Eclipse Takes the Lead

March 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Two years ago I was complaining about how heavy IDEs are. Not sure if any of Eclipse contributors read my blog, but it looks like Eclipse is taking the lead in this area. The Eclipse Foundation readies a browser-based IDE.

While this is still a baby step targeting only HTML and JavaScript development, it is in the right direction. While to my knowledge Eclipse will become the first browser-based IDE, it is not the first web-based development tool. Yahoo Pipes and content management systems are just a couple of examples. If you know other good examples, please let me know.

This is what I would like to see next.

2011 in review

December 31, 2011 Leave a comment

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

 

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Categories: blog

Occupy Wall Street Is a Failed Revolution

November 21, 2011 Leave a comment

News about the Occupy Wall Street protests and their clones are still in the media and we will continue to hear them, but I think not for too long.

The Occupy Wall Street movement likens itself to the Arab Spring, calls that it represents 99% of all population of the United States. But like it or not, this is a big stretch. I believe that the movement will fail to deliver anything for a few reasons that distinguish it from the Arab Spring.

  1. Demographics. For some reason, the media does not talk about this much, but I believe this is the primary reason. If you look at the median age of the population where protests took place, you will see that it mainly varies from 18 to 32 years. That is a half of the population is younger than 18-32 years old. As people get older they are getting wiser and tend to play safe.
  2. Wealth. Obviously, youth does not have much to loose. Especially in poor countries in the Middle East and North Africa. In the United States the median age is above 36 years. Now, take into account the number of baby-boomers in spite of all recessions and financial crises accumulated enough money to be concerned about any calamity that could evaporate all their retirement savings. If you subtract baby-boomers (and children, of course), it is roughly 50% (around 140 million people of age 18 – 50 out of a bit over 300 million people of the entire population). So 99% is an overstatement.
  3. Goals. Protesters in the Arab Spring countries had a clear goal. The Occupy Wall Street movement does not have a clear goal. Anger is justified, but misdirected. Any meaningful discussions about goals would break up the movement.
  4. Climate. The winter is around the corner. Obviously, it is colder than to the South and East of the Mediterranean Sea and it will not get warmer for a few more months.

In essence, this is mostly about getting enough support to gain a critical mass.

The situation can change rapidly if retirement savings do evaporate due to a political or economic gridlock.

Double Standards

November 6, 2011 Leave a comment

There are some things that raise your eyebrows. If you hear news here and there and do not relate them, they are just news. But when you relate them, this is a different story. Like this one.

This summer-fall Apple was trying to convince the government to spend more on research and development projects saying that many great things came out of defense projects (I guess, they liked Siri). Let me say it this way. Apple asks the government to spend more money on research and development hoping to get some benefits. A few weeks later Apple, Google, and Cisco (yes, no fight there, full agreement) tries to press the government for a 1 trillion tax holiday (or roughly $3.3K per capita). What is wrong in this picture? The companies want to get benefits from the government spending on research and they do not want to pay for this. Guess, who is going to pay for this? You, taxpayer.

How about spending your own money on research? Should I mention that Apple, if it were a hedge fund, would be the largest one? Apple has more money to spend than the US government. And this is a company (along with others though) that asks the government to spend on research and $1T tax holiday???

Disclaimer: I am not one of the Occupiers.

Borders Going Out Of Business

July 19, 2011 3 comments

I was about to write about something else, but when I heard the news, the other topic became less important. Sad news. Borders is going out of business.

I was a frequent visitor of the Borders bookstore in downtown Boston. A very cozy store where I bought many books. I cannot imagine downtown without the Borders store.

Putting personal feelings aside, it is a sad story not only for Borders customers. It is sad for its competitors. Obviously, there will be a loss in revenues for Amazon and other online stores since many customers browse books in bookstores before going online and placing an order. In other words, online stores benefit from bookstores without actually spending a penny there.

Borders should have reinvented itself by mixing regular book sales with online store and e-book sales. May be Borders considered that and this model did not justify expenses.

But I think this is a form of the tragedy of the commons. Bookstores have a good impact on the society. Kids like to come to bookstores, explore books and play. This is how they learn. This is how they develop curiosity to knowledge. They cannot yet browse online books. They like to touch them, explore their different forms and shapes. There is no replacement for this.

One may argue that Barnes and Noble is still around. But loosing a competitor is bad for the consumer.

Borders will be missed and its disappearance will have a noticeable impact to the society, although, not attributed directly to Borders as it will take years to notice that impact. Sad.

RSS Feeds and Bloomberg (and other sites with no RSS)

June 12, 2011 18 comments

For some reason back in 2006 Bloomberg disabled its RSS feeds. So I started to follow Bloomberg less frequently. But Bloomberg offers good news. So I decided to look into this again. Bloomberg still does not offer RSS feeds, but another site does. I found Feed43 (Feed for free).

But first, a couple of words about Bloomberg. It has sites for some keywords – http://topics.bloomberg.com/<keyword>. For example, http://topics.bloomberg.com/belarus (since I wanted to follow the Belarus financial crisis). It makes it easier to get news on a specific topic.

Now all you have to do is to get an RSS feed out of it. This is where Feed43 helps. It allows you to create a feed from a URL after you describe the URL so it could extract your news. It is free and you do not even have to register to use it.

Here are step by step instructions how to do this with an example:

Step 1: Specify source page address (URL)

  1. Provide a URL: http://topics.bloomberg.com/belarus
  2. Specify the encoding in necessary: <leave empty>
  3. Click “Reload”.
  4. It extracts the page contents.
  5. Please note, it removes leading and trailing spaces. This is critical to know when you configure other parameters in the next steps.

Step 2: Define extraction rules.

  1. Provide the Global Search Pattern. This is where your news block starts and ends: <h2>Belarus News</h2>{*}<ul>{%}</ul>
  2. Here the {*} indicates any character, which is used in this case to suppress spaces, {%} indicates the news block itself.
  3. Provide Item (repeatable) Search Pattern. This is the structure of your news item: <li>{*}<h3><a href=”{%}”>{%}</a></h3>{*}<p>{%}</p>{*}</li>
  4. As you can see, here the first {%} stands for the news URL, the second {%} stands for the title, and the third one stands for the news body. These variables will be converted to {%1}, {%2}, and {%3} respectively.
  5. Hit “Extract”.
  6. Now it extracts your news items.

Step 3: Define output format.

  1. RSS feed properties are easy.
  2. Feed Title (should be populated automatically): Belarus News – Bloomberg
  3. Feed Link: http://topics.bloomberg.com/belarus
  4. Feed Description: Belarus News – Bloomberg
  5. RSS item properties refer to the variables you extracted.
  6. Item Title Template (news title): {%2}
  7. Item Link Template (news link): {%1}
  8. Item Content Template (news body): {%3}
  9. Click “Preview” and you will see the extracted news.

Step 4. Get your RSS feed.

  1. Feed43 generates you an XML file with your RSS feed, which you can link to in your RSS aggregator.
  2. If you are picky, you can rename your feed.

The concept is very simple and easy to implement. The only missing thing is ability to get a publication date. But it is not always available and it requires a more complex configuration.

Enjoy!

Dec 12, 2011 (update): It looks like Bloomberg has changed formatting. I will take a look at it with a couple of days to update the information above. But the purpose of this post was to provide some guidance, not very specific way. Stay tuned.

Dec 14, 2011 (update): One of the blog visitors suggested that this pattern should now work for the news item (step 3): <li>{*}<h3><a href=”{%}”>{%}</a></h3>{*}<p>{%}</p>{*}</li>

Dec 03, 2012 (update): I’ve got a lot of feedback recently that this no longer works. I tested it and it does work. Just use the standard double quote in #3 (Step 2). Do not just copy and paste! For some reason, WordPress tries to be too smart.

Dec 03, 2012 (update 2): Another example: Apple Technology News.

Step 1:
1. URL: http://www.bloomberg.com/technology/apple/

Step 2:

1. <h2>More Apple News</h2>{*}<ul>{%}</ul>

3. <li>{*}<a href=”{%}”{*}>{%}</a>{*}</li>

The rest is the same. Don’t forget there are simple double quotes in #3 above.

Categories: news, productivity, tricks Tags: , , ,

Epsilon Data Breach

April 4, 2011 1 comment

Epsilon reported a data breach on Friday. This breach made a lot of shock waves last a few days as new information about impacted clients became known. Banks, retailers, you name it. I received an email Saturday morning informing me that my first and last name along with my email address were exposed (what a wonderful news for Saturday morning, isn’t it!?).

What is disturbing to me is how this breach was communicated. While it is good that I was notified, the notification I received was confusing. It stated that I may start getting spam. What is not clear to me whether information linking an email address to an Epsilon customer was exposed. This creates a possibility of more dangerous attacks – phishing – where you start getting emails “on behalf of” an Epsilon customer prompting users to reveal more information, for example, “You heard our database was breached. Please click *this link* to reset your password”. This information was not communicated at all and it may not be very obvious to the users of Epsilon customers.

Categories: companies, news Tags: , , , ,