# Thursday, May 20, 2004
Now that I think about it some more, this is a problem that WinFS could really help to solve.  The biggest reason that people don't use things like RDF is sheer laziness (you'll notice the rich RDF on my site :-) ) but if we can use the Longhorn interface to easily enter and organize metadata about content, it might be a cool way to generate RDF or other semantic information.  Hmmmm...  It would be fun to write a WinFS -> RDF widget.  If it wasn't for that dang day job...
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Thursday, May 20, 2004 12:43:55 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 

Scott mentions some difficulty he had lately in finding some some information with Google, which brings to my mind the issue (long debated) of the semantic web.  Scott's problem is exactly the kind of thing that RDF was meant to solve when it first came into being, lo these 6-7 years ago. 

Has anyone taken advantage of it?  Not really.  The odd library and art gallery.  Why?  Two main reasons: 1) pure laziness.  It's extra work to tag everything with metadata 2) RDF is nearly impossible to understand.  That's the biggest rub.  RDF, like so many other standards to come out of IETF/W3C is almost incomprehensible to anyone who didn't write the standard.  The whole notion of writing RDF tuples in XML is something that most people just don't get.  I don't really understand how it's supposed to work myself.  And, like with WSDL and other examples, the people who came up with RDF assumed that people would use tools to write the tuples, so they wouldn't have to understand the format.  The problem with that (and with WSDL) is that since noone understands the standard, noone has written any usable tools either. 

The closest that anyone has come to using RDF in any real way is RSS, which has turned out to be so successful because it is accessible.  It's not hard to understand how RSS is supposed to work, which is why it's not really RDF.  So attaching some metadata to blog content has turned out to be not so hard, mostly because most people don't go beyond a simple category, although RSS supports quite a bit more. 

The drawback to RDF is that it was create by and for librarians, not web page authors (most of whom aren't librarians).  Since most of us don't have librarians to mark up our content with RDF for us, it just doesn't get done.  Part of the implicit assumption behind RDF and the semantic web is that authoritative information only comes from institutional sources, who have the resources to deal with semantic metadata.  If blogging has taught us anything, it's that that particular assumption just isn't true.  Most of the useful information on the internet comes from "non-authoritative" sources.  When was the last time you got a useful answer to a tech support problem from a corporate web site?  The tidbit you need to solve your tech support problem is now-a-days more likely to come from a blog or a USENET post than it is from the company who made the product.  And those people don't give a fig for the "semantic web". 


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Thursday, May 20, 2004 12:29:22 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Friday, May 14, 2004

[Update] I watched it again with my wife last night, and liked it just as much.  Definitely a movie I could watch many times.

OK, my fears were ungrounded.  Troy was pretty darned good.  I was impressed.  It's 2:43 long, and it went by in a flash.  I was surprised when it was over.  Totally didn't seem that long. 

The CG was very judiciously used to give scale to the sets, and the special effects in general were not overdone, which I really appreciated.  The acting was solid, and Brad Pitt actually was pretty good as Achilles. 

Possibly most impressive was the fight coreography.  The final battle between Hector and Achilles was very well staged, and excellently filmed.  One of the best fight scenes I've seen in a really long time.  Even the mass battles were well filmed, and done in such a way that it didn't come across as just another Braveheart ripoff.  There were definitely some liberties taken with Homer (as Mr. Cranky notes), but I'm pretty sure he'd still recognize the story.  The romance with Briseis was perhaps a bit overdone, but it didn't detract that much, I thought. 

I find myself really hoping that the film does well enough to warrant them making the Odyssey next. 

Scott points out an interesting new unit of measurement. :-)

Friday, May 14, 2004 3:18:25 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Thursday, May 13, 2004

This is a bit convoluted, but stick with me...

We've got a fairly involved code generation process that builds C# classes from XSDs, which is all well and good.  The code generations uses some utility classes to help with reading the schema files, and those have unit tests, which is cool.  The code generation happens as part of our regular build, so if I screw up the CodeSmith tempate such that the code generation fails, I'll know about it at build time.  If I screw up the CodeSmith template such that the code generation succeeds, but the results don't compile, I'll also find out about that at build time. 

However, since the whole build/codegen process takes a while, it's not the kind of thing you want to run all the time after every change (as is the XP way).  So, how do I unit test the generated classes?  I think I have a workable solution, but it took some thinking about. 

I ended up writing a set of unit tests (using NUnit) that run the code generation process on a known schema.  The resulting C# file is then compiled using the CodeDom, then I can test the resulting class itself.  As a happy side benefit, I'll know if the CodeSmith template runs, and if the resulting C# compiles without having to run the whole build process.  Pretty cool.

An interesting side note: one of the things we do with our generated classes is serialize them as XML using the XmlSerializer.  I discovered during this process that if you generate an assembly with the CodeDom, you can't use the XmlSerializer on the resulting classes unless you write the assembly to disk.  I was using an in-memory only assembly, and the XmlSerializer gave me a very helpful exception stating that the assembly must be written to disk, which was easy enough to do.  I'm assuming that this is because the XmlSerialzer itself is going to generate another dymanic assembly, and it needs something to set it's reference to.  Interesting.

Thursday, May 13, 2004 3:18:08 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Tuesday, May 11, 2004

I've watched a couple of new movies in the last week or so, and it's been a pretty mixed bag.  I don't post about it all that often, but I'm a pretty serious moviephile, and so's my wife, so we see a lot of films. 

  • Kill Bill (vol 1): I thought it was pretty good.  You can tell Tarantino worships the genre, and it fit well.  Vikki thought it was too gory, but I thought it was genre-appropriate, given what he was going for.  I think Uma is critically underappreciated since she tends to take off-beat roles.  Lucy Liu was great as the trash-talking ganster boss.
  • Master and Commander: I was totally prepared not to like this film, but I was quite favorably surprised.  The role suited Crowe well, cinematography was very good.  Peter Weir has a great feel for composition.  I thought it had just the right level of realistic violence.  It conveyed the horror of combat without being gratuitous. 
  • Van Helsing: yuck.  spit.  hack.  It sucked.  I knew it would be bad, but I didn't think it would be bad.  Jackman was totally underutilized.  The special effects were cool, but not enough so to carry the film past the wretched dialog and lack of coherent storyline.  I saw one review on the web that compared it to Battlefield Earth,and I don't think I'd go quite that far, but still, majorly lame.  All the supporting characters were overacting without being melodramatic (which would have been genre-appropriate), especially Frankenstein's monster.  What a ham.  Bah!  The werewolf effects were novel, but again, not cool enough.  Check out Dog Soldiers if you want a good werewolf movie.  The guy who plays Dracula could have been good if he'd stuck with Lugosi instead of occasionally lapsing into Oldman.
  • The Last Samurai:  OK, there were totally no surprises here.  It's exactly what you'd expect.  Dances with Wolves, only set in Japan.  But it was well executed.  Good cinematography, decent enough acting, great artistic direction.  The sets and costumes were very well done, and pretty accurate.  I really liked the job they did on the Samurai's kimono.  Don't expect anything dazzling, but a good solid film.  I wish Cruise wouldn't keep taking the same role over and over again though.  He can actually act (witness Magnolia or Eyes Wide Shut). 

I'm looking forward to seen Troy this weekend, although I'm sure it's going to suck.  As both a movie and history buff, I can't really stay away.  :-)

Tuesday, May 11, 2004 11:06:37 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, May 10, 2004

Upgraded smoothly to dasBlog 1.6 this weekend.  Went perfectly, no hassle.  Seems a bit faster, and the styles look better under FireFox.

Kudos to Omar and the rest of the team.

Monday, May 10, 2004 9:41:33 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Friday, May 07, 2004


The foremost proof of which (even more so that road rage) is the office coffee pot.  The fact that so many feel that they can take the last of the coffee and then blithely walk away is evidence that we've fallen on un-civil times. 

My employer is kind enough to provide three different kinds of coffee, and on more than one occasion I've walked up to find all three karafes completely empty.  I rage, swear, cry to the heavens, and then set about making three pots of coffee, as is only fitting and civic-minded. 

I understand that in some circles it's seen as stigmatizing and degrading to have to "make the coffee" at the office, since someone is just supposed to attend to it, but come on people, the 50's are long gone, and administrative assistents have no more duty to make coffee than do each and every one of us. 

So be civil, thoughtful, respectful of others, and make the @#(@*$% coffee!  The 20 seconds it takes are worth the feeling of pride you can take in not being one of those non-coffee making so-and-sos.


Friday, May 07, 2004 12:45:18 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [1]  | 
# Thursday, May 06, 2004
I've long said that the internet knows everything.  Now the internet has everything too.  All I have to do is mention the idea for a T-Shirt and low and behold (thanks to Greg) my wish (and my son's) is granted.  Thanks man.
Thursday, May 06, 2004 2:55:04 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 

Scott makes a comment about people being born coders.  I wholeheartedly agree.  I've known lots of people who have had reasonably successful careers as coders, but who've never been extraordinary.  Plenty of people pull down a paycheck doing competent work as coders, but never achieve greatness.  I agree that it's something inborn.  Maybe it's the ADD and dyslexia.  :-)  Whatever it is, my experience has shown that some people just don't have it, and no matter how hard they work they'll never get over the hump. 

I recently spoke with a psychologist who was musing about the idea that the high level of coffee consumption in the NW is due to the fact that many if not most coders are ADD, and caffeine works to calm them down enough to work, in the same way that Ritalin works on kids.  Not scientific, perhaps, but it makes some sense. 

My son thinks it's pretty cool to be a geek.  He's started referring to himself as “geek, son of geek”.  He's a little miffed that there aren't any T-Shirts that say that.  In his case it's tough to distinguish nature from nurture, since I was out as geek before he was born. 

Maybe someday in the near future they'll map out the geek gene. 

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Thursday, May 06, 2004 11:30:12 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Thursday, April 29, 2004

OK, usually I try to stay out of the whole MS/OSS thing, but I find this interesting enought to comment on.  Just to get this out of the way, I'm all in favor of OSS, and I think both Linux and Gnome are pretty cool.  I'm a dedicated Firefox user personally.  (I realize that sounds a lot like "some of my best friends are gay".)

That said, I find statements [via TSS.NET] like "Gnome and Mozilla need to align to counter [Longhorn]" to be pretty strange.  That sounds an awful lot like the statement of someone who sees Gnome/Mozilla/Linux as a commercial, for profit enterprise.  Why else is "competition" with MS something to consider?  (One possible alternative is that the OSS community is driven by people who have way too much ego invested in OSS projects.)  I thought the whole "point" of OSS was that it was driven by a different set of concerns that is commercial, for profit software.  Am I missing something? 

Either the Gnome/Mozilla community is being run as if it was commercial, or it's being run by people who are driving the direction of the community for the sake of their own egos.  Neither is very attractive. 

Thursday, April 29, 2004 11:57:55 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  |