Thursday, September 30, 2004

Tiger and the Endorsed Standards Override Mechanism

As you are all aware by now, the "Tiger" release of Java, version 1.5.0, was officially released today! Get it from

What you may not be aware of, is the Endorsed Standards Override Mechanism. This feature was available in java 1.4, and was needed if you wanted to use a newer version of Xalan or Saxon than was bundled with the JDK.

After I installed Tiger today, I was working away happily, until I tried to transform some tech docs with Saxon 8. I soon questioned whether the endorsed override worked as before, or whether I'd have to find some new trick.

I'm happy to report, that the override is still there and worked just as soon as I dropped the newest jars in


More information on the Endorsed Standards Override Mechanism is available at:

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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

UCS Y-Wing under the radar

Wow, this one snuck up on me. reported today that the UCS Y-Wing Starfighter is now available from the Lego Shop. I checked, and it's running $119 to preorder for Nov 2004 delivery.

I hadn't visited the trusty, and now I'm really sorry. They broke this story back on September 25. FBTB please set up an RSS feed! I'm hooked on Bloglines to get all my news now :-)

The UCS Snowspeeder is also a very cool model, but nothing tops building the UCS Star Destroyer!

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Monday, September 27, 2004

Reviews: THX-1138, Sky Captain, and Battlefront

Last week was a very busy week for Sci-Fi and myself.

Amazon FINALLY shipped my Star Wars Trilogy on DVD, but it was 3 days late as far as I'm concerned. If I pre-ordered 3 months early, you'd think that would be plenty of time to figure out how to ship it to me THE DAY of public availability.

I got Star Wars Battlefront for PS2 the day it was available, and it is a great game. The depth of the plot isn't quite there like other SW titles, but the game play is fun and the Dolby Pro-Logic II sound is incredible. I've been working my way through the historical campaigns, so I've been on Naboo, Kashykk, Kamino, and am now on Rhen Var. I can't wait to try multiplayer. Check out the Dork Tower comics this week. They crack me up! Yeah, I'm a lot like Igor.

I went with a friend to the Denver Pavillions to catch THX-1138 in the theater. I hadn't seen it before. It's worth seeing once, but not worth $9 or buying the DVD, IMO. It had some decent sci-fi themes, which were interesting, but some heavy 70's surrealist scenes. The nudity wasn't gratuitous, and helped promote some of the storyline, but I think the R rating was justified.

By far, the best Sci-Fi of the week was "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow". Filmed completely in green screen, I was quite impressed with the classic Flash Gordon look and feel. In the credits, I counted at least 14 different special effects companies that worked on the film, including Industrial Light and Magic. The result is spectacular, and it's good, clean fun, too. I think I could actually take my kids to see this movie. I hope Hollywood takes notice, and produces more of this caliber of film. We don't need all the violence and sex that they've been churning out for so long, IMO.

One other sci-fi note. There is discussion of rating Star Wars Episode III as PG-13. This would be unfortunate, since I want to take my boys (6 and 3) to see it. I know it will be a darker film, since Anakin turns into Vader, but I'm still hoping it can be done in a PG format. We don't need excruciating detail of Anakin burning in lava, to know why he wears the life-support suit. Mr. Lucas, despite all of your critics, I think the story should still cater to the imaginations of the younger audiences. I liked Episode 1 and 2, and can show them to the boys without concerns of too much violence.

So in a nutshell: Go see Sky Captain, get Battlefront on your favorite platform, don't pre-order DVDs, and skip buying THX-1138.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Star Wars Battlefront and the Trilogy

​ ​​​​Ahh, today is a good day for many a Star Wars fan. Not only is the original Trilogy (okay Special Edition) available for the first time ever on DVD, but the spectacular Star Wars Battlefront game is available to experience the movies yourself! Check out this cool article on the gaming experience:

I wasn't going to be allowed to get Battlefront until I conquered Disney's Kingdom Hearts on PS2, but thankfully I completed it this weekend! Kingdom Hearts is a terrific game, that I would highly recommend after it took me 60 hours to complete.

For a comical look at the controversial changes to the Star Wars Trilogy, check this out:

Also, reported some audio changes to the DVDs, and this quote from Lucasfilm:

We are always impressed with how closely fans listen to the many different sound mixes we have made for the Star Wars movies over the years. It is flattering to know that, indeed, the audience is listening. Consequently, each mix comes out differently and any changes that you hear on the all-new Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX tracks on the Star Wars Trilogy DVD set are deliberate creative decisions. We can confirm that there are no technical glitches as has been reported.

Unfortunately, says I won't get my Trilogy DVDs until 9/28, so I can't confirm any of the changes ;-). I will be going to get Battlefront today, though! I won't be able to play it tonight, because I'm going to the theater re-release of THX-1138, George Lucas' first film. Like SW Special Edition, this version of THX-1138 has a lot of computer enhancements.

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Monday, September 20, 2004

DocBook XSL 1.66.1 released

​ ​​​​The latest release of the DocBook stylesheets has moved from the test release to production with version 1.66.1, available now from

An gracious member of the DocBook community also posted an RPM spec file at:

To quote from the mailing list...

If you're running Fedora Core or Red Hat, it's easy to use:
   # the two wget invocations should each be on a single line; I
   # apologize for any line wrapping
   cd /usr/src/redhat/SOURCES
   # download the source, e.g.,
   cd ../SPECS
   # grab my spec
   # build/install the package
   rpmbuild -bb docbook-style-xsl.spec
   rpm -Fvh ../RPMS/noarch/docbook-style-xsl-1.66.1-1.noarch.rpm

Fellow DocBook TC member Jirka Kosek also posted an older paper on the extensions used by DocBook stylesheets at:

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Friday, September 17, 2004

Think Topic Maps

I looked a little deeper into musicplasma that fleers blogged on yesterday. Very cool site, that similar in some respects to the TMNav application of the TM4J project!

Turns out, musicplasma uses a product called ThinkMap, which based on J2EE. ThinkMap's whitepapers make no mention of whether they are using Topic Maps, RDF, OWL or some proprietary technology under the covers. They do have an XML configuration file that makes it very easy to use, combined with CSS styling for the presentation.

Very cool product. It would be nice to see some of the same visual presentation features in TMNav, or Ontopia's Omnigator.

Further digging revealed another product called The Brain, which also looks interesting, but unknown what it's based on under the covers.

Correction: Just got a comment from the musicplasma guys that they are NOT using ThinkMap engine, but have rolled their own. It was the Sony Music License engine, that used ThinkMap. Still, all of these visual representations certainly resemble Topic Maps. It would be nice if they could all adopt the Topic Map standard for interoperability, instead of going the proprietary route.

Update: Just heard from the ThinkMap folks, and they said, "Thinkmap does not use topic maps, but rather uses tables from a relational database (or practically any other data source, for that matter)." Ditto my comment above. Hopefully some of these companies will adopt some of the Semantic Web standards, to enable interoperability.

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naDev tlhIngan Hol jatlhlu'! (Klingon spoken here.)

Interesting story on Reuter's Oddly Enough, about a German site that has added Klingon information! The site is at:

If you are a huge Trek geek like me, try taking up Klingon from these sites:

Or read Marc Okrand's most excellent book: The Klingon Dictionary

Amazingly enough, a search for Klingon on yields 864 resources!


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Thursday, September 16, 2004

Storm Chasing with Supercomputers

Slashdot had a cool article on storm predictions with supercomputers today.

The actual article explaining this was on CNN, and can be found here: What I found interesting is that most of these models are written in Fortran! I wonder if it's Fortran 77 or Fortran 90? I learned Fortran 77 during my short tenure at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

One of the slashdot commenters explained:

Brief answer :
i) because most numerical weather codes are already written in Fortran. This means that people with the right scientific knowledge tend to be Fortran programmers, and makes porting a whole lot easier.
ii) Fortran compilers are the ones where the most work has gone into optimising the hardcore mathematical routines. Thus, the compiled code has traditionally been faster. This may no longer be true.

Current predictions can be found here:

The National Hurricane Center discussion of the models can be found here:

The Slashdot comments also provided an interesting link to a presentation on modeling tornadic supercell thunderstorms. It's in StarOffice/OpenOffice and can be found here (warning 20mb size, but worth it):

Pretty cool stuff. It'd be cool to see this stuff modeled on some of Sun's big iron (E25K anyone?) or a V60x Compute Grid with the Solaris(TM) 10 Operating System!

If you are interested in modeling weather and climate, you should also check out kpearson's site:

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Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Storm Chasing from Space

I'd give anything to be Astronaut Mike Fincke (Ham call sign: KE5AIT) right now.

Check out some of his amazing photos of Hurricane Frances and Ivan from the International Space Station at:

This one is particularly amazing:

Studying weather from space has got to be my ultimate dream job!

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Monday, September 13, 2004

New DocBook Stylesheets (version 1.66.0)

DocBook expert Bob Stayton has just released a new version of the DocBook Stylesheets at: The .0 is a test release, so expect a 1.66.1 release soon...

Lots of bug fixes and new features in this one! Here are the release notes:

Release 1.66.0

  • A number of important bug fixes, documented in WhatsNew.

  • Now xml:base attributes that are generated by an XInclude processor are resolved for image files.

  • Rewrote olink templates to support several new features.

    • Extended full olink support to FO output.

    • Add support for xrefstyle attribute in olinks.

    • New parameters to support new olink features:, insert.olink.pdf.frag, olink.debug, olink.lang.fallback.sequence,, prefer.internal.olink. See the reference page for each parameter for more information.

  • Added index.on.type parameter for new type attribute introduced in DocBook 4.3 for indexterms and index. This allows you to create multiple indices containing different categories of entries. For users of 4.2 and earlier, you can use the new parameter index.on.role instead.

  • Added new section.autolabel.max.depth parameter to turn off section numbering below a certain depth. This permits you to number major section levels and leave minor section levels unnumbered.

  • Added attribute set to format the line separating footnotes in printed output.

  • Added parameter img.src.path as a prefix to HTML img src attributes. The prefix is added to whatever path is already generated by the stylesheet for each image file.

  • Added new attribute-sets,,, and, so each such element type can be formatted individually if needed.

  • Add component.label.includes.part.label parameter to add any part number to chapter, appendix and other component labels when the label.from.part parameter is nonzero. This permits you to distinguish multiple chapters with the same chapter number in cross references and the TOC.

  • Added chunk.separate.lots parameter for HTML output. This parameter lets you generate separate chunk files for each LOT (list of tables, list of figures, etc.).

  • Added several table features:

    • Added attribute set to add properties to the fo:table element.

    • Added placeholder templates named and to enable adding properties to any fo:table-cell or the cell's fo:block, respectively. These templates are a start for implementing table styles.

  • Added new attribute set for easy modifications of component's title formatting in FO output.

  • Added Saxon support for an encoding attribute on the textdata element. Added new parameter textdata.default.encoding which specifies encoding when encoding attribute on textdata is missing.

  • Template label.this.section now controls whole section label, not only sub-label which corresponds to particular label. Former behaviour was IMHO bug as it was not usable.

  • Formatting in titleabbrev for TOC and headers is preserved when there are no hotlink elements in the title. Formerly the title showed only the text of the title, no font changes or other markup.

  • Added template to set the initial-page-number property for page sequences in print output. Customizing this template lets you change when page numbering restarts. This is similar to the template that lets you change how the page number formatting changes in the output.

  • Added template to set the force-page-count property for page sequences in print output. This is similar to the template.

  • Sort language for localized index sorting in autoidx-ng.xsl is now taken from document lang, not from system environment.

  • Numbering and formatting of normal and ulink footnotes (if turned on) has been unified. Now ulink footnotes are mixed in with any other footnotes.

  • Added support for renderas attribute in section and sect1 et al. This permits you to render a given section title as if it were a different level.

  • Added support for label attribute in footnote to manually supply the footnote mark.

  • Added support for DocBook 4.3 corpcredit element.

  • Added support for a dbfo keep-together PI for formal objects (table, figure, example, equation, programlisting). That permits a formal object to be kept together if it is not already, or to be broken if it is very long and the default keep-together is not appropriate.

  • For graphics files, made file extension matching case insensitive, and updated the list of graphics extensions.

  • Allow calloutlist to have block content before the first callout

  • Added dbfo-need processing instruction to provide soft page breaks.

  • Added implementation of existing but unused default.image.width parameter for graphics.

  • Support DocBook NG tag inline element.

  • It appears that XEP now supports Unicode characters in bookmarks. There is no further need to strip accents from characters.

  • Make segmentedlist HTML markup more semantic and available to CSS styles.

  • Added user.preroot placeholder template to permit xsl-stylesheet and other PIs and comments to be output before the HTML root element.

  • Non-chunked legalnotice now gets an <a name="id"> element in HTML output so it can be referenced with xref or link.

  • In chunked HTML output, changed link rel="home" to rel="start", and link rel="previous" to rel="prev", per W3C HTML 4.01 spec.

  • Added several patches to htmlhelp from W. Borgert

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Real Men Wear Kilts

My family and I attended the Longs Peak Scottish/Irish Highland Festival this weekend. I think it was one of the best we've ever been to!

We started on Thursday with the Tatoo (The word means: evening drum, bugle, or piper signal recalling soldiers to quarters. The earliest form of the word is from the Dutch "tap toe" which literally means to "close the tap" of the cask in the barrooms.). This spectacular event featured the King's Own Scottish Borderers Pipes and Drums, 78th Highlanders Pipes and Drums, 78th Highlanders Drill Team, Marine Band Twentynine Palms, Fort Carson Mounted Color Guard, cannons, HeadTalk-a drumline, and Dogs of the British Isles. Also quite moving was Isla St. Clair singing "When the Pipers Play".

On Friday, we went to the Field Day, taking in Scottish athletics (Caber toss, Sheaf toss, Stone throw), more bagpiping, shopping for Scottish items, and Scottish food. The weather was overcast and drizzling -- perfect Scottish weather. Then around noon, the sun broke out and warmed everything back up -- perfect Colorado weather!

My mom wanted to try Haggis, but changed her mind when she found out it was boiled. I passed as well... We bought the boys their own sets of armor to defend their "little princess" sister, and I got a Utilikilt!

my Utilikilt

I first found out about Utilikilts when Eliot Kimber wore one while presenting at Extreme Markup. The pockets are cool, and hold more than a Sporran. I got the Mocker version (seen here with Collin at the Estes parade)

Saturday we went to the parade. I usually march with Clan Cameron, but decided against it this year. I've got Cameron, Robertson, Baird, Sinclair, and Watchman clan blood, so it's hard to get kilts for all of them. Maybe I should get a kilt pin for each and pin it to the Utilikilt ;-) All of you Scots just winced, I know...

The festival is always the weekend after Labor Day in Estes Park, Colorado. Make plans to attend next year!

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Thursday, September 09, 2004

Welcome to Topic Maps, Norm!

I'm very excited to see Norm Walsh's post about Topic Maps today!

I've been trying to get Topic Maps adopted in our Services organization for several years, but RDF/OWL seem to be the heavy hitters so far.

I think Topic Maps are extremely valuable, and offer a number of advantages over RDF. (see my previous post)And it's an ISO standard to boot! (ISO/IEC 13250). Now that Norm is experimenting with them, perhaps topic maps can get more traction at Sun.

Murray Altheim has also been a big proponent of topic maps, but ran into a lot of the same hurdles I have.

If anyone else at Sun has experimented with Topic Maps, or would like to learn more, please contact me!

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Embedding SVG trees in DocBook

Jirka Kosek has written another spectacular article for entitled "Automated Tree Drawing: XSLT and SVG."

What's really cool, is that he's embedded the tree markup in a DocBook document, and then used a customization layer for the DocBook Stylesheets to render it!

Here's an example from the article:
SVG tree example

I think this would be extremely handy if you need to describe any kind of hierarchy. Hopefully, you are already using the industry standard DocBook or Simplified DocBook schemas for your computer hardware or software documentation...

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Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Shark Bytes in a Savage World

My friend Paul, of the famed "Games of James Bond" website and long-time colleague at Sun has been published again!

This time, Paul was the Editor for the first edition of Shark Bytes, a fanzine for the Savage Worlds role playing game system.Paul also created the James Bond conversion, Savage 007, based on the Savage Worlds system

Check out Shark Bytes #1 at:

Editing 60 pages for the first edition was a lot of work. Good job, Paul!

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The Genesis Torpedo

Genesis capsule crashes in Dugway Proving Ground != Genesis device from Star Trek


Thankfully it's not the Genesis Device from Star Trek II and III or we'd all be protomatter...

The Genesis project gave new meaning to the name "Dugway Proving Ground" in Utah, as it "dug way" down into the Proving Ground after its two parachutes failed to open during re-entry today. The full report can be found at:

At $260 million, it is disappointing to be sure. Too bad the shuttle fleet is still down, or they could've inserted it into a retrieval orbit for one of the shuttles to grab, without risking the chute failure...

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Tuesday, September 07, 2004

History of Star Trek

I've been a member of Bill Petro's mailing list since I worked with him at SunSoft in Colorado Springs. His history articles are always interesting and informative.

Today's post is the History Of Star Trek. Very interesting read.

In other news, Slashdot reported on a new Star Trek MMORPG today. Wonder how similar it will be to Star Wars Galaxies? I'd like to play, but I only do PS2 now. I couldn't keep financing the PC upgrades...

I started watching "The Day the Earth Stood Still" last night. That's got to be one of my favorite Sci-Fi's of all time. I can't wait for Destroy All Humans! to be released. The soundtrack is supposed to be similar to Bernard Herrmann's themes.

BTW, if you ever go to Disneyworld, make sure you eat at the Sci-Fi Diner in MGM, near Star Tours. I've been there twice now, and it's always a treat!

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Bittersweet Summer's End

I'm blessed to have a few friends in high places. My friend Blaine had some extra tickets to the Colorado State University vs. University of Colorado, also known as the Rocky Mountain Showdown! He and I took our sons to the game (46 yardline!)

What a game! It started out as a blow-out, but the Rams hung in there and overcame a 17 point deficit in the 2nd half. Unfortunately, Holland's interception earlier in the game and being unable to stop Bobby Purify's runs really hurt us. It went all the way down to 8 seconds, 3rd and goal at the 1 yard line. Instead of spiking the ball and coming up with a plan, Holland took a gamble and tried a handoff to Houston, that failed. Still, we gave it the good old college try, and we really should have won that one. Details here.

Thankfully the weather held out this year. I got soaked at last year's Rocky Mountain Showdown, when my wife surprised me with tickets for my birthday. It was freezing!

Speaking of freezing, we had planned to go to Waterworld on Aug. 28, but a strong cold front came through, and dropped temps to 58 F. Thankfully we had good weather on Labor Day, so we took my son as a reward for learning to swim this summer. I've never officially learned how to swim (I only dog-paddle), and still regret. We had a blast, though my wife and I got pretty good sunburns.

All in all, a great weekend to end the summer, and the sunburn hurts worse than the Rams defeat!

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Thursday, September 02, 2004

Sun and Colorado State University

Sun recently contributed to the Colorado Grid Computing Initiative at CSU. Sun provided two 6800s to create the initial node of a statewide grid computing system that will support the education of college students across Colorado in a variety of disciplines and allow universities to expand their interaction with K-12 schools.

Sun donated hardware and software to other Colorado schools and technology initiatives, but as a 2nd generation Ram, I had to brag about this one!More information should be available at: and

In addition to the hardware and software donated by Sun, we are also providing each grant project with complete installation, training and service support.

Hopefully we will see a lot more involvement and donations to my alma mater!

I am involved in the Online Mentoring Program with the Department of Journalism and Technical Communication.If there are any CSU TC students reading this blog, please contact me! I'm here to help.

BTW, Go RAMS! Beat the Buffs this weekend! :-)

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