MovableBlog: Archives: March 2003
March 31st, 2003
David Sifry is looking for a few good designers to design an MT-powered weblog for his brother. As full disclosure, I submitted my name for consideration, but although it doesn't disqualify me, I'm physically located thousands of miles away in Vancouver, B.C., so my odds aren't great.
Jim Ray: Movable Type file rewrite. This seems like a better solution than my own (not yet implemented): replacing each individual template file with a PHP
header() redirect, and the (temporary) Individual Entry Template was going to look something like this (depending on the format of URL I wanted of course):
header ("Location: <$MTBlogArchiveURL$><$MTEntryCategory dirify="1"$>/<$MTEntryTitle dirify="1"$>.php");
But using one file (i.e. .htaccess) seems a lot more efficient.
March 30th, 2003
- Understanding the Psychology of Programming [via Slashdot]
- "show more of this comment...": if you like playing around with your site with client- and server-side scripting, and you don't read scriptygoddess, then, are you mad?
- Iterators: possibly the longest article I've read on the subject. Well, make that the only article. K5 has a lot of great articles by non-famous people, moderated by the readers.
- Background-Image for Text links to an article (and responses to it) regarding using the
background-imageproperty in CSS as an alternative to styled text, especially when the font the web designer intends to use is not on a reader's system.
- an interested and detailed discussion of Daylight Savings in Movable Type: my only suggestion, as stated earlier, is that time zones be an Author profile setting, rather than a per blog setting. [via Six Apart]
- Do Cheaters Ever Prosper? Just Ask Them by Peter Wayner [CNet mirror]: "It's like how everyone can go five miles over the speed limit, because that's how it's enforced. If you leave a cheat long enough, it becomes part of the culture of the game."
- Strategies for learning new languages: "if you don't use a language for awhile, things don't stick." It's the same principle as in 'real' life: I haven't spoken French for any real length of time since 2000, which, incidently, was when I was in China. [first link via Simon]
March 29th, 2003
There's a Minotaur build for Windows systems available at ftp.mozilla.org/pub/minotaur, with an apparent build date of March 20th, yet apparently uploaded on the 28th. So far it works on my Windows XP system, although it didn't import my settings from Mozilla. Maybe I missed that dialog box.
March 28th, 2003
Well, heading out to work this morning, I noticed that I was quasi-Slashdotted, in that the Slashdot news item included the my URL after I sumbitted the aforementioned XML Doesn't Suck article. The Slashdot Effect doesn't seem to happen with much ferocity to contributers though (it's merely doubling my not-so-impressive hit-count), which is understandable, since it's not the meat of the item.
March 26th, 2003
Windows XP Security Advisory: Flaw in RPC Endpoint Mapper Could Allow Denial of Service Attacks
According to Tim Bray, XML doesn't suck after all. That's a relief.
Our favourite CMS developers, Ben and Mena Trott, now have a song about them. No audio here at my alma mater's computer lab, but thankfully the lyrics are available. To quote Principle Skinner, oh mercy. [via MJK]
At Syndic8.com, I'm registered as an Evangelist, and there are sites that I would like to read that do not, as far as my autodiscovering feed reader and I can determine, have XML feeds. These sites (Zeldman being the main offender, which is understandable, since he hand codes his site) have been bookmarked as a group in Mozilla, but it would save time to have them aggregated in my copy of Syndirella.
Now, I just read Mark Pilgrim's post about nntp//rss, which I have yet to install. What concerns me now, though, is the last sentence of the email that Mark quotes—rather than quote something he quotes, I'll defer to his post. I've written earlier (here, which is a comment to this post at gessaman.com) that a list of shame might not be the best approach to RSS evangelism, and that a short, well-worded email would be more appropriate. But I yet to actually try to actually use this approach.
Has anyody successfully convinced webloggers to provide RSS feeds before? How did you approach it?
March 25th, 2003
Because Phoenix wasn't rendering sites like Yahoo! Mail properly, I needed to delete the profile. It took a little while to find this page which says that, in Windows XP, the location is %AppData%\Phoenix\Profiles\default\xxxxxxxx.slt\ . Evidently this folder was hidden on my system, since a hard drive search for the word 'phoenix' didn't reveal its location. Your mileage may vary, but to get to that directory, I clicked Start | Run... then pasted in the following (not knowing the random string that replaces xxxxxxxx):
Quite literally with the percentage signs too, since it should redirect to the AppData location. Then I just deleted the profile directory. Not the smoothest thing to do, since Phoenix required me to delete the 'default' profile and create a new one. But now that the release of Minotaur is imminent, maybe Phoenix will once regain its exalted position as my default browser.
In other news, the Phoenix project page seems to have been fairly frequently updated lately. Which is good.
Why there are no Programmers' Dramas: every computer nerd has no doubt faced this. I get a lot of ideas while riding for SkyTrain, many of them for my personal (computer-based) journal and many of them things I'd like to try out in terms of web design or PHP (like Paulo in the above-linked weblog entry).
Alas, I'm the only computer nerd I know without a laptop.
March 24th, 2003
Soon we will be able to throw away the shackles of the bloated Mozilla browser and use a standalone browser (like Phoenix) and use Minotaur—officially announced as a project—as our standalone mail and newsgroup client. "We hope to start pushing builds on ftp.mozilla.org within the next day or so." A little birdie tells me that he had difficulty building Minotaur on his Windows machine, and this is a guy who makes his living by programming. But no more. Those of use without C++ compilers will get a shot at it soon. [via MozillaZine]
Mark Pilgrim shows off his pure CSS tabs, and much of today at work was spent trying to figure out how he did it. It would have probably been better if I waited for his own explanation/demonstration, but I had no idea he'd do it today.
I didn't incorporate the hacks (yet?), and still need to test what I have in Netscape 4 and Opera. But here is what it looks like in Mozilla 1.3.
This is a screenshot of the Home tab, with no mouseover:
This is a screenshot of the Home tab, while on the home page, but with a mouseover on the Home tab (I could have disabled the link to the 'current' page, but decided against it):
And here is a shot of the mouse over the About tab while on the Home page:
Erik Benson, if I read his " self-explanatory text" weblog entry correctly, is saying that learning RDF by looking at it requires a lot of looking up what the vocubulary of RDF means, and can be very similar to the way I approached the reading of some of the journal articles I read in university. I would read a paragraph and see some people-, place- or even event-names that were theretofore unrecognized, and I would then proceed to look those names up and find others, look those names up, etc. It would take hours to read a journal article that, if read once straight through, would have taken less than an hour. Erik writes: "As you can see, at its very base, RDF is still relying on the foundations of our understanding of English to figure out what this stuff is. Which means we script builders still need to build into our scripts an interpretation of what Property means in our tools, and what UnambiguousProperty means." He then invokes the LazyWeb by asking if there are tools in simplifying the process of quick access to information definitions, but not before saying he himself is working on such tools. [via Six Apart]
You may have seen it elsewhere by now, but there is a Trackback for Beginners page available at movabletype.org. Trackback, that I get. Trackback's siblings, well, that's another story. But with Trackback, understanding it and explaining it were two different things, and the Trackback for Beginners will be a useful resource.
A short rant follows.
I do object slightly to calling requests by 3 well-known webloggers (David Weinberger has some 5,000+ inbound links, Anil Dash's site has some 3,000+ inbound links, and Doc's weblog has about 10,000+ inbound links) as "popular demand". Surely others have requested it, and could have benefited more with links to their weblogs than David, Anil or Doc. Like I said, however, it's a rant and should be treated as such. It's an issue I also have with the LazyWeb in that it tends to favour weblogs with higher readerships, although a central LazyWeb site mitigates against that.
New to me: Body ID's. This is pretty cool, and after coding a
<body class="classname"> once per HTML file, changing a logo or the way the navigation looks requires only changing one file, the CSS file.
Mark ended up not actually using
<body id="section"> for each section like I did on the site I'm developing for work, but rather
<body id="diveintomark-org" class="sectionname">. (I'm not really willing—or possibly just not ready—to let people have custom domain-specific CSS for that site.)
March 22nd, 2003
Feedster now has war filter, in that you can filter out sites having to do with the war. Full disclosure: originally I thought it filtered out sites that were pro-war and gave only anti-war posts, but it's actually for those who, like many, are just sick of hearing about it. Myself, I was a political science major in university, so I'll leave it up to you to guess as to whether I'm sick of it. Check this post on the Feedster weblog for more details.
March 21st, 2003
In a post unrelated to the main Mozilla trunk, a poster says that P3P will be enabled in tomorrow's build of Mozilla. This is confirmed somewhat in a recent netscape.public.mozilla.security newsgroup posting.
There is now available a chart comparing what is required, optional, and not supported in the various versions of RSS. No word yet on what version 3.14159265359 supports. [first link via Scripting News]
There is another sample chapter available to Content Syndication with RSS by Ben Hammersley (see previous post): Chapter 2, Content-Syndication Architecture. Chapter 4, RSS 0.91, 0.92, and 2.0 (Really Simple Syndication) is still available. See Ben Hammersley's post for Amazon.com links to preorder the book.
March 20th, 2003
Developing Movable Type Plugins by Timothy Appnel: the article "cover[s] the MT plugin framework, its complete API, and the basics of hooking into the core systems operation and its data persistence service."
March 19th, 2003
By having websites crawl their own content, and having volunteers donate their bandwidth and clock cycle resources, it decreases bandwidth consumption across the Internet dramatically, allows for pre-processing on the resulting data, and ultimately improves search results sent to end users."
Emphasis mine. Somehow I don't think bandwidth will be decreased dramatically, but rather merely redistributed. It also apparently respects robots.txt. Mark Pilgrim has yet to pronounce that it is a unwanted robot from hell and/or include it in his robots.txt. [first link via Scripting News]
I just got a Windows XP Update alert, updating the following problems:
- Cannot Install Driver Updates from the Windows Update Web Site
- Flaw in Windows Script Engine May Allow Code to Run
Say what you want about Microsoft products, but when there's a vulnerability, at least the updates are free.
An XML Hero Reconsiders? Kendall Grant Clark: "all opinions about XML are equal. Except that that's not really true. All opinions about XML are equal, except some are more equal than others. Among the more equal opinions are ones held by the people who drafted the XML specification. " Takes on the notion that XML is too hard for programmers.
The Road to XHTML 2.0: MIME Types by Mark Pilgrim: with server-side code to tell your browser that the page is being served as
Also intersting: Standards: Optional Features or Law?" by Dimitris Dimitriadis
The major criticism against Mozilla is that it is "slow", both in the loading up of the browser and the rendering, and it's something I won't deny. Now we have some empirical evidence that Mozilla is slower than IE. The metrics have to do with the DOM, but that doesn't mean they're unimportant.
At least Mozilla still looks nicer.
It's been announced on the MT-Dev mailing list, so I guess it's okay to announce here: Adam Kalsey and a friend of mine, Bill Zeller, are developing Zempt, a LiveJournal-like Windows client for posting to your MT-powered weblog. Bugs and feature requests can be reported using the support page. It's very much in the initial stages, and it's very promising. Evidently Mac and Linux versions are also planned.
March 18th, 2003
Syndicating Your Web Site's Content with RSS by Scott Mitchell: he lost me when he went into ASP coding, but then again, I'm a PHP guy. Or maybe I need to learn ASP. [via first Scripting News and then scriptygoddess.com]
March 17th, 2003
If you're an RSS-fiend like myself, you might have already come across Feedster (definitely a better name than Roogle), which is a search engine for RSS-feeds. The design even looks nice, and hopefully I can search it for things I remember seeing in the RSS feeds I subscribe to, but forget which feed it was (at least until Syndirella gets a search function). I like the idea of searching only the indivdual posts, and not the whole page, which will have multiple posts. I like the idea of Google going to the anchor nearest to the first occurance of the search result, but Feedster, theoretically, now accomplishes this. [via many blogs, Phil's being the latest]
March 15th, 2003
The introduction to starting a weblog with Movable Type is making the rounds, and for good reason. Near the end, the advice against "endlessly fiddling with your entries - editing, etc." is sound, but difficult for people like me who make a million typos in their posts and then spend 20 minutes editing, saving, editing, saving, etc. It's a bad habit I picked up from college.
dive into mark: create a 'mobile edition of your website with MT-Macros (and supplied templates). Quoth Mark: "XHTML Basic has no basis in reality. Ignore it."
As for the code that I use for the archives indicator (click on a monthly archive in the sidebar and it not only disables the link for the archive, but changes the background colour of the text), here it is.
if (!eregi("<$MTArchiveDate format="%Y_%m"$>", $_SERVER['PHP_SELF']))
print "<a href=\"<$MTArchiveLink$>\"><$MTArchiveTitle$></a>";
else print "<span class=\"greyback\"><$MTArchiveTitle$></span>";
It exists on every page with a sidebar (with a few exceptions) because the above code is in a Template Module called "Archives Listing". I then put <$MTInclude module="Archives Listing"$> in where the sidebar appears in my regular (i.e. Index, Individual and Monthly) templates.
In your CSS, you will need something like this:
March 14th, 2003
Here's the code I promised:
For your where you want the blog data, put this code in (modified as
<div class="<$MTEntryAuthor dirify="1"$>">
<!-- in your CSS, include a class named after each other's name, all in lower case, so that you can differentiate colours and whatnot for each other -->
<p>[<a href="<$MTEntryLink$>#more">read the rest of this
<p class="postedline"gt;Posted by <$MTEntryAuthor$> on <a
/* begin time adjustment code */
if ("<$MTEntryAuthor$>" == "Richard") /* replace Richard with your name */
$minusHours = (mktime(<$MTEntryDate format="%M, %S, %m, %e, %Y"$>))-3,
/* replace the number 3 with the number of hours behind you are */
print date("M. j \a\\t g:i A", $minusHours);
print " Pacific";
/* replace Pacific with your time zone */
print "<$MTEntryDate format="%b. %e at %l:%M %p"$> Eastern"; /* replace Eastern with the time zone of your co-author's time zone */
?></a> <!-- insert your MT comments tags here -->
When I used this code, the time zone for the blog was set to my friend's time zone, even though the blog used my installation of MT. See? Pretty convoluted, huh? Like I said, the scriptygoddesses do it simpler, and besides, this is something I wish MT did internally by itself.
March 13th, 2003
Mozilla 1.3 Released: wow, since Mozilla Mail has spam filtering, I might consider dropping Eudora as my POP mail program, which was just a temporary thing to begin with. Eudora checks the POP account used for a fantasy hockey pool, but not my other account used for work; my third account, while technically a POP account, just forwards to a webmail account (okay, enough about the fact that I have too many email accounts).
Hopefully MT will take advantage of the Midas API for text editing. And although not new to version 1.3, I've been very happy with the Site Navigation Bar (this site has the appropriate <link rel="next" etc. /> tags that the browser uses). I'm not sure how I feel about automatic image resizing: it was a pain in the butt in IE and in Phoenix, and will probably be a pain in the butt in Mozilla.
Be sure to check out the Mozillazine article announcing the release.
March 12th, 2003
Adjust the time with PHP: this is a neat hack, and it was similar to what I coded for a now-defunct blog of mine with a friend, who was three hours ahead of me on the East Coast. Necessarily, it was much more convoluted (I had a function which turned a date produced my MT into a Unix timestamp, and then...well it was pretty complicated and took me forever). I'm thinking maybe there should be a setting in MT's Author profiles for what time zone the author is from, and then have a tag like <$MTEntryAuthorDate format="etc."$>.
I'll share the code for the way I implemented it soon, but rest assured, the implementation over at scriptygoddess.com is much simpler.
Just saw this ad on TV: pay 20 bucks for something (Pop-Up Blocker) you effectively get for free in Mozilla. Pay 40 bucks and get something (Pop-Up Stopper Companion) you can also get for free by using this CSS code in your free copy of Mozilla.
There wasn't any sarcasm in the TV ad. Just here.
March 11th, 2003
RSS Feed Reader Directory: This was originally a ping on the sidebar, and wasn't directly related to Movable Type, but it's still good enough for a link from me. I've been using Syndirella ever since I heard about it on dive into mark. The author of the program is very receptive to bug reports and feature requests on the Syndirella email list.
We all know about The Tyranny of Email, but what about the Tyranny of RSS Feeds?
March 10th, 2003
A friend of mine has a digital art project, WhyBlog.org, which "is a digital art project, exploring the concepts of content, motivation, authorship, and identity in the world of bloggers. Join in if you have a weblog with a RSS feed. [...] In the near future, this info will be used in a postmodern juxtaposition of data exploring the hyperrealities of the blogging millieu."
There are a bunch of reasons for this site, primarily for note-taking/archiving, as well has being able to point to something (along with China Weblog and Vancouver Webloggers), for better or for worse, that has my name attached to it.
March 9th, 2003
David Raynes is introducing his MT-Email plugin, which is very early in development. Looks interesting though. Posting by email has long been discussed as a possible feature for MT. [via his introduction in this MT Support Boards thread]
It's getting to be a little scary how prolific David is getting in terms of MT plugins. He also has Post-It/Comeback (now in beta), MT-Form, MT-Vote and a bugs tracking system for MT plugins (okay, that may have been kristine's doing, but he announced it on the MT-Dev list), and is among the top in amount of plugins already developed.
March 8th, 2003
Here are my favourites from the listing of entries of the W3C Remix contest:
They're all really good, though, and beyond any remix I'd come up with.
March 6th, 2003
Two excellent articles, the first more practical than the second, and the second more theoretical (which is to say entirely so) than the first:
- Prototyping One-to-many Links with XSLT by Bob DuCharme: it's through articles like these that I am beginning to understand the significance and power of XML and its associated technologies.
- The Social Meaning of RDF by Kendall Grant Clark: "these issues (knowledge representation, the relation of formal and social systems, the meaning of meaning, and so on) are simply very difficult. If they were easy, we would have had something like RDF a long time ago, or at the least there would be even more unemployed philosophers and logicians around."
There is a third article that looks interesting, but I have as yet not read it.
Dave Hyatt on tabbed browsing: "I strongly support the default in Phoenix, which is to open links in new tabs in the background by default. This option should be overridable with a modifier key (SHIFT in Phoenix) and also the default should be controllable via a pref." Agreed. This is especially useful for reading weblogs, because if there are multiple interesting links in a post, I can load them all in the background without losing my place in the post itself. Plus I love how you can middle-click a link that you know will otherwise load new window—such as the "View Site" button in MT—forcing it it to load into a tab.
March 5th, 2003
This week is the beginning of my second week without any illegal MP3s on my hard drive. But since there was no announcement of that fact, there's no way you could have known this, so officially, today marks the first day. I will go a month without downloading or accepting from friends any MP3 that is not sanctioned by the record company or musical artist in question. Why?
- because artists who do it for a living deserve to be paid for their creation, irregardless of how pompous the artist or crappy the music.
- to rediscover my CD collection.
- to give credibility to my position that I am more likely to buy a CD of an artist whose record companies (independent or otherwise) puts out free, high-quality MP3s from their album as 'loss-leaders'. The RIAA seems more interested in fighting the medium rather than co-opting it.
- because the programs used to download MP3s contain spyware, adware and parasites. Yes, there are versions of software without them. Still.
- I'm getting cable TV this week. Not the smartest move on my part, but it's cheap, so...
I will not download MP3s nor will I accept them from friends unless, of course, the artist and/or record company has consented to their free distribution that way. In other words, if it's not available from the official website, then it will not be on my system. The major objection I can see to this is that people will think I'm "losing out" on all the great songs out there, to which I say, with a shrug, "yep, you're right".
So here goes: a month without MP3s.
March 4th, 2003
If you haven't already seen it via here, here, or here, then check out Matt Haughey's Mozilla: Blogging's Killer App. The phrase "killer app" has been overused for some time now, but you can safely ignore that. Plus I thought Blogger was the killer app for blogging. Oh well. Haughey's discussion on tabs is useful.
Oh, he doesn't mention this, but it turns out you can Ctrl-Tab to shift through tabs in Phoenix (just as you can Alt-Tab through windows in IE and other apps). I find this out right after telling Pinder how great it would if, y'know, one could Ctrl-Tab to shift through windows in Phoenix. D'oh!
March 3rd, 2003
Looks like I'm not the only one who thinks that NewsMonster sucks. The install didn't even work for me, and I followed the uninstall instructions the other day. Although I found all the files listed in the instructions, the references to NewsMonster weren't even in some of the files. I'm lucky, though, since I'm not plagued by the re-occuring configuration wizard.
Update: March 4, 5:45 PM: Mark climbs down from his strong anti-NewsMonster position, linked above.
A few minutes ago, I tried to change my Windows Messenger screenname to "The office dullard is a clever foe" (10 points for the first person who knows where the reference is from—without searching Google!), but it would not let me. A bit of Google searching led me to a list of forbidden words in all versions of Messenger. Lame! (Note that some of the words are pretty offensive, but 'headquarters'? 'president'? 'worker'? Sheesh.)
scottandrew comes through with a "miserable hack" of a plugin, which excludes specified categories inside an
<MTEntriesExCat>; container created by the plugin.
Actually, it's surprising he didn't make it an attribute of the
<MTEntries> tag itself, like
<MTEntries exclude_categories="foo AND bar">. His plugin instead replaces
<MTEntries> with another container,
<MTEntriesExCat>. Is it possible to add attributes to the
<MTEntries> container via plugins?
March 2nd, 2003
Install htmlArea for your Movable Type CMS: get a WYSIWYG editor for your entries in MT! I tried the installation instructions, and thought it was nice and pretty, except for it inserted uppercase HTML tags. Not very XHTML-friendly. It probably would have been better to check to see if there was a setting in htmlArea to have lowercase tags (is there one?) but I got frustrated early and uninstalled it. [via etc.]
There's an article on Kuro5hin evangelizing the benefits web developers can get from using Mozilla.
March 1st, 2003
eliot landrum has pointed me towards the cool-looking RSS icons/buttons I asked for earlier, and put one of them up. I also changed the RSS validation icon, and updated the RSS 1.0 feed to using Ben Hammersley's updated RSS 1.0 template.
More after the hockey game. Pretty good game. That last penalty call was BS, not to mention the non-call after that, but let's nevermind that.
I updated the individual entry template to incorporate Ben & Mena's changes. I'm holding off on making two changes. First, making the titles of weblog posts the permalink is awfully trendy, but maybe a little too trendy. Second, I have a LazyWeb Request 'feature', which would have things I'm looking for on the sidebar, and once they are produced or found, the link would change to point to that resource. It's a little too convoluted for my liking, but I may introduce it tomorrow.
Also, be sure to check out Ben's call for Weblog Hacks. [via boingboing; check out the home page of Boing Boing today for discussions of the WiFi and the radio spectrum in the context of a private property vs. commons debate.]