Web 2.0's MS Access killer?

7 Minute Screencast of Dabble DB's Under The Radar Demo (via TechCrunch)

Very nice. Beautiful interface for common DB creation/evolution tasks. It's even Smalltalk under the (server-side) hood. What's not to like?

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"Bong Hits 4 Jesus"

Reuters @ Yahoo:Court upholds "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" student banner
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - An Alaska high school violated a student's free speech rights by suspending him after he unfurled a banner reading 'Bong Hits 4 Jesus' across the street from the school, a federal court ruled on Friday.
Principal Deborah Morse seized the banner and suspended the 18-year-old for 10 days, saying he had undermined the school's educational mission and anti-drug stance.
"Public schools are instrumentalities of government, and government is not entitled to suppress speech that undermines whatever missions it defines for itself," Judge Andrew Kleinfeld wrote in the court's opinion.

The court also cleared the way for Frederick to seek damages, saying Morse was aware of relevant case law and should have known her actions violated his rights.

Principal Morse should be sentenced to a full semester of her own school's government/civics class. Or would that violate the 8th amendment?

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Voltaire's prayer: "O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous."

WSJ: Blame It on Voltaire: Muslims Ask French To Cancel 1741 Play
A municipal cultural center here on France's border with Switzerland organized a reading of a 265-year-old play by Voltaire, whose writings helped lay the foundations of modern Europe's commitment to secularism. The play, 'Fanaticism, or Mahomet the Prophet,' uses the founder of Islam to lampoon all forms of religious frenzy and intolerance.

The production quickly stirred up passions that echoed the cartoon uproar. 'This play...constitutes an insult to the entire Muslim community,' said a letter to the mayor of Saint-Genis-Pouilly, signed by Said Akhrouf, a French-born cafe owner of Moroccan descent and three other Islamic activists representing Muslim associations. They demanded the performance be cancelled.

In the play's original era, the Catholic Church also sought to ban it -- I presume Mohammad was just a conveniently foreign stand-in for aspects of local religious authorities (or all religions) that Voltaire wanted to mock.

Why can't the world be filled with 1.5 billion devout followers of Voltaire? We might deduce some of the tenets of this hypothetical Voltairean faith by considering some Voltaire quotes -- bits of the Voltairean scripture, as it were:

  • "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him."
  • "If God has made us in his image, we have returned him the favor."
  • "I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it."
  • "God is not on the side of the big battalions, but on the side of those who shoot best."
  • "God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh."
Alas, such a religion is impossible: too heterodox. We live in the best of all possible worlds.

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More on matchmarks in Regex Powertoy

The previous post mentioned Regex Powertoy matchmarks as a way to capture all settings to reproduce a bug. Of course, a matchmark can also be used to save useful or interesting regular expressions (and example target text) as web bookmarks, such as on del.icio.us and its ilk.

For example, the Perl 'perlre' regular expressions documentation contains the following warning:

WARNING: particularly complicated regular expressions can take exponential time to solve because of the immense number of possible ways they can use backtracking to try match. For example, without internal optimizations done by the regular expression engine, this will take a painfully long time to run:
     'aaaaaaaaaaaa' =~ /((a{0,5}){0,5})*[c]/
Here's a matchmark representing that operation, with Regex Powertoy animation turned on:

     'aaaaaaaaaaaa' =~ /((a{0,5}){0,5})*[c]/
You can watch the red probe cursor -- indicating which character of the target input text is currently being tested against the regex -- bounce around, banging against the end of the text and backtracking, for hours. Turning off animation speeds things up considerably, but the ultimate rejection of any matches still takes tens of seconds if not minutes: the final tally is 18,124,859 probes to test the match.

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Regex Powertoy Bugfixing

Regex Powertoy had a bug where capturing groups inside unmatched alternations would prevent group details from displaying properly, when clicking on a match.

It's fixed now, but this matchmark would reproduce the problem -- clicking on the single match would show no group details. Now, the details show -- and any groups unmatched aren't shown at all in the detail view.

Regex Powertoy more or less works as long as you've got a modern browser and Java applet support at the "5.0" (aka "JDK 1.5") level. Any bug/glitch reports are appreciated -- and if they're specific to a certain regex pattern, target input, or other settings, you can use the 'matchmark' function to convert your settings to an URL for easy reporting.

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