Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

About feeds.scripting.com

This is a response to a post by Rogers Cadenhead on his blog today.

1. I wanted to get feeds.scripting.com running again, and had had a good experience with Rogers on work he did for me on weblogs.com. I outlined a plan and sent Rogers a draft of a written agreement. I told him that I wouldn’t do the deal without a signed agreement, and he agreed to that. I sent him $5000 as an advance, but he never signed the agreement. I asked him many times to please sign it and send it back, but he never did. Finally I gave up.

2. I still want to do this project, so I asked him to return the money so I can pay someone else to work on it. He refused. I also want Rogers to stop running the site because it is not his to run. He is using content that I created in his site. I wrote the software that he converted, and gave him my source code.

3. It’s not true that the site is all based on public data. He is using data that users trusted me with, that was not made public, that they did not give permission to be made public.

4. Rogers wanted to discuss this privately, and we kept it private, until today when he posted his story on his weblog.

5. It is surprising to me that he acts like I have escalated things by having my attorney write to him about this matter. He suggested that we stop communicating directly with each other, and that we instead go through our attorneys, which I agreed to do. Now he’s apparently changed his mind and wants to try to have his way by starting some kind of flamewar in the blogosphere. This is disappointing, and it won’t work, because I insist on being treated fairly.

6. This matter could be resolved very quickly. He can take down the site, return my software and content, and pay me back the money. If he has spent the money and can’t return it, he should say so, and we can try to work something out. But this is not a good way for a contract programmer to do business with a customer, and that’s all that’s going on here.

Scripting News for 3/13/2006

Todd Cochrane at Geek News is a long-time Movable Type user. He isn’t happy with how the product is evolving. The first comment is from Jay Allen, from Six Apart, the company that makes the product. Interesting back and forth between a customer and a vendor. 

It’s great to have the Sopranos back. The season opener was surprising, even for a show that’s often filled with surprises. 

Old folks boogie 

Last night’s dinner was pretty fantastic. They’ve changed something at PC Forum, the first night used to be the speaker’s dinner, but apparently not any more. The buffet dinner was absolutely first class, I ate lamb, paella, a wonderful spinach dish, lots of great conversation, it was wonderful to see old friends I hadn’t seen in some cases in 15 or 20 years! We’ve all aged, quite visibly, but it’s cool to reconnect after so long. Even the old rivalries have faded as the former powerhouses are either gone or faded (Lotus, Microsoft, Ashton-Tate, AOL, Sun, Oracle, etc).

I spent a long time talking with Bret Fausett, who Mike Arrington describes as the “Dave Winer of ICANN.” Brett is a longtime Scripting News reader, who I had never met face to face, but whose blog I read regularly, and whose circles have regularly intersected mine over the years. Not surprisingly we had a lot to talk about, and had both figured a lot of the same things out. Now if we could just get everyone else on the same page! 🙂

Sat next to Jeremy Allaire from Brightcove, and confirmed that I do understand that they’re seriously re-inventing television in the context of the Internet.

And while I missed Esther’s opening remarks, people say that there were a lot of ideas from the Unconferences manifesto in her talk. She’s going to try to include the audience more in the discussion. It’s good to see she’s feeling the influence, but I think they could go farther, faster, by having a session or two that’s done totally unconference-style, to give the community (she has one too, even though the talk here is of other communities) some experience. This would give everyone a data point to think about in the coming year, the minds could accomplish a lot, with the information and the time.

It’s been ten years since I was at a PC Forum, and while the onstage conversation is as ungrounded as ever, the place is humming, there’s thriving going on, once again. I came back last, at the height of the dotcom mania, to find the river was flowing somewhere else. It was quiet here, not many people, not very much to talk about, and what was being talked about seemed to be covered better elsewhere. Today, more than ever it’s the social events that are the pulse, and luckily we have a lot to talk about, and old friendships to renew. It’s a sweet event, so far, and that’s a surprise, a pleasant one.

Why I will stop blogging 

I can do it, folks, I have already, in some sense, stopped one of my rivers, and soon, probably before the end of 2006, I will put this site in mothballs, in archive mode, and go on to other things, Murphy-willing of course.

It’s been a long time coming. When I started blogging, depending on how you look at it, either in 1994, 1996 or 1997, I had different goals, and happily the goals have been accomplished. Billions of Websites now no longer seems an outrageously ambitious goal. We’re pretty close to a billion, I suspect. The goal was to create tools that would make it easy for everyone to have a site, and then more specifically a chronological one. That’s done.

I wanted programming to turn upside down, to have the Internet be the platform instead of Microsoft and Apple. That worked too. APIs on web apps are now commonplace, and a basis for comparison between offerings. While user interfaces have gotten better, of course, there’s been a steady flow of new ideas in how my work connects with yours, and vice versa, and we’re doing it without a platform vendor controlling it.

I wanted decentralized news. We can do for ourselves what the pros haven’t been doing. And politics — I don’t doubt that the House of Representatives will be filled with bloggers, if not in 2006, then surely in 2008. There’s no turning back on any of it. The 20th Century is fading and the new century is going strong. There really was a big shift as the calendar rolled over, and I’m totally glad to be a part of it.

So there’s the first part of my reason. Blogging doesn’t need me anymore. It’ll go on just as well, maybe even better, with some new space opened up for some new things. But more important to me, there will be new space for me. Blogging not only takes a lot of time (which I don’t begrudge it, I love writing) but it also limits what I can do, because it’s made me a public figure. I want some privacy, I want to matter less, so I can retool, and matter more, in different ways. What those ways are, however, are things I won’t be talking about here. That’s the point. That’s the big reason why.

Scripting News for 3/13/2006

Todd Cochrane at Geek News is a long-time Movable Type user. He isn’t happy with how the product is evolving. The first comment is from Jay Allen, from Six Apart, the company that makes the product. Interesting back and forth between a customer and a vendor. 

It’s great to have the Sopranos back. The season opener was surprising, even for a show that’s often filled with surprises. 

Old folks boogie 

Last night’s dinner was pretty fantastic. They’ve changed something at PC Forum, the first night used to be the speaker’s dinner, but apparently not any more. The buffet dinner was absolutely first class, I ate lamb, paella, a wonderful spinach dish, lots of great conversation, it was wonderful to see old friends I hadn’t seen in some cases in 15 or 20 years! We’ve all aged, quite visibly, but what’s cool is how great it is to reconnect after so long. Even the old rivalries have faded as the former powerhouses are either gone or faded (Lotus, Microsoft, Ashton-Tate, AOL, Sun, Oracle, etc).

I spent a long time talking with Brett Fausett, who Mike Arrington describes as the “Dave Winer of ICANN.” Brett is a longtime Scripting News reader, who I had never met face to face, but whose blog I read regularly, and whose circles have regularly intersected mine over the years. Not surprisingly we had a lot to talk about, and had both figured a lot of the same things out. Now if we could just get everyone else on the same page! 🙂

Sat next to Jeremy Allaire from Bright Cove, and confirmed that I do understand that they’re seriously re-inventing television in the context of the Internet.

And while I missed Esther’s opening remarks, people say that there were a lot of ideas from the Unconferences manifesto in her talk. She’s going to try to include the audience more in the discussion. It’s good to see she’s feeling the influence, but I think they could go farther, faster, by having a session or two that’s done totally unconference-style, to give the community (she has one too, even though the talk here is of other people’s communities). This would give everyone a data point to think about in the coming year, the minds could accomplish a lot, with the information and the time.

It’s been ten years since I was at a PC Forum, and while the onstage conversation is as ungrounded as ever, the place is humming, and there’s thriving going on, once again. I came back once, at the height of the dotcom mania, to find the river was flowing somewhere else. It was quiet here, not many people, not very much to talk about, and what was being talked about seemed to be covered better elsewhere. More than ever it’s the social events that are the pulse, and luckily we have a lot to talk about, and old friendships to renew. It’s a sweet event, so far, and that’s a surprise, a pleasant one.

Why I will stop blogging 

I can do it, folks, I have already, in some sense, stopped one of my rivers, and soon, probably before the end of 2006, I will put this site in mothballs, in archive mode, and go on to other things, Murphy-willing of course.

It’s been a long time coming. When I started blogging, depending on how you look at it, either in 1994, 1996 or 1997, I had different goals, and happily the goals have been accomplished. Billions of Websites now no longer seems an outrageously ambitious goal. We’re pretty close to a billion, I suspect. The goal was to create tools that would make it easy for everyone to have a site, and then more specifically a chronological one. That’s done.

I wanted programming to turn upside down, to have the Internet be the platform instead of Microsoft and Apple. That worked too. APIs on web apps are now commonplace, and a basis for comparison between offerings.

I wanted decentralized news. We can do for ourselves what the pros haven’t been doing. And politics — I don’t doubt that the House of Representatives will be filled with bloggers, if not in 2006, then surely in 2008 and beyond. There’s no turning back on any of it. The 20th Century is fading and the new century is going strong. There really was a big shift as the calendar rolled over, and I’m totally glad to be a part of it.

So there’s the first part of my reason. Blogging doesn’t need me anymore. It’ll go on just as well, maybe even better, with some new space opened up for some new things. But more important to me, there will be new space for me. Blogging not only takes a lot of time (which I don’t begrudge it, I love writing) but it also limits what I can do, because it’s made me a public figure. I want some privacy, I want to matter less, so I can retool, and matter more, in different ways. What those ways are, however, are things I won’t be talking about here. That’s the point. That’s the big reason why.

River of Meme-O-Randum?

I just had one of those AHA moments, when something clicked into place, and the only question is how to share the idea, because this is one that’s just begging to be shared.

So I called Scoble, to make sure I wasn’t out of my mind, and he got excited and said “You’re onto something.” Here’s the thing. I figured out why I’m bored with Meme-O-Randum, and what I really want, and why.

The seed of the idea

I noticed something the other day about how I read Meme-O-Randum. I look in the upper-right corner first, to find the new stuff. Duh. Why did it take me a few months to figure this out. The left column, the big long one, the one that Gabe thinks I’m most interested in, is actually totally boring. The stories are always the same. Maybe one or two stories enter the list every hour.

But over in my aggregator, I get hundreds of new stories every hour. Hundreds. Guess which is more interesting. By a mile. By a thousand miles. Even though the aggregator is dumb, it just shows me the new stuff in the feeds I’m subscribed to, and Meme-O-Randum is smart, it knows what’s relevant, my aggregator gives me more new thought-stimulating stuff every time I look. Meme-O-Randum hasn’t been rewarding me for my attention for quite some time. So what do I want? Read the title of this post. I want the best of both worlds.

Show me the new stuff

On Wednesday night I talked about the magic that was weblogs.com in 1999, 2000 and 2001, when the weblog world was small, and you could get a handful of new pointers and visit the newly-updated blogs, every hour, and find something interesting on many of them.

Today I want my meme-tracker to get less discriminating. I don’t want to only see the stories that most people are interested in, I want interesting stories. More offbeat stuff. And I want much more than what I’m getting.

I want the right column to move into the middle, and get rid of what’s in the left column. Once a day is enough to know what the top stories are. That’s why newspapers evolved that way because when you get a newspaper everything in it is new. It’s not suited to a news-oriented website that you might visit twelve or twenty times a day.

I’m seeing the same top stories over and over and over. That’s why (according to my theory) Scoble went back to his aggregator. That’s why the part of the blogosphere that’s paying attention to Meme-O-Randum is stagnating and flaming, because of the strange 20th-century type of ladder that the left column of Meme-O-Randum is.

Flatten it out, get less picky, turn the ladder into a river, and I bet some of the magic comes back. I’m not sure it’s right, but the only way to find out is to try it.

Postscript #1

I didn’t explain it well enough, because I’m getting emails saying that people already have this and they don’t. Here is a list of some of the features.

1. Reverse-chronologic order. Every item gets a shot at being the top item.

2. Not grouped by which site they came from or which type of site they came from.

3. The relevance algorithm gets looser so that more items make the grade.

Postscript #2

About the left-column, if you like it you can keep it. However, I would only go there a few times during the day, while I would look at the River of Memes many times during the day. Would all the discussion items appear in the river? Of course they would.

Have a nice day. 🙂

Start OPML Editor support for WP

I’ve gotten some emails from people who seem like they might know what they’re doing on the insides of WordPress, so I’ll play along and start the bootstrap from the OPML Editor side of things (hoping some OPML Editor users or developers pitch in when they see questions they can answer).

The very most basic call you need to support is something like this (or exactly this if you want to keep the client side changes minimized).

opmlCommunityServer.saveFile (blogid, username, password, path, bytes)

It creates or overwrites a file in a server-side OPML store associated with each weblog.

The first three parameters are the usual params for the MetaWeblog API.

path is a forward-slash-delimited path relative to the root of the weblog’s folder where the bytes will be stored.

If I wanted to store my blogroll, it would go to blog/decorations/blogroll.opml. That’s the convention for where the blogroll is located.

In WordPress, blogroll.opml is read, compiled into the internal WordPress structure (a relation?) and all pages that include it are caused to recalc if necessary (not sure if all pages are fully dynamic).

That’s the single XML-RPC call you need to make this stuff work minimally. Later, for extra credit, there’s deleteFile. The folder synchronizer notes when local files are deleted and deletes them on the server using this call.

Any OPML Editor user can tell you where the other files live, by just looking in their www folder. And any implementor that tries to do the WP stuff without at least installing the OPML Editor app and posting a hello world message to the blog is working way too hard and probably wasting a lot of other people’s time. Imho. 🙂

Interop between blogging tools

I’ve been reading lots of reports about the current TypePad outage, but while the outage is still going on, I don’t want to appear to interfere. I remember how awful it was to have popular bloggers jumping on my case when I last had a big outage.

This time, after the outage is cleared, we should begin a discussion, in earnest, about getting user’s data in a format that makes it easy to move between blogging software, and storing that data somewhere that’s not likely to go offline when there’s an outage. I think this will do a lot to help users feel empowered, which is the hardest part about not being able to access your blog, the feeling that there’s nothing you can do to help yourself. (David Berlind writes passionately about this.)

Of course there will be debate about what the format should be, it wouldn’t be the software industry without such a debate, but this time we should reach closure and interop. But let’s hold off that discussion until the outage is over and the users are back up.

New Orleans Notes

A summary of the Scripting News posts about New Orleans.

1. On the flight from Atlanta to New Orleans I did a 50-minute podcast with Janet, a woman who lost her house and all her posessions in the Lakeview section of New Orleans. It might be the best MCN so far.

2. New Orleans Coffee Notes. An essay.

3. Ernie the Attorney on Magazine Street in New Orleans.

4. New Flickr set: I toured the Lakeview section, New Orleans East and the French Quarter today with Ernie the Attorney

5. Three movies show the devastation of Biloxi and Gulfport.

6. Biloxi/Gulfport after Katrina: These two Gulf Coast cities took the brunt of Hurricane Katrina. A 25-foot storm surge from the gulf wiped out the populous beach communities for several blocks inland. Unlike the pictures of New Orleans’ hurricane damage, these pictures show empty lots where houses and businesses used to stand.

7. I saw a sign on St Charles pointing to http://www.nola.us/. Looks like it might be an interesting New Orleans community site. I’ve been looking for something like that.

8. 1997 DaveNet piece about New Orleans.

Working on wordPress.root

1. If I create a top-level headline without clicking on the New Entry button, the Save button should still work (it should correctly set the attributes).
2. Add support for appkey, some of the operations need it.
3. Categories.
4. Multiple level indents, paragraph-level permalinks.
5. Better icon. (Not sure how to edit the resources.)

Test post

This is a test post to make sure I didn’t break anything.

Using the OPML Editor with WordPress

This is a progress report on the connection between the OPML Editor and wordpress.com.

First, as you can see from this screen shot, I am using the editor to write this post. That’s a good sign.

It’s quite primitive, note that I have to enter the HTML code to start a new paragraph. But the basic connection is there, using the Metaweblog API, and the next steps will be adding new features to make things a bit more automatic, and perhaps easier to set up.

Note that I’ve got a special icon for a WordPress post. It’s pretty ugly. I stole it from another nodetype. If there are any good icon designers out there, start thinking about what a good icon for WordPress might look like.

Also, this same approach will work for all blogging tools. But since both WP and the OPML Editor are GPL apps, I want to work on the connection between the two. (Also because Matt M likes spicy noodles.)

PS: The tool is working so well I thought I’d release the source.