Mar 15

Google Code Source Code Browser Released

Google, Open Source, Tech 5 Comments »

Jason Robbins and Jenan Wise have released a new Ajax source code browser for Google Code project hosting:

We recently launched a new source code browsing tool as part of Google Code’s project hosting feature. This new tool makes it easy to navigate through a project’s Subversion repository. Key features include: fast directory browsing tree, syntax highlighting, history of changes, and easy-to-read diffs. See it yourself under the “Source” tab of any project that we host.

The new system certainly feels fast, and uses jQuery to flip around in short order, jumping through the revisions of your system, expanding into new directories, etc.

This change required a change to my Google Code greasemonkey script that adds a direct link to the trunk. It now takes you right to the trunk of the code in the new browser!

Google Code source code browsing

Mar 14

Entry for geekiest home page competition

Tech 10 Comments »

My Ajaxian co-hort, Ben, has a very geeky home page. Combine this with the fact that I had over a 3 hour flight to SXSW, and you get competition.

I am announcing my entry into the geeky home page competition:

Geeky Home Page

The best feature is being able to type 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and see the tabs switch to more geeky languages.

What is your entry? What language should I add?

Mar 13

Taking ownership of OpenID

Tech with tags: , 5 Comments »


Peter Nixey is a good bloke that I met at a conference way back. At the time he showed me a killer CMS product that was nice and Ajax-y, and most of all usable enough for my mother.

Now he is in the news with his Y Combinator startup Clickpass and how it is trying to make OpenID more usable.

I decided to give it a roll, and switched out my delegated open id to:

<link rel="openid.server" href="">
<link rel="openid.delegate" href="">

When OpenID providers first started to come out of the woodwork it felt like deja vu. Of IM providers. Of email. Of blogs.

I am in a situation these days where I want to own the end point, but have the service outsourced. forever. I didn’t want to be switching from to and hoping to be able to bridge the accounts. I want to use as my rel=”me”. As soon as delegation came about, I was able to do that and life is happy.

I am looking forward to seeing Peter, and others, crack the nut on cool openid features, and also doing enough to allow Simon to not say “we are no worse than before” and be able to say “we are way better than before”.

Mar 12

SXSW hipsters and the potential of IE 8

Comic, Tech with tags: 2 Comments »

SXSW Twitter Template

This was my first SXSW. I have always wanted to check it out, and it has certainly been a very different conference. The best part about it is the fact that everyone in the valley seems to meet down in Austin, and they are ready for a good time.

The content itself is also very different. Having a conference which is all panels is a strange choice, as it is bloody hard to do a good panel. The first thing that you have to do is have confrontation. The panelists should realise that this is entertainment and almost make it a game. Be contrary. Argue. Just don’t take it personal. Sitting and listening to “I agree with you Bob. I also think you should….” is a touch painful.

The “browser wars” panel had some spirit. Brendan and Chris weren’t going at it like, but they were having some fun up there.

Something Chris said (on the Web Standards panel) resonated:

“Make this a good decision for Microsoft”

I want to support Chris, and the other proponents in the IE team that I do believe are trying to do the right thing. I think that it is our responsibility to pump them up when they do good things just as much as we have to hold their feet to the fire when they do the opposite.

We need to do our work so any skeptics internal at Microsoft see that this has been the right move, and that they should open up more. We need to help IE 8 team beat the Silverlight team. The Web needs to win.

We also need to continue to push for even more transparency. I want Microsoft to take the good will that they have gotten and build on it. Don’t go dark on us until another beta. Open up a digg style database that lets people vote on features that they want to see. There are missing features that, without conversation, don’t make sense. Why didn’t they rev the DOM events? Have some town hall meetings. Invite the community up to Redmond, but if you do this, you have to actually listen and work with us. If done right, IE 8 will become a fantastic browser with the support of the development world.

How about that for a quick turn around?

Mar 11

Mono and Java on the iPhone

Comic, Java, Tech, iPhone with tags: 15 Comments »

Mono Java iPhone

Talking with code is powerful. Miguel posted screenshots of Mono running on the iPhone whereas Sun talked about Java running on it.

I always feel like I would like a reason to get into Mono, but never find one.

Mar 10

Will APIs effect mergers and acquisitions?

Comic, Tech, Travel with tags: , , 5 Comments »

Will APIs effect mergers and acquisitions?

I believe that 2008 and beyond will be huge for mashups and APIs. We are going to move beyond the world of “Look, I took some data and put it together with a Google Map and Calendar” and have full featured read/write in browser APIs thanks in part to the slew of cross domain friendly features that are coming from browsers, Gears, and developer hacks.

I have talked about the blog.gears example, that shows how you can use Blogger as a back-end for a blog system. It seems quite obvious to me that if you are building a Web application that isn’t the Next Blog Thing, why would you want to spend any time building a blog system to get that functionality in the product. You have a couple of choices beyond writing it yourself. You could grab an open source blogging engine (there are many great ones), you could use a service and have blog.* CNAME over, or if you want tight integration you could do what blog.gears does, and use a JavaScript API to access blogger as the store and have it hidden from the user.

I got to thinking, how will the fact that it is easier to integrate with sites through richer APIs affect M & A?

An example that got me thinking about this is Dopplr and TripIt. Dopplr is a phenomenal service that seems to nail usability and the art of doing one thing, and doing it really well. It is clean. It has subtle touches that I love (the personal colors in the header icon and favicon even).

Them came along TripIt. The killer feature that it has is the ability to email your itineraries that you got from online sites and airlines to the system, and it groks a bunch of the formats and can thus suck them in automatically. Once you hit Apple-F, you are done, and you see the new information appear in your TripIt iCal.

Compare this to Dopplr. For a long time you would manually input your travel information in some shape or form. At the London Future of Web Apps I met Matt Biddulph, who not only was a fantastic, nice, fun guy, who gave the best talk at the event, but also was able to flip a bit which enabled Dopplr to read one of my Google Calendars. This feature is now in the wild for all. That was a great improvement, as I could setup a “Travel” calendar that Dopplr reads from.

I still had to keep that calendar going through. When TripIt came out, I heard cries of Dopplr fans that they should buy TripIt, or merge, or just copy the functionality. That isn’t the way with 2008. Instead, Matt was able to integrate with TripIt in a very simple way.

TripIt produces an iCal calendar from it’s data, and you can simply tie Dopplr to that calendar… and ta da!

I have been in quite a few meetings recently where the topic of buy has changed to be integrate through APIs. This enables each piece to grow, and to have people work on one small thing and make it the best it can be.

Of course, there is a time and a place for buyouts and mergers, but I wonder if they will be a little less frequent now. Then the game changes to being the platform, and being able to monetise it (a.k.a. make money to feed your family!)

Fixing calendars

As an aside, I still find a lot of pain with calendar systems. The main problem that I have is that I want events to cross various calendars, but collapse them in my view. For example, if I am going on a trip, I want my wife to see it, as well as my work colleagues. I don’t want to have to duplicate the entry in multiple calendars and then see the same darn thing repeatedly.

Mar 08


Comic, Java, Mobile, Tech, iPhone 6 Comments »


Paul Krill reported that Sun has looked at the iPhone SDK and thinks that it can port Java to the iPhone. It will be placed up on AppStore as an application, so I wonder what the user experience will be for apps that actually run Java, especially for the first time on a phone that doesn’t have it installed.

Don’t get me wrong, I want Java on the phone, just like I want full RubyCocoa, PyCocoa, CocoaJS, and any other language that you fancy.

Background Processes

So, the iPhone doesn’t allow background processes:

Only one iPhone application can run at a time, and third-party applications never run in the background. This means that when users switch to another application, answer the phone, or check their email, the application they were using quits.

This makes me worry about Java too. Startup has never been a good point of the JVM. If I flip to a Java app am I going to have to wait for the bugger to startup? Is there going to be a way to load one VM and keep it loaded (doesn’t seem like it).

It seems like this is just a guideline and not a firm issue:

I’m a programmer and I just tried it [using the iPhone SDK] and you can keep your app running in the background in the normal way ApolloIM and iFob do it. I.e. overriding applicationSuspend.

Even more worrying though is this part of the developer agreement:

3.3.2 An Application may not itself install or launch other executable code by any means, including without limitation through the use of a plug-in architecture, calling other frameworks, other APIs or otherwise. No interpreted code may be downloaded and used in an Application except for code that is interpreted and run by Apple’s Published APIs and built-in interpreter(s).

Although it has been suggested that this is to stop non AppStore code, it seems to go a lot further than that.

Open source and the iPhone

Also, Mark Pilgrim has written up thoughts on whether iPhone apps can be GPL:

Since all iPhone apps must be distributed through a third-party (Apple’s “App Store”), that would make Apple the “distributor.” Which would mean that Apple — acting as the distributor of GPL-licensed object code — must provide source code or a written offer to provide source code. It’s analogous to a Linux distribution — they distribute binaries of upstream GPL programs, so they need to host the source code as well.

Mar 07

Will it happen again?

Comic, Microsoft, Tech 5 Comments »

History and Trust

Microsoft stopped IE and messenger. Roz got on stage for years promising a native Office, and then when it gets here it is disappointing.

I like some of the MS stack. Expression Studio, Visual Studio, Silverlight, .NET, all promising.

It could have been for good reason (e.g. Safari really was decent then…) but, what about the trust?

And, when I see people the Olympics and the Library of Congress even signing up for Silverlight content? Erg.

Mar 07

Crying over “Becoming Jane”, College Gears, and Pizza

Gears, Tech, Travel 3 Comments »

Becoming Jane

I have failed my Wired “traveling too much test”. I buy Wired at the airport, and if I go on a trip and already have read the current copy, I am traveling too much.

The effects of travel are even more wearing when you have an uncomfortable flight. I am on my way back from a mini tour of the mid-west with Brad Neuberg. We hit the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Michigan, to chat with students about Gears.

It probably wasn’t the smartest time of year to have a March trip, and it was bloody freezing most of the time. This also lead to delays on 4 out of 6 of my flights. Ah the fun.

Due to a cancelled flight I got put on another one, and ended up at the back of the plane in a tight corner. There was no way I could use the ole laptop, so I was putting all of my hope in the in-flight movie.

Unfortunately, my hope back fired:

1. The View

No, fortunately they didn’t broadcast The View, but I was in the position where I could barely see a television set in the sky. A full third of the set was obscured by the curve in the plane itself. I looked down the line to the next one to see if a smaller view would give me more content, but the curve kicked in for all sets. The colour on the set closest to me was off too. It reminded me of the monochrome games that I loved on the ZX Spectrum. Oh ye olde rubber keyboard. Q-A-O-P-Space were all very worn!

2. The Content

When the entertainment kicked in, we got to see Ebert & Roeper tell us about the movie we are about to see. You get the added bonus of showing half of the actual movie as they pre-explain. Just what you need. In this case the film they were blathering about was Becoming Jane. When I am on a plane I tend to revert a few years and want some silly shoot ‘em up entertainment. The new Rambo, where Sly literally knocks someones block off would have been a good choice. But a period piece about Jane Austin? Do I really want to find out about the REAL Darcy?

Anne Hathaway plays the part, and although she does a fair job at it… all I can think about is that Princess movie that she was in with Mary Poppins. Somehow it feels like I have seen that movie, even though I never actually have. It has been on TV so often that I have picked 80% of the picture as I flick through channels over time.

3. The Tear

Being stuck in the back of the plane meant that I was hot. When you are hot on the plane your only choice is to turn up the minute air jet from above. I turned it up to the max, which barely helped, but had a bad side effect. It kept making the duct in my right eye release saline. It was streaming.

This meant that the others in my row thought I was crying over the plight of Jane and the loss of her love due to pride and prejudice. Oh the shame!

But, back to the reason why I was putting up with the flights, with their re-reads of Wired. Reading about the cockiness of 37signals never gets old!

We made it to champaign

It was really cool to start off the trip in Champaign. Talking about Gears, at the birthplace of the browser was pretty cool, especially on the day that Marc Andreessen blogged about hanging with Barak. These kids could do that too. Brad and I got to tour the ACM where we saw a bunch of cool hacks and fun robotics. These students were smart.

I felt lucky to get to the event on time. After I finally got into the airport, which is tiny, I waited for over an hour for a cab that never came, so I ended up jumping on a bus and trying to work out what the hell I was doing. I made it to Brad’s hotel in time for us to walk over to the event.

At the Gears event itself we had a varied audience. On one side we had students who had never touched JavaScript. On the other side we had Mozilla contributors, and Yahoo! Ajax Map interns. It made me realise how I could have gotten just a touch more out of my college years ;)

Pizza destroyers

A few delays, and many red carpet club hours later, I was in Ann Arbor. We had an equally good time with the gifted students that showed up. This crew didn’t wolf down the pizza in 30 seconds flat like the fighting Illini the day before. They were equally smart though, and I was really excited to see postings by one of them to the Gears list. He is porting Gears to 64bit Linux. Nice!

The Computer Science and Engineering building also has the most geeky cafe ever:

Geekiest university cafe ever

Thanks to the students from both schools for showing up, and I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Mar 06

I now get YouTube

Tech with tags: 1 Comment »

I like the odd YouTube funny video as much as the next guy. Russell Peters is great, and I have tickets to see his show in a few months. The Facebook parady is classic. Vader is a smart ass and he really gets the blues, but really? How many videos are viewed a second???

Having a kid that is old enough to grok the computer was all I needed to work it out. Sam can watch these shorts again and again. That is a ton of views. The fact that anything you can think of is on there, that is where it comes in. Sam sees something interesting in the street / on TV / at a friends / anywhere in fact, and I can bring it up for him. Disney may drive me nuts with their freaking vault, but I can unlock it with YouTube.

Now, I get it.