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XML Can Help Keep Track of Your Life…

XML Can Help Keep Track of Your Life…

Graduating Guy was president of the Students Against Sweatshops organization at NYU. A strong voice for equal rights, he spoke at many gay rights rallies and almost any other social reform event. Newly graduated, he now works at Andersen Consulting and plans to vote Republican in the next election.

Wow, have you seen these tax rates? They're outrageous! I just graduated from college this month, and with my first real paycheck I feel righteous for having protested against the government during all my years of higher learning. I mean, I was told I'd be paid a certain amount a week, but thanks to taxes I don't even come close to that amount! Next election, whoever gets into office better do something about this. That's why I'm using XML to track the candidates and the tax programs each voted for.

Sure, I could use almost any database program to do it, but I want to get the word out on this, so I use XML. I've created a Web site where I've put this XML-based database document. Now anyone, regardless of platform or program, can view the data. That's because I've also put up an XSL stylesheet that users can download. The stylesheet determines whether to display the database information for Microsoft Excel (which I encourage others to use, since this software diversity thing is a pain for me to keep up with), Corel Paradox database software, or even Macintosh office programs. I haven't created stylesheet conditions to deal with open source StarOffice databases, though. That open source stuff is a little too much trouble to deal with.

People tell me that I've abandoned my "save the world" stance. Not true at all. I'm sensitive to the world's needs, now more than ever. In fact, especially now, since I've met the woman of my dreams, Amanda, the legal department girl who looks out for our business practices. We're getting married in Aruba, and I want the world we live in to be a great and peaceful one. That's why I've begun to support candidates who want more military spending. After all, we can no longer be naïve enough to think everyone in the world likes us.

I'm also using XML to track all my donations to the Salvation Army. Excel is the official database program everyone I know uses, but I find it unwieldy sometimes. That's when I use XML. For my Salvation Army donations I simply add descriptive attributes to my database elements. That's useful when I need to insert a hard-to-categorize description. I still feel good about giving to the less fortunate, and I can get a real savings on next year's taxes by keeping track of all this stuff. It's also good to get rid of all those tie-dyes and band T-shirts I don't wear anymore.

Come to think of it, I've been making a lot of changes lately, like my choice of diet. I was a vegetarian in college, but now I can afford to eat at nice places like Chanterelle or La Bernardin. I realize that I can go to those restaurants as a liberal representative. I need to show that expensive French food isn't just for stuffy, old, unethical people. I even informed the restaurant owners of my XML Web site so they can check out next election's candidates. That'll help win them over to our humanitarian causes.

Once I got my XML databases going, I decided to use them for everything, like organizing my music. I used to listen to a lot of folk bands like Jill Sobule, Brenda Kahn, and, well, any band from Lilith Fair. Now I listen to Hans Zimmer and modern rock. And, with XML, it's a snap to keep track of which CDs I want to sell and how much I can expect to get for them.

So, in a nutshell, with graduation comes change, sure. And XML can document the changes I make, easily and cross-platform, for the world to see. But I'm still the same caring person I was before. I'm still as thoughtful and self-aware as I was in college. Take my voting, for instance. I still don't vote along party lines; I still vote by issue. And in the next election, if Bush doesn't offer another tax refund, I'm not voting for him.

More Stories By Tod Emko

Tod wrote humor-oriented articles for the Syracuse Herald-Journal and held various writer, editor, and cartoonist positions at other publications before accepting his role as a computer nerd. He has years of experience as a front-end Web developer and Perl programmer, and is now a senior XSL script architect and XML documentation writer for

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