The Harry Tuttle award

The weekend's Harry Tuttle award goes to Robert Ivanc. On Friday he wrote to inform me that my weblog was interfering with an otherwise painless visit to the dentist:

A few days ago, I was waiting at a dentist and trying to kill the time thought of using my Nokia 3650 (with Doris HTML browser) to have a look at your site, to see if there's anything there that might put my mind on other matters than the precarious closeness of the dentist drilling machines! And what I found out was how hard it was to get to the actual content on your site...I had to scroll through all of what is usually hidden...after about 10 minutes or so I finally got to the content. Any way to redesign it, so that content gets loaded first or putting up a mobile lightweight version?

Excellent point. I thought about this for five seconds and realized that Rob could solve this problem for himself -- and for others -- in a very simple way. I pointed him at the solution, and he picked up the ball and ran with it.

My blog is currently available in two XML flavors: the standard feed and the extended feed. My suggestion to Rob was to write an XSLT transform for one or the other, and pipe the XML content through it (using the W3C's public XSLT transformation service) to create a lightweight HTML rendering.

Here is the XSLT file Rob wrote. Here's how it renders my standard feed. Here's how it renders my extended feed.

As Rob notes in his writeup, there was a problem with the extended feed, so originally he was only able to pipe the standard feed to his Nokia. But that was my fault, not his. I kicked my setup and it seems to be working properly now. Rob's conclusion:

Wow, that was pretty simple and quite powerful. The power of this kind of ad hoc scripting never ceases to amaze me! [Clarity's Blog]


Clearly I'd prefer (and InfoWorld would prefer, and doubtless the W3C would prefer) not to see this solution used inappropriately. InfoWorld's advertisers do support this work, after all, and the W3C is not in the business of providing production transformation services. But if you're stuck in the dentist's office with only your Nokia, there oughta be a better way.

I've written before about the extraordinary fact that a new and useful service can be created by simply posting a file to a weblog. And about how that new service can combine other services (an XSLT transformer, an RSS datasource), without requiring the knowledge or cooperation of the providers of those other services, and with essentially zero coordination cost. But yeah, it really does never cease to amaze me.

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