Friday, September 29, 2006

Talking at the Cocoon GT

I am lucky enough to have been invited to give a talk at this year's Cocoon GT.

I am giving the talk in collaboration with Ross McDonald, Senior Architect of European Application Development for VNU.

We are talking about LDAP and Cocoon.

Here is the rough outline :

Real life, down-to-earth Cocoon and LDAP :

beginner level

- what is LDAP?
- why and when to use LDAP?
- why might LDAP, and integration with Cocoon be perceived as difficult?
- the setup and use of LDAP
- some useful LDAP tools
- a real world demo, hooking up to Mail clients
- the setup and use of Cocoon's LDAPEntryManager

intermediate level

- how to use the LDAP component from your own code
- empowering developers/designers to build LDAP applications
- a real world demo, hooking up to a web application
- some tips and tricks for large scale LDAP instances
- questions session

I will post links to the slides etc when they are done :-)

Hope to see you there .....

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


If you love Macs and you care about the environment .......

See this campaign by Greenpeace, join, write to Steve.


Or buy your next Mac Pre-Loved

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


There is something I find a bit annoying about MacOSX.

I am a heavy user of Subversion repositories, for versioning my own work, and work I do in collaboration with other people, we could not work without it. When you add a folder to SVN, a hidden folder called '.svn' containing metadata is automatically added. This normally causes no problems ....... until that is you try to keep something like a presentation made my in there.

When Apple moved from OS9 to OSX, a replacement was needed for Resource Forks. Apple came up with a solution called Bundles. Applications in MacOSX are Bundles, so are many native file-types for Apple's built-in Apps. Bundles are actually folders with more folders and files inside. If you make a document in and add an image to it, the image is stored in the Bundle. The Finder is written to treat Bundles like a single file, so that is the way they seem to behave.

When an application saves a Bundle, it writes everything out to a temporary folder, deletes the original, the renames the temporary. That all sounds like a fine approach, until you consider that the file may have been added to SVN, in which case all of the '.svn' folders are now missing, and of course SVN freaks!! The Bundle framework, or whatever the code is that is doing this, was written with the assumption that nothing would legitimately write it's own files into a Bundle, which normally would be reasonable.

Considering that SVN is built-in to Tiger, is included with Apple's developer tools like XCode ...... you'd have thought someone at Apple would have clicked by now ...... it cannot be too difficult to make their code SVN-savvy. OK, so if they don't want to have to muck about moving the '.svn' folders around, they could have to option to keep Bundles TAR'd.

MacOSX is a great platform, there is nothing I'd rather use for my work ...... but it is far from perfect .....

Monday, September 25, 2006


My brother Mike is driving the yellow D-type at Le Mans.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Thai Coup Fiasco

Reading up on reactions to the coup, it sounds a bit like Venezuela ..... a split between working and middle classes.

Lots of varied comments from Thais on the BBC News website, with many saying that they may not have liked PM Thaksin anymore, but resorting to a military coup was a big step backwards in a developing democracy.

Since he was making reforms popular with the poor, one wonders if outsiders were involved.

Tony Blair is now rather unpopular in the UK, should the British Army rise up and rid us of him, with the support of the Queen? (Umm, no thanks!!)
Hey !! Who needs to wait for the next election, eh?.

If members of a professional army have to be trained to kill and follow orders, they should equally be trained to have a deep aversion to this kind of behaviour. In my humble opinion, of course :-)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

History of the Future

Notes for the exhibition.

We need a positive message, not the usual guilt-trip.

A few ideas about how the changes, that led to a sustainable world society took place.

Scenario: People from the future return to the present day: "Fantastic!! You lot managed to solve the problem, here's how".

Campaign for real Civilisation:
A morality based, grass-roots world movement (similar to Abolition of Slavery, Emancipation of Women, Black Civil Rights Movement, Abolition of Child Labour etc.).
Figurehead : Gandhi.
Leads to a new grass-roots moral paradigm in global society that provides the position to which the UN Treaties (below) are forced to respond. (Historically these types of changes come from the bottom up).
Conspicuous sustainability, fair trade, fair use, investment in the future health of the environment become the new status symbols of the rich world.
Consumer power is taken to it's extreme.
The mass adoption of vegetarianism, makes available a huge over-capacity for food production, allowing a massive growth in local organic bio-ethanol production.
Historians still dispute the beginnings of this movement, but it is commonly traced back to an exhibition at La Villette in 2006.

Pre-Loved IKEA:
It is 2008, IKEA's new catalogue begins to hint at a new direction, with the introduction of high modularity and durability. In 2009 the first repair workshop opens in an IKEA store and takes its first items for re-sale, by 2011, half of IKEA's trade is in 2nd-hand IKEA parts traded back through the store. The 2014 Nobel Prize for Sustainability goes to IKEA's design team for promoting modularity, re-usability, durability, adaptability, repairability and recylability. By 2016, IKEA stop manufacturing new goods and focus their entire operation on the worldwide "pre-loved" goods trade.

Cars eat Shit:
2010 the government of California passes legislation that says that by 2015, all private transport must run on human excrement. Petrol stations are replaced by sewage plants across the state.

The Carbonator (has to be said with an Austrian accent):
Tracks and displays your personal Carbon usage.
It is a wearable computer, in the form of nano-transforming jewelry that shows your high status as a low carbon user. Combining GPS, wireless, bio-monitoring, multi-spectrum scene detection, voice recognition etc., it interacts with the objects in the world around you to carefully track the carbon you expend in the products and services you use and share. They log your shared usage onto your Carbonator using wireless networking etc., and can suggest cheaper alternatives.
In 2016, the UN and World Bank contract a consortium of hi-tech startups from Palestine, Sudan, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan to develop a growable (bio-computer) version that can be given away to anyone, by 2018 it is estimated that 95% of people use them and 97% of products and services are tagged.

Carbon Capitalism:
By 2018, the Euro Zone (which has grown to include a third of the world's population) votes to change the basis of the Euro from the speculative money markets to Carbon.
The value of goods and services is based on the Carbon expended in their manufacture, use and disposal. You can borrow and lend Carbon. You gain wealth by saving the use of Carbon by yourself and others, ie. in trade, you get the Carbon you save others from using. The Carbon Economy encourages local production and investment in Carbon sinks. Instead of welfare, the poor (nations and individuals) get carbon credits. The tax you pay is in the form of carbon credits to be used by the government to provide public services and invest in new infrastructure to help the population reduce their carbon consumption. The economy benefits those who produce services with low carbon overhead (the Arts are therefore encouraged). Instead of spending 'wealth' to save carbon, you save 'wealth' by saving carbon. At work, you are given a carbon budget to get a unit of work done, you keep any unused carbon credits.

Fossil Fuels (Inter)Nationalised:
UN Treaty in 2020. UN internationalises all reserves and supplies of fossil fuels, removing them from the world economy. Petrol and Diesel production are almost ceased, remaining stocks of coal and oil are only used for making recyclable plastics etc.
The treaty forms the basis of the World Carbon Bank which brings Carbon Capitalism to the rest of the world's economies.
In 2026 the UN institutes a form of Carbon Communism, by calculating the potential of the worlds Carbon Sinks, and distributes this as Carbon Credits, the same amount going to each member of the world's population.

OK, Thierry, so this is mostly mad crap ;) And probably thought and written about (and rejected) by others etc. etc. Anyway I hope some of it gives us some ideas.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Exhibition opening

There is an exhibition opening at the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie at La Villette in Paris on October the 17th. There is no website to point you to yet, and I do not even know the title of the exhibition ...... it is about sustainable lifestyles (how to live a happy life without consuming the planet).

The exhibition was the brainchild of my good friend Thierry Kazazian, co-founder of O2 and founder of O2 France, that country's leading sustainable design consultancy; and author of "Il y aura l’âge des choses légères" (An era of lighter things), a manual for sustainable design and development.

I was a product and furniture designer before I became a software developer. Thierry and I worked together on many interesting projects, exhibitions, seminars, thought-experiments.

Sadly, Thierry died last February after a long and courageous struggle with leukaemia. He is very deeply missed by many, not least his wife and two young children. I miss the laughter, we always had fun together, we could always talk about the most serious things in a crazy way, we were catalysts for each other's creativity. I am still devastated by the loss.

Two years ago, he invited me to take part in the process of developing the concepts behind the exhibition, which would then be passed on to a group of design students to do the actual work. Six of us spent two delightful weekends brainstorming the concepts. Some of us had worked together on similar exhibitions and were already good friends. I am an ideas kind of guy ..... there are few things I find more satisfying that brainstorming in the ego-free environment of people who are good at it.

We came up with some really fun and radical ideas, most of which I suspect will not see the light of day in a high prestige government sponsored exhibition.

In the run-up to the exhibition opening, I hope to publish here some of the notes from the concept stage and subsequent writings, ideas that for me just will not go away .....

..... so if my last blog post seemed a bit out of the blue, subject wise ..... now you know


The exhibition is called "Changer d'ère" (Change of Era ??) It runs from the 17th of October at Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie at Porte de la Villette in Paris.


There is a brief entry on the website of Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie, about the exhibition, here. There are no translations yet ......

Friday, September 15, 2006

Good Read

"Small is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered" by E.F Schumacher.

I am (re?)reading it at the moment ..... I cannot actually remember if I have read it before, but the ideas are so familiar, I feel I must have ..... beautifully written, ostensibly about economics, full of clear and refreshing sociological and philosophical insights.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

iTunes 7

I like some of the interface changes in iTunes 7 !!
The only downside being that iTunes Store only has album artwork for about 30% of my music :-(
I must have a pretty eclectic mix ;-)
Problem is ...... where to get the rest of them ?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Whiffy Phone

I just bought a SIP WIFI phone. I got myself the UTStarcom F3000.

With it all setup, I was having lunch today in a local café, someone called my home/office phone number, the Sipura 3K at home routed the call to my virtual PBX, which rang the WIFI Phone, because someone upstairs from the café had an open network which the phone had already used to register.

Cool !!

I have only had it for two days. I am amazed how many open hotspots there are around central Brixton!!! Central London is even more crowded with them. Unfortunately, the phone is not always able to connect to open networks, maybe they are locked down using mac addresses or something .....

The concept is wonderful, this implementation is not.

The build quality is OK.
The battery life is pathetic.
The interface is unpleasant to say the least.
The ringtones are obnoxious.
It has a built-in webserver to configure it (cool huh?), but there is no way to add people to the address book except via the keypad (AAARRRGGGHHH).
It feels like a phone from 10 years ago.

I do not imagine WIFI phones will ever get the level of connectivity that we have become used to from the GSM networks, but being based on open protocols means that there will be a much higher rate of service innovation than that provided by the dead hand of the big GSM players.

The ideal would be to have both systems on one device.

UPDATE: I have had the device long enough to say that the battery life is not so bad after all. As long as you do not leave it on, trying to find, but not finding an access point, it will happily standby for a couple of days.