Blog posts tagged "web"

PrinceXML: XSLT Alternative?

December 5th, 2005

I’ve had a todo item “Check out PrinceXML” since seeing it mentioned in ALA’s Printing a Book with CSS.

So I got so far as figuring out it wasn’t opensource, and seeing that the price was $349 dollars. Definitely makes me think I should probably shuffle that “Learn XSL” up the todo list again.

Still I’m very intrigued, and will probably download the trial version when I’ve got enough free time that I can pour some into learning a proprietary tool.

Anyone else played with it?

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Today is the 10th anniversary of my first homepage.

September 13th, 2005

Turned in as an assignment for Rich Muller’s “Networks, Computers, and Stories”. The class was supposed to be on hypertext fiction but a strong geek contingent in the room spent our time fiddling with cgi-lib.pl, imagemagick, and building galleries of background patterns. (Seth Mills-Cannon’s I think was definitive of the genre, even today)

In fact, I’m not sure I ever got to the story piece, but the homepage did have randomly rotating graphic sets, random fortune quotes, and the current time (using non-parsed header animated graphics of course). Much more advanced then this current page of mine.

Thankfully it was lost to history.

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Web Thursday in Boston

July 31st, 2005

This Thursday (Aug 4th) is the next meeting of the Boston PHP (out of date) user group [Boston University Office of Information Technology – 111 Cummington Street]( http://www.bu.edu/it/directions/) at 6:30PM, and the next New England Web Designers (NEWD) meetup at Cambridge Brewing Company, at 7:30pm. You’ll have to choose as at that time of day, with the Red Sox playing at home, I wouldn’t recommend trying to do both.

Haven’t decided if I’ll be re-cuped enough to make it to either yet.

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Not To Mention All of Us

June 30th, 2005

Joe Kraus’s post “It’s a great time to be an entrepreneur” mirrors what I’ve been seeing for the last several years. He makes a lot of good points in the pursuit of explaing why Excite took $3million to go from idea to reality, and JotSpot took $100k. However he fails to mention one of my favorites.

You see Dot.com 1.0 was probably one of the most expensive, least efficient public education projects in history, but for those of us who lived through it, it was an amazing, free (we called our grants “investments”), world class education in software development, project management, web development, open source, user interaction, and on and on.

Cheap hardware, free (libre) software, and a global market are all major factors, but don’t forget the huge pool of talented, trained individuals, who not only know this stuff, but learned it in the sort of creative, hands on, team oriented environments that educational theorists are so fond of.

(Now if we could just cut out the capitalist circus and realize that education create value for the economy as well as the individual, we’d really be getting somewhere)

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Ruby, HTTP, and open-uri

April 12th, 2005

Ruby’s obvious HTTP client library is Net::HTTP (‘net/http’), however it feels a little bit awkward to use and lacks nice features like following redirects. If you’re coming from LWP you’ll be disappointed.

However there is a nice wrapper, open-uri that makes it simple to add custom headers, provides loop aware redirect following, etc. And it provides a super slick drop in replacement for the Kernel#open method, so that you can open either a local file, or a remote URL….

Danger Will Robinson! Danger

At this point, alarm bells are going off in the heads’ of the PHP programmers in the audience, who are thinking to themselves,

“Wow, someone went to the trouble of making Ruby act PHP-like! Down to replicating one of the most commonly exploited security holes!”

Sincerest forms of flattery aside, that seems like a really bad idea. Admittedly you have to explicitly require 'open-uri' in order to activate the feature, howev er as the best of the Ruby HTTP clients (I’ve found to date) that seems like a decent bet in many web apps, and once you’ve done that all future calls to open can be hijacked to download remote files.

Now, this being Ruby, there is probably some clever solution involving de-aliasing the open method which makes all these problems go away. Still this seems like an opportunity for the PHP community, with its near infinite experience with having web apps exploited, to teach the Ruby community something. Overloading your core file open semantic to transparently open remote resources is a bad idea, full stop.

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