Bitches Club

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I swear I’m going to start a Bitches Club. And it’s not going to be for women only.

I’ve been researching the extent of offshoring in this country in the last week; I’m appalled by what I’m finding, especially offshoring as related to the technology field. The more I read, the more I find myself siding with the protectionists who believe we should penalize companies for moving jobs offshore, or for bringing in workers from other countries. But then I remember the great people I’ve worked with who were in this country on H1Bs from India, Russia, Vietnam, Australia, and other countries. I think about how much richer my life is, how much more open my understanding is, thanks to these people who learned a new language and stepped into a country and a culture where not everyone welcomed them.

I look around and see unemployed tech workers and I say to myself, we need to keep our jobs here, in this country; take care of our own. But then there are the webloggers from other countries who have forced me to think beyond my borders; who have screwed around with my vision and hearing, leaving me irreversibly damaged beyond Patriotic repair. People who just won’t let me think within the box.

Globalization is happening, and I’m not sure there’s anything we can do to fight against it. Or that we should. But too often corporations and countries invoke globalization and we don’t understand the implications – either the possible benefits or the potential for abuse.

It’s like technology: too many people just go with the technical flow without understanding what’s happening. Then something like a DDoS happens, and words like packet and SYN get thrown around and they haven’t a clue if something positive is being done to help them, or if someone is just yanking their non-tech chains.

I think that’s what defines a bitch to me. It’s not that you fight all the time; it’s that, at a minimum, you don’t accept what’s happening around you without at least trying to understand what that ‘acceptance’ means in the long run.

Tough decisions need tough talk and even tough actions at times . When the going gets bitchy, the bitches get going.

(I am going to die at a relatively young age from stress, aren’t I?)

Speaking of bitchy folk, Sheila Lennon introduces a new radio broadcast called Outrage Radio. What happens if you put Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, and Ann Coulter* through the Looking Glass? You get a new sport called Extreme Liberal Radio.

Sheila interviews the Outrage gang, and the responses show that amidst the passion, there might also be vestiges of humor. My favorite response back to one of her questions: “If you want a nanny, move to Sweden.” I hope this humor, and its associated perspective, continue because if I can’t handle conservatives who take themselves too seriously, liberals with flecks of foam at the corners of their mouth and a demonic gleam in their eyes also turn me off.

I hesitate when I see something like ‘liberal radio’, because I don’t think we can use labels like ‘liberal’, ‘conservative’, or even ‘libertarian’, the same again. I know so-called warbloggers who are extremely liberal when it comes to social issues and internal politics. I know fiscal conservatives who are pro-choice. And there’s even a few libertarians who believe that maybe machine guns aren’t really necessary for deer hunting.

Today is a rich and complex time. It’s not the same black and white hat, good guy/bad buy world, and cookie cutter labels just don’t work. I hope that Outrage Radio goes beyond just being ‘liberal radio’, or why listen? We’ll already know what they’ll be saying.

*Speaking of Ann Coulter, where’s the Ann Coulter of Liberal Radio, guys?

Art Photography

The illusion of perfection

My last rock story. Today if only the sun would cooperate I could finish the photos of the mineral collection and finally put this show on the road. There’s a metallic taste in my mouth and I find looking at the last broken and browned leaves of Fall outside to be a soothing counter-point to immersion in such vivid greens and blues and pinks and purples, oranges and golds and clears.

I measured my pyrite cube and found that it’s not a perfect square that it appears. Still, it’s close enough that when I showed it to my brother years ago, he didn’t believe it was natural – how can anything in nature follow such perfect lines? Today through an understanding and study of fractals we know that there is more of a pattern to nature than is apparent to the naked eye.

In fact, crystals of a specific mineral usually grow in precise patterns that are known as the crystal’s habit, a primary identifier of the mineral. For instance, Vanadinite has a very distinctive habit and color that make it quite easy to identify.

However, the appearance of consistency and pattern in nature is really an illusion; a trick to make us think we have the answers. Just when we think we’ve found the key to understanding it, nature changes. We’re then left grasping at our tattered assumptions, gazing in bewilderment at our math where two plus two does not equal four. We learned a lesson about this from the sun this week – if something so primal to our lives can suddenly change behavior, what can we depend on? Do you feel your world rocked?

Barite can be clear and precise and ordered, and there is serenity in its clean, uncluttered lines:

But it can also be yellow and chaotic, with growth in every direction. Look at the following photo – how can we believe that the mineral that formed the elegant bit of clarity above is the same mineral that formed into the messy and inconsistent crystal shown below?

Still, if a crystal can have many forms and colors and shapes and textures, there is a finite limit to its variety. Dioptase will never be red, and molybdenite will always be metallic. It is this limit that now leads me to believe that one of my samples, a lovely bit of orange-red and clear crystals, may be a fake. I cannot find a mineral that matches the color, the weight, and the shape – all three.

By color it could be realgar, but the shape is wrong; by luster it could be spinel, but the shape is wrong; and by weight it could be rhodonite – but the shape and size doesn’t fit any of these.

It is driving me mad.

It’s a pity my pretty orange rock refuses to be classified, to fall into neat little patterns of mineral behavior: this color and this luster and this crystal shape and gravity. There’s no room in the collection for mystery.


But young women don’t want role models

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Halley Suitt wrote at about .NET developer Julie Lerman and her attending the PDC (Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference). Halley mentions the usual bad ratio of men attendees to women, which is not a surprise to any of us.

I wasn’t going to respond to Halley’s post, which was fine. But I could not let a comment Julie Lerman made go without response. First, to set the scene as to the skewed demographics of the conference (white/male, as usual) , Werner Vogels’ wrote:

The demographics are skewed not only for gender but also race and age. To dominant type: geeky white guy in the 20-30 year range and balding slighty heavyset white guys between 40-50. Hardly any African or Asian Americans. The presenters are almost all fit this stereotype.

I can agree with this assessment – it fits the conferences I’ve been to, and I’ve written about this in the past. To which Julie responds with:

Werner is right about the race demographics. You do have to discount the fact that it’s difficult for people from far away to get there. We know through INETA that there are huge .NET developer communities all over the world including places like Latin America, India, Malaysia, etc. As far as the age demographics, right again. But man, this stuff is exhausting and the older you get the harder it is to do. It is amazing to me how young so many of the “stars” of our little world are

(I did write a fairly scathing comment about this when I originally posted but I decided to remove it. I don’t think any comment is necessary. )

I am writing a very extensive essay on the technology profession, sparked in part by a thought provoking comment that Dori Smith wrote in comments at

Okay, I guess I’ll be the devil’s advocate and ask, what’s so special about getting women into tech?

I’ve been working with computers for over 25 years, and I’m at the point now where I don’t recommend that anyone go into this field, and particularly not women. The analogy I usually use is that of pro sports–if you’re going to get into the field, do it for love or for money, but don’t plan on it lasting as a lifetime career.

For love: it’s all you want to do, and it’s okay that either it’ll be a short-term paid gig or a long-term free gig. You do it because you feel driven to do it, and nobody better stand in your way. These folks (both male & female) don’t need any encouragement.

For money: you know it’s not a long-term proposition, but you’re okay with getting in, trying to grab the brass ring and make some serious dollars, and then getting out. These folks (both male & female) are going to pick tech or some other field based on how much money they think they can make in a short-time, and I (personally) don’t really care whether they decide that tech’s the answer for them or not.

But if you’re going to encourage women to go into tech, you need to make sure that they know that it’s a field just like, say, sports or modeling, where youth is always going to be more important than talent. They need to know that they’re picking a career where they’ll be unhirable once they turn 35 or have kids, or even worse, turn 35 *and* have kids.

This isn’t changed by getting more women into the field. This isn’t changed by a hot job market making employees more valuable (the Internet bubble made things worse, if anything). This is (imo) changed by getting rid of the self-destructive ways in which the field compensates employees, and producing more women graduates doesn’t touch that.

So, what’s so good about encouraging women to go into tech?

I apologize to Dori for copying the entire comment, but I thought it was a fascinating statement to make, and one worth discussion. I know that it stopped me cold and made me question a lot of my assumptions. More on this later.

I’m also writing several new essays for my For Poets sites on DDoS and weblogging’s impact on the openness of the Internet (and vice versa), which I hope to put out this weekend. Too bad it lacks the sexy shininess of all that way cool .NET stuff. *giggle*

Also almost finished with the rock show. Today. But first, I’m going on a hike. Have to keep these old bones moving, or they get brittle, you know.


Now that’s Semantic Web(?)

Danny pointed out SemaView’s new calendar based product, Sherba, congratulating them on a …winning application of SemWeb technologies.

The company is using the iCal RDF Schema to create a windows-based application to manage and share event information through an interconnected calendaring system. My first reaction when I saw “window-based application” is to wince at the use of semantic web to what sounded like another Groove-like product that just happens to use RDF/XML for the data. Or does it?

According to the developer documentation, though the company’s application generates the RDF/XML data, it’s not hidden into the bowels of an application only accessible through archane, proprietary rituals or other perversions of openness. (And yes I’m including web services in this because to me, open means open — wide out there baby, just like this web page is. )

There are web services available, but more importantly to me, me being a person who believes that the semantic web is about data rather than applications, the product produces lovely RDF/XML files. Crawlable, open, plain view, accessible RDF/XML files.

Better, it gets better. Not only does the company produce the RDF/XML, it allows organizations that use the product to register their calendars in a global search directory called SherpaFind. Now you can search for events based on a set of parameters, view the calendar, download it, or best of all, directly access the RDF/XML for the calendar.

This is open. This is data within context, though Tim Berners-Lee hates that word . This is data that’s saying: excuse me little bots, sirs, kind sirs, but this data you’re slurping up isn’t just a mess of words waiting to be globally gulped and spit out in a bizarre search based on weights and links; it’s data that has some meaning to it. This data is calendaring data, and once you know that, you know that a lot.

Having said this, though, some of what I read leads me to think this isn’t as open as I thought at first glance. First, if I read this correctly, the Sherpa calendar information is centralized on the Sherpa servers. I’m assuming by this, again with just a first glance, that Semaview is providing the P2P cloud through which all of the clients interact in a manner extremely similiar to how Groove works. If this is true, I’ve said it before and will again — any hint of centralization within a distributed application is a point of weakness and vulnerability, the iron mountain hidden within the cloud.

Second, I can’t find the calendar RDF/XML out at the sites that use the product. There are no buttons at these sites that give me the RDF/XML directly. Additionally, trying variations of calendar.rdf isn’t returning anything either. Again, this is a fast preliminary read and I’ll correct my assumptions if I’m wrong — but is the only way to access the RDF/XML calendar information through SherpaFind? How do bots find this data?

Let’s compare Sherpa with that other popular use of RDF/XML: RSS. I generate an RSS 1.0 file that’s updated any time my weblog pages are updated. You can find it using multiple techniques, including searching for index.rdf files, following a link on my page or using RSS autodiscovery. You can find my site originally by me pinging a central server such as However, most of us find each other because we follow a link from another weblog. If we like what we read, we then subscribe to each other and use aggregators to keep up with updates. The golden gateway in this distributed application is through the links, rather than through an organization’s P2P cloud.

This is almost a pure P2P distributed application, enabled bya common vocabulary (RSS 1.0), serialized using a common syntax (RDF/XML), defined using a common data model, (RDF). Since it is dependent on the Internet and DNS, there’s an atom of iron in this cloud, but we can’t all be perfect. The only way to break this connection between the points is to take my site down (micro break), in which case there is no data anyway; or if we take the Internet down (macro break).

When you have a centralized cloud, like Groove’s, then you’re dependent on an organization to always and consistently provide this service. For Groove the product to work, Groove the company must continue to exist. If Groove no longer exists and the Groove cloud is no longer being maintained, hundreds, thousands, of connections to each other are lost.

The SemaView site mentions Sherpa Calendar in the context of Napster, as regards its functionality, except that calendaring information is shared rather than music. (We also have to assume the RIAA isn’t out to sue your butt if you use the application.) But Napster is based on the data being stored on the nodes — the end computers, not on the web. (Well, not directly on the wide open Web.) Is it, then, that the calendar data is stored on the individual PCs, only accessible through the Sherpa cloud? If this is so, then ingenous use of RDF/XML or not — this isn’t an application of the Sematic Web. This is just another application of web services.

(Though Tim B-L believes that the Semantic Web is based on functionality such as web services rather than data in context, I don’t agree. And many in the semantic web community wouldn’t, either. )

Without a closer look at how the product works, the documentation only tells me so much so my estimations of how this product functions overall is somewhat guesswork at this moment. When I have access to the product, I’ll do an update.

Page and comments are archived in the Wayback Machine


Cue the aircraft carrier

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

CNN has an article on the efforts made by President Bush’s keepers of the image. Considering the current state of the economy, I was given pause when I read the following:

The White House efforts have been ambitious and costly. For the prime-time television address that Mr. Bush delivered to the nation on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the White House rented three barges of giant Musco lights, the kind used to illuminate sports stadiums and rock concerts, sent them across New York Harbor, tethered them in the water around the base of the Statue of Liberty and then blasted them upward to illuminate all 305 feet of America’s symbol of freedom. It was the ultimate patriotic backdrop for Mr. Bush, who spoke from Ellis Island.

The story mentions that during one of the many trips Bush made to St. Louis to speak at a manufacturing plant, his staff covered the “Made in China” words on the genuine boxes in the background and then brought in some fake boxes with “Made in the USA” printed on them. Hard to give a speech on the glowing economy when you’re literally surrounded by the evidence of the increasing, and alarming, offshoring that’s keeping our economy down while companies post record profits.

Of course, this isn’t anything compared to the debacle of Bush’s manufactured photo opportunity aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, including the much shown photo of him in flight suit, strutting across the stage like some form of bantam rooster.

Cockadoodle doo, and here’s my cock, too.

Some may have found Bill Clinton’s escapade with Monica to be an embarrassment to the country, but in my opinion the President playing to soldier in a flight suit beat this hands down. I’m still ashamed every time they show that photo.

Now the focus is on the sign on the ship that read ‘Mission Accomplished”, appearing behind Bush during his speech. Of course, with the increasing number of deaths in Iraq, and the continuing problems in that country, we all knew that the mission was not ‘accomplished’ when the words were first televised. To counter this faux pax, he President and his staff are trying to disavow the sign, with Bush saying I know it was attributed somehow to some ingenious advance man from my staff – they weren’t that ingenious, by the way. No, this wasn’t the White House’s doing we hear, but even that’s not the truth: supposedly the crew of the ship asked for the sign and the White House was kind enough to provide it.

I keep saying to myself and others, Bush is not America. Bush is not America. We are not like that man and his playing with the media and his deals with his corporate buddies and his My God only religion and his selling America and the World short because he didn’t get to play soldier when he was younger (too busy being AWOL). We are better than that, though it may not seem like this at times. We are more honest than that, though perhaps we’re not as honest with ourselves as we should be.

We are not that gullible I tell people. But then I become afraid that we are.