RDF stuff

Just in time for the Jena conference this week, Leigh has posted links to local mirrors of useful RDF data sources. Unfortunately, as Michael Bernstein pointed out to me in a recent email, the historical site needs a new home.

I really do like Danny Ayers’ posts where he mixes tech and critters.

Dave Beckett blogs his company, or as much as he can. I wouldn’t mind hearing what he is working on at Yahoo at some point in the future. Bound to be interesting.

I’m listing these folks in particular because I know they’ll all be at the Jena conference. Should be a fun party.


Eclipse: beyond the geek

I’ve been spending time today with Eclipse, the popular development tool used primarily by Java developers. I’m using Eclipse in my J2EE development because there’s a plugin that enables EJB development for JBoss, and another plugin that enables web servlet development, and yet another that allows me to interface with a SQL Server database, and even a plugin to connect with Subversion. These are all professional development tools, more or less. Yet Eclipse is not just for the pros, or the geeks.

It’s easy to install, with installations for Unix, Linux, Mac, and Windows. I had to use gunzip and tar to unzip and expand the package for the Mac, because the machine I’m using is my older Mac; it doesn’t have the modern unzipping tools of the Tiger machines.

Once Eclipse is installed, then the fun begins. You can add any number of plugins.


For instance, if you work with JavaScript, there are several JS plugins, and even some Dojo-based AJAX plugins. Some of these may cost, others are free. One of the more popular is the Web Tools Plugin environment, which is free and sets your Eclipse up to develop almost anything web-related.

Eclipse was installed on my PC for work, but I wanted to explore the use of Eclipse as a tool for JavaScript developers. I installed it on my Powerbook, and then used the automated update and installation program built into Eclipse to add the Web Tools. How do you do this? You’re going to laugh, it’s so easy.

First, click the Help menu item, then Software Updates -> and then choose Find and Install. From the window that opens, click the Search for New Features to Install feature, and then click Next.

In the page that opens, there’s a box listing out what remote sites to check for new and updated software. I then click New Remote Site, and in the dialog box that opens, I added in:

Name: Web Tools


I clicked Finish and when given a new dialog with a list of features to install, checked the box next to the Web Tools option, and then clicked the Next button. Following, I’m asked to agree to the license terms, and from that point on, Eclipse not only downloads the tools, it also downloads all the pre-requisites needed for the tools to operate. That’s it — when it’s finished it asks to re-boot and when you’re finished, you’re ready to use the new functionality.

I created a new project by selecting File->New->Project->Other. From the list that opened, I just selected Simple, and then gave the project a name: test. Based on whatever project type is picked, Eclipse adds any supportive libraries and generated files, listed underneath the project name in the left pane.

I created a new JavaScript file by again selecting File->New->Other. From the dialog that opens, I clicked Web, and then selected JavaScript. Since I’m saving my creativity for my work, I again used the name test to name the JS file: test.js.

At this point, the new test.js file shows in the left pane, and the open file ready for edits is shown in the center panel. I type in whatever JavaScript I want. As I add new program objects, like variables, they show in the outline panel on the right. If I use a built-in object, like Math or document, when I type the period to access an object property or method, a popup window opens listing available options, and even the browser icon associated with the option.


When I’m ready to preview the functionality, I click the Preview tab that shows at the bottom of the center edit pane; the preview emulates a browser page.

Being a programmer I know that if one plugin is good, dozens are better. Shopping around, I installed Eclipse plugins for PHP (PHPeclipse), database access (DbEdit), and a CSS editor.

The latter was a commercial plugin from JointLogic, downloadable for trial for 30 days. Once installed (using the same procedure I used to install the Web Tools), I created a new CSS file using the same approach as I used with the JS file. I then began to add styles to the new stylesheet file, and as I added new elements, they would show in the outline pane in the right.

I also selected the CSS style view pallet for the plugin by selecting Window->Show View->Other and then selecting JointLogic Web Tools and then the CSS Styles. The view is listed as a tab in the bottom pane. When double clicking on an item in the outline view, such as the H1 header, a dialog opens giving options to define this type of HTML element.


After selecting the changes, and clicking OK, the edits are neatly added to the CSS document.

Eclipse isn’t an all in one tool, and wouldn’t be for folks who don’t like to tweak styles, HTML, or script. It requires a Java runtime environment, and it’s not small. But it is free, it is modular, and it isn’t just for geeks.

Thought you’d all enjoy a new toy to play with.


A bully is still a bully

Seth Finkelstein writes on the recent Maine weblogger being sued by an ad agency brouha. The ad agency dropped the lawsuit, in part because of the noise generated by webloggers. Contrary to belief, this was not the result of a ground swelling of support as much as a carefully orchestrated media event. In the post he points to, Media Blogger Association president Robert Cox writes:

The real story behind the “Maine Blogger” story is that this blogstorm did not just “happen”. I personally spent several weeks developing a media strategy which we launched last Thursday morning. The original goal was to get the story in front of 3-5 mm people by Friday night. We easily surpassed that figure and the number continues to grow.

Once we were ready to drop the story, I reached out to the membership of the Media Bloggers Association with an “MBA Legal Alert” and they responded in force. Hundreds of bloggers responded to the MBA’s request to post on this story and make their readership aware of what was happening in Maine. We also sent out a traditional press release to our “press list” and added in about 100 Maine/Travel media outlets – that’s how the Globe got the story. Once the ball was rolling lots of other folks got behind the effort and Lance was a full-fledged bloglebrity.

This kind of blog/MSM media strategy is part of the two-pronged approach we take as part of our Legal Defense Initiative. I think the real story is that this strategy can be – and has been – so effective.

Seth responds with:

And I agree – it can be, and has been, so effective. But … it’s important to realize just how old-school top-down this is structurally. In fact, scarily so. Work with people who have big megaphones, get them to echo the story, then go up the media pyramid. It’s extremely traditional. Now, the powers here were used for good instead of evil. But, still, what if it were the reverse?

I followed this story. My initial sympathy was with the weblogger, being sued by some big corporation. But then I read the Maine weblogger’s posts on his ‘investigation’ and found his effort to be flawed, and personally biased. The issue at stake was the Maine weblogger was angry at having to pay more for Pay-per-click ads, and blamed the Maine Department of Tourism because of their use of Pay-per-click. They’re driving up the prices, he cries. But then he takes his reader on a journey through implied charges of government corruption and malfeasance, hints of conspiracy, and out and out accusations of misuse of public funds and fraud.

He gave out assumptions as facts, when proven wrong he seldom retracted what he wrote without twisting it about into some new form of accusation, he brought in other organizations not even connected with the event–all because he had to pay more for Pay-Per-Click.

When, after many communications with both the state and the ad agency failed to resolve the issue and he was sued, bloggers cried out about free speech and censorship. I think on a young man standing in front of a tank in China, and I’m embarrassed.

Lots of webloggers patting themselves on the back, job well done, and bully defeated. But who was the bully?


A simple bird

3 Quarks Daily points to a wonderful NY Times magazine article on birding, stories, and the now legendary ivory-billed woodpecker.

But this is not one of those crummy stories that ends with some annoying riff about “ambiguity.” Birding is not philosophy. Birding is storytelling, and ivory-bill birding is the most exquisitely nuanced yarn of them all. It requires that you consider the different facets of the ivory-billed woodpecker from every angle. (My experience with Bill Tippit and this philosophical mumbo jumbo are but two.) There are, with some editing, 13 ways of looking at the ivory-billed woodpecker, and there is an answer to the burning question Did I see the damn bird or not? Here’s the thing — I’m not able to give the answer. It’s a birding story. Only you can.

It’s a wonderful story, and not just because of it’s focus on birding. Its about the power of faith and wanting to believe, and how this can influence even the most dedicated observationist and critical thinker.

Wonderful. I must plan a trip to Arkansas. Soon.

Sweet-and-Sour Bovine Penis Braised, With Testicular Partners…


Last of the ‘Bird

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Note from 2023, when post was recovered: Never say never.

I am closing down Burningbird.

I’ve had several different reincarnations of the Bird on this location, and the site has become an unmanageable heap of old and older…stuff. I’ve started dropping old pages and old sites–the old Alter Ego, the Practical RDF site, and so on–but each time I drop something, even more 404’s result.

As for the Burningbird weblog itself, my .htaccess rules files are a mess from all of the variations of links and tools. I’ve had Blogger pages, WordPress, my own Wordform, Radio, Movable Type. I’ve also had numerous permalink structures, links to code I no longer provide, old images that are gone or moved and so on. My .htaccess file is failing under all the redirects of so many other permalink structure changes. I had a post link fail last week because it accidentally triggered an old .htaccess 410 rule.

My site has come to remind me of the homes of people who never throw anything away. They still have their old National Geographics, Avon bottles, and disco pants that didn’t fit well when they were new, much less now decades later. Unfortunately, there is no jumble sale for web sites. One can only acknowledge the mess and move on.

I don’t want to leave others with broken links–though let’s face it, most of us have broken links in our past pages and it doesn’t really matter. Still, why add to the cruft? My plan is to clean out pages that haven’t been linked, physically generate a snapshot of this site, combine with the physical pages I’ve kept backup copies of from past incarnations– all mixed into one fixed set of static pages that can be moved without worry about weblog tool and databases. And then that’s it: no more pages at

My Hosting Matters account comes up for renewal in June, and I’ve decided to move all of my domains over to my development server. I appreciate all the support HM has given me since I started with them in 2002, but I want to play in my own space from now on. If time permits, June, and most definitely July is when I’ll be making the biggest changes to all my sites, including the static generation of Burningbird. As for hosting my ‘production’ site in a development environment: thought I may, in my various tech explorations, end up taking my server down from time to time, there’s no permanent harm in doing such and life does continue after web access failures.

Karma demands that I learn to accept that my web sites may not be up 24 x 7; downtime is an opportunity, not a tribulation.

As for Burningbird the weblog, the persona, the concept–I’m not sure what I want from a weblog, or what I can continue to deliver. I have reached a point where I am repeating myself. I have reached a point where I am repeating myself. I have reached a point…

There are a lot of good times associated with an old weblog, but a lot of unhappy times, too. I’m not having fun with my site, and I think it shows in the writing. The only fun at the site has been what you all have been contributing: in comments, emails, and your own weblogs. That’s enough to continue reading you–it’s not enough to continue writing me, or whatever me is as the ‘Bird.

It must seem as if ‘quitting’ one’s weblog is the hip new thing. I appreciate the fact that this is one of those few times I may be in with the insiders–actually, I savor the moment, wonder if I’ve developed a golden aura as a result–but this wasn’t the impetus for this change. I don’t plan on ‘quitting’, but I do want to rethink what it is I want from my online presence.

Regardless of what I do, it’s time to retire the ‘Bird. I don’t expect this to be my last post, forever, but this will be the last I write as Burningbird.