Clueful house

US House of Reps: FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 161, via Derek Willis in private correspondence

OK, no, so I'm not so much of a political wonk that I'm doing the day's mathematics on the voting patterns behind "Making emergency supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2005, and for other purposes". No, what I'm interested in is the file extension of that URL: ".xml". View source, folks. Surely enough, our caveman congress is savvy enough that they are using XML, DTDs and XSLT in a ridiculously clueful manner. Knock me over with a feather. Next thing Tom DeLay will be running XQuery on these rolls so he could figure out which Dem he can play bogey-of-the-month with. Of course, that would put me in the odd position of feeling sorry for DeLay, for having to use XQuery...

Anyway, see also "Legislative Documents in XML at the United States House of Representatives". Willis says "they've been developing a system for votes and legislation (although that'll take some time to implement), and it deserves attention and support."

Vote for cloture on that, brother.

[Uche Ogbuji]

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Need a picture? Got a picture.

CC licensed pictures on Flickr, via blog

Many Flickr users have chosen to protect their work with a Creative Commons license, and you can browse or search through photos under each type of license.

Yeah, f'real, as in 127,100 pictures available under attribution license alone. You can also use the search, so you could, say, find all pictures tagged with "snowboard" with the attribution license. OK. That's the bag of chips right there. I mean, sure you may have to wade through a lot of fill before you find that one perfect picture for your next school report, but that's not much downside.

And don't forget the mother-search: the CC search engine, where you can also find other sorts of media. Nice demo of RDF in action as well. See:

Thinking XML: The commonsof creativity, Uche Ogbuji, developerWorks, May 2003

[Uche Ogbuji]

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CherryPy 2.0


After several months of hard work the first stable release of CherryPy2 is finally available. Downloads are available here and the ChangeLog can be viewed here.

Remi Delon announced the 2.0 release of CherryPy. It's my favorite entry in the the Python Web frameworks sweepstakes. It's very simple to learn and use, and it just makes sense. Very few surprising conventions. My own endorsement is among the many testimonials CherryPy has picked up

I'm also pulling for CherryPy to form the heart of the protocol server for the next generation of 4Suite. As I said on the CherryPy discussion board:

I have a nefarious agenda: I regret our having reinvented some wheels in 4Suite, and most especially the Web framework wheel. To be fair to us, the likes of CherryPy were not available at the time and it was pretty much Zope, Webware, mod_python or bust, and we didn't like any of those options. But now we're saddled with really not-that-great re-implementations of HTTP [server] framework, session management, etc, all too tightly coupled into the XML database for my liking. I'd like to move to a more open architecture that decouples core XML libraries from XML DBMS from protocol framework (with CherryPy ideally as the latter). That way, [someone] could get CherryPy, and if they liked, a simple XML processing plug in, and if they liked, an XML DB plug in, and so on. If I can get [something] working sweet as sugar with CherryPy, I bet I could convice my fellow 4Suite developers to leave the Web frameworks to the dedicated Web frameworks projects.

I've been plugging slowly away with these ideas, but it's been hard to get to it with all the other items in the work queue. Perhaps this announcement will spur me to get something into shape.

[Uche Ogbuji]

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Wiktionary, via Sean Palmer on IRC

[...]Wiktionary, a collaborative project to produce a free multilingual dictionary in every language, with definitions, etymologies, pronunciations and quotations. Wiktionary is the lexical companion to the open-content encyclopedia Wikipedia ( In the English edition, started on December 12, 2002, we are now working on 68055 entries."

Around the time this reference came up, we were discussing the various senses of the word "shibboleth", and on a lark, I checked the Wiktionary. It nails it nicely:


  1. A word which was made the criterion by which to distinguish the Ephraimites from the Gileadites. The Ephraimites, not being able to pronounce sh, called the word sibboleth. See Judges xii.
  2. Also in an extended sense: the criterion, test, watchword, or password of a party used to distinguish membership.
  3. A slogan, jargon word, or catchphrase closely associated with a particular group and not used very much, or at all, outside of it. Can also apply to ideas, customs, and uses of language.
  4. A common belief or usage that is questionable or incorrect; truism, platitude.

It's really wonderful to discover gems from the amazing world of on-line collaboration. Wiktionary doesn't yet have as much mind share as Wikipedia, but I suspect it shall as time goes on, and this will make it better in some ways, and worse in others.

I do hope it evolves some means of exporting/querying though XML or RDF, similar to WordNet. See:

[Uche Ogbuji]

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Care with rel="nofollow"

"More on passive aggressive linking with nofollow" -- Jay Fienberg, via comment on Joi Ito's blog

Interesting what trails lead through blogs sometimes. I found this while reading more about, which it seems you should avoid.

Jay makes some very good points about being precise with the semantics of Google's rel="nofollow" trick. One reason I find this so interesting is that when Google came up with this good idea, a lot of people got a little over-excited and were making noises to the effect of "see, never mind all that semantic metacrap stuff. Uncle Google gives us all the semantics we need". But Jay's note demonstrates that at best what Google gave us is a weak approximation of the sorts of nuance rich linking requires. And the fact that Google had to come up with this trick is evidence that we do need rich linking in the first place. Yes, XLink overdid things with the bewildering array of link annotation options (among other sins), but we can't just overload rel="nofollow" and expect not to be heading into our own hypocritical purgatory of metacrap. At the very least, people should be thinking of what other rel="*" conventions we can settle on in the community.

BTW, Bob DuCharme was one of the few people with sensible commentary when Google debuted rel="nofollow". See "Big week for the a/@rel attribute". But then again, what's new? Bob's the best commentator I know on linking. Full stop.

[Uche Ogbuji]

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