July 31, 1998:
Somebody's finally trying to pull together some common access to digital cameras. IXLA Limited now has a Digital Camera Interface SDK, which allows developers to build generalized digital camera support into their apps. It's a driver-based architecture with all camera specifics isolated in drivers, and a separate DLL to handle the generic interface issues. The architecture is such that drivers are loadable by end-users, allowing camera companies to include drivers with their cameras, so end users can add support to camera-enabled apps without a lot of fooling around. This sounds great to me; pulling images out of digital cameras with TWAIN drivers is kind of like drinking beer with a fork. Go see IXLA's solution at www.ixla.com.
July 24, 1998:
I hit the 40,000 word mark on my SF novel last night. I think it's real. And man, if I don't finish it, it will be a lot of time gone to waste…
July 21, 1998:
Here's an idea for a software component, kids: A generalized solution for a single-table hierarchical database; that is, an Explorer-style control that fronts a table and manages hierarchical relations among records within that same table. This may exist, but I've never seen it. It would be useful to me in a number of current projects. If such a creature is on the market, please let me know so I can shine some lights on it.
July 20, 1998:
And while we're talking about stuff that doesn't exist but should, how about a real database for email messages? Everything I've seen so far is kid stuff. I get almost 100 messages per day, which cooks down to at least 25 or 30 that are worth archiving. But with about 15,000 messages archived so far, it's getting dicey indeed to assume that I can wade into that pile and lay hands on something that I want. More people use email than the Web, I've heard, and I believe it. An Email Archiver that was really worth something could make you rich. Go do it.
July 17, 1998:
Although many people have been trying in the last few years, there is still not a good genealogy program for Windows. I've got the latest release of Family Tree Maker, and it won't even allow me to adjust the order of spouses. I have Great-Great Uncle Henry's two wives (both of whom he outlived) entered in the wrong order. To change the order I'll have to delete them both and re-enter them. This is a top-shelf program? I think not. There's big money in Dead Guys these days. Somebody do a real genealogy program. Please. (Before Uncle Henry and his wives come back to haunt me…)
July 15, 1998:
Well, this should have been obvious, but I've discovered that the numeric time stamp used in Netscape's bookmark files is a simple C-style time_t value, which is basically the number of seconds elapsed since January 1, 1970. (See my June 16, 1998 VDM Diary entry for the original question on this.) And although ubiquitous in C circles, this format is otherwise unknown, and although I looked around I saw nothing that implements time_t style time stamps for Pascal or Basic. Anybody got anything like this?
July 13, 1998:
I've been yelling about this for so long it seems odd to actually see something come of it: A standard markup language for vector (not raster) graphics on the Web. I'm not much interested in posting pictures of Cindy Crawford, but I would like to post schematic diagrams and technical drawings, which if expressed in vector format can be quite compact and load very quickly. Hokay. Autodesk, HP, Macromedia, Microsoft, and Visio have submitted a joint proposal to the W3C for a Vector Markup Language (VML), and XML derivative for high-resolution 2D vector graphics. It's too early to tell where this will go, but I for one want it to go straight to adoption. To make your own decisions, check out the proposal at http://www.w3.org/TR/NOTE-VML.
July 10, 1998:
Did you know that mastodons were small elephants? That really surprised me. Woolly mammoths get all the press, but a small, smart, aggressive elephant would really be something. Some paleontologists say mastodons went hunting saber-toothed tigers. (Is this something like suing Microsoft?)
July 9, 1998:
One of our people related the story of a previous office where she worked, which grew concerned about the health hazards of caffeine. So one Monday morning without saying a word, the company changed the coffee in the break room pots so that they were both decaf—even the one marked regular. Monday was great—everybody was amazingly mellow. Tuesday morning people began reaching for the Tylenol. By Wednesday complaints of headaches were everywhere, and huge quantities of Exedrin were being downed. Some folks had already gotten prescriptions for Imetrex. By Thursday everyone was snarling at everyone else so badly that by the end of the day management was afraid there'd be brawls between the cubes and physical mayhem. On Friday morning the high-octane went back in the pot. Come Monday it was business as usual. Who's not an addict? Heh-heh.
July 7, 1998:
Some people may blanch at the thought, but a growing Internet business category is remote backup; that is, click a button and squirt the entire contents of your hard disk via encrypted link to a backup service somewhere. It makes sense for one main reason: If your house burns down and your backups are in a drawer downstairs, it doesn't much matter that you made them. @Backup is one of the market leaders here and their setup looks pretty good. They have 56-bit DES encryption on their link, and installable software for 95/98 and NT. They can store as much as one petabyte (which is 1000 terabytes) at their storage facility. Yikes, I won't have that much hard drive until…maybe next year. Check them out at www.backup.com.