Solipsism Gradient

Rainer Brockerhoff’s blog

Browsing Posts published in February, 2003

Erik’s reorg

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Erik J. Barzeski did a complete site reorganization and is asking:

If you’ve linked to me previously, or I’ve sent you a TrackBack, please search your site for links to mine and update them.

Unfortunately, I don’t know what the etiquette is. People have links to my articles. Even I have links to my articles. “PermaLinks” are not very permanent. I don’t want to ruin the links other people have coded up, but I have to do something.

What should I do? Please let me know.

Erik, I’m not sure what resources other weblogging software has, but in my case, I’d have to hand-update every link. I’ll do it if necessary, but this will change the timestamp and make a “recently edited” message to appear in every such post… rather awkward.

My suggestion is: drop that funny 404 message you have now, and put a PHP script in its place. See this article for details.

In the script, set up an array associating the number in the /archives/000xxx.php with your new URL. This may be a hassle, but you only have to do it once – chances are, you already have this in some format. Then have the script return a “301 – Moved Permanently” response containing the new URL.

And you can even return the funny message if the 404 doesn’t refer to /archives… if you’d like some help with this, drop me a line. 🙂

Update: it turns out Erik’s a PHP wizard and no, he doesn’t have the old-to-new URL table. So I went back and changed the 4 or 5 links I had to his site.

One more chapter in the trackback saga.

I installed a test Movable Type weblog (version 2.6) and succeeded in getting trackback and autodiscovery to work. Contrarily to what I said below, the & in the trackback URL can’t be escaped to &, or MT gets confused. So I changed everything back; in the process, I changed the trackback post format a little, as you can see in the test below. Also, the whole topic now has a separate trackback URL, for trackbacks not pertaining to a specific post; the URL is up near the topic header.

One stumbling block was that MT has a built-in check to never ping the same site, as NSLog() also complains. To turn this off, go to your MT folder, find the file /Lib/MT/, and comment out line#289, which should be

next if $url =~ /^$archive_url/;


The end of shareware?

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Slava Karpenko of Unsanity proclaimed that Shareware Is Dead:

So I think it is time to rethink our vision of this world and get rid of the Shareware and Commercial distinction. Shareware existed a few years ago, and now has merged with other types of software distribution. I think we all have to realize that we sell and buy software, and not “shareware”, “nagware”, “commercial” and so on.

Erik J. Barzesky says it died long ago:

…shareware died when the Internet became popular…

Nowadays, being tagged with the flag “shareware” can be a death warrant to a lot of people or small companies. “Shareware” means “please steal me.” “Shareware” is too vague…

So yeah, “shareware” is dead. The term may live on, unfortunately, but “shareware” itself no longer exists. It all died right around 1994, as best I can peg it.

I must say that I hesitated between calling my product “shareware” or “low-priced commercial software”. In the end I went with the “shareware” tag, so as to not give the wrongful impressions of a larger company with a help desk and huge support resources, as seems to be expected nowadays… I’d rather be known as a one-man operation that gives excellent support under those circumstances. And of course, more informed people know that the definition of “shareware” today is very different from that of a decade ago;while less informed users may refrain from trying out software labeled as “commercial”.

…still, in a year or so I may change my labeling. Let’s see how the market evolves.

Posted by Michael Tsai’s Weblog:
Michael Tsai’s Weblog linked to this post

Is Shareware Dead?

Slava Karpenko Erik Barzeski Rainer Brockerhoff Daniel Sandler Steven Frank At present, I call my software shareware. By that I mean that it’s free to try and isn’t crippled, although it will nag you. Users get support directly from me, and I’m responsive to their suggestions. I encourage people to share the software (but not their serial numbers) with their friends, and it’s available on various compilation CDs and at Info-Mac. But I guess I agree that the term “shareware” has become meaningless because everyone has a different idea of what it means. We stopped saying in ATPM reviews whether a piece of software claimed to be shareware. It wasn’t a distinction worth making. After all, BBEdit now has a shareware-style trial, and it’s backed by a responsive company, but it isn’t shareware, is it? Instead, we list the price and briefly state whether you can try before buying and how the trial is limited (if at all). I should probably start doing this for my software. The question that remains is what to select in VersionTracker’s the License popup.

Service interruption

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Several modern browsers seem to be dropping the “www.” in front of domain names under certain circumstances (like auto-completion), so I was getting a certain volume of complaints that while worked, / fell through into my provider’s default page instead of redirecting or providing a 404, as is customary.

Yesterday I finally got through to support, and they promptly misunderstood, taking completely off the air (but making / work correctly).

Due to several circumstances I was off the net until today in the morning, when I was shocked to see what happened, and am now trying to have them fix it ASAP. If you’re seeing the “www.” in front of the URL, this has been fixed.

My apologies for the mixup…

Rainer Brockerhoff wrote:

…just after being chided by my editor for not turning in a couple of articles that are somewhat overdue…

My ADSL connection went down this morning and I held off withdrawal symptoms just enough to write the first of the articles: a review of “The Wireless Networking Starter Kit: The practical guide to Wi-Fi Networks for Windows and Macintosh”, by Adam Engst and Glenn Fleishman. I’ll post an English translation here sometime today.

Also, my RSS feed subscription list today reached the 150-sites mark. (The file is in the .opml format exported and imported by NetNewsWire.) From my empirical observations, 150 subscriptions is the critical mass; NNW needs about 5 minutes to update all those subscriptions, and you need the remaining 55 minutes to read everything. Assuming NNW is set to scan hourly, the cycle immediately begins anew and any orbiting consciousness will never be able to leave the informational black hole. Time is relativistically compressed in such a way that you sit down at the computer in after breakfast, say “just a few minutes, honey, I swear”, and boom – time to go to bed again!

That reminds me: I still have to write a review of NetNewsWire…

Today, just after being chided by my editor for not turning in a couple of articles that are somewhat overdue (aw, just a couple of weeks! or months!), I see something pertinent up at Joi Ito’s Web.

First he quotes Steve Covell who wrote to Ernie the Attorney:

OK, a couple of weeks ago I knew nada about the subject of blogs. Here is my take on the 3 stages of blogging:

1) There must be something to blogs because so many people are into it, but I don’t have a clue.

2) OK, it does seem kind of cool and there is much, much more to it than I expected. I just don’t see any really practical applications.

3) Oh my God, the things I can do with this are coming to me faster than I can keep up with.

Then, he adds a fourth stage:

Actually, there is at least another stage:

4) Oh, no. I’m addicted to blogging…

You are addicted to blogging if you answer “yes” to at least 3 of the following questions:

Do you think about everything in terms of whether it will make a good blog entry?

Do you keep your computer in standby mode beside your bed and wake up at 2am to blog?

Do you skip lunch and blog instead?

Do you accept speaking engagements or make travel decisions based on whether they will make good blog material?

Do you have your RSS newsreader open during meetings and keep hitting “refresh”?

Do you sit around trying to figure out how you can redesign your job so you can blog more?

Do you think blogs will suddenly cause an emergent democracy and save the world?

This sounds awfully familiar. Anyway, I promise to start writing my articles just after next refresh… icon_wink.gif

CRN (among several others) has news on the coming acquisition of “significant assets” of Connectix by Microsoft. Connectix main claim to fame in the Mac world is its Virtual PC emulation software. They’ve branched out to produce other emulators recently, so much so that the CRN article talks mostly about their Windows products.

The general gut-level reaction in the blogosphere seems to be distrust. The SlashDot crowd seems to think that they’ll cripple the products to restrict them to boot only Microsoft OSes. Dori Smith at Backup Brain can’t see Microsoft supporting Virtual PC in the long term. Michael Tsai and both think that they bought Virtual PC to kill it (just like in the Bungie case).

On the other hand, Glenn Fleishman writes:

‘ll be curious to get Apple’s reaction, but this is certainly a strong indication of Microsoft’s continued commitment to development on the Mac platform – or possibly an escape plan. If they tweak Virtual PC to work fast enough, they could just develop Office for Windows and bundle Virtual PC with it as the Mac version…

Paul Bissex at Forwarding Address: OS X also sees this as an attempt by Microsoft to increase their revenues on the Mac side.

On the gripping hand, Bill Bumgarner takes a different tack:

It is interesting to note that Microsoft has now positioned themselves to move forward in a similar fashion as has Apple with its transition from OS 9 and prior [Classic] to Mac OS X.

That is, Microsoft does not have to worry as much about backwards compatibility because they now have the basis for an excellent black box within which “legacy” applications can run in a more traditional environment.

In other words, Virtual PC (both for Mac and for Windows) would be Microsoft’s “Classic” compatibility box, and an opportunity for them to continue selling present and past OSes both for Macs and for new Intel platforms, into the indefinite future. They can even do what Apple did, and abandon binary compatibility completely. This may even be Microsoft’s tactic for easy transition into 64-bit architectures and the new DRM (mis)features…

I personally think this might be the most favorable scenario. I’ve met Dan Crevier (the current head of Microsoft’s Business Unit) before he went to Microsoft, and he’s both competent and a great Mac fan. If he hasn’t thought of this before, he’ll certainly give it due consideration now.

Also, Virtual PC’s current performance on any but the fastest Macs – somewhere between glacial and just barely adequate for some restricted tasks – will certainly be much improved after some tweaking by people with access to the Windows source code. After all, this is an opportunity to sell Windows to a group of users otherwise lost to Microsoft; if they made it a little faster, halved prices, and bundled some of the applications that switchers regret leaving behind, sales of Virtual PC would easily double or triple – at little extra cost to Redmond.

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