Monthly Archives: December 2001

Java Web Start Survey/JRE on BSD

If you are at all interested in the direction that Java Web Start takes (it’s now available on Linux, Windows, Solaris, Mac OS X, and probably soon BSD as well) then fill out the Java Web Start Survey here. Sun is trying to find out more information to improve an already excellent technology and they are wisely soliciting that information from outside.
Why did I say that BSD would probably soon have Java Web Start? Well, it’s because of this announcement about FreeBSD. I was sure all along that the work done porting the JRE to BSD for Mac OS X (which is based on BSD) would pay off with a dividend sooner or later. Glad to see that it is sooner.

Other People’s Ideas

I think idea-a-day varies between funny, cool, offensive, stupid, and utterly impractical on various days. In fact I’d like to see a spider chart rating each idea on exactly those criteria just to see what other people think of each idea. But this idea in particular grabbed me (as I think it would many of us with weblogs):

“Compile an historical account of any given period by printing consecutive daily entries from a wide selection of published or unpublished diaries. The 1940¬ís, for example, might be illustrated by an account of Churchill¬ís day, followed by entries from individuals as diverse as Noel Coward, Anne Frank and Fred Perry for example. There could also be an appeal for extracts for public accounts of the period in order to present a truly varied record of the times.” — by David Owen

Whoa! I had never thought of that. But I would truly love it. What were people’s thoughts on this day 10, 20, 100 years ago. What was FDR doing this morning or any of a number of other famous people. You could highlight a particular entry and bring it to the top or allow people to pick favorite authors who they see every day. I love this idea and I’m going to start looking for diaries in electronic format. This would be a trivial site to code up, it is just going to need to be fed mounds and mounds of data.

The Millenium Clock

I’m a sucker for stuff I think is cool and I believe that the 10,000 Year Clock Project is really cool. In a way it’s like many performance art pieces, it’s designed to make you think about something. Here they are trying to make you think about a period longer than lunch tomorrow or your kids college education or even your grandkids having grandkids. Here they are saying, think long term for just a few minutes, think about millenia from now. Are you happy with how what we do today may shape that period?
Click for a larger image

TMDA Knocks Out the Spam

Tired of spam in your inbox? Lord knows I am. Recently a variety of systems have sprung up to try and deal with spam. One clever system figures out what every piece of email coming to a server looks like (it generates a unique hash of the message) and then it shares that with other email servers. When they find matches they can pick out spam that is coming to lots of people.
A perhaps better method is that used by TMDA. It extends what is already common in the world of instant messaging to email. In most instant messaging systems I can send you an message even if I am not on your list, but it is a simple matter for you the user to check a single box and exclude messages from all users who you have not included on your buddy list. So it’s a very exclusive club of whom you allow to send you messages and you get basically no spam on ICQ, AIM, etc. TMDA extends that slightly because you so often get email from new people and you don’t want to exclude them out of hand. The sender gets a confirmation email back from the server when they try to send a message to you. If they don’t respond to the confirmation email you don’t get the original message. Of course a spammer can build an automated system to respond to the confirmation emails but he/she suddenly has at least two things to deal with that weren’t a requirement before. First is that the spam emails sent to you must have a valid return email address on them for the confirmation to get back to them, that makes it much easier to identify and block spammers than it has been in the past. Second is that it means the spammer is having to deal with a potentially huge influx of email as well as outflow. The spammer’s traffic just tripled for recipients who use TMDA because there is the original message, the incoming confirmation, and the confirmation reply. That additional traffic will increase the cost of doing business as a spammer and inevitably reduce the number of spam messages that can be sent.
TMDA is written in Python so it seems like it could be run on any operating system on any machine but currently the website for it only talks about Linux. Ultimately though, it would be nice to see this packaged up and made easy to install for end users. Then users could run Zone Alarm for a personal firewall and TMDA could be their personal spam blocker.

Javadocs Redux

Even thought the idea of having Javadocs tags in your source is an old one, people are really trying to take it to a new level with applications that make better use of all that metadata about the code. For example, there is Xref-Java2Html which pulls together Javadocs and source code. Bouvard & Pecuchet is another project which attempts to give you a better, more graphical browser on the information in the Javadocs rather than being forced to work within the constraits of a browser and HTML.

Categorization

I’ve started categorizing all of the old blog entries and creating my own titles for each one (previously the titles were just the first five words of each entry which is what you get when you import everything from Blogger). I’ve only done the first 75 entries so far but you can see that my Archives page now has archives not just by month but by category as well. That makes it much easier to find what you want if you are looking for a link or some software I referred to a while back.