Tao of the Machine

Programming, Python, my projects, card games, books, music, Zoids, bettas, manga, cool stuff, and whatever comes to mind.

Laszlo Presentation Server

Laszlo Presentation Server is a system to develop rich web-based applications. It works with Flash, but because of its system-independent .lzx file format (which is based on XML), it will be capable of supporting other display formats as well.

For a quick guide, see Laszlo in Ten Minutes. In the meantime, here are my first impressions:

  • Writing applications using XML is straightforward and simple. I'm not really a fan of XML, but in this case it seems a natural fit. Your components are represented by XML tags. Child controls are easily added by child tags. For example, here's "hello world" in LZX format.

<canvas height="100" width="500" >
      Hello, World!

  • Running an .lzx application is easy. Simply drop the file where LPS can see it, and point your browser to it. (Of course the application server needs to be running.)

  • There are some nice features, like floating windows, easy drag & drop, easy editing, debugger, etc.

  • There are data-aware controls, but most of the examples use XML datasets. Attaching them to a "real" database is possible, but not very straightforward. I would like to connect to a database directly; Laszlo however seems to depend on server-side techniques, like JSP, ASP or CGI. Also, whatever tool or technique is used, it still needs to pass data as XML.

  • For more programming power, you can define classes and methods (in XML). You can also mix LZX code with JavaScript etc.

  • While most of the GUI stuff is as you would expect it, there are some unusual features. For example, let's say you have a list of addresses. You edit the address by clicking it, after which an edit view appears under the original line, moving all the following addresses down. To see what I mean, see the section about data-driven applications.

  • The application server output window sometimes gives helpful hints. For example, I tried modified the "hello world" example so it would show a bigger font. Without looking up the reference for the text tag, I changed it to <text size="10">. When running it, the program ran as usual (without errors), but this appeared in the output window:

hello.lzx:2:20: attribute "size" not allowed at this point; ignored
hello.lzx:2:20: found an unknown attribute named "size" on element "text", however there is an attribute named "fontsize" on class "text", did you mean to use that?

  • It's just too slow for my computer. Granted, I don't have a high-end box (900 MHz Intel Celeron, 256 Mb), but still. Apparently a lot of horsepower is necessary to run this smoothly, which you would expect from a server, I guess. Running it with IE seems faster and more stable than with Firebird, but loading times are often very slow with both browsers. Not to mention the fact that it hogs memory. (These problems might be related to the fact that it uses Java.)

All in all, a promising system. It's easy to write powerful programs that are pleasing to the eye. You'll need something better than my computer, though. :-)

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2004-04-05 20:39:16   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: internet, programming

Taoist of thermodynamic Macho

And this is what my weblog looks like after its meaning has been eaten. emoticon:smile

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2004-03-28 20:53:43   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: internet


After this, this is a great find: oldversion.com -- "because newer is not always better". Get the good, non-bloated versions of Acrobat Reader, Winamp, ICQ and much more.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2004-03-24 00:18:00   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: internet, linkstuffs


The Lindows site does not allow users from the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg:

Important Notice! Pending Lindows' appeal visitors from the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg are not permitted to access the Lindows.com website or purchase Lindows products.

Refusing to sell your products to someone is one thing, but how can you forbid someone to visit a website? I suppose you can do crafty things with filters, block certain IP ranges etc, but forbidding it seems silly, because it's a bit hard to enforce.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2004-03-22 18:10:42   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: internet


I would get a .py domain name, but they're $240, and require local presence. Oh well. emoticon:nosmile

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2004-03-19 19:32:08   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: internet

5K Chess

(via Keith Devens) 5K Chess. Amazing indeed.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2004-03-17 13:55:56   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: games, internet

Spam, spam, spam

Well, sort of... More like virii and link-harvesting robots.

I received this mail today:

Hi there! Sorry for an e-mail out of the blue, but I just did a search for the term anime basket download fruit on Google and found zephyrfalcon.org ranked 41. Since I publish a related website about Flowers (it's strictly informational, so I'm definitely NOT a competitor of yours), I'd like to link to your site.

My site is one of the best resources for info in our category (I think you'll see that my site is pretty clean and high quality, and I only request to link to other quality sites for exchange). Because of this great info, I get a pretty decent amount of visitors...so if I link to you, your site should get some nice traffic as well.

So you know, I've already linked to you and will keep it there for a few days until I hear from you. If you're interested in swapping links for good, please reply back so I can get you all of the pertinent information.


Carrie Soefel
RAC IM: 785952.

This *almost* sounds like an actual human writing me to swap links. That happens sometimes, and I occasionally do trade links with sites. However, this one seems fishy. "I've already linked to you"... where is your site, then? Where am I supposed to link to? Also, it's not unlikely that I show up on a Google search for "anime basket download fruit" (especially now that I've mentioned it twice in a blog post emoticon:smile)... however, my site has nothing to do with flowers, and neither does that search term. (It's a search for the "Fruits Basket" anime.)

So, this isn't real, and a quick Google search confirms this.

Then we have the "Notify about using email account." (Sounds a bit like "all your bases...")

Dear user of "Zephyrfalcon.org" mailing system,

Some of our clients complained about the spam (negative e-mail content) outgoing from your e-mail account. Probably, you have been infected by a proxy-relay trojan server. In order to keep your computer safe, follow the instructions.

For details see the attached file.

The Zephyrfalcon.org team

Hmm, I wasn't aware there was a zephyrfalcon.org team, other than me... :-)

And then there's this one:

Hi, Hans! 50% discount for cigarettes!

Marlboro $18.95
...lots of brand names omitted...

Start smoking today! http://OHOMiFXL.cigaretesstore.net/lord/

Um, yeah. Who doesn't want to receive a happy fun mail that encourages you to start smoking?

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2004-03-16 23:04:02   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: internet

Naming worms and virii

The following quotes are excerpts from a discussion on a well-known forum.

"Virus-writers don't get to name their viruses, the anti-virus companies do that."

"I'm sure if the file you sent out was called "thisvirusisnamedJim.vbs", it would be called Jim."

"Tell that to the author of Nimda, the first major worm to spread multiple ways. He clearly named his worm "Concept Virus(CV) V.5, Copyright(C)2001 R.P.China" in a string in the binary, but the antivirus people called it "Nimda" anyway [wired.com]. Nimda 0.6 contained the string "Concept Virus(CV) V.6, Copyright(C)2001, (This's CV, No Nimda)" but it was still called Nimda."

"The anti-virus companies would call it anything but Jim. Virus writers used to be in it for the "fame" (old school ones, before spammers took over and started writing viruses for their own purposes). The last thing anti-virus companies want to do is to give them that on a plate, so they deliberately pick other names for the virus when the author has indicated a name themselves."

That's kind of dumb.

The author (or publisher) of a piece of software gets to name it. That in this case the software happens to be harmful, and/or the author despicable, is irrelevant. It's still software.

Everybody hates SCO these days, but nobody calls SCO Unix by a different name out of spite. (Well, except on Slashdot maybe :-)

This behavior of anti-virus companies is extra dubious since they are the ones making money off the viruses. The last thing they want to do is giving the virus writers fame... fair enough, except that the anti-virus companies would not exist if nobody wrote viruses. (Which would be a better world, I agree. Just so there are no misunderstandings: I do not condone the writing of harmful worms in any way.)

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2004-02-10 10:09:01   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: internet

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