In the interests of reducing the usefulness of the Internet even further I offer up the details of part of my Easter weekend. I promise to include at least one reference to chocolate, plenty of information about where I was, and absolutely nothing about Java. Here we go...
On Friday afternoon I took my two kids out for a walk to try to spot some Arctic hares - as anyone who has read my blog before know I have a bit of a soft spot for them. We drove up to Woodhead tunnel, parked up and set off up Far Black Clough. The weather was OK when we started, a bit overcast but dry. By the time we got up towards Featherbed Moss we'd see half a dozen hares - lots of 'Oohs' and 'Aahs' from the kids as they watched them through the binoculars. As we headed further up Far Black Clough the clag descended rapidly, and by the time we reached Bleaklow Stones visibility was down to 40-50 metres or so. The temperature had dropped and there was a brisk westerly so we didn't linger and set off towards Near Bleaklow Stones.
Once we got to Near Bleaklow Stones we hunkered down amongst the rocks to get out of the wind and broke out the bananas and chocolate bars (see, I said I'd mention chocolate).
We then wandered over to take a look a the Boulton Paul Defiant wreck a couple of hundred metres from the stones. - "It was like this when we found it Dad - honest!" After spending a few minutes at the wreck we headed west towards Far Black Clough, which was a welcome relief as once we were across it and on the path we were out of the wind.
It's been reasonably wet over the last week, and this path is a bit boggy at the best of times. The promise of the remaining chocolate bar to the first one to spot the first tree of Birchen Bank Wood was more than enough to ensure rapid progress. As we headed down the path back towards Woodhead tunnel I kept expecting the cloud to lift as we got lower, but in fact it had dropped right down to the car park, so we were nearly at the bottom before we could see the trees and finish off the chocolate ration.
I'm sure all parents know the almost magnetic attraction between small boys and dirt, it seems mine are particularly talented in this respect. The pair of peat-caked boots on the left were in fact brand new - this was their maiden voyage. "Mission accomplished Dad!".
Thanks to PlanetSun I found a link from Geoff Arnold's blog to Baghdad Burning, the blog of a woman living in Baghdad. It's very sobering stuff, whatever your position on the war is. As with all wars, its the ordinary people that suffer the most. What's really sad is that she seems to have received her fair share of abusive emails from people who think that the Iraqi people should be grateful that they were invaded. Sheesh.
According to Glynn Foster,
I made a conscious decision not to include the entire content of my blog in the RSS feed, for several reasons:
- If someone can't be bothered to click through to my site they probably aren't interested in what I have to say, so I think I shouldn't force them to read or at least scan past my posts in their entirety.
- I'm not always interested in everything picked up by PlanetSun. I think it's inconvenient to have to scroll down though pages of stuff I'm not interested in.
- I'm already getting a hit every 15 minutes from PlanetSun. My blog often includes photos, and I don't really want them being pulled every 15 minutes.
- Blogs that don't strip out the HTML tags from their RSS feeds make it much more difficult to handle the feeds in a graceful way. As Mark Pilgrim points out, putting HTML in RSS feeds, whilst allowed, is potentially dangerous.
- I access PlanetSun throught my existing aggregator, the most excellent RSS reader plugin for FireFox. As I move the cursor over each entry the contents of the RSS feed in question appear in a popup, and if the entire article is delivered in the feed I get a series of huge boxes (usually full of HTML) flying up the screen.
Perhaps the solution is to have two feeds, one containing the plaintext synopsis and the other containing the full contents of the posts?
My own personal gripe is about people who don't have comments enabled on their blogs - hopefully people are reading this and making suitable changes. Ahem.
I also have my doubts about how scaleable the PlanetSun approach is - as the number of blogs it aggregates grows it is going to put an increasing strain on the ADSL line that it is at the end of. Most blogging packages allow you so set up notifications using either email or XML/RPC, and something like that would make it possible for the individual blog owners to decide if they wanted to be on PlanetSun.
It seems the staff of The Register read PlanetSun.org as well - they've quoted Geoff Arnold's blog entry on the momentous Sun/Microsoft rapprochement in this article. Odd, seeing as though Andrew Orlowski, the author of The Register article has previously expressed his disdain for all things blogish.
Update: Seems the above isn't true: Geoff tells me he often corresponds with Andrew Orlowski (see comments below). Shame :-)
According to the article, a Sun employee has mailed The Register saying that "this whole thing has my gut in knots" and "I used to follow Scott blindly". Sheesh, get a grip man, it's just a business decision. Although I really like Sun and consider it's the best company that I've worked for (and I've worked for a few), it is when all is said and done, just a business - not a goddam religion.
The other thing that's tickled me about the whole Sun/Microsoft deal is the 'You just can't win' aspect. For a long time Sun has had lawsuits pending against Microsoft, which was widely considered to be A Good Thing and About Time Someone Got Some Money from Them. Now Sun has trousered the money, it's seen as some kind of betrayal, some kind of humungous corporate sell-out. Well excuse me, but what exactly was the point of the legal action in the first place?
The same thing applies to the other part of the deal, the agreement to work more closely with Microsoft. Again, for a long time Scott McNealy has been criticised as being too focused on being anti-Microsoft, too intransigent in his dealings with them. He's obviously listened, and taken it to heart - which must have been personally difficult as he will have known the likely reaction - and gone and built some bridges. Now as a result he's weak, he doesn't know what he stands for, he's a Microsoft lickspittle, he can't possibly continue at Sun because it represents too much of a culture shock for him to cope with and so on.
Lastly I've been very amused by the way the way the Linux Klan are so self-absorbed (I think "up themselves" is the exact phrase I'm looking for) that they can't believe that there is anything in the IT world isn't centred entirely on them. As I've said before, they are convinced that "There is a global conspiracy which is striving to destroy Linux", and they seem only to be able to see the announcement as some sort of attack on Linux. One very prominent member of the Open Source world phoned up one of my colleagues after the announcement last Friday and asked him "What does Microsoft's d**k taste like", which I think nicely demonstrates the mindset of the radical wing of the Linux movement.
I'm still desperately trying to convince myself that the vast majority of the Linux community don't subscribe to this extremist "Them or Us" manifesto, and that as with many things in life, moderate people are usually exactly that - moderate - and so they don't get a hearing. Unfortunately the Linux community seems to becoming dominated by these bigots - I'm not sure how many of them actually contribute anything except copious quantities of invective.
I was looking through my web server stats for today (with http://awstats.sourceforge.net/, highly recommended) and I noticed that someone or something on a BT ADSL line had been accessing my site quite heavily. Being a nosey sod I went exploring to find out who it was - it turns out it is another Sun engineer down in Watford (Hi Dave!), and he's put together a web RSS aggregator for all the Sun folks he's been able to find who have external blogs. It's kinda neat - see http://planetsun.org/