Archive for May, 2003


Practical mod_perl

Here’s the book I’ve really been waiting for: Practical mod_perl was just released. If the sample chapter, “Coding with mod_perl in Mind,” is any indication of the quality of the rest of the book, I will be in heaven.


Amazon connections.

Customers who shopped for How Would You Move Mount Fuji? Microsoft’s Cult of the Puzzle – How the World’s Smartest Company Selects the Most Creative Thinkers also shopped for … Girls of Topless Volleyball.



Checky 2.0

Checky 2.0 has been released.

And hey, it’s been ported to IE: CheckIE.


Errant Architectures.

Errant Architectures, in which Martin Fowler explores some of the problems with distributed architectures: namely, there’s a huge overhead to distributed objects. One solution he discusses is the Remote Façade, in which course-grained objects are used at the distribution boundaries to provide an interface to finer-grained objects. The benefit is that you can reduce network traffic overhead by making as few remote method invocations as possible. His preferred solution, though, is not to distribute objects in the first place.

By happenstance, I read this article a couple days before coming across the Remote Façade (aka Session Façade) in Rod Johnson’s wonderful Expert One-on-One J2EE Design and Development. He derides the idea as not so much a design pattern as a workaround to problems introduced by distributed architecture. I really like the tone and practical stance taken in this book. I’m learning much even though I don’t do anything with J2EE. Yet.

In a sidebar to his article, Fowler writes:

In this discussion, I’ve assumed a synchronous, RPC-based interface. However, although that’s what I’ve described, I actually don’t think it’s always the best way of handling a distributed system. Increasingly, my preference is for a message-based approach that’s inherently asynchronous. In particular, I think they’re the best use of Web services, even though most of the examples published so far are synchronous.

He then points us to Enterprise Integration Patterns. Good stuff. Lots to take in. In particular, I’m suddenly very intrigued by asynchronous messaging. Quite different from how I usually think about things, although at first glance it seems that I may have already given it some thought through my dealings with Jabber.

So much to learn. So much fun to be had.


Chandler in Higher Education.

You may recall that the Open Source Application Foundation recently received a $98,000 grant to help extend Chandler (their first product, a personal information manager) to meet the needs of higher education. They’ve now released a report that outlines their plans: Chandler in Higher Education – “Westwood”. Westwood will build on the first full, stable release of Chandler.

After working closely with representatives from a number of universities we concluded there were four key recommendations for incremental functionality in Westwood:

  1. Nomadic usage and central Repositories
  2. Standards based Calendar Access Protocol (CAP) Client
  3. Full interoperability with standards based infrastructure
  4. Robust security framework

The full report is actually fairly interesting.


MS bookmark purge.

Microsoft stuff that’s caught my attention and that’s cluttering my bookmarks:


Perl 6 Essentials

One more for my reading list this summer: Perl 6 Essentials.


The Selfish Class

The Selfish Class.

This paper takes a code’s-eye view of software reuse and evolution. A code-level artifact must be able to attract programmers in order to survive and flourish. The paper addresses the question of what an object might do to encourage programmers to (re-)use it, as opposed to using some other object, or building new ones.

Whether despite or because of the code’s-eye view, in the end these are worthwhile thoughts about writing re-usable software components.


Disney’s self-destructing DVDs

Disney will start selling DVDs that self-destruct. Exposure to oxygen will render the DVDs unplayable after 48 hours.

I betcha they wish they’d done that when video tapes first appeared.

I wonder how these will play out in the marketplace. This scheme alone won’t prevent duplication, of course, but I don’t believe that was ever Disney’s primary concern (they’re worried about controlling how and when we view what they consider their property). The DVDs are being sold as “rentals,” so consumers won’t expect long-term access. Never mind that 48 hours is not long enough. If the DVDs are cheap enough, people might not honestly care about the time limit — unless the DVDs don’t play at all, which is bound to be the case on some “unapproved” hardware like computers (viz. Macs, as we saw with copy-protected CDs).

Unfortunately, I don’t expect this to completely backfire on Disney. If public reaction is poor, they can either quietly retire the idea or continue to put such a spin on it that it’s eventually accepted. I mean, the RIAA and MPAA have successfully done this with filesharing, haven’t they?


The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint

Edward Tufte: The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint. I might actually buy this.

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