Jon Phipps’ not-an-NSDL blog

December 16, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jon Phipps @ 12:19 pm

@tombaker ” ‘free-range’ property” Nice! I love it.


September 25, 2008

Memo to future DC conference organizers

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jon Phipps @ 6:06 am

Memo to future DC conference organizers:

  1. Make sure you have sufficient wireless connections and bandwidth for the main paper presentations, not just the meetings and workshops. This means full bandwidth availability for 200+ contiguous high-bandwidth users. This is the 3rd DC conference that I’ve attended (0 for 3) that had trouble with this, but it’s a more significant problem now. With live blogging and microblogging on the rise consistent access is critical.
  2. Make sure that there is power available for at least half the participants in every venue. Ten outlets for 300 people, or 2 outlets for 50 people in the workshops is just not enough.
  3. Prominently and ubiquitously recommend an official conference tag for use on social networks.
  4. Include a T-shirt in the conference swag. This will promote the fact that you were the host far into the future. Even if you don’t want to spend the money to include a t-shirt for everyone, make one available for an additional fee (not recommended but better than no t-shirt — DC2008 had an especially nice t-shirt but it was only available for conference staff).
  5. Give the conference staff, and especially tech support, hats or radically different t-shirts and instruct them to wear their t-shirts/hats at all times that they might be in contact with attendees
  6. Provide an official IRC channel, record it, and make the archive available on the conference web site (like code4lib)
  7. Provide an official conference social network, such as CrowdVine
  8. Officially video all of the open meetings, workshops, and plenary sessions for either live-streaming or future upload to YouTube. Make sure every presenter knows that they will be recorded and that the video will be publicly available at some point. Let attendees know that too.
  9. Provide as much of the conference-related information and proceedings as possible on at least a memory stick (DC2008 did this). A conference-branded (rather than vendor-branded) thumb drive that is as big as you can afford would, like the t-shirt, promote your hosting of the conference well into the future.

August 15, 2008

How I spent my summer ‘vacation’

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jon Phipps @ 4:48 pm

Well, not exactly summer and certainly not much of a vacation.

Got dog?

After the SKOS face-to-face in Amsterdam last October and after my mother’s 6-week stay with us after knee surgery in January, it looked like I’d be home for a while, and life in general had calmed down. So in April we adopted a ‘puppy‘ from the Humane Society — a smart, 6-month old, 60-pound Labradoodle who came partially trained but with some bad habits. We think the bad habits — which included opportunistic newspaper/magazine shredding, furniture destruction, and wildly tearing around the house at top speed — may have contributed to his being left at the pound by his previous parents.

Nearly all of these habits have been cured or outgrown in the last 3 months and he’s gotten quite a bit of extra training, so Toby‘s turning into a pretty good dog (thank goodness). Getting him there has taken more work than we expected — our previous dog was 15 when he died and the dog before that was 17, so we’d totally forgotten how much work a puppy can be — and there’s still a lot of work to do. He ‘chews up’ quite a bit of of my day and isn’t always a pleasure, but it’s still nice to have a dog around again.

In May the relative ‘calm’ ended.

Got gas?

There’s natural gas in our area and we’ve been fending off ‘opportunities’ to lease the mineral rights to our 20 acres for years. This was easy because lease prices have always been in the sub-$100/acre range, but in May lease offers suddenly shot up to $2,500/acre and more, with royalties as high as 18% of gross, and it became a less easy decision. A local coalition formed to negotiate terms with the gas companies and there have been many meetings, discussion groups, and controversy.

The recent rush is largely due to a combination of a new deep discovery — the Marcellus Shale, 2 miles down — high gas prices, and improvements in horizontal drilling and extraction processes. The ‘improvements’ involve pumping millions of gallons (per well) of water, chemicals (many toxic), and sand into the shale at high pressure to force out the gas — a process know as fracing, a word familiar to fans of Battlestar Galactica with much the same meaning. This has raised questions about where the water will come from, and where it will go when it’s extracted along with the gas. The extracted water is very salty, sometimes mildly radioactive and laced with chemicals — as many as 10,000 gallons of toxins per well.

The state regulators are demonstrably clueless, the state legislature is eager for gas company money (recently making it much easier to get a drilling permit), and despite the promise of a nice chunk of change we’re very worried that our quiet rural area is on the verge of destruction. The Governor has required the regulators to do a thorough environmental review before granting new drilling permits, so that helps. But many of our neighbors have already signed leases, and we can be forced into a no-restrictions lease under current legislation if 60% of a drilling area has been leased. We’re probably going to sign a highly restrictive lease so that we have some control, but it’s a constant background worry.

Got job?

In April a review of my grant indicated that Cornell would run out of money to pay me by the end of May, so we adjusted my salary to .2 FTE, meaning I get paid for one day a week, and will certainly be leaving Cornell when my grant runs out in September. I’ve had to focus more on consulting and haven’t been able to work continuously on the Registry this summer as I had planned. Although I’m still working on it 20 or more hours a week, I feel much less focused and much less productive.

Got married????

In May, my mother (85) announced that an old family friend (Rodney, 89, widower) had asked her to marry him and she’d said yes. The wedding would be in September, she was moving to Cooperstown (90 minutes away) after the wedding, and would we sell her house and help dispose of the contents. The house was built by my paternal grandfather in the 1920’s and she’s lived there for 60 years, so there’s a lot of contents. Two weeks later, they moved the wedding date to June 29 and since she wouldn’t be spending the summer at the cottage on the lake, she asked if could we take over maintenance of that too. Things got busy in a hurry, and we put the house on the market, helped her move, and cleaned up the house (still chock full of stuff) for a series of open houses. We still haven’t decided what to do about the cottage, and it’s just sitting there this summer, open but neglected. The house, in a nation-wide falling real estate market, has generated a lot of interest but hasn’t sold and I worry we overpriced it.

Got sick

The week before my mother’s wedding in June, my mother-in-law (Olga, 87, who lives near New York City, 3 hours away from us) ended up in the hospital with diverticulitis. Fortunately my sister-in-law was with her at the time, but my wife (Barb) still rushed down to help out (nobody in our family is ever alone in the hospital). Olga, feeling much better, went home from the hospital the day before my mother’s wedding (Barb drove directly from NYC to the wedding).

One week later (we’re into early July) Olga was back in the hospital suffering from a reaction to the antibiotics she was given for the diverticulitis — she was extremely weak and having trouble with her heart. This time we all went down and helped ease her transition into a nursing home for what was initially supposed to be just a short stay for rehabilitation. We had high hopes that she’d be able, and maybe even willing, to stay there permanently since it didn’t look like she’d ever be able to go back to her 3rd-floor walkup apartment and continue to live alone.

Barb and I and her sisters took turns going to NY for 3 weeks until it looked like things were stable, the nursing home staff could be trusted (or not), and we were fairly confident of the quality of her care. But we’d only left her alone in the nursing home for less than a week, when she was taken to the emergency room, suffering from pneumonia, and an overdose of blood thinner, coughing violently and vomiting blood. The same day, Olga’s sister-in-law (Alice, 90, my wife’s father’s sister), who had been in the same nursing home, went to a different hospital with pneumonia, a blood thinner overdose, and an infected gall bladder. I packed up my office so I could work if possible, and we rushed down to NY where we proceeded to shuttle back and forth between the two hospitals.

Got guest!

After a week in the hospital, we brought Olga home to live with us permanently (that was 2 weeks ago). She continues to be too weak to do stairs and all of the bedrooms are on the second floor, so we’ve converted the dining room into a bedroom of sorts until we can figure out a better arrangement. Setting her up with a new complement of physical therapists, visiting nurses, and doctors has been quite a challenge and it’s a very good thing that my wife’s a school social worker — she knows the agencies and has the summer off. We’re also making arrangements to clean out Olga’s apartment and redistribute the contents.


My wife’s aunt died last week, unable to survive off the respirator that surviving the pneumonia had required, and Olga, Barb, and I made yet another trip to NY for the funeral. The wake and funeral service may have been the last chance Olga’s many friends will have to chat with her and it was nice to see how many did — there’s was a significant traffic jam in the church after the mass as mourners said hello and goodbye.

Meanwhile, back in Cooperstown, my new stepfather returned from the honeymoon and almost immediately went into the hospital. His back had been bothering him for several weeks, and the long car ride home from New Jersey pushed him over the edge and after several days at home of worsening pain my mom called 911. After a couple days of tests the doctors diagnosed a large abscess on his spine and 9 hours of surgery and two weeks later he appears to be on the mend. Olga, Barb, and I drove up there on Sunday to visit them and had a lovely brunch with my mom at the Otesaga Hotel on lake Otsego.

Get gone…

This week has been all about trying to clear up loose ends because tomorrow my wife and I leave for two weeks on Vancouver island for a much needed vacation. My wife’s sisters will take turns coming down from Albany to stay with Olga so we can relax a bit. One of her sisters arrived today with her puppy, which will be ‘interesting’.

Get back…

When we get back I need to quickly put together a short talk I’m giving with Ed Summers at the CENDI/NKOS workshop in Washington September 11th. The last time I attended a meeting out of town on September 11 was in NYC in 2001. I hope this one is much, much less eventful. And almost immediately after that I head for Berlin (the one in Germany) to attend the Dublin Core annual conference where, uniquely, I’m not presenting or helping to present a paper. Maybe, just maybe, after that things will calm down.

It’s been quite a summer.

March 28, 2008

March 16, 2008

June 9, 2007

Remote debugging with PHPEd

Filed under: PHP / MySQL — Jon Phipps @ 5:11 am

The PHPEd IDE offers a remote debugger for your PHP projects. The remote debugger is installed on your web server as a PHP module, and sends the debugging information back to your development computer where PHPEd is running. Because of this, you can debug your code in the environment where it will be living, with the same database, permissions, and http server.

The setup for remote debugging is not difficult, but I think this step-by-step article will help anyone who is using the same setup as I am. Just to be clear, that setup is:

* PHPEd 5.0
* Rackspace Hosted: RedHat Enterprise Linux 4 ES
* PHP 5.2.3
* PuTTY 0.60

Nth Design.

May 25, 2007

The graduate

Filed under: Personal — Jon Phipps @ 12:46 pm

RebeccaOur younger daughter graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia last weekend with a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish, summa cum laude!

We’re very, very proud of her.

On Saturday, we had a great time wandering around the Italian Market Festival (I found myself missing the Italian neighborhood I sort of grew up in) and then to celebrate we went to dinner at Bar Ferdinand for excellent tapas and a good wine selection. Very noisy on a Saturday night, but highly recommended.

If she looks a little tired in the picture it’s because she put in a large number of all-nighters in the last few weeks.

DSPs, DCAPs, and WIKIs, oh my!

Filed under: RDF — Jon Phipps @ 12:06 pm

The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative is looking for someone to build them a wiki. At least I think that’s what they want.

From the Call for Tender page:
“DCMI Call for Tender 2007-03: Wiki format for application profiles convertible into XML”
From the DCMI home page:
“Call for tender for a machine-processable application profile format”

I don’t think that these two descriptions are describing the same thing at all. Of course, that just reflects my sense that “machine-processable application profile” doesn’t mean “application profile that can be scraped from a wiki page and expressed as XML”.

I’m more inclined to think that a “machine-processable application profile” means a DCAP that can be directly used to validate data that has been created with the intention of conforming to a specified DCAP (or is it DSP? — I wish that they wouldn’t suddenly change the terminology just to fit the model).

Increasingly, I’m viewing “machine-processable application profile” as meaning machine-processable-DCAP-derived data-entry forms (XFORMS) used to generate DCAP-conformant XML data that can be validated using a machine-processable-DCAP-derived RELAX NG schema, W3C XML Schema, or Schematron ruleset. RDF triples would then have to be derived from the validated XML.

The intermediate XML validation is necessary because a sensibly efficient way to validate RDF against a DCAP currently doesn’t exist. Although Alistair‘s notion of rules-based RDF validation based on SPARQL query assertions looks like it might work in a Schematron-like way. This would then imply the ability to derive SPARQL queries from a machine-processable DCAP.

While the idea of a wiki-based DCAP editor is conceptually interesting, it would seem to me that a tender to produce exemplars of the above based on the current DCAP XML expression would be far more useful in actually providing useful test cases for determining the validity and utility of that expression.


Filed under: Semantic Web — Jon Phipps @ 9:32 am

Danny Ayers points to a screencast by David Huynh of MIT demonstrating a new data viewing tool.It’s indeed awesome — one of those things where about halfway through I said “holy mackerel!” or words to that effect. It’s definitely must-see TV.

David Huynh of MIT, responsible for wonders such as Timeline and Exhibit has made a short screencast demoing his latest marvel, Potluck. It’s currently a research prototype though appears very close to being web-ready. When you’ve seen the screencast I think you’ll agree with me – it’s awesome .


May 15, 2007

Thingology (LibraryThing’s ideas blog): Danbury, CT kicks off LibraryThing for Libraries!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jon Phipps @ 9:14 am

There are a lot of limitations, but this is still a really interesting and exciting development.

We’re happy to announce that the Danbury Library in Danbury, Connecticut has become the first library in the world to put LibraryThing for Libraries on its live catalog…

Underneath, the data comes from LibraryThing and its members. We’ve cleaned some of it up–Abby, our head librarian, and Jenny Anastasoff, a local librarian who’s intern with us, have been hunting down and excluding personal or irrelevant tags.* But its strength is the strength of LibraryThing’s people and their collections—200,000 members, 13 million books and 17 million tags.

Thingology (LibraryThing’s ideas blog): Danbury, CT kicks off LibraryThing for Libraries!.

Older Posts »

Blog at