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Mark Watson's Blog [Site] [XML]
Description: I am the author of 13 published computer books and a consultant specializing in Java, C++, and Smalltalk development. Please check out my two Free Web Books at my main site <a href="http://www.markwatson.com" target="_blank">www.markwatson.com</a>
Last Update: 07:13:57 05/26/2006

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First Fetched: 00:17:42 01/31/2004
Last Updated: 07:13:57 05/26/2006


<h3>Please try my new web blog</h3>
I am thinking of switching from using RadioUserland to .Mac for hosting my Blog. I think that I will use both for a week - then decide.
12:12:43 September 29, 2003, Monday (PDT) Source: Mark Watson's Blog
<h3>Both sides of the IT outsourcing issue</h3>
The linked InfoWorld article is a fairly good representation of both sides of the outsourcing U.S. IT jobs to other countries. I also have mixed feelings about large scale IT outsourcing - besides the obvious downward pressure on my own consulting rates, I worry that the U.S. will give up its competitive advantage in developing new technologies once competing countries develp a critical mass of technology. On the other hand, I do believe in globalization - doing work and manufacturing were it can be done least expensively - if third world country workers are not exploited and environmental concerns are addressed fairly. Like most issues, there are two reasonable sides to this argument.
08:18:13 September 26, 2003, Friday (PDT) Source: Mark Watson's Blog
<h3>Using continuations in implementing web services</h3>
I just ran across a month old blog by Chris Double on using continuations for implementing web services. Good stuff! (For Smalltalk, Lisp, Scheme programmers mostly).
08:08:46 September 26, 2003, Friday (PDT) Source: Mark Watson's Blog
<h3>Microsoft and IBM on web services</h3>
In the last several years, I have have watched the growth of two technologies: web services and the semantic web. At least web services are taking off.... The linked article is a light weight media promotion by IBM and Microsoft - still, both companies get credit for supported standards like SOAP, UDDI, WSDL, etc. For Java programmers, Sun's Web Services Toolkit offers a complete software stack - one problem though is if you read the license agreement you will quickly notice that Sun does not give you the right to use their web services kit in commercial applications (you need to but their Sun ONE stuff). Again for Java programmers, the free version of GLUE from themindelectric.com and Apache Jakarta Tomcat with Axis provide kits that can be used commercially.
08:03:28 September 26, 2003, Friday (PDT) Source: Mark Watson's Blog
<h3>Lack of computer security: virus and worms effect on productivity</h3>
Businesses and individuals take a hit on productivity because of security holes in Microsoft and other vendors software. Obviously, no "outward facing" software (HTTP, SMTP, POP, SSH, etc. services) should be written in programming languages that do not effectively trap runtime errors (like buffer overflows). The trouble is "fixing" existing systems. There is no shortage of viable programming languages with proper runtime error handling support: Java, C#, Python, Smalltalk, Lisp, Scheme, etc. What would be the performance hit of running network services written in Python or C#? Considering the hit on lost human productivity due to insecure sfotware, who cares? This is more of a concern for me than the average computer user: I get about 500 web sites linking to my site every month and about 3000 human visitors to my site a month. I get about 100 emails a month from people I did not know before - I always answer every email that I get (non-SPAM that is), so I would imagine that I am ...
10:04:26 September 25, 2003, Thursday (PDT) Source: Mark Watson's Blog
<h3>27 Israeli patriots: military pilots boycot occupied territories</h3>
These 27 pilots have my respect - they are putting themselves at risk for what they believe in. It amazes me that so many people in the U.S. think that they are helping the Israeli people by supporting the right wingers in Israel. The U.S. foregn aid to Israel since 1948 is approximately $275 billion (in todays currency - adjusted for inflation). We should be supporting the Peace Now movement, not the right wingers. Please do a web search using the keywords Israel Peace Now - you will find a lot of interesting information!
14:24:35 September 24, 2003, Wednesday (PDT) Source: Mark Watson's Blog
<h3>I figured out why Linux is such a more productive environment for me</h3>
OK, people who know me know that I have been totally enjoying Mac OS X for the last year and a half. Beautiful user interface, real Unix style development environment. That said, I will still sometimes work for a few days on my Linux workstation (and even occasionally under Windows 2000). Why am I more productive under Linux? I believe that it is because my Linux installations are always no-frills - I install just what I need to get my jobs done. This is usually: OpenOffice for writing, Java JDK, Java IntelliJ IDE, ant, apache, etc. So, apparently it is more difficult to waste time under Linux when toys and goodies are not installed. The lesson is clear for companies and other organizations who pay people to work with computers: Intall Linux on people's desk tops with just the tools they need to get their jobs done. No minesweeper game!
15:06:33 September 20, 2003, Saturday (PDT) Source: Mark Watson's Blog
<h3>XMLBeans project at Apache Jakarta</h3>
This project is new - you have to pull the code from CVS (but binaary and source drops should be available soon). I have recently used JAXB (both the Enhydra Zeus project and Sun's reference JAXB implementation) for a consulting job and in the XML chapter of my upcoming (almost done!) Java 10 Minute Solutions book. JAXB is cool stuff, and I will enjoy looking at this project that was donated by the BEA Corporation.
13:10:54 September 19, 2003, Friday (PDT) Source: Mark Watson's Blog
<h3>Must read: CS Monitor on the Neoconservatives (The Empire Builders)</h3>
Everyone in the U.S. who reads the news at all understands that the Bush administration contains a rather large percentage of Neoconservatives. However, most people don't really understand the Neoconservatives. This linked article is great overview and is very educational - a must read. One disturbing (to me) aspect of the Neoconservatives is their promotion of highly disruptive activities of the Middle East. I believe that their agenda is a real threat to all of our security - scary stuff! As an American, I have to reluctantly support the rights of fringe groups to express themselves and to use our wonderful free political process - thus I have to support the right of the Neoconservatives to push their weird and in my opinion world-threatening agenda. However, those of us who live in democracies have an important responsibility. This responsibility is to keep ourselves informed and to vote carefully. Please read the short linked article - then when someone mentions the term ...
12:12:12 September 19, 2003, Friday (PDT) Source: Mark Watson's Blog
<h3>The Tao of Programming</h3>
The linked page is on Chuck Murko's web site. Good stuff!
17:28:43 September 17, 2003, Wednesday (PDT) Source: Mark Watson's Blog
<h3>Lockeed buys Titan for $1.8 Billion</h3>
I would not care so much, but two of my ex-SAIC bosses Gene Ray and Jack McDougle (both very good guys) helped found Titan. Way to go!
13:15:11 September 16, 2003, Tuesday (PDT) Source: Mark Watson's Blog
<h3>More thoughts on using multiple programming languages</h3>
I have had the opportunity to use a few technologies for mixing and matching programs written in different programming languages in the last month: CORBA, SOAP, and the simple XML over HTTP (i.e., REST like RPC). Sure, it is a hassle using RPC compared to building large monolithic applications, but I find that not only are different programming languages best for some tasks, but often key utility libraries are available only for some languages. While I really like CORBA, and I have CORBA support in Java and Smalltalk, other languages which I find useful like Common LISP and Prolog either don't have CORBA support, or it is expensive. Although not a perfect solution, I keep coming back to writing HTTP servers that use URL encoding to specify a "function name" and arguments - usually returning an XML payload makes sense. In principle, SOAP is a better way to go, but XML over HTTP is much easier to implement.
13:03:38 September 16, 2003, Tuesday (PDT) Source: Mark Watson's Blog
<h3>Well thought out editorial on Israeli Haaretz news site on Middle East problems</h3>
The linked article seems well balanced and makes a lot of sense to me. I think that Haaretz is one of the better sourrces of news in Israel - and this article reinforces that opinion. There is a large minority of Israelis who strongly disagree with the actions of the right wing government - this article reflects this rational opinion.
12:43:04 September 16, 2003, Tuesday (PDT) Source: Mark Watson's Blog
<h3>HP Semantic Web Research web site</h3>
The link is to HP's web site for their free semantic web tools. Check out Jena.
09:25:10 September 16, 2003, Tuesday (PDT) Source: Mark Watson's Blog
<h3>Fascinating: MSNBC Interactive history of Israeli settlements on the West Bank</h3>
MSNBC has a fascinating interactive history of the Israeli settlements. I thought that the settlements were few and far between - I was wrong about that. The West Bank is covered with Israeli settlements (which, by the way, I think are illegal under international law). Anyway, check out the linked MSNBC site and watch the display while choosing: 1914 -> 1948 -> 1977 -> Present time.
07:19:21 September 16, 2003, Tuesday (PDT) Source: Mark Watson's Blog
<h3>Cool Semantic Web tool: RDFAuthor</h3>
If you are interested in the Semantic Web, check out the linked site. Very cool RDF authoring tool! It may be wishful thinking on my part, but I think that support for the Semantic Web is going to finaally take off in the not so distant future. I suspect that RDF markup, etc. will first be widely used on Corporate private LANs as the means for finding information - then people might be motivated to take the effort to mark up publicly available information.
17:17:32 September 15, 2003, Monday (PDT) Source: Mark Watson's Blog
<h3>Israel's nuclear weapons: what problems for the U.S.?</h3>
We in the U.S. are Israel's only allies on planet earth. We give about 70% of all of our foreign aid to Israel, much in military support. As a U.S. citizen, I worry about our responsibility for Israel's actions. Israel, having the U.S. as an ally, has always refused to take part in any international non-proliferation treaties. They do not have to: the U.S. has vetoed approximately 32 otherwise unanimous UN security council resolutions that called Israel to task for their actions. While I absolutely condemn the actions of militant Palestinian bombers and their leaders, they are not the responsibility of the U.S. - we do not fund them. I noticed on the news that presidential candidate Dean expressed some reasonable observations about Israel - then Liberman pounced all over him. I would like to see real dialog in our country over our unconditional support for Israel without the pro-Israeli lobby slinging "anti-semitic mud" at people. It should be OK to calmly and rationally discuss ...
17:06:45 September 15, 2003, Monday (PDT) Source: Mark Watson's Blog
<h3>A great NYT editorial on Israel's wall in Palestinian territory</h3>
New York Times writer Thomas Friedman frequently travels to the middle east and talks with people on all sides of the conflict there. I think that Friedman writes with real compassion for all the people in the middle east. By the way: Friedman's ideas are very similar to a friend of mine who is an Israeli citizen. Friedman tells it like it is: "Qalqilya is surrounded by fences on three sides - to shut it off not only from Israel proper to the west, but also from West Bank Jewish settlements to the north and south. You can get out of Qalqilya only by going through a single Israeli checkpoint, where Palestinians often wait in line for hours."
16:48:38 September 14, 2003, Sunday (PDT) Source: Mark Watson's Blog
<h3>The Economist on Open Source Software</h3>
The linked article is being discussed on Slashdot. The Economist article accurately discusses the danger of Open Source to Microsoft's business and mentions the dangers of proprietary document formats (this is also being actively discussed on Slashdot).
09:46:15 September 14, 2003, Sunday (PDT) Source: Mark Watson's Blog
<h3>A personal note on the death of Edward Teller</h3>
The physicist Edward Teller died a few days ago. He was partially responsible for hiring my Dad in the physics department at UC Berkeley when I was a little kid, and I remember him (a little) as being charming and a nice guy.
15:26:33 September 11, 2003, Thursday (PDT) Source: Mark Watson's Blog
<h3>Why complain if people want to use their own choice of programming languages?</h3>
James likes to bash the use of Java (see his linked web blog article). Funny because his favorite language Smalltalk has so much going for it - no need to bash other languages, just pump up the advantages of Smalltalk. Anyway, just a suggestion :-)
15:22:25 September 11, 2003, Thursday (PDT) Source: Mark Watson's Blog
<h3>The danger and costs of proprietary file formats</h3>
Time passes. Historically, it has always been a hassle and expensive to maintain access to old legacy data. Sure, there are problems with media: nine track tapes go bad, the organic die in CDRs fades causing errors, etc. The problem is so much worse now because people unthinkingly (did I just make up a new word :-) store vital corporate data in proprietary file formats. A good example (but there are many) is the frequenty changing Microsoft Word file formats. As a Microsoft stock holder far be it for me to unfairly criticize Microsoft for changing file formats to force people to upgrade to new versions of products that they do not need to do their work (but as a stock holder, I would like to tell them to stop it.) It does not take much imagination to picture scenarios where organizations no longer have the required software to read proprietary file formats - producing diasterous results. Like most people, I am very concerned with government spending: I would like to see our ...
07:53:49 September 6, 2003, Saturday (PDT) Source: Mark Watson's Blog
<h3>Apple does it right: video editing</h3>
I finally bought a digital video camera a few weeks ago before leaving on our vacation (a Canon ZR-50 - for $380 from digibuy.com, a good deal - it supports manual exposure and focusing, which I like). I have two cheap Macs: an iBook and an old 450 Mhz G4 tower that my Dad gave me last year when he upgraded. Both run the most excellent iMovie video editing application. My wife and I were both pleased at how simple it is to edit video using iMovie - Apple really did it right with free video editing support for Mac OS X. My Dad does high end video editing and animation and has all of the professional software packages, but for now (and the forseeable future) I think that the free iMovie will work for us. Now all we need to do is to start using the tripod when we take video :-) BTW, while I am heaping praise on Apple: even though I keep Windows 2000 and Linux servers around for various work tasks, I do almost all of my Java, Common LISP, Python, Prolog, Smalltalk, etc. programming ...
09:54:24 September 5, 2003, Friday (PDT) Source: Mark Watson's Blog
<h3>I am back from vacation</h3>
My wife Carol and I are back home after a great vacation. We started and ended our trip in San Diego, visiting family and helping my Mom get through her second knee replacement surgery. (She is doing fine.) We left on a one week road trip from San Diego wih our friends Tom and Cheryl. We visited Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, and a small vinyard owned by Tom's brother. All around, a great trip! It is good to be home in Sedona, but now I need to get to work on my latest Java book and re-synch with consulting work.
08:16:41 September 3, 2003, Wednesday (PDT) Source: Mark Watson's Blog