Monthly Archives: July 2003

Geo Services, Dashboard and Gazetteers

In Goodness gracious, great circles, Edd writes up the results of more cool Dashboard related hacking. So now you have another good reason for adding GeoURL tags to your ‘blog. Edd is also looking for more geographic related services and data sets.
I came across one a while back whilst doing some related research (enriching search results by identifying place-names and adding links to more information).

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One Week to Go

Whilst winding down this sunny Friday evening (the red wine is a-breathin’) I’ve made the mistake of visiting the Big Chill website to catch up with the latest news on the festival and line-up before next week.
Big mistake as I’m now all excited at the prospect of seeing a whole slew of cool bands.

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XML-DEV and eclectic

For a long time now eclectic has been lying fallow. I’ve just been able to keep up to date with XML-DEV on a daily basis and keep it maintained the way I used to. A combination of factors including being much busier at work (now managing a team) and at home (now a father, and soon to be so again).
However I think the main reason is that the conversations seem to be endlessly spiralling around several recurring themes (“permathreads”). This makes for very tedious reading as the trenches rarely shift very far in either direction. This has greatly reduced my tolerance for keeping up to date with the list. In the past I’ve tried to remain as impartial as possible, but once you’ve blogged about a topic for the nth time it starts to get tedious fast.
So I’m declaring eclectic to be dead. I’m not longer going to be a daily reader of XML-DEV but will stop by the archives occasionally and report on any interesting topics that I see.
Sadly however, a brief look into this months archives sees threads on XSLT vs CSS, Namespaces, and even one about Permathreads. So slim pickings for the moment.
It’s a shame really as I’ve learnt a great deal from monitoring XML-DEV over the last few years. I think the community has matured to the point where the interesting stuff is now happening on the “fringes” — separate dedicated mailing lists or other shared spaces. And thats where I intend to keep lurking for the moment.
Many thanks to Userland for providing a free hosting service for so long.
If anyone is interested in taking the content from eclectic, you can download eclectic.root (a Frontier database export of the site)

FOAF and Privacy

Shelley Powers has been writing about FOAF this week, privacy issues in particular. Ben Hammersley has been having similar thoughts. This is all good. As I understand it one of the aims of FOAF and related vocabularies (FOAF has no ‘built-in’ notion of trust) is to help explore these kind of issues.
Control over what other people and applications know about you is an important issue, and is one of the reasons why I want to become King of Data Province. I may not be able to do much about data that is already out in the wild — innumerable web sites and archives have information about me already. And there isn’t a great deal I could do about it, well, unless we can get an enforceable Data Protection Act for the entire web (which I doubt). But I can at least be the authoritative source of information. Assuming the infrastructure supports it of course. Edd Dumbill has already shown how to sign and encrypt FOAF files using PGP.

Busy, Busy

Apologies to anyone who has mailed me over the last week or so and is still waiting for a response. We’ve just gone through an application release here at work and so things have been extremely busy. Not had time to think about anything other than bug fixing. In case you’re interested we’ve just moved our production server over to JBoss.
I’ve got lots of things to write-up, and will be catching up with this and email over the next few days. So if you’re still waiting on a response, please bear with me!

Wiki Refactoring

I took some time last night to start refactoring the FOAF Wiki. This was something we needed to do, but comments on rdfweb-dev from Marc Canter, suggesting that folk are struggling without decent FOAF documentation, prompted me to devote a bit more time to it this week.
I’m pretty happy with the result as I’ve ended up with main entry points (FAQ, Tools, Developers, and DataSources) under which everything else can probably be arranged. Barring a Syntax page which ought to tie together the various vocab and extension discussions.
The FAQ should hopefully answer the majority of queries that Marc raised, including oft overlooked details such as “how do I link to my FOAF?, what icon(s) can I use?”, etc.
This all got me to thinking about Wiki Refactoring in general. Is Wiki Refactoring really Refactoring?
Martin Fowler recently aired a pet peeve about the abuse of the term: people talk about “refactoring” when they really mean “rewriting”. I’m pretty sure I’ve done this on more than one occasion.
Re-organising a Wiki — breaking down pages into inter-linked related pages; combining related information — seems like refactoring on the surface. But is it? The re-organisation seem to add (implicit) information, if only in the links between topics.
Not surprisingly there are pages about Wiki Refactoring on the C2 Wiki, which I’ll be exploring when I get a few free minutes.
Bill de h

MP3 GPS

Here’s something I came across whilst looking for a Java API into WinAmp. Why was I looking for a such a beast? Well mainly because I’m a Java weenie and can’t be bothered to dredge up the bits of C/C++ I know to write WinAmp plugins properly.
The plugin I’m thinking about would be used to extract some RDF data from WinAmp — the playlist, what I’m listening to, etc.
Anyway, this lead me to Mp3 GPS, a WinAmp plugin written in Java that communicates to a GPS device attached to the serial port of your computer. (See the installation page for a link to the Java API; it doesn’t seem to have an official separate home page)
The MP3 GPS plugin can be configured to select a playlist based on information such as the system time, the current speed, direction, latitude, longitude and altitude. Which is a cool idea.
Apart from the use cases the author mentions, there are some other interesting possibilities. Such as being able to have a playlist for a particular scenic location; something that might complement the mood perhaps. Currently at high altitude and moving very fast? No problem, WinAmp will start playing some soothing tunes to make your flight more enjoyable.
There are some interesting art works that could be constructed with something like this. It basically allows a musician or DJ to take the listeners environment into account when mixing a tune. They just need to provide the rules for selecting the right playlist.
This is also related to Linked which I saw chumped earlier this week.
It would be useful to extract the rules into something more generic, similarly the playlists. That way MP3 and GPS enabled phones could make use of the data. There are already some geo vocabularies for RDF, so there’s probably work to build on already.
It’s just a shame I don’t have any GPS peripherals!

Ping FOAFnaut

Here’s a simple bookmarklet that uses FOAF Autodiscovery to find a FOAF document linked to from the page you’re currently viewing and then submits it to FOAFnaut.
If FOAFnaut already knows this URL then the database will be cleared and the data reloaded, otherwise it will just load the new data.
Just drag the link below to your browser toolbar.
<a href="javascript:void(d=document);void(el=d.getElementsByTagName('link'));for(i=0;iPing FOAFnaut

Thoughts on Markup Tools

Great post from Dorothea on requirements for good markup tools.
I agree with everything she says, and follow a few of the habits she lists myself: I tend to write an article and then markup it up, unless its only a very very short piece; and always fill in my URLs after the fact. I also hate tree based views, I only find them even vaguely useful when I’m writing XSLT.
That said I do personally find Wiki markup pretty unencumbering so do tend to markup as I write when editing a Wiki. But thats mainly because Wiki markup generally involves the same “gesture” (to borrow Dorotheas term) at the beginning and end.

New Tools and Old Habits

My Life in RDF

I have this project idea at the back of my mind which I mentally refer to as “My Life in RDF”.
Rather than being an exciting diary of the trials and tribulations of a lone hacker, wrestling with semantic web technologies for fun and profit, you should read that title a bit more literally: the details of my life — the raw details of what I do — available as RDF.

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