Where’s the touch screen

Very interesting takes on being both a technologist and a parent of a small child.

Karl writes of his baby daughter Emma:

Emma is now very, very aware of her surroundings. Her smile fills up my heart like nothing else. She’s shares it all the time now – when she recognizes faces, hears voices in the room, when Richelle or me baby talk, when she’s being changed, even when she catches a glance of Xena walking by.

Anne writes on taking her 3 year old to the dinosaur park:

I suppose if you were to take a three-year-old to dinosaur park on a blue-sky Denver day every day for the past, I don’t know, infinity days then you might have a different experience, because you’re not me. I bet you’d be bored, though, because someone who likes to read and write about technology is not necessarily someone who likes to take small humans to a playground multiple times a day.

I like other people’s children.

No, let me re-phrase that: I like other people’s children who live in other states.


Stretched thin

It was a bit of a surprise to read Russell Beattie’s closure of his weblog today. I have no doubt he’s closing it, too.

Of his future weblogging plans, Russell wrote:

Yep, after four years and almost 3,000 posts I’ve decided to close up the Notebook. There’s lots of reasons, but generally this is a continuation of the full-reset I started back in January. At first I was actually thinking about just transitioning to a more of a weekly blog where I write less frequently and was sort of cleaning everything up with that in mind. But then I just decided that I really needed a break, and that I’d really much rather start from scratch at another URL some other time when I’m ready to write again. Lot less pressure that way to do something new later on, and a lot easier to get out of the habit of posting daily now.

This is a sound idea: close down the weblog, and if you do decide to come back, start a new one at a different location. In fact, I’m not sure that most personal weblogs should remain for longer than a few years. We all change over time; some weblogs reflect change that flows along like a raft on a gentle river on a summer sunday afternoon–it’s nice. Others, though–rapids ahead! Ohmigod, it’s Niagra Falls! Whoa, someone go back and collect my teeth after that sudden switch.

In other words, we made spaghetti code of our weblog: leaving it all twisted, jumped, hacked, and pieced. When we do, do we clean it up? Or do we just walk away and start fresh? Can we start fresh?

When we move to a new town or job, we can use the experience as a way to ‘redefine’ who we are–to accentuate the good, drop the bad. To change naturally. Since people in the new locale have no expectations, the task was easier. Well, many of us have lived longer in our weblogs than we have our homes, worked with them longer than many of our jobs.

Even if we change our URLs, we still need that time away. It’s that expectation thing. I noticed when Mark Pilgrim returned, his URL and title remained the same, but the weblog is new. I like it–I’ll never be able to look at a bag of frozen peas in a man’s shopping cart in the same light ever again.

Food for thought. I need to get back to work. I hope you all liked the Fishies photos.

And good luck to Russell. I think he’s doing a good thing.

JavaScript RDF

We interrupt your regular thinking

I wrote a while back about putting RDF files out on Amazon’s S3 file storage. Why, I was asked. After all, I don’t have enough files, I have room on my server, and so on. Yup, I agreed. Other than S3 being nifty tech and wanting to be a cool kid, why would one want to use it?

One reason: it forces one to think differently about application development and data storage when you’re restricted to using web services rather than traditional file or database I/O to access the data.

Les Orchard wrote today about his S3 Wiki work:

One of the mind-bending concepts behind this whole thing for me is that both the documents and the authoring application are all resident on the S3 servers, loaded and run on the fly in a browser. The magic S3 lends is simple file I/O, taken for granted by applications in nearly every other development environment. Otherwise, JavaScript in a browser is a very capable system.

I agree that JavaScript in the browser is a very capable front end. Oh, I don’t agree with replacing Word with Ajax–why do we always see Office as the only killer app in the world and systems have to ‘replace’ it to be considered viable? But JavaScript in browsers, as we progress closer to true cross-browser compatibility, is a very powerful application development system.

However, the part that caught my interest specifically is what Les wrote about the data storage of his wiki application. He is spot on in that S3 changes how you think of I/O (Input/Output). It forces you to challenge your data storage assumptions–all the golden rules you’ve learned since you were knee high to a grasshopper. When you do, you get this sudden burst of ideas. It’s like biting into a SweeTarts candy–you’re not sure if you like the experience, but it sure gets your attention.

In my copious spare five minutes a week, I’m loading RDF into S3. I have an idea. It came to me in a burst. It made my face pucker.