It’s been a few years that this personal blog has been mostly dormant, as I have mainly published content on the Altova Blog, but 2019 seems to be as good a year as any to hit Ctrl-Alt-Del on my XML Aficionado blog and again comment on industry trends, new developments, new technologies, and changes that impact our society in general. As has been the case in the past, there might be a few posts about the Red Sox or Patriots, too…


I have also rebooted the layout and design of the blog, and it has been moved from Blogger to Squarespace, upgraded to SSL, and now features a mobile-friendly responsive design. Hope you like it…

Welcome to the new Altova Blog

We've just launched our new redesigned Altova Blog:

This is a major redesign, including a move to a modern blogging platform, better categories and tags, and a new responsive design that will adapt to whichever device you use to visit the blog.

The new Altova Blog is also where you will find future blog posts that I write. After 8 years of blogging separately on the XML Aficionado blog, I've decided it is time to stop. This will be the last message here, and I ask you to subscribe to the new Altova Blog or to follow Altova on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter for future articles and updates...

Impressions from PodCamp Boston 3 (#pcb3)

DSC04154 I was at PodCamp Boston 3 yesterday and wanted to briefly share a few impressions here. The funny video is at the bottom, so if you have no patience and just want to hear Chris Brogan, you may scroll down a page or so... :)

The event was held at Harvard Medical School and was completely sold out. Bloggers, Audio and Video Podcasters came together to discuss and present all aspects of Social Media in a community-oriented style.

Even though there was a schedule of formal presentations, a lot of the real action happened in the hallways, coffee breaks, and in several impromptu sessions.

I found most presentations to be very good (e.g. Stever Robbins aka the Get It Done Guy), but some were also a disappointment and I walked out - only to run into people in the hallway and strike up a great conversation. One panel discussion was almost putting me to sleep.

DSC04165 Being a rather podcasting-oriented event you could always find people in the hallway being interviewed by others, and in some cases the interviewer and interviewee would trade roles after a few minutes - it was actually pretty funny to watch.

One thing that was pretty amazing during the event was to observe others in the audience during the presentation sessions: about half the people were working on laptops during the presentation, the rest was on Blackberrys, iPhones, and I saw one person even working on a PSP. I also noticed one person holding an old-fashioned paper-pad. Most laptop and iPhone users were on Twitter reporting live from the event, or looking up whatever the presenter was talking about on Wikipedia, Google, etc. and taking notes.

DSC04167 Probably the best session I was a part of wasn't a scheduled presentation at all. As I took a quick break in the cafeteria, an impromptu event formed (and was promptly twittered about) where a couple of people came together and started a discussion on Old Media vs. New Media. It was a lively discussion that encompassed everything from advertising, journalistic styles, different ad sales strategies and staffing levels, to how Social Media is affecting the way we consume media, respond to advertising, and making purchasing decisions. Several people were recording the session with high-quality video equipment, but then stopped after a while - I guess their memory cards must have been getting full by then.

So I whipped out my trusted old Sony DSC-T50 digital camera and recorded about 20 minutes worth of raw 640x480 video. Not a quality that video podcasters would aim for, but sure enough in those 20 minutes I captured this great statement from Chris Brogan:

I apologize for the bad audio-quality (since I only used the built-in mic), so if you are having trouble hearing it, this is Chris Brogan's insight: "Wait a second. I buy my media. And I watch ads for free. Hmmm..."

The other conclusions reached during the discussion were:

  • that Social Media actually causes large companies to lose control of their brands - and some even argued that they are only losing the illusion of ever having been in control of their brand;
  • that Social Media actually forces companies to focus on creating a great product, because anything less than a great product will be exposed very quickly;
  • that any Old Media company who doesn't "get it" will soon be reduced to irrelevance.

PodCamp Boston 3 is still going on today, but I unfortunately can't make it into town due to the new puppy. If you are also missing the event, you can follow live updates from PodCamp Boston 3 using Twitter Search (aka Summize).

Talking of Twitter, if you'd likee to follow my updates, you can do so here...

Recent Reviews of XMLSpy and DatabaseSpy

In the past week I came across two interesting recent reviews of our products in blogs that I wanted to mention briefly:

As always you can download a free 30-day trial version of any of our products to try it yourself.

WorldWide Telescope - pretty, but not revolutionary

Microsoft Research has launched a public beta of the WorldWide Telescope (WWT) this week, which has generated considerable buzz in the blogosphere - mainly because über-geek blogger Robert Scoble stated that it made him cry when he saw a preview earlier this year.

I just downloaded the beta version myself and it is indeed pretty. Think of Google Earth, but looking outward at the universe rather than at our planet here. You can scroll and zoom and explore and see the night sky in much more detail than most people have ever experienced in a planetarium. It has a detailed database of astronomical objects, including stars, planets, constellations, and galaxies. You can use a search function to find any celestial object, or you can use the locator pane that points out noteworthy objects in your current field of view.

And it comes with great guided tours - slides, pictures from different wavelength images, and narration - that give you expert insights into little corners of the universe you didn't know about. And it allows you to control your actual telescope to zoom in on the same object you are viewing on your computer. And it's free. So it's a nice educational tool, no doubt.

But does it make me cry?

Hardly, if you consider that it has all been done before. For the avid hobby astronomer such features have already been available for quite a while. Starry Night Software does exactly what the WWT does, i.e. it lets you explore the night sky and provides guided tours to various astronomical events, controls your telescope, and it has far more features than the WWT. The only difference is that you have to buy Starry Night on a CD/DVD and install it on your computer, whereas you use WWT like you are using Google Earth: with a thin client viewer and all the data resides on the web.

The one thing I do like about the WWT is that any tours created in the software are, of course, stored in XML format. Microsoft hasn't yet published the specifications or schema for them, but I was able to create a short tour myself and then edited it further with our XMLSpy XML Editor.

So what is so innovative about the WWT that it warrants such a buzz? All it does is apply the thin client viewer plus cloud database approach to an astronomy application. That is certainly not revolutionary - I'd say it's not even original. Why you need a research lab to do it, is beyond me. It sure is a pretty application, but it simply doesn't deserve the hype and attention.

Pheasant Glass

I have previously thrown in a few restaurant reviews in this XML Aficionado blog, but after some careful consideration over a recent vacation trip to the west coast, I came to the conclusion that it makes more sense to collect those in a separate blog and to keep XML Aficionado focused on technology, XML, and the occasional update from the Red Sox.
For those of you interested in restaurant and hotel reviews, please take a look at our new Pheasant Glass blog and read about our recent trip through California with stops in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, Carmel Valley, and San Francisco.

BlogRush: useful blog syndication or evil pyramid scheme

There's been a lot of talk about BlogRush recently and bloggers seem to be divided into one camp that subscribes to the "useful blog syndication tool" idea vs. another camp that paints BlogRush as an "evil pyramid scheme".

On the surface - if you look at their video - it does indeed appear to be both. There is clearly a benefit to the individual blogger who adds the widget to their site, and there is also clearly a pyramid scheme involved. But in contrast to evil pyramid schemes based on money (Amway, etc.), which can rip apart families and friends because you suddenly trying to sell stuff to them all the time, BlogRush is solely based on trading impressions of syndicated links. I see nothing wrong with that.

So I would term it a "useful blog syndication tool based on a non-evil pyramid scheme".

I do, of course, expect them to eventually open their syndication network to advertisers who can promote their new blog for pay across this network. But there isn't anything wrong with that either...

Conclusion: I'm going to give it a try (see sidebar on the right when you visit my site) or go to the BlogRush website to learn more and/or sign up your blog.