Guitar builder & picker Wayne Hendersion interviewed on NPR

By Noah | November 27, 2010

NPR’s On Point recently broadcast an interview with guitar builder and world class picker Wayne Henderson.  If you love guitar, do check it out.  Among other things, Henderson plays a very nice version of Doc Watson’s Nothing to It.  Indeed, Henderson has built instruments for Doc Watson and Eric Clapton, etc.  Highly recommended.

Topics: Music | No Comments »

Norm Walsh on XML and JSON

By Noah | November 17, 2010

There’s been a lot of fuss lately about the widespread adoption of JSON for Web APIs, and a sense in some quarters that this represents a failure for XML.  Norm Walsh has a new post summarizing the pros and cons of JSON vs. XML,  and as usual, Norm has it exactly right:

(somewhat rearranging Norm’s text):

In short, if all you need are bundles of atomic values and especially if you expect to exchange data with JavaScript, JSON is the obvious choice. I don’t lose any sleep over that.  […] XML wasn’t designed to solve the problem of transmitting structured bundles of atomic values. XML was designed to solve the problem of unstructured data. In a word or two: mixed content. […]   I’ve seen attempts to represent mixed content in JSON and simple they aren’t. 

XML deals remarkably well with the full richness of unstructured data. I’m not worried about the future of XML at all even if its death is gleefully celebrated by a cadre of web API designers. […] I look forward to seeing what the JSON folks do when they are asked to develop richer APIs. When they want to exchange less well strucured [sic] data, will they shoehorn it into JSON?

That is indeed the tradeoff.  If you want to send along a list of job applicants and their recent salaries, JSON does fine;  if you want to send their resumes, well JSON isn’t quite as helpful.   A surprising amount of the world’s important information is in just such semi-structured documents.  Think insurance policies, shop manuals, and even Web pages themselves.  XML is designed to provide a standard means for encoding and interchanging such information, with good enough pure data facilities that if you then want a unified framework to also handle the applicant list, you can.  When you prefer a simpler, more Javascript-compatible means of exchanging simple data, by all means use JSON.

Topics: Web, Internet, Computing | 8 Comments »

DSLR hint: what’s that AF-ON button for anyway?

By Noah | October 6, 2010

Somewhat to my surprise, the photography postings in this blog continue to be by far the most popular.  So, here’s another.  This time I want to share some thoughts about careful focusing, and in particular, how and why to use the AF-ON button that’s on some advanced DSLR cameras.  If the camera is capable of focusing automatically as you release the shutter, why would you set set it to use a separate focus button?  It took me awhile to figure that out, but now AF-ON is one of my favorite features.

Read the rest of this entry »

Topics: Photography | 9 Comments »

Another Gig with Rock City this Saturday

By Noah | October 3, 2010

I’ll be playing another gig with Rock City Band this Saturday, Oct. 9, at Mickee’s on the Water on Middlesex Turnpike in Billerica, MA (map).  We’re playing from 9 to 12:30, and if you live near Bedford, Lexington, Arlington, etc., it’s only about 20 minutes away.  Rock City plays covers of rock and pop favorites from the 60’s to the present, and Mickee’s has a nice dance floor.  More information, song lists, etc. is available on the Rock City Band Web site.  We’d love to see you there!

Topics: Music | No Comments »

Doug Crockford: Go slow on HTML5 until security concerns are addressed

By Noah | September 29, 2010

There’s a very interesting article in the Web Security Journal quoting Javascript expert Doug Crockford on HTML 5 and security.  Doug’s point is basically:  we had bad security problems with HTML and the Web before HTML5 was proposed.  What should have been done was to focus on getting a good, clean, secure architecture for core features of the next release, and only then add new features. Read the rest of this entry »

Topics: Web, Internet, Computing | No Comments »

James Gosling Interview

By Noah | September 28, 2010

There’s a transcript of a terrific interview with James Gosling available at  Lots of irreverent, insightful comments on Java, Oracle, open source, Google and the Android suit, etc.

Topics: History of computing, Web, Internet, Computing | No Comments »

Type too fast, melt your processor?

By Noah | September 25, 2010

Not really, of course, but there’s a nice ASPLOS XV paper from Mesa-Martínez et. al. titled Characterizing Processor Thermal Behavior which explains, among other things:

“…each [Emacs] keystroke generates around 1â—¦ C thermal spike…”

Who knew?  In their tests, the startup phase of Emacs raised the processor temperature in the area being measured (simulated) by 15â—¦ C.  Most of what’s driving modern trends toward multicore architectures is the tendency for higher speed single core machines to run too hot.  Indeed, I saw one presentation at IBM pointing out that heat densities were passing those found on the surface of a clothes iron!  Anyway, this is an interesting paper if you’re interest in modern processor design.

Topics: Science, Web, Internet, Computing | No Comments »

Bass gig: Robert Cedrone in Lexington on Sept. 25th

By Noah | September 16, 2010

Robert Cedrone and I will be appearing again this Saturday at the Starbucks (map) that’s on the north side of Lexington, MA (not the one in the center of town!)  Robert and I go on at about 7:20 PM and we’ll play until a bit after 8 PM, but there are also a couple of other groups on ahead of us, so come early.  In fact, we may wind up going on a bit early anyway depending how things go.

Robert plays acoustic guitar and sings a mix of covers including Van Morrison, Al Green, Southside Johnny, Roy Orbison, etc., and some originals too.   We’ll again be joined by Ron Chancey, who is a terrific guitar player.  Robert and Ron have for years been in the legendary Boston-area blues band, the Urge, and these local gigs give them a chance to get out and do something a bit quieter.

The gig will be at:

60 Bedford St
Lexington, MA 02420
(781) 863-1189

This is indeed the same day as my Rockin’ for KPM gig with Rock City Band, but with luck I’ll make it down from Dracut to Lexington with a few minutes to spare.  (Go figure:  no gigs for 3 months, and then two the same day.  I’ll be back with Rock City at Mickee’s in Billerica for a full length gig the evening of Saturday, October 9th too.)

UPDATE: Writeup on the gig from the event organizers

Topics: Boston area, Music, Non-technical | No Comments »

Bass gig: Rockin’ for KPM on Sept. 25th

By Noah | September 16, 2010

On Sept. 25th, I’ll be playing bass for Rock City Band at the Rockin’ for KPM benefit at Back to the Boathouse in Dracut, Mass. Rockin’ for KPM is held each year to celebrate and raise money for the surviving two of three triplets, Kyle, Patrick and Matthew Wilkins, all of whom were born with Becker’s Muscular Distrophy.  There will be good food and good music, and it’s for a very good cause.   We go on for one set at about 4:30 PM, but the other bands start at 1PM and there are good bands following us too. This will be my first Rockin’ for KPM, but I’m told that lots of great bands show up and everyone has a terrific time.   There’s more info about the benefit here.  Come on out and join us!

Also: it turns out I have another gig that evening backing up Robert Cedrone.  I’ll put up a separate posting with info on that one.

Topics: Boston area, Music, Non-technical | No Comments »

Blog upgraded to WordPress 3.0.1

By Noah | September 2, 2010

This evening I updated Arcane Domain to WordPress 3.0.1.  If you see anything that’s not working right, please comment here, or email the Web master (instructions on the About this Blog page).  Heartfelt thanks to everyone in the WordPress community who worked so hard on the upgrade!

Topics: Arcane domain blog | No Comments »

Radioactive decay affected by solar activity?

By Noah | August 25, 2010

Seems hard to believe but Purdue and Stanford researchers report that the rates of decay of several radioactive elements drop somewhat during periods of solar flare.  Amazing.  Thanks to @bramcohen and @daveo for passing this on.

UPDATE:  Discover Magazine reports that other scientists are skeptical, with some supporting reasons, but in the same article the original researchers stick by their analysis.

SEPT, 2010 UPDATE: Not surprisingly, more careful tests suggest that decay rates are constant after all.

Topics: Science | No Comments »

Interesting History of Java & thoughts on the Oracle/Google Android lawsuit

By Noah | August 18, 2010

Charles Nutter has an interesting post titled  My Thoughts on Oracle v. Google.  It gives a quite detailed history of the Java platform, and some thoughts on the recent lawsuit by Oracle against Google.   I’m not in a position to comment on the accuracy of all the details, but I found it to be thought-provoking, and well written.

Topics: Web, Internet, Computing | No Comments »

Excellent “What’s new in HTML5?” cheat sheet

By Noah | August 18, 2010

From Mark Pilgrim by way of DaveO:   HTML5 Peeks, Pokes and Pointers, an excellent quick guide to new syntax and Javascript APIs in HTML5.  See also Mark’s Dive into HTML5.

Topics: Web, Internet, Computing | No Comments »

Gig alert: Payson Park Music Festival this Wed. in Belmont, MA

By Noah | July 12, 2010

My friends in Rock City Band will be appearing this Wed., weather permitting, at Payson Park in Belmont, MA for the Payson Park Music Festival.  As far as I know, this is a local neighborhood summer music event, at a small park in Belmont.  I’ll be coming by to do sound, and I’ll likely trade off with Don playing bass.  Music starts at 6:45 PM and goes until dusk.  With luck, I’ll have a chance around 8:30 PM to dedicate one to Dan Connolly too.

RAIN DELAY: the concert has been delayed one day, to July 15, 2010, also at 6:45 PM.

Topics: Music | No Comments »

Worldwide celebration of Dan Connolly’s contributions to the Web

By Noah | July 12, 2010

Few people have contributed more to the development of the World Wide Web than my good friend Dan Connolly. After many years at the W3C, Dan is moving on the University of Kansas Medical Center.  To thank Dan for his unique contributions to the Web, Tim Berners-Lee has organized a worldwide celebration for this Wed, July 14th, at 8PM Eastern time.  In whatever town they are, people will gather for meals in Dan’s honor, and 1/2 hour later (8:30 PM EDT) to make toasts.  So that everyone can share the moment, a Twitter feed at #danfest will capture good wishes and links to other contributions.   Dan loves to play guitar and sing, so those who can will play a bit of music in Dan’s honor too.

Dan is a good friend, and he has contributed more deeply and more selflessly to the success of the Web than most of the public will ever understand.  Unfortunately, I will not be able to join the dinner group in Cambridge, but with luck I might manage a little musical acknowledgement on Wed evening.

UPDATE: pictures from Cambridge #danfest

Topics: Web, Internet, Computing | No Comments »

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