Friday, September 30, 2005

NY & SF vs. iPod Subway Maps

Wired: Transit officials in New York and San Francisco have launched a copyright crackdown on a website offering free downloadable subway maps designed to be viewed on the iPod.
Words can't describe how much this disgusts me. I can't believe these public agencies have the audacity to so flagrantly abuse copyright law. Whoever is behind this should be fired immediately. Copyright law provides incentive for artists to do what they do, nothing more. Is the transit authority going to stop making subway maps? Yeah, right. These agencies have completely betrayed the spirit of copyright law by twisting it to stifle innovation. The letter from the SF BART says, "There is a widespread belief that materials published by public agencies such as BART are in the public domain. This belief is incorrect." Aren't these public agencies? Doesn't it makes sense for these works to be in the public domain? I really wish William Bright, the iPod Subway Maps maintainer, would take this to court. I'd chip in on a collection to cover the legal bills. The saddest part: Bright is holding off on posting the new maps he created because he's afraid the agencies may come after him for infringing their "color copyright." I can't blame him.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Bloglines Excavation

A few days ago, I found myself wishing I had a blog post from back in the days when I hosted my own Roller blog. Tracking the post down ended up not being worth the trouble because the only copy I had left was in a mysql database on an old, Linux-formatted hard drive sitting in the bottom of my closet. When I started this blog, I went out of my way to keep the same URL for the XML feed so readers wouldn't have to resubscribe. I was screwing around in Bloglines a couple of minutes ago and clicked "All Posts" for my blog. Low and behold, Bloglines has what appears to be a near-complete history dating back a few years including the post I was looking for! Score one for web-based readers. Now if I could only extract my old emails out of's cache on my laptop, I could throw the hard drive away. In case anyone has any ideas, I need to serve the emails up with a POP3 server in order to import them. They're stored in separate files. If I just cat them all together, will that be a valid mbox file?

WebWork in Action

In the past, I've met resistance to WebWork adoption because of its lack of books and documentation. "Struts has 50 books," they would say (ignoring the fact that you need a book to translate all the misnomers). No more! Pat Lightbody and Jason Carreira have released WebWork in Action. One great book about a great framework beats the crap out of 50 mediocre books about a crappy framework any day (nothing against the Struts book authors; Struts books are relegated to mediocrity purely by association *grin*).

Blogger Performance Boost

Blogger just came back from a short scheduled outage. Now it's blazing fast. Google fast even. So fast that this entry went up as fast as I could type! I hope it lasts.

Optimizing My Flickr Badge (Ads, Too)

The Flickr badge at the top of my blog was hanging up the entire page, i.e. nothing rendered until Flickr's Javascript came back and ran (which sometimes took a couple seconds). To remedy the situation, I replaced the badge with an empty div:
<div id="badge"></div>
Next I loaded the actual badge into a hidden div at the bottom of my page and fired some Javascript to copy the contents into the empty div at the top of the page:
<div id="hiddenBadge"
   style="visibility: hidden">
<!-- Flickr badge goes here -->

<script language="javascript">
     "badge").innerHTML =
Works like a charm! Update: Todd Huss pointed out this can work for ads, too (such as AdSense).

Flickr Innocence Lost

I usually don't go into detail about my private life (who would want to read that?), but after a good deal of deliberation, I've decided to go ahead and blog about this. Hopefully other won't make the same mistake I did.

A couple weeks ago, some sicko with a pregnancy fetish copied some of Krista's pregnancy pictures into his own Flickr account which contained various pictures of other pregnant women titled with fake names (the title on Krista's photo was "Emma"). He also commented on and tagged as "pregnant" some of the photos in our account. I only found out about it because he was clueless enough to add me as a Flickr contact. I guess he didn't realize rebranding pictures of the mother of my child as pseudo porn might piss me off. His account has been cancelled, but there's no telling who else is out there. The whole experience made me physically ill.

I originally made my photos public so friends and family wouldn't have to sign up for Flickr, but the convenience no longer outweighs the risk. I've made all of our photos private (with the exception of those in my blog badge). If you'd still like to see them, email me and I'll be happy to send you an invite, or you can just send me an invite from your Flickr account.

QOOP Flickr Poster

I ordered a QOOP poster with pictures from Dagny's first month. It's about a quarter the size of what I consider a full size poster (as advertised). Heavy stock, almost like the cover of a paperback book. Vertically oriented pictures don't work well--the top and bottom gets cut off. It'll look really cool framed on her wall though.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Authors' Guild vs. Google

According to Cory Doctorow, after criticizing Google Print's opt-out policy, the Authors' Guild filed a class action law suit on behalf of all authors of books scanned by Google Print. Now I have to opt out of their law suit? How ironically hilarious. Does this mean I'm suing my own company? ;)

Sunday, September 18, 2005

When is Flickr going to allow you to order prints?

This is the first question anyone asks when I tell them about Flickr. Are there any plugins or Greasemonkey scripts that enable this? It sucks to download the pictures into another program or reupload them to another web site just for prints.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Java VM Class Reloading

Does anyone know of a JVM that supports full class reloading? Sun's JVM doesn't seem to support schema changes. Eclipse works around the issue by loading multiple copies of the same class, but that won't work for me. I couldn't find any details on the JRockit site (though it does have some experimental JIT caching that looks neat). The Jikes VM doesn't appear to have much debugging support at all. Update: I've concluded that no JVM implementation supports full class reloading. Bummer. I guess JVM implementors care too much about perfect atomicity and consistency. I'm not too worried about a little fuziness (i.e. inconsistent state) because we're just talking about development time, not production, and I don't hear too many complaints from the Rails crowd. I'd modify an existing JVM, but my c/c++ skills are a little rusty, and the only viable Open Source JVM I know of is Jikes. I'd prefer not to do all my development on an experimental JVM. Does .NET support full class reloading? If so, that combined with the fact that C# now supports closures and implicitly typed local variables might just be enough incentive to switch. I think I'll build on Eclipse. Eclipse already plays a little fast and loose by loading up new copies of existing classes (both classes can exist at the same time). I could crawl the heap looking for instances of the old class. When I find an old instance, I could create an instance of the new class (without invoking the constructor), copy over the fields from the old instance to the new, and point all references to the new instance. If it's fast enough for the garbage collector, it should be fast enough for me. ;)