Tantek's Thoughts

  1. 20040329

    1. 1030

      Memetic wake

      • blog

      New term (as far as I know): memetic wake. Noun. Definition: the collection of information, especially that which encourages its reproduction, that an object (like a person) leaves behind as a result of its physical existence (lifetime). Just as a boat as it moves across a body of water leaves behind a physical wake, an object as it exists across time leaves a memetic wake. Thus I've added the term "memetic wake" to my memetic wake.

  2. 20040323

    1. 1815

      Tonight's BayCHI web talk canceled at last minute

      • web

      Due to a number of simultaneous crises (some personal, some work related) I am not going to be able to make it to the BayCHI Web BOF meeting tonight to present and thus the meeting has been canceled and will be rescheduled for a future date.

      I sincerely apologize to anyone who was planning on going or didn't get the cancelation email in time and happened to show up only to see a sign indicating the cancellation.

      I'll post something when the talk has been rescheduled.

  3. 20040322

    1. 1246

      SXSF Cafe tonight @ Rockin' Java

      • city
      • cafe
      • friends
      • web
      • blog

      Doug and I decided to make last minute plans for an informal gathering for San Francisco (and nearby) folks who either couldn't make it to SXSW, or attended SXSW interactive and miss it already, or just want to have a coffee and swap some SXSW photos and stories while they're still fresh.

      Tonight (Monday March 22nd) from 6pm-9pm at the Rockin' Java coffeehouse on Haight street. Did I mention the open wifi?


      1. Ethan Marcotte
  4. 20040320

    1. 1434

      SXSWi opening speaker review

      • web

      I'm sitting in the Platinum Lounge waiting for Scott Andrew who graciously let me borrow his iBook for the last 24 hours. I managed to transfer my notes scattered among flyers, conference guides etc. into my log. I think I attended fewer sessions than last year, because I was busy overcoming several struggles, and I had two sessions to do this year (only one last year). Here is my summary/review of the first of the sessions I attended (in one role or another) during the SXSW interactive conference.

      Saturday March 13th

      • Opening Speaker: Brenda Laurel.

        I got to this talk a bit late, and some sort of computer animation was playing on the screen. Brenda made a point about the "Baldwin effect", which is an evolutionary feedback loop, where the adaptations of the occupants of an environment alter the environment itself which then changes its fitness criteria, which causes new adaptations, etc.

        Unfortunately that (and something about mitochondria being the outcome of symbiot absorption) was the only interesting point I took away from her sesssion, which is annoying, because I like Brenda Laurel as a speaker, and I like her writings/publications, e.g. The Art of Human-Computer Interface Design. The rest of her session seemed like a flashback medley of so many VR presentations/demonstrations (with some New Age mythology thrown in) that I'd seen over ten years ago when VR was all the hype. Is it time to recycle VR yet? I didn't think enough time had passed.

        Don't get me wrong, I do think that at some point three dimensional interfaces will be necessary to efficiently access, browse and edit the increasingly greater amount of information that we are all required to manage in our lives. But first, the user interface geniuses will have to figure out how to make even a two dimensional interface that doesn't require sitting there and waiting for a watch/hourglass cursor far too often.

        Busy finishing up my presentations, I was unable to attend the remaining panels of the day.

      Scott Andrew just showed up, we're going to go check out the SXSW Music tradeshow and then grab a late lunch.

  5. 20040319

    1. 1615

      SXSW roll

      • friends
      • web

      Note: My iBook (or at least its screen or internal video connection cable) is pretty much dead (in less than 6 months of use). Posts may be sporadic until I've returned home and setup my old TiBook.

      Here are the folks I've spent time with at SXSW so far:

      Phew that's a long list — undoubtedly incomplete. Feel encouraged to help complete it.

      Update: a number of particular folks were notably missing this year, and I couldn't help but notice that they were all couples. Coincidence?

      Well, whatever your specific reasons, you were all missed. Hope to see you next year.

  6. 20040318

    1. 1809

      SXSW struggles and triumphs

      • travel
      • work
      • personal
      • movie
      • music
      • mac

      What a week it has been so far at SXSW.

      First the struggles (some of which are still being overcome):

      • United SFO to Austin flight canceled, barely made it (with a bunch of other folks) to the Continental flight to Houston, and then the connection to Austin, which unfortunately Matt Haughey missed.
      • Caught something on the way back from France apparently, and travel made it worse so I lost my voice, just days before my two presentations.
      • Two days before my presentations, my iBook started to have hardware problems that made it unusable. The screen would start to flicker, and then it would either crash or kernel panic or both.
      • And in the minor by comparison department, my sunglasses broke today.

      Then the triumphs:

      • Recovered just enough of my voice to speak (hot tea with honey was what did the trick).
      • Finished my presentations on a compact flash card (I managed to back up everything onto an external firewire drive before the iBook died for good) and uploaded them to the web.
      • Successfully moderated one panel and presented on another.
      • Met and spent time with a whole lot of great people. SXSW roll to follow.
      • Picked up a replacement pair of sunglasses that don't look too bad.

      And now I'm just trying to relax (having a broken laptop is stressful when you're so dependent on it), hang out with folks still around, and enjoy the films and music.


      1. Nick Finck
  7. 20040311

    1. 0237


      • work
      • personal

      I've said good things in the past about Microsoft's review processes. Right now we are in the middle of completing "mid year discussions", and one of the fields in the self-review asks employees to state their career and professional aspirations over the next few years (paraphrased). Here is what I said:

      Work on open specifications, content formats, and products that enable individuals to create, style, link, share, exchange and archive content using the Web and a broad variety of devices.

  8. 20040309

    1. 2042


      • personal
      • work

      I've been at Microsoft for quite some time now. Just a week shy of seven years as of today. That's long enough to almost forget what I did before.

      Before I joined Microsoft, I did a small self-funded startup, the end result of which was an auto-versioning application called "Rev" which we eventually sold to Aladdin Systems who eventually renamed/rebranded it "Flashback".

      Sure, there's CVS and version control systems for large projects and folks who know what they're doing. That wasn't the point of Rev. The point of Rev was to provide versioning for the rest of us. For folks who don't want to deal with a server and login passwords and all that administrative overhead nonsense.

      Just drag the files you want versioned into Rev, and the go on about your work as you normally would. Save your file and Rev takes a snapshot and saves off the changes from the previous version. Did you save some changes to a document by mistake? No problem, go into Rev and retrieve the previous version. We even came up with a marketing term that named the problem that Rev was solving: "Saver's Remorse".

      Anyway, apparently Flashback has finally made it to the clearance bin at the low low price of $9.95. Note: our contract for royalties ran out long ago — the above hyperlink is not a solicitation.

      Frankly I'm surprised that FlashBack is still for sale. I mean, this product was originally written more than seven years ago. Yet not only does it still run just fine today (on both Mac and Windows), but apparently you can still buy it. Another surprise is that no other product has superceded it.

      When we first thought of Rev, we were dreadfully scared that someone else would simultaneously come up with the same product idea and beat us to market. That didn't happen.

      Not only did no one else come up with the same idea, no one else even copied the product after the fact! Eventually there were some others like "UndoIt" which did systemwide versioning, but nothing else provided the same simple functionality with such a trivial user interface.

      We succesfully debuted Rev at the January 1997 MacWorld San Francisco Expo where it was named Tidbits' best new product of the show. Every demo we gave resulted in several sales right there on the spot. My first and last experience in retail sales. The Aladdin guys happened to be at a nearby booth, noticed what was going on, and decided they wanted the product. A few Microsoft guys also noticed and decided they wanted the engineers. The rest, as they say, is history.

      Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever write my own commercial software again...

  9. 20040308

    1. 0845

      Top100 in CSS continued: Doc Styles

      • blog
      • web

      The Top 100 redone in CSS series continues (finally). What can I say, February was a super busy month, and the first week of March was absorbed by the W3C all group meeting (see previous entry).

      Third at #24 (WWDN went from #24 to #20 in the meantime!) on the Top 100 Technorati as of 20040308: The Doc Searls Weblog. Previous restylings still available as alternate style sheets.

      Caveats: Current restyling is a bit rough (colors are a bit off, layouts are perhaps not pixel perfect, etc.), some tweaking expected. Also, I had to add semantic markup to my blogroll, so the section headings are now marked up with appropriate <h2> and <h3> tags.

  10. 20040304

    1. 1759

      W3C Plenary Meeting summary

      • web
      • travel

      I'm done with the W3C Plenary and WG Meeting Week. Five fairly productive days. We worked through a lot of issues and discussions in the CSS working group, both in our own meetings and in joint meetings with several other working groups (device independence, html, forms, svg, i18n, wai-pf).

      It was also a good opportunity to catch up with fellow web colleagues and meet several folks for the first time (often names I had heard of). So of course, here is my plenary roll in alphabetical order.

      So many people that I'm sure I'm missing a few. Send me your URL if we bumped into each other this past week and you don't see yourself in the list. The following folks (who I met/bumped into last week) don't appear to have a web page of any sort, which seems strange for someone attending a World Wide Web Consortium meeting: Glenn Adams (Extensible Formatting Systems), Sharon Adler (IBM), Jonny Axelsson (Opera), Mark Birbeck, Steve Bratt (W3C), Beth Epperson (AOL), Al Gilman, Paul Grosso (Arbortext), Jonathan Marsh (Microsoft), Richard Schwerdtfeger (IBM), David Singer (Apple), Luu Tran (Sun). Are you in that list and have a home page which Google somehow hasn't found? Email me your URL.

      On Wednesday, the plenary meeting day, I gave a brief presentation as part of the QA Panel, entitled CSS test suites: lessons learned. I gave the presentation by placing the aforelinked document into IE5/Mac's Page Holder feature, and clicked links and talked about the pages.

      Having been overloaded with resolving CSS3-UI last call issues and preparing for my presentation, I had no time to blog until now, and now I need to go get ready. The taxi will be here soon. Can't wait to get back to the States.