RSS validity

January 24th, 2003 § Comments Off on RSS validity § permalink

Baldur Bjarnason writes about Mark Pilgrim’s Parsing RSS at all costs article at

Mark fails to say the obvious. All RSS is automatically generated by an application of some sort. The webloggers are end-users themselves of weblogging applications.

So we should lobby the application developers to automatically validate the RSS feed every single time it is generated and automatically fix the most common errors (unescaped ampersands).

This is a sensible thought. If weblogging tools enforced at least the well-formedness of the RSS output, a great part of the problem with invalid feeds would be solved. Enforcing the validity of the feeds itself with respect to the specifications is a minor problem because SAX-based approaches to parsing can take care of almost all incorrect uses.

But there are still some problems. Obviously, not all tool developers care about generating well-formed feeds. Some even have a history of proving feeds that are almost garbage, if feeds are provided at all. That’s the problem I see with any solution other than parsing at all costs: it may be harder to convince some providers to create tools that generate correct XML than write liberal parsers. And even if those developers could be convinced, there are still large amounts of deployed tools that won’t be upgraded and will continue to generate invalid feeds.

I don’t like this situation. As Dare Obasanjo said, it’s quite depressing. XML was supposed to bring a new age to information processing. But real life is always different, and now we must deal with those problems in a way users can benefit. After all, there is no point in creating technology that cannot add value to people lives.

Good Old Adventures

January 23rd, 2003 § Comments Off on Good Old Adventures § permalink

The creators of Xopus, a browser-based XML editor, released a new application: Good Old Adventures. It’s a multi-user chat application totally written in cross-platform JavaScript and DHTML. I’m stunned.


Lord of Light

January 22nd, 2003 § 2 comments § permalink

Although I already knew Roger Zelazny as one of the great names of fantasy and science fiction, I had never read one of his books. Recently, I was found a copy of Lord of Light in the Public Library, and borrowed it. Lord of Light is considered Zelazny masterpiece. It earned him the prestigious Hugo award, and a nomination for the equally prominent Nebula. More so, it has figured in almost any single list of the greatest works of science fiction of all times since it was published. Considering those facts, I expected a great book, and it didn’t disappoint me.

The story takes place far in the future, when the Earth no longer exists, in a planet colonized by the crew of a human starship. In this planet, a band of the first colonists achieved such control of technology that they became virtually immortal, and now rule over the descendents of the starship crew and passengers as gods of the Hindu pantheon, including Kali, Goddess of Destruction; and Yama, Lord of Death. However, a man — who was once Siddhartha, one of them, and now is Mahasamatam, Binder of Demons and Lord of Light — dares to oppose their rule.

Obviously, like in any good book, the story is more complex than it seems, and Zelazny does a good job in developing the characters and revealing their true intents and motivations as the book progresses. I won’t spoil the pleasure of future readers; it’s enough to say that Lord of Light is an incredible epic where love, hate, honor and pride will shake the very foundations of a society.

With respect to Zelazny writing style, few writers know their trade as he does. The narrative is fast-paced, and he builds a detailed and beautiful world, blending fantasy-like technology with a medieval setting in a convincing way, and captivating the reader with the richness of the imagery. He also leads the story to a satisfying conclusion, without losing control of the plot.

In short, if you appreciate a good book, Lord of Light is an excellent choice.

W3C DOM Compatibility

January 22nd, 2003 § Comments Off on W3C DOM Compatibility § permalink

For Web developers fighting the compatibility differences in the DOM implementation of the main browsers used in the Internet today, this page offers comprehensive information about the issues involved. The rest of the site is also interesting.

(via From the Orient)

Better Bayesian Filtering

January 21st, 2003 § Comments Off on Better Bayesian Filtering § permalink

Paul Graham published a new paper about anti-spam Bayesian Filtering detailing the improvements he has made to the algorithm after the publication of his original paper and future plans.

Write your own Operating System

January 21st, 2003 § Comments Off on Write your own Operating System § permalink

For those interested in creating their own Operating System, somebody wrote a nice text about the various concepts and topics involved in such undertaking.

Lembas bread

January 21st, 2003 § 3 comments § permalink

A very, very enthusiastic Tolkien fan attempted to figure out the recipe for lembas, the famous Elvish bread gifted to the members of the Fellowship of the Ring when they left Lóthlorien. Of course, it remains to be seen whether this variant has the same magical properties of the original.

Spiraling logos

January 21st, 2003 § 2 comments § permalink

I had never paid attention to the sheer number of company employing some kind of spiral or swoosh-like curve to add a “modern” look to their logos. Amusingly, there are even articles and sites devoted to criticize or satirize this profusion of curves. Also, somebody got so irritated with the swoosh that created a page to collect logos featuring the ubiquitous curve. Not only collected, but classified them. The list includes classic swoosh with a ball, classic swoosh with a star, swoosh around the company name e so on.

It’s a feature, not a bug

January 21st, 2003 § Comments Off on It’s a feature, not a bug § permalink

If think you have seen too many strange bugs in your programming career, take a look at this list of articles compiled from Microsoft’s Knowledge Base detailing weird problems with its products. Even SATAN is blamed for one of those bugs.

X-Men are not human

January 20th, 2003 § Comments Off on X-Men are not human § permalink

This is so much fun: an American judge ruled some weeks ago that the X-Men are not human. And it was actually a victory to Marvel, which was fighting a six-year battle between against the U.S. Customs Service. The reason? Lower duty rates. The U.S. Customs Service makes a distinction between dolls, which are subject to 12% import duties, and toys, which are subject to a 6.8% rate. Human figures are considered dolls, while other figures representing animals, monsters, and robots are deemed toys.

So, in 1996, Toy Biz Inc., a Marvel subsidiary, sued Customs saying that its collection of action figures should be considered as representing nonhuman characters, and consequently were toys subject to a lower duty. Duties have since been eliminated from both categories, but the case only ended on the last January 3rd when a judge ruled against Customs.

Needless to say, Marvel fans are outraged. It’s actually ironic that Marvel’s famous stance of touting characters like the X-Men as icons in the fight against prejudice was discarded so easily. Of course, business is business.

(via Cris Dias)

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