Ken Hagler's Radio Weblog
Computers, freedom, and anything else that comes to mind.

Saturday, February 09, 2002

Thought for the day:

Jews are used to collective eulogies, but Israel will not die so that the world will speak well of it.

Golda Meir
comment () trackback ()  11:34:10 PM    

Some of the services on XMethods don't seem to work the way their page says they will. For example, the Agni Find MP3 service. I'm reasonably confident that this code should return the first 25 results of a search for Mari Iijima MP3s:

["soap://"].["urn:SoapFindMP3Intf-ISoapFindMP3#SearchMP3"].SearchMP3 ( "Mari Iijima", 25 )

I'm expecting to receive an "unbound array," which will presumably arrive as a Frontier list. Instead, my result is true. What does that mean?
comment () trackback ()  11:07:28 PM    

EU Touts Plan for Palestinian State. European Union foreign ministers on Saturday criticized the United States' Mideast policies and offered a blueprint for reviving peace talks that envisions the creation of a Palestinian state that would be recognized by Israel and admitted to the United Nations. [AP World News]

And why would Israel care what the EU says? Because the Europeans just care so much about the well-being of Jewish people? Please.
comment () trackback ()  9:46:03 PM    

I finally found a web service on XMethods that I could get working. Give it an atomic symbol and it returns the name of that element. For example, AU returns [Macro error: Can't open stream because TCP/IP error code 10061 - Connection refused.] .

Here's the call I used:

["soap://"].Chemistry.getNameBySymbol ( "AU" )

I tried many other services before I found this one. I don't know why the others didn't work, though--I did everything the same for all of them.
comment () trackback ()  9:11:06 PM    

Creating an e-gold account is very easy. All you have to do is go to the new account page on the e-gold site and fill in the form. It's very important to choose a good passphrase, because the passphrase is what keeps random hackers from breaking into your account and robbing you. I generated a passphrase as carefully as I would a PGP passphrase (or maybe more so), and that will be sufficient. Just don't use something trivial, like "password!"

Anyone can create an account, and it doesn't cost anything to create or have one. To be of any use, though, you need to have some e-gold in your account. At this point the process gets much more complicated. e-gold doesn't actually provide any way to buy or sell e-gold themselves, instead you must use what they call a "market maker." I'm not sure where this name comes from, because they're really just ordinary currency exchangers. There is a page on the e-gold website that lists several of them.

I went through the entire list, and found that there is some variation in the fees the different market makers charge. For a small transaction the fees range from 4.5% to 10%, and some don't accept small transactions at all. This is fine for me, because I get to shop around for the best deal. I suspect it would be a major problem for someone who just wants to get some e-gold quickly and easily for an e-bay auction. Maybe it would help if e-gold could handle purchases directly--say, at a very high transaction fee so as not to compete with the independents?

The market makers all prefer bank wire transfers and money orders for e-gold purchases. Some of them offer other options, such as PayPal or even credit card, but those have much higher transaction fees--presumably because of the high risk of fraud. A small number have an option where you can go into a bank branch and deposit funds directly. If you happen to live near one of those banks, this is probably the best choice. The transaction fees are low for this, and there's less delay and inconvenience than a wire transfer or money order.

After looking at the competition, I decided to try Business Express.They have relatively low transaction fees, and they also allow the option of wiring the money via Western Union. After having just taken a week to get a money order, I wanted something fast. It turns out that was a mistake, because Western Union is pretty expensive itself.

Theoretically it takes one or two business days for them to fund my e-gold account. I sent the money on Friday, so hopefully the transaction should complete on Monday or Tuesday. Once it does, then I can try buying something with e-gold and converting e-gold to US dollars. From what I read, getting dollars is much easier and has few or no transaction fees.

I like the ease of setting up an account, and the fact that it doesn't cost anything to open or maintain one makes it easy to try out the interface even if you don't want to use it. However, the process of converting dollars to e-gold is currently inconvenient and slow--I think the e-gold people need to come up with some deal that makes it easier. Working out a deal with a major bank probably wouldn't work, since the banks are likely to see e-gold as competition (and in a way it is). Maybe a deal with one of the "business service" chains like Kinko's or Mailboxes, Etc. would do the trick.
comment () trackback ()  8:50:50 PM    

I've been using Radio quite a bit since it was released, and I've noticed some interesting things about HTML editing. First, there isn't very much--in the average post I might insert a link or two, but that's it. Otherwise I just type and let Radio take care of the paragraph breaks.

I don't usually see the "WYSIWYG" editor, because I'm a Mac user. I did try it a few times on my PC at work, but then I turned it off. Aside from the obvious fact that there's no such thing as WYSIWYG on the web, it had two other problems.

First, it was hard to tell what the buttons would do--would the "I" button give me <em> or <cite> or even <i>? Second, there was always an extra blank line inserted between the end of the post and the time stamp. These extra lines added up to quite a bit of wasted vertical space.

A picture named nHTML.gifWhat I've ended up doing is writing post with lots of HTML (like this one) on my Newton. There is a package called nHTML which displays an HTML editing palette over whatever package is active at the time. I've added a screenshot showing nHTML floating over HyperNewt as I write this.

nHTML doesn't try to be WYSIWYG. The pallete list various tags, and when you tap on one it is inserted. If you had text selected, the tags will enclose the selected text, otherwise the insertion point will be between them. If more information is needed, such as for a link, a slip will appear asking for it.

This works very well, because I can write HTML anywhere and none of the other packages need to waste resources tryíng to be HTML editors. I think this approach could work on a desktop OS as well. It would be níce to have the BBEdit HTML palette available in any Mac app, not just BBEdit!
comment () trackback ()  7:52:08 PM    

Today I'm going to see Viggo Mortensen's Signlanguage exhibit at the Track 16 Gallery in Santa Monica. I'll try to get another service from XMethods working with Radio tonight.
comment () trackback ()  12:24:41 PM    

Thanks to an email from Dave, I got the temperature service working. Here's the call that worked:

["soap://"].TemperatureService.getTemp ( "90020" )

I was missing the ns= part--before I had only tried with the ?. So, now I can say that the temperature at my apartment is: -999.0F!
comment () trackback ()  12:04:06 PM    

I've been looking at SCNS for Soap a bit more. I wanted to see if I got find and call a web service myself, not just copying and pasting from someone else's example.

I found a directory of public web services at, and decided to try calling a service which returns the current temperature for a given zip code.

Now, my question is how do I translate all the gibberish on that service information page into a SCNS call? I tried running like this in Radio's Quick Script window:

["soap://"].TemperatureService.getTemp ( "90020" )

All I got was an error:

The server,, returned a SOAP-ENV:Server.BadTargetObjectURI fault: Unable to determine object id from call: is the method element namespaced?

Presumably it is but I couldn't identify anything that looked like the namespace in Dave's example.
comment () trackback ()  11:19:29 AM    

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