Archive for the 'blather' Category


The pod bay doors are closing, Dave.

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

I was just reading about how OSX Mountain Lion is by default restricting app downloads to the App Store.

How long before the “anywhere” option disappears?

How long before you can’t avoid upgrading to Mountain Lion or its successors?

Apple is moving further down the road I predicted two years ago. Windows 8 is experimenting with similar things, but Microsoft doesn’t have the hardware lockin.

I admit it’s not evidence of the app-ocalypse, but it may indicate a slow rise to a boil. I love my Macbook Air, however I was a latecomer as a Mac fanboi, and I’ll be ready to jump back over to the Linux or BSD pots before it gets too steamy.


Knowledge as a universal natural resource

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Sara Chipps, Girl Developer points out quite rightly that there is no such thing as proprietary client-side Javascript, and goes on to opine eloquently about the absurdity of many patent lawsuits.

I occasionally find myself talking with someone about facebook chat or google chat and I’ll say “I sorta invented that” and point them to my Feb 2002 blog entry where I built and released to the wild what was one of the earliest embeddable DHTML chat windows, using my also free and open what-was-not-yet-called-Ajax library I released in 2000, about 5 years before many people came along and pushed the state of the art much further down the road.

Invariably I am told that I should be rich and that all those sites and people “stole” my ideas. I disagree and say that these were all perfectly obvious inventions to me and all the others who came after me and that it was my duty to the net to feed my work back into it such that folks could stand on my shoulders as I had stood on those of others.

That is how the net works – or at least it used to. It still does in open development circles but the content and patent industries are fighting hard to brainwash everyone that knowledge is inherently owned.

This is what it’s all about, from a pure philosophical perspective:

Anything that is knowable is a part of the universe of truth that has no owner and no bounds. The invention or discovery of anything results in the exposure of one or more hitherto undocumented universal truths to the collected human record.

The true and original purpose of copyright and patents is to create a temporary legal fiction which acts in many respects like ownership, conferring upon an individual person rights to control the use and dissemination of morsels of universal truth which they had the luck and/or tenacity to first identify, so they can be recompensed for their contribution to the universe’s growing stockpile of exposed truth for the benefit of all humanity.

The legal expansion to include corporate personhood and subsequent term extensions tending towards permanence of the legal assignment of ownership equivalence amounts to the expropriation and destruction of large parts of humanity’s natural knowledge resources.

It’s not too much different from bulldozing the rainforest.


Current Currency

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

I’ve hopped onto the Bitcoin bandwagon.

Send me money!



Ten years of blogging

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Yep, it’s been over 10 years since I first set fingers to keyboard and typed my first ever cyber-epistle.

I’ve slowed down somewhat of late but it’s a milestone worth marking. Another first on my blog was the debut of the in-browser dynamically updated chat box in February 2002.

Woohoo, glory days. I feel like Al Bundy regaling his epic 4-touchdown game at Polk High.


I love phone tethering

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Air ambulance closes highway

I’m on my way up Highway 400 from Toronto to Barrie, to pick up my daughter from college and bring her home for the weekend.

A tractor-trailer has left the road and tumbled into the ditch, and I’m stuck in the traffic jam, only 150 yards behind the crash, but completely immobile because the air ambulance helicopter has landed in the middle of the road and nobody’s going anywhere until it lifts off again.

Somebody is obviously having a wayyy shittier day than I am, so I’m making the best of the afternoon by getting some work done in the car on my macbook, tethered via bluetooth to my iphone, with full connectivity.

I never would have imagined this.


Retro Spam

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

About 4 months ago, a copy of the Toronto Sun newspaper started turning up at my door. I hadn’t ordered it, nobody had offered me a free trial, it just started arriving every day. The Sun isn’t my cup of tea (the Globe and Mail would suit me better, that is if I still cared about a daily newspaper at all), so it was only a few days before I was tired of skimming it and then throwing it out, so it started to just go straight to the bin.

After a month of this, I phoned the Sun to ask them to stop sending it. It confused them that I wasn’t a subscriber but I was canceling their service all the same.

After another month, I called again to the same (i.e. nil) effect. They said it would for certain be cancelled this time, might take a couple of days to stop.

After a third month, I called the Sun a third time, and also called the Toronto Star, from whom I do subscribe to my weekend papers, and told them to try to get the message to the delivery agent who they apparently both use, since on weekends they come wrapped together.

And still the Sun arrives every morning, as reliably as its namesake.

I suppose I shall have to take it upon myself to camp out in the morning mist on my front stoop to accost the delivery agent and personally set him or her straight. I started for a while laying out the rolled up newspapers at the end of the driveway where they would doubtless see them piled up, but it gets really depressing seeing how much paper is being senselessly wasted.

I was speaking to a colleague yesterday who told me that she has the same problem with the National Post. We wondered if we were simply two of a huge swath of non-subscribers who are counted in the newspaper industry’s inflated distribution numbers to justify their anachronistic continued existence.


The Two Trajectories of Device Convergence

Monday, April 12th, 2010

The flap over Apple’s recent iPhone OS announcements has caused me to step back from the fray and I think from a distance some clarity has emerged.

I, like much of the world, see current phone and tablet devices as an evolution of the general purpose computer getting smaller and more focused. We project on them the same expectations of openness and freedom that we’ve come to expect from computers and laptops. Standardized interchangeable chargers and cables, replaceable batteries, users and developers have administrative control over the OS, development and distribution is completely within user and developer control. Connectivity and expansion are standardized and open.

Apple sees the iPad and iPhone as an evolution of the electronic telecom or entertainment device getting bigger and more general-purpose. They project on them the same expectations of vendor lockin and control that they’ve come to expect from mobile devices, audio players, and video games. Proprietary chargers and cables, no user-serviceable parts or batteries, users have no control over the OS, development and distribution is tightly controlled by the vendor. Connectivity and expansion are proprietary and controlled.

As the two fronts of this battle advance on each other, Apple is firing their salvos from their highly fortified appliance battlements below, while other players are approaching this space from the open skies above, bringing open general purpose computing to the personal device space.

It remains to be seen whether this is a battle that will vanquish one side or the other, or whether the two approaches can carve out similar but separate markets, but it’s clear that they are different approaches and that understanding is key when choosing which side you want to follow (or for that matter, lead, which is a possibility on one side of the equation and not the other).


Apple pulls the Van Pelt maneuver on developers

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Daring Fireball reports that Apple has changed their iPhone Developer Agreement to exclude applications that aren’t written with purely native C/C++ or Objective-C code or HTML/Javascript/CSS and webkit.

If it proves to be true, this move can only sound the death knell for a number of projects:

and possibly

I’ve personally put a few weeks of effort into a Rhomobile project that is now a big pile of wasted money unless Apple changes this requirement.

I can only imagine how completely gobsmacked the developers and funders of these projects will be to know that Apple has decided to take away their football. We’re talking literally millions of dollars of value suddenly disappearing on Apple’s whim.

I will be watching this issue with interest. These projects were only just starting to make iPhone/iPad development interesting by providing higher levels of programming abstraction.