Thursday, January 25, 2007

Bank Rant

To be honest, I have never been fond of banks.
I have had to sack two so far for really appalling behaviour.

I got an account at Nationwide in 2003. They have been pretty good so far .......

I was doing my tax last night, I know I always leave it to the last minute.

Nationwide is trying to persuade it's customers to stop getting paper statements, as a 'green' move, and as such I applaud it.

BUT

They only show you the last 15 months of transactions online, that means I could only find records going back to October 2005, not April 2005 that I need to do my accounts.

They clearly have not thought this through.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

New Blog domain

I just took up on the offer by my blog host, Blogger.com, to switch to their new service.

One of the new features is the ability to serve the blog from your own domain, so I have switched my blog's address to blog.fiveone.org.

I hope this does not mean that you get multiple copies of old posts or anything nasty like that ......

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Doing the impossible

I have a little personal application project underway, I have been tinkering with it for a while now in my CFT. I am not going to say much about what the application does yet, save to say, it is a kind of mashup of Flickr with itself ...... it makes browsable relationships in Flickr content that I want, but Flickr does not offer. (When it is ready you will be the first to know ;-))

The application needs to make lots of recursive calls to the FlickrAPI to get the information it needs.

Because of the Browser Security Model, it is not usually possible to make XHR calls to a REST API on a different domain to the one the page came from, so the way people generally handle this, is to set up a Proxy Server on the same domain, to pass the calls through.

Setting up a proxy to call external WebServices, opens up a can of worms, it can be very tricky to secure. Other people could use your proxy for their own services, eventually it will lead to trouble.

To avoid having a proxy that would offer anything useful to another application, my first implementation worked by doing all of the heavy lifting on the server, then sending the results pre-formatted to the client, thus closing off access to the FlickrAPI from my server.

I began to tire of this approach, it is heavy and overly complicated, the results take too long to display, the server has to work hard.

I have been doing some work with Dojo 0.4.1 recently.

Dojo has something called ScriptSrcTransport ...... it allows you to do a normal dojo.io.bind, but instead of using XHR, the call is made by injecting a script tag into the head of the document.

It sounds like an almighty hack, but IT JUST WORKS!!!

It is faster, users see results quicker, I do not need an XHR Proxy on my server.
Potentially, all the server would need to do is serve static html, css and javascript files !!!!

Cross-Domain calls to Flickr's REST API, getting results via JSONP.

This so rocks !!!!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

MacWorld 2007

My first impressions of MacWorld 2007.
This time I 'watched' it live on a combination of MacRumors.com and a group on iChat with loads of people on it chirping in from different sources and discussing what they saw, it was a laugh!

Apple TV
Nah, not interested, unless it gets hacked to play more than the kind of codecs Apple distributes it's stuff in.
Will it play the range of video that VLC does, I doubt it .....
The box seems too tied to the whole iTunes Store thing ...... don't get me wrong, I like iTunes, it is running all day here, I just do not use it for video and I don't see myself buying the kind of video Apple sells.

iPhone
Gosh, quite astonishing to look at it working!! I love all of that gesture stuff. If I can afford it when it comes out, it will be very tempting .....
On the video side, I am going to have the same doubts as I do for the Apple TV, on the music side, 4 or 8 gig do not seem like a lot, as an Internet device it looks sublime, as a phone dazzling.
The big question for me though is, will this be a closed device like the iPod, or an open device like a PC?
If Open Source and Shareware developers can easily develop for it and a strong ecology develops, it would be a killer! I would immediately want a SIP Voip client on it !!
Can you bring up a Terminal and run an SSH session? ;-)
Without an open SDK, the (astonishing) fact it runs MacOSX is largely irrelevant (except that Core Animation looks devine). So I hope they do the right thing there .....
The deals with Google and Yahoo are interesting. I am glad they went for Google not Yahoo maps. It is a shame Google do no IMAP for email ..... OH and I LOVE those little pins dropping down to stick in the maps !!
The instant messaging tool he was showing ...... is that SMS or iChat? Would SMS not cost a lot if you used it like an IM Client?

Missing
I thought MacWorld was supposed to be a developers conference, so I was surprised to see no sign of Leopard.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

New Model

I have recently been working on upgrading Apache Cocoon's powerful CForms Framework, from using Dojo 0.3.1 to Dojo 0.4.1.
The work went really well and I really enjoyed it.

What was really cool for me about this, was how my time was paid for.

Over the last few months, I have been approached by several companies that rely on Cocoon for their work.
They had specific issues with CForms, additions they wanted, changes they wanted etc. Furthermore they were willing to pay me to do work that would go directly into the public domain, benefitting not only those companies but everyone who uses Cocoon.

These guys have really got the point of Open Source !!

I've been self-employed for most of my working life.
For the last 10 years or so I have made my living as a free-lance software developer, in many different ways :
Taking on whole or parts of projects directly for clients.
Sub-contracting whole or parts of projects for companies who are servicing their own clients but don't have all of the skill they need inhouse.
Providing advice, consultancy, support, training etc.
Writing technical proposals, documentation, audits on best practises.
I have even taken on a few "Bug Bounties" :-)

Sometimes bugfixes or small additions to Cocoon result from these projects but generally these activies all result in deliverables to a client, who then has exclusive rights to them.

Being paid to work directly in the public domain is a new working model for me.

I think I did good work. I think the companies got their money's worth and I know I found it really satisfying.

I would love more work like this !! :-)

There is a lot more to do on cforms but temporarily my funding has dried up.

If you rely on Cocoon for your work, if you'd like to see any of these changes but do not have the time to do it yourself, lets talk !!




Before writing this post, I discussed the topic with a few Apache people. Bertrand gave me this really interesting link.


ABSTRACT: We introduce the Street Performer Protocol, an electronic-commerce mechanism to facilitate the private financing of public works. Using this protocol, people would place donations in escrow, to be released to an author in the event that the promised work is put in the public domain. This protocol has the potential to fund alternative or "marginal" works.


Food for thought.