I Was Referred to AjaxPatterns.org

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I had a funny story the other day: Someone referred me to Ajax Patterns.

While researching a number of patterns, I contacted relevant developers for their take, as reflected in the pattern-specific acknowledgements. I have to say I’m very grateful for everyone’s help and most people have given me plenty of detail. While researching one pattern some months ago, I mailed a developer about some work he’d done (dang, did I just give away this anonymous person’s gender?). I didn’t hear back, which was fine as I know most people are busy and most of us (certainly me) let emails fall so far down our inbox that we forget it’s there.

Anyway, the other day I got a polite response apologising for the delay and referring me to the pattern in question, ajaxpatterns.org link and all! The same pattern I had been researching when I sent the original email! In further correspondence, he took it in good humour and said “Now you know that I’m pointing to your site as the authority on <pattern name> :-)”.

Joining Ajaxian

I’m pleased to announce that I’ve joined Dion, Ben, and Rob as an Ajaxian.com editor. Here’s [Dion’s announcement](http://ajaxian.com/archives/ 2005/11/introducing_mic.html):

  • We are proud to announce that Michael Mahemoff of the popular AjaxPatterns.org has joined the Ajaxian.com team.
  • Together, Ajaxian.com and Ajax Patterns is going to offer even more information for users of Ajax technology.
  • Expect to see cross pollination between the sites, and in the podcasts.

It will be great to get involved with the talented Ajaxian team. Ajaxian has been a great source of inspiration for the Ajax Patterns – when I created the Ajax Examples page, I thanked them for posting all the Ajax showcases, and many of those examples – as well as the ongoing community news – helped me discover and document the patterns.

Especially fun will be the combined podcasts, and expect to see and hear more info about the patterns at Ajaxian and in the Audible Ajax podcasts. Fortunately, Ajaxian.com uses a very similar Creative Contents license, so the material can be reused and incorporated in other works. BTW I’ll still post the final Basics of Ajax podcast to the standard SoftwareAs feed later this week.

We have some interesting ideas for linking between AjaxPatterns and Ajaxian. As always, please provide feedback any ideas you have about Ajaxian, AjaxPatterns, or the cross-pollination effort.

New “Ajax” Category in this Blog

I’ve been posting Ajax entries under “HumansAndTech” or “SoftwareDev” or both and holding off on a special category. I’m grateful that the Ajaxians included me in their planet.ajaxian.com feed, and that’s the tipping point for me: I still want to write about agile, OO, etc., without polluting the Ajax sphere. Hence, a new “Ajax” category on Software As She’s Developed, with all previous entries marked as such. So if you only want Ajax-related blog articles and podcasts, point your browser to http://www.softwareas.com/category/ajax/rss2 and your aggregator to http://www.softwareas.com/category/ajax/rss2.

The Story Behind “Developers, Developers, Developers!!!!”

You’re right, Jason – the voice behind “Developers, Developers, Developers” is Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. I thought it would be fun to include the clip over my podcast theme. Hearing Jason explain he had to pull over while laughing so hard makes it all worthwhile! I’ve seen few things that make people laugh so hard as the Ballmer performances, especially when you explain exactly who the guy is (“No, really!”). (Boris Yeltsin’s election campaign dance also comes to mind, though online footage is poor.)

In the podcast, I didn’t explain it, leaving listeners to either nod their heads knowingly or tilt their heads curiously. One thing I didn’t expect was a few people thought it was me (huh?)!!!! If you haven’t seen these clips, the Developers clip is actually tame compared to the “I love this company!” woo-woo effort. And if you listen carefully, there’s a little clip from that performance right at the end of the Ajax podcast.

Check out the mixup on that site too – I realy need to play it on the podcast sometime. Anyway, my podcasts are all speech for now until I work out a faster production mechanism. (Another reason to make the switch from Linux.)

Jeff Attwood was on the money when he blogged about “Steve Ballmer: Sweatiest Billionaire Ever”: “You have to respect a man with that much unbridled enthusiasm. I certainly can’t see staid, boring old Michael Dell dancing around on stage, screaming about how much he loves his company at the top of his lungs.” Dig the passion – I couldn’t agree more.

I’ve never heard the full story behind the “Developers” mantra, but I suspect it’s not what I initally assumed. Like most people, I originally assumed Ballmer was rallying the MS developers. But then I came across Joel Spolsky’s article where he uses the “Developers, Developers, Developers” catch-phrase to signify the company’s commitment to external MS developers. Joel’s an ex-Microsoftie and has great insight into the company. So, who exactly are all those clapping people in the clip? I’m guessing they’re the programmers who develop MS’s development tools, the managers who partner up with external developers, the marketing types who guide future directions … not just the MS developer community at large. Anyone, anyone?

So Graduate Students Shouldn’t Blog?

Apparently, blogging is not in the interests of graduate students. Hannibal @ arstechnica agrees:

Ultimately, I think the answer to this dilemma is pretty clear: graduate students simply should not blog, and if they do blog they should never do so under their real names. As a grad student, your writing time is much better spent producing papers that will get you feedback from the folks who you’re paying to study under. Furthermore, anything that you have to say that’s even remotely interesting to anyone other than your parents and your best friend from childhood is not worth publishing online when it could easily come back to haunt you years later.

This issue is a bit confused because it mixes personal blogging with research-related blogging.

Personal blogging is a separate issue. Personal blogs are different enough to warrant a completely separate blog from the research blog, info about your new goldfish is completely orthogonal to your superconducting material investigation.

The second, more important, issue: should research students blog about their research? Absolutely! I have a bias here because I kept my research on my homepage throughout my thesis (here nowadays, how much better would a proper content management system have been 🙂 ). And if I were doing a PhD today, I’d certainly be blogging about it. Here’s why:

  • Timestamping your ideas: A big issue is proving your work is original, and the history of research is full of stories about people arriving at the same idea simultaneously (Who invented calculus? Who invented podcas … never mind.) Traditionally, publishing a paper was a good way to timestamp your ideas. In this wired era, you can do a lot better than that. And – precisely because there’s no formal review – you don’t have to worry about the paper being rejected and delaying that timestamp.
  • Promoting your research: Academia is a battle for hearts and minds. Paradigm shifts occur, ideas swing in and out of favour. The best academics are very smart people to be sure, but they are also tireless promoters of their ideas.
  • The conversation thing: I know a bit cliched and cringeful, but undeniable nonetheless. Keep a blog, open up comments, watch inbound links, and you’ll get a lot of feedback on your writing. For an academic, that’s almost an unfair advantage. Especially important for research-industry links.
  • Saying little things: A blog is a great way to capture all the little things. Again, here’s where the so-called problem of no peer review works to your favour. Witness Chris Andersen’s Long Tail blog. He recently explained this blogging style very well: > In the meantime, a slight explanation for why I’ve been indulging in so much theory here. I originally trained to be a physicist, in part because my hero growing up was Richard Feynman. One of the virtues of physics is that it’s based on the concept of understanding the world via first principles, the underlying rules that explain all the complexity around us. … What I’m trying to do here is to establish the first-principle rules of the Long Tail. I realize that the search for a grand unified theory is usually a recipe for ending your days muttering at a blackboard covered in scribbles. But I do think that the economics of abundance are poorly understood, and the Long Tail is as good an opportunity as any to lay out some pointers to how they might work. With your help, we’ll work through some of that here and I’ll find a way to make it easier to digest in the book.

All these web 2.0isms – blogs, podcasts, wikis – can make a big impact on academia. It’s not up to “academia” to embrace them, because there’s no such single entity as “academia”. Instead, the individual entities that do embrace them will win. Some out-of-touch institutions may ignore – or even deplore – candidates who have blogs. But those institutions will only be reducing their overall quality and doing the candidates a favour anyway. The clueful institutions will take a leaf out of industry’s book and actively encourage and host research blogs, subject to sensible guidelines. It’s difficult to imagine any other way they could get so much publicity about their research, which will in turn attract candidates at all levels, not to mention external funding.

As an aside, most people don’t “get” blogging yet because they have not yet discovered the power of RSS aggregation. I was the same – I thought “why do all these people want to write little snippets of nothing when they could organise their website logically”. Until I started using Bloglines. Google and Yahoo and MS and ITunes are likely to make aggregation a mainstream thing in the next 6-12 months.

Half.com, Oregon, USA

After accidentally searching for “XMLHttpRequest” in Google Maps and discovering no such location exists, I wondered about the fate of half.com, Oregon. This is the town which changed its name from Halfway to half.com during the tulip-mania of the late 90s. Half.com the company continues as an ebay subsite and half.com the town lives on with that name.

Now here’s what made me chuckle. The town website makes very little of the name change:

Halfway (also known as Half.com), population 345, is a picturesque community located 40 miles southwest of Hells Canyon in Eastern Oregon. Consisting of hard-working, self-sufficient folks, the town of Half.com is a tight-knit community, full of tradition and camaraderie.

Now imagine doing some research on Halfway and discovering an incogruous description like that. Your reaction? Mine would be “HUH?” It certainly isn’t aiming to be a Silicon Valley copycat, so why the .com? Weird. (Come to think of it, I’m surprised all the Valley copycats called themselves “X Valley” and no-one created a “X.com” region instead.)

There is actually a page on that website which gives more info on the name change, but it’s not actually linked to. I think someone’s not too happy about the name change.

Recording Internet Radio

Updated May 16, 2005: Fixed link.

James Strachan discovers Radio Lover. I use Replay Radio, another program which records internet radio and pushes it into ITunes. The big problem is handling of timezones – it doesn’t track the timezone you’re specifying program times in, so you have to keep adjusting times to account for daylight savings in your own country and that of the program you’re trying to record.

In any event, podcasting has changed all that. And if the BBC podcast feeds rumour holds up, live audio streaming will just about become a non-issue.

A Dubious Honour: “goo….oogle Runner-Up

This post on Google Suggest has rocketed me into 2nd place for searches on “gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooogle”. And a respectable six – that’s 6 short of a dozen! – people or robots have visited softwareas on that basis (thus triggering this investigation). And guess what the number 1 hit is. Actually, don’t. You’ll cringe.

Now, it all makes me wonder: what if I’d used one more o: goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooogle. Would the world be a different place? Has the butterfly flapped its wings? Only time well tell.

Changes Around Here

Seems the market for blackjack among software developers just got bigger. The spammers have unleashed a torrent of trackbacks over the past fortnight, finally provoking me into an upgrade. So I’ve moved to wordpress 1.5, and simultaneously pushed the older podcast MP3s off here to an archive location.

Hopefully, your aggregator won’t get the old stuff again. If it does, and you feel sufficiently riled up to send an email, I bravely ask you to save me the effort and send it directly to your favourite spammer of the month.

Incidentally, huge Chapeau to the wordpress team – amazingly slick upgrade operation. Basically just replaced the 1.2 files with the 1.5, edited in the database parameters, and hit a magic URL. WordPress took care of migration and upgraded the plugins accordingly.

Enclosures haven’t worked out so well. I had to manually add them in. Since I was using an unsupported patch, they weren’t already there, and somehow the 1.5 automatic enclosure feature just isn’t working. Some googling indicates I’m not alone there. Still, it’s a great job overall – looking forward to the new plugins. In particularly, the anti-spam ones.