Scripting News for 1/11/2008

Political links 

Salon: “What Huckabee has lacked is a top-level adviser to layer some intellectual heft and policy realism onto the candidate’s make-it-up-every-morning improvisational style.”

NY Times: “The Democratic presidential primary in New York on Feb 5 is shaping up as the state’s most competitive since 1992.”

Amazon SimpleDB followup 

I spent a few days over the last week trying to get a connection between Frontier and Amazon’s SimpleDB.

I got connections going with: CreateDomain, DeleteDomain, ListDomains. They all use the same basic code to handle authentication, and all three work.

But I hit a dead-end with the PutAttributes call. At first I thought I had found a problem on their end, because their JavaScript scratchpad app (a life-saver) had exactly the same problem as my code. I got in touch with the Amazon people, they asked me to download a new version of the scratchpad app, and it worked, but of course my app still doesn’t. I compared my parameter list to theirs, and except for the signature and time-stamp they are identical. So there’s something wrong with my code, clearly.

Here’s a link to a plain text listing of the code. All four of the interface routines use this code to call the Amazon web service. This is the place the problem almost certainly is.

And here’s the interface for PutAttributes.

As often happens, the geeky readers of this blog may spot the mistake that I don’t, so all suggestions are welcome. I really want to get past this and start building applications that connect with this new web service.

Update: Problem solved? I got an email from my contact at Amazon, he suggested maybe I wasn’t sorting the parameters before generating the signature. I checked, he was right. At one point I had been sorting them, but in an attempt to solve another problem, took a different approach which left the parameters not-sorted. Had I taken another look at the docs I would have seen that the params must be sorted before generating the signature. When I re-coded it so that they were sorted, PutAttributes worked! Heh. So now I have to do some more testing to be sure I really have the answer, but it looks pretty good. 🙂

The debate about the worth of podcasting 

There’s a mini-debate going on about whether podcasting is a success or worth it, or whatever, I’m not sure exactly what the issue is, but it’s framed this way –> if you can’t get advertisers to hitch a ride on your podcast then podcasting is not worth much if anything.

I’m having a slow Friday so far, it’s cloudy and chilly here in the Bay Area, we’re in the January doldrums, so I thought maybe I could liven things up a bit by saying both sides of this argument are wrong.

Let me explain.

My phone doesn’t have a business model. Neither does my porch. I still like having a phone and a porch because they help me meet new people and communicate with people I know. Same with my blog and podcast.


There’s another mini-debate about bloggers playing pranks at CES. The Gizmodo guys ran around with some gadgets that turn TV sets off. At CES is this a big deal because much of what goes on there is TV. They were being assholes, interfering with people’s ability to do their jobs and make a living. As a result bloggers get a bad rep.

The problem is that they’re not bloggers, they’re reporters and they work for a company that’s not a blog, it’s a publication. Publishing stuff on the web with blogging software says nothing about the people and what they write.

A blogger is person who has an idea, expertise or opinion who wants to convey that to other people. The unedited voice of a person. What makes a blogger interesting is that they do something other than writing a blog. If all you do is write a blog, and if you want or need to make money from your blogging, it’s really hard to distinguish what you’re doing from what professionals who don’t use the web (are there any left?) do.

Same with podcasting.

I do a podcast from time to time because I want to say something. Whether I can run an ad on my podcast means nothing to me because I would never do it. And if I went crazy and let someone put an ad on there, it would only be to reciprocate for them having hosted the podcast, as a way of paying for the podcast itself (I’m contemplating doing exactly that right now so I had to include the disclaimer). I would never burden my podcasting with the task of supporting me. It’s not why I podcast.

We keep having this argument. Amateurism is good and there’s lots of it. Professional writers and broadcasters probably have a place, I don’t know, it’s not my problem. But let’s be clear blogging and podcasting exist independent of a professional’s ability to eek out a living using the tools of blogging and podcasting.

Now I’m going to try to get some work done. 🙂

Bob Stepno: “Podcasting lets people sing to each other again.”

See also: Podcasting News, Mashable.

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