Scripting News for 2/10/2008

Happy birthday XML 

According to Tim Bray, and he ought to know, today is the 10th birthday of XML.

XML is good basic technology that we’ve built lots of stuff on.

It’s certainly not perfect, but nothing is, it’s a good example of Less Is More and Worse Is Better.

It has also been the subject of many dramatic political battles. But thankfully, that seems to be behind us now. Today, we just use XML, and it serves us well.

Thanks to the originators of XML and the W3C for seeing it through.šŸ™‚

PS: My branch of the RSS tree was 10 years old in December, and XML-RPC will celebrate its 10th in March. This period in 1997 and 1998 was, in retrospect, a very productive period in web tech.

Scripting the iPod 

A Sunday morning exploration…

I want to write a script to move podcasts from my Mac hard disk to my New Podcasts playlist on my iPod.

More simply: A script to add an MP3 file to a playlist on an iPod. If it has to go through iTunes, so be it. It must be relatively simple and reliable.

I can write the script in AppleScript, but I’d prefer to write it in UserTalk so that porting to Windows (if possible) won’t be a completely new project.

Update #1: I found this tool from Peter Breuls. (It doesn’t contain any code for copying to an iPod.)

Update #2: This 2003 post from Adam Curry mentions a script created by “Marcus” that does what I want.

Yahoo + Microsoft, reloaded 

If you search for Yahoo Microsoft, this page is the second hit. I like that of course. It’s generating a fair amount of flow, since the combination of Yahoo and Microsoft is a pretty hot topic.

Keeping the topic going, I think it’s pretty amazing that Microsoft wants to buy Yahoo, but then again, which of all their web efforts has captured our imagination? At least Yahoo has Flickr, and when they try something new, we all try it with them (often with not the greatest results).

The rambling continues…

If Yahoo is into poison pills, try this one out.

Reserve 5 percent of Yahoo’s common stock for blogger options. Put us to work to find new businesses for Yahoo, ones that are relevant to our world. When we find them, reward the bloggers with a significant upside stake in Yahoo’s future, not the airy-fairy kind, but real stock that we can trade. Handled properly, it could raise shareholder value by much more than 5 percent. Just the kind of deal they pay you to do, oh Yahoo gods and board members.šŸ™‚

Of course it’ll never happen. It’s an idea like the one I keep proposing for newspapers — that they hire their public editors from the public, independent bloggers with no journalism experience, with no undue reverence for the institutions so revered by journos. They’re going away, just like Yahoo is (sad but true). Now what will rise in their place? Imho, something that’s home grown, with the integrity of the people, in our interest. The more they invite the public in, the more clued in they will be when we figure out where we want to go with news on the web.

It’s why I’m excited about the Obama campaign and why I keep giving to it (I’m up to $400 now). I’m excited because so many other people are excited.

I like his idea about tuition for public service for college students. It’s so simple. People want to be involved, they want to use their energy and creativity to solve problems. In the 20th century we were couch potatoes. In the 21st we do it for ourselves.

The first tech company that fully embraces this, not just in the form of User Generated Content (what an insult) but by giving us power (that comes from stock) will rule the world. If Y! had the guts, it won’t be long before they’re making tender offers to buy out Ballmer.

BTW, I think I understand why Ballmer wants Yahoo!

When Yahoo engineers wake up they program stuff like Yahoo Live, which is pretty cool and runs on the web, and while it steals ideas from smaller companies, it adds some pretty cool stuff of its own.

When Microsoft engineers wake up they program stuff like Vista, a multi-year, multi-billion dollar waste of money, time and customer goodwill. They can’t do another Vista without wrecking the franchise. Now the question is — where do they go for growth? That’s what Yahoo is for.

Mini-Microsoft: “Give me that dream and a milkshake and at least I get to enjoy the milkshake.”

Greenspun: “If I were a Yahoo shareholder, I would be looking at purchasing an old battleship, sail it into San Francisco Bay, and lobbing some shells on the Board members’ houses in Atherton.

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