Stewart Alsop ” the best

Stewart Alsop ” the best political columnist of the past century”: Well, that’s high praise from William Safire in a New York Times editorial today. Stewart of course has been known as a technology columnist, author of a great Tech newsletter “PC Letter”, and inventor of the “Vapor List” where he tracked software vendors’ promises against reality. Stewart has since gone to the dark side and the world of Venture Capital.


What I never knew was that Stewart had been, apparently, a political columnist of some note!


Correction: In fact, the reference by Safire was to another Stewart Alsop, the father of the Stewart Alsop that I know and I mention above. Oops. Stewart Alsop the elder in fact was a political columnist of some renown until he passed away in  1974.

BlogBridge Major architectural progress

We made some major new progress since the last update.

Unread Management. The persistent RSS layer (Informa) has been updated to support Unread management. This has been carried through the rest of BlogBridge, using Bold in the Channel Guide and in the Article list in the usual way to show read and uread. A set of new commands, Mark Read, Mark All Read have been added as well. Some of the other variations still need to be implemented.

Refined background processing. The various background processes have been moved into their own subsystem making it easier to manage them. Also a simple activity indicator has been added to the status bar so the user can see that there’s background activity. Finally an initial Preferences dialog box has been implemented allowing control over some of these background processes.

Imrpoved HTML rendering. With the help of another developer we are bringing the HTML rendering into the 21st century, slowly. As you can see in the screenshot RSS images are handled and we will use the opportunity to also support italics, links and other formats.

Other User Interface Changes. We’ve introduced an initial command bar at the top of the window. It looks like we will be able to do without a menu bar and tie all the commands either to the command bar or the right click menu.

What you may not know

What you may not know about Eclipse. (Demo 2004 Series 10) If you are a Java developer and you haven’t checked out the Eclipse Development tool from www.eclipse.org, then you owe yourself a treat. Who knows if you get excited about that kind of thing, but it gives me chills. Here are some claims to fame:




  • It’s free.


  • It’s open source


  • It’s as good as better as that paragon of tools Microsoft Visual Studio


  • It’s fast


  • It’s visually stunning as a Windows desktop application


  • And … It’s written in Java!

Check it out, you won’t be sorry. But that’s not really the topic of this post.


 


Back at Demo 2004, mValent demonstrated a unique tool for the configuration and change management of complex of n-tier enterprise system deployments. An arcane area to be sure, but a great product.


 


Back to Eclipse though: For me this product is especially interesting to me because it illustrates a unique and little known capability of the Eclipse system, which is it’s use as a wonderful application framework. They’ve done this by abstracting the IDE model to a level where it can be used for a variety of tools and applications which otherwise would have to start from scratch.



mValent is the existance proof: Here’s a sophisticated application which uses the Eclipse Framework – and which itself is not an IDE! Beautiful!

RSS/Atom: An idea whose time

RSS/Atom: An idea whose time has come. Dave Winer is reaching out to the Atom people to try for the grand unification of the two formats. If you look back at the history of how Atom came to be, and the public record of the debates, disagreements, potshots that have come before you see that this is a couragous step for Dave to be taking. It’s a first step which we all hope will lead to something great.


People should read what was written closely: particularly that this is not meant to be a final proposal but an opening set of ideas on how the unification might be accomplished (e.g. “And before stating the offer, let me say that I am open to counter-offers.”)


It is important that we articulate the approach to the unification in a way that objectively respects and recognizes the value that both Atom and RSS are bringing to the table. I have no doubt that this will be a difficult effort requiring give on all sides, but it will set us back on a path where duplication of effort will be replaced by forward progress. It’s worth it.

Flipstart from Vulcan (Demo 2004

Flipstart from Vulcan (Demo 2004 Series – 9): This is a weird little device. It’s essentially a Windows XP computer using thumb keyboard. The dimensions are (from memory, now 4″ x 6″ x 1″) It has a 30Gig disk, and fast chip. It also has built in Wi-Fi. It has a port replicator allowing full size keyboard and screen to be attached. The screen is very high resolution. All in all it looks attractive and kind of useful.


 


But the pitch was that this was a new approach to mobile computing, what you would come up with if you started with a blank slate, etc.


 


Watching the demo and then playing with it, I have to say that it didn’t really live up to that claim. I heard this comment repeated by several show attendees. To me, it was, as David Roux used to say, “Just a PC with the air sucked out of it.”


 


(Vulcan, of course, is Paul Allen’s think tank; Paul Allen being to co-founder, with Bill Gates, of Microsoft. At least that’s how I read the geneology.