I've now listened to M.I.A.'s new album, Kala, for a while and I think you really should check it out.
It's really strange, and seems like a mix between bad disco and electric noise on the first listenings, but it simply rocks.
From a review by NME:
There are two versions of the MIA myth. Myth the first: Back in 2005, into a world increasingly obsessed with revivalism, a techinicoloured terrorist emerged from the streets of east London dressed like sonic the hedgehog at a basement rave and ripped UK music from limb to limb. Then, armed with neon thread, this visionary stitched it back together, creating a patchwork of rave, raga, rap and rock. She stretched time and space until they snapped, slinging any dilapidated concept of genre into the cosmos to be gorged on by a trio of luminescent hip-hop phoenixes.
Myth the second: In 2005, into a world of genuine musical visionaries (Dizzee Rascal, Arcade Fire) a fluro idiot crawled inexplicably from beneath the nails of the zeitgeist. Backed by an incomprehensible melange of execrable sonic affectations, this bourgeois Londoner sang the praises of questionable military struggles in some of the poorest countries in the world while being dressed by the hippest designers in the west. Her unbearable vomit music was something forged in the flames of a thousand meaningless fads and she herself was destined for the pyre of fashion once her 15 seconds were over.
Here's a video of a track from her previous album:
In the last days I've (re)discovered some great albums:
Intelligent, carefree 1990s "punk" getting all referencey. (Heck, they're even posing like The Clash.)
Before the Cpt. Kurtz horror of their next album, Pulp in their prime deliver "high pop" with poetic lyrics and masterful instrumentation.
The first three tracks on this Elvis Costello album revive the nasty, nasty Velvet Underground spirit in 1986. They will listen to this as classic music 500 years from now.
I'm not sure but the new M.I.A. album sounds like she could become the new-millenium heiress of the Clash/VU legacy.
Helma is noteworthy for a couple of reasons:
Multi-app environment: A single Helma instance is an environment for multiple web apps.
Filesystem-based development: Helma uses the FS to structure web apps.
Convenient services: Helma provides a lot of convenient services, like a cron-scheduler and logging.
Zero-configuration: To run Helma, just dl it and run the start script. Presto. Creating a new app is equally simple.
Advanced HTTP support: Stuff like convenient access to request headers and parameters, and file upload monitoring.
Mature: Helma has been actively developed, used, and refined for years (decades?) in a lot of installations, and there's a sizable community.
Helma also has ORM and a sophisticated templating framework, but I don't know them well.
On the downside, Helma can be rather hard to learn if you don't have an experienced Helmatic coaching you. But once you know your way around the different files and directories that make up a Helma app it's very easy.
All in all, Helma is the closest thing to a useful, convenient Lisp web application server that I can imagine.
The logo for the 2012 Olympics has been unveiled in the most significant move since London won the Games.
"This is the vision at the very heart of our brand," said London 2012 organising committee chairman Seb Coe.
"It will define the venues we build and the Games we hold and act as a reminder of our promise to use the Olympic spirit to inspire everyone and reach out to young people around the world.
"It is an invitation to take part and be involved.
[Attention conservation notice: Some incoherent ideas about using graphical instead of textual data for human-machine and machine-machine interaction in an OS.]
The outputs of many Unix commands follow the Microformats principle: Designed for humans first and machines second. Humans is a bit debatable in the Unix context, but still, the data is useful to the geeks among us, and also to scripts that process it.
ms@zulu:~/mov$ ls -lh
-rw-r--r-- 1 ms ms 1.4G 2007-05-21 16:21 Akira.avi
drwxr-xr-x 2 ms ms 4.0K 2007-05-26 10:48 Amarcord
drwxr-xr-x 2 ms ms 4.0K 2007-05-02 11:24 Ascenseur pour l'Echafaud
drwxr-xr-x 2 ms ms 4.0K 2007-05-12 03:55 As Tears Go By
drwxr-xr-x 2 ms ms 4.0K 2007-05-09 00:21 Blood Simple
drwxr-xr-x 2 ms ms 4.0K 2007-05-11 02:44 Fallen Angels
drwxr-xr-x 2 ms ms 4.0K 2007-04-30 15:23 Fishing with John
-rw-r--r-- 1 ms ms 701M 2007-05-20 16:19 Happy Together.avi
drwxr-xr-x 2 ms ms 4.0K 2007-05-16 23:38 Kukushka
drwxr-xr-x 2 ms ms 4.0K 2007-05-21 15:53 La Notte
drwxr-xr-x 2 ms ms 4.0K 2007-05-13 13:39 L'Avventura
drwxr-xr-x 2 ms ms 4.0K 2007-05-23 12:16 L'Eclisse
This is micr*formatted data. (We have to say micr*formatted, or Tantek will sue us.)
The Mathematica folks are doing some seriously cool work extending a shell-like environment with graphics, and the the demos are amazing.
Can we make it so (and would it be useful) that the returned graphics are micr*formatted data that can be passed to another application?
Sometimes a word or two are enough for a thorough aha!-experience.
One is the connection between (software) architecture and strategy researched by Carliss Baldwyn at Harvard Business School. Related to the research on user-driven innovation, they note that modular software architectures, by giving users more options, lead to more outside participation, and thus more innovation.
Can these effects be accomplished without open source software? Yes, to some extent, but why do things the hard way? Are there other things besides innovation that determine the success or failure of a high-tech company? Of course--management competence being one big one. But in my book, efficient, high-quality, long-term innovation is the fundamental competitive challenge in building a sustainable technology business, and thus the profit-maximizing strategy is one that encourages innovation, rather than extinguishing it.
Another one is Rohit Khare's idea to model failures as price shocks. In his presentation, he gives the example where the failure of a RAM chip leads to a higher "price" for storing things, which could incentivize programs to use different ways of achieving their goals, e.g. recomputing data each time instead of storing it in RAM. The basic idea is to arrive at an "invisible hand" architecture that doesn't require pre-planning for all possible contingencies.
I used to be fascinated with Sony's corporate identity. They have managed to create a unique style over an extremely wide array of products and services (and sub-companies).
Google has their plastic logo colors, pastel background colors, and these balls...
You can basically create a Google-branded page by using some pastel colors and slapping these balls onto it. This is cheap and easily distributed corporate identity.
I don't think it's a very good name but we're stuck with it now. The word semantics is used by different groups to mean different things. But now people understand that the Semantic Web is the Data Web. I think we could have called it the Data Web. -- TBL
Naked Objects is a pattern and a framework for creating applications that expose the business objects directly in the user interface.
It provides strong encapsulation of the objects, while still having a data-oriented flair.
The Naked Objects Group has some high profile clients, such as the Department of Social and Family Affairs (DSFA) in Ireland. From the case study:
This system is now intensively used by more than a 100 clerical and management staff, generating more than 250,000 transactions per day. Since May 2006 it has issued more than €1bn in pension entitlements - a mission critical system by any standards. [...]
The previous Child Benefit system, written just five years ago, ran to more than 50,000 lines of business code. A year ago, we claimed to the DSFA management that by re-using the business object model we had created for the Pensions system it should be possible to create the brand new Child Benefit system using less than 1000 lines of custom code (written in VB.Net - the DSFA’s preferred language). When functional development was completed on July 31st, the final tally was 957 lines!
Naked Objects is similar to the golden oldie Oval, from MIT's Center for Coordination Science.
Oval stands for Objects, Views, Agents and Links, and like Naked Objects is a very inspiring system.
The basic idea of Oval is called radical tailorability: once you give your users a few expressive building blocks, they can create their applications for themselves.
Users of this system can create applications by combining and modifying four kinds of building blocks: objects, views, agents, and links. We found that user-level tailoring of these primitives can provide most of the functionality found in well-known cooperative work systems such as gIBIS, Coordinator, Lotus Notes, and Information Lens. These primitives, therefore, appear to provide an elementary "tailoring language" out of which a wide variety of integrated information management and collaboration applications can be constructed by end users.
This is a nice, twenty-minute overview of their thinking and some of their work.
You can try the visualization tools presented at tools.google.com/gapminder.