Social Media

Thoughts: Leopard and OpenSocial

Final thoughts on Leopard:

I’ve not seen universal happiness with the Leopard UI. Barely visible icons and menu bars, and excessive CPU required for unnecessary reflection/3D geegaws figures at the top of the list. Compatibility with applications, including ones like Apple’s own Aperture is spotty. The Ars Technica review was, hands down, the best. Though the language is *little used, support for Java is missing (Java 1.6) or broken (Java 1.5). Problems with installation, but liking some of the new features, such as web widget thing. The new Safari has irritated me, and I haven’t even moved to Leopard.

Since two of my three computers are outside of the minimum required for Leopard, and the other is currently configured just right, I don’t see an upgrade in my future for months, perhaps longer. I may way until I can afford an Intel-based Mac, and get the OS already installed. After all my applications have been ported to Leopard.

On the new OpenSocial initiative:

I find it humorous that a lot of people are jumping up and down on this, without really knowing what OpenSocial is or does. Marc Andreessen, whose company, Ning, is participating in this initiative, probably has the best hyperbole cutting take.

OpenSocial is a defined set of APIs, agreed upon by a consortium of companies with Google being the major instigator.

Google is not serving as a gatekeeper for this capability, other than its role in defining the API, providing preliminary libraries, and a sandbox.

The OpenSocial does not enable ‘the social graph’. This API is meant to be hosted in different social network applications, using a combination of HTML and JavaScript. This is not a web services API, which is what you would need with the so-called ‘open social graph’.

This is a way for 3rd party application developers to create an application and only have to worry about integrating it with a couple of different platform APIs, such as Facebook’s and OpenSocial. One social platform can develop widgets to another social platform, but that’s nothing more than a direct link between two applications–it’s not ‘open’, there is no universal pool of data goodness from which to suck, like bees and nectar.

This. Is. Not. An. Operating. System.

This is a way of combining several smaller (or less US-centric) social platforms in such a way that developers will find it worthwhile to port their Facebook apps over to the new platform, and Google can then sell ads.

It’s a dumb-as-rocks API: not a whiff of the semantic.

The upside to OpenSocial is that 3rd party application developers don’t have to develop for a bunch of individual platforms. Of course, most are developing now for Facebook, and the other platforms want you to play in their playgrounds.

The downside? Who controls the API? It’s not ‘open’. Currently, it’s vendor controlled and closed. Will this change? Hard to say. The other downside is that this will start another round of dueling specifications. Flickr is not part of the original list of companies supporting OpenSocial, and being part of Yahoo, this isn’t surprising. Will Yahoo then group with Microsoft and Facebook to create a competing “open API”? Or perhaps, create a third? Are we looking at the beginning of Social Font?

Hyperbole cutting facts: OpenSocial is not being released yet, does not enable the ‘social graph’, isn’t necessarily ‘open’, and only adds to that part of the web that is utilized for social networking. It doesn’t provide a thing for the overall web. Anyone using ‘Balkanization’, ‘Facebook’, and ‘walled garden’ in the same sentence should be beaten with Peeps. Especially when one considers that the instigator behind Open Social is Google.

Most significantly: Thursday is just an announcement of the OpenSocial effort. The API isn’t scheduled to go live until November. Only Orkut supports the functionality at this time. Other partners are ‘in development’. Stop peeing your pants.

Happy Halloween, 2.0 style. Nick Carr waxes glowingly on OpenSocial and even mentions “Enterprise 2.0”. Quick: someone look in his garage. Are there any odd, body size seed pods lying about?

*Joking! Don’t hit me.

JavaScript Technology

We can’t afford another browser war

It was with a sense of foreboding that I read the posts that swam past on Planet Intertwingly today. First came Mozilla’s Brendan Eich’s chastisement of Microsoft’s Chris Wilson, followed in a short while by commentary by Sam Ruby, where he wrote:

It is interesting how the don’t-break-the-web meme means different things to different organizations: Mozilla, Microsoft.

I’m not a language designer. My only stipulation with a new scripting language is that whatever constructs are added to ECMAScript4 need to be backward compatible. We can’t afford to re-write a couple of billion web pages because the ECMAScript group got clever. From what I’ve read in the past and in these new writings, Eich concurs, as do several other members of the team.

In regards to the new items added to the language: I share other concerns that ECMAScript–no let’s call it JavaScript because that’s how it’s known in the world–may become bloated and over large. I can understand about making it into a ‘real’ language, but I’m less concerned with posterity than I am getting a job done, quickly and efficiently. In other words: I don’t have any ego involved with the fact that I work with a programming language many folks consider somehow less worthy. If the extensions make a better language enabling me to do a better job, that’s great. Otherwise, leave the esoteric for ACM papers.

The future perfect ECMAScript is currently not my concern. My concern on this interchange between Mozilla’s Eich and Microsoft’s Wilson is that we’re seeing the seeds being planted for another round of browser wars, similar to what we had a decade ago. However, today’s web isn’t like the web of a decade ago, because today’s web pages are much too complex to attempt to cover every nuance and difference in implementation with if statements and conditional tests. It was especially disquieting to read comments to the effect that, it’s OK if the companies don’t agree: we can use Flash. Flash is not an alternative to open standards. We don’t need any more Flash dependency as a way of ‘soothing over’ corporate intransigence. Neither do we need more SVG plug-ins or Google cross-browser libraries. Workarounds are no longer acceptable.

Any company is going to want to implement a version of any specification that favors what they currently have, as much as possible. Of course, this is understandable. Accept the fact that this is understandable. What keeps this behavior in line is there is enough push from other forces that everyone eventually has to compromise, and no one is a clear winner. When no organization is a clear winner, this typically means that everyone, eventually, ends up being a winner.

There’s no denying that Internet Explorer continues to be a problem. I found it unacceptable that Microsoft would put in the time to create its own 2D graphics system with Silverlight, when one already exists with both SVG and Canvas (the Canvas object, not markup element). There was absolutely no good reason for this, and no amount of plushy blue monster or outreach effort is going to hide the fact that Microsoft basically did its own selfish thing with Silverlight.

There is no denying, however, that Microsoft’s browser continues to dominate (though every year, it dominates less). There is also no denying that Eich has considerable ego invested in ECMAScript–to the point where I have to wonder if this may make him overly aggressive, leading to confrontations that could injure the likelihood of pulling together a new version of JavaScript all browser makers are willing to endorse. We need a consistent platform: no matter how good the language, if a sizable number of people are using a browser that doesn’t implement it, the language is screwed, the browsers are screwed, we’re screwed.

“So I’ll expect to see no more of these lies spread by you.” No matter how angry you get, or frustrated, or peeved, if you want to work in an open standards group, particularly if you want to lead an open standards effect, you can’t write statements like this! Period. End of story. Along with the authority of leadership comes responsibility, and such statements are irresponsible. Where is Mitchell Baker? Time for her to step in and exert a calming influence. At a minimum, act as referee.

The same could be said for the Microsoft representation. No matter how subtly worded, we’re picking up our marbles and going home, neener, neener is not ‘working together as a team’; nor is it considering the true best interests of the web, in general, and of those loyal to Microsoft products, specifically.

Sam mentions that this issue is one based on culture. Frankly, from these exchanges, it seems more like a pissing contest to me.



Really hot linking

Rageboy (remember him?) gives all new meaning to the term ‘hot linking’, when he switches one image for another after finding the original was hot linked.

Rageboy done good, on more than one level. The site that had did the hot linking was equating the Holocaust with building a Planned Parenthood clinic in Denver. There are so many lies at the site, I’m surprised Bad Jesuit hasn’t been blasted to hell by the God he supposedly believes in.

This makes a good a time as any to remind folks to support their local Planned Parenthood. This organization is the only one I know of that routinely provides free cancer screening for women, as well as education and information about safe sex, as well as having a safe pregnancy. As more hospitals get scared out of providing full services for women, it is about the only organization left that provides legal, safe abortions. I realize that Bad Jesuit would rather women have unwanted children, which he, of course, won’t have to care for. Or to have back alley abortions, and hopefully the women will die — the harlots. Luckily, others of us have a more ‘Christian’ view, regardless of our religious beliefs.

But hey! The site is an equal opportunity hate site: it goes after gays and atheists, too.

Good job, Rageboy.

Just Shelley

Getting computer creaky syndrome

I hurt my shoulder a couple of weeks ago, and it’s been a bugger ever since. I hurt it when I tripped on something on the ground and threw my arms out to try and hold my balance. There was a sharp pain, deep inside the shoulder. Now it’s gotten to the point where I can’t pick up my cat, open or close my windows, or reach above my head.

My left knee, which I injured when tripping over computer cables at the dot-com I worked at years ago, is also giving me problems. Both it and the shoulder seem to be permanently swollen and achy.

I’m getting creaky, and sitting at the computer as many hours as I do in a day accounts for much of it. There is no sitting on your butt, hunched over a small machine, gene. It’s an unnatural act, and no amount of ergonomic keyboards and chairs is going to make the act more natural.

No matter how busy I am, I’m going to have cut back the time at the computer. I don’t know how people can do it, with twitter and blogs and work programming and mailing lists, but I can’t.

Quality, not quantity. That’s the ticket you know. Now I just have to figure out which of my online addictions I can eliminate. Well, aside from the obvious.


Last one leaving turn out the lights

Some discussion the last few days about how all of this has lost its appeal; there is no innovation; the party is over. About the same that was said of Seattle, once long ago, after massive layoffs at Boeing. How is it up there, in that ghost town, anyway?

All I can say to those suffering ennui is that if you spend all your time listening to shouts, you lose the ability to hear whispers.