Convert XML to CSV the ugly way using Unix utilities

I recently wanted to export my email address book from Sylpheed email client and import it into my Gmail account. Unfortunately, Gmail wants to import contact lists as CSV files, and there isn't an export-address-book-to-csv feature in the otherwise wonderful Sylpheed. Worse, the Sylpheed address book is in XML format, and XML-to-CSV conversion isn't straightforward.

Warning: What follows contains code that may offend real programmers. The code works but it's pretty simple-minded, and if you're a real programmer and not a hobbyist hacker like me, you may not want to read any further.

Open Science and climategate: The IPCC/CRU needs to take a leaf out of CERN's Book

This is not the place to debate the immense subject of climate science but it is necessary to say something about "climategate" in order to explain what happens when scientists and politicians collude to distort, hide and even destroy critical (raw) data and methodologies which, unlike the output of CERN, have absolutely colossal financial implications for every man, woman and child on this planet.

Book review: Pro Apache XML by Poornachandra Sarang, Ph.D.

Pro Apache XML, authored by Poornachandra Sarang, PhD, and published by Apress, clearly explains XML, and, in specific, the Apache Software Foundation-related projects. eXtensible Markup Language (XML) is a human readable, machine-understandable text format. Web services send XML messages and XML acts as the underlying structure in configuration files for many modern frameworks and thus applications. In fact, the next quality-jump in the office suite is XML (zip compressed) document formats that are, in theory, easily translatable into other formats.


It all started with cavemen and their cave drawings. All cave drawings were WYSIWYM (What You See is What You Mean). I mean (no pun intended), if you saw a cave drawing, in which a hunter was chasing a mammoth, it meant that a hunter was chasing a mammoth. There were no two ways to interpret the cave drawings. Then came alphabets and words. With words came plain text or documents. Then came XML/SGML for adding information to a document relating to its structure and/or content. An XML document contains both content (words) and an indication of what role the content plays.

Format Wars

Real programmers love their applications’ source code: the faster and more elegant it is, the better. Users are after very different things: they seem to want simplicity, flashy colors, nice icons and tons of options. In spite of these reasons, or perhaps because of them, programmers and users often forget what lies in the middle of it all: information.

Who owns the information?

Creating Free Software Magazine

This magazine was inspired by a conversation I had with a great friend of mine called Massimo. I said to Massimo “I think it would be great to start a magazine. It’s my ideal job, and I think I know what the world needs right now. It’s a pity there’s no money in publishing, and I’m not willing to run a magazine that doesn’t pay it’s contributors well...”. His answer was very simple: “Tony, there’s money everywhere, as long as you do something good and promote it well”. Well, seeing that he has a successful business, I thought I would listen.

Subscribe to RSS - xml