XML Query as Middleware is something people have been saying for a while now (including me in a talk at Emerging Technologies next week). The idea that everything going over the glue-pipes is XML turns out to be as startling in its way as the idea some 30 years earlier that everything could be newline-terminated ASCII streams of text. It's soemthing I've been looking forward to for over a decade, but it snuck up on me and startlified me by coming out of XML Query.
orkut: I've been surprised at some of the invitations. It's also clear the site isn't scaling all that well, alhough there doesn't seem to be anything that can't be fixed. The lists of thumbnails of friends, sorted by number of friends, seems to encourage competition. But I really wish they'd start making the friend network available in RDF, issuing RSS feeds of recently joining people per community, and so forth. It's not really giving enough back to the broader Web community I think.
Pictures: I had a request to scan the Slavonic entries from the almost three-hundred-year-old (1713) Oratio Dominica that I have online, and an offer to transcribe them. It's not clear how to do the transcription, and I may need to use a TEI Writing Set Definition and the Unicode private use aera in the absence of Old Church Slavonic charactersin Unicode 4. Until then, though, I'm busy with castle siege engines.
XML at the W3C is moving along in its own sweet pace; XML 1.1, Namespaces 1.1, Infoset 2nd Edition and XML 1.0 3rd Edition have all been published as W3C Recommendations. XML Parsers should be updated to accept both 1.1 and 1.0 documents (validating them appropriately). If you generate XML, it's OK to continue to generate XML 1.0, unless of course you need the new features, such as Unicode-compliant line end support (NEL) and extra name characters in element names, attributes, IDs etc.