Annoying conference calls

This is the second conference call in a row for an unnamed national project that I almost walked out of. Can’t get a word in edge-wise, and when asked a direct question, am cut off before I can respond.

Complete and utter waste of time. Why are people such asses in these things? If the call is really just a platform for a couple individuals to spew their agendas, at least have the courtesy to advertise that fact ahead of time so the rest of us can skip it and get some work done instead.

This makes me rather glad I’m missing the big Hootenany face-face meeting. If there is this little regard for communication in a challenged medium like a conference call, I can only imagine how far the meeting would degrade in person. Yeesh.

Question: What Do YOU Need from a Repository Server?

We’ve been working with some interested groups, in order to get CAREO “out there,” and I’m just trying to get a better handle on what our potential end-user institutions need from a repository server.

UPDATE: Please provide feedback on this, even (especially?) if you agree with the assumptions. Clarity is a Good Thing.

Here’s the assumptions we’ve been working under. Institutions will need to (in no particular order):

  • Host their own instance of the repository (or have it hosted by another group)

  • Customize the interface of their instance to match their online identity

  • Some groups will want access to source code in order to modify/add functionality, but most groups will want a turn-key solution similar to an off-the-shelf software package

  • Those folks that want to hack on the code will be able to speak Java fluently (technically and/or philosophically

  • Standards are important. Support standards wherever possible/appropriate (both visibly and behind the scenes).

  • The exact technology used won’t matter a huge amount, as long as it works (well).

Do potential partners have different needs from what we’ve assumed? I don’t know. If you have something you’d like to see, please let me know (either by email, or in the comments for this post).

UPDATE 2: So far, I’ve only received a single response to this question (via email). I’ll have to assume that means 1 of a few things:

  1. People agree with these assumptions
  2. People are too busy to respond at the moment
  3. These assumptions aren’t important/relevant to what potential users are looking for

I’m hoping it’s just the second one…

Mozilla as a Debugging Tool

I was just tweaking the “Add Object” page for the MedCIS installation of CAREO, when I noticed that the funky cross-browser-window communication used to update the location of the uploaded file in the IMS Metadata record was failing.

Safari didn’t help, it just borked silently. I fired up Mozilla Firebird, and it did the same thing. Tried Mozilla (the Full Meal Deal) and opened up the Javascript Console (Tools: Web Development: Javascript Console) and cest voila! There’s the problem! Had it fixed in about 30 seconds after that.

I guess I should be using Mozilla a little more, but Safari is such a nice browser… I used to be a die-hard Mozilla fan, but then OmniWeb came along… Then came Safari. Man, I must be rather fickle when it comes to browsers.

MedCIS CAREO Integration Back on Track

After a little while spent spinning wheels, we’ve gotten the MedCIS integration of CAREO back on track.

It turns out that it may have been a minor config oops, where CAREO was directed to use a URL that may have had intermittent (or otherwise badly behaving) DNS, so the XML-RPC requests were barfing all over the place, for various reasons.

I changed that instance of CAREO to use as the host to use for the JUDURL parameter, and all appears fine now. Absolutely weird, since it shouldn’t make a bit of difference.

WWDC 2003

WWDC 2003 Bridge Banner
I just found out that I’ll be heading to WWDC2003 this year (June 23 – 27).

This is the most amazing conference I’ve seen, with an extremely diverse mix of folks (from MS R&D to indy developers). The sessions are all top-knotch, and it’s more than a little like drinking from a firehose. Can’t wait to see what’s coming in MacOSX (I remember the Quartz Extreme demo last year, and that was freakin’ amazing…) and WebObjects specifically.

Hopefully, we’ll be able to demo CAREO/Extreme, or at least the XStreamDB EOAdaptor. I guess we’ve got a month to get it working…

Maybe I’ll even bump into bbum, now that he’s working for the Mothership.

Reminder: work with EOF, not against it.

work with eof, not against it.I’m just going through some presentations on EOF, so I can help King with some work he’s doing on implementing a native XML database in CAREO.

A one-liner at the end of a WWDC2000 presentation on Advanced EOF says it all. “Work with EOF, not against it.” Thanks to Eric Noyau and Josh Fagans for the presentation!

For the current implementation of the connection from CAREO to the ALOHA Metadata Server, I use the XML-RPC API, and treat CAREO as a client application of the metadata server. Instead of using EOF to manage the records natively, I spun my own record management and caching solution (which works pretty well, but can’t hold a candle to some enterprise level caching being actively developed by a Large Company – so why don’t I just use that?)

At first, I didn’t think EOF could do it. It was just Too Different from an RDBMS – I’m using XML-RPC, not JDBC. I’m using XML, not SQL.

And then King went ahead and wrote an EOAdaptor for the ALOHA Metadata Server, completely ignoring my insistence that it was impossible. Turns out that not only was it possible, but it performs MUCH better than my home grown solution. And throws a whole bunch of other cool stuff into the mix (like enabling federated searches across repositories, etc…).

So, the moral of the story, kids, is “Work with EOF, not against it.”

The Perfect Virus Killing Machine

I was emailed a virus over the weekend, and didn’t even know it was malicious. It was rendered harmless by the Perfect Virus Killing Machine.

I run MacOSX. Windows virii are ineffective. I’ve never had a virus infect any of my macs. Ever. Sure, I’ve received copies of Windows virii, which I dutifully delete so they don’t infect those on Lesser Systems, but they’ve never managed to do anything other than clog my inbox for a second or two.

From ArsTechnica:

Just a heads up, there’s a new mass email virus filling up inboxes everywhere. I’ve had three of them already today, so I thought I’d try and get the word out. If you receive an email apparently from (the address is spoofed) with any of the subjects, “Re: My application”, “Re: Movie”, “Cool screensaver”, “Screensavers”, “Re: My details”, “Your password”, “Re: Approved (Red. 3394-65467)”, “Approved (Ref. 38446-263)” or “Your details”, delete it asap. It will contain an attached .pif, .ti or .uue file which is a trojan. The body of the email will read, “All information is in the attached file”.

When opened, the virus searches hard disks for more email addresses to send itself to. It also tries to spread via remotely shared startup locations on a network. Those of you with anti-virus software can protect yourselves by updating your definitions ASAP. The rest of us can use common sense and never open executable email attachments from unknown or unexpected sources. More information can be found here and here .

Wow. That could have been bad… I got the “Re: My application” variant. And I was hoping that Microsoft was hiring… ;-)

New version of the Learning Commons Website goes live

The latest version of the LC website just went live. Mostly a restructuring of content, so it’s easier to find stuff without having to decipher which section it might be in. This is using more CSS to handle the layout (at least for the navigation portion), so we’ll see how the old, crappy Netscape 4.7 that is still the institutional standard here holds up (rumour has it we’re going to make the leap to Mozilla in September. Can’t WAIT to drop support for a browser crafted in 1996!)

This is version 1.5 of the WebObjects app used to drive the LC website. We’re planning v2.0 this summer, with some better UI design, and probably an under-the-hood rewrite to take advantage of the upcoming CAREO/Extreme frameworks.

XQuery explorations

I’m playing around with XQuery, and am finding it to be quite powerful. Still getting my head around the FLWR syntax, and what I can do with that, but initial pokings are quite promising. Thanks a LOT to Leif and Jim at Bluestream for guiding me through the first steps. Their XStreamDB is quite a nice XML database, and handles XQuery natively.

Anyway, here’s the query that has evolved from the first early steps. It pokes through the XML database for all documents that contain a <langstring></langstring> element, and returns a set of elements describing some stuff I’ll need to display the item in a search result page.

FOR  IN Root("RepositoryDB:LOM")
    MATCH  USING [//:langstring CONTAINS "biology"]
    LET XQuery explorations := /:lom/:general/:title/:langstring/text()
    LET  := /:lom/:general/:description/:langstring/text()
    LET  :=/:lom/:technical/:location/text()
    LET  := /:lom/:technical/:format/text()
    LET  := GetDocumentId()
    LET  := /:lom/:lifecycle/:contribute/:centity/:vcard/text()
    LET  := /:lom/:metametadata/:contribute/:centity/*:vcard/text()
  <title>{XQuery explorations}</title>