inessential by Brent Simmons

February 2000


Getting to Know You! "Planning for the March 25 mini-Manila Festival in Cupertino, CA."

It's a Skatalites day.

I wonder if, come time for the general election, the Republicans will make much of Al Gore's relation to Gore Vidal. They're cousins (I think).


O'Reilly Network: Patents DevCenter.

Sheila has a cold. She's sleeping mostly -- but she'd rather be weblogging. Get well soon messages go to or her discussion group. Thanks!

My Mom now has a Manila site. She's a software engineer at Boeing -- but not working due to the SPEEA strike. Here's Mom's resumé: Software Engineer Extraordinaire. "Seeking new challenges in the development of applications based on web and database enabled technologies, especially with the use of XML." Some things run in the family! But seriously: her experience goes back to the '70s and she has an M.S. in Computer Science.

Don't miss Upgrade Now -- the argument between Mad Hatter and Mr. Peepers is hilarious. Not sure if it's real or not. If it is, it's even funnier.

Perfect attendance! I dreamt last night I was in high school and had perfect attendance. If you knew me then, you'd be laughing. I was always on some kind of report -- I had very nearly the worst attendance in my school of 1300+ students. I got straight D's -- except in AP English, where I got straight A's. In other words, I got the education of a highly literate busboy. But now my dreams are trying to re-write my personal history.

How long ago was high school for me? When the fellow Seattle-ite who does was being born. Back in my day we didn't have Manila, or even computers (at school) -- we had typewriters and the school newspaper.


I knew John Van Dyk wasn't really the Wreckin' Ball -- but I thought it would be funny to suggest it. I don't know too many people who raise chickens. I'd never actually stomp on chickens either -- but sometimes I like to think that the Wreckin' Ball, c'est moi. It's a metaphor for being tough. Is John Van Dyk tough? At least in the sense that I mean it -- strong of heart, strong of mind -- his website leads me to suspect that he is.

Foaf Survey: Is the Girlfriend Remote evil?

LinuxNewbies: March Is International Be-Nice-To-Newbies Month! "Newbies, at least here, are viewed as people who simply have not had the same opportunities as other people to become proficient at something technical. This fact does not make newbies bad, it just makes them less informed. Big deal. That's why we have the Internet."

Last night we had a 'possum sitting up on our back fence. That's the first one I've seen here in Ballard. It was way too dark to take a picture. I haven't seen racoons yet, but I know they're around. I expect to see a kangaroo hoppin' through our flower beds any day now.

Sometimes people ask "What with all these features, does anyone at UserLand ever sleep?" I can't speak for my confreres, but me, I do sleep sometimes. I spent much of yesterday asleep and didn't get up today 'til almost noon. I was a little wiped out. But now I'm back.

It turns out Josh Lucas and I have the same birthday, March 26. The first mini-Manila-festival will be held the day before in Cupertino. I hope to see Josh there. Time to celebrate.

I signed up at NoWebPatents.Org.

You can link your website to NoWebPatents.Org.

The cat is waiting for you not to make a website. Then he'll eat you. The folks pictured below are safe.

If you're not afraid of the cat yet, you should know that he has 6 claws on one forepaw, and 7 claws on the other. Freakily scary. And he's not my cat. If I tell him to back off, he won't listen. Oh no.


404 Research Lab: "All errors, all the time." Via neoflux.

I went to Rob's Amazing Poem Generator and entered the URL of this page and got this:

2 26/2000 a 

lid that twists on. 

the Mariners and wicker. Mind 

Reading Markup Language is ordered off the 

cat already got pictures. were wondering 

if you started a Betty Page another 

view. pretty much no 

sandal squeaks without 

changing any UserLand 

comHot List. 

LinuxNewbies: "So, if any of you out there were wondering if the site was slowly dying, fear not. It is simply evolving as time goes on. The site has been an incredible success, and I have received a great deal of feedback from many of the members, whom I would like to thank for their support."

Manila Plug-ins are the very cool thing we've been working on. The plug-ins architecture allows you to add new features to Manila sites in a clean way, without changing any UserLand code. You can add sections to websites, add to the Editors only menu, add legal macros, and add RPC handlers.

It's like writing Frontier suites -- except that your audience, the base of Manila users, is larger.


Dave: Notes on competing. Naturally I used Manila Express to add this link.

Dan Gillmor: How Did Amazon Get That Patent, Anyway?

I enjoy browsing EditThisPage.Com sites by looking at the search stats page -- it's another view.

I'm pretty sure John VanDyk is Wreckin' Ball from the classic Knitters song. "Well I woke up this morning', looking for kicks, went out to the barnyard to stomp on some chicks -- they call me Wreckin' Ball, 'cause I'm the baddest of them all." Here's John on Chickens, the brainless wonders and on squash hunting.

If you don't go get a Manila site right now, this cat will get you.

Jimmi is sweet -- except when he's hungry.

It's just about time to collect all the pictures into one big permanent page.

The people below are safe from the cat -- they've already got sites.


My friend John is a proud member of the Bastard Nation.

Via q: No More Flashing at Mardi Gras. I'm not saying every American city should be like New Orleans -- but let New Orleans be New Orleans. It's like with gambling: there are no casinos in Seattle, but I can choose to go to Las Vegas or Atlantic City if I want to. It's a standard feature of civilization. Instead of saying "No bad behavior ever" we tell people where and when to go to be with like-minded folks.

Dave's coffee maker. What you may not be able to tell from the picture is that the pot itself is thermos-like. There's even a lid that twists on. So you can carry it to the office and it will stay warm.

There's a Zeldman icon for '50s pin-up model Betty Page (in use below) -- and here's a Betty Page page.


More pictures were posted yesterday...


If you haven't started a website, do so right now.

Don DeLillo on his novel White Noise, one of my favorite books: "Fiction, at least as I write it and think of it, is a kind of religious meditation in which language is the final enlightenment, and it is language, in its beauty, its ambiguity and its shifting textures, that drives my work."

I like squirrels and squirrels like me.

The coelacanth is an old, old fish.

Somehow I missed this -- a new token was added to Monopoly last year.

Geeks get dressed up.

Surveys are working inside Manila.



I'm working on something really, really cool.

{userlandWidgets.zen ()}

Mind Reading Markup Language (MRML). Strawberry reports to camp -- but is ordered off the field by major league baseball. I like Strawberry: I want him to go get help.


MSNBC: McCain wins in Michigan, Arizona. What'd I tell ya? South Carolina was a gimme for Bush; South Carolina is not representative of the rest of the nation.

Here's the SuperFriends Wazzzzup commercial, in case you haven't seen it yet.

There was a Seattle Frontier Users Group meeting tonight. Social Ecology folks did a demo of OrgMail IT.

Mothers -- tell your children -- not to do what I have done. Spend your life in sin and misery in the house of the Rising Sun.


Scripting Manila. Today we released system.verbs.apps.Manila -- Manila is a scriptable application. Also see today's Scripting News.

An open proposal to Search Engine developers.

Sheila just got us tickets to the April 2nd exhibition game between the Mariners and the Phillies. Safeco field, 100 level, row 20, between home plate and first base, behind the home team dugout. Wow! I haven't been to a Phillies game in many, many years. I'm excited!

When we were down at Dave's earlier this month, Sheila took pictures of the lizards.

Mark Staben suggests that they're newts -- and links to a page with more pictures of newts. I've never seen anything like them in Seattle or where I grew up in Maryland. In Maryland we had salamanders. In Seattle, slugs.


One year ago today Sheila and I moved into our bungalow in Ballard. Sheila's got pictures.

Sure sign it's the year 2000: it's a beautiful Sunday, so we're outside pruning trees -- being careful not to cut the T1 line.

WebLogs.Com: Hot List. "The 100 sites most-linked-to by the Weblogs." At this writing, this site is 42 on the WebLogs.Com top 100 and 36 on the list.

Here's a good-looking Manila site:

traumwind: It is earth-shaking! I just keep clicking that button. I think it releases endorphins.

Cecil Coupe digs Sabado Gigante. "Do you remember the Monty Python skit 'Confuse a Cat?' Univision and Sabado Gigante is 'Confuse a white anglo named Cecil.'" I experienced the shock of recognition here, for I too am a Sabado Gigante fan, and I know pretty much no Spanish. If you haven't watched it -- you're missing out.


ManilaExpress.root has been posted as a sample. The page includes a HowTo on setting it up on your own server.

MSNBC: Bush wins South Carolina primary. My take: SC was a "gimme" state for Bush. Let's see what happens Tuesday in Michigan.

Btw -- I'm a McCain fan. While I'd never vote for him in November, and I'd probably never vote for any Republican ever, he seems so far to have Presidential character. And Dubya doesn't.

Sometimes ego surfing is a bad idea -- at least if your name is Brent Simmons. Which mine is. Mac gaming news and features, hosted by, a Manila ISP.


Scripting News: An open search engine. "With over 2700 Manila sites hosted on EditThisPage.Com, we now have an interestingly large base of content and no way to search it. Until now."

Regular expressions searching for Weblogs.Com.

Seattle Frontier Users Group Meeting 2-22-00. I'll be there!

array: Garret writes up Manila impressions from setting up clients with Manila.

Sometimes when I get tired I start clicking in circles.


black hole brain: Manila Mosh-Pit man.

Julia's Journal: there's a Seattle webloggers get-together this Saturday at the Speakeasy.

Manila Express! I used it to post this link.

We're now working on the next new feature -- this one won't be limited to IE5 users.

feckless: promiscuous browsing: "I liked Hudson Hawk." I didn't want to be the first to admit it -- but, you know, I really liked Hudson Hawk too, for pretty much the exact same reasons. It feels good not to be alone, after all these years!

Baseblog -- just in time for Spring Training. I added it to the links on the left.

New sample: suites.pikeRenderer.

What is an Outline Renderer?

My JavaScript Zen Generator used to enjoy minor fame -- back in 1995 and early 1996. It still works! But most of the links on the page are broken.

Mark Staben replies with this Shakespearean Insult Generator.


My friend John's son Oscar eats cake for his second birthday.

New Manila feature: WAP/WML support.

Dave: Let's have a meeting! "I want to have a Saturday afternoon meeting with the EditThisPage, Manila and Frontier people in the Bay Area."

First impressions from an Archipelago user.

The Register: Mac PC emulator to bundle Red Hat Linux. "Emulation software developer Connectix is to ship a version of its Mac-based Virtual PC application with Red Hat Linux as the emulator's bundled x86 operating systems." That sounds cool -- but it only sounds cool. As the article later points out, why not just install LinuxPPC? Is it just that Connectix wants to be able to put the word Linux on their web site?

Daniel Berlinger responds: "There is a big difference between dual booting a system and having VPC on your machine."

It's a beautiful day here in Seattle: total blue skies. In Southern California, Josh Lucas is getting rained on.

The sci.lang FAQ. In an alternate universe I'm a linguist.

MSNBC: Griffey’s a sensation, but pitching isn’t: "Griffey may get the headlines, but it will be the pitching that either gets the Reds to the playoffs or causes them miss out once again." The Mariners have proved this season after season. But now it looks like the M's have a strong pitching staff this year -- so, ironically, we have a better chance of getting to the post-season, even through Griffey's outta here.


Wendi Dunlap of once helped me out in a big way -- but I seriously doubt she would remember. It was around the time of the first Netscape betas, and I got a PPP account with Seanet, a local ISP. I was finally switching from my shell account with Eskimo. But I couldn't get a PPP connection with my Mac. I struggled for nearly a week. Finally I ended up talking to Wendi, Mac user and Seanet employee, who walked me through configuring MacTCP, when no one else there could help me.

carpe diem: BlogThis! and Manila That.

New Manila feature: HTML Editor toolbar.

EditThisPage.Com: Syndicating your site. "It's impossible for one person to watch 267 sites, that's why it's great that we have two tools to help sites that are publishing real content to get their new developments in front of the eyes of interested readers."

Seattle 24x7. "Local Internet news, analysis, and opinion."


Happy Valentine's Day!

My valentine has a weblog.

Eric Soroos reports two dealstoppers in Mozilla Milestone 13 running on Red Hat 6.1.

PR: LinuxPPC 2000 was unveiled at the Tokyo MacWorld Expo today.

The O'Reilly Network is linking to the Linux Text Editors page on LinuxNewbies.EditThisPage.Com. Cool! That will help bring some more readers to this excellent newbies site.

The Dr. Matt site is now searchable.

NetDyslexia: Watching them watching you.


Howard's Musings: Installing Linux 3. "Now things have started to get interesting. Not good, mind you, but interesting."

'Peanuts' creator Schulz dies at 77. I wish he was just missing, like Snoopy in that one show, and he could come home again. There's more info on specials and tributes at Peanuts.Com.

QubeQuorner: Week in Review.

Just for jazz, I downloaded and installed Mozilla Milestone 13 last night. Progress! I can see that it may eventually turn into a browser one might want to use. The display engine seemed pretty fast. A huge number of UI bugs remain, enough to make it unusable for every day browsing. (For me, anyway.) In the half-hour or so I used it, it didn't crash. I'm excited by the idea that one day we may have a browser with better standards compliance than IE 5 -- IE 5 is far from perfect, but it sure beats the current released versions of Navigator.


Sheila posted lots of pictures taken with her digital video camera she got for Christmas.

The Manila RPC spec was updated today to support custody and saving window information. See Manila RPC Update 02/12/00.

Manila and Custody. This important new feature means that only one person can edit a message at a time.

Q: Manila and #objectNotFoundHandler. Fact you may not know: the #objectNotFoundHandler, a mainResponder feature, was developed while developing Manila, originally to enable Manila's site structure feature. The #objectNotFoundHandler allows for lots more than just that one feature, and appears to be one of the most useful mainResponder features new in 6.1.

Howard's Musings: Installing Linux 2. "Talk about annoying! They give you every piece of information imagineable, save the basics of how to use something."

A present from Sheila!

***The Money Truck

Dave writes today about the money truck. So I spent a minute thinking about all the reasons why, if the money truck stopped at my house, I would handle it pretty well. But then I thought -- I'm bargaining with the universe here. As if I were trying to make my case to some omniscient power, who would then deem me worthy.

But that shouldn't mean don't think about it -- I also think about what I would do were I suddenly poor again.

A mature approach is difficult. I respect the money truck's ability to cloud men's minds.

***Random universes

What's the difference between Monty Python and Douglas Adams? The similarity is evident: British comedy that presents a seemingly bizarre and random universe. But Douglas Adams books always have an explanation, however strange, for all the randomness. Monty Python: no explanation, the universe is completely random all the way through.

Though not a comedy -- a novel about bizarre parallel universes -- The Man in the High Castle also lacks an explanation. When I first read it as a teenager I was disappointed by the ending. Now I know, having re-read the book several times, the ending is perfect. This is one of my favorite books; I feel like it's a part of me at the cellular level. A similar contrast can be made with Eugene Barnes' Finities, a recent novel about alternate realities. This one ends with an explanation. Though a fun read, the satisfying ending is somehow less satisfying. I guess I prefer books that don't end when they're done; I like books that create more mysteries than they solve.

***Windows 2000 Upgrade

I upgraded to Windows 2000 from Windows 98. So far so good. My system seems healthier. The browser doesn't crash when I close a window -- that's progress. The View Source command works again. I can save pictures as GIFs and JPEGs.

I turned off that weird fade effect with menus. It was too slow.

Unfortunately, I've lost my network connections to other computers on my LAN. I'm not sure how to restore them. I'll figure it out. Update 9:20 a.m.: I've got one of them restored -- I can get by with that, at least for a day or two.

I noticed that Windows 2000 has even more My Whatever stuff. My Network Places, Computers Near Me, My Pictures, My Download Files, My Music. Does anyone else find this incredibly condescending? Perhaps creepy is the better word.


How to Set Up a Search Engine for Manila Sites.

Jon Udell, in a post on O'Reilly's discussion group: the web /is/ the platform. "There is now an overarching framework, and it isn't one OS or another, it's a fabric of network services involving servers, middleware, and clients."

My Windows 98 machine has been getting progressively sicker. Today I lost three things: 1) the ability to shut down or restart from the Start menu, 2) the ability to do View Source on a web page, and 3) the ability to save a graphic from a web page to disk as anything other than a .bmp file. I'm upgrading to Windows 2000 tonight; I hope it helps.

Salon: Mozilla Dreams.

MSNBC: It really was time for Junior to go. "The symbol of baseball’s light-hearted innocence has assembled an enemies list that would’ve impressed J. Edgar Hoover."

Spam can be funny. One I received today begins, "Are You Tired of Spending Countless Hours Searching for Pictures of Nude Celebrities?" Oh, geez, am I ever! So tired, so many hours. If I had a nickel for every hour I've spent, I'd have... well, $0.00. But that's beside the point. The email continues, "Well The Search is Over!!!!!!" The writer is clearly enthusiastic for his or her subject.

It's a slow news day. But you can relax, I don't expect to vent about Griffey. Why should I? He's a Red. 's over.


***Griffey traded

It's official: Griffey traded to Reds.

We're not getting Jim Edmonds from the Angels -- I'm very glad of that. We're getting center fielder Mike Cameron, pitcher Brett Tomko, and two prospects from the Reds. I wouldn't be surprised if we turn around and deal some of the players to other teams, though I suspect we'll keep Mike Cameron, as we need a center fielder.

I'm sad, of course. But I also feel sorry for the people of Cleveland. Griffey's a superstar, the Michael Jackson of baseball. He was a child star, a star before he even turned 20. He was raised in the major leagues -- Ken Griffey, Sr. played baseball, and is now the bench coach of the Reds. Griffey has never had anything like a normal life; there's no way he can identify with any fans. He likes children, and children only, refusing to sign autographs for adults. His nicknames: Junior, the Kid.

Two things will happen:

1) Griffey will become disgruntled again. It's what prima donnas excel at, being unhappy. People don't love them enough. Having a disgruntled superstar is a special brand of hell I wouldn't wish on anybody. But when that day comes, I will indulge in a little Schadenfreude, and I will laugh.

2) Griffey's deficiences will become apparent. He does not hit home runs in the 9th inning to win ball games. I believe he's done that just once in his entire career. In late innings he strikes out or, at best, walks. He's only so-so at small ball: every time he slides (which is rare) he looks like he's going to break his legs. He can do some things very, very well, better than just about anybody -- but he's not magic, he's got some serious flaws you might not know about unless you've seen him as often as Mariners fans have.

I've had enough of superstars in baseball: I'd rather field a team of above-average players with heart and respect and a will to win. Superstars suck all the oxygen out of the air.

***Other news

O'Reilly: Who Runs Linux on the Mac? I'd like to convert all my old Mac servers to Linux machines.

carpe diem: My Manila Experience.

LinuxNewbies: Command line text editors. Me, I'm slowly getting comfortable with emacs.

My mom used to use treemacs, which, according to this page, is "GNU Emacs extended to allow the direct editing of tree structures." When I told her how cool it was to edit code in Frontier's outliner, she told me she used to use treemacs to work on code.

Karl Martino uses emacs on Windows and points to a couple emacs modules.

***Griffey (posted last night)

KING 5 reported on the news at 11 (Wednesday night) that a Griffey deal may be imminent. A three-team deal involving the Reds and the Angels. Seattle would get Jim Edmonds.

See Sheila's web site for more extensive coverage.

CNNSI: Done deal?

Excite: Griffey or no Griffey, Gillick has Mariners in good shape.

Howard's Musings: "I attended the last game Griffey played in Seattle. He made one great catch in center. He didn't hit any home runs. I, and thousands of others, paid special attention when he came up to the plate in the eighth for his final at bat."

Howard, a fellow Seattle-ite, recently installed Linux and wrote about it.

***CNN fonts

I got a reply from CNN. Here it is:

Thank you for contacting CNN Interactive and for providing us your input.

If you're having problems viewing our web site due to the font size, you may try adjusting the text size in your browser.

To change text size through Microsoft's Internet Explorer: Click on View, and then Text Size. Select Medium instead of Smaller or Smallest .

To change text size through Netscape's Navigator: Click on View, and then Increase font until the text is a comfortable size.

CNN Interactive offers a variety of message boards ( on topics ranging from the latest news issues, to special interest topics such as Entertainment, Books, and Travel. We also offer daily news chats ( as well as Chat Events with Special Guests.

Thanks again for your interest and keep your browser pointed to


The Community Staff

Well, forget it, I'm not going to change my browser prefs whenever I want to go to CNN. So I won't go there anymore.


Dave's home!

Andrea -- who's not famous yet, but on her way -- reviews Manila and EditThisPage.Com.

Hack-the-Planet is not (yet) owned by VA Linux.

CNN: Forbes quits race. Bye bye.

Note to CNN: please fix the super small fonts!

Other complaints about CNN's fonts: Luke Tymowski, Jason Levine, Sheila, Jim Roepcke.

At least CNNSI is still readable.

Karl Martino recommends Yahoo and Excite as alternatives.

Josh Lucas is working on a library for Java that communicates with Manila via the Manila RPC interface.

Bill St. Clair wrote about last night's DaveNet Live in Boston.

Yesterday I got on Usenet, and last night I remembered why it's been a long time: it's boring. Oh well, it's still useful, and I remember how to scan this stuff quickly.


Sheila found the words to talk about the Griffey saga.

Sam DeVore's scidZone aims to be a resource for Manila users. "Welcome to the template place."

Scott Hanson asks if anyone else is running Frontier under WINE. Eric Soroos is, but without success so far.

Daniel Berlinger posts more links regarding CERT's ferocious markup advisory.

I got some email about my statement that I wished Mac OS X were Linux-based. The gist of it was that it didn't matter, since Mac OS X should be able to run PPC Linux binaries. But here's one thing (out of many things) I wonder about: will I be able to install the same software that runs on my LinuxPPC machine? What I do is go to the LinuxPPC FTP server, download an RPM, type rpm -Uvh whatever-it-is, and it's installed. It doesn't seem likely that I could do this with Mac OS X. Maybe I'm wrong? Discussion continues...

Nicole Yates: The Philly Sports Fan's Mystique. Though I'm a Seattle-ite, I was raised a Philly sports fan. Still am -- see my comments on Griffey yesterday.

LinuxNewbies on man pages. "Foo and bar, in my view, are the bane of the inexperienced user's existence. The use of these two metaphorical examples don't tell users anything useful." Nuts -- I use foo and bar (and sometimes baz) all the time. I never thought to question it.

I got on Usenet today for the first time in years. I've subscribed to the WINE newsgroup and a few Linux/UNIX groups. I used to use NewsWatcher on my Mac, now I'm using Outlook Express on Windows. Whatever. My first reader was tin (I think), back when my Internet access was through a dial-up shell account. Jay R. Ashworth suggests I try FreeAgent.

Lots of good stuff today on Scripting News, QubeQuorner, and O'Reilly.

I asked yesterday about a POP server for Linux. Mark Staben wrote to suggest I use the servers that come with Pine.


News.Com: Corel, Inprise in $2.44 billion merger.

NetDyslexia: How to Make a Popular Weblog. Don't miss this story. Better yet, link to it from your own weblog.

I didn't realize it, but with over 3,000 reads, this page has to be one of the most popular EditThisPage.Com pages.

ViewFromTheHeart writes about the power of Heinlein novels to inspire and teach kids. Me, I'm still getting inspired, still learning, even on the nth re-reading.

***Linux stuff

Is there a Linux-programmers-newbies site? For people new to developing in C and C++ on and for Linux, not new to programming in general. Is there a Linux developers magazine, something like MacTech?

What's a good POP server for Linux? I bought this big book on sendmail, which I need in any case, but apparently sendmail isn't also a POP server. No problem. So what do people use? Update 12:15 p.m.: André suggests pop3d.

Martin Spernau suggests that a driver could allow any Linux tool to access a Frontier database.

Apple's got a page on Linux for Macs. Cool, but I wish Mac OS X were Linux-based.


Brian Hunter gets a $700,000 raise, arbitrators rule. That's a little nutty: the guy didn't even hit .250.

In other baseball news, no deal yet for Griffey. Note to whoever ends up with Griffey: he's a great player, but an undisputed head case, a prima donna. What's worse, he's so-so at stealing, lousy at sliding, uneven at bunting, doesn't hit much better than .300 in a good year, and tends to choke at the bat in late innings. Trade him already. (Okay, he does everything else better than anyone else alive, but still.)

I'm at the point where I'd rather see Charles Gipson in center field. He's no Griffey, but he's an exciting player with lots of speed and a good glove -- and he's grateful, as any pro should be, to just be in the show. From Griffey we've endured a few years of the-fans-take-me-for-granted talk, which just blows my mind. You won't hear that from Gipson.

Maybe you have to be just my age to understand. I left college in the very early '90s, in the Bush years, when the country was in a deep recession. (Remember?) Some analysts were starting to use the word depression. I was grateful to get a job at all, I didn't mind so much that I was a 20-something busboy, clearing tables in seafood restaurants. The intervening years of prosperity have not changed my attitude: if you're doing well, if you've earned some privilege, you should show some respect to the people who paid for it, who helped you get there.


Eric Soroos suggests that CERT is channelling Frank Zappa.

Scott Hanson, on getting Frontier running with WINE, says It worked... better than you said it would!

QubeQuorner: Week in Review.

***More about .asp pages and Linux

Karl Martino responds to my comments yesterday about scripts embedded in HTML files stored on disk. "ASP, on it's own, is definitely not a content management system. But you can build one with it," wrote Karl.

Jay R. Ashworth also responds. (Scroll down to the Tradeoffs... headline). I think this may be a sort-of religious issue. My experience tells me that putting everything in a scriptable database -- text, templates, prefs -- is necessary for an excellent content management system that serves dynamic pages. Jay disagrees, prefers to store at least some content as files in a file system. There's alot of middle ground here, by the way: some of our Manila sites store their picture files on our Apache servers -- since Apache is super-good at serving static files. Another example: Scripting News is edited via Manila, but the home page is written to disk and served by Apache running on a Qube.

When Jay talks about choosing the underlying platform, I'm not sure if he's referring to the OS or the webserver, or both. If you follow this weblog, you know that we're working on a Linux version of Frontier. You probably also know that Frontier is itself a webserver -- but you may also know that it's capable of running behind other servers on Mac and Windows. Will it, like Zope, be capable of running behind Apache on Linux? We haven't investigated yet, but it's of course a possibility. So imagine a possible future: you're running Frontier on Linux behind Apache. By Jay's criteria, I think you've got the right platform. However, you're still storing your pages in a database, not as files on disk -- and I think that's the crux of the issue, not UNIX vs. NT vs. Mac or Apache vs. everything else.

Update 7:42 p.m.: Jay Ashworth asked me a very good question via private email: with Frontier running on Linux, how do you use RCS for version control, tracking changes, etc.? (Or: how do you use any UNIX tool x that understands the file system but doesn't understand Frontier databases.) That's an excellent question. The short answer is, you don't, unless someone were to teach RCS how to read Frontier databases. But then there are lots of other tools that would need to be taught the same thing.

But here's my counter-question: What if I'm a Mac Frontier user, but the server's running Frontier on Linux? Yes, there are Mac clients for some things (maybe even CVS), and there's always telnet. But if I'm using Frontier, it's as easy as putting my cursor on the object and selecting Check Out from the WebEdit menu. You don't even need to know what OS the server's running.

So Jay's title "Tradeoffs..." makes sense to me now. There are trade-offs involved in running on Macs, Windows, and Linux machines.


"How to Run Frontier on Linux with Wine".

Picture editing bug fix for Manila.

CNN: Dozens hurt in Austrian protests over new government. The Austrian story can't be ignored.

David Pogue and O'Reilly: The Missing Manuals is a new series of books for software with... missing manuals.

Wired reports that Verio tried to trademark the name "Whois" but failed. Shall we point our collective index fingers and laugh? (Holy cow, there goes the moral high ground.)

News.Com: Gripes force Apple to change iTools contract.

News.Com: Organic IPO a test case in the tough services market. "New York-based EdVenture Holdings analyst Kevin Werbach said Organic should fare well because of its well-known name, established reputation and client list." Long-time Frontier developer Phil Suh works for Organic. Best wishes!

Via ZopeNewbies: Active Server Pages to be pre-installed on Cobalt servers. I'm wondering when, or if, people will realize that tag-based systems aren't a great method of content management. You're still dealing with files on a hard drive. You still face most of the same problems you face when building static sites entirely by hand. Give me templates and a built-in database and Edit this Page buttons -- then give me the ability to add macros. Now we're talking. Just adding scripts to an otherwise plain HTML file doesn't do nearly enough to make a website easy to manage and easy to update.


DaveNet: How to Make Money on the Internet.

I'm working on Manila and Pike today, taking a break from Linux Frontier for a few days.

One of my favorite sources for news is SalonHerringWiredFool.Com.

Windows Me? Something about this name makes me want to say: "Windows you, buddy." Or: "Yeah, I got your Windows right here." But I don't think I'll say either of those things.

I added a discuss link to the navigation. I added a search link a couple days ago. One of the things I'm working on is making it easy for Manila sites to have a search page. This site is my guinea pig. The way it works now is not how it will work finally.


Dave updates Scripting News from a dial-up in a hotel in Amsterdam.

Discussion about Merck and developing an AIDS vaccine continues on

Sam DeVore, scarfer of computers: "After I put the hard drives back into the sony box I'm going to try to put redHat on it. Murphy willing when you have Frontier ready, I'll be waiting....."

Wide Open News: VA Linux to buy Andover.Net. There's more about this on Salon.Com. How will this affect the editorial independence of Slashdot?

WebMonkey has an article about implementing membership in PHP. Hey, PHP is totally cool, no disrespect, but this is how to do it in Frontier: 1) Go to your Control Panel, 2) Click New Site, 3) Create a new Manila site. That's it.

I was doing some research about writing Linux daemons and learned about fork (). Here's the story, with the source of a small demo which shows how it works. Fork is totally cool. I dig fork.

Eric Soroos has done some Linux digging: "For those of you who are interested in running interesting services on low numbered ports, but would rather not be root to do it, here's the quick way to do it using port forwarding and ipchains."

LinuxNewbies on connecting to the Internet via PPP.

Carpe Diem on missile silos in North Dakota. My father-in-law, born and raised near Minot, spent the '60s doing security for missile silos in North Dakota. He says it was never anything but utterly boring, often snowy. At least, that's what he says.

misubaville: "links and news on geek culture and theory."

***Linux Frontier

The first milestone was getting Manila sites, the Control Panel, XML-RPC, and WebEdit to work on Linux under WINE. That milestone has been reached.

The second milestone will be to build Frontier on Linux, linking to libwine, and getting all of the above to work.

What I'm doing right now is stripping out everything from the kernel that's extraneous, removing large chunks of the UI and things like the COM server. This will reduce the amount of code that needs to compile on Linux, and will reduce the amount of Windows-specific code that needs to go through libwine's compatibility layer.

The final shape of Frontier on Linux has yet to be determined -- will it be a totally faceless daemon? Will it have some UI? Will it have the full UI? -- but in any case it's easiest to start with the bare minimum and add as needed. The server features are the priority.

I read on the WINE developers mailing list that Corel is working on their ports somewhat like this. They're tuning their apps for WINE first, they're not building them on Linux yet. So I'm taking the same approach.


I have a feeling that the CERT advisory on malicious tags will be the topic of the day. There's an awful lot of paranoia in this document. Language like "Promiscuous Browsing" and "dangerous meta-characters." I mean, this is the first advisory I've read that made me laugh out loud. Anyway, there's probably something in there that's important, but as I'm writing this it's too late at night for me to figure it out. I can't get past the comedy.

Dangerous meta-characters? I picture a seedy bar full of leather-clad geeks who've read too many books by Douglas Hofstadter. Can I be a dangerous meta-character too? It sounds glamorous, the right mix of bad boy machismo and post-post-modern pseudo-intellectualism.

I should be taking this seriously, but they put way too many roadblocks in my way. Malicious tags? I picture a <br> tag with a vicious bark and sharp little teeth. Or a <blockquote> throwing a Molotov cocktail. An unordered list cheating at cards. An <hr> tag robbing a bank. Good gravy.

Scott Hanson asks: "Do promiscuous browsers go to seedy bars to try to get picked up by dangerous meta-characters?"

Garret Vreeland:

At least for today, Philly Future is "The Philadelphia Region Weblog Edited By Some Dangerous Meta-characters."


I fixed the bug that caused Linux Frontier to crash when rendering outlines. It was easy, I just had to comment out one certain function, make it always return true but not do anything, and a few lines in another function. In the kernel, that is.

At this point here's what works: Manila sites, the Control Panel, and XML-RPC -- including WebEdit. Yes, we're concentrating on Frontier's server functionality.

LinuxNewbies: Support on the Fly: Loading Modules.

A new version of WINE has been released.

Corel engineering architect Gavriel State posted to the WINE developers mailing list: "We plan to start merging our changes back into WineHQ (ie: making patches out of our CVS commits) after we release." Here's Corel's WINE page.

Wide Open News: Linux Community Cool with Commercialization, Torvalds Says. Torvalds: "The commercial people are really making Linux a system that people want to use."

Connecting the dots... Here's one reason why Linus is right. Corel is devoting resources to making it easy to bring Windows apps to Linux. This is in the commercial interests of Corel. But it's also in the interests of the Linux community, because it potentially means that tons of Windows apps could run in Linux. The availability of software is one of the things that could make or break the Linux desktop.

blackholebrain has some thoughts about making Manila easier for newbies.

Happy Groundhog Day!

Scott Hanson suggests KDevelop as an IDE for Linux. I've added it to the "Linux C" page.

Amazon is testing a new home page design. Amazon would do well to remember the first law of e-commerce: Make your site work exactly like Amazon.Com.

PR: to Acquire

MacZoop gets a FAQ-O-Matic. It's brand new, still empty. MacZoop is a lightweight C++ application framework for Macintosh. (I host their mailing list, as sort of a give-back-to-the-net thing and because I think MacZoop is cool.) If you're a beginning Mac developer, it's worth checking out, particularly if you've found PowerPlant to be huge and hard to grok.


Breaking News! I finally got my environment all set up, and am working on Linux Frontier, and now I'm able finally to get function names from WINE. This page on that Kip DeGraaf pointed me to was the key.

So, it appears that what makes outlines crash Frontier on Linux is font stuff. Here's an excerpt from a backtrace:


1 0x004c8ca9 (_get_windows_font_object+0x159)


This is just preliminary results, the first crash with symbols generated. I'm sure we'll find plenty more ways to crash.


CNN: McCain wins New Hampshire Republican primary. I'm not a Republican, but I actually like McCain a little tiny bit -- and can't stand George Bush. So this is great news!

CNNSI: Reds' Bowden denies reports of imminent Griffey trade. No news is... no news.

***Dave, Davos

I talked to Dave on the phone around 1 p.m. Pacific time. Davos is finished, and Dave had a great time. He wanted you to know he probably won't be updating Scripting News for a few days.

Dave told me that, at Davos, the chairman of Merck announced testing of an AIDS vaccine. I'm continuing to look for more information about this. I don't know the full story. If you know where I can read more, please send email to or reply to this message in the discussion group.

A Reuters report on ABCNews.Com: Researchers find new possible HIV target. "Researchers at Merck Research Laboratories said Thursday they found a possible new way to attack the AIDS virus and said they hope to develop drugs that take advantage of the novel target."

According to the World Economic Forum website, Merck chairman Raymond V. Gilmartin "noted that Merck is making exciting advances on the creation of an AIDS vaccine." See Vaccination campaign for all world's children launched at World Economic Forum.

More from that page: "The start-up of the vaccination campaign, called 'The Children's Challenge' has been financed by a US$ 750 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation."

Update 2:30 p.m.: My take: Merck is developing a new approach that has shown some success in the lab, but has not been tested outside carefully controlled situations. (Not tested on animals, for instance.) The approach, if successful, could lead to a vaccine trial -- years down the road. But it may be a blind alley. In either case, Merck appears committed to developing an AIDS vaccine, which is good news itself.

Bear in mind I'm not a scientist or a professional journalist, and I haven't found much information on this.

Update 5:15 p.m.: David Theige posts a bunch more links about this story. David writes, on carpe diem: "Bottom line: the research is exciting, but we're probably years away from having an approved, effective, and safe vaccine for human use."

***Other news

News.Com: Dell sells laptops with Linux. Do I want one? Yep.

O'Reilly's Linux portal is open for business.

Qube Quorner: What's Wrong with Domino?. "Why don't I like Domino? In brief, because it sucks hard, pretty hard."

Daniel Berlinger asks, "What is it about cables that makes them the hardest part of an installation these days?"

MasterDevelopers.Com. Interviews with web developers.

I started reading Eric Idle's The Road to Mars. I'm only about 30 pages into it, but so far it's utterly marvelous. It reminds me of Sirens of Titan, which is high praise.

Speaking of Sirens of Titan, Kurt Vonnegut is in critical condition after a fire in his home. Please get well, Mr. Vonnegut.

CNN: Hope lessens for Alaska Airlines crash survivors. This city's been hit hard by this. Lots of Seattle-ites were on that flight. I myself always fly Alaska Airlines to and from San Francisco: I've taken flight 261 numerous times. Not surprisingly, for being so local it's all the worse.