET is...

I only recently saw that .NET (or rather Rotor) has been ported to Linux (well 94%) - much more complete than Mono.

What is .NET and how do you get a language to run on it?  The first article is about the changes made to C/C++ to make it work on .NET (called "Managed C++").  I'm surprised by Betrand Meyer's support of .NET. It really does sound a lot like he's had to make a lot of cludges to Eiffel to get it to work on .NET and all the while defending that .NET breaks Java's one language, one platform stance. I don't think that people have said that at all.
"The language openness of .NET is a welcome relief after the years of incessant Java attempts at language hegemony. For far too long, the Sun camp has preached the One Language doctrine. The field of programming language design has a long, rich history, and there is no credible argument that the alpha and omega of programming, closing off any future evolution, was uttered in Silicon Valley in 1995. Microsoft's .NET breaks this lock." 
His second article goes further on how he modified Eiffel. Even though he explains that the source code looks like normal Eiffel - it just doesn't look like a normal Eiffel library when it's compiled.

His last article importantly lists the rules that you have to follow in order to produce a .NET language. He says that language interoperability is either impractical or involves more work:
"It's not realistic, in an application containing C++, C#, Eiffel and Cobol elements, to expect them all to talk to elements written in one or more of the other languages. A project is multilanguage because it consists of a number of subprojects, each written in a particular language; in practice, each subproject will usually include a few bridge modules that talk to other languages. CLS compliance affects only these bridge modules; typically a small subset of the software. Everywhere else, each subproject can behave as if it were a single language."
He still contends that .NET is the future:
"This exciting architecture holds the potential of a programming language renaissance, enabling languages to compete on merit, not political prejudice, and the field to blossom as never before."

Monday, June 24, 2002


In Australia we're only getting the iMac shop window ads. I'm sure I saw a "Sex in the City" episode where the Mac crashed. Oh that's because she didn't have Zip disks. Wrong product placement.

The original ("true stories"):

Selling PCs with integrity:

Switch to MS Windows:

Gartner says 40-60% in converting from VB to VB.Net and more to C#:

But can't you use Gartner to prove anything?

Saturday, June 22, 2002

JDK 1.4.1 Beta

I thought Sun was slowing down in its releases of Java but just after releasing the JDK 1.4.0_1 update they've released 1.4.1 Beta. Not a blip on the Developer or normal Java web site.

The best feature is the Java logo while applets are loading.

Itanium support (Windows XP and RedHat Linux), Web Start integration (8MB JRE), bunch of javac bugs fixed (some of which I'd come across), ctrl-\ now shows deadlocks, and even more bugs fixed (notably NIO Linux bugs).

Friday, June 21, 2002

Assembling Complexity

Written in parrot assembly and probably going against the author's copyright notice. The Mathematica version is found in the notes starting at page 865.

From "A New Kind of Science" copyright:
"The source code may be reproduced varbatim for the non-commercial purposes so long as it is identified in each instance as a Mathematica program and this book is cited as its source. Derivative works such as modified or translated versions may not be made available without prior written consent of the copyright holder. Consent will normally be granted for non-commercial purposes so long as the original version of each program is included, together with appropriate copyright and other notices."

Any triangle you want as long as it's between 0 and 255:

Thursday, June 20, 2002

Information wants to be expensive?

After looking at the cost of the notes for the first Semantic Web Conference I thought I would use Google to route around the 56,00 Euros that it cost. Is it ironic that a conference on making information more accessible is hidden behind a torturous e-commerce system? Anyway I did a little googling and found most of the papers here's a quick attempt:

Semantic Web Enabled Web Services:

The Grid, Grid Services and the Semantic Web: Technologies and Opportunities (no paper but plenty of others):

Matching RDF Graphs:

Layering the Semantic Web: Problems and Directions

Notions of Indistinguishability for Semantic Web Languages (no link to the paper though):

Har har:
Paying the Price

In recent weeks Australia made the news for Optus finally punishing high bandwidth users. So I had a look at New Zealand to see how it's done better. Basically, 128K is going to be the standard access speed. Raising the bar at the lowend seems to be a much more intelligent solution.

NZ Unlimited/NZ$29.95 per month/128Kbit donwload

NZ 500Mb/NZ$49 per month/2-8Mbit download
AU 300Mb/AU$59 per month/256Kbit download

NZ 1Gb/NZ$69 per month/2-8Mbit download
AU 1Gb/AU$76.95 per month/512Kbit download

NZ 3Gb/NZ$310 per month/2-8Mbit download
AU 3Gb/AU$94.95 per month/512Kbit download

Installation is free at the moment for NZ. However, it's usually $99 with no contract requirement. They don't include a modem you pick one (hmm market forces). $189 is for Telstra on a 18 month contract. If speed falls below 2Mbit on the limited usage plans it's considered a service fault in NZ. The big jump from 1 to 3 GB is that there is no personal plan above 1Gb as it's considered business usage.,2502,200345-200555,00.html

Duopoly - a game for 2-2 players:
Scary Anthems

No wonder everyone picks on these countries they need to put a couple of girts and abounding and take out some of the fighting and guns.

"So long as there is the earth and the heavens;
So long as the world endures;
So long as there is life in the world;
So long as a single Afghan breathes;
There will be this Afghanistan.
Long live the Afghan nation.
Long live the Republic.

God is greatest!
He is above the plots of the aggressors,
And He is the best helper of the oppressed.
With faith and with weapons I shall defend my country,
And the light of truth will shine in my hand.

In a similar vein may-be a small rim of plenty surrounding uninhabitable desert in the middle, more dangerous bitey things than anywhere else, drought stricken lands, expensive high speed bandwidth etc:

Monday, June 17, 2002

More Boring Copyright

I still think that the right to refuse is not up to the owners of the copyright. As given by the following news article which is all about the BSAA being a shell for the the BSA and America extending its copyright laws across national boundaries.

"As it turns out, the BSA figures have nothing to do with the Vietnamese legal recognition of copyright, which protects software copyright for a period of 12 months. According to Vietnamese law, Windows 3.11, 95, 98, ME and any other edition brought out more than a year ago is no longer protected. Hence, while piracy may well be prevalent, it is nowhere near the 94 percent the BSA is quoting. To put it in context, if we had similar laws in Australia, Microsoft would not have been able to sue the PC for Kids charity out of existence for providing under-privileged families with access to a computer with software that was by and large out of date."

"Recently the BSA(cough, cough)A, thought it in our interests to warn Australia we may well end up on the US Government's "watch list" for illegal software use. As it turns out we weren't included - although the poor old Kiwis made it. So New Zealand gets to be compared with countries including the Bahamas, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Malaysia and Thailand, for failing to follow US directives regarding the implementation and enforcement of copyright laws."

"The fact that this so called "watch list" flies in the face of the right of every sovereign nation to draft and enforce its own legal system was apparently totally forgotten, as every bunny IT media outlet scrambled to interview BSA godfather Robert Kruger – as he toured the world in support of local lynch mobs.",2000025001,20265924,00.htm

Saturday, June 15, 2002

Get Rid of the Book

As I've been reading a "New Kind of Science" I was struck that it would be much better using the web, some applets, the kind of stuff I thought was a good idea about 5 years ago. Hypermedia or whatever you want to call it. That way the 400 pages of notes would actually be useful and I could read it more comfortably in bed (using the iBook). I don't hold much romance for a storage form when it hurts my forearms and can kill my dog if I dropped it on him.

The thing I enjoyed most about the whole fractal and chaos exploision was stuff like Fractint and of course James Gleick's svelte "Chaos : Making a New Science".

Something like Cafun is much better than page after page of static triangles:

Friday, June 14, 2002

Better Programming Through Pictures

I am currently looking again at the RUP and UML. There are several new tools that looked interesting to me as a developer for designing pictures. These are also handy if your boss hasn't been coding for a while and finds UML easier to understand a bunch of code. I especially like the idea of applying patterns to code or seeing if code requires modification to fit a certain pattern.

Project ACE:

Rational Java/XDE
MC Hawkings

Not quite a funky as that rapping hipster MC Escher but close.

F*ck the Creationists:
" Ah yeah, here we go again!
Damn! This is some funky shit that I be laying down on your ass.
This one goes out to all my homey's working in the field of
evolutionary science.
Check it!"

" Defining entropy as disorder's not complete,
'cause disorder as a definition doesn't cover heat.
So my first definition I would now like to withdraw,
and offer one that fits thermodynamics second law."
Secure Future

Yeah, closed source software is more secure. The Register put a gigantic list of security flaws that Microsoft having been saving for a lazy summer day.

Cyclone just like C but without the jagged edges?
CPU Upgrades for Macs up to 1GHz (for Cubes too)

Well this made me happy (as well as the article about some Australian Uni finding that Macs were cheaper).

That and the rumour that OS X 10.2 will be out August 22nd.

I want to believe:

The University of Waikato continues to develop really interesting text and semantic web projects.

Starlog is like Prolog, but:

* Starlog is purely declarative: there are no "side-effects." This makes it easer for tools to verify, analyse and optimise Starlog programs.
* Starlog has the added capability of explicitly representing time (and thus state changes).
* Starlog's basic execution mechanism is bottom-up, like most expert systems.
3G and Startups

The killer suggestions to get 3G into the mainstream include e-mail, MP3 and video. The Virgin Australia managing director says, "It’s not whether it’s GPRS or 3G technology; the challenge is to develop a service proposition that consumers find valuable," he explains.".

Whatever happened to kozmo, theglobe, etc?

It seems with lack of money comes inner peace or at least comfort. It sounds like a lot of people in this article were just doing it for the money. Did there really need to be a economic downturn to make people realise that isn't enough?

Tuesday, June 11, 2002


Everyone seems to be posting about the MS funded report on open source being bad for security. Even after the fact that the US DoD said that it was better. My favourite is this:

"Experts differ on whether the primary focus for security should source code or binary code. Andrew Sibre, a programmer with over twenty years of experiences insists, "Having a license for binaries only gives you a black box : you don't know what it's doing, or how, unless you want to go insane trying to reverse-engineer it with a debugger (illegal under the term of most licenses)"

So they're trying to say the same people who think that it's okay to irradiate America or fly a plane into a building will go, "Oh no, we won't reverse engineer Windows, that's just wrong".

Security through obscurity works real well:

SMH Article:

Monday, June 10, 2002


FLORA is a declarative object-oriented language for programming knowledge-intensive applications. It is based on F-logic, HiLog, and Transaction Logic. Applications of FLORA-2 include intelligent agents, Semantic Web, ontology mananagement, and more.

Sunday, June 09, 2002


"One particularly niggling piece of Unfinished Business, it occurred to me the other day in the middle of a singing session with my five-year-old daughter, is the lyrics to "Do-Re-Mi," from The Sound of Music. It doesn't exactly rank as a global crisis, but nevertheless it brings me up short anytime I hear it, and it shouldn't be that difficult to sort it out.

But it is.


Each line of the lyric takes the name of a note from the sol-fa scale, and gives its meaning: "Do (doe), a deer, a female deer; Re (ray), a drop of golden sun," etc..."La, a note to follow so..." What? Excuse me? "La, a note to follow so..." What kind of a lame excuse for a line is that?

Well, it's obvious what kind of a line it is. It's a placeholder. A placeholder is what a writer puts in when he can't think of the right line or idea just at the moment, but he'd better put in something and come back and fix it later. So I imagine that Oscar Hammerstein just bunged in "a note to follow so" and thought he'd have another look at it in the morning.

Only, when he came to have another look at it in the morning, he couldn't come up with anything better...One can imagine rehearsels looming. Recording dates. Maybe he'd be able to fix it on the day. Maybe one of the cast would come up with the answer. But no. No one manages to fix it. And gradually a lame placeholder of a line became locked in place and is now formally part of the song, part of the movie, and so on."

- Douglas Adams, Salmon of Doubt.

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

A New Kind of Copyright

After reading the Wired article about "A New Kind of Science" I thought they potrayed Wolfram as very arrogant and very showman-like; especially the interview at the end. The copyright notice on his book reads:

"The author, copyright holder and publisher wish to encourage further development of the science in this book, while maintaining its intellectual integrity and preserving the value of their substantial creative and financial investments..."

"...Discoveries and ideas introduced in this book, whether presented at length or not, and the legal rights and goodwill associated with them, represent valuable property of Stephen Wolfram, LLC, and when they or work based on them is described or presented, whether for scholarly purposes or otherwise, appropriate attribution should be given.

...Illustrations (including tables) may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of the copyright holder. Most individual illustrations in this book represent substantial original works in themselves, and their reproduction is not a fair use... Permission to reproduce illustrations will normally be granted for scholarly purposes so long as the illustrations are not modified...[and] are used and explained in an appropriate way... "

While the hype surrounding the book probably means that he will be financially successful, I wonder if he squashed, rather than stood upon, the giants (and their ideals) that came before him.

Btw, I like the book a lot and is immediately readable and accessible. The Rule 30 stuff is a great introduction.

You know you're procrastinating when you start reading the copyright notice:

Luckily Wired is never wrong:
Open Terrorism

I read about this on ZDNet and was quite alarmed about the results of the study. The Register have something with a bit more healthy cyncism:

"We say that because we know they can't possibly try to argue that MS offers inherently more secure products. Although they might; as our friend Richard M. Smith points out, the Institution takes money from Redmond."

"This could explain why a group purportedly devoted to the 'perfection of democracy' would, with a straight face, recommend the MCSE as a qualification for adult participation in a democratic economy superior to a university degree."

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

Parka Search

Parka DB comes out of the vapour.

And Germany is looking increasingly like a place to go with its decision for Linux. Avoid the monoculture!

Sunday, June 02, 2002

2 3 Letter Acronyms Meant for Each Other

UML it seems is not only for producing code and integrating databases together but also for RDF. I'm fairly convinced now that will be an important use in RDF. Unsuprisingly, the University of Otago in New Zealand is over a year in front. Sun's JMI

Standford Uni's RDF API with UML support:

Adobe is 4 years ahead:

This is the second time I've come across Lockheed Martin's UBOT:

DUET (DAML UML Enhanced Tool) with ArgoUML support:

One of the continual failures of RDF is it's lack of acceptance in RSS. Having a look at Syndic8's statistics again it is still a 8:1 ratio in favour of XML.

One of the few tools where it's quite fun just to search to see what results you get back. The enjoyment comes, I think, because of the context. It links things like place names or people with documents. It not only works across their document set but also other open archives. This gives interesting results like who had classical Greek names in the American Civil War.

The "dynamic clustering" is alright in that it finds similar documents by phrases appearing in the document. As names are also given similarities such as "hercules" and "herakles". It doesn't work so well for "io" getting very weird results. Searching on "hecuba" for example doesn't find "Agamemnnon" or "Odysseus" but finds "hector" and "priam".

Open Archives Initiative:

London over 400 years (a shame there's no Quicktime panoramas for the 1600s):

Text Searching: