9 December 2011


Hi Folks. Sorry for the quiet, I have too much to say, deterring me from being able to make a coherent sentence, little less a whole blog post. There's plenty of stuff in the woodwork, and it will come out fairly soon, I promise, including a book I'm writing. However, I've been doing lots of smaller stints at my Google+ channel with drips of ideas and good stuff found elsewhere. I think that that will be my platform from now on, where here on the blog I'll do the bigger and more serious stuff, while the Google+ channel a more constant drip. I've given up on Twitter as the noise was unbearable, and Facebook is ... well, I can't really use that kind of language in front of you good people.

Here's a quick update; family doing good (and my girls exceptionally so, with grades through the roof, talents earning them rewards), we're more settled these days, plodding along with our various more or less interesting projects. I'm taking a bit more pictures which I'll showcase later, a few videos, art, music, etc. The girls are really getting good on violin, and we've started up a string ensemble (if you're in the Kiama area and play either strings or classical, come and have some fun with us! There might be a oboe-player nearby). Works fine. Life's normal.

in more technical news, xSiteable - my latest project that mixes Topic Maps with all sorts of event-based plugin fun using PHP - is that I've spent a lot of (possibly too much) time on the database side of things, creating a common xPath-based simple query language that is SQL, NoSQL and XPath compatible, and a host of ready-made plugins for it (PDO, SQL Topic Maps, LDAP / AD, session, array). The way to describe various parts of your data then becomes a cached layer of reusable nuggets of data, like " $data->get ('some-identifier' ) ", no matter where in the application it gets called, will always refer to the same data, cached or create based on definitions elsewhere (so, using a rather declarative approach in which, I feel, you can define what your application does better than any other approach I've used before.

For example, each plugin can define data sources, queries (with or without parameters) using the global query language, or ask if it's allowed to use the native language (and mostly it is, but some times you may wish to not do that, for example in core modules and such). I use events for application flow, so for example handling of users are done through the events XS_ON_USER_BLANK, ..._CONFIG, and ..._CHECK which other plugins can hook into to provide user credentials or services back to the framework.

I'm also revamping the content management and document management / store aspects of it, making sure that I don't fall into pitfalls of persistent identification, nor that I cause trouble later. Every part of the application hooks into events, and each part of the screen are rendered through them, so you can inject snippets of GUI into various parts based on them using a layout module (for example, if the GUI renders a document, a button can be injected that does something, like add the ability to share a document, or whatever, you decide). Events, events, events. I've hence also made the event handler a bit more robust.

Finally, I've made everything even more RESTful, even internal services are done through REST. Want to add a menu item to the main menu? POST your item to the resource for the menu module. And so on. Every module and plugin has a resource assigned, and the "API" (I use that term loosely) is through that or a sub-set. I've even designed the data management back-end this way, so any data source you define will have an automatic RESTful API to it, if you allow it.

Security. Yeah, working on it, and I'll explain it better later, but it's almost done as well, where any object have a CRUD self / CRUD sub-elements RESTful model. More on that later.

Ok. It's the weekend. Have fun, and I'll see you on the other side.

23 September 2011

Hi everyone. Things - meaning life, blogging, new projects, fun experiments - have slowed substantially over the last couple of years to the current standstill. But it's not a bad thing, as such, it's actually a nice break from the hectic life I used to have, and has been a good opportunity for me to re-group and re-think my life and what I should do with it. There's also been a tremendous amount of focus on the kids (helping them grow, school, etc.) and our family life, and in many ways you can say that my family is now my biggest and most important project.

It didn't used to be like that. I think I was just like every one else, balancing work with family life, compromising some things for other things in an effort to make life as easy as possible. Now I don't care about life not being easy. Well, what I mean is, I don't treat life as if it needs to be either easy or hard, but more as project that I mold and shape into how it best suits me and the family.

There's a few things going on, though;

- I'm still writing a book, but I've changed it slightly. The manuscript I had was a little bit all over the place, and I've focused it back a bit to relating to that shimmer between humanity and technology, and how we as social people could better use a great deal of human cognition and social science to solve our (software development) problems. The current title; "The well-tempered keyboard." (Classic music geeks rejoice!)

- My never-ending framework and enterprise application delivery system is getting momentum, but as with any other mention of xSiteable expect some delay before I release it. However, I'm doing interesting work in the back-end these days on modular data source integration between a disparity of systems (same API into SQL, filesystems, XML, JSON, key-value, NoSQL, caches, etc. controlled through a generic caching module) creating some funky business analysis and statistics opportunities. (If you can create a dynamic SQL statement, for example, we can now have time-based as well as real-time analysis and statistics, with drill-down, semantic linking to other statements [including non-SQL] and deliver them in widgets all over the shop) It's admittedly terribly fun, but I know a few of you are looking forward, so I'll try to speed up a bit.

Stand by for another installment, soonish.

10 August 2011

What I did on the weekend : EJ12

Here's what I did on the weekend with Grace and some of her friends from school ;

Grace and a few of her school friends created this book trailer for "Hot and Cold: EJ12 Girl Hero" for some book trailer competition at school, and we're all proud of how well it turned out. EJ12 is a teen-age girl turned secret spy, and have all sorts of adventures. This one - "Hot and cold" - brings her to face the Ice Queen in Antarctica, among other things, and we mucked around with blue-screen for a long time trying to get proper icy special effects, but it proved too cumbersome, at least until we can get a proper blue-screen and some seriously good editing software.

I used to work in the movie world (many eons ago, before children) and taught Grace to script, story-board, convert, shoot, production, editing, the lot. It was a lot of fun, and I'm impressed with the girls; you did a fantastic job. I used a Panasonic Lumix G2 camera for all shots, a simple pancake lens, and only used the free and open-source OpenShot video editor (running under Linux/Ubuntu 11.04) for editing and post-production (which I probably should write a review of, now that I am intimately familiar with it ... I've got a few suggestions :) ).

Oh, and if you thought the school uniforms in the beginning looked a bit strange, it's because the girls used their bunads, Norwegian folk costumes. Don't ask me why they chose that and those high-heels, but I suspect the glamour of movie-making seeped in. Enjoy.

Update: I sent a link to the author of the book and she loved it, and she has just posted it to her EJ12 blog. How cool is that?

18 July 2011

Australian Chamber Orchestra review

For my birthday my wife thought up a brilliant gift for me; two tickets to each of two concerts the Australian Chamber Orchestra was holding in Wollongong, so for each concert I would bring one of my two daughters so they could experience both the brilliance of ACO and that of going to a concert with a bit of pizzazz!

The first concert was called 'Baroque Virtuoso' and is, I think, one of the first times the ACO's newly aquired Stradivarius violin (price: just short of 2 million dollars) would be on display and played by the beautiful Satu Vänskä. The program for the concert promised a few Greensleeves baroque pieces but interspersed by a few contemporary pieces I knew nothing about.

First, here's Satu introducing the concert;

I brought Grace (11 turning 12) who's been playing violin for two years now, and she was excited, but did remark that the ratio of people to age was something bizarrely far above even my own age. Together we spotted about less than 10 people that looked anything less than 30 years old (or so, not counting me), and the concert was sold out (which means 515 seats, according to the Merringong website) with lots of older folks about. Not a bad thing in itself, but does perhaps say something about the state of classical music in this region.

I won't say too much about all the pieces in the concert, but I'd like to make a few general remarks and point out the highlights.

First the bad, and let me make it clear straight away that I'm a huge baroque fanatic; I study it, love it, live it, I have so many baroque recordings and have been to so many baroque concerts that it makes people worry about my sanity, but I love it from the sheep gut strings to the various baroque tunings, and unless you try to be as HIP as you possibly can be, I won't be pleased. And as such, I wasn't pleased. The baroque pieces in question - Handel's 'Concerto Grosso in B minor', Vivaldi's 'Concerto in B minor' RV580, Teleman's 'Viola Concerto in G major' (!!), Tartini's 'Devils Trill' G minor violin concerto and Corelli's 'Concerto Grosso in F major, op.6 No. 2' - all had the same tokens of baroque pieces played for modern chamber orchestra in modern tuning on modern instruments.

However, within that framework there was lots to love, so don't get me wrong, the playing was at times quite sublime, with the highlight for me perhaps Corelli's because I love it so (but they could have put a bit more gusto into it). Satu's solo work on Tartini's concerto was of course brilliant; she's very, very good, and has a lovely playing style and touch, not to mention that remarkable timbre in the Stradivarius (first time I've heard one live, I believe). But for me, the music lose their soul in the sharpness of the modern instruments, and cry a little in modern tuning. But that's just me.

The best part of this baroque concert was the music that wasn't baroque, starting with probably the highlight of the evening for both me and Grace;

Stuart Greenbaum's "Moments of falling" is a gorgeous Aeolian fantasy that falls off a cliff, dragging other motif's with it on the way down, rumbling lyrically until its timely death. Lots of people around us, too, were stunned at this one, and the applause, I think, captured our surprise and delight quite well, an applause that wouldn't be repeated again until the big solo pieces and the bug finish. It was a wonderful piece, and one that the ACO just nailed; this is their true domain! This is what they do best, there's no doubt about it.

Colin Brumby's "The Phoenix and the Turtle" was up next, of which I found the first movement just as wonderful as the Greenbaum piece, coming and going in and out of similar motifs, circular developments and sharp constraints that really don't constrain much. Absolutely lovely stuff, and really well played. Second movement was somewhat different from the first, and didn't quite capture me, but still good.

James Ledger's "Johann has left the building" was Grace's favourite, a delightful romp through Bachesque brilliant motions without the genius. I wasn't quite into it as I was the others, but perhaps the promise of Bach had me looking for something it wasn't trying to be. Probably. My bad.

Peter Sculthorpe was the only contemporary composer I had actually heard of (from my years at the National Library of Australia and the Music Australia project, I think), and they played his "Port Essington", a remarkable piece and perhaps the most abstract at times as well as being the most complex composition, going from ensemble, to trio, to abstract, to trio, and back to ensemble, all interspersed with various degrees of overtones (six movements in all). The bush and the life around Port Essington came alive on stage, and it was quite remarkable. I could tell some of the audience didn't quite know what to do with this music, but I loved it! The playing was simply astounding, from the syncopated abstracts to the trio cadences (on which Mr. Cello, Timo Valve, did some fine fiddlin' indeed) to some people-giving-eachother-looks discords. I sucked it all up and was enthralled in it all, and was definitely the second highlight of the evening for me.

I can't say enough how wonderful it was to hear these Australian contemporary pieces, an area I'm completely ignorant of. However, this crash introduction have me wanting more (lots more!), and that is a testament to the brilliant playing of the ACO and the pieces they chose for this concert. Every player bounced off the next, and the timing was impeccable. I'd however advice them to stay clear of the baroque period (especially when you mix it like this, because you're forced into modern tuning and playing which doesn't suit baroque music, in my snobbish and faulty opinion), and do what they otherwise do so brilliantly.

I can't wait for my next concert next month with their take on Schubert.

21 June 2011

Upcoming book

Well, a little time ago I asked your opinions on how to publish a book, what to do, what to expect and directions to take. I didn't get too much feedback, but some, and I've at least had some interaction with my good old friend Slobodanka which I worked with at the National Library of Australia.

I've come to a realization; my book is pretty much unpublishable by any sane publisher, so I'll publish it here, free in PDF form, when it is reaching publishable shape. I know there's outlets like Lulu or Balboa Press where I can do it through them (and I might still consider that), but I kinda like the freedom of tinkering with my own book at my own leisure as well. I know that these things take time, and that a good editor is a must, however I'm thinking three things ;

  • My wife is a school teacher with strong academic background, and shall be editor
  • Some of my friends are literate and damn smart, and they could be editors, too
  • I used to work in publishing (technical side), so I can set my own book reasonably well

One of the most difficult parts of this whole thing is that I couldn't explain to anyone what the book was about. It's somewhat eclectic, binding together my years of experience in software development, working with information architecture and usability, my life as a film-maker and professional musician, my fervent scientific outlook on the world coupled with a penchant for epistemology and other nasty philosophical terms, my love of ideas, language and people, and all the little things I've crashed into while stumbling through life.

What's it about, again? How about I quote from the introduction instead, and you tell me ;
The wrong book

Oh, I'm sorry, you probably thought this book was about software development or some-such, maybe a framework, or at best how to deal with hard computer problems. Maybe you thought this book was about how to be a better programmer, showing you slick tricks and fancy algorithms. Maybe you wanted me to help you design better applications, or take you gently through various middle-ware stacks on offer. Or maybe you thought – silly you, looking at the title like that! - it had something to do with being a nicer developer. It's not.

Well, what I mean is, not really, not specifically, but perhaps rather that I won't talk about such things; they are, after all, what I do for a living. But talking about all of that stuff up there sounds really boring. Why would I write a boring book? That's right, that would be a bit silly of me. However, I can't guarantee that this won't be boring for you, especially if you expected any of those things listed at the top. All of that stuff are general problems that really are manifestations of other, deeper and more troubling problems. Like people.

I like people. I'm a people-person, and I thrive on being with people. Humans. Human beings. Folk. Crowds, big and small. Opinions. Feelings. People. You see where I'm going with this? Therein lies the solution to anything we can ever think of; interacting with other people, sharing our ideas, let thoughts simmer and talk about them, written down, talked about, discussed, shouted, ranted. Words. People.

At this point you're probably wondering if you wandered into the library and got the wrong book or something. And perhaps you did, but wouldn't it be grand if you wandered into the library to take out a book, and ended up taking out the librarian instead?"

15 June 2011


Another round of links to bits and bobs stuck in my browser's tabs ;


The architecture of Open Source projects : Pick some of the top open source projects around, and let the lead developers write about their design and architectural concepts and models. Amazingly good stuff.

Fuel PHP Framework : Fuel is a simple, flexible, community driven PHP 5.3 web framework based on the best ideas of other frameworks with a fresh start.

ID Policy : The OBO foundry documentation on identification management, and interesting tack even though I don't agree completely.

Understanding JQuery UI widgets : a tutorial.

Best Linux multimedia applications : "Today's category is multimedia applications. This is a pretty broad one - photo organisers, audio and video editors, drum machines, podcatchers, synthesisers and most anything else related - so if you think it counts, it probably does!"

Schema.org : The rest of the universe has waffled on the news of this site launching. I found their data model page the most interesting.

Gephi.org : "Gephi is an interactive visualization and exploration platform for all kinds of networks and complex systems, dynamic and hierarchical graphs. Runs on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. Gephi is open-source and free." Looks fantastic!

PHP-classes : Just an interesting collection of useful PHP classes (or, more specifically, functions, but who's counting?)

Science and mixed bag

Latest earthquakes around the world : Brilliant resource for those of us who follow the crusts till the end of the world!

Evolution : Perhaps the best resource I've seen yet about evolution; massive, extensive, thorough, clear, and recommended.

Photo.stockexchange.com : "I was thinking at the differences between SLR and DLSR (in Manual mode). In both cases you can change aperture and shutter speed as it suits you. But with SLR you are stuck with the ISO of the film which you happen to have in the camera at the moment, while with DSLR you can vary ISO as you wish, too. Now maybe the question is naive, but how is this handled in practice?" Perhaps more than you ever wanted to know.

Roger Ebert's two-thumbs up : The latest line of movies deemed good by perhaps the worlds best movie reviewer (and by best, I mean smart, thorough, sharp, well-rounded and honest and spot on after all these years I've read his stuff. This guy thinks about movies the exact way I do).

Philosophy and religion

Something rather than nothing : The Unpublishable Philosopher keeps bringing the goods! I want to follow this one up in the future, it's really good stuff.

A taxonomy of fallacy : As brilliant as the title sounds.

Thomas Hobbes : "Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury (5 April 1588 – 4 December 1679), in some older texts Thomas Hobbs of Malmsbury, was an English philosopher, best known today for his work on political philosophy. His 1651 book Leviathan established the foundation for most of Western political philosophy from the perspective of social contract theory"

Gettier problem : One of the more interesting problems of epistemology.

Atheism Is the True Embrace of Reality : The brilliant Paula Kirby writes; "Until 2003 I was a devout Christian. And I mean devout. I believed absolutely, and my faith was central to my life at that time. Various clergy thought I had a calling to “the ministry”; one even suggested I might have a vocation to be a nun. Now I am an atheist: the kind of atheist who is predictably referred to by religious apologists as “outspoken” or “militant.” So what happened? What happened was four little words: 'How do I know?' "
Philosophical Ignorance : What happens when a theology-based Calvinist proclaims that a statement of reason needs splitting hairs in order to complement his world view. I have my own follow-up at Sheltered Objections.

Historical Jesus : Jutified true beliefs? Epistemologically interesting take on the historicity of Jesus that must be taken seriously by believers for the rest of us to accept your claims as anything more than mere opinion.

10 May 2011

xSiteable 3.0 and Jankles 1.0, first views

Ok, time for a more serious update and a show and tell on what I'm currently working on. In my last blurb on this I talked about xSiteable which is the underlying framework used to create the application (which basically is an Intranet application) which we currently call 'Jenkles' (but might change if we find an even cuter name ...). And this time, let's jump straight to the application and get to the framework through it ;

Jenkles 1.0

Jenkles is basically an application for doing a few common things you might want for a portal, intranet or similar. It currently supports searching and browsing of documents, news and comments, various social media widgets (like Twitter). But the specifics of this isn't too important as they are to be extended and changed all the time.

Shown to the left is basically the front page which basically is a widget dashboard. You can add, delete and move widgets around (drag'n'drop) as administrator, or create pages where users can edit them yourself, like a personal dashboard. Everything is configurable, including the tabs at the top, all widgets, and the system is built on JQuery UI which means you can go to their website and roll your own complete look and feel.

In short, the main purpose of Jenkles is ;

1) Find, synchronize and harvest PDF (and a host of other formats to follow) files from a network drive.

2) Make documents accessible, searchable (in a few interesting ways, including faceted), browsable, previewable, printable, taggable, listable, etcable. And chuck in configurable meta data on top to create a document control system.

3) User access through (currently, more to come) Active Directory / LDAP. We've got NTLM support as well.

4) Widgets! Widgets for information access! Widgets for news! For fun! For profit! (And the next 3 months will be spent creating a bucketload of widgets, so join the fun!)

And of course the scope of the application will continue to grow as we and the community grows and extend it. The way it can grow is almost unlimited, thanks to the flexible plugin architecture of xSiteable.

Showing left is the browse functionality, but you can equally well browse documents through the faceted keywords searching, or other means as we develop them.

All documents have one page to represent them, with a preview pane, metadata sections (including document control if you're an admin), where the persistent identity scheme from Topic Maps come in handy. This is where we deal with all things identity control, including links from the document to various instances of control, be it internal or external (which might include a Wiki page that talks about the page in question, or even is the original editor place for it ... the options are endless)

xSiteable 3.0

xSiiteable is a framework I've been working on for many years. The first version was an XSLT framework that took Topic Maps input and spat out a complete website (there's a few dozen websites around the world running it still, poor things). The second version a heavy extension of that that was never released (due to laziness), and runs for example the National Treasures of Australia website. This is the third version which is some 3 years in the making, but things have dramatically changed.

The XSLT framework has been re-shaped into a kick-ass templating engine (still using some Topic Maps concepts, but is more about making good templating for professionals as easy and flexible as possible), but it is now a PHP framework created from scratch with some more modern ideas and concepts. I'll let the Wiki do the talking ;

xSiteable is a (yet another) PHP framework that tries it hardest to be simple, understandable, extensible, modern and flexible. It encompasses certain paradigms and technologies ;
  • event-driven; all class instances and their methods are driven by a structured event-stack, guaranteeing that every part of the framework is extensible, overridable, and fixable.
  • Everything is pluggable; all classes hooks into the event-stack as plugins, modules, widgets and actions. If it doesn't plug in, you're doing it wrong.
  • fully object-oriented and relying on PHP 5.3+ to make sure we don't spend a lot of time and code on past mistakes
  • topic-maps; a semantic technology for easily working with complex structures and meta data, and persistent identification management, and also makes parts of the framework ontology aware
  • a variation over the Model-View-Controller paradigm with more intuitive action classes
  • JQuery and JQuery UI as a base for JavaScripting

Basically, everything you do is write plugins and action classes that deal with the app and data, and XML templates to deal with the output (usually XHTML, but there's default support for XML, JSON, JSONP and text output as well)

Plugins, modules and widgets all share the underlying event-stack, and things happen in and out of it. There's a profiler in the logger. REST runs the underlying concepts of HTTP. There's a Topic Maps-driven data model for data interaction. And heaps of other goodies.

Sure, there's tons of PHP frameworks out there, some probably better than this one. But I do seriously think it embraces some very interesting concepts that makes it an interesting environment for rather quick development of complex application, without killing the fun, it's still easy to do, and is infinitely extensible including jumping on, overtaking and extending existing code and plugins.

Hopefully this sounds tasty. In some future installments I'll go through with some code examples and such, but do have a peak at the Wiki to see some good examples there, and otherwise let me know what you think.

2 May 2011

Ubuntu 11.04 - disaster, fear, loathing, all wrapped up in one!

I'm a huge fan of Linux (the kernel) and the many incarnations of operating systems that use from, from humble devices and cool smart-phones (using Android), to servers and desktop systems. It is today probably the most used operating system for computers today, and it all started in humble beginnings and embrace complete freedom and collaboration. It is nothing short of an amazing feat of humanity, thanks to an open and sharing geeky Finn.

I am myself an Ubuntu user of about two years or so. I've had various incarnations in the past (Red Hat and Slackware, specifically), but more or less found that Ubuntu was the distribution for me; easy to use, easy to maintain, stable, effective, well supported and well packaged.

And now, all of that might change. Well, all of the things about Ubuntu, that is. I started with Ubuntu 9.04, then I had version 9.10 for a while, and then upgraded to 10.04 (not without a hitch or two), and then a couple of months ago I upgraded to version 10.10 (which was a roaring success). If you look at the calendar you'd notice that my 10.10 upgrade is fashionably late, and that's because I have one principle in regards to upgrading my OS;

  • Wait at least 3 months until the forums are filled up with actual solutions to all the problems you might bump into.

And then on Saturday I broke my principle, partly because I felt brave and confident that Canonical (the people behind the Ubuntu distribution) had it all under control, and partly because of the success of the last upgrade. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, the first problem was that I hadn't been paying attention to the gossip of the Ubuntusphere, and didn't know that they had replaced the Gnome2 window manager with Unity, a window manager spawned from a more successful netbook line of software. I'm sure it might have been a good choice for netbooks and lighter machines, or even lighter users, but for us heavy-weight developers it turned out to be a disaster, bordering on unusable.

Just like the disastrous change in Ubuntu 10.04 of moving the window control icons from the right-hand side (where we all know them, from Windows and Mac to most Linux) to the left (back to some distant past x-windows time-travelling exercise gone wrong) against all cries, and simply ignoring all usability issues that came from it, Unity brings with it a whole bucketload of additional confusing and counter-intuitive concepts. And, against the nature of Linux itself of complete freedom and a multitude of choices, Unity is pretty much non-tweakable. A lot of the time as I was trying to get to grips with the new user-interface I thought to myself, "surely there's a config option where I can tweak this to be usable?" but no such thing exists. Want the taskbar at the bottom instead of the left-hand side of the screen? Tough. The menus were confusing enough, but the plain stupidity of Unity as a screen real-estate saver then filled up with advertisement for programs I might want to download and install? Unbelievable. And moving the menus from the top-left panel where you could rely on a consistent and static place for all your programs and settings you now get a mish-mash of scattered options by right-clicking and clicking on "more" options! I'm sure a lot of it sounded cool on paper, but in practice this is just terrible.

Anyway, the biggest gripe I have (apart from shifting the window bar icons and titles into the top-panel when maximized!) is the new taskbar concept, which is a taskbar and quick-start menu, wrapped into one. It's similar to the Max OSX bar where you fly over your programs, and if it's running you get some little indicator that it is indeed already running, meaning instead of starting it when you click on it, you switch to it. Fine enough unless you're like me and have many windows of the same program open at the same time. At all times I have at least 7-9 Chrome windows open, each sporting an assortment of tabs. Want to switch between these windows? Why, simply flick your mouse to the left-side of the screen to open the taskbar (with the added delay until it comes up), scroll till you get to the Chrome icon, click it. It has a tiny indicator on it saying there's more than one window open, so you click it again where minimized versions of those windows zoom out and gets placed on the screen with a cool animation, and now you click the window you wish to switch to (and note the small windows have no titles just graphics, and if you squint really well you might pick out what the window might contain, but most of the time it's a random click'n'try process). So when I'm in multiple windows that rely on eachother (one window is the program I'm developing, another a test window, then there's the debug window, a JS debug window, documentation, and on and on) I have to go through this whole ordeal to switch between them if I was arrogant enough to want them maximized (and when you develop complex programs that is a guarantee). The only solution is to have them not maximized and placed around in some fashion where I can click on them, if I can read the window bar text. Horrible.

I'm almost lost for words as to why Ubuntu has chosen to now use Unity as the default window manager, given that a majority of users would still be geeks and more or less tech-savvy people. As a supplement, fine, but the default thing for all Linux geeks and users? Shocking.

Needless to say I was less than impressed, and pondered what to do. And then a stupid thought came to me; I just read about the sexiness of Gnome3, so why not try that? Yeah, a bit premature at this point, but I was seriously that disappointed with the whole Unity ordeal, willing to try desperate measures to get away from it (also, not realizing that Gnome3 and Unity are actually terribly similar, and if the story had a successful ending at this point, I'd actually probably been very, very unhappy at this point, so it's kind good that it didn't happen as planned).

Ok, so I found a page or two that showed how to add a ppa to do the trick, and a apt-get dist-upgrade later I rebooted. However I rebooted into a black screen where nothing except a solitary mouse happened. Oops.

Fast forward a number of reboots and apt-get install/upgrade gnome* later, I just thought, hmm, this isn't going to work. Could be graphics drivers, but I had a mouse so I had no idea. And reverting back to Unity was not really an option (as the big warnings had told me), however someone had made a ppa for purging the Gnome3 from the system. I ran that, and it make things even worse (but in a good way I learned later) where I couldn't even open a session of any kind. Ok, back to the terminal and Lynx trying to work things out, and then I stumbled upon a tool which I can't for the life of me remember (menustat, statmenu, something like that?), but is a console tool for tagging what your distribution should contain. So I tagged out ubuntu and in kubuntu (because I thought might as well give that a try), let the program churn away, and rebooted ...

... into a Ubuntu 11.04 with Gnome 2.* classic user-interface. And yes, in hindsight I should have known that the way to do it is to log out of Unity, click my username again for login, but before putting in the password select 'ubuntu-classic' from a drop-down menu at the bottom, and then log in, and I would have gotten something almost like what I've got now, but doing it correctly is for wimps.

However, what I've got right now is somewhat better; it's a mutated mix of Ubuntu gnome 2.* and KDE (and I'll see what I want to remove, little by little), but in the purging effort it cleaned up a few snags I had been struggling with, like the graphics card (graphics now much smoother and faster), now unstuck options, some sound problems in some packages, and a cleaner theme throughout.

All in all, over the weekend I thought I'd screwed up my system seriously (although I did use the great Ubuntu One service to back up my essentials). But after a purge or two, everything snapped back to normal, all programs working, all personal settings intact. Now that stands as a testament to the greatness of Linux if nothing else, and I'm back to being a somewhat happy camper.

But I'm not happy in that I think Ubuntu is not going to be for me anymore. Both Unity and Gnome3 seems like a step in the wrong direction, so perhaps KDE is my next try, we'll see as the next version of the Ubuntu saga unveils. Or, failing that, this might be a good time to go shopping for another great distribution. The options are, unlike Unity, endless.

14 April 2011

xSiteable coming along

Just a quick note that the xSiteable framework is coming along nicely, and I've started to document it and clean it up ready for a release in a couple of weeks time. Yeah, I know, release small, release often, but there are some basics I'm going through right now that will impact it enough to make a 0.9 release bunk in a week or so, so I'm just holding out a little bit more.

Anyway, take a look at the introductory page I put up at GitHub, which should give you enough info ;


And let me know what you think. This is the framework itself, and we're releasing the CMS / CRM / Intranet / DataWarehouse / ERP / DMS / whatever system as open-source probably at the same time, we just gotta come up with a name for it first. :)

8 April 2011


It's time again to dump a whole slew of links ;


ElasticSearch : Another newcomer of searchy goodness, open-source and on GitHub. Yummy.

MQL : FreeBase's MQL query language tutorial. Good food for thought.

HTSQL : A really interesting take on that juction between SQL and NoSQL.

A plugin pattern : A JQuery development pattern and tutorial.

HTML5 logo : When you want to express how cool you are.

JSON-LD : JSON-LD (JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data) is a lightweight Linked Data format. It is easy for humans to read and write. It is easy for machines to parse and generate.

BackBone : This is one cool light-weight JavaScript framework. Backbone supplies structure to JavaScript-heavy applications by providing modelswith key-value binding and custom events, collections with a rich API of enumerable functions, views with declarative event handling, and connects it all to your existing application over a RESTful JSON interface.

Aloha Editor : A damn sexy WYSIWYG next-generation editor.

Lithium : Another sexy light-weight PHP framework.

Linux Sound Scopes : A nifty albeit somewhat outdated list of Linux sound gizmos and widgets.

Less Framework : Yet another less-is-more frameworks, this one for HTML5 and CSS templating.

Biology, science, philosophy

The Trouble With Testosterone : "In these essays, which range widely but mostly focus on the relationships between biology and human behavior, hard and intricate science is handled with a deft touch that makes it accessible to the general reader. In one memorable piece, Sapolsky compares the fascination with tabloid TV to behavior he's observed among wild African baboons. "Rubber necks," notes the professor, "seem to be a common feature of the primate order." In the title essay of The Trouble with Testosterone, Sapolsky ruminates on the links, real or perceived, between that hormone and aggression."

The Information, a natural history of information theory : "Gleick is one of the great science writers of all time, and that is, in part, because he is a science biographer. Not a biographer of scientists (although there is much biographical insight to scientists, mathematicians, lexicographers, writers and thinkers inThe Information), but a biographer of the idea itself, and the way that it ricochets off disciplines, institutions and people, knocking them into new, higher orbits, setting them on collision courses."

In memoriam: the x-phi debate : "The controversial new movement called experimental philosophy – 'X-phi' as it has come to be known – has generated both excitement and hostility in the philosophical community. Questions abound: Is experimental philosophy the wave of the future or just a passing fad? Can probing for the intuitions of the 'folk' tell us anything about philosophical truth? Are philosophers qualified to conduct empirical studies, or should this be left to the psychologists?"

Starting over - choosing my religion : "What form would the ideal religion take?" Interesting question, even though I strongly disagree with the conclusions.

A natural education? : A Christian take on the secular world of education. Again, good piece, but there's many flaws to be explored here, and I'll tackle that in my philosophy blog at some time later.


Tiburtina Ensemble : Here's a Czech vocal (mostly) ensemble that I stumbled upon by random, and boy am I glad I did. Pay especially attention to Hana Blažíková (which stars in a few of these productions, especially the "Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo", an oratorio by Antonio Caldara, one of my most favorite pieces of music) whom I posted a video of a few days ago; she's amazing, in no uncertain terms.

What movies do people regret watching?  Some of these answers are good, but I expected more like my own story. Quite a number of years ago now, I was doing a project that needed some old footage of people snuffing (with the old snuffbox) and smoking and cavorting, so a few good black/white fast-moving silent movies, that sort of thing. I popped in a search, opened a few random movies to see what I've found (this was many years before Google, YouTube and previewing anything), and one of the movies that came up (auto-play, no less) was this little snuff movie (of the non-profit kind) of a woman who got shot in the head. I seriously, absolutely regret seeing that movie. It was a very dark and horrifying moment in my life, also due to the shock and horror of it all.

What are the most underrated movies?  This is a seriously good list of films that are far, far better than their reputation and fame. Explore.

Ok, that's it. Enjoy, and I'll see you over the weekend.

7 April 2011

Ubuntu 10.10

I had held off upgrading my computer to the latest version of Ubuntu, because every time I do, something screws up. Maybe the sound disappears, or the mouse accelerates, or Java goes missing, or the graphics gets botched. Always something.

But I shouldn't have worried. I went to update manager, hit that 'distribution upgrade', waited an hour or so (lots of downloads on a slow line), one reboot, and everything worked perfectly on the first go. Not a single hitch. Not even a small one. In fact, something's even improved, such as my internal microphone started working. It looks better, feels better, responds better, and the fonts are vastly improved. Everything is just, well, perfect. Color me impressed, and thanks to the Linux community, Canonical and the Ubuntu team for making this awesome operating system that frankly, for me, couldn't be improved upon.

5 April 2011

Antonio Caldara: Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo (6)

I was very happy to find this gem today (and hopefully it stays up a while). I've been a huge fan of Antonio Caldara ever since that epic recording of his "Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo" with favourite soprano in the whole world Maria Cristina Kiehr, super-star counter-tenor Andreas Scholl and Gerd Turk from Cantus Koln (one of my favorite ensembles).

Hana Blazikova is a new find for me, but boy am I glad I stumbled upon her. Her singing is nothing short of fantastic, and as a bonus she's Czech which speaks to my half-Czech heart. :) But I truly love her version of Madelena, a more timbre version of Kiehr, more edgy, softer vibrato, and a rather clean ornamentation which I prefer. I wish I could find out more about who's playing and what event it is, though, but until I figure it out, let's make no mistake;

This video is amazing. I hope you enjoy it, too.

28 March 2011

Options for an open-source project

I'm nearing completion of the next generation of xSiteable, which used to be a "website generator in XSLT using Topic Maps" but has evolved over the last 10 years into "RESTful SOA, event-driven developer-focused, less-is-more PHP framework and super-cool XSLT templating layer, with a Topic Maps engine, full-stack plugin architecture, life-cycle-based event model, shaped around HTML5, CSS and JQuery" kinda framework, a little something I've tinkered with to fit all my many needs over the years.

Now, in my current job I'm creating a document-control, intranet, social web app thingy for a health-care organisation, and we've agreed to open-source the lot. So, I could use some advice, but here's the current plan ;

  • xSiteable is BSD licensed, and consists of the framework itself
  • a yet unnamed application written using xSiteable is released with BSD license as well

How should I distribute the two? Are the licenses ok? What source repository to use? Google Code, GitHub, what? (We've got both in subversion on a local server right now) xSiteable is really a collection of reusable classes where some are dependent on others, but not completely. Where to document the API's? Where to document examples and guides? How to attract users? Should I create a blog for it? And on and on.

Thoughts or ideas?

14 March 2011

Updates, clarifications, revelations, forgiveness

So, a little more time has passed, and what have I done to make sure that you, dear reader, still come back for more? Not a lot. So, here's a list of interesting tidbits one can ponder after the immensity of the Japan situation has eroded all sense of scale and importance of mere secular indulgences, without less of a technology angle this time to prove that I am, after all, human ;

Subnormality : Last week I ordered as a poster this fantaboulus comic which I fell in love with some time back, and it arrived in the mail a few days ago to much glee and satisfaction. My kids like it a lot, and it has been hung up in the best spot in the house where we mostly ponder the important things in life; the back of the toilet door.

Pigs Fly : A few months ago I was hunting beer at my local liquor store (Kiama Downs IGA on the corner), not expecting to find much more than rubbish Aussie beer (with a few exceptions, like Coopers), when the lady behind the counter surprised me with this treat from a local brewery (Bowral, home to Australia's perhaps most famous and loved cricketer, is in the Southern Highlands, about 1 hour north of here) called "Pigs Fly." I highly and absolutely recommend giving this a try; it is now officially my favorite beer in the world. It's that good.

Pictures : For Christmas I bought the "family" a new camera, since I wrecked our last one in an attempt to take pictures of water with a non-water camera (sorry, Julie!); A Panasonic Lumix G2, a four thirds system based camera that I'm starting to love to bits, allows me to really explore a more professional realm of photography. Apart from fabulous picture quality (pressing the right buttons, of course) there's a hack available to give you the option of doing 1080p resolution video in 60fps, which looks Awesome! I've dumped a few initial shots to my Flickr stream, but more to come as I refine skills and motives.

Sheltered objections : I've kinda decided to be a bit more pro-active on my old blog of philosophy, secularism and epistemology. It's been lying dormant as a rather busy life has rushed past, but things are settling down, and I want to start a series of analysis of various definitions epistemic notions people hold while talking about things in their normal lives. Oh, and I've been given a ton of various "religion X for skeptics" over the last little while, and I wanted to document not only what it means to be a skeptic, but also be a bit more explicit about why these pamphlets are failing.

Coffee : We've just got ourselves a nice little coffee machine, and I'm already quite good at making cappuccinos, mochas, and that Aussie favorite, long black (short black being a bit of an oxymoron). We got it at some garage sale for cheap because it didn't work properly, but I cleaned and fixed it up, and it works really good, and is quite fast and looks great. Come on over for a cuppa.

Pool : Did I mention that our house has a swimming pool in the back? Yeah? Well, you know what I love almost most of all when it comes to house maintenance? Grab my snorkeling gear, jump in, and clean that sucker out. The bubbles and quiet thundering serenity gives me great pleasure as I suck all sorts of grit into the cleaning tube, mix chemicals, and scrub walls. If you need a good way to dis-connect and revitalize after a busy week of work, this hits the spot for me.


Stewart Lee : A few months ago I stumbled over a link to Stewart Lee's documentary "Don't get me started", a smallish documentary on blasphemy, the religious conundrum of embracing and banning certain freedoms of expression at the same time, and his story about his musical "Jerry Springer: The musical" meeting with censorship and persecution of the religious. I've since gotten quite smitten with this comedian / writer / artist to the point of writing him a thank-you note to which I got a great reply as well (which now sits in my glory box, obviously).

I just wanted to show you this amazingly funny and fantastic clip where he's talking about "Top Gear" and their hosts. Tell me what you think.

16 February 2011

Back to my roots

Lately I've dived back into document control, content management and intranets and data ware-housing in general, a swarm of concepts and technologies I haven't played with in a while. Taking these breaks from certain areas is a good thing; it allows me to return to it at a later stage and witness how they've changed, often for the better.

But my return to this field hasn't been the happy smooth ride I was hoping for. Put briefly, the technologies and intellectual concepts within seems to me to still, uh, suck. I'm constantly living on the edge between people and policies in various organisations, and there's nothing more frustrating(1) than seeing the divide between good intentions and good actions, ever growing despite that people should know better.

The first thing I notice is that the concept of persistent identification management is no further than when I left it. Documents are still named silly things, and identifiers in systems that tries to deal with it still apply internal identifier schemes, and have no external facility for managing them, either sharing nor changing them. It seems to me that most of the technologies in the DC / CMS / KM space still has no good solutions to perhaps the problem that sit at the core of each of them.

Some user interfaces have improved, but not in the way I was hoping. Sure, things look smoother and prettier, and surely the misnomer "web 2.0" have injected it healing juices into old battered ideas, but they're still bad ideas at the core no matter what. It doesn't matter that the buttons look good or are big and shiny if the functionality behind them are fundamentally flawed. A document without external identity is still an internal abomination, even when the buttons are easy to hit.

Workflows are still sequential stop-points along a list of basic logic that only triggers on what we might think of, never of what should happen. The ontological concepts are often completely missed, if present at all. Roles and permissions are all ACL where, perhaps, human organisations don't function that way. Maybe that ACL model fits your network, but does it fit how we humans deal with information and knowledge? We humans might have permissions and access through it, but they do not cover our roles and positions in compound situations. I would have thought this was done better these days.

Wiki's have come a long way. I'm excited about using Semantic MediaWiki with Semantic Forms and a few other plugins, for doing essential super-rapid application development, but the Wiki user-interface have not improved much. The concept of every page simply being a point to which to hang knowledge is still mostly if not entirely missed, even by Wiki makers. People still think a Wiki page is just a page, when it should be a point of data to hang our other bits on to, including, ahem, identity management.

And don't get me started on the various and numerous CMS out there. There's now simply too many of them, and they all do pretty much the same with minor differences. It's almost a bit embarrassing that the field haven't progressed beyond the basic model they pretty much all offer. Even Drupal which claim to be different still, to me, feels and works, well, to a poor model.

So let's talk about the models. They're still the same. They haven't moved. It's all still based around the concepts of content, structure, users and plugins, plopped into a relational model that have to have a specialized table for any ontologically interesting concept you want to introduce. I don't understand, are most of these systems being developed with bribed from the DBA association or something?

Where are the semantic options? Where's the ontology editors? Where's the conceptual modeling tools for content and knowledge management? Where's the persistent identification schemes implemented so we can actually do, you know, integration of systems? Where's the simple data mergers that allow distributed and / or federated reporting?

None of these things are tricky in and of themselves, not even when merged into larger systems, unless, of course, they're rooted in old and stale ideas. Where's the new ideas? The bright and new ways of solving some of these old problems? What have I missed?

14 January 2011

Mr Mister : Pull

For those in the know, the 1980's and early 1990's was a period of music that was forever going to be synonymous with something, err, different, often so different that people that were into it now disown that thing; Ball sweaters, washed jeans, all of the hair-styles, leg-warmers, Milli Vanilli, Pat Sharp, Samantha Fox ... the list goes on. There was a certain plasticy fabric spun into our societies, often making things worse, but once in a while making it all heaps better.

I was a child of the 1980's, of course, and in my musical journey I was heavily into Al Jarreau, early fusion like Seawind, George Benson and some GRP productions, funkier Rufus and Chaka Khan, some rock and pop (bits of David Bowie, more of Toto, glimpses of David Foster and all his various incarnations, and so on), but slowly entering the underbelly of jazz and classical.

However. There was one band I was more into more than any other, and it all started with that well-known tune you still hear from time to time, "Broken Wings" by Mr Mister. Apart from being a good tune, there was something about the group that made them stick a bit better into my brain, something about the sound, the musicianship, the amazing lyrics (thanks, John Lang; you were loved!). I got the album it was off, of course, and the previous, and discovered that the groups frontman Richard Page was a already present in a lot of music I already listened to (especially David Foster and Toto stuff, Steely Dan, and so on). If anyone serious needed a backing vocal to create that special feeling, Richard was brought in. So I had a connection, and I followed the band quite closely, being nothing short of a fan. I loved the dynamic punch, the textures, of course Richard's brilliant voice (through the times has been offered to be vocalist to both Toto and Chicago, no less), the fabulous textures of Steve George, and, as a drummer myself, loved all the crazy in-your-face punctuations that Pat Mastelotto came up with.

They released their third album "Go on" which changed both sound and direction of the band. Less poppy, more progressive, a bit darker, but still distinctly Mr Mister, I loved it to bits (and Pat Mastelotto came out as a awesome drummer, now with real drums[TM]!). However, the record company was not too happy with the sales nor direction it had taken, and lead guitarist Steve Farris left (due to musical differences we have been told). The three Misters went into the studio, borrowed a couple of amazing guitarists, and made a fourth album anyway. And there it stopped. The record company didn't release it. The misters had gone from a poppy chart-topping act to being too serious for record company executives, and with little options at the time (it was the beginning of the curse of grunge) the band disbanded, and their album entered that mystical place of rumors, hearsay and myth, the record company vault.

They all moved on. (Ah, puns!) Richard page did bits and bobs, but mostly as a songwriter and the odd studio work (including a solo album that I love to pieces, but never got much traction outside of those in the know. Not sure if it was another record company slip?), including a couple of songs for Joe Zawinul (of Weather Report fame).

Meanwhile Pat Mastelotto joined none other than King Crimson (1994? - and is still there) and a few other cool gigs. A cool connection to another part of my music world is fellow King Crimson bandmember Trey Gunn (who use Pat a lot) also had another favorite of mine, the completely unknown Bob Muller as drummer for a while (and maybe still?), and Bob again is married to the amazing yet unknown Happy Rhodes (which I've written about before). The circle is complete.

21 years passed.

A couple of months ago that album was released. The mythical fourth album was to be heard, for some for the first time ever (there were a couple of dreadful bootlegs around, but I had resisted all those years) by Little Dume records (Richards' record company). I downloaded my copy a couple of days ago, and it's been sitting in my headphones ever since.

The anticipation and mythical status of something like this is sure to lead to disappointment, with a 20 year build-up to every expectation that "Welcome to the Real world" to the "Go on" progression mustered, so what's it like?

Well, I wouldn't write this long had it been anything short of great. But it's more than that. It superseded any expectation I had. It is simply that good, a true masterpiece. It's basically a step back from "Go on" towards a brighter, more progressive sound, with some of the tunes bringing back some of the best of the early 80's with the coolest sounds the 90's could offer. There's less guitar focus, and certainly tighter, more drums, and definitely more and better singing. Hmm, hard to explain, I know, but the album sounds as if it had been released now it would still sound fantastic. Now, I normally wouldn't do a song-by-song review, but I feel compelled to do so, not only because they all deserve the attention, but to bring some closure for me personally through the music as well; this is the fourth album that needs the context of the earlier three. Here goes.

1. 'Learning to Crawl' starts exactly like a song that builds on "Go on" should start, the piano work and darker tone, and progresses exactly like a song that's from "Welcome to the Real World" does, with various added twists like the layered singing, fresher drums, that catchy chorus, haunting backing vocals that drones away something that ends up in a cacaphony of a grungy "I wear the face." The perfect start.

2. 'Waiting in my dreams' start like other good tunes from the mid-80's acoustic era, quite Toto-ish of the time. But then something happens, the chorus turns terribly Mr Misterish, and turns that all upside down. Another round, and after that a progressive section that blows me away every time, starting with some cool harmonic vocal that leaps into a progressive section of drums, emphasized piano chords and, uh, pan flutes. Yeah, that sounds wrong, but it works. This also have some of the coolest triplet-based syncopated breaks from Pat yet.

3. 'Crazy boy' has some minor / major key swings that a really cool, a snazzy drum-track, and some very interesting guitar layering. This is a somewhat typical Mr Mister tune, I think, with a slightly edgy Richard singing in there as well.

4. 'Close your eyes' is a direct descendant of "Go on" with a twist, with a mid-section around 2:50 which simply screams for a Chicago or Seawind horn treatment! (I betcha if a horn section was available, this would be the bestest tune they ever did!) It has a great drive, and a fantastic refrain that takes me back to "I wear the face", with a few interesting synth twists worthy of Gary Numan.

5. 'Lifetime' is fast becoming one of my favorites, with some excellent guitar work flowing through what is essentially a grungier "Welcome to the Real World" tune.

6. 'I don't know why' is a curious one, taking a few steps back to "I wear the face" with blobs of "Welcome to the Real World" push, only this time with real drums, less guitar, and cooler singing (even to the point that they here sing about falling, too. 32, anyone?)

7. 'We belong to no one' is a real stand-out, a teenage child of "Broken Wings", with a great refrain and sexier drums, until I get my senses blow around 2:10. Beautifully done, with bridge dipping straight for a progressive refrain, building up to a great climax where Pat gets off really well.

8. 'Burning bridge' is another slower tune that starts as you expect a Mr Mister tune to start, and then something amazing happens! This is my favorite tune of the whole album, with singing that reminds me of Doobie Brothers, Kenny Loggins, Chicago and Steely Dan, a laid back track with just takes me away days gone by. Listen out for 2:10, a great cut. There's layered singing here that I simply love to pieces! Oh, and some really cool bass playing as well that you'll miss if you blink.

9. 'No words to say' is "Go on" legacy, with dreamier keys and perhaps the strongest lyrics on the album. Progressive, layered guitars, beautiful verse. Great tune.

10. 'Surrender' starts expectedly Mr Misterish, but then turns into a early Toto-esque ballad of sorts, before leaping into "Welcome to the Real World" drive with a "Go on" setup. And then excellent chorus singing through a progressive finish.

11. 'Awaya' Here Mr Mister is doing a Toto, by at the end putting in a mostly instrumental piece, with great drive, all musicians coming together for some fun time. A perfect ending to an amazing album.

What an odd thing; well worth the 20 year wait, still sounding as if just released (well, you know what I mean), and perhaps Mr Mister's absolute best. And most people will never know. But you should. It's that good.

Simply put; this is an awesome album, better than I thought it could have been. I'm in love again.

11 January 2011

Happy guacamole!

So, a new year is here. Again. I'm getting a bit sick of this straining repetition, but apparently the rest of society thinks it is quite alright. So.

A lot of stuff have happened. We've sold one house, bought and moved into another (and I'm sure I'll write more on this later), and various events have come and gone. I've gotten a new camera for Christmas which I'm excited about (a Panasonic Lumix G2), and I'm reading Bill Bryson's latest "At Home" which is brilliant as usual. Oh, and Mr Mister have released their album "Pull" after 20 years (!!), and it is AWESOME!

I'm writing a book. And I'm enjoying it, when I get the time to do it. I'm some 70 pages in, and it's about ... uh, part technology, part human and cosmological evolution, some laser shooting which defies the laws of physics, project management, opinions on the strong need for secularity, on music, and some more parts technology, programming and development, syntax and language, lots about language, and about libraries and culture, and then some. Yeah, so not your average book, but some people are interested, and I'm taking advice on publishing, format and schedule from anyone.

I'm opening ThinkPlot again, an organisation for people who care about the well-being of the human race and the world we live in in an intelligent fashion, to promote education, science and rationality amongst the people that live near you. Our patron "saint" is the late great Carl Sagan. I'm definitely talk more about this later.

Work is good. It's intranets all the way, interspersed with UCD, IA, UX, hacking, supervision, PMing, and all other goodies, and it's in the health-care system doing important work. So, yeah. Good stuff, and enjoyable. In fact, one of the things I've noticed is that in the few years since my last stints in the Intranet world not much have improved in terms of content and document management. The old systems that sucked have been overtaken by systems that also sucks, just in different ways. Enterprise systems of various kinds follow suit. There's so much bad software out there, even from people who should know better. So, yes, I've decided to make something funky from scratch in the Intranet space, using REST, Topic Maps and simpler development tools readily available. We'll see where it takes us.

Kids and wife doing fine. Kids winning awards, playing violin brilliantly, and growing up fine. (Crossing fingers!) Things are chugging along. Oh, and we've just been introduced to and getting hooked on Carcassonne, so now you know what we often do in the evenings. The beach is down the road next to the shop and cafe, and the pool in the backyard is a favorite past-time, so do come over. Things are good.

PS. Send more salty liquorice.