Awasu » 2004 » January
Thursday 29th January 2004 11:04 PM [Awasu News]

A few people have been asking when Awasu will support Atom. Well, it's coming soon (as soon as I drag my battered body from beneath the weight of all the other features I'm working on right now :roll:) but in the meantime, you can still subscribe to Atom feeds right now, using XSLT.

It's pretty easy to set up and you don't have to have even the faintest idea of what XML, XSLT nor TLA stand for. Full details are here. Many thanks to Mark Gardner for writing the XSLT.

BTW, the next beta is in the final throes of testing and should be out in a week or two. It's looking way excellent - woo hoo! :-D

Thursday 29th January 2004 8:33 AM [General]

It's Valentine's Day soon...


Wednesday 28th January 2004 8:24 AM [General]

I was in Cambodia a few years ago and it freaked me out somewhat when I was walking down a backroad in a small village out in the middle of nowhere, amongst kids playing soccer and people farming, and saw the skull-and-crossbone signs that warned of landmines. So this is only good news:

A Danish biotech company has developed a genetically modified flower that could help detect land mines ... The genetically modified weed has been coded to change color when its roots come in contact with nitrogen-dioxide (NO2) evaporating from explosives buried in soil.

Within three to six weeks from being sowed over land mine infested areas the small plant, a Thale Cress, will turn a warning red whenever close to a land mine.

How cool is that! :D :idea:

Monday 26th January 2004 3:11 PM [General]

First we had bicycle-powered WiFi, then this (annoying registration required):

Since the system went into place last September at the new elementary school here in Cambodia's remote northeast corner, solar panels have been powering three computers. Once a day, an Internet "Motoman" rides a cherry red Honda motorcycle slowly past the school. On the passenger seat is a gray metal box with a short fat antenna. The box holds a wireless Wi-Fi chip set that allows the exchange of e-mail between the box and computers. Briefly, this schoolyard of tree stumps and a hand-cranked water well becomes an Internet hot spot

It is a digital pony express: five Motomen ride their routes five days a week, downloading and uploading e-mail. The system, developed by a Boston company, First Mile Solutions, uses a receiver box powered by the motorcycle's battery. The driver need only roll slowly past the school to download all the village's outgoing e-mail and deliver incoming e-mail. The school's computer system and antenna are powered by solar panels. Newly collected data is stored for the day in a computer strapped to the back of the motorcycle. At dusk, the motorcycles converge on the provincial capital, Ban Lung, where an advanced school is equipped with a satellite dish, allowing a bulk e-mail exchange with the outside world.

Cool! :-)

And the best bit?

Users say the Motoman system is starting to change lives.

Sunday 25th January 2004 8:06 PM [General]


I s'pose it was going to happen sooner or later. It seems that several people are not receiving emails from us, apparently because spammers have been "borrowing" our email address, causing us to end up on some blacklists :-(

We take support very seriously here at Awasu and are committed to providing the highest quality support, even for the free version, with response times that will knock your socks off. So if you're expecting to hear from us and are not, chances are our reply got filtered somewhere.

The best thing to do is to post your question in the forums. It won't get filtered, I get notified about new posts as they happen so it's just as quick and the information might be useful to others as well.

This, of course, will all be moot shortly since Bill is already onto it :roll::roll::roll:

Thursday 22nd January 2004 12:38 AM [General]

Well, it's 2:37 in the AM and I've stayed up for RSS WinterFest. Except their web site has been running like a slug the past few hours and I can't even log in now so I'm certainly not holding my breath about being able to stream any video :-(

So I've been playing this for the past half hour. Which somehow seems totally appropriate :roll:

316.9 to beat, guys! :-)

Friday 16th January 2004 9:02 AM [General]

Intel Unveils Coffee Nanoprocessors

San Jose, Costa Rica - Intel announced that it will join forces with a Costa Rican coffee exporting company, Café Britt, to produce a coffee-nanoprocessor hybrid, to increase productivity among computer engineers and other coffee addicts.

... The idea behind Pentium Coffee is simple. Nanoprocessors are mixed in with the coffee, and swallowed by the consumer. These microprocessors enter the bloodstream, travel around the body, and linked to the nervous system. These nanoprocessors aid the brain by performing complex mathematical operations. The processor’s perfomance is measured in CAFS (Complex Arithmetic Functions).

Production is expected to begin in late June, when the developers' coffee-induced hyperactivity is expected to calm down. The coffee will be sold in anti-static plastic bags, and will come in three different flavors: Regular (100 Teracafs), MMX (200 Teracafs), and Celeron (50 Teracafs).

Ain't technology grand! :-) :roll:

And for those of you who think that our support response times are too slow, just get me a crate and see what happens! :cool: :wink:

Thursday 15th January 2004 9:31 AM [General]

There has been a bit of buzz in the blogosphere recently about Dave Winer's new service that lets people submit their OPML files and publishes the most popular channels as an RSS feed.

Allan "The Plugin King" Wilson has come up with a new channel plugin that lets you monitor an OPML file as an RSS feed. While the default parameters are set up for the Top 100 list, it can be used to monitor any OPML file at all. This is pretty cool since you can also use it to keep tabs on your favorite bloggers' blogrolls, for example. also have a bunch of useful OPML-related features.

Many thanks, yet again, to Allan - he's just a coding machine! And if you're finding his plugins useful, please post something in the forums. It gets a bit lonely in the dungeons sometimes :-)

Tuesday 6th January 2004 10:09 AM [General]

Earl Mardle posts some thoughtful comments on the state of education.

Why is it that, given our early thirst for information, knowledge, skills and a dedication as a child to learning that amounts to obsession, do we find, often by the age of 6 or 7, that the openness to new knowledge, let alone new data, has just about gone and for most of us never comes back?

My theory is that it is essentially beaten out of us by the inherited attitudes of our parents and the pressures of the society in which we live, abetted by the education system.

As I said not long ago, I've always had a strong interest in how people learn and couldn't agree more. For our kids, school is a chore at best and they go to university simply to get that piece of paper to help their job prospects. These days, who is interested in learning for the sake of knowledge and self-betterment, or simply the satisfaction of knowing something today that you didn't yesterday?

I have been a long-time fan of John Holt who wrote many books about teaching younger people. His books are very accessible and if you have young children, I would consider them to be a must-read. And even if you don't, the number of times I've read what he had to say about the things that 5- and 6-year olds get up to in the classroom and realized that they were exactly the same thing that my co-workers do in the office is utterly frightening! :-)

Earl closes with this:

Our problem now is that the demand for ever more sophisticated and subtle thinkers and innovators in western society has never been greater. As more and more manual tasks like making clothes, or shoes, or manufacturing components and even services like call centres are being exported to India and China and Taiwan or Korea and Thailand, the remaining work demands higher and higher levels of concentration, knowledge acquisition and application in ever more conceptual realms; and we aren't teaching for that.

Indeed. The scary thing is, we're now exporting our high-tech jobs and training up the Indians and Chinese and Koreans to do this work in the interests of a better bottom line for the current quarter. Cheap clothing and manufacturing are one thing but IT is critical infrastructure. What's going to be left for the West in twenty years from now?

Monday 5th January 2004 9:25 PM [General]

More TLA's than you could poke a stick at :roll:

Ted Leung recently updated his list of RSS aggregators that allow gzip'ed feeds to include Awasu and mused whether all the plugins and channel hooks that Awasu supports make it the first AOP-like aggregator. What a cool idea! I'd never thought of it like that but it's not a bad description, especially with respect to channel hooks.

In case you don't already know, Aspect Oriented Programming is a new and funky of style of programming (object-oriented is soooo 90's). Instead of simply writing a list of instructions for the computer to follow, AOP is a little more free-wheeling and allows programmers to hook into an existing program by specifying actions to be carried out when certain things happen.

The analogy with channel hooks is easy to see. For example, Allan "The Plugin King" Wilson is finishing up a channel hook that gets invoked every time new content arrives and saves it in a MySQL database where you can then do whatever you want with it. Obviously a cool thing for an aggregator to be doing and a good example of the power that Awasu's extensibility offers. He's just putting the final spit and polish on the release. Can't wait!