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Return of Technocrat.net

By sigwinch in Media
Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 08:10:23 AM EST
Tags: News (all tags)
News

As you may recall, Technocrat.net shut down back in January (New Hope for Technocrat.net), but its operator Bruce Perens promised it would be "re-launched with a new format". The re-launch appears to be imminent...


You can read it for yourself at Technocrat.net, or you can read it below if DNS hasn't propagated yet:
This is a place-holder for Technocrat.net, while I am speaking at conferences and getting Zope configured. The nice folks at IQMC have rescued my wayward domain name and sent it back after I'd unconsciously let it expire.

Expected return of Technocrat.net should be Friday the 22nd.

Thanks

Bruce

Woo hoo!

The old Technocrat was a Squishdot-based discussion forum (sort of a Slashdot-lite). Bruce's goal was to create a way for geeks and technowizards to organize and lobby politcally. As a discussion site, it was pretty good, with a high signal-to-noise ratio, good posters, and important topics. Common topics were free (as in liberty) software, ham radio (Bruce is/was involved with No-Code International), free speech, information privacy issues, copyright, and so forth. Unfortunately, it didn't turn into the politically-influential force that Bruce hoped it would, and when his personal time became too scarce (new baby, new job), he decided to shut it down and try again later.

We'll have to wait until the new Technocrat actually goes live, but I'm betting it will be a news site/portal, with emphasis on actually causing change. People talk a lot on Slashdot, K5, Usenet, etc. but distressingly little actually gets done.

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Return of Technocrat.net | 15 comments (11 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
Purpose of Technocrat.net (3.50 / 4) (#4)
by sigwinch on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 09:59:36 PM EST

For some reason, it didn't occur to me that not everyone was familiar with a web site that disappeared six months ago, so here's some background on Technocrat. ;-)

The old Technocrat was a Squishdot-based discussion forum (sort of a Slashdot-lite). Bruce's goal was to create a way for geeks and technowizards to organize and lobby politcally. As a discussion site, it was pretty good, with a high signal-to-noise ratio, good posters, and important topics. Common topics were free (as in liberty) software, ham radio (Bruce is/was involved with No-Code International), free speech, information privacy issues, copyright, and so forth. Unfortunately, it didn't turn into the politically-influential force that Bruce hoped it would, and when his personal time became too scarce (new baby, new job), he decided to shut it down and try again later.

We'll have to wait until the new Technocrat actually goes live, but I'm betting it will be a news site/portal, with emphasis on actually causing change. People talk a lot on Slashdot, K5, Usenet, etc. but distressingly little actually gets done.

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.

Getting off our collective rears... (none / 0) (#13)
by Bear Cub on Thu Jul 12, 2001 at 04:44:13 PM EST

People talk a lot on Slashdot, K5, Usenet, etc. but distressingly little actually gets done.
This has been a pet peeve of mine for some time. As a political/social force, we geeks have been something of a tempest in a teapot. Slashdot & K5 (among others, of course) regularly feature stories & discussions of political happenings, but I rarely see any kind of call to action.

I really hope that with Technocrat's return, we'll be able to focus some of our ample enthusiasm toward some real change. I have to say that I trust Bruce Perens as someone to represent our interests, and someone a little more mainstream is exactly what we need to get any attention from our various governments. (RMS, God bless him, is just a little too far out there for most Congressmen, I suspect.)

------------------------------------- Bear Cub now posts as Christopher.
[ Parent ]

Slightly OT: Zope (4.50 / 2) (#6)
by slaytanic killer on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 10:34:41 AM EST

When I spoke with a friend who developed on Zope, he was supremely interested, telling me to log on to his admin interface and check it out. A couple months later, he told me that while it was a nice system, it didn't scale upwards at all, and was sufficiently abstruse that he couldn't tell if the defects were his or Zope's. It did not seem a problem that could be solved just by throwing hardware at it. He quickly rewrote it in something else (Cold Fusion + python scripts?) and enjoyed stability ever since.

I asked why Technocrat.net used it then, and he replied that he wasn't sure, but noted that they were never a really high-volume site; not many comments in their forums. Does anyone know how well Technocrat (or other sites) is doing with Zope? It might have evolved since then...

My take on Zope (4.75 / 4) (#7)
by ianb on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 01:27:58 PM EST

I used -- and came to stop using -- Zope myself. I don't think the performance should really be an issue. I understand there's some clustering thing implemented for Zope, and IMHO most of the really heavy lifting should be done with a RDBMS anyway. Zope isn't blazingly fast by any means, but I think it should scale well, even for a high-traffic site.

However, I must say that I found Zope to be very opaque. When I was using it the documentation was truly horrendous -- a combination of not having good or complete reference documentation, and an eclectic enough system that such documentation was desperately needed. Since then (about a year ago) the documentation has gotten better. The lack of elegence hasn't particularly, though. IMHO, the best documentation is not needing documentation.

Personally, I'm much more interested in Webware, which is an alternative Python framework.

Zope is good at content-management, and creating a content-rich, eclectic site -- i.e., a site that has various forms of content that couldn't fit into a well-structured database. It also has some powerful permission stuff, so that you can create users and manipulate permissions inside the Zope-universe without needing system accounts, and even delegating user creation safely. These are very useful, and represent a lot of work to duplicate. They could be really useful in an intranet environment, though DTML makes this difficult (that's being worked on, though)

If you like simple elegence, though, you'll find Zope disapointing. If you aren't willing to invest a lot of time to find your bearings, you'll probably be frustrated. Zope makes escape hard, as it doesn't use the filesystem. Personally, I just hope that people realize that web-based Python programming is by no means limited to Zope. A SquishDot system simply doesn't seem hard enough to justify Zope. Zope should be seen as a way to implement an entire server -- not just an application, but a set of documents, applications, network services, etc. When you have a problem on that scale, I think Zope will start to pay off.

[ Parent ]

Zope (3.50 / 2) (#8)
by sigwinch on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 06:00:37 PM EST

I'm glad to see these Zope comments. I've been looking at it for designing a simple website (and maybe an in-house intranet).
However, I must say that I found Zope to be very opaque. When I was using it the documentation was truly horrendous -- a combination of not having good or complete reference documentation, and an eclectic enough system that such documentation was desperately needed. Since then (about a year ago) the documentation has gotten better.
I'm just starting with Zope, so I don't know how it was in the past, but the current documentation is fairly comprehensive. Unfortunately the Zope website is rather disorganized and it's hard the actually find the documentation you need.
The lack of elegence hasn't particularly, though.
The Zope document hierarchy is object-oriented. I've done a fair amount of OO programming and design in a variety of languages, and the Zope approach seemed natural and obvious. Unfortunately, the documentation seems to assume experience with OO design, and needs a clear and very simple introduction for the non-programmer.
Zope makes escape hard, as it doesn't use the filesystem.
Very true, but implementing the object model in a filesystem would be ugly and prone to breakage. IMHO, the real problem is the web browser-based user interface, which simply takes too much effort to do simple things. Zope really needs a conventional app that presents the backend database as a file browser tree. Double-clicking an item would fire up an editor for it, and right-clicking it would pop up a dialog for editing the object's properties.

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

Zopedy Zope (5.00 / 2) (#9)
by ianb on Sat Jun 23, 2001 at 03:54:39 PM EST

The Zope document hierarchy is object-oriented. I've done a fair amount of OO programming and design in a variety of languages, and the Zope approach seemed natural and obvious. Unfortunately, the documentation seems to assume experience with OO design, and needs a clear and very simple introduction for the non-programmer.
It's not so much the OO part, as just the size of the system. What I really like about Python is that, after having worked with it for a couple years, I really feel like I understand it pretty completely. There are no surprises. A couple years of working with Zope wouldn't do that, I don't think. (Sure, if I spent that time just learning Zope, I could do it, but just working with Zope won't do it)

Part of this is because Zope has a few different personalities. The Python core, the DTML language (ick), the possible Perl extensions, now ZPT, and then bizarre little things tacked on, like doc strings in Zope imply the function is public. Odd.

There's lots of documentation. But when I attacked Zope with the feeling like, this is what I want to do, I have an intuitive concept of how it should be done, now I have to figure out the details -- what objects, what interfaces, etc... well, I got really frustrated.

As far as the filesystem, you can access the objects through FTP. This is nice, a number of tools work over FTP. There was an effort to use Mozilla to make an interface like you were thinking, but it was abandoned. I don't believe there's anything on the horizon to change that. If you are working over a dial-up, you will be frustrated. With a better connection, the web interface might not be that bad.

Anyway, best of luck. If you just have a small site, Zope probably isn't worth it. If you want to do a small site because you are considering making a large site afterwards, then Zope might fit your needs.

[ Parent ]

Zope Scalability (4.00 / 2) (#10)
by moshez on Sun Jun 24, 2001 at 03:18:45 AM EST

Disclaimer: I work as a web developer

Whenever people ask me about scalability, that is my first indication that they are amateurs. If you have decent, mid-range hardware (say, P3-700MHZ, 512 MB RAM, decent amounts of cache) then almost any architecture will scale to the 1mega-10mega hits per day, which is the most common line. After that, one might have to get tricky, and see what the site is doing. For a moderately unpersonalized site, just putting a webswitch and couple of Squids which reverse-proxy to Zope will give it scalability to the 100mega-1giga hits a day. After that, and note that by this time you have to invest pretty stiffly in hardware, I'd use the same setup, but with two-three Zopes all using ZEO (Zope Enterprise Objects) from a central server which does nothing but ZEO serving. This will give scalability to the 100k-1mega hits/second. Now, at this point your web site is pretty successful, so you can start using better hardware: have all the Zope computers and the ZEO server be Solaris/Sparc top of the lineboxen with quad CPUs, and quadruple the number of Squid boxes. This should allow you to scale to the 10mega-100mega hits per second, which is pretty good, when you think about it.

[T]he k5 troll HOWTO has been updated ... This update is dedicated to moshez, and other bitter anti-trolls.
[ Parent ]

mega? (none / 0) (#14)
by klamath on Tue Jul 17, 2001 at 03:10:54 PM EST

Before I comment on what you said, can you clarify something? Are you using 'mega' to mean 1,000,000 (one million) -- so '10mega-100mega hits per second' is "10 million to 100 million hits per second", as the dictionary would suggest, or are you using the term differently?

Also, by a 'hit' do you mean a pageview (i.e. a request for dynamic content processed by Zope), or just an HTTP request (the majority of which will be for static content like images).

[ Parent ]

Zope doesn't scale AT ALL (none / 0) (#15)
by ckm on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 10:15:41 PM EST

Sorry, Zope doesn't scale. Scaling is not just a matter of accomodating hits, using this as a metric shows you know little about building large scale sites beyond what you've read.

Scaling is also about scaling your development and deployment process. And in that area, Zope fails miserably. The documentation is terrible, and the entire architecture is opaque.

Besides, it does not even scale well in terms of hits. CBS, Zope's largest user, switch to a Java application server (ATG Dynamo) because of this. From what I've seen of Zope, I thing it works OK for small to medium sites, but since it tries to do everything internally, it's hard to unravel the various components to make it more robust.

Chris
--
www.chrismaresca.com

[ Parent ]
I don't see anything (none / 0) (#11)
by drivers on Tue Jul 03, 2001 at 11:44:37 AM EST

All I see is Bruce Perens' personal home page at www.technocrat.net

technocrat.net vs. www.technocrat.net (none / 0) (#12)
by UFOHoaxer on Tue Jul 03, 2001 at 07:05:11 PM EST

See his message here.

[ Parent ]
Return of Technocrat.net | 15 comments (11 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
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