When
· Naughties
· · 2005
· · · March
· · · · 24 (5 entries)

Billmon · This is the pseudonym of the author of Whiskey Bar, which would be just another progressive political blog if it weren’t so very well-written. Billmon burned out partway through last fall’s election and signed off. Then, in January, he was back (provoked by a news story that made my blood run cold, too) but his posts consisted entirely of carefully-attributed quotations from contemporary and historical public figures, plus maliciously and amusingly doctored photographs. If you are a believer in the integrity or intelligence of the current U.S. administration you will probably find them irritating, but may nonetheless admit that they are well-done. Today, for the first time in months, he gave us a few paragraphs in his own voice, which I think well-worth a visit.
 
Mind Expansion by Mikael · The Rails (& Ruby) hype is becoming deafening to the point that I can’t ignore it; while poking around I came across the home of one Mikael Brockman, yet another precocious Scandinavian hacker (what’s going on up there?). Anyhow, I’d always vaguely understood continuations and knew that smart people thought they were great, but I looked at the code from his essay Continuations on the Web [Sigh, that link is dead. It’s in the archive] and thought “I can’t believe that does what he says”, but it turns out that OS X comes with Ruby and yes, it does what he says. But I had to spend a long time looking at it to see why. Will this kind of idiom ever enter the mainstream? I’m not sure, but internalizing it will make you a little smarter.
 
What’s a Gigabyte? · 109 is, of course 1,000,000,000. One million K is 1,024,000,000. One thousand megabytes is 1,048,576,000. 230 is 1,073,741,824. And on my new V20z boxes, a “gigabyte” is 1,073,238,016 bytes. Further discussion at the Wikipedia.
 
Java, the Grid, and Rio · I’m thinking about how you’d run a big distributed Java system as a service across a whole lot of networked computers, spreading out onto new processors as required, and exchanging high message volumes. Sounds kind of like a “grid”, doesn’t it? Poking around for APIs first turns up DRMAA, but it seems to be oriented towards batch jobs that run for a while then stop and don’t talk to each other much. Daniel Templeton pointed me at the Rio Framework (from Jini-land), which looks like more or less exactly what you’d want. Actually, Daniel just gave me the name “Rio Framework”, which turns out also to be the name of an alternative-policy treaty, and then searching for “Java Rio” gives us Peter del Rio as well as various summits and JUGs in Brazil, so it was real work to find the software. This fragment is a conscious attempt to give it a little Google-juice; I’ll report back on whether it works.
 
Calling all Canadians · Radio guy Tod Maffin just wrote up an impending redraft of Canadian copyright law. If this turns into a futile attempt to shore up failed business models by forcing the development of user-unfriendly technology, I’m not going to take it lying down. Other places to look are Michael Geist’s site and the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, which he founded. Canadians, please take note and get in the loop. With a minority government in Ottawa, we may even get some leverage. [Update: If you read Michael Geist’s coverage, it appears that the proposed legislation is a lot less bad than it might have been. We should still be vigilant, because the other side will be trying to tilt the table their way.] [Update: Raymond Lutz wrote me to point out Digital Copyright Canada, another advocacy site.]
 
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