Archive for August, 2003


Eureka. On firewalls and CPAN.

I had intended to complain about the CPAN module, how I never quite manage to get it to work properly. Much as I love the CPAN itself, the CPAN module (used to ease the installation of other modules) wasn’t quite working right and it was driving me crazy. I tried CPANPLUS to no avail. In the end, this is no big deal, I don’t mind installing Perl modules by hand. It’s the principle of the thing. CPAN would try to grab a module and just hang there, unable to download the file. Most irksome.

Then I turned off my firewall, and everything worked fine.

Gah. So now I just need to tweak the firewall settings a bit, and problem solved.


Head First Java

How to Talk About Jini, J2EE, and Web Services at a Cocktail Party.

It’s all so predictable. There you are at a dinner party, sipping a second martini, when the conversation turns, inevitably, to distributed programming.

The story of my life.

I’ve been reading Head First Java. It’s refreshing, fun, and engaging in a way that I don’t experience in any other programming books. And that’s the point: to trick your brain into paying attention and learning something. This interview with the authors gives a good overview of their philosophy, and the cocktail party article above hints at the irreverent fun the book offers. You really need to read through a sample chapter to understand, though. I’m looking forward to their EJB book.


Building Perl

I’m updating Perl on my iBook today, with the hope of rebulding mod_perl and installing Metadot. Compiling Perl on Jaguar is such a breeze, far easier than I remember it being with earlier versions of OS X. Hopefully mod_perl will go so smoothly.


Open Source Electronic Portfolio

The Open Source Portfolio Initiative releases 1.0 .

Earlier this year, the university of Minnesota realised that its well regarded and mature e-portfolio system would have a much better chance of reaching its full potential by open sourcing it, and getting others involved. The first fruits of that decision are now available for demo and download. Next stop: OKI and IMS “compliance”…

Well, well, well. I’m gong to have to look at this. Minnesota offers a free electronic portfolio to all its residents and students, something that Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (my employer, the other public higher education system in the state) is heavily involved with. However, I’m disappointed by how difficult it can be to use, and must confess to being uneasy with relying on a single vendor and their closed system. So I’m intrigued by the University of Minnesota’s portfolio and especially the Open Source Portfolio Initiative‘s work. Very exciting stuff.

Quick side note. The U has been getting involved in open source in more than one area. In the mid- to late nineties, they introduced a portal that they’d developed in-house (in Java). Now I see they’re using Metadot, an open source mod_perl portal server. I wonder what prompted the move.

Tangential note to self: play with OpenCms.


PHP, Perl news


Quick links: eGovernment and open source.

Quick links:


BBC Archives Online

Stuart Langridge notes that the BBC will make their program archives available online. Follow Stuart’s links to more thoughtful discussion than I could ever hope to post, especially given that I’m still a bit thunderstruck.

It does appear that the programs will be “available to anyone in the UK”, so initially I won’t directly benefit, but I don’t care: the repercussions of a move like this will move quickly beyond the borders. It cannot remain contained for long. Beyond the merely technical impossibility of blocking non-UK users, which is a perfectly understandable goal (they paid for it, after all), there’s the far more interesting question of what influence the BBC will have on its broadcasting counterparts worldwide. Danny O’Brien writes,

While the commercial companies fret over the dangers of P2P and zero-cost replication, the BBC has realised that this is its greatest opportunity. Not to beat commercial media concerns, but to finally stop mimicking them.

With apologies for the not entirely fair comparison of the two organizations, I’d love to see PBS do this. But I have little doubt that commercial interests will intervene.

What I’d really like to see is the commercial media concerns mimic the BBC.

Anyway. Right on.



Thinking about outsourcing to India? Don’t make a move before you consider Primate Programming, Inc.

Humans and higher primates share approximately 97% of their DNA in common. Recent research in primate programming suggests computing is a task that most higher primates can easily perform. Visual Basic 6.0™ was the preferred IDE for the majority of experiment primate subjects.

As you might expect, “they were baffled by anything to do with modern Java IDEs such as SunONE®, Visual Age® and Jbuilder®. None of the animals understood the Java programming language.”

Hat tip to Mark Beihoffer.


First Aid

A bee stung me in the ankle while I was going for a walk around Lake Como with Owen tonight. My first thought was, “Rats, I don’t know what to do for a bee sting.” Unbelievable. I have to brush up on my basic first aid.

My second thought was, “I hope I’m not deathly allergic to bee stings.” It’s been years since I was stung. Or had been until tonight. You never know.

Kiara just looked at my ankle said, “Looks like you’re not allergic … yet.” Smirk. Thanks.


Tinfoil Hat Linux

Tinfoil Hat Linux.

It started as a secure, single floppy, bootable Linux distribution for storing PGP keys and then encrypting, signing and wiping files. At some point it became an exercise in over-engineering.

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