Since 2011, I coordinate the IT activities of a small, but growing food cooperative. This post is a tale from the long tail of IT management. Things are necessarily different than in organisations that are profit-oriented or have a large pool of possible contributors or consist to a large extent of IT-minded people. In our case, none of these conditions holds true. The theme here is an alarming lack of control over available resources (e.g. time and skillsets) and decision-making ability. How to make sense of this specific kind of battle?

PolyPager has gotten some exciting new features, but the best one allows to work with n:m related data. I explain what that is and show how it will work. 

Doing Semantic Web Development on Mac? I was asked to install this bunch of software (Tomcat/Axis/Juddi) on my machine in preparation for a course on "Intelligent Internet Applications". I spent quite a time doing this on my G4 ibook and I must say: It's  just plain old installation hell :-) This should be available as a package like XAMPP for LAMP/WAMP Systems. Quite the opposite is true: some of the tutorials are outdated or inconsistent. But this is Open Source, so anyone should step up and provide tutorials.

Thus, here is what I did in order to set this stuff up. Some of this I only accomplished by googling on different mailing lists, so I hope I am saving someone time by posting this.

Most of this tutorial might also work on other operating systems since it is all Java and hence cross-platform, but I didn't bother checking. Also, it might be outdated in a few month, one never knows, but now it's up to date (for instance, the Tomcat configuration chenged recently, which caused me trouble).

In his talk "Ontology is overrated" (audio, text), Clay Shirky claims that top-down classification like ontology building is the old-style solution for a new kind of problem. In particular, it refers to a world where physical entities are the resources (like books in a library) and therefore shape the solution.
But in the web, he claims, there are no shelves and ontologies are not a modern approach.
I'll try to wrap up that talk and tell you what I think of it. For instance, I wonder if ontologies really need to be a top-down model in the first place. 
Today I listened to Prof. Dr. Peter Imming from the University of Halle-Wittenberg. The topic was "Creation vs Evolution" (well, in German: Schöpfung vs Evolution). It was my first real-life creationist vs evolution discussion. I scetch some of the main points of the talk here, reason a little about the high horse of science and ask myself why everybody wants to have an explanation right now.

While giving your site some personal touch, you might wish to have hover-over-popups (or "Tooltips") that describe a link or any other HTML element.

While there is a standard way to do that (<a title="Hit this!">a link</a>), you might want to

  • make the popups come up directly without delaying 2 seconds or so because the user wants to know what is behind that link immediately
  • style those popups your own way (this is mine), not that peculiar yellow the browsers use for that... and you want to do it the CSS way.
  • make sure the popup is always positioned within the visible area of the browser, even if you put a lot of content in it.
  • simply use the onmouseover attribute of your (link) elements

I spent some time on this and update it regularly based on user comments (see below). You are invited to "steal" the code!

Beware though, that they do not work on mobile browsers, which has become ever more crucial since the last update (2014).

Maybe the concept of being an expert changes slightly over time.
As the knowledge world gets richer and less overviewable, maybe we demand different things from them than we did some years ago?
I think that in a world where not everything is 'know-how', but more and more is 'know-where', we do. And by examining what successful people do today, I find more and more masterpieces of a new technique. It's key skills are
  1. knowing where the cool things are and how to use them
  2. assembling them in a way that feels like a new whole