So how was Xtech 2005?

John Snelson at xtech talking about XML Databases

Things I went to at Xtech

Wednesday
XAML and Avalon – (microsoft)
Building with XUL – Ben Goodger (google)
Apply the Just fucking do it Principle to public data on the web – Tom Loosemore (BBC)
All XML Databases are equal – John Snelson
Connection social content service with RDF, FOAF and REST – Leigh Doods
RSS syndication for a worldwide audience – Ian Forrester (myself)

Thursday
Structure and Chaos, wikis, xml and structured authoring – Paul Prescott (Blast Radius)
Achieving Interoperability between RDF and Topic Maps – Lars Marius Garshol (W3C RDFTM WG)
Simple Worldwide Aggregation Using XSLT – Ken Holman
XHTML2: Accessible, Usable, Device Independent, and Semantic – Steven Pemberton (W3C)
Bridging XHTML, XML and RDF with GRDDL – Dominique Hazaël-Massieux
Beagle: Free and Open Desktop Search – Jon Trowbridge
BBC News and RSS, Or: How We Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Open Data Services – Joel Chippindale and Kevin Hinde
Mozilla's Birds of a feather QandA – Mike Shaver and some Mozilla developers

Friday
Dynamic Topic Maps using Web Service Interfaces – Eric Freese (IBM)
The Oracle XSLT Virtual Machine (XVM) – Anguel Novoselsky (Oracle)
Managing Complex Document Generation through Pipelining – Jeni Tennison
Streaming XML with Jabber/XMPP – Peter Saint-Andre

So first up, generally it was an excellent conference (maybe the best I have been to). I have never known so many friendly people in the industry. The mood through-out was pretty cool and encoraged a quite flat structure where even the Gold speakers and sponsers were around chatting with people. I didnt even know there was speakers lounge till the last day, and I found no one was ever in there. Speaker became listeners and everyone made up the audience. Just what you need in a 3 day conference.

The BBC was out at the conference and made up 4 of the many talks at the conference. But the BBC was 2nd behind the huge array of Mozilla guys, who I believe used Xtech as a way of first time meeting each other. There was a birds of a feather session on the Thursday which I attended and then they disappeared leaving only Mozilla gear (I need to take a picture of my Firefox T-shirt really). According this blog they all went on a boat trip while most of the BBC guys spent time in the Japenese resturant with Edd Dumbill and a couple others. Great food, good company lots of flames.
Now thats what I call hot

Anyhow from the start… Xtech really did cover so many parts of the XML world and covered them very well. Some of the highlights of the first day for myself included the battle of the xml user interfaces, mozilla's xul vs microsoft's xaml vs Laszlo. I only stayed for the xul and xaml talks.
The Avalon/Xaml talk was interesting but i had already seen pretty much the same presentation on channel9 a month earlier. Anyhow it was useful to see xaml upclose and to ask questions. I also never knew the difference between Avalon express which runs in the IE browser and normal desktop Avalon (like a application/widget on the desktop). Theres also BAML which is the binary version of XAML. Someone asked the question of cross platform compatiblity, and Rob Relyea turned it back on the xtech crowd suggesting microsoft are very open to communties porting avalon to other platforms besides windows. Someone also asked about the seperations of concerns in regards to CSS and XAML, Rob made it clear CSS would need to be upgraded to be taken advantage of. But it would be possible to convert CSS to something XAML could use.

The xul questions were actually equally harsh but Ben Goodger from google had no problem putting his hands up and taking the criticism. What was interesting for myself was firefox 1.5 which once installed will have everything someone would need to run and develop a xul application. A trojan for xul adoption maybe? To add to this xul push, xul runner is in development. This will be the xul, gecko and chrome engines in a simple excutable program, which once run only needs the xul application parts to run. Best way of thinking about is like flash/shockwave player standalone. This reaslisticly means a mozilla browser is not needed to take advantage of xul. Goodger was also keen to point out the cross platform nature of xul. Linux, Windows will have xul runner first with mac support coming a little later (there was a little unrest on this last point). The general view is to make XUL applications as easy to write and deploy as extensions in Firefox right now.

Lunch was surved in te main hall around the booths of companies displaying there wares. This was a good idea but it all became a little too crowded sometimes. But finding somewhere to sit was not a problem at all. On the same point, wireless was excellent throughout the whole event. Plus there was enough electrical points for people to juice there batteries. I took a english 3 way adapter which was useful when others came along. I swear the mix of people on laptops and people not must have been almost half and half in some rooms. Trying to quote Matt Biddulph talking with Edd Dumbill one night, sometimes it works sometimes it does not, in Xtech it did. Honestly most of the talks were so interesting I bearly had time to write notes.

After lunch, Tom Loosemore's presentation titled Applying the JFDI (just fucking do it) Principle to Public Data on the Web. Was great as expected and well received throughout the open data room. Tom is well established figure in the bbc and public data fields. Some of the best known projects include theyworkforyou.com, upmystreet and faxyourmp. This was followed by All XML Databases are equal by John Snelson which outlined all the different factors which need to be considered when thinking about XML storage. Quite useful as the SQL/XML Databases are now starting to get a lot of the coverage. It was also good to see Exist DB on the comparision list, not just the Oracle's and SQL Servers. Its a shame I missed Gavin Bell's presentation about bringing a open european constitution in xml and the ROME presentation, which I may start using for aggregation instead of the almost dead Flock. Leigh Dodds talk titled Connecting Social Content Services with FOAF, RDF and REST was great to hear. I had been following hints on his blog for some time now and I was pretty pleased to finally hear some of the very interesting results. I wont try and summarise Dodds but it was very good and raised tons of questions and thoughts about consistency and ease of use in the case of REST webservices.
The last talk of the day, was my own which I wont talk about here, because I was meant to write about it here instead.

Other sessions worth noting I went to.
Structure and Chaos, wikis, xml and structured authoring by Paul Prescott of Blast Radius, was useful as it compared the very loose structure of wikis against the rigid structure in most xml based content management systems. Which leads me to the Xwiki presentation which I missed but had a personal re-presentation later on the last day. Basicly the guys behind the open source project have built a scripting engine inline and allows for structured user input and webservice integration. Its all pretty much sumed up here and here. Anyway, it all leads me to consider using Xwiki for personal and maybe professional projects.

XHTML2: Accessible, Usable, Device Independent, and SemanticSteven Pemberton from W3C. The room was packed full while Pemberton discussed XHTML 2.0 and the thoughts behind it. Besides the usual, more useability, better accessability, better independence, less scripting, better internationalisation, better semantics, less presentation and more structure while making the world a better place. There was talk about some of the new elements and attributes included. < h > and < section > allows for unlimited levels of structure simular to OPML. < hr > has changed to < seperator >. Paragraphs finally can include lists and other inline elements inside of its self. Images still exist but the src=”” attribute can be applied to almost element, aka allowing for another level of structure which was not possible with < image >. RDF/A was talked about and is RDF with attributes, allowing everyone to get involved in the semantic web without having to learn RDF. property and rel attributes can be applyed anywhere. Think of it like the class attribute but without the style thinking behind it. This in turns makes a complete RDF triple without the HTML community learning RDF. Interestingly enough, Pemberton mentioned RSS and joked that there is no need for RSS when XHTML 2.0 comes around. He showed an example but didnt quite make it clear except to say there were already 7 versions, why not add enough?

Bridging XHTML, XML and RDF with GRDDL Glearning Resources Descriptions from Dialects of languages) by Dominique Hazaël-Massieux was quite mind blowing and had links to XHTML 2.0. I do not know where to start really. It seems to be a standard way to extract RDF semantics from XHTML and XML documents using XSLT. Which is very interesting when you consider RDF/A in XHTML 2.0.

Beagle: Free and Open Desktop Search by Jon Trowbridge was fantastic to see and talk about. It was a shame his laptop died the day before because the only demos he could show us were the flash movies. But Jon really went into detail about the relationship between him and Novell, the push for free and open desktop search and its rivials.

Managing Complex Document Generation through Pipelining by Jeni Tennison, was very good and gave me lots of extra ammo for pipelining as much more than just a concept. I actually caught up with Jeni at lunch time and asked her more about her presentation. She said she has used Cocoon quite a bit in the past but said I should check out Daisy too – which happens to be one of the presentations I missed earlier on Wednesday. And last of all talks worth mentiioning that I attended has to be Streaming XML with Jabber/XMPP for the same reasons as Jeni's Talk. Lots of ideas and thoughts and a general feeling that these technologies are not as far off as I'd been tricked into thinking recently. See for example in the case of pipelining and jabber, I have known about these and the advantages for a long time, but have not had the drive to push them into my work life, maybe that will change.

Some of the presentations which I also heard were good or interesting include.
The Future of XML at W3C – Community Participation by Liam Quin, which I didnt want to miss but had to for the Jabber presentation. Are Server-Side Implementations the Future of XForms?, Rich Web: SVG And Canvas In Mozilla which I heard had a display of a fully useable google running at 30 degrees using SVG foriegn object. Printing XML: Why CSS is better than XSL caused a massive disagreement I heard, Can OpenOffice be the new XML schema IDE? which I really wished was on another day and the same applies to Comparing XSLT and XQuery.

On a whole Xtech was well worth the time and I'm so what glad I picked it over WWW 2005. I'm sure to be there next year which might involve a change of venue but it will still be in Amsterdam hints Edd. Thanks to everyone who made Xtech 2005 such a good conference and that also includes speakers and the people who paid to go.

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Lloyd Hotel’s room upgrade

Lloyd Hotel's Type B roomLloyd Hotel's Type D room

Me and Sarah were upgraded to the best rooms in the whole hotel due to a leaky shower on Friday. The upgrade from a Type B room to a Type D room really was a great move, as you can see in the pictures above. The lloyd hotel has some stunning views from 6 floors up. I'll post the rest of the views from the oversized attic room soon as I make it home from Amsterdam.

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RSS Syndication talk for XTECH 2005, how did it go?

RSS syndication for a worldwide audience - cheers Leigh Doods for the picture

In one word, Great!

I was very nevious that my presentation would be quite controversial and put a disclaimer up at the start highlighting this fact. But I really didnt need to because it was well recieved. Unlike my test runs at work and at home, I went though the slides nice and quickly stopping only for blasts of the nice ice cold water which was supplied. By the time I got to the nitty gritty of RSS and suggesting that RSS 1.0 was the best of a bad bunch the room had started to fill up. I believe there were about 40 people at the start and I ended up with about 60+ but I may be wrong, it certainly felt like more to myself. Something I also did which I didnt plan for was lots of talk around unicode directionality. I guess I was quite sparked up about it after talking to Shoshannah over email about the same issue. I expected lots of questioning about this point and typed up extra notes around this area but in the end didnt really need it, most of the audience actually agreed that its too much of a difficult area for most people and just as how RDF/A was created for those who would find namespaces too difficult for xhtml 2.0. Maybe there should be something else to define language direction. Shoshannah's example of software engineers deciding direction on encoding went down a storm just like yahoo's entity search. I saw lots of head nodding and shaking at the correct moments, so I expect my pace was good and the slide layout pretty good too.
One of the highlights in the question and answer session afterwards was from the developer behind ROME looking at his code and admitting that ROME never took advantage of xml:lang attributes right in the middle of the Q and A. Liam Quin activity leader of the W3C's XML activities asked me a very tricky question. What can the W3C be doing in this area to help? I was really stumped but suggested this maybe the time the W3C gets back involved in RSS development even if it means pissing off some people. This was about the time when Dan Brickley also got involved and talked about the problems in the past with RSS. They were both quite impressed that we choose RSS 1.0 when almost every single other news corp is using plain RSS 2.0. Dan suggested the problem with high versions numbers could also be the reason why most choose RSS 2.0. Which sounds hard to believe but I dont douht it so much now. They also both work on the RDF specification by the way, Dan also suggested a reference article should be written up about best practices in the area of languages and direction in RSS, something to be considered once I rewrite my final paper. My manager Deborah Cawkwell wrote this article about unexpected characters or blank lines and Why use the language attribute? as part of a this set of i18n FAQs, which I used quite a bit in research for my paper and presentation. So there is scope for doing one for RSS too maybe?
There was a question about ATOM and how we should get involved in the last call for version 1.0. I couldnt agree more, and thats an action point for futher disucssion just like the article idea from Dan. There should also be scope for getting involved in shaping RSS 1.1 or RSS 3.0 if it falls to the version numbers game.
There was criticism that I never settled on a clear solution for language direction and I take that on board and I believe we (BBC WorldService) should do something even if it breaks a good percentage of RSS readers. Its like Tom Loosemore puts it, just fucking do it. If we dont, then were just part of the noise, we need to step out and suggest a solution even if its not very popular or valid.
I can not remember too many more of the other questions but I got the main ones I believe.

So to clarify, everything went really well and even better than expected. The question I pose for developers to get involved and use our feeds seems to gone over quite well, and this would be even better if we do come up with a solution for language direction. Its something to work from and thats better than nothing at all.
If your interested in reading my presentation its available here. I have to warn you its about 4 meg big and requires Open Office 1 or 2 beta. I will supply a PDF and maybe a XHTML (maybe S5) version soon enough. My paper titled RSS Syndication For A Worldwide Audience is also available for reading online. Please be aware this is version 1 and its going to be re-edited soon with recommendations for solutions and additional resources.

Thanks to everyone which helped me in my presentation and paper, specially my lovely wife who put up with my stressing and endless nights of reading.

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More thoughts about the xbox 360, have lessons been learned?

I've been thinking about the xbox 360 a lot more since the announcements from Sony PS3 and Nintendo's Revolution. Everyones talking about how they all compare but I've been thinking about the experiment and maybe mistakes of Xbox.

Microsoft I feel, really learned a lot of lessons during the xbox generation. Xbox really bombed in the Eastern markets because it was too big and looked like a hummer sitting next to a smart car when compared to a new PS2. Xbox 360 is still large bit its smooth looking and can fit under and besides your TV. Lessons learned.

Xbox live costs money. Xlink Kai and Xbox connect are all free to use and actually provide a better service complete with private rooms and chat over voice over ip and usb keyboard. So what did Microsoft learn? Create a Xbox live which is free out of the box and provide a better service for those who pay. What Microsoft did not learn? Decentralised networks where all the logical and IQ is on the edges, tends to be where xlink are going – Microsoft is going the opposite way.

Big mistake by Microsoft is having no next generation DVD Drive, HD-DVD or Blu-Ray needs to be added. But Microsoft did learn there lesson from Xbox DVD playback, to watch DVDs on the xbox you needed to buy a 30 pound remote. Thankfully DVD playback is at least built in and ready to go from day one.

I hear that Xbox 360 will not support USB keyboards for game playing, sounds like Microsoft have not learned there lesson from Xbox. Having USB connections on the Xbox was good because developers could allow for mouse input. Having USB on every port also meant USB could be used for alternative inputs. Yeah webcams but maybe microphones, who knows what else. Having that in Xbox 360 would be cool. However, Microsoft have not. Oh well.

Ok the biggest lesson, Xbox media centre! Microsoft have copied everything xbox media centre and the xbox extender kit and put it all into xbox 360. Internet access will be combined involved in everything and I'm sure everything that is available in instant messenger (video, audio via sip) will be there allowing you to talk to people online. HDTV is going to be there from day one which is cool so Windows media 10 content i'm sure will be there too. I guess it will be DRM aware too – hummm shame. I dont know how much detail Microsoft has considered for example they say you will be able to access your media on your pc to watch content but how? WIll you need Windows Media centre or some other application? Or will they learn the lesson and use SMB? Or hell use the XBMS protocol? hummm maybe not. Will it support all codecs and formats under the sun like xbox media centre? Will it support content from external sources like all the ipTV shows on the net? Or will you be stuck with the usual boring mass media content? Its too early to know for sure.

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The problem with Language RSS

Shoshannah Forbes and I have been sending emails back and forth about the issue of RSS adoption in Right to Left languages like Hebrew and Arabic. It fits so closely with what I'm going to say tomorrow at XTECH (where I happen to be right now actually) its almost uncanny. I asked Shoshannah if I could blog her reply to my question about her RSS feeds. Basicly her RSS feeds include the HTML attribute dir to indicate direction of the text. Which makes it invalid and may break quite a few of the RSS readers out there. Anyhow here is the email complete with my new agreements and additional comments. Please remember as usual these comments are my own views and not BBC World Service's views (my employer).

Shoshannah Forbes wrote:

> The problem I am facing is simple:
> If I use valid RSS with no dir=rtl, then 99% of the RSS readers will display the text block as LTR, with punctuation digits and English in wrong locations, making the whole thing unreadable.
> When adding dir=rtl, at least I can get about 50% of the RSS readers to display the post body properly (titles are still a mess).

Agreed, but I feel there are two ways of looking at the problem. From your point of view it makes sense to include dir=”rtl” because very few software developers are going to change there code to take this into consideration. For us (the BBC World Service) we have the might to speak to developers and get them to change there code. Even if we do not do it for ourselves, we owe it to our audience (my own feelings).

> I don't use unicode control characters for a few reasons:
> * They are a real pain to input- it is like entering the control characters for CR/LF or < font > tag manually (but worse)- there are just to many places to enter them.

Yep totally agree

> * Most keyboard layouts do not have a direct way to enter them.

Yeah were using virtual keyboards for some languages and there a nightmare!

> * They make a mess of the text- they are only used for the RSS, and unneeded for the editing or the html display, and can produce unexpected results when entered into the text.

Yep, agreed

> * There are many clients that incorrectly display them as visible characters in the text.

Yeah, its a shame and that will change but its too much trouble at the moment

> * They make the text much more difficult to edit- if you change the text, you need to go back and change them as well. And since they are invisible, you get an awful lot of trial an error.

Indeed! You really need to understand them to edit with them. This would require extra training for our language services

> * They force me to use explicit directionality, which complicates things and makes the text less portable.

Yeah, there is a idea of reuse through out our language services. This is tricky already, who knows how much more tricky it would be if text was unicode directional too

> * My web app that creates the RSS from my HTML does not know how to add them automatically.

Yep, I know my Blogger app (Blojsom) supports Unicode Directionality IF i put them in at the start but then were back to the editor problem of virtual keyboards and sticking in hidden characters! The same is true of the BBC World Service systems. We use XSL with Saxon so if the characters are there, it should (not tested by myself) pass through to the RSS.

> * Since they are rarely used in other contexts, I can't focus on the content when writing, and have to start thinking more closely about the presentation.

Yeah indeed! Our language services are already busy as hell, unicode directionality would just add a level of complex on top of a already stressful job.

> * Moving from me to other users- most Hebrew/Arabic users don't know about them, and don't want to know. You try to explain to your mother that when she is writing in her weblog, she can't write in here usual manner, but has to enter this strange codes in a foreign language which have complicated rules (I have seen many pros get confuses with these characters, I don't expect laypeople to understand them).

Right on the nail! One of my points for tomorrow is unicode directionality is too damm difficult and very confusing! i expect some will challenge me about this tomorrow and honestly I will just admit its too difficult for me its even more difficult for others. Plus we should be making things easier for people not harder. The barrier for entry should be at a level where your mum or my mum could use it and write it.

> * It doesn't scale- think about a an Israeli blog hosting service- they want to offer RSS feeds for all the blogs, with minimum work for the users. Relaying on unicode control characters just doesn't do it.

Yeah plus from the Israeli blog hosting point of view, you want to get people going quick and easily not putting them off with complex editiing. Its the reason why Blogger does so well, 3 steps and you got your own blog.

> * Since they are complex, it is difficult to create a GUI for entering them (unlike general RTL/LTR controls, which are available everywhere).

Yeah its almost needs to be just like the direction attribute in HTML. I'm suggesting tomorrow a attribute like this for RSS.

> Not having the dir attribute in RSS gets rid of some markup- in favor of lower level much more complex control characters. A bad deal, IMO, and one which is a major cause for the problems when dealing with Hebrew/Arabic RSS.

Indeed, it was a ideal solution but the real world use is too painful

> I think that the root of the problem is that bidi is part presentation and part structure. And since even in the best of cases (for example, the automatic bidi control in recent QT or GTK applications on Linux) there are still many many cases that can *not* be covered reliably by the display algorithms of the software, I tend to think that for practical prepossess, bidi is more structure then presentation.

Yeah agreed, theres lots of push to put bidi information inside of CSS instead of HTML even, which is correct if you see bidi as presentation.

> I sure wish there was a way in RSS to tell the client “this element is RTL” or “this area is LTR” without resorting to HTML hacks. But at the moment, those hacks are the only practical tool I have to get at least *some* of the readers out there to display the text properly (more like “mostly properly”).

I feel your pain and I'm not even writing my own content in a right to left language! Its such a shame that HTML hacks are the only way we can move forward on this. The crux of my presentation and paper is that developers and content providers need to work much closer together and the RSS specificiation needs to make full use of attributes like xml:lang and maybe some other kind attribute for direction.

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Planning for XTech

My setup for the XTECH conference

Edd Dumbill has used some type of aggregation system to pull together all the various Xtech information into Planet Xtech. It works pretty well except for the wiki changes but there short and easily scanable. I'm subscribed to the RSS feed as I prefer it to reading the page. The good thing is my global watch lists still apply so I'm able to be notified if something of interest comes up. Technorati is also a pain because it brings up older posts says Edd, and you can certainly see that. I'm also wondering why Technorati is not showing any of my posts? This one has the Xtech tag attached like previous ones. Anyhow theres some more indepth thought here. To me its all a no brainer, I had setup a special group in Jager and added technorati, flickr, recent wiki entries and del.icio.us entries into it. So I pretty much had PlanetXtech on my own machine. But this is exact the kind of thing Cocoon is great at doing, and I guess if I was asked to do the same, would have used Cocoon and XSL.

Anyhow, I'm all setup and ready for Xtech now. As you can see in the picture above. I got a feeling if Miles didnt buy me a Flickr Pro account for my Birthday (thanks again for that Miles, and what a good idea for a birthday present) I would have to buy one by the end of Xtech. Pixory is still doing me well at home, but is cripled by my 256k upload on the ADSL, plus it doesnt have the social aspects of Flickr of course. Like the decentralised nature of blogging it will come in time via methods like trackback, aggregation, tagging but not quite yet.

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First night in Amsterdam

Hotel room from my Bathroom

I'm telling you I love this city, yes its full of shadey people at night and theres the hard drug pushers walking around offering tourist all types of anything but you cant beat the vibe in this city. Anyway I have to report that the Lloydhotel maybe quite a bit from Central Station (about 25mins walking, 5mins by taxi) but its certainly worth it. I'm using there very fast and free broadband connection which is plugged into every single guest room. Yep on the wall there is a nice network connection just waiting for you to plug in. I can pick up the 4 different Wireless nodes which are placed downstairs in public places like the bar and lounge areas. But being on the 3rd floor makes the signal a bit weak. Anyhow for some reason my ipaq seems to do a better job picking it while walking around the hotel. It seriously takes some getting use to. Being surrounded by free wireless while away from home does not quite compute in my own mind. But dont worry, I'll be taking full advantage. I already have noticed someones elses iTunes playlist is available via the local lloyd network. But I can not for the life of me connect to Jabber, skype is fine but not jabber. Its almost like the ports have been blocked… Email is also fine, so email me on my hotpop or rave address if you want to tell me something urgently.

The actual room and hotel are pretty good and this wireless aside has to be the best hotel I've been in. its not the biggest (vegas hotel room at Lady Luck was huge). But this hotel is smooth, simple, clever and stylish. Theres little touches like the lights which can be moved around the wall using strong magenets and a set of spare enthernet cables just in case you forget to bring or buy one. Sarah asked me to explain the room and hotel and I answered simple, sensible and clever. You can tell the designers had a great time.

I have to spare a thought for Matt biddulph, whos hotel did not have wireless and needed to go down the RAI centre to get some. I now have my stuff together and should be ready for tomorrow's talk. Just like Dodds, I also extended the week into the weekend so I wont need to rush home after the conference. Sarah is coming over so we can spend the weekend together in Amsterdam.

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XTECH 2005, less that a week off now…

Xtech Conference 2005

I noticed a new comment on the blogdigger development blog from Xslf.

Re: On Language

Hey, that was fun- seeing some Hebrew here ๐Ÿ™‚ This issue indeed is painful. My blog publishes feeds in utf-8/Hebrew, and half the RSS readers out there have problems displaying them (esp. post titles) in proper RTL (even though my feed has dir=rtl in the right places). Speaking of Hebrew problems- I just attempted to create a blogdigger group with a Hebrew name/description, and all the system gave me after I submitted the form was question marks ๐Ÿ™ Seems that the server here did not like Hebrew input (the group can be found at: http://groups.blogdigger.com/groups.jsp?id=2051 ) An English language group that I had opened ( http://groups.blogdigger.com/groups.jsp?id=2044 ) works fine. Sigh ๐Ÿ™

This is almost exactly the crux of my presentation at Xtech. Right to Left Language RSS is so painful. Why is Hebrew language so difficult to work with for seriously most of the RSS readers out there? Xslf is one of a larger group of people who are puzzled why they can not communicate in there own native language with the modern tools and applications around them. One of my points is Unicode is an enabler, and it really is! But being unicode is not some magic bullet, much great language consideration needs to go into the whole process.

I had a quick peek around Shoshannah Forbes blog http://www.Xslf.com, I can not read Hebrew but I know a friend who does (whos coming around tomorrow). Anyhow I looked at her RSS feeds just out of interest to see if she was doing anything interesting, as her HTML meta-data was neat and considered. Shoshannah is basicly using RSS 2.0 with added modules which are common in RSS 1.0. She describes Hebrew by one head-level dc:language element and then inputs a div with HTML directional code inside like this < div dir="rtl" >. This is what we tried avoid at the World Service because we felt it broke RSS validation, caused presentation vs structure issues and generally did not work in most of the RSS readers on the fragmented RSS market. I recommend Shoshannah read some of the blogs I linked to in Languages in RSS a while ago. It would be great to hear what she makes of the whole Language RSS debate.

Do not forget XTECH is next week and I will presentating along side the other 3 BBC presentations (BBC News, Radio and Music, Backstage BBC). XTECH looks to be a great conference this year, its seems a crying shame that no one is going to be seriously podcasting or even recording the event and speakers. But I maybe wrong?

Anyhow here's my plan for the conference, remixed to show my choices using XSLT of course. All I quickly did, was add an attribute named choice then slotted 1st, 2nd, 3rd or even 4th. Here's my modified XML and XSL. For some reason I couldnt get the external css stylesheet working so I just inlined it in the short term. Do not forget there are many ways to get involved in .

I know theres free wireless at the conference and I'm bringing my pocket wireless hub in a aid to help extent the range but I dont know if electricity will be a problem because my laptop only lasts 1hour without being plugged in. If you happen to be sitting near me in the conference with a laptop, please tap me on a hand as I will have a English 3 way power adapter plugged in where I can.

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Jabber support in OSX 10.4, may not be as ideal

Jabber lightbulb

Is it safe to say Jabber support in OSX 10.4 (Tiger) is not all its cracked up to be? Apple did a good thing embedding Jabber support in not only the client (iChatAV) but also the OSX 10.4 server. But according this article it certainly sounds like it.

Apple chose to leave a few other pieces of Jabber functionality out of its client as well: Though it's able to use them if they've already been set up on another Jabber client, there's no option within iChat to do the service discovery needed to access Jabber gateways.

Off the back of this, iChat users have been sharing hacks around the gateway problem.

Whether iChat offers the ability to register with Jabber gateways or not, iChat users have been busy figuring out how to use third party clients to sign on to public servers, register with those gateways, then return to using iChat.

It was also noted by developer Missig, that iChat diverges from the XHTML-IM specification. Apple are using some kind of rich text which will need to be hacked or reverse engineered to allow for compatable applications elsewhere.

Yes before people start, most of these things are nitty picking and yes if Microsoft even dared to do anything like this it would likely be so far removed from the standard. Not that Jabber will ever come to the core of Windows ever, specially with Microsoft fully behind the Sip/Simple specification.

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New version of Konfabulator

After installing it and playing with the new version for a matter of minutes, I have noticed an increase in general speed and performance. But anyhow, here's the official list of whats new…

Whats New in Konfabulator 2.0 for users
Multi-Pane Preferences dialogs for Widgets
New Widgets
Improved Proxy support for web resources (AutoProxy)

Whats New in Konfabulator 2.0 for authors
COM support
Inter-Widget messaging
Image Tiling/Scaling
ClipRects on Images
vAlign on images and text areas
Colorization (colorize, hsl adjustment, hsl tinting)
Context menu addition support
filesystem.read/writeFile (utf-8 only)
filesystem.volumes array of currently mounted volumes
filesystem.move/copy
filesystem.getFileInfo
filesystem.getDisplayName
chooseFile/chooseFolder dialog functions
saveAs dialog function
chooseColor dialog function
Trash/Recycle Bin open/empty
Multiple Window support
Multi-Click handling
New Timer object

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Geek dinner with the scoble

Robert Scoble

Quick note to all who contacted me after reading about the last Geek Dinner
. There is only 24 places left for the next one which is planned for 7th June in the Texas Embassy Cantina, near Leicester Square and the Mall. So if I was you I would seriously make up your minds and get your name down on the wiki sharpish. It should be a good night, lots of bloggers, geeks and interesting people (not to say bloggers and geeks are not of course).

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The Play’s the thing…

Channel4 have launched a competition titled The play's the thing. Its an opportunity to write a play which may be performed in London's West end if its good enough. Now I like theatre but love cinema because I find theatre quite stuffy and out of touch (my thoughts). But I do like the idea of live theatre. So this strikes me as a chance to do something about my thoughts.

Me and Sarah have come up with a cracker of idea for a play which brings it right up to date and sends a message out about the society were in today and tomorrow. Yep you bet your bottom dollar its got something for the net generation but its also got something for people who just read about the internet in papers. Obviously once me and Sarah thrash through ideas and develop something concerete which we will submit. I'll open up the idea and development on my blog. Maybe if its a little too riskque for Channel4 someone else may be interested in the idea. Submission has to be done by 1st July 2005 which is the same deadline for the Microsoft IP video thing, hence I only got time to do one or the other.

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Backstage.BBC.co.uk launches into public beta

BBC Logo

So many things happen when you go away on Holiday for one week. Yep this is kinda of late news, but that secret project which I was not really able to talk about on my blog has gone live now.

backstage.bbc.co.uk is the BBC's new developer network, providing content feeds for anyone to build with. Alternatively, share your ideas on new ways to use BBC content. This is your BBC. We want to help you play.

Taken from the about page.

Backstage is part of the BBCโ€™s wider remit to “build public value” by sharing our content for others to use creatively. How do you “build public value”? One of the ways is through supporting innovation as the BBC Governors response to the Graf report of BBC online makes clear:

“The BBC will support social innovation by encouraging usersโ€™ efforts to build sites and projects that meet their needs and those of their communities … The BBC will also be committed to using open standards that will enable users to find and repurpose BBC content in more flexible ways”.

backstage.bbc.co.uk aims to promote innovation amongst the design and developer community: if people are able to do interesting, productive things with the content then weโ€™d like to support them. Finally and as a useful by-product of the above, backstage.bbc.co.uk is an opportunity to identify talent in the online community.

I have been aware of backstage bbc.co.uk for quite some time, but didnt take part in the closed beta due to work load. I urge everyone else to check it out and join the email discussion list which should be a friendly place for developers and designers to suggest ideas and team up with like minded people. I certainly will be on there with my designer/developer hats on.

I have to give a lot of credit to the backstage team. WELL DONE! Ben Metcalfe, James Boardwell and Tom Loosemore. Who all worked really hard to make this happen and without the concerns and conditions which could have been plagued the whole project and idea. I know lots more people were involved but these guys lived and died by this project.

Looking around so far, backstage got metioned on Channel9, Guardian Unlimited online Blog, The Oreilly Radar (cool!), Boingboing (double cool!), P2Pweblog (odd?) and even BBC News. The question still remains if they are ready for a slashdotting? Too late they already were via Stefan Magdalinski of course.

It time to crank out my Cocoon book and get working with the tons of open APIs and RSS feeds which now cover the web 2.0 landscape.

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…I come back and some torrents sites are gone?

MPAA - you can click but you cant hide properganda

So yes, I come back from a nice holiday away expecting all my TV programmes to be downloaded ready to watch through-out the rest of the week but oh no, the bloody MPAA have targeted TV torrent sites. Damm you! I use to use ShunTV and BTefnet for all my American Television fixes now I'm going to gave to look elsewhere. Some good news is that PQRT has changed to http://www.rokanova.com and http://www.seedler.org has just launched. Shame there trying to be jack of all suprnova trades, and seedler does not have rss feeds. Oh well, as Sarah says, there will be others and there are other ways to get TV shows that just these sites. It also seems BTefnet was sued according to the IRC channel. Someone left a comment, saying BT Website is currently down. Releases are on hold until we have a better understanding of the current situation. We have NOT been sued or been contacted by the MPAA! More information about the closures can be found here at Slyck or the P2P website. It looks like either http://www.demonoid.com, http://www.torrentspy.com or http://www.zonatracker.com are the places to go for TV torrents now.

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How would you feel if someone stole your IP?

Thought Thieves - short film competition

Thought Thieves is about people stealing and profiting from your creation or innovation. Think about it: how would you feel if you saw your hard work being passed off as the property of someone else? What would you do?

As I said to Dave and Miles over email a while ago, I swear, I am so tempted to enter this competition just so I can make a film which expresses the advantages of the opening your ideas to the world. IP is not a black and white issue, I very much douht many of the videos will speak in favour of opening thoughts. I could be wrong though… Honestly if I won, I would get myself a decent DV camera and then give away the rest to my previous college.
Were not the only one who noticed the thought thieves competition, NTK.net are running there own competition off the back off thought police, umm I mean thieves.

The 1400-word terms and conditions for MSN.CO.UK's strong-IP “Thought Thieves” film competition are quite the read, even if you're not the 14-17 year-old they're intended to be read and understood by and complied with in their therein bywhich entirety. Entries must be the “sole work and creation of the person submitting the film” (no sharing your precious intellectual property fluids with your cameraman, Mr Auteur); must not “use third party intellectual property rights” (no furniture, no architecture, only clouds as background); the entry form additionally specifies “Should I be selected as a finalist […] I will formally licence on terms acceptable to Microsoft, all intellectual property rights in my film and agree to waive all moral rights in relation to my film if requested to do so”. But what we made us wonder was: where exactly did Microsoft get this “Thought Thieves” idea from?
The idea that people can “steal your thoughts” is surely not original. We're hoping for a class-action by paranoid schizophrenics, who we think came up with the idea that others are stealing the very THOUGHTS FROM YOUR MIND a good few years before Microsoft started losing theirs.

http://www.msn.co.uk/thoughtthieves/
– send us a copy of your entry. We'll do prizes.
http://www.the-future-of-ideas.com/excerpts/index.shtm
– Lessig's book starts at the exact point the T&C gets ridiculous

Are you shitting me? Indeed, I love the category Copyfight put the competition under, yep IP Abuse. P2P weblog suggests the winner will end up on Bit torrent, which would be poetic justice in some odd way. There was or is some discussion on Channel 9 but its not exactly saying much we didnt know. It also seems it was slashdotted along with boingboing'ed (is that the right name for it?) at some point in the past according to Loren.
I'm sure this will not be the end of the thought police thievies.

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