Monthly Archives: September 2006

Dave Shields HELLO Steve O’Grady

David Shields Hello Steve O’Grady : re Run! It’s a Standard

Steve just posted a question about the above topic and asked:

Do you know of any instances where standardization eliminated or otherwise destroyed a business?

Yes I do. Ten years ago on the desk of every secretary of IBM executives above a certain level a printed copy of the Airline Travel Guide. There were frequent updates. It must have been a good business, but I haven’t see one in years.

At work I now get less than one piece of postal mail a month. Several years back I got several trade rags, and I remember flipping through them and scanning the ads. All that has moved to the web now. Yes, there is still a PC Week but now it’s just a web site, and I certainly don’t find the ads as attractive. I also think it has become harder for the columnists; for example I used to look for the columns of Jim Seymour and Peter Coffe as I knew just where to flip the paper. Somehow it’s not the same now. Yes, there is still a PC week but the internet has somehow “standardized away” a piece of that business that won’t come back.

I tried to post a comment at Steve’s web site, but somehow it didn’t take. I’m sure it’s pilot error on my part. I’ll try to get it right next time, but am posting it here while the thought is still at hand.

Copyright (c) 2006 by David Shields. Licensed under the Apache License 2.0.

TWWP Blog Stat Milestone: 1028 Total Views, 140 Best Day Ever

We TWWP folks are computer folks. We live in a binary world, so we will report Blog Stat milestones corresponding to powers of 2.

We just reached 1028 Total Views, moving past 1024.

The current Best Day Ever is 140 views, so the next milestone will be 256 views on a single day., or 2048 Total Views, whichever occurs first.

Defining the milestones for TWITness remains an open problem. Until it is solved, we’ll just measure values in this space using the powers of 0 — the same scale used to pay open-source programmers.

Copyright (c) 2006 by David Shields. Licensed under the Apache License 2.0.

The Wayward Word Press License – Make use of my writing here as you wish

[Ed: Originally publised on 29 Sep 2006, this was revised on 10 Oct 2006. The original post said my writings here were freely available for anyone to use in any way they deemed fit. I later decided that it would be better to use a real license, and so revised this post to indicate that all my writings herein are licensed under the Apache License 2.0.]

We here at TWWP don’t publish computer software source code. But we do publish ideas in the form of writing. And this is an open-source project.

So it is a fair question to ask: Where’s the License?

Here as in everything to do with open-source, do what apache-dot-org does. Why not do it right from the start? This will save time, yours and mine.

Copyright (c) 2006 by David Shields. Licensed under the Apache License 2.0.

On Sahana: Philippines clears up after storm

I just saw the following article mentioned on the Google News page: Philippines clears up after storm. It says:

A massive clean-up is under way in the Philippines after the latest typhoon, which has left at least 30 dead.

Typhoon Xangsane, packing winds of up to 130km/h (80 mph), pounded central and northern Philippines.

Hundreds of homes have been destroyed, and floods have left many roads and bridges impassable. Dozens of people are still missing.

The typhoon was the strongest to hit the capital Manila in 11 years, weather officials said.

Government offices and schools in Manila remained closed on Friday as emergency crews worked to fix power lines and clear fallen debris.

The entire island of Luzon was without power during some parts of Thursday, but it has now been partially restored.

The storm is now reported to be heading for the Vietnamese beach resort of Danang, and is expected to hit on Saturday afternoon.


Typhoon Xangsane was “one of the worst devastations that Manila has experienced,” the city’s Mayor, Lito Atienza, told local radio on Friday.

President Gloria Arroyo held an emergency meeting with energy and civil defence officials, and ordered a speedy restoration of basic services.
ome of those killed included a man who fell into a river in central Antique province, and a man hit by a falling tree in Albay province.

Many other people are missing in the town of General Trias town, where an irrigation dyke collapsed, a local official told the Associated Press news agency.

More than 60,000 people have reportedly been affected by the aftermath of the typhoon – landslides, floods and wind damage to agriculture and infrastructure.

“We have a lot of debris on the streets. We are also having difficulty in restoring power,” Defence Secretary Avelino Cruz told French news agency AFP.

Thirty dead and counting. The toll will go up, as will the number of people who survive who will need assistance to put their lives and their communities together.

The moment that storm struck marked the formation of a global multinational organization consisting of relief workers, unpaid volunteers, military forces, the United Nations, and of course many other groups. They have already started assembling resources: food, tents, medical supplies, radios, cell phones, computers, and many other technologies.

An essential part of their toolkit will by the internet itself. That is how I learned about the storm, how many others learned about it, and it will a key communication tool going forward.

Among the technologies that will be brought to bear are the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), that include software as a core component.

Whenever such disasters strike, as a member of the Open Source community, I and all my fellow members should ask ourselves the following questions. We need to come up with answers, as not only should we ask these question of ourselves, but the world is asking them as well:

Is Open Source Technology (OST) being used? If so, what OST? And after this disaster, knowing there are others in the future that will inevitably put all of us in harm’s way, we will need to analyze how things went and determine if we can do a better job next time around. And realizing we can use OST not just for disaster relief, what can we do to assist in other kinds of relief, in education, and in any effort that can improve the world?

There is one such project I know of that will soon be deployed in the Phillipines. It is called Sahana. I have written of it in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

But where are the others? When will they be written? Who will write them? Can we in the open-source community help?

I know this blog can be confusing to read, especially the parts about nits, twits, and nitwits. But addressing this issue is the one problem that is at the core of all these posts, the question I plan to work on for the forseeable future:

How can we enlist and organize volunteers with open-source skills to volunteer those skills to make the world a better place?

Copyright (c) 2006 by David Shields. Licensed under the Apache License 2.0.

Michael O’Connell: More on alphaWorks Services (news reports, blogs…)

See More on alphaWorks Services (news reports, blogs…) for a post by aW’s Mike O’Connell on aW’s tenth birthday. I see recordings were made.

There are some notable figures there. I’ve had the great pleasure of hearing Irving, Jon and Rod speak (and I spoke with Gina back in the aW/dW days). But it you have never heard any of them, I would especially encourage you to listen to the broadcasts.

Irving and John blog:

Copyright (c) 2006 by David Shields. Licensed under the Apache License 2.0.

On Blogging: ‘I learn by writing’

Steve O’Grady just posted a link to a story at IBM’s developerWorks site (dW): building tools to support software development teams. The dW article is by Bill Higgins. Bill works for IBM’s Rational division, and says in part:

This reminded me of some something interesting that Grady Booch once said. I asked him how he went about acquiring new knowledge, to which he responded “I learn by writing”. This seemed paradoxical, since I always considered writing a way to inform others rather than a way to inform yourself. But Grady made the point that writing forces you to crystalize your understanding of the topic. This crystalization occurs for two reasons:

  1. you must perform research to ensure accuracy and depth
  2. the process of writing forces you to serialize fuzzy thoughts into coherent sentences and paragraphs.

So, if there’s some topic that you want to understand better, consider writing an article on it.

Steve picked the tag: “I asked him how he went about acquiring new knowledge, to which he responded ‘I learn by writing’.” – same here, big time.

As you may know, my daughter Jen just graduated from Yale, one of the great institutions in the world. I cannot say enough good things about it. I think we both fell in love with it during our first visit back in October of her junior year in high school. It was clear to me from the start that it emphasized direct teaching by all the faculty to the undergraduates above all other things. We visited other schools tool, some quite well known, but I never left any of the others believing their faculty and administration had the same priority.

During Jen’s first few years at Yale I was still at Research, and I often stopped by to chat with a colleague, Dave Grove. He’s a Yale graduate. I once asked him what his Yale education meant to him. He said,

Yale taught me how to write.

What more can anyone ask of a university? Tom Friedman has asked and answered that one: one of his daughters is a Yale student.

That’s one reason to blog. It forces you to write.

My wife is a reading teacher. She put up a sign in her home workspace a few years ago. I believe it’s a quote from Eudora Welty. I may have the words wrong (and I know Jen will correct me if I did, but as I recall, it says,

I write what I say so I can read it to learn what I think.

Copyright (c) 2006 by David Shields. Licensed under the Apache License 2.0

On Blogging: Summary of recent comments from our readers

I ran a story on the 10th anniversary of IBM’s alphaworks (aW). It was prompted by a post on Steve O’Grady’s blog, a post I read late at night on the day before the event. So I tried to put something togerher in less than an hour.

There were comments by Steve, his colleague James Governor, and Peter Coffee, a columnist — though that word doesn’t do him full justice — mentioned in the post. I hadn’t had time to properly quote his article as I had recently moved offices and hadn’t yet unpacked. It was good to hear from Peter, and the offer I made still stands: the offer was that I would arrange a visit to Research if he were in the area. I’m now in Somers but I still have friends at Research. And come to think of it, I’d be happy to meet with anyone in the area with an interest in the volunteers project.

Steve later wrote a post about the event. It had several keen insights. I’ll be writing about it shortly.

I made a few posts on TWITs, and got responses from Ken Coar. I assume everyone knows about Ken; if they don’t write a comment and I’ll tell you more about that “Rodent of Unusual Size.” By the way, that handle reveals the name of one of — if not THE — his favorite movies.

Chris Abbey has been a pal since the Jikes days. He worked for a time at developerWorks after Philippe and I stopped working on, then did much work on his own time, only stopping that role earlier this year. I’m officially the project admin now, though the project has remained dormant since Chris left. Chris also recruited Rob Eggers, someone you’ll probably be hearing about soon.

Chris and Ken offered to set up a site for the TWIT stuff. I almost got a URL early this morning, but there is no rush today. Our readership is still small, though it’s gone up to 70-80 reads/day.

We add new readers and project members to the blogroll. This week’s additons at Ken,Steve, and James. Chris gave the URL of our new project, and thanks for the offer, but I’ll put off adding that for a bit.

Steve asked about a study back in 2004. It was about commoditization (c13n). I spent a lot of time reading and thinking about this back then. Clayton’s work is especially insightful. But as it happens, c13n is the least of worries in the non-profit and gov’t space. How can s/w be a commidty if none exists?

Thanks for your comments, dave.

Copyright (c) 2006 by David Shields. Licensed under the Apache License 2.0.

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