DAM and the Semantic Web – our webinar on Dec 9th

On December 9th, 2015, Margaret WarrenDemian Hess and I will be doing a webinar hosted by the DAM Guru Program: How the Semantic Web Will Affect Digital Asset Management. You’re welcome to join us, or watch the recording later if you cannot attend live.

If you’re already using Linked Data in a DAM context, I’d love to hear from you soon. Maybe I can work some of your examples into the webinar!

I’m not an expert, but I’ve been thinking about this (and doing some experiments) for years. If you want to do some reading on the topic, here’s a timeline of articles about the intersection of DAM and Semantic Web / Linked Data:

Read the full article…

Wed, 25 Nov 2015 22:45:00 +0000

Using CloudFront Signed Cookies with the AWS SDK for PHP

If you store files on Amazon AWS S3 and want to restrict access to them, you can do so by setting up an AWS CloudFront distribution with either Signed URLs or Signed Cookies. Signed Cookies are interesting if you want to use static file URLs and just make sure only people logged into your application can access the files. (But think twice which approach to use; I ended up going back to Signed URLs because I cannot set cookies in each scenario.)

The setup can look like this – note the use of a custom subdomain (a CNAME in your DNS) to access CloudFront to make sure the application can set cookies that reach CloudFront (using HTTPS with a custom subdomain requires extra hoops, by the way) – click to enlarge:

Read the full article…

Fri, 06 Nov 2015 08:23:00 +0000

Todd A: When you have too many to-dos for an employee, you need to hire another employee

Todd A at good.simple.open – When you have too many to-dos for an employee, you need to hire another employee:

“In these cases, managers don’t do anything about the underlying causes of too many to-dos. They don’t say “no” to clients. They don’t manage projects well. They don’t set priorities.

[…] If you have that many deadlines to meet, you’ve overpromised. And if you can’t afford more employees, you’re not charging enough for your projects or products.”

Sun, 01 Nov 2015 20:19:00 +0000

My “DAM Champ” interview

Laurel Norris kindly interviewed me for the Digital Asset Management.com “DAM Champ” series:

DAM Champ: Tim Strehle, and a follow-up DAM Champ: Tim Strehle, Part 2.

In the interview, I’m talking about the internship that started my DAM career. For more on that story, and how I turned from a librarian into a software developer, see my blog post Where have all the librarians gone?.

Some background on the Topic Maps engine I’m mentioning is in Why I prefer Topic Maps to RDF.

In Part 2 of the interview, I’m talking about “Deep Content”, i.e. that we need to move away from metadata as “just some flat fields to help us find a file”. This, together with Linked Data, is the most important DAM topic to me right now. Links and more here: It’s content, not just DAM metadata See also: Schema flexibility for power users.

“I wonder whether there’s a market for a headless DAM system?” Maybe not, but this question popped up because I’m still thinking about DAM value chains.

If you’ve got feedback on one of these topics, please let me know!

P.S.: On DAM News, Ralph Windsor comments on my interview in his Planet DAM Now Syndicated On DAM News article.

Fri, 16 Oct 2015 06:16:00 +0000

Mike Hadlow: Heisenberg Developers

Mike Hadlow – Heisenberg Developers (from 2014):

“Software development […] is a creative and experimental process. […] Numerous studies have shown that effective creative work is best done by motivated autonomous experts. As developers we need to be free to try things out, see how they evolve, back away from bad decisions, maybe try several different things before we find one that works.

[…] What about the feature itself? Is it really such a good idea? I’m not just the implementer of this software, I’m a stake holder too. What if there’s a better way to address this business requirement?

[…] As soon as you ask a developer to tell you exactly what he’s going to do over the next 8 days (or worse weeks or months), you kill much of the creativity and serendipity. You may say that he is free to change the estimates or the tasks at any time, but he will still feel that he has to at least justify the changes. The more finely grained the tasks, the more you kill autonomy and creativity.

[…] Good developers are used to doing necessary, but hard to justify work ‘under the radar’, they effectively lie to management about what they are really doing, but finely grained management makes it hard to steal the time in which to do it.”

(Via Rich Rogers.)

Sun, 27 Sep 2015 18:37:00 +0000

Erik Dörnenburg: Architecture without Architects

Today I watched Erik Dörnenburg’s excellent talk Architecture without Architects (recorded in December 2014). Some takeaways:

Erik explains how software “architect” is, in several ways, not a good metaphor. “Town planner” or even “gardener” might be better metaphors, considering that software architecture constantly needs to be adapted and reshaped.

He encourages vertical slicing with room for some experimentation in each slice, and he’s got some nice stories of architecture mistakes and evolution.

To Erik, the software architect is an experienced developer who can guide other developers, not making the rules but asking the right questions: “Interesting idea! I thought the same thing five years ago – and then that happened. Did you consider that?”

Highly recommended if you’ve got an hour to spare.

Wed, 16 Sep 2015 21:22:00 +0000

Looking forward to the International Newsroom Summit in Hamburg

I don’t travel much, so I’m extra happy that the publishing industry (where most of our customers are from) is going to meet in our home town this year: The WAN-IFRA World Publishing Expo 2015 (Twitter: #WPE15) takes place in Hamburg, Germany from October 5-7.

Our company Digital Collections is exhibiting (booth 1.415), but I hope not to spend too much time at the booth because I want to attend the International Newsroom Summit (Twitter: #Newsroom15) that takes place on Monday October 5th as part of the Expo.

I’m especially looking forward to the Newsroom Summit session “Finding Relevant News Faster” with Michael Steidl (IPTC), Dave Compton (Thomson Reuters) and Robert Schmidt-Nia (dpa mediatechnology). Read their excellent “sneak preview” blog post Tags and the secrets to managing information flows into your newsroom; they’ll talk about state-of-the-art news metadata and Linked Data. The “Reimagining your archive” talk sounds interesting as well, see the Newsroom Summit programme.

Will you be in Hamburg as well? Get in touch if you want to meet!

Mon, 07 Sep 2015 09:20:00 +0000

Counting word frequency using NLTK FreqDist()

A pretty simple programming task: Find the most-used words in a text and count how often they’re used. (With the goal of later creating a pretty Wordle-like word cloud from this data.)

I assumed there would be some existing tool or code, and Roger Howard said NLTK’s FreqDist() was “easy as pie”.

So today I wrote the first Python program of my life, using NLTK, the Natural Language Toolkit. With the help of the NLTK tutorial and StackOverflow. I’m sure it’s terrible Python and bad use of NLTK. Sorry, I’m a total newbie.

Read the full article…

Thu, 03 Sep 2015 19:53:00 +0000

“iTunes for news” – first impressions of Blendle in Germany


You have probably heard of Blendle, the promising “iTunes for News” startup from the Netherlands that’s backed by the NYT and Axel Springer. They’re launching in Germany on September 14th. I’ve been a fan of the Blendle idea for a long time: effortlessly buying print articles from a central “online kiosk”, with an equally easy refund option if the article wasn’t worth its money. So I was extra happy to be able to try out the beta version. Some first impressions:

Read the full article…

Fri, 28 Aug 2015 21:35:00 +0000

Use ppolicy_hash_cleartext to keep OpenLDAP from storing and returning plain text passwords

OpenLDAP slapd is popular open source server software that implements the LDAP protocol – you use it to store users, groups and their attributes, and you can use it for authentication (checking whether a given username/password combination is valid).

The experts will know about this, but to a novice it’s counter-intuitive that by default, OpenLDAP stores passwords in plain text on disk, and even returns plain text passwords in search results. Here’s what this looks like:

Read the full article…

Thu, 27 Aug 2015 11:28:00 +0000