Friday, July 28, 2006

DocBook V5.0 beta 7 now available

Norm Walsh has released the latest beta of the DocBook v5.0 schemas. More information is available at:

This version includes the recently approved "audience" effectivity attribute, so you have a little more flexibility in profiling your documents. Before, you had to squeeze this kind of profiling into userlevel, vendor,condition or role. This attribute provides another level of distinction, so you can create an output comprised of both userlevel AND audience, etc.

Thanks, Norm!


Monday, July 24, 2006

Learning and training content specialization

I'm proud to announce that as of July 18th, the DITA TC has approved the creation of a DITA "Learning and training content specialization" subcommittee, as proposed by John Hunt. I'm looking forward to participating! Here are the details:

The subcommittee has the following statement of initial goals:
1.        Develop a general top-level design for structured, intent-based authoring of learning content with good learning architecture, following DITA principles and best practices. Such a design would build on past work on topic-based content, reusable learning objects, and the learning content types needed to support them. Some specifics of a DITA design for learning content include:
a.        learning types, including assessments and exercises
b.        a map domain for structuring and managing the learning types as reusable learning objects
c.        linking, relationships, and simple sequencing
d.        interactions
e.        style policies for learning content
f.        dynamic sequencing.

2.        Establish guidelines that promote best practices for applying standard DITA approaches to learning content, which include:
a.        separation of presentation and content (as much as possible)
b.        separation of content and context
c.        single sourcing, repurposing, and reuse.

3.        Develop support for processing DITA for general delivery as learning and training, including print and presentation delivery to support instructor-led training (ILT), web delivery for distance learning, and computer-based training delivery in general.
4.        Develop targeted support for processing DITA learning content for delivery with standards-based learning, specifically targeting SCORM and QTI. Specifically, extend DITA processing to support basic SCORM sequencing, interactions, and required SCORM LMS runtime behaviors. Leverage QTI behaviors to drive the interactions. Address the issue of "levels" from a simple implementation to full SCORM and beyond.
5.        Build on existing DITA infrastructure (editors, CMS, transforms) as much as possible so learning content developers do not have to start from scratch.

Proposed chair

John Hunt, IBM (though open to other nominations or co-chair)

Proposed initial work products for the subcommittee include the following:
Task 1: 1 month on review of structured designs for learning and how to apply DITA principles and best practices.
Task 2: 1 month on developing a top-level plan for map a DITA specialization for learning content, including identifying the learning types, map domains, content domains, and processing support needed to support the design.
Task 3: X months on developing DITA schemas and processing, and piloting and validating the top-level designs against sample content.
Task 4: 1 month on reviewing the pilot, writing and reviewing a progress report. Close this phase of the activity with a progress report to the TC, with recommended next steps.

Initial membership

The following TC members have expressed interest as initial members in this subcommittee:
1.        Bruce Esrig, Lucent (or other person from Lucent)
2.        Jennifer Linton, Comtech Services, Inc.
3.        Scott Hudson, Flatiron Solutions
4.        Christian Kravogel, SeicoDyne
5.        Erik Hennum, IBM
6.        John Hunt, IBM

In addition, several new members have expressed interest in joining the TC to participate in this SC.

If you are interested in participating, or would like to provide requirements/feedback, please contact one of us or leave me a comment.

The public page for the SC can also be found at:


Now Podcasting Via Talkr!

I first found out about Talkr from Rich Burridge, but was quickly disappointed to find out that it only supported RSS feeds. I submitted an RFE, and within just a few weeks, the folks at Talkr have added support for Atom feeds!

Now, anyone on Blogger or other generator of Atom feeds can have their blog podcasted via the Talkr service. It's a great service, as you can download your favorite blogs to your iPod. Even better, it makes your blog more accessible for the seeing impaired!

Thank you to the folks at Talkr for creating such a helpful service, and adding support for both Atom and RSS. You can listen to this blog at:

I've also added the Talkr feed icon icon to my blog template for easy subscription to the podcast.


Friday, July 14, 2006

Everlost and the Big Dig

Or, where not to travel while in Boston...

I just happened to miss the collapsing section of the Big Dig by about 6 hours when I arrived in Boston this past Monday. I knew it was going to be, at the very least, inconvenient to leave Boston on Friday, but I had no idea that it would be that bad...

Since our rental car came equipped with a N"Everlost" system, I thought it wouldn't be too difficult to recalculate the route in. Sure enough, as we came in on the 90, the city had a detour that forced us into downtown.

Needing to get gas before returning the rental car, I thought, well, might as well get it nearby before we get across to the island airport. The system worked well enough to find a nearby gas station. Then I thought it would dump us to the nearest old tunnel to the airport, or get us to where there would be detailed detour signs leading us to where we needed to go.

The Everlost system kept trying to dump us back into the Dig, and the detour signs were pitiful at best! I swear we drove an extra hour trying to follow detour signs and then switching back to Everlost which dumped us back to the Dig!

Finally, we took a wrong turn heading back toward Marlborough on the 90 before the Everlost re-directed us through the Boston University campus and over to the Callahan tunnel and over to the airport.

Granted, I'm obviously not from Boston and it had been 10 years since I was there last! For such a major detour, I would have expected much better directions. I sure hope Boston gets its act together before I return in a few weeks!


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Dining at Concord's Colonial Inn

Ahh, another successful outing in the Boston area!

This evening, we found Concord's Colonial Inn, an establishment that's been around since 1716. I love exploring historical sites, and this one was a treat! Several Presidents and Hollywood stars have dined there, including John Wayne! They also had a Wanted poster for John Wilkes Booth for $100,000.

For dinner, I had a lovely McWilliams Shiraz from Australia, along with a very good Yankee Pot Roast.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Tales of a Wayside Inn

Wayside Inn Grist Mill

I'm in the Boston/Marlborough area this week on business, and found a really great place for dinner this evening: The Wayside Inn.

I didn't really know much about it, but stumbled across it on the web. It's a National Historic Landmark, and very interesting! In fact, there is a marker about George Washington passing through on his way to take command of the Colonial Army! It opened in 1716 as Howe's Tavern, along the old Boston Post Road. Later it became the Red Horse Tavern, and now Longfellow's Wayside Inn. It's named thusly because in 1862, poet Henry Longfellow visited the tavern and later published a book of poems entitled "Tales of a Wayside Inn." I need to take more time on my next visit to explore the extensive grounds. The working Grist Mill is quite picturesque.

For dinner, they have an excellent Bawstan Clam Chowda (NE accent added...). I also tried the London Broil and the Baked Indian Pudding for dessert.


Monday, July 03, 2006

Handy Character Entity Reference

Cliff at work turned me on to this very handy character entity reference:

Prior to this, I've often used my O'Reilly Webmaster in a Nutshell and moreso my XML in a Nutshell books.

Thanks for the pointer, Cliff!

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Sunday, July 02, 2006

Essential Apps (PC edition)

After numerous Blue Screens of Death in my work Win XP system, I have had to start with a clean slate.

Though I don't quite have the luxury of choosing Linux or Mac, like Mark Pilgrim or Tim Bray or Rich Burridge, I still use quite a few open source apps in my day to day work. If the 10 years I spent at Sun taught me anything, it had to be how to work/survive with OpenSource software. Unfortunately, many of my colleagues and clients still use WinXP and I have to be guaranteed to be able to exchange data with them, and have my system be supported. Thus, I have to use WinXP and MS Office for some things, as well as some non-open source apps.

Due to the re-install, I've narrowed the list of essential apps I want installed on my new system. Here are my essential PC apps:

  1. Google Pack
  2. Mozilla Firefox
  3. Mozilla Thunderbird
  4. oXygen XML Editor
  5. GVIM
  6. Google Desktop
  7. Trillian
  8. FoxIt Reader
  9. CygWin
  10. Gimp
  11. TurboXML
  12. In the past, I've also used jEdit, but now exclusively oXygen... I would also consider using OpenOffice, but as I mentioned, I'm required to use MS Office. I also wish they made Omnigraffle for Win...
    and now for the fun apps:

  13. iTunes
  14. Picasa
  15. WebShots
  16. Google Earth

For essential Firefox extensions, I use:

  1. Web Developer
  2. X-Ray
  3. IE Tab
  5. DownloadThemAll!
  6. Forecastfox
  7. Adblock
  8. Google Browser Sync

What other essential WinXP apps should I be considering?

Thanks to Nederhoed, it looks like I should give Inkscape a try. I think Rich Burridge had also recommended FreeMind. Any others?

UPDATE:Plaxo and SnagIt are some additional apps I've found essential!