Google kills Blogger Web Comments

Often I find websites where people are just being stupid and need to be told so. In those cases, I don't think relying on the ignorant host of the site to provide a comment page to let me tell him how much of an idiot he is being will really work.

Then there are those cases where I'm wondering about what other people think who are interested in this same site that doesn't allow direct comments to be posted, or where I don't trust the host to not pull down negative comments.

So, what are my options?

Well, I used to make a lot of use of the Blogger Web Comments for Firefox. This was a pretty handy tool that would fetch comments using Google's Blog Search. Since I've recently upgraded to Firefox 3, I thought it was a good time to go look for an update to the plug-in and to see if I could get that functionality back.

Unfortunately, the plug-in is no longer available. This isn't the first time I ran into a brick wall with Blogger Web Comments for Firefox, but it seems they've decided to drop it, rather than fix it.

Hopefully others will still see the promise in this sort of functionality and provide something, but in the short term, I'll be stuck performing copy-paste operations and executing 3-5 clicks to get similar output manually from del.icio.us, Google blog search, and Technorati.

I'll be visiting those search options regularly to see if someone picks up on this feature.


Coining a phrase, the Contextual Web

I was getting started writing up a "master paper" to serve as a guideline for submissions to several conferences this year, including Lug Radio Live USA. In this paper, I planned to coin a phrase, "The Contextual Web". I figured, if I plan to coin a phrase, I should at least ask Google if anyone has tried to do that before me.

It turns out that someone has, they did it recently, and the synopsis looks eerily like the one I had written in some drafts. I'm not trying to claim that anyone stole my idea, or that I even had it significantly earlier than anyone else. To the contrary, I'm trying to claim that this idea is just that obvious. Here's a clip from the page I found when I did a Google search for "the contextual web":

The next generation of the web isn't going to be on your desktop, it may not even be on your mobile device. Context is going to be increasingly important and Nick will take you through the process of designing and architecting for context as well as regardless of the context.
Well, Nick Finck, you've got my attention. A few more searches with Nick's name in the search box return some additional gems:
There are four Elements of Context – the User, the Task, the Environment, and the Technology. Who is your user and what obstacles are they facing; what task are they trying to complete; what is the environment in which they are working; and what kind of computer or device are they using? Designing interactive experiences is not limited to the web on your computer or phone – consider gas pumps, fridges, or devices like Microsoft Surface.
This definitely puts my ego into perspective. Nick, I'm supporting the Beagle board just for you. :)


Adding a URL to 'gitweb'

It is as simple as creating a 'cloneurl' file in the git repository directory, just like you can add a 'description' file.

This took about 7 minutes of exploring the CGI code of gitweb to find, which took another 2 minutes to find. I spend about 20 exploring the web based on some links I was given that were 'supposed' to explain this, because this was the big feature that was missing from my gitweb installation. Ugh!

Come on Linux folks, are you just trying to make easy things difficult?

Example: http://www.beagleboard.org/gitweb/?p=beagleboard.org.git as sourced by http://www.beagleboard.org/beagleboard.org.git.


Making the connection between Gears, GreaseMonkey, JXTA, and OpenID

A while back, I wrote-up a "Collaborative GreaseMonkey" patent disclosure. It was a defensive measure to make sure no one else patented the idea and prevented the rest of us from using it. The disclosure never made it past our patent committee, and I think that is fine, since it is at least documented as prior art in some way. The code never got to the point where it was worth sharing, but I do plan to revive it at some point.

I'm seeing that more and more people are starting to get ideas that are more and more similar to what I had in mind. Today, I read about someone dreaming up thoughts on using Google Gears to perform OpenID and OAuth. I like the thought pattern.

Gears, GreaseMonkey, OpenID, and P2PSockets (JXTA) have the potential to re-invent the web and to establish a real web operating system. Gears enables the JavaScript written into web pages to become part of a real, persistent application with persistent data storage and threads. GreaseMonkey provides a solution to edit existing web applications with user-controled, local customizations and to create applications fully local, without needing to learn how to write a web server application. OpenID gives a single solution for authenticating yourself across those web applications. P2PSockets allows the applications and data you host locally to be discovered on the web without needing to own a web server.

The result is an application building environment that is an incremental step from simple HTML+JavaScript editing and allows everyone to invent their own web, rather than just rely on the web that the social networking sites control today.

The success of this web is, of course, controlled by the economy it creates. An a-la-carte business model, like the one provided by Amazon's web services, is a great way to ensure that the bandwidth and data storage necessary for the locally-hosted services to scale.



Open source on TI devices

I happen to like this article, TI targets Linux and open source with new OMAP chips, but I certainly have gotten the message "more patches, less powerpoints". We'll see over the next few months...



I've mostly given up on trying to be relatively anonymous on this blog. I figure that people who know me already know how to find this site, but I'm starting to try to take on some relatively public responsibilities related to open source software and the newly "announced" BeagleBoard.

Actually, the BeagleBoard isn't officially "announced". The reason is that there really isn't a community or set of applications around it yet to make it something worth announcing. Instead, it is just an open project looking for some of the right folks to help make it happen.

I have a lot of confidence that the BeagleBoard will be a very real and active community project. Just let me know if and how you'd like to get involved.

For those who have read my blog posts in the past, rest assured that the BeagleBoard is quite intertwined with my vision for collaboration. My hope is that it will yield a nice starting point for building collaboration software that could be integrated into just about any form-factor and innovative human interface.


Heading to LugRadio Live

You almost can't call it a business trip, but I will be filing an expense report...

Go to LugRadio Live USA 2008, 12-13 April, San Francisco! Watch this, then spread the word!


Could Pandora open up Linux games?

They say the Open Pandora (P&|A) handheld gaming device compares in power to a Nintendo GameCube, and will offer full-speed Playstation and N64 emulation. How does the GameCube compare to other systems/CPUs?

Of course, what I think is really interesting about this device is it being a clam shell (to protect the screen), having real gaming controls, and being fully open for hacking. I expect a lot of nice software will come out of this device existing.

read more | digg story


Hello? Jabber was designed for cloud computing

I just read Marshall Kirkpatrick's Read/Write Web post Could Instant Messaging (XMPP) Power the Future of Online Communication?. Despite his apparent bemusement with the "the rise of XMPP (called Jabber in IM) for powering communication services hosted in the cloud" this really shouldn't be much of a surprise. In one of my favorite books of all time, Peer-to-Peer, Jeremie Miller, inventor of Jabber, explained this to the world in 2001. Jabber was envisioned from its beginnings in 1998 to not just handle person-to-person conversations, but also person-to-application and application-to-application conversations.

I also recently read about using Jabber with my OLPC XO-1, which opened up a whole new world. All of a sudden, instead of just finding other XO's on my LAN, my screen was full of people to chat and collaborate with. Over Jabber, not just instant messages are shared from the XO, but every application can be shared and becomes a gathering place. You can take a look at how Jabber is used with the XO on the OLPC wiki.

Marshall goes on in his analysis to bring us back down to Earth regarding Jabber/XMPP relative to HTTP and he is right. HTTP rules today and I don't think there is any one killer reason to change that. If nothing else, however, Jabber/XMPP has a really nice specification on how to use HTTP more efficiently to get notifications without polling. Jabber/XMPP specifies this for the purpose of overcoming firewalls, but the result is that Jabber/XMPP can really be seen as simply some really cool stuff to do on top of HTTP.


Where is the Jazelle-RCT open source solution?

Ugh. There is too much noise around open source virtual machines, including almost 16,000 projects on SourceForge.

The PhoneME, Android, or other open source JavaVM projects must be looking to support ARM's Jazelle-RCT technology, right? I know there are some interesting commercial efforts, but if anyone is aware of an on-going open source project, I'd want to hear about it.


Bug Labs device was cooler than I expected

At CES this week, I managed to stop by the Bug Labs demo, which ended up winning an award for the best emerging technology. I've been hearing about this device for months from co-workers and I'd explored the website, but seeing the live demo was more impressive than I expected.

The little Lego-like embedded electronics development kit was quite flexible. As a challenge, in 8 minutes, they created a new application of a motion-triggered camera that would upload photos to a server. I was quite impressed.

They use Eclipse to create an easy-to-use development front-end and PhoneME to run Java applications on the device. The device is running both X11 with Athena Widgets (AWT) and Qt/Embedded. This isn't quite as nice as the GTK stuff running on the N810, but it shouldn't take them any time to get there. The demonstrator had no trouble throwing together a new program in Java and sending it down to the device over USB, despite being harassed by one of his co-workers about the missing award they had just won.

Apparently, someone decided to take their newly won prize. Hopefully, it was just on loan to one of the many television interviewers showering attention down on them.