Outer Web Thought Log
December 30, 2002
Fun datasource

If you are looking for a dataset and don't want to get stuck with boring Northwind, why not venture into using the IMDB back-end? - Thanks to manero.org


Expect not seeing many open source community or project related remarks here anymore for the time to come. I have some work to be done, and I'd rather focus on that, rather than burning out / being burned on OSS contributions. Of course, the obvious quickyblog to the cool projects I encounter will still be there. But I quit mailing and blogging for some time. I have been trying too hard to do The Right Thing in the past few months, and now I'm gonna focus on Getting some Things Done. Luckily, I'm not the only one. As much as our perspectives can be different, and as many times as our opinions have been clashing, I feel our reasons for this sudden winter-blue-ness are quite similar. To me, it is the necessity to be consistently political correct which is burning me out at an ever accelerating rate. Or beter yet: the kind of remarks you get when not obeying the many unwritten or hidden laws of community-based open source development. But then again, due to this burn-out, I myself may have been posting such remarks lately, for which I'm sorry. I'm on a sabatical until I regained some cluefullness.

December 29, 2002
New blogs

Ken Coar. Ken, since this seems to be your own brewing, an RSS feed might be a useful thing to hack on. Erica, Andy's wife.

December 28, 2002
CVSView and JRCS

Cool things for our developer's cockpit wet dream: CVSView, a ViewCVS-like Cocoon generator. It uses JRCS, a Java library for working with RCS archives, which has been donated to Jakarta Commons a while ago - yet another under-publicized gem. I wonder if Sylvain has based his Cocoon CVS Source component on JRCS.


Note to self(): reading material for the wee hours. Some of them have hilarious names: how about the CargoCult anti-pattern?

Wikis can look good

I messed around with the new Templates feature of JSPWiki on wiki.cocoondev.org, using the Forrest skin as an example. Wikis can look nice :-)

December 27, 2002

Froogle, the new Google project, apparently doesn't want good-mannered XML as an input format. Sad.

Moving Wikis

In order to quit alpha bitching and start doing something useful, I'm moving the CocoDocoWiki (admittedly a corny name) to its new home. In the mean time, I'm also upgrading JSPWiki to a beta 2.0 version, which is doing fine apparently. Next on my todo is redressing its bland default look&feel, I might as well try to mimick the default Forrest skin. While its new home might not be as fast as the old one, we are now paying someone for uptime, which gives me some peace of heart.
Pier now also hosts an official (Perl-based) ApacheWiki on nagoya, but moving 250 pages, and going through an obnoxious WikiML2WikiML transformation seems overkill just to achieve political correctness. Besides, I really dig our leftbar navigation, and haven't found many Wikis offering such a thing.

December 26, 2002
Andy shaves
I shave my head when it gets long enough to require brushing. [from Hacking Log 2.0]
My wife uses a hair trimmer on me. 4 mm, and 2 mm for the sides. Quite some connection, eh?

stuffed Pfew. Three Christmas dinners in a row. 'Thanks' to my recent immobility, the family members agreed to come over (even bringing the prepared dishes with them) and celebrate Christmas at our place. Which means we had dinner with the kids on Christmas Eve (a first timer, and the kids (nearly 6 years, 4.5 years and 7 months) much enjoyed it), on Christmas day my family came over, and today we finished with my wife's family. Suffice to say I feel quite stuffed, and I can only hope to regain mobility within some weeks and try and catch up some swimming again in order to live up to the doctor's expectation and loose some weight to minimize the risk for new back issues.
The two boys are leaving for a couple days of grandparent fun, so hopefully I'll find some time to tackle my todo list before the next festive avalanche.

December 25, 2002

Something that was dropped by my buggy Radio installation: Production-Quality XSL-FO by Eliot Kimber aka the late Dr. Macro.


I'm seriously considering switching these days. I'm not particularly annoyed with Radio, but still I have some issues with regards to its stability. I'm doubting between Movable Type, Roller or SnipSnap and some others. Since the God of Blogging apparently uses blosxom, and it offers neat things such as blog-by-mail extensions, I might as well go for that one, too. PyBlosxom, a Python port of blosxom, offers an XMLRPC interface - something I appreciate. And MT does trackback, something I miss in Radio.

December 24, 2002
No, I won't bite

As much as my nerves are pressing me, I'll refrain from using this communication channel to support, enhance, embellish or prove my points in the (nasty) discussions being held on forrest-dev. And I hope that Jeff, Andy, Nicola and I will find each other in the end. I have spent many hours during the past year reading mails and blogs from these fine folks and many others on forrest- and cocoon-dev, and I have much learned and enjoyed myself while doing so. So Merry Christmas to all of you.

A community is a place where people gather together to reach a common goal.
... It's not a market place where you just stand on a craddle and start insulting and discouraging other people. [from Thought & feeling]
Thanks, Tom.
December 23, 2002

Back surgery went well - still some weeks of careful coach-potato rest ahead however. I feel the Homer in myself! Being at home in the middle of the noise of Christmas holiday with our three kids is infinitely better than in the hospital. Downloading my mail presented me with 1699 unread messages. Ouch. Of course, I immediately dove into forrest-dev. Ouch. 50 mails, a fair deal of them being pretty nasty, and no commits. Our first veto. Duh. A shining example of my Lab Rats thesis. Hastily, I composed a private mail to the two main actors. Luckily, I remembered Stefano's "two mails" design pattern, and I decided not to send that mail. I'll try and set up a constructive discussion on the list. It's Christmas time after all. Merry Christmas to all!

December 17, 2002
Hello, World.

Even though I'll be offline until next week or so, we had a pressing urge to 'silently' release this. Enjoy, and let us know what you think of it. We have baptized it xReporter. Special thanks to these cool people who had the balls to pay for it and let us release it afterwards, even without reading the Cluetrain Manifesto. Trust us, we'll take care of this baby!

December 16, 2002
Red Herring for non-native speakers

I must confess that I don't master all words, and especially all expressions or proverbs used in English. A side-effect of speaking Dutch as my mother tongue. When I was a kid, there used to be some words which, even though I had no formal comprehension of them, I still understood what the general idea behind them was. For the Dutch readers: 'zoeven', in the context of 'just a minute ago' was such a word.
In English, things are far worse for me. Thanks to this excellent online dictionary, the amount of spelling mistakes I make should be bearable, but it doesn't help much with slang or expressions composed of a number of unrelated words. A good example is red herring. Of course, first it was me being stupid just entering 'herring' in the search box, but eventually I found out. I like the story behind the expression however much more than the dry explanation in dictionary.reference.com.

December 15, 2002
Counting down

I've been reasonably quite during the last few days, since I'm counting down until next Wednesday, when my back surgery is planned. I'm expected to check in on Tuesday, so the procedure will be Wednesday early morning. The prospect of leaving home, my wife and three kids for a week isn't exactly appealing, especially for them staying home and having a very busy week. I stopped googling around for surgery reports and such since these things are scarily detailed. Typically, I'm not afraid of undergoing surgical procedures: my mom and dad both have worked in or around healthcare for their entire professional life, and myself, I have been wondering whether healthcare isn't more interesting than IT for as long as I work.
In the mean time, I've been trying to fight spam by installing SpamAssassin on cocoondev. I learned much more about the relationship between qmail, procmail and SpamAssassin than I cared to know. If you happen to venture into this too, make sure the user .procmailrc is only user-writeable since procmail otherwise refuses to work (and does so very silently - make sure you switch on logging in procmail, or tail -f your mail daemon log). Apart from that, I experienced the joy of diving into Perl to correct what the automated config/build had been doing wrong. Always very unearthly stuff compared with Ant's XML build files :-)

December 13, 2002

Before this, I wasn't a huge fan of Wikis, I thought they would not scale above 50 pages, and one would never find people willing to learn the funny Wiki syntax in this XML world. But reality has proven me wrong, and I happen now to be administrating a fairly popular Wiki about Cocoon with almost daily changes. So when I encounter a new WikiEngine, I have a look at it, and coWiki looks very promising from the outside. Funny enough because it doesn't look Wiki-ish :-)

December 11, 2002
MozBlog 6.12 and Sylvain wondering to open source

Mike Lee released a new version of Mozblog - I'm currently running MozBlog 6.12 inside Mozilla 1.2.1. There happens to be some synchronization now between the main edit window and the metadata window for title, summary and categories. Not that I understand the synchronization currently but I assume that will come :-)
Links are now also displayed in blue and underlined, but I still want a context menu to get rid of a link - I need to go to the source view now. Another nit is the format toolbar, which is off by default - also, when you have some text selected, and switch on the toolbar to toggle italics, you need to reselect your text before it works. The distinction between the post and publish button has disappeared, there is only a publish button left. Fine with me. Old posts are now greyed out when you click on them, you need to hit edit post explicitely before you can edit and change them. I like such behaviour. I like it when system behaviour is declaratively made clear to/by users.
Aside, I just saw Sylvain mentioning a writeable source implementation for CVS. I like. He still needs to convince his colleagues to open source it. Maybe they should work for a week at the helpdesk of a commercial ISV, answering support questions. Or being forced to release new versions every 6 months because the customer has that upgrade assurance. Or Sylvain being hit by a bus.

Let's Spam S(p)am

... my aggregated news feeds have a much higher signal to noise ratio for me. You want to catch my interest? Say it in on a weblog. [from Sam Ruby: Demise of e-mail?]


Bruce Perens at Ouverture

I went to the second meeting of Ouverture yesterday. The debate was lively, but the unexpected, special guest really was the icing on the cake. Poor Bruce was rather exhausted from excessive travelling, but still it was very interesting to hear his opinion on what we are trying to achieve: become the Belgian reference platform for companies involved in Open Source, both for networking and lobbying. Bruce brought up an interesting point: 95% of the software currently being written isn't made to be sold as a commercial package, so normally its public availability shouldn't affect the core business of a company. A lot of the software that gets written could be made open without touching the competitive position of its originator. When you look at the companies who are currently actively lobbying pro-patents in the EEC, most of them are commercial software vendors, or large system integrators, who are squarily aiming at their own benefit of course.

nicolaken @ freeroller.net

Back from Frankfurt, after two days of intense high bandwidth communication with other Cocoon developers, and Keiron from the FOP team, which I was very happy to meet :-) Anyway, I'm tired now, and I'll see if I can dump some of my thought here [from Verba Volant, Scripta Manent] ... Nicola now as a weblog. Still need to get on his blogroll, though ;-)

December 10, 2002
Cluetrain at work

ComputerWire: Fleury said JBoss would now seek standards certification for its implementation. JBoss stands to become the first open source group to deliver a version of J2EE 1.4 under the revised JCP. None of this would have been possible without the hard work of Jason Hunter. [from Sam Ruby: Open Source J2EE 1.4 gets Sun green light] Woohoo!

Sean McGrath - blast from the past

I found the weblog of Sean McGrath today - with the slightly pompous feed title of 'Sean McGrath, CTO, Propylon'. I remember talking to him a long-long time ago about setting up an XML/Python workshop in Belgium, after I had seen him speaking on some XML Europe conference. Must be years ago. I used to be a very regular attendee of that conference until last year, for obvious reasons. It's nice and funny to see how people evolve over the years.
Scanning his weblog, I see references to XML pipelining, and his company announcing a J2EE product which supports such pipelines. He must have been looking at Cocoon, NekoStyle and Jelly.
Also read his Privilege of XML parsing - Data types, binary XML and XML pipelines.

Free Software Law

Nicolas Pettiaux of the French Community Commission, and one of the people involved in Ouverture, pointed us towards the report (French) on the meeting about the proposed law on the use of Free Software in government administration. Of course, with the elections slowly approaching, there is some chance that this never gets voted upon, but still it is an interesting evolution. The youth section of Agalev, a 'green' political party, even made it into an e-card campaign and wants Linux to be on the political agenda of the mainstream parties. Unfortunately, most of this mouvement is focused on Linux as the rethorical Free Software archetype, and Linux is only the tip of the iceberg with regards to Free Software. My recurring argument is that Free Software should be more than just using LAMP, it should be based on the willingness to invest more into employees instead of external suppliers.

December 09, 2002
Cocoon StammTisch

The Frankfurter beer crew must be meeting right now. Too bad I had to cancel everything. Enjoy yourselves!


JPackage Project has two primary goals: * To provide a coherent set of Java software packages for Linux, satisfying all quality requirements of other applications. * To establish an efficient and robust policy for Java software installation. [from JPackage Project]
So if you need an (S)RPM for some Jakarta/XML project, go there!

Apache Trove

Due to my @#'||&! back, I'm stuck to the living room sofa again. Thank big imaginary fellow for laptops and WiFi internet access! Since I can't get anything decent done this way (I really need pens and paper and sitting upright), I've been playing around with a Yellow Pages-like application that lists the abundant Apache projects and makes them keyword-searchable.
In the meantime, I'm strolling around on various mailing lists. That way, I just had a little discussion with Ceki Glc, the author of log4j and one of the Apache members. He said the firewall between committers and members only exists within people's mind. While I admire his eloquent rationale, I can't help thinking it's more than having access to members-only information or not. People who know me can acknowledge my rabid resistance against hierarchical thinking or authority by heritage. While I admit this being a twist in my own mind, I feel deeply disturbed if people use it as a means to extinguish a discussion.

December 06, 2002

Jeff put up a live copy of the webified forrestbot. Way to go!

December 05, 2002
Reading bookmark

Brand Community.

December 04, 2002
Tweaked the lay-out a bit

I decreased the side margins a bit to allow for more text and pictures. And I added a snapshot of my darling baby daughter Saar to my blogroll - 6 months old by now, the boys are 6 and 4.5 years old. But I'm a sexist pig when it comes to choosing what picture to show on my blog. :-)

Let's rave about TortoiseCVS

I updated my copy of TortoiseCVS today, and I'm now running the stable 1.2.1 version. I rave. I drool. I don't understand why anyone can be fond of anything else: it's integrated with Windows Explorer and the File|Open dialog in most applications. It is a standalone thing, not hidden inside some bloated do-it-all IDE. It slices and dices, recursively adds, supports branches and .cvsignore, and now also creates patch files. Brilliant work. Go get it!

Disk unfull

... apparently someone cleared up some diskspace, although only 650MB left on a 12GB disk isn't exactly luxury. Out of curiousity, I did some 'du-ing' and found out that an attentive reader of this blog is using 225MB, putting him in the top three category ;-)

daedalus.apache.org: Disk full

It will be a slow morning for Apache mail: the disks of the main web/mail server are full. Maybe somebody picks up this message?

December 03, 2002
Last one for the day

This MozBlog thing makes blogging too easy :-) I just saw myself appearing in the top 100 of Radio-driven weblogs. Whee.

New (?) Cocoon Blogger

Yippie - another Cocoon Blogger spotted, thanks to Ugo - link them all - Cei and javablogs. Unfortunately, I can't add him to my blogroll, Radio barfs on the RDF syndication feed. Anyone else with more luck?

Green Card Lottery

This is sarcastically funny... 'Double chances for married people'... 'One person out of 70 wins the Green Card'!

Servlet Container Performance Report

Web Performance, Inc. published a Servlet Container Performance Report. The fact they focus solely on Servlet performance is a Good Thing to me, since we don't do much EJB development anyhow (most of the times, it is overkill for what we are trying to achieve - and often, the technology is chosen for the wrong reasons). They are putting Tomcat 4.1.12, Orion 1.5.2, Jetty 4.1.1, Resin 2.1.5, Sun ONE 7.0 and WebSphere 4.0 next to each other. Pramati and Weblogic have not been put to test since they don't want to participate in benchmarks (or, at least, they don't want the results to be published). Ha!From a first glance, the report doesn't appear to be as essentially flawed as some other benchmark recently published. Tomcat 4.1.12 is doing quite well, even in comparison with some known speed machines. I'm happy that I convinced Dan to install Tomcat 4.1.12 on cocoondev.org - Jira is running nice and dandy.

CVS suckage

Trying to set up some guidelines and best practices for CVS repositories on cocoondev.org. If anyone knows how to set up CVS 'Apache-style', i.e.CVS_RSH/SSH based read/write access tuned using avail, and read-only anonymous CVS access through pserver/readers/passwd, and is willing to share some tips with me, I'll buy him or her a (Belgian!) beer.


My behaviour of yesterday has been mentioned as an antipattern to distrust. Given the origin of that compliment, it feels like a real one. 'Better understanding through blogging', one never knows...?

MozBlog, my favourite blog client so far, appears to be pingback-enabled. Mighty cool - let's check it with our blogging bergeek... no luck :-(

I had better luck with the Pingback spec itself however:

Analysing http://www.hixie.ch/specs/pingback/pingback ...
found pingback url: http://tracking.damowmow.com/

Lab rats

Imagine this: Apache isn't about community and code anymore, it is a large scientific experiment created to do social research on developer's interactions and the adaptivity of open source communities. The Matrix is back. Committers are disguised as labrats, and a number of wicked scientists are twisting and turning knobs, tweaking parameters formally known as committers guidelines, AUP, The Apache Way, or Rules for Revolutionaries. Less code, more talk :-)
It isn't about projects anymore, it is about meta-projects, which are lab experiments solely designed to prove the fact that 'parameters are there to be changed'. Really? Which pill will you swallow? The red or the blue one?
Disclaimer: this was a joke. A mad scientist made me say it. I will be dissected after this.

I wanna date you!

At the age of 32, I decided how I'm going to properly spell a date in my English writings. Finally :-)
As you perhaps know (ha!), there is confusion in some parts of the world w.r.t. the correct order of the day, month and year values that make up a date. My wife's next birthday on 7/5/2003 is a nice example of the confusion this causes. Mine on 30/10/2003 is luckily a bit more clear (yes, I'm almost 6 months younger than my wife!)
I could use some ISO sort-of-spec order, stating my daughter's date of birth as 2002-05-25, but let's be honest, you only want to use this format if you put a lot of dates in a table. And if you're a borderline geek. Besides, I'm the kind of guy who still needs to count on his fingers to find out July really is the 7th month. Is it? Let me count... yes.
As you see, lots of trouble, so I decided to create my own date notation format. I'll be going to the Frankfurther Cocoon Stammtisch on 9/Dec 2002. My two boys were born on 20/Jan 1997 and 19/Jul 1998 respectively. See how easy that is?

Color UML?

Too late: Java Modeling in Color with UML.

December 02, 2002
Statler and Waldorf

This will only be funny for ourselves or people who know us pretty well. There is that dream of Marc and me presenting a seminar, not in front of the audience, but from a balcony somewhere in the upper right corner. I guess each of us having a weblog comes close.


While the war on personal homepages raged on, I had a blast today due to clueful people and the intertwinglyness of thought-connected people. Jeff finally got admin rights on cocoondev.org, and we have been chatting for hours during the day about machine setup, permissions, and a way to get our beloved forrestbot regenerating Forrest-based websites both automagically and on-demand, publishing them to the main Apache machines.
After some time, we encountered a bug in the administration system of the machine, and luckily Dan of AO was only a Unix talk away. When we explained him what we would like to achieve, he was happy to install rdist and rsync on the machine, plus some other fringe benefits, in return for us discovering a bug in his system.
So I had a very enjoyable day, chatting away with two guys I never met, yet exchanging confidential information like passwords and so on, trusting each other due to our common eagerness to help the community. Now that was a nice soapbox!

Keeping up public appearances :-)

For the Belgian readers: I'll be doing an XSLT Hands-On seminar organized by SAI on 13/Feb 2003. Marc will be doing an XML&Java seminar on 25/Feb 2003. Of course, we both will make abundant references to Cocoon. (Both in Dutch)
Also, we'll be participating in some ITWorks seminars: Open Source (15/Jan 2003) and XML&Java (22/Jan 2003). And if the itch stays there, we'll be organizing a public Cocoon course in 2003, too.

Soapboxes and ivory towers

On the hellhole of the Apache community list, where opinions and eloquence are often abundant and solutions are sometimes scarce, the next big discussion is whether people should be allowed/encouraged/forced to maintain a personal homepage on the Apache servers, with some more info about themselves, the projects they work on, and whatelse. Mine is a perfectly good non-example, offering just a link to some sort of homepage I maintain elsewhere, which then again links to this weblog, company homepage, yada-yada and anything else... If, for some strange reason, one of my fellow Apache committers doesn't find the reference to my weblog in my email .sig, he might check if I have such a homepage and is kindly deferred to the real one. Somebody even set up a small directory of such non-homepages, which seems perfectly fine to me.
Now, as is often the case with such discussions, there's pro and contra, and partisans of both sides. Interestingly enough, people have started comparing such personal homepages with the soapboxes used at London's Hyde Park. Which brings me back to that perception is reality thing which has become some permanent theme in my reasoning: people will go at much length to make sure they are perceived by the larger community as the person they claim to be. This might sound quite nihilistic (it certainly feels so), but I believe this is part of human's characteristics: the ability to design behaviour rather than live instinctively. And as long as this behaviour also serves the community, there's nothing wrong with that IMO. But maybe this might exactly be the problem: these personal homepages are there to serve the individual rather than the community. And Apache is about the code and community, rather than a tribe of individuals. And maybe some individual's opinion might be regarded as being the Apache point of view. Then again, I'm pretty sure the Apache community is healthy enough to (de)regulate, manage or administer this soapbox affair on a case-by-case scenario.
Update: README, A Blogger's Disclaimer. Well put.

December 01, 2002
Adventures in blogland

This is me testing MozBlog. I'm slowly preparing myself to get a better grip on all this blogging stuff on the tools side. Radio is kinda nifty, but it's pretty heavyweight, and the text editing sucks if you are using Mozilla. Composite isn't working on Moz 1.2, blogbuddy wasn't too helpfull neither, and appears to be a bit outdated - lack of developers community, I assume. This MozBlog thing is pretty cool - I can drag links, specify a title (but not a link), and it integrates very well and non-obstructively with Mozilla as a bottom bar. Using Mozilla and some of the mozdev tools, simply surfing the web becomes more fun, too.

Working without copyleft

Just a mental note to self(): send this to prospective customers who want our position on OSS licenses.