Semantics Writing

RDF too

Congratulations to the RDFa folks for rolling out a release candidate of RDFa for XHTML. Now that I’ve finished tweaking site designs, my next step is to see about incorporating smarts into my pages, including the use of RDFa. In addition, I also want to incorporate the RDF Drupal modules more closely into the overall functionality. The SPARQL module still seems broken, but the underlying RDF modules seem to be working now.

The RDFa release candidate is timely, as I gather the BBC has decided to forgo microformats in favor of RDFa. This has re-awakened the “microformats vs. RDFa” beast, which we thought we had lulled to sleep. I guess we need to switch lullabies.

Speaking of lullabies, I had hoped to start work on the second edition of Practical RDF later this year, but it is not to be. The powers-that-be at O’Reilly aren’t comfortable with a second edition and have accepted another book proposal that covers some of what I would have covered in order to make the book livelier. There just isn’t the room for both.

I am disappointed. The first version of “Practical RDF” was difficult because the specification was undergoing change, the semantic web wasn’t generating a lot of interest, and there weren’t that many RDF-based applications available. Now, the specs are mature, we have new additions such as RDFa, increased interest in semantics, and too many applications to fit into one book. I feel as if I started a job, and now won’t be able to finish it.

One issue in the book decision is the “cool” factor. RDF and associated specifications and technologies aren’t “cool”, in that people don’t sit around at one camp or another getting hot and bothered talking about how “RDF is going to change the world!” However, the topic doesn’t necessarily have to be “cool” if the author is “cool”, and I’m not. I don’t Twit-Face-Space-Friend-Camp-Chat-Speak-Shmooze. What I do is sit here quietly in my little corner of waterlogged Missouri, try out new things, and write about them. That’s not really cool, and two not-cools do not make a hot book.

I don’t regret my choice of lifestyle, and not being “cool”. I do regret, though, leaving the “Practical RDF” job undone. Perhaps I’ll do something online with PDFs or Kindle or some such thing.


St. Louis cresting

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

The Mississippi is cresting this week, barring more rain. More levees have broken, but the remaining should be stable. Now comes the clean up, as well as the decisions about what to do with Old Muddy after this event. The decisions made in the past don’t fit today’s reality.

flooded St. Louis

More on the floods and flood control at a later time, but for now:

St. Louis Flooding


Editing with ecto

My last few posts at my various sites have been created using the ecto Mac-based web publishing tool. I’m still working out the kinks, not the least of which I do my own HTML, when most of the world seems to be WYSIWYG by default.

What I like about ecto is that I can create accounts for all of my Drupal installation, and control all aspects of the publication. The only type of post that seems to be a problem is creating a new image, using the images module. The ecto application persists in telling me that I have to add an image before publication, and this after adding an image.

The other popular Mac-based editing tool, MarsEdit, seemed to have problems just connecting with Drupal and doesn’t, as far as I’ve seen, seem to be able to handle multiple Drupal accounts. Besides, ecto was cheaper.


Mac Pro


Well, I’m officially dead in the water. I did create a firewire bootable image on one of my external hard drives, and had it running once. Now, however, when I go to start the machine, pushing the Option key does nothing. Trying to safe boot or single boot does nothing. Trying to boot off an install disc does nothing, and I can’t get the disc out. All roads lead to kernel panic.

Though the RAM tested as good, I have to assume it isn’t good if I can’t even get to state of being able to pick which disc to boot from. Regardless, there’s nothing I can do now until I take it into a genius bar, but since I can’t afford to replace RAM or hard drive or whatever other expensive item the Apple people will recommend, it will just have to sit for the nonce. Perhaps it will use this quiet time to meditate on the evilness of its ways.

Thanks, though, for all who tried to help. Found out some new and useful ideas for the future.

I have a question for those of you who understand the Mac quirks.

I have the last of the G4 Powerbooks with Leopard installed. I haven’t had problems with the computer until just recently, when it seemed to start running a little more sluggishly. Today, when I rebooted, I got a kernel panic. I tried resetting the PRAM and even the PMU, but couldn’t get past the kernal panic. Finally, I booted in Single User mode, and ran fsck to repair the disk.

The first time through, it said files had been changed, so I ran it again. The second time it came back with an OK message, and I typed in reboot.

I was able to get into the machine and run the disc utility to repair the permissions and everything seemed fine. However, when I rebooted again, I got the same kernel panic, and had to run fsck again. This time, I only had to run it once.

I’ve since rebooted the machine twice and it seems fine. One difference between this set of reboots and the previous, in addition to running Disc Utility, is that I also cleaned out some old files and went from 17GB of free space to 23GB.

I am worried that something might be about to go on the machine. Have any of you run into this situation, and do you have guesses as to what the problem might be? I really can’t afford another new computer, and need to keep this one going.


HTML and XHTML and bears, oh my!

James Bennett writes on why HTML is the markup for him. There really isn’t anything to agree or disagree with, because he’s expressing his personal preferences. To him, the fact that you can co-mingle different vocabularies, such as XHTML, SVG, RDF, and MathML, isn’t enough to overcome the draconian error handling (there’s that term again, death to the term). Fair enough: XHTML isn’t for everyone.

One point of clarification, though: HTML5 isn’t just HTML, it’s also XHTML5. I know that the specification is misleadingly named, and seems to implicitly promise a path away from XHTML in the future, but I’d hate that those who prefer HTML would close that road for the rest of us; somehow helping to remove the option of using XHTML for those who have worked through the XML error handling in order to reach the advantages of a truly open page markup.

Working through the XML processing becomes less of a challenge as time goes on, as tools undertake the “burden” of ensuring proper markup so that we don’t have to be so encumbered. I’ve found the htmLawed Drupal plug-in to be wonderfully adapted to solving so many of the problems I’ve had with character encoding in the past. As for generating proper markup in the post, I can either manage the markup myself, which typically consists of paragraph and hypertext links, with an occasional image or SVG document; or I can have the filtered HTML option handle the markup, as it seems to respect and not munge SVG documents.

As for site design, every Drupal theme I’ve adapted so far has validated as strict XHTML. Makes my job pretty easy.

The point isn’t that HTML is better than XHTML, or that XHTML is better than HTML. The point is we all have our preferences, and we should expect browsers to properly handle both—now and in the future.

(via Simon)