Thursday, December 28, 2006

"Ajax" and "Web 2.0" occupy spots near the top of Google's Hot List

The world is interested in knowing more about Ajax.

Of all Google searches, the top 6 in the "What is" or "Define" queries that hit Google, 3 of these twelve top queries in these categories are about "Ajax" or "Web 2.0" deveopment. Thanks to Jesse James Garrett for coining a great term, thanks to the "Ajaxians" Dion Almaer and Ben Galbraith for spreading the word through their site and podcasts, and thanks to the many easy to use frameworks like DojoToolkit, Prototype among a growing number of open sourced Ajax toolkits... a vast expansion in DHTML and asynchronous web development continues to generate a huge and growing interest even among non-developers today. Exciting times.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Ubuntu "Edgy Eft " (Ubuntu 6.10) Install -- FATAL BUG

I took the time to install Ubuntu 6.10 "Edgy Eft" this afternoon. I had an old 1 Ghz Toshiba that had crashed (cough, Windows XP) about 18 mos ago, and I finally got around to replacing the hard drive in preparation for making it a Linux laptop (I still have the XP license for running a WinXP IE6 VM!).

The 6.10 mostly went well... up until the point where the install reached the "Prepare Mounts" screen. In Ubuntu 6.10 install, one cannot get past this screen. I'd recommend not installing this version UNTIL THIS BUG IS FIXED. It has a major bug that apparently needs to be fixed. Here is a link to others who have encountered the same bug. I wish I had seen that sooner, so I'm hoping to get the word out about this to others in hopes they don't take the 2 hours of their time I did to get to this point:

I am now installing the stable 6.06 LTS, also known as "Dapper Drake".

The following links will enable you to easily download and install Ubuntu 6.06:

I will follow up with links and thoughts on installing CFMX 7 on Ubuntu 6.06. I recently received an invite to install Coldfusion Scorpio from Ben Forta and hoping to try out an install of Scorpio on both an Intel Mac at work (running both Windows XP and Mac OS X via boot camp) also. Hopefully I have time to document how these go and share them with anyone interested.


Agile Development -- competitive advantage

Huge benefits can be gained from Agile Development methodologies in reacting to market demands in a timely manner. I have worked on Agile projects, and worked on "Waterfall" projects (where the large, bureaucratic company feels its important to 'define requirements for 3 months', 'build for 4 months', 'test for 2 months'), and the results are not even comparable. Not only that, but the experiences felt by developers and customers alike are not even comparable. The Agile method fosters a great relationship between IT and customers, whereas Waterfall results in increased feelings of pressure and mistrust. Waterfall development methods are the wrong way to go when developing software.

I'd highly recommend picking up an Agile Development book on Amazon and reading it. Here are a couple I have read and found valuable:

Agile and Iterative Development: A Manager's Guide (Paperback)

Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit for Software Development Managers (Paperback)

OutSystems explains the reason why Agile Software Development projects make economical sense:

Installing Apache and mySQL 5.0 Server

Silent screencast of the installation of Apache on a local PC to run as a server for local testing.

Shows a silent screencast of the installation of MySQL on a local PC to run on a local installation of Apache for a home test environment.

Net Neutrality = GOOD

Net Neutrality = GOOD
Tiered Internet = bad for the consumer. No, the internet is not "a series of tubes", Mr. Ted Stephens.

Click the play button below to see clear explanation of the basics of what removing Net Neutrality would do to us consumers and how it would change the manner in which we use the internet today.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

PageRank Mathematical Overview

...haven't calculated eigenvalues in 8 years myself... but here's a reason to dust off George Arfken's book! Inspiring article related to the math behind Google's core aside on the Arfken Math-Physics 'bible'... it has sold something like 100,000 copies and is the only Mathematical Physics book translated into braille... Arfken was a Miami University Physics professor and Chair of the Physics department.

From my understanding, in the early 1950's he once wrote Einstein a letter suggesting a possible correction in one of Einstein's publications (math or physics error, I forget which). Both Arfken's letter, and Einstein's reply letter are enshrined in Culler Hall. It might be worthwhile to write one of my past professors there and get a digital photo of it, but Einstein says something like (and this is nowhere near an exact quote, I just remember the story): ' the way I've been treated in the American press, inspite of my embarrassment related to the correction, your message was the most pleasant I've received in months'.

...Besides unravelling the mysteries of energy and matter, space and time, the guy knew how to accept a critique with humility!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Starbucks and Syntax

A funny scene this Monday here in Seattle related to language and syntax. It reminded me of a struggle in development when we just can't find the right syntax. We know what we want the server to do, but we just can't find the words or the sequence! We've all been there when learning a new language, or using a different database. It's sometimes tough to communicate and get your "order" through.

Here's the scene:
A tall, gentleman carrying a briefcase walks into Starbucks and is in line before me to order. He appears to be visiting on business. It's just before 8:00 a.m. and the baristas downtown at that time are moving with their same super effiiciency as always, churning through the orders. Howard Shulz would be proud. Next up in line before me, is the tall out-of-town gentlemen:

syntax challenged requestor: "I'd like a small coffee [gestures with hands], in a LARGE [gestures with hands] cup"

barista (server): [no doubt having heard this type of request before, returns with the two smallest Starbucks cups] "Would you like a 'tall' small [shakes tall cup], or a 'short' small [shakes short cup]"

syntax challenged requestor: [self assured and in control] "No no no... I'd like a SMALL coffee [gestures with hands], in a LARGE [gestures with hands] cup"

barista (server): [very patiently] "Yes, I understand. Would you like a 'tall' small [shakes tall cup]... this size [shakes cup again]........ or a 'short' small [shakes short cup] ... this small size"

syntax challenged requestor: [more confused now goes for the biggest] "No... I want the biggest cup you have, with a small coffee"

barista (server): [very patiently] "Yes, sir. I'm just wondering which size coffee you want in the large cup. Would you like a 'tall' small [shakes tall cup]... this size [shakes cup again]........ or a 'short' small [shakes short cup] ... this small size"

syntax challenged requestor: "Oh... I gotcha now. I'll take the tall small."

barista (server): [very patiently] "That'll be X dollars X cents." ... 30 seconds later, someone brings the tall coffee in a venti cup.

syntax challenged requestor: "You see, I just want room for cream."

barista (server): "That's a lot of cream. Can I help the next person in line?"

Poor guy. If he only had the right syntax, he could have made that a lot easier on himself.

no inherent insecurity with AJAX

Jeremiah Grossman (CTO of WhiteHat Security) has a great article regarding a topic that erroneously arises from time to time : inherent security risks of AJAX applications versus traditional client-server web applications. This article words and explains the point very well. That point is basically that the security best-practices for both paradigms of web development are the same, and that AJAX presents no additional inherent insecurity.

The hype surrounding AJAX and security risks is hard to miss. Supposedly, this hot new technology responsible for compelling web-based applications like Gmail and Google Maps harbors a dark secret that opens the door to malicious hackers. Not exactly true ... Word on the cyber-street is that AJAX is the harbinger of larger attack surfaces, increased complexity, fake requests, denial of service, deadly cross-site scripting (XSS) , reliance on client-side security, and more. In reality, these issues existed well before AJAX. And, the recommended security best practices remain unchanged.'