Feet up!
Saturday, May 31, 2003
What a Waste
Predictably enough AOL pulled Waste a classic case of bolting the gate long after the horse has bolted.

Anyway as Garth points out in my comments, there are now active projects based upon the Nullsoft code.

If anyone wants a copy of the original code, give me a shout I'm sure I can find it somewhere :-) More seriously are AOL in breach the GPL by no longer providing the source code of this project?

Update: Mirror of the Waste project.
Thursday, May 29, 2003
Waste not, want!
People iconPie chart iconUtilities icon

Wow! Seeing as my prophecies about Groove seem to have turned out to be true, yes it's a cool product, but can you trust Groove the company? Mitch Kapor didn't and he was on their board!

Now along comes WASTE from Nullsoft writers of Winamp, SHOUTcast and numerous other useful tools.

WASTE's blurb gives the lowdown:
WASTE is a software product and protocol that enables secure distributed communication for small (on the order of 10-50 nodes) trusted groups of users.

WASTE is designed to enable small companies and small teams within larger companies to easily communicate and collaborate in a secure and efficient fashion, independent of physical network topology.

Some bits of information about WASTE:
  • WASTE is currently available for 32-bit Windows operating systems, and as a limited functionality server for FreeBSD and MacOS X. Porting to other operating systems should be a breeze, as the source is provided (and the network code itself is pretty portable).
  • WASTE is licensed under the GPL.
  • WASTE currently provides the following services:
    • Instant Messaging (with presence)
    • Group Chat
    • File browsing/searching
    • File transfer (upload and download)
  • Network architecture: WASTE uses a distributed architecture that allows for
    nodes to connect in a partial mesh type network. Nodes on the network can broadcast and route traffic. Nodes that are not publicly accessible or on slow links can choose not to route traffic. This network is built such that all services utilize the network, so firewall issues become moot. more information.
  • Security: WASTE uses link-level encryption to secure links, and public keys for authentication. RSA is used for session key exchange and
    authentication, and the links are encrypted using Blowfish in PCBC mode. The automatic key distribution security model is very primitive at the moment, and may not lend itself well to some social situations. more information.

Update: More info here.
Monday, May 26, 2003
Spring Bank Holiday
Today is a public holiday in the the UK (a so-called Bank Holiday) so I'm not going to be blogging much and as the Sun's out I expect we'll be out and about somewhere.

In other news, I've just put the bins out, as our bin men make a habit of coming extra early on Bank Holidays. Maybe we'll get the usual amusing sight of our neighbours dragging their bins out at the last minute whilst still in their nightclothes!
Thursday, May 22, 2003
Better blogging
As a step towards my goal of blogging better I've signed up to Ben's Book of Blog thingy-ma-jig-wossname. Oh and if I start getting more incoherant or start cultivating a pipe, please insult me copiously :-)

Here's the nifty BoB button I've stolen - Book of Blog mini button
More Python blogging tools
Rantelope logo
pyBlosxom logo
For the upcoming (much promised, still not yet delivered) upgrade of this blog I'm seriously looking at pyBlosxom, I was thinking about MT but I like being different, and I'm ashamed to admit that Perl just looks like line noise to me.

Just as I'm getting my head around pyBlosxom (of which the hardest part seems to be spelling the damn name), along comes Rantelope. I ought to be pleased at the diversity of tools available, but sometimes it gets a little frustrating...
Tuesday, May 20, 2003
Erik in the news
Headshot of Erik ThauvinErik has a new weekly column in the Java Developer's Journal Newsletter, very nice! One of the cool bits is that Erik is able to keep the articles for his own use, the first column is already in his stories section.

Does he really need any more traffic? ;-)
Euro in the UK
Birthday boy the Moofster is running an interesting article about the Euro, now what with Blair and co dithering about the UK's entry to the Euro I'm postulating an alternative route for UK entry to the Euro, the backdoor.

Giles thinks it would be difficult legally, but I'm not so sure. The basic idea is that a significant chunk of the large companies in the CBI say to the UK Government, "Frankly we don't care what your stance on the Euro is, it is going to be our primary currency from January 2005" and from that date onwards they pay their suppliers and employees in Euros.

It'd certainly be interesting, and not really that big a problem for the majority of the UK population, I'd say that at least 85-90% of the monetary transactions (by value) I make each month are either by direct debit or credit/debit cards. So I'd lose a little on converting Euros from my bank account into Sterling for the few cash transactions I make (mostly beer and newspapers), but probably save a significant amount from paying a mortgage in Euros with the lower interest rates in Euroland, overall the effect would be neglible, and maybe even in my favour. Working for a company that was more profitable because it wasn't disadvantaged by being out of the Euro would be a bonus too.

Footnote: The technically correct plural of the Euro is euro, yes it sounds pretty odd in any language, but I believe the reason is to avoid cross language confusion, anyway I'm being lazy and using the more normal form of Euros. An EU dossier in PDF, details the correct form.
Monday, May 19, 2003
Iraq gets lucky
After all the reports that the Iraqis were going to get saddled with an oddball mobile phone system, the Americans have relented and the Pentagon has awarded a contract for a GSM system for Iraq.

I suppose that's a good first step, now lets hope the Americans don't decide to use 1900MHz, and it'd be even nicer if they stopped burning things down too...
Friday, May 16, 2003
Diego launches...
CleverCactus logo
Fellow Mobitopian Diego Doval has announced the public beta of CleverCactus, it seems like he's following the long tradition of naming software after dogs, family members, and in this case a cat.

It looks very neat, and as I'm always on the lookout (no pun intended) for a better mail client - I'm only running four mail clients at home currently - it could be the answer to some of my problems.
Wednesday, May 14, 2003
Feed update
A few minor tweaks to my feed today, it should now contain links to some of the things I rant about, and hopefully it ought to validate a bit more often too.

Bad things, well the process I use to make the feed is still a bit crufty, and the format is only 0.92 - the next upgrade will be to nice RDF compliant 1.0, I really can't see any benefits in moving to 2.0.

As usual I'm generating the feed with FeetUp.py which you're welcome to copy and mangle for your own entertainment.
S55 firmware upgrade
I upgraded the firmware on my Siemens S55 yesterday, it took about 10-15 minutes, and was entirely painless, not what I expected at all! The firmware upgrade was a simple download from the web which just needed to be run on a PC connected to the phone via the serial cable.

Apparantly it gives me the following:
Improved memory access and CPU usage to secure low power consumption
Optimised structure of various sub menu items
Enhanced handling of accessories
Updated Java and sound functionalities
Improved overall software stability through technical enhancements
Don't you just love the last one? In case you haven't cracked the code yet, it's marketing speak for "bug-fixes".

Conclusions? It's a bit too soon to say yet, but TipicME looks a little odd now, but power consumption appears a little better and I've seen a few things on various menus that I hadn't seen before. The scariest bit is that Russ's notorious J2ME app still works, something it still refuses to do on Symbian phones :-)
Sputnik rocks
That's the story according to Joi Ito.

Personally, I wasn't too excited by the recent announcement of the Sputnik WiFi access point; blah, blah, cheap, blah, neat, blah WiFi acess point, blah etc. I thought.

However, their use of Jabber for communication from the access point to the central server is very interesting. I know a few people using Jabber as an authentication system, this and Sputnik's use ties in with the much touted PingId scheme that Doc Searls is often talking about.

It looks like I'm in agreeement with Joi, Sputnik rocks, and so does Jabber!
Tuesday, May 13, 2003
Mobile micro payments?
Ok, maybe not quite micro-payments as in fractions of pence being moved around, but an interesting use of mobile technology from Bango.net described here in El Reg about the Bango Fingerprint scheme which provides an anonymous means of customer identification (an oxymoron?) and a way of billing for services.

Russ has mentioned Mobile Commerce payments before, I suspect we're going to see more interesting schemes like Bango's Fingerprint in the near future.
Thursday, May 08, 2003
FoaF update
All this stuff about FoaF-alike networks like LinkedIn has finally persuaded me to update my FoaF file.

Big changes? No, not really, I updated one home page to point to a new URL, added Tom and Martin (guys it's meant as a nudge to make you write a FoaF file :-) and added a few more funky bits to my own info. I really ought to add a few more people but I'm reticent to add any more people without FoaF files, so if you even half think you might have heard of me and you've got a FoaF file give me a shout and I'll gladly add you in - maybe that should be a new category in the relationships module...

Funky bits? A few more RDF modules come into play, Relationships to describe how well I think I know some of the Herberts in my FoaF, Dublin Core for some good honest descriptive stuff, and a Geo module to say where I am (or think I ought to be).

Today's thought for the LazyWeb, I'd really like an FoaF crawler that spits out an RSS feed, especially if it started from a given FoaF file and went away for X levels.

Update: Kudos to Phil Wilson for suggesting that I use the foaf:jabberID for my Jabber id, my FoaF is now amended. For those of you stuck in the old walled garden IM networks there are also foaf:msnChatID, foaf:iChatID and foaf:aimChatID elements if you want to enhance your FoaF.
Is LinkedIn yet another attempt to form an exclusive "jobs for the boys" style community or the start of something better?

I can understand some of the logic behind it, as a means of assisting the formation of communities of like minded individuals intent on doing business together, but I find the artificiality and opaqueness rather disturbing. Part of this is driven by LinkedIn's primary revenue stream being a tax on inter-personal communication, maybe this will inhibit their growth, but I can't see a more effective way for them to make money from the system without resorting to selling user info to spammers...

Russ and Ben are already talking about some of the ramifications of this and other FOAF networks. I wonder what it would take to be able to do this sort of thing in a user friendly manner with existing "proper" FOAF data? We already have some FOAF exploration tools, what we don't have is a sophisticated easy-to-use FOAF editor, a few more RDF namespaces would possibly be very useful too.
Tankerton Community Access Network
Chris has an very interesting proposal for a community wireless network for the Tankerton area, he's found a source of funding, all that's needed are a few more volunteers!

I'm sure Chris will blog about it in detail in the next few days and I certainly don't want to piss on his bonfire, so I'll keep the details very sparse here, but we're looking at using a handful of (up to a possible 9 or 10) LocustWorld MeshBoxes to bring cheap or free internet access and other broadband goodies to a reasonable sized area of Tankerton. Current possibilities for use include video and audio streaming and other high bandwidth apps within the wireless cloud.

Personally I'd love to get coverage down to the beach, but we're going to need co-operation from the Tankerton Bay Sailing Club or a beach hut owner to get that going.

Anyway cutting to the chase, if you live in the Tankerton or Whitstable area and you're interested in this, please give Chris or me a shout (my contact details are here).
Tuesday, May 06, 2003
May Day festivities
Erik was bugging me as to why we had the day off yesterday in the UK, personally I've no idea why but I'm sure Google would come up with the goods if you were to look.

Anyway, we spent Sunday meandering around Whitstable; Tankerton Slopes, Whitstable Castle, Whitstable Harbour, Birdies Restaurant, and back via the beach where the kids stripped off and played in the sea for a while - they're completely mad, the lifeguards' post said the water temperature was 8 degrees!

Monday, a slow start to the day, featuring a slow drag around the supermarket (is there any other way around one with three small children?), then down to the castle after lunch in time for the morris dancers, Punch and Judy, and a walk around the stalls, we missed the Maypole dancing though, there's a bundle of pictures at Simply Whitstable, but they badly need some permalinks! Finally we wandered home for a barbecue - note to self, lighting a barbecue requires far less petrol than you'd expect...
Saturday, May 03, 2003
Symbian Exposium - updates
Primarily to avoid some of the nonsense of double posting, I'm putting most of my Symbian Expo updates on Mobitopia, the overview post below will still be updated with links to the relevant articles wherever they end up. I might just post the more contentious, lengthy or poorly thought out stuff here!
Thursday, May 01, 2003
Symbian Exposium - what happened?
Here's a short post to indicate some of the things I might be writing about in the next few days. As neither my blog nor Mobitopia are news sites - although we try to be pretty up to date - and blind copying of press releases isn't our style or something we aspire to, I don't think there's any real pressure to rush these.

I've got a lot of thoughts rattling around in my head and I want to sit back, put my feet up and think about some of the implications of these ideas. If you're looking for a scoop along the lines of "here's a whizzy new phone that no-one else has seen", sorry, but I didn't see it either!

Here's some of the things I'm thinking about (it's rather cryptic, because it's a straight grab from my to-do list), I'll probably blog about most of them over the next week, and I'll update this post with direct links to the items when I've posted them:
  • Full disclosure
  • Keynote speeches
  • Developer presentations
  • Death by powerpoint
  • Series 60 from N-Gage, SX1, Samsung, and Foma? Form and factor
  • OPL, good, bad, or just ugly?
  • Thoughts on restrictive practises compare Symbian, MS, SonyEricsson, Nokia, Siemens approaches
  • Is access to a limited range of content prescribed by someone else really king?
  • Symbian's use of non-standard C++, good or bad practise?