UMBC ebiquity
2005 April

Archive for April, 2005

Hamming’s advice on how to do something significant

April 28th, 2005, by Tim Finin, posted in Computing Research, GENERAL

“You and Your Research” is a transcript of a talk given by Richard Hamming almost 20 years ago. It focuses on the question “Why do so few scientists make significant contributions and so many are forgotten in the long run?”.

It’s an inspirational read, especially if you’re a bit depressed by the minutia of your professional life and are at risk of being bitten to death by ducks. Maybe you can do something really significant.

There are many copies of this floating around the web, and now there is one more. (I spotted this on Lambda the Ultimate


Sweet Rules 2.1 Released.

April 26th, 2005, by Pavan, posted in Semantic Web, Web

Sweet Rules 2.1 relased.

It was also featured on

Shashi burning mid-night oil seems to have paid !!!

The developers of the SweetRules tools for semantic web rules and ontologies have announced a version 2.1 release of the software at SemWebCentral, available under the LGPL open source license. SweetRules provides support for rule-triggered WSDL Web Services, RuleML presentation syntax for easier editing, a courteous compiler enabling prioritized conflict handling, a new installation wizard, and additional examples of e-business application scenarios.

What the Dormouse Said

April 24th, 2005, by Tim Finin, posted in GENERAL

Yet another retelling of our history, but from a different perspective as told by John Markoff. My own recollection of the times was that computers attracted people coming in from the edge from many different directions. It seems much more homogenized now, but thankfully we still have an influx of the unusual who never even saw the inside of a box.

What the Dormouse Said: How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer, John Markoff, Viking, 25 April 2005.

“While there have been several histories of the personal computer, well-known technology writer John Markoff has created the first ever to spotlight the unique political and cultural forces that gave rise to this revolutionary technology. Focusing on the period of 1962 through 1975 in the San Francisco Bay Area, where a heady mix of tech industries, radicalism, and readily available drugs flourished, What the Dormouse Said tells the story of the birth of the personal computer through the people, politics, and protest that defined its unique era.

Based on interviews with all the major surviving players, Markoff vividly captures the lives and times of those who laid the groundwork for the PC revolution, introducing the reader to such colorful characters as Fred Moore, a teenage antiwar protester who went on to ignite the computer industry, and Cap’n Crunch, who wrote the first word processing software for the IBM PC (EZ Writer) in prison, became a millionaire, and ended up homeless. Both immensely informative and entertaining, What the Dormouse Said promises to appeal to all readers of technology, especially the bestselling The Soul of a New Machine.”

Finding RDF instance data with Swoogle

April 24th, 2005, by Tim Finin, posted in Semantic Web, Swoogle, Web

Someone on the yahoo semanticWeb mailing list asked for “a populated ontology for countries”. I thought “Ha! This is just what Swoogle is designed for — finding RDF documents”. It turned out to not be as easy as I expected, prompting us to add a new feature. You can now use Swoogle to find RDF documents instantiating a given class or property. The results will be ranked them by the number of instances.

So, here are a two ways to find populated country ontologies. The first approach is to search for ontologies that appear to be about counties, select one, and then find documents that use it as a namespace. The second focuses on finding classes that represent countries, select one, and find documents that instantiate it.

Searching for country ontologies. Start by finding ontologies that seem to be about counties to find one that looks promising. This query asks Swoogle for ontologies (i.e., RDF documents that mostly *define* classes and properties) with RDF terms whose local names contain the lexemes ‘country’ and ‘capital’ and ‘population’. The results are ranked by Swoogle’s ontology ranking algorithm that takes into account how much each is used, so working down the list is a good strategy.

Let’s suppose we like the first one, which is based on the CIA factbook . Looking at the document view you can see a bit more about it. By entering a Swoogle namespace search, you can find all 28 documents using it as a namespace. Scanning the result summaries, you can see how many instances each defines and investigate the promising ones.

Note to self: we should add a “document’s using this namespace” link to both the document view and the document result summary

Searching for country classes. Another approach is to search by terms (i.e., classes or properties). This query asks for all classes that contain the lexeme ‘country’, ranking the results by the number of instances. Select one of the results that looks interesting, say the first. Click on the definition link to bring up a page about that term. At the top of this page there is a link ‘Documents populating this term as a class’ that, when followed, leads to a page listing documents ranked by instances of this term.

BlogWise and Google Maps

April 21st, 2005, by Pranam Kolari, posted in Blogging, GENERAL

This tool is an experiment with Location metadata and Google maps. It is in no way endorsed or supported by Google or any other organisation – this is just an experiment by us folks here at Blogwise, so complain to us if it breaks

BlogWise currently maintains locality information of blogs anyway and is quite popular. So BlogMaps is a nice logical extension. Unfortunately its still in Beta – and lists a very small number of blogs. However its a feature to watch out for as it evolves, considering the popularity of local blog aggregators (subway system based) like NYC, London Bloggers and many more.

WiMax chip from Intel

April 18th, 2005, by Anupam Joshi, posted in GENERAL, Mobile Computing, Pervasive Computing, Technology Impact

So the major players have joined in the WiMax game. This report from the Washington Post describes Intel coming to DC area to release their new WiMax chipset.

data blogs

April 12th, 2005, by joel, posted in Blogging, GENERAL, Ontologies, Semantic Web

Some SPIRE folks and I have talked about using folksonomies to do for data sharing what they´ve done for picture and bookmark sharing. In particular, one thing that makes tagging sights like flickr and so powerful is that every user is free to add tags to already tagged resources. In other words, the metadata attached to a resource can evolve as the community gains new understandings of what the resource relates to. We´ve been talking for a while (mentioned it in at least one proposal) about developing a system that allows scientists to tag data according to what they find it useful for, and that attaches those tags to the data. But, in a sense, the Technorati-blogging infrastructure already provides such a system.

For example, I blogged a link to an NBII dataset, tagged it both “foodweb” and “habitat”, and now it shows up at and If anybody used this data, they could tag it according to what they use it for. For example, the habitat data could be tagged “colorado river toad”. All the tags of a dataset can be found by following the linkbacks. (flickr provides a more straightforward way of viewing all the tags associated with a picture.)

More generally … People have been contrasting folksonomies with the semantic web, as if they were in opposition to each other. In many cases, however, folksonomies can easily slip into the semantic web framework, playing the role currently played by taxonomies. any thoughts on this?

MSN integrates search into Messenger

April 10th, 2005, by Pavan, posted in GENERAL

The new MSN 7.0 messenger has Search in built into the messenger. Next to the “Send” button in the conversation window, there’s also a “Search” button that let’s you instantly search whatever you type in the box. But this doesn’t simply fire up your browser pointing it to MSN Search! It’s actually “Shared Search”, which goes and searches MSN Search and then returns a few results to both you and your contact!

I still prefer Google!!!

But this may be the first step by Microsoft to integrated Search into Windows.
Currently Google outperforms MSN search, the day the MSN search is on par with Google search results Microsoft can use the Windows ploy to shift users from Google.

Behind the Scenes With Google

April 9th, 2005, by Tim Finin, posted in Web

The University of Washington has streaming video of a colloquium talk by Google’s Jeff Dean. “Search is one of the most important applications used on the internet and poses some of the most interesting challenges in computer science. Providing high-quality search requires understanding across a wide range of computer science disciplines. In this program, Jeff Dean of Google describes some of these challenges, discusses applications Google has developed, and highlights systems they’ve built, including GFS, a large-scale distributed file system, and MapReduce, a library for automatic parallelization and distribution of large-scale computation. He also shares some interesting observations derived from Google’s web data.” (via Slashdot)

FIPA to become an IEEE standards committee

April 9th, 2005, by Tim Finin, posted in Agents, AI, Ontologies

The Foundation for Intelligent Physical Agents (FIPA) was established almost ten years ago to develop software standards for heterogeneous and interacting agents and agent-based systems. It successfully developed and published a very good set of standards for agent communication and agent infrastructure. The last several years has seen a gradual decline in paying members, fewer technical people able to devote time and a general loss of momentum.

This fall the FIPA board decided to close down FIPA as a Swiss-based organization and find a sponsor to help maintain and develop the FIPA standards. The membership voted to follow this course and discussions were held with a number of candidate organizations. The IEEE Computer Society invited FIPA to become part of its family of standards committees and working groups. In March, the FIPA membership voted to join as the “FIPA Standards Committee”. This committee will be a self-organizing body with its own policies and procedures, dues structures, and bank account within the IEEE. The IEEE Computer Society will provide the umbrella organization, website maintenance, voting support, and all the other benefits that a large standards organization provides.

FIPA was an exciting experiment and perhaps a bit ahead of its time. I think that joining IEEE is a good decision and am optimistic that this will provide a new home for FIPA’s ideas and standards to evolve as new technologies appear and mature. The agents vision is still the right one, IMHO, and FIPA’s good work will be needed soon.

Semantic web as the “web of data”

April 8th, 2005, by li ding, posted in Semantic Web, Technology

A recent presentation given by Eric Miller at Semantics Technology Conference 2005 remarks the idea of “web of data” as the next step for the existing popular ideas “web of document” idea and “everything in text”. He also mentioned industry adoption and support of semantic web including: Nokia –, HP – Singapore Digital Content, IBM – Life Sciences and Semantic Web , Adobe – XMP , Oracle – RDF Network Data Model.

Google Sightseeing

April 7th, 2005, by li ding, posted in Blogging, Technology

Soon after Google had released their satellite map feature on April 04 (source: CNN), bloggers started an interesting journey “Google Sightseeing” using satellite images. My first target is UMBC.
UMBC map
(source: Google Map)

drive to umbc
(source: Google satellite map)

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