inessential by Brent Simmons

October 2008

The End

Is the final end of all productivity on the web? If you don’t hear from me again, you’ll know what happened.

I mean, this. This. This.

Reverse syndication

I wasn’t going to write about this at first. But it got stuck in my head, and I realized I think it’s pretty cool.

The widgets folks are putting together 32 NFL widgets, working with 32 online papers, one for each football team. The idea is that one paper includes content from another paper in another town when their teams are about to play.

From the widgets weblog:

The best way to explain is through a real-life example: this week the Pittsburgh Steelers are set to play the New York Giants. Leading up to the game, the New York Daily News’s website has a widget on their sports/football page with content on the opposing team — in this case the Pittsburgh Steelers — from The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The model is called reverse syndication: you can read more about it.

“It doesn’t matter what you wear, just as long as you are there”

Whenever Martha Reeves and the Vandella’s “Dancing in the Streets” comes on my iPod I wonder about an Obama victory. Will there be dancing in Chicago? Down in New Orleans? Up in New York City?

Across the ocean blue? Me and you?

Battlestar Galactica

New season intro on YouTube.

Sign fail


Shots from new Star Trek movie

They’re here.

Obama rally pics

Sheila took a bunch of pictures at the Obama rally a week ago in West Philly. This one is my favorite:

Obama rally sign


There’s a weblog by the folks who make the Perception Analyzer, which is that dial device that provides the squiggles at the bottom of the screen during Presidential debates.

More than ten years ago I actually met the guy who invented the PA, and my company even designed a small website for them.

Papa (it’s Friday somewhere)

Papa the cat

Carrot at end of stick

It’s interesting to me how the old metaphor of a carrot at the end of a stick — an incentive to the horse to keep going — has morphed into “carrots and sticks.” It’s often a “mix of carrots and sticks.”

I think it’s the same carrot, the incentive carrot, but now we get to beat people with the stick, when before the stick was there to keep the carrot just out of reach.

Before the beating, do we pocket the carrot first, then tie it back to the stick later? Not sure how it works. Also, do people — er, horses, whatever — sometimes actually get the carrot now, instead of it being forever in front of them?

Went to rally in West Philly

Obama sticker


I hate when my opponents use my full name — Peter Brent Simmons — as if, by pointing out the name Peter, they prove that I’m some kind of bomb-throwing crusadi bent on turning America into a repressive theocracy.

Give my parents a break. They were young and they had never named a baby before. It was years ago, and times were different, and anyway the name doesn’t reflect me. Plus it’s a weirdly common name in some cultures.

So: lay off, willya?

Donna Brazile not going to back of bus

I love this video of Donna Brazile. (Via Andrew Sullivan.)

Google map of coyote sightings in Seattle

Lots of coyotes in my city, looks like. (Via My Ballard.)

iPhoneLive discount code

There’s a discount code (20% off) for iPhoneLive: ip08gd20.

I’ll be speaking, along with folks like Mike Lee and Erica Sadun and Raven Zachary. (With folks like that presenting it should be a great conference.)

Fun game

Bought another iPhone game — Missile Command. Love it. Love being able to fire multiple missiles via multi-touch.

Lefties need not apply

I’ve long thought — like 85-90% of you, I’m sure — that southpaws should be barred from seeking public office, on the grounds that they can’t possibly relate to regular, right-handed Americans.

How can these sinister types know anything about our concerns and worries? They’re flipped all around. They’re mirror-images of normal people, and a hallmark of elitism is obsession with mirrors and images.

These gaucheries are often applauded for being great pitchers and for being creative, out-of-the-box thinkers. Think again, I say — with the Dow moving out of its own box, we need people who can think it back inside the box. Inside-the-box thinking is exactly what this country needs. Not strikeouts.

You may think this is an anti-Obama rant — but it’s not. Obama is left-handed, yes, but so is McCain. Sure, he comes across right-handed, but don’t be fooled. Total lefty.

Seems like no matter what we do this year we’re going south.

We’ve had other wrong-handed presidents lately: Ford, Reagan, first Bush, Bill Clinton. (At least our current president is right-handed!)

I don’t know about you — or, rather, I think I do, so I’m just gonna say what you’re all thinking.

You’re tired of the anti-dextrous. You’ve had enough of their special rights and scissors.

You’re sick of their lack of empathy for the north-limbed, the majority after all, who have suffered so long at their satanic hands.

You tell me, and I hear you, that America is all about democracy. Democracy means majority wins. Period. The southern-appendaged are not part of the majority.

And yet, here we go again.

Speaking at iPhoneLive

I’ll be speaking at O’Reilly’s iPhoneLive conference on the topic of creating an iPhone app based on a desktop app.

I’m not sure that the NDA would have affected my talk much, since it’s fairly high level. But it’s very cool that other talks can go into more technical details as needed. I’m totally looking forward to the conference.

XML parsing on iPhone

A few months ago I wrote a little bit about libxml2 and xmlTextReader — I talked about it as an alternate XML parser for use on Macs, but my real point was that it works on iPhones. It’s what I use for NetNewsWire for iPhone.

The code ran much faster and used less memory than the code I used in the desktop version of NetNewsWire — so I’ll be using this in future versions of NetNewsWire for Mac. A nice example of iPhone development benefits flowing back into Mac development.

At any rate, my point is just to provide this as a tip for anyone wondering about how to do XML parsing on iPhones.

And definitely also see Matt Gemmell’s MGTwitterEngine.

NDA appears to be ending!

Apple: “[T]he NDA has created too much of a burden on developers, authors and others interested in helping further the iPhone’s success, so we are dropping it for released software.”