Solipsism Gradient

Rainer Brockerhoff’s blog

Browsing Posts published in March, 2003

The Museum of Unworkable Devices features perpetual-motion machines, optical illusions, and many other interesting devices. One of the most interesting time-sinks I’ve seen recently.

Thanks to the Schockwellenreiter for the link!

Sam, thanks for the fast feedback…

Sam Ruby wrote:

internal tags don’t need the prefix, they need the namespace.

By setting the default namespace locally on the xhtml:body (or xhtml:div if we all change to that), then no extra characters are required.

Thanks for the correction, I overlooked that. For some reason, when I first implemented my RSS 2.0 feed, I assumed that declaring namespaces was a RSS 0.9x or 1.0 thing only, and although I learned otherwise later, somehow didn’t connect this to the <xhtml:body> case.

Posted by Guest:
internal tags don’t need the prefix, they need the namespace.

By setting the default namespace locally on the xhtml:body (or xhtml:div if we all change to that), then no extra characters are required.

See my http://www.intertwingly.net/blog/index.rss2 for an example.

The poor brain boggles. Let’s see if I can make sense of this…

First Don Box switches his RSS feed to support <content:encoded> (which is what I did from early on, BTW). Then Sam Ruby gently chides him for that, proposing the use of <xhtml:body> instead, a form which I hadn’t read about previously.

Then, Don immediately agrees and posts examples – curiously enough, they mess up his <content:encoded> RSS feed to illegibility (at least in NetNewsWire). Looking at the source, I see nested <content:encoded>s and CDATAs, and many unescaped tag delimiters; all this may possibly be syntactically valid, but it’s extremely confusing; I tried to hand-parse it and didn’t go very far. FWIW NetNewsWire seems to agree with me icon_smile.gifmy own feed never nests these things. Don promised to fix this by Monday.

Comments at Sam Ruby’s post soon discuss details and a few samples appear. Sam himself updates his own feed to <xhtml:body>, saying it’s “more bandwidth friendly” than <content:encoded>, which probably won’t be true if all internal tags must also contain the xhtml: prefix, as some argue.

Meanwhile, Jorgen Thelin asks for more stability, arguing that such fast changes in the interpretation of RSS makes compliance impossible. The comments to that by Sam and Don are very thought-provoking, and I’ll read them again carefully tomorrow, before I make any changes to my feed.

Sjoerd Visscher, in the meantime, proposes using <xhtml:div> instead of <xhtml:body>; Don disagrees, saying this would not convey the meaning that this tag brackets the real content. Sam arguments that the purpose of the whole exercise is avoid making the structure of the comment opaque; he also changes his own feed to the new scheme. NetNewsWire apparently doesn’t understand it, and falls back to using the <description>.

It’ll be interesting to see what newsreader authors say about this. Greg Reinacker says he’s already made the necessary changes in NewsGator. Purely from a newsreader’s perspective, I’m not sure if Sam’s comments about opaqueness apply; newsreader software always has to try to show something, even if the feed is malformed. I suppose NetNewsWire, for instance, whenever it sees a <content:encoded> tag it just shoves the contents into the lower-right pane, trusting the built-in HTML parser to do the right thing. And once Brent switches over to Apple’s upcoming WebCore, he’ll have even less to worry about. Meanwhile, I’m not sure supporting xhtml: prefixes in NetNewsWire will be trivial; he’ll probably have to prescan and take them out…

On the other hand, I agree that making the contents more structured may help Feedster and similar efforts.

Regarding the <xhtml:div> vs. <xhtml:body> question, my (probably naïve) first reaction is that <xhtml:div> will make things easier for browser-based aggregators, as the contents will be easily insertable into another page; whereas <xhtml:body> tags will have to be removed or converted, and also must contain block elements… isn’t it easier to treat the contents as a div and add an implicit body around it whenever necessary? For my weblog at least, a post is never displayed separately on a page, so my feed reflects exactly my top page, as a list of over a dozen posts. Perhaps both options should be allowed?

I’m looking forward to learning more about XML, XHTML and RSS from this discussion. Thanks, everybody!

No kidding; here are details:

Sources at the Security and Exchange Commission confirm that 44-year-old Andrew Carlssin offered the bizarre explanation for his uncanny success in the stock market after being led off in handcuffs on January 28…

“…the fact is, with an initial investment of only $800, in two weeks’ time he had a portfolio valued at over $350 million. Every trade he made capitalized on unexpected business developments, which simply can’t be pure luck.”

…Carlssin declared that he had traveled back in time from over 200 years in the future, when it is common knowledge that our era experienced one of the worst stock plunges in history.

…”No one can find any record of any Andrew Carlssin existing anywhere before December 2002.”

Stay tuned for developments!

Update: Well, this story now claims the whole thing is a freshly-minted urban myth. A pity; any other outcome would have been more interesting…

HotAIR, the organization that publishes the Annals of Improbable Research and sponsors the famous Ig® Nobel Prizes, has a new project: Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists. Any scientist possessing LFH may apply or be nominated for membership. Honorary members are Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, Benjamin Franklin, and Isaac Newton.

Although I consider myself to be a (computer) scientist, unfortunately I don’t qualify full-time for the hair part, as I – on standing orders from my wife – usually have my LFH cut as soon as it grows into the required length. 🙄

Thanks to Xeni Jardin at Boing Boing for the link!

John Gruber interviews Brent Simmons of NetNewsWire fame. Instead of quoting huge chunks of it here, I urge you to go read it.

One of the best interviews I’ve read in a long time, and a must read for shareware authors.

Pro and con XML

No comments

Tim Bray (one of the original XMLers, and a member of the W3C Technical Architecture Group) wrote an article weighing the pros and cons of XML. This complements and expands on his previous article, XML is too hard for programmers.

Required reading for any programmer that uses/will use XML in some way. Which, nowadays, means nearly everyone, I think.

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