OpenData Standards

Wed Mar 24, 2010 9:34:10 am by Dustin
Filed under Dealing with People, Finance, General, Software, Tools and Tricks

How much about you does the outside world know about you? I am particularly interested in the web world – as usual. Think about it for a couple minutes.

The last purchase you made on Amazon was saved and reused to better predict what you might (or will) purchase next. Facebook knows who you are, your age, what you enjoy, who your friends are, what they like to do, who you hang out with most often. Each of the Facebook Apps you have installed can see these characteristics too. Your emails, phone calls, location – this list goes on – can be logged by many organizations.

Heck even this site has some of these controls. Its analytics system will collect when you came to the site and how you got here. It does not know that you are Bob, but it does know any generic information a marketer might want to know. Added a comment becomes worse. Assuming you do not lie, your name, email, web address, and location are forever stored.

My point is not that this is good or bad. Rather, it exists. I would like to stay neutral on the accumulation of such data.

Instead, I would like to promote a new web standard called OpenData. For those of you who are not knee deep in how the web is created, there are many ‘open’ standards. OpenID and OpenSocial to name some, but the list could continue.

A quick search on the Internets will not produce the ‘open data’ I am referencing. Open Data is more commonly referred to as making some information open to the public – patents, legislation, etc – without restriction.

My goal is different. I would like a standard to help me as a consumer of these data collecting services to control the information they know about me. Once the OpenData standards and structure are in place, I could use a third-party app to control (add, modify, delete) the amount or types of data these services know about me.

At a technical level, this would be a non-trivial process. Even getting around a companies data backup policy could be a huge bottleneck since in many cases this data is not easily accessible. Auditing (internal or external) procedures would also limit the ability for a company to remove, say, purchasing records.

Either way, the world would probably benefit from this type of standard.


My First Gun Rack

Sun Mar 21, 2010 10:05:36 am by Dustin
Filed under Dealing with People, Defending the Flag, Fun, General, Payroll, a little about life

When I was unemployed last October, I filled some of my time creating a gun rack. I would not say this is the most fanciest rack I have ever seen or even very impressive. I just could not justify not having my guns on display. Now over the window is my office are my two guns. Other than their color they are identical.

In case you were wondering, my favorite gun manufacture is Nerf. It is the ideal manufacture for fighting tyranny, terrorism, or defending any future fort I might build. I posted a picture of my fabulous creation below.

Browser Performance Pressure

Wed Mar 17, 2010 8:35:15 am by Dustin
Filed under Dealing with People, General, Payroll, Software

Since Google Chrome (the browser) came out, I have had a theory that Google did not care how well it did related to winning the apparent ‘browser war’. More specifically they were not worried about the browser’s direct market share. I am sure they will never omit this fact though.

Instead Google has two goals:

  • Put pressure on other browsers to produce more efficient, standardized features.
  • Incorporate it with Chrome OS and (hopefully) Android devices.

Today we are seeing some of the results from the former. IE9 produced JavaScript benchmark results compared to other major browsers. The graph below shows the results.

If comparing IE8/IE9 or Opera 10.1/10.5 are indications, this goal is producing some nice results. This not only makes my job creating web apps easier, it also will produce new challenges to make more fancy apps. Additionally surfing the web will just be better.

Now if only we could kill IE6.

One Week of Bike Commuting

Sun Feb 28, 2010 11:15:02 am by Dustin
Filed under Fun, General, Health, Payroll, a little about life

Ever since my man vs boat experience, I have been a bit reluctant to ride a bike in Vancouver. I figure I need to face my fears and get out there.

I bought a bike and started bike commuting. I might be the only person dumb enough to take a bike from Vancouver to downtown Portland, but I have never been much for fitting in. Actually, I do not ride the entire 11 miles. I grab the Yellow Line in North Portland.

I get a Tri-met pass for work, so minus the cost of the bike, my commute is now free. Woohoo.

Going over the Interstate Bridge in the rain, wind, and dark is less than my favorite activity in the world. Otherwise, I enjoy my commute better than sitting in traffic.

Next step, move back to Portland.

Refactoring (Book Review)

Thu Feb 18, 2010 8:35:20 pm by Dustin
Filed under Book Review, General, Software

*This is a technical post. Ye be warned.*

Full Title: Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code by Martin Fowler
ISBN: 978-0-201-48567-7
Get it cheap.


As people change code – changes to realize short-term goals or changes made without a full comprehension of the design of the code – the code loses its structure… Refactoring is rather like tidying up the code.

As this quote explains, refactoring code is necessary. A single feature may disregard high level architecture. The sales department may set a deadline rushing implementation while ignoring long-term development issues. For these reasons, we occasionally (or continuously) clean our code.

This book was kind enough to outline a couple dozen quick refactoring types (name this, move that, etc). When these tips are combined, they create a more solid code base.

What I thought: My career has put me in a position where I have seen many types of projects. Good architecture, bad architecture, good architecture with bad code, etc. In all cases, an occasional clean-up is helpful. I enjoyed this book because it put the examples out there for ‘Spring Clean’ partaking. There were a couple of ‘well duh’ instances, but a nice reference indeed.

Good enough to make the migration to my desk at work.