15Seconds WebLog

May 2004 - Posts

Scoble at Internet Planet NYC

Scoble blogs that he will participate in a panel discussion at Internet Planet NYC.

Specifics are:

Building Your Business with Weblogs and RSS

June 16, 2004

4:10pm - 5:00pm

 Hope to see you there!

I Say See-Quel You Say Es-Quel

While it's generally accepted that either is correct, the different pronounciations do cause a minor problem when using the word with the indefinite article "a" or "an".

You may be saying: "well it starts with an 'S' so it should always be 'a'"; however, if a word that starts with a consonant produces a vowel sound, the correct indefinite article is “an” i.e. “an XML document.”

I guess in the grand scheme of things, this really isn't a huge deal, but it is just one tiny example of how a lack of standarization with something relatively new can cause problems against rules that have existed forever.

Plus, it may distract the reader when viewed in print, forcing him to temporarily change the way he pronounces it or send an e-mail to the editor pointing out the “mistake.”

Or, look on the bright side, either is correct, as long as the usage remains consistent.

When Incorrect Usage Becomes Correct or Was Never Incorrect To Begin With

I planned to blog about how people misuse the word “entitled”  to mean “titled” until I consulted the dictionary and found that “entitled” is infact an acceptable alternative to “titled”. However, the Associated Press stylebook explicitly says to use “entitled” only “to mean a right to do or have something. Do not use it to mean titled.”

So which is correct? Dictionary or AP? While the dictionary is known to cave in to popular misusage, the AP stylebook is hardly a source for universal usage. Plus, as an ex-employee of a hardware store, I take issue with AP's distinction between cement and concrete. That's another story though.

I then stumbled upon a Web site by English Professor Paul Brians, Washington State University, that contains a ton of info on Non-errors. This page describes “usages people keep telling you are wrong but which are actually standard in English.“

Lo(w) and behold:

 “People should say a book is titled such-and-such rather than entitled.

No less a writer than Chaucer is cited by the Oxford English Dictionary as having used 'entitled' in this sense, the very first meaning of the word listed by the OED. It may be a touch pretentious, but it’s not wrong.“

Still, though, for the sake of efficiency (which all developers should relate to), I prefer “titled“ because it contains fewer letters than “entitled“. :)

BTW, Professor Brians also has an a-z listing of actual Common Errors In English Usage. Please refer to his remarks on the actual misusage of  “more importantly“, which is another pet peeve of mine.



New 15Seconds Feedback Form

I've created a new centralized feedback and article-idea submission form for 15Seconds.com.

I'd like to take this time to publicly thank Adnan Masood for his CAPTCHA spambot prevention application and  Paul Glavich for his free DomValidators (and Scott Mitchell for his Client-Side Validation in Downlevel Browsers article, which contained a link to Paul Glavich's free DomValidators).




Alternatives to CNET/ZDNet?

Jeff Key earlier blogged about his frustration with tech journalists and pointed to an error at ZDNet regarding the anticipated release of WinFS. He concluded his post by asking “Am I missing out on a respected, competent news source?”

Here are a few other tech news sites to consider:

InternetNews.com (15Seconds.com's sister site)




Regarding Using you or us in articles?

In March, Alex Homer blogged about using second person (you) or first person (I/we) when writing books.

He prefers writing in first person plural, but he says many book publishers change the text to second person.

The primary reason for this may be that since the author is already known, there is no need to state “I” or “we“. For example, Alex Homer is not going to write throughout the book something like:

“In this book, Dave Sussman will demonstrate new features in ADO.NET 2.0. He will also show how to implement them in advanced Web applications. The first step Dave must perform is ...“

It's more logical that writers direct their text at their audience, “you” or the “developer“, etc.

But, while this issue can be debated (of course), what's more important from a pure quality of writing standpoint is that authors be consistent in their usage.

Unless the editor specifies which one to use, choose one and stick with it.


The Tech Article Publication Process

I realized I've been talking about specific aspects of the (online) publishing process without having first provided an overview of it. Kind of like being handed pieces to a puzzle without seeing the whole picture. Sorry about that.

Publications receive articles by soliciting specific authors and/or receiving unsolicited ideas from potential authors. The process is a little different for each. For now, I'll focus on the unsolicited approach because those who have been solicited for articles most likely already know the process.

Those submitting unsolicited ideas (usually through an e-mail address or submission form) should briefly describe the article, explain why it's important, and state the technologies involved.

After the editor reviews the idea and accepts the article, he will reply to the author and may ask for a more detailed proposal. When and if the editor accepts the article for publication, he should send out the writers agreement, along with deadline dates and a publication timeframe (i.e. within a month after submission). If the writer has any questions at all about the agreement, this is the time to ask them. If the author is fine with the agreement, he should send it back before submitting the article.

Once the editor receives the article, he should peruse it to get an idea of how much editing will be required. Between the submission date and publication date, the editor should work with the author to fine tune the article.

Once the article has satisfied the publication requirements, it's good to go. The article and author are now published. Kindly inform the author that his article is online and ready for reader feedback.

This obviously has been a simplified view of the process. Missteps can occur and issues can arise at any time, but this is fodder for future blogging.

Good luck!

SOA, Web services, Indigo Confusion Isolated?

As I try to define Indigo for Webopedia, I'm becoming confused by how the concepts that are used to describe it relate to each other. I think, however, I've isolated the source of the confusion.

According to MSDN's Indigo page, “It is a new breed of communications infrastructure built around the Web services architecture.”

Then the Indigo FAQ only answers questions about service orientation.

Therefore, it is natural to associate service orientation with Web services; however, whenever the two are mentioned in the same breath, architects caution that SO and Web services are separate. That SO is independent of specific technologies:

According to Rich Turner in his On the road to Indigo blog, “It is VITALLY important that we don't associate SO with SOAP or XML or any particular wire protocol - SO is separate and distinct from ANY particular technology and should provide us the principles we base our future system designs upon.“

I then read (and reread) the transcript for the .NET show with John Shewchuk. In it he basically said, Indigo is an SOA environment that contains a message processing engine and a set of libraries that contain Web services capabilities.

So, is Indigo an SOA environment or is it actually an SOA environment specific to Web services?

It seems an SOA environment specific to any technology is kind of an oxymoron, so does this mean Indigo will be able to support any and all future service technologies?

Please let me know if I'm missing something here.


MSDN Magazine's Competitive Edge?

I've been following the various bloggings about the value of paid technical publications, especially MSDN. This is definitely an issue that can be debated from magazine to magazine, article to article, code sample to code sample.

With all the free content available on the Web, I think reader expectations have increased for paid content. Paid content providers must find a way to offer more than the free sites and their paid content competitors.

MSDN's competitive edge is that it can provide exclusive and detailed insight into future Microsoft products.

As Robert Scoble writes, “MSDN, by the way, is like a PDC. It focuses on newer stuff and is produced by Microsoft. The other magazines are not tasked with covering the new stuff as much.“

The bulk of code samples, best practices, articles, etc. for existing technology is free from Microsoft on its site.

A couple weeks ago, I read a blog entry by Sandy about creating a paid subscription for Patterns and Practices. This would never work. User expectations would most likely exceed the subscription price. It would upset more users than help. But I digress ...

If reader expectations are in fact not in line with Microsoft's MSDN offering, then Microsoft needs to do a better job of relaying the focus and direction of  its MSDN magazine. Otherwise, it's probably charging for the correct content.

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