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Great firewall of China

Update (2018-05-08): The GreatFirewallofChina.org project has been acquired by Comparitech and the tool has moved to https://www.comparitech.com/privacy-security-tools/blockedinchina/ Someone has set a server somewhere in China to receive a URL and then act as a web client to check whether or not this URL is accessible. The implication is that some URLs are being blocked by some process in some parts of China. Maybe. It's difficult to distinguish between technical problems and political interventions from here (to be fair, the creators of this site to make a disclaimer to this effect) The site has a funky animation showing the HTTP request/response crossing a map of the world - reminiscent of so many movies where the 'hacker' does something clever.

Paul Walk , March 17, 2007

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BBC 2.0

At the JISC conference earlier this week Tom Loosemore of the BBC gave a talk entitled "The BBC's 15 Web Principles". JISC have made available a summary of the talk and the MS PowerPoint presentation that accompanied it. I wasn't there unfortunately, but it has made an impression in the HE community already. Some of the 15 principles are straightforward, others less so. I found number 5, "Treat the entire web as a creative canvas" interesting.

Paul Walk , March 15, 2007

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MacOSX Preview’s annotation tool….

... is embarrassingly poor. I've been a happy iBook/MacBook user for two years now - I'm pretty satisfied with MacOS X and the way it generally stays the hell out of my way when I'm trying to work (unlike some operating systems). I like Preview, the built-in PDF viewer, but had never tried to annotate a PDF with it until yesterday. The annotation tool gives you two options: You can draw a thick-lined red oval around a region of the document to which you want to draw attention.

Paul Walk , March 9, 2007

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Software as a service - Google and the enterprise

A short report from Gartner reckons that the newest Google Apps Premier Edition is still not ready for prime-time in the enterprise, but that it is close, likely to evolve at "internet speed" and, crucially, ahead of the competition. The killer feature offered by Google's suite of tools is collaboration - something not well supported in current mainstream office suites. Still a major issue with Google Apps is the fact that the user has to be online to use them.

Paul Walk , March 7, 2007

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Presenting and the The Shock of the Social

I'll be giving a talk at The Shock of the Old 2007: Shock of the Social event in Oxford later this month, entitled: Does Web 2.0 Herald The End Of In-House Development And Provision Of IT Services? In this I am collaborating with my colleague, Brian Kelly, who came up with the original idea. This is in the context of Universities especially. However, this sort of debate has been had before in industry - the 'Software as a Service' concept is certainly not new.

Paul Walk , March 6, 2007

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Accessible (& programmable) UK Train Timetables

Matthew Somerville has created a great web application called Accessible UK Train Timetables. For 'accessible' read programmable, so that having completed the search form, the resulting page's URL is useable in another web application in a RESTian way. for example, my search for early morning trains from London to Bath gives me the following URL: http://traintimes.org.uk/london%20paddington/bath%20spa/07:30/

Paul Walk , March 4, 2007

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OpenID

Well, I finally got around to sorting out my own OpenID ( paulwalk.net), following the excellent instructions provided by Simon Willison. As I find myself signing up for more and more remote services, nearly all of which ask me to create yet another user account, the potential value of a user-controlled, decentralised identity system becomes clearly apparent. Like many others, I have been interested by Yahoo Pipes, enough to create a Yahoo account for the purpose of trying it out.

Paul Walk , March 4, 2007

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Blogosphere: reportage or junk food?

Steven Downes responds to Miguel Guhlin with a post which sums up nicely why I find myself turning to the blogosphere more and more instead of the more established news channels. Steven is countering the assertion that reading blogs is like eating junk food, offering "sugar high intellectual bursts". I have all but given up on television news - in the UK only the Channel 4 news offers anything remotely resembling a probing analysis of current events, and this only sporadically.

Paul Walk , June 24, 2006

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Agents and mashups

I’ve been thinking about software agents. Again. I’ve just read Paul Browne’s post, What comes after Java and .Net? Agents. The concept of autonomous software agents is one which has preoccupied me for years, ever since I researched this for my MSc thesis. There is so much that is attractive about this idea, but it somehow never quite gains traction. The software agent paradigm is problematic, both conceptually, and technically. Definitions of software agents vary - (I don’t want to rehearse them here, but Wikipedia has this to offer), and the concept presents some tricky technical challenges.

Paul Walk , June 23, 2006

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World cup goals: virtual replay

This is just so cool. This was previously published at http://blog.sockdrawer.org and was retrieved from the Internet Archive.

Paul Walk , June 22, 2006

Rest protocol advice

{10 things to change in your thinking when building REST XML Protocols}(http://web.archive.org/web/20060629003823/http://www.xmldatabases.org/WK/blog/2287_10_things_to_change_in_your_thinking_when_building_REST_XML_Protocols.item) by Kimbro Staken. Kimbro’s work on XML databases was a real influence on XCRI developments, so this is food for thought. This was previously published at http://blog.sockdrawer.org and was retrieved from the Internet Archive.

Paul Walk , June 17, 2006

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Time to switch (back)?

Tim Bray ponders whether it is time to switch from MacsOS to an opensource OS. I switched from an Intel-based laptop running Linux to an iBook around 18 months ago, but I have so far resisted the temptation to upgrade to a MacBook(Pro). Funny thing is, Tim’s quick list of the Mac hardware features he could not live without is pretty much the list of hardware features I tend to cite when I’m in Mac evangelist mode, number one being the fact that I open my iBook and start typing immediately, and then close the lid when I’ve finished.

Paul Walk , June 16, 2006

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If I have seen further, it is by being thrown up by the mosh pit of my peers

With all due respect to Issac Newton, I love Kathy Sierra’s effort to bring his noble sentiment up to date. The always readable Sierra has written a great post about the wisdom of sharing ideas freely, even with competitors, instead of jealously guarding them. She differentiates between Knowledge Sharers and Knowledge Hoarders - especially in the particular flavour of knowledge we call ‘expertise’, and quotes a wonderful line from David Maister’s The Trusted Advisor:

Paul Walk , June 11, 2006

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Datebk6 - software as it should be

I just upgraded Datebk5 on my Palm PDA to Datebk6. Looking back, I realise that I have been using this application continuously since 1998, and have upgraded at each opportunity, as the upgrades have always offered some new functionality that I could use. I can’t think of any other software that I use where this is true. The Datebk application represents all that is good about software - it does just what it needs to, in a low-profile kind of a way.

Paul Walk , June 8, 2006

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More Rails than Rails?

A while ago I wrote about the Rails influence on Java frameworks. It seems that the Rails lesson has been applied to a combination of Netbeans (in its 5.5 beta version) and Glassfish. A week or two ago Geertjan explained how to use a couple of Netbeans wizards to generate Entity classes from an imported relational database schema together with a default set of JSF backed JSPs, to generate a basic, but working, web application which allows the user to list, add, edit and delete records from any of the included database tables.

Paul Walk , May 8, 2006

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Joke for a Friday afternoon

Some sly humour at SOA integration with Flickr and del.icio.us Some of this is too close to the bone….excellent! Found via Scott This was previously published at http://blog.sockdrawer.org and was retrieved from the Internet Archive.

Paul Walk , May 5, 2006

scanR

The other day I found myself using my cellphone’s inbuilt camera to photograph a UML diagram which had been hand-drawn on a white-board. The results were poor, and I ended up having to transcribe it by hand. I was intrigued to stumble across scanR, a startup who offer a service to process low-quality photos of white boards and paper documents. Haven’t tried it yet, but they do offer a free trial.

Paul Walk , May 2, 2006

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The New Guerrilla War

Rich Ziade has written a really interesting analysis of the jostling for position by the big players (especially Microsoft and Google) in the emerging Web 2.0 marketplace. Rich’s main contention is that whiles the web-browser has been the ubiquitous tool for accessing internet-based information, controlling the entry-point (URL) has been all that was necessary to dominate the market. He suggests that Microsoft, at the same time as launching Live to compete directly with core Google services, are planning to take control of the ‘entry points’ by embedding them into the desktop with Windows Vista and especially XAML.

Paul Walk , May 2, 2006

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Frameworks tested on Glassfish

A list of frameworks and applications successfully deployed on Glassfish is here. Glassfish is coming together nicely - I’ve given it a quick spin and I like what I see. In my day job I rely on the excellent Tomcat for most of my app deployments, but I’m considering moving them to Glasssfish. Some of Glassfish’s features are compelling: logical partitioning with ‘domains’ - ability to package a domain containing applications and server instance configuration into a zip file and re-deploy elsewhere support for EJB 3 active community, with a great blog impressive web management console the price tag!

Paul Walk , April 29, 2006

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Nomads

Following on from his original Going Bedouin post, Greg Olsen followed it up with Bedouins Are Everywhere where he talked about the types of discussion the first post had engendered. Greg says: Three key areas of discussion focus seem to have arisen: Technology: Saddlebag contents? What specific tools are available to Bedouins? Location: Tent or no tent? Physical vs. virtual office? Social needs: Are Bedouins lonely? Can alternative workplace concepts meet the social needs of workers?

Paul Walk , April 14, 2006

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