Saturday, August 29, 2009

Learn XML with XMLSpy

For some of us, who have been working with XML for ten years now, it seems almost inconceivable that there are still people who are learning XML now. But the fact of the matter is that XML is being used in so many different domains now, that every day new people get introduced to XML and have a need for training.

To help them get up to speed quickly, we’ve launched a new free online training class that focuses on learning XML and learning how to use XMLSpy to work with XML more productively. This is a great beginner class and we hope that it will help newcomers to the field of XML:

Learn XML and XMLSpy

In this training we cover basic XML principles, how to edit an XML document, and how to create and XML schema. For further information, please see the Altova Blog post on this topic, and the Learn XML page on the Altova website.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sign of the times: different media used to relay birthday wishes

It is perhaps a sign of these times that birthday wishes are being relayed through different media than before and social media is clearly the winner in this. I did indeed celebrate my 42nd birthday yesterday, and just for fun I kept track of how the birthday wishes arrived:

  • 19th century technology (and earlier)
    • Postal mail: 1
    • Telephone: 3
  • 20th century technology
    • E-Mail: 14
  • 21st century technology (mostly social media)

What I find interesting about this is the huge difference between Twitter and Facebook – especially since I have 3,310 followers on Twitter vs. “only” 583 friends on Facebook. So on Twitter a total of 0.2% of my followers sent birthday wishes, whereas 9.3% of my friends on Facebook did. I guess the terms “follower” vs. “friend” are indeed quite accurate in describing the actual relationship on these two sites. Oh, and it does, of course, help that Facebook has this birthday reminder feature built-in…

While Twitter is getting a lot of buzz these days in the media, and while I really like it for news information, rapid dissemination of important links, and other trending topics, there is no doubt that the real winner in terms of where the actual social interactions are happening is Facebook.

In either case, if you are not yet on Twitter or Facebook, I highly recommend that you try and use both. And when you do, feel free to connect with me: afalk on Facebook / @afalk on Twitter.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

More on the Microsoft and i4i XML patent issues

Rick Jelliffe published two great posts on the O’Reilly Blogs yesterday and today that deal with an in-depth technical reading of both the patent that Microsoft received recently and also the i4i patent that it was sued over. Rick’s analysis contradicts some of the perfunctory statements in various news media and other blogs:

I highly recommend reading both…

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Injunction to prevent Microsoft from selling Word due to XML

It appears that there are just a handful of truly ubiquitous PC applications out there that exist on almost every single computer on the planet and Microsoft Word is certainly among that bunch. So it is an interesting twist that a Texas judge ruled yesterday in an injunction that Microsoft can no longer sell Word (version 2003 and 2007) starting in 60 days because they can handle XML data.

In a lawsuit filed in 2007 i4i (based out of Canada) said that Word violated its 1998 patent No. 5,787,449 on a method for reading XML.

If you are like me and prefer to read all the legal details yourself, here are the relevant links (thanks to The Microsoft Blog for the PDFs):

Needless to say, Microsoft will either appeal the injunction, try to invalidate the patent, or – most likely – settle and write a big check to i4i, but this just shows yet another aspect of the broken patent system when it comes to software patents especially in relations to standards such as XML.

It is interesting to note that the patent appears to deal primarily with representing any document in XML, which appears to be slightly ludicrous given the long history of SGML prior to 1998. Also interesting is that the injunction doesn't just talk about XML, but rather specifically mentions .DOCX (i.e. Open Office XML), which is used by Word 2007 as its default storage format.

More coverage on

Monday, August 10, 2009

Facebook has acquired FriendFeed

I’ve liked and used FriendFeed for a long time now, and I also enjoy using Facebook – mainly to stay in touch with family and friends.

So I was positively surprised to learn that Facebook acquired FriendFeed today. This has been confirmed on the FriendFeed Blog as well as in a Facebook press release.

This seems to be an excellent match, as Facebook has already “borrowed” quite a few features from FriendFeed and it seems that together these services can indeed achieve a lot more than as separate systems. Also, FriendFeed has been directly competing with Twitter in a lot of ways, so this acquisition furthers Facebook’s assault on Twitter. This will be very interesting to watch to see who comes out on top in the long-term.

More info can be found on TechMeme and TechCrunch