MovableBlog: Archives: April 2003

A weblog about the Movable Type Publishing Platform and other geekery

April 30th, 2003

Suppress New Windows in Mozilla »

I'm now blogging part-time over at Blogzilla. My first post is Suppress New Windows using about:config.

Since Blogzilla has its own comments system, you can comment about any Mozilla-related cross-post there.

Posted by Richard at 02:14 PM | Category: Mozilla | Comments (0)

April 27th, 2003

In Progress: OPML Template for MT »

I'm calling on people who are smarter than me to fix an OPML template for Movable Type that I've made. It outputs well-formed XML (see my output), but it (from what I gather) crashes Userland's Radio, which is a Bad Thing. I'm under the impression that my output is valid against the OPML spec, but corrections to that impression are welcome.

So, before proceeding, note that this template is a work in progress, and is not sanctioned by anybody. But maybe you can fix it. An XML expert I consulted believes the problem is not the encoded HTML in the resulting file, but the paragraph tags and title attribute in anchor (link) tags, and the individual paragraphs need to converted into individual outline elements, all the while stripping out tags that will not render in Radio, whatever those may be. In other words, a MT Text Formatting filter is needed.

Or perhaps there's a better way to write the template?

Posted by Richard at 11:27 PM | Category: MT | TrackBacks (1) | Comments (3)

April 26th, 2003

Dave Winer tests Trackback »

It's always interesting to see designs and development in progress, especially when the designers and developers make their notes about them available to the public. Zeldman and dive into mark are the prime examples, and now Dave Winer is implementing Trackback in his products, and linking to those accepting Trackback pings from his demonstration site. He has also written an in progress document, Trackback in the UserLand environment.

Posted by Richard at 11:15 AM | Category: MT | TrackBacks (0) | Comments (0)

April 24th, 2003

Addiction, Community Building and Everquest »

A friend of mine has written a paper about addiction as community building, using Everquest as her example. I happened to be on campus when she presented, so I stopped by, but didn't get a chance to comment on it then. She sees Everquest as a tool for people to negotiate roles for themselves they might not necessarily play in real life.

I emailed her links to two articles, Caring for Your Introvert by Jonathan Rauch and a K5 article, The Net: A Cause of Social Disconnect, and asked her to comment on how they related to her project, but evidently she would need to write a whole paper on that too, so I let her off the hook. Also related is Social Software and the Politics of Groups by Clay Shirky, which I very much enjoyed, but that's only because my degree was in Political Science.

Posted by Richard at 09:58 PM | Category: Geekery | Comments (0)

April 23rd, 2003

Zeldman on RSS »

Earlier I expressed disappointment that Zeldman doesn't offer an RSS feed (and used the phrase 'main offender', which was probably inappropriate). He recently commented about RSS in more detail. Mark Pilgrim's brief reply: "I'm happy to read your words in their native environment, but a simple change notification system would be nice."

Somewhere in between my disappointment and the Zeldman-Mark Pilgrim mini-conversation, I noted that "I don't mind so much organizations like the New York Times and the Christian Science Monitor, who at least go to the trouble of writing [...] a brief summary of the article" and that an excerpt-only feed is "better than having to visit the site in question every hour or so, clamouring for an update, when the aggregator clamours for you". Kalsey and Jim Ray provide short, informative blurbs about their posts as well.

So maybe Zeldman could meet us half-way by writing a brief blurb about a recent mini-essay, he would give us what we want (an update when and about what he posts) which would encourage us to visit the actual site and see his in the graphical context. (To be fair, he actually does touch on this, so he's well within his right of not meeting us at all.) But as for his assertion that "RSS feeds seem to have commodified the personal web space, turning every scribbler into a pundit or 'journalist,'", didn't weblogs already do that?

Update Thursday April 24, 2:40 PM: Zeldman now has a feed available, on an experimental basis. We continue to admire him for hand-coding his site, and slightly more now for hand coding RSS.

Posted by Richard at 11:10 PM | Category: XML | Comments (0)

Six Apart Announces TypePad »

Sidebar ping Anders Jacobsen TypePad

Via Anders, linked above: Battle of the blog builders by Ben Hammersley; I work for Six Apart by Anil Dash; Six Apart milestone (check the Trackbacks for that last link: sure to be commentary from around the web linked there).

Posted by Richard at 09:32 AM | Category: MT | TrackBacks (0) | Comments (0)

April 22nd, 2003

Bray's Problems With RSS »

Tim Bray has some problems with RSS. I was little confused myself by HTML escaping when writing an OPML template for Movable Type, and basically followed what Dave Winer did in his OPML file. I figure when in doubt, do what the inventor does. See? His OPML file escapes HTML.

The aforementioned OPML templates are forthcoming. Let me ask an actual XML expert or two what they think before proceeding.

Posted by Richard at 11:00 PM | Category: XML | Comments (0)

April 21st, 2003

XUL RSS Aggregator for Mozilla »

Our MSN Messenger conversation, just now:

pinder says:
Richard says: *falls off of chair*
pinder says: now that's cool

[see also: more info at Blogzilla]

Posted by Richard at 02:06 PM | Category: Mozilla | Comments (0)

April 19th, 2003

Trackbacks on Individual Entries »

Trackbacks are enabled only for the sidebar and individual entries that have to do with Movable Type. This site now uses the PHP code for including Trackback pings on individual entries, modified for formatting. That should eliminate all pop-up windows on this site. The method provided by Mark Pilgrim, using .htaccess and SSI didn't work for this site. That's not to say it won't work for you, because on my end, it was probably because of the .php extensions. Using the virtual() function in PHP didn't work either, but that is evidently because of Content-type problems.

Posted by Richard at 03:39 PM | Category: MT | TrackBacks (0) | Comments (0)

Some MT Hacks, Tips and Tricks »

The MT support board remains the best resource for tips and tricks for Movable Type. Some examples (threads were updated in the last few days):

Update Sunday April 20, 11:57 PM: looks like Ben and Mena are changing forum software. No word on whether links to old posts will work. Methinks not.

Update Monday April 21, 11:15 AM: okay, so the links to old posts do work. Same goes for linking directly to a particular forum.

Posted by Richard at 02:02 PM | Category: MT | TrackBacks (0) | Comments (0)

Dave Winer on CSS »

Dave Winer is taking a lot of heat for his comments on CSS: see here, here, here and here (for Dave's response, be sure to read the comments in that last link). In the title attribute of Anil's link, he makes the case that it is in Dave's business interest to use CSS: "if you comply with standards, *every* web page becomes an XML-based outline."

Posted by Richard at 01:27 PM | Category: Web Design | Comments (7)

April 18th, 2003 »

As some have already noticed, this site has a new domain, making it the third in its brief history (it's not called MovableBLOG for nothing folks; actuallly, it's called MovableBLOG because it started out as a blog about Movable Type, but then expanded in scope). now points to this weblog and all posts contained within. There is no real need to change your bookmarks if you have URLs starting with, as they will point to this blog (and its archived posts) as well. Also, there is no need to update any links to previous posts or the URL of the XML feeds either: they should also continue to work.

In the near future, there might be a URL scheme change, but again, the old permalinks would automatically redirect to the new one using header("Location: link") PHP snippets. This because cool URI's don't change. (Okay, as a mea culpa, switching over the domain made for a lot of 404's. This time is different. Really.) It's not clear, however, what that URL scheme will be. That's a job for next weekend.

Posted by Richard at 02:37 PM | Category: This Site | Comments (0)

April 17th, 2003

Thursday Night Roundup »

Necessarily there are dozens more articles that I still have to read, much less link to. Stupid Internet.

Posted by Richard at 09:26 PM | Category: Geekery | Comments (0)

April 14th, 2003

Phoenix is now Firebird »

So the browser formerly-known-as Phoenix is now known as Firebird. Fine. I was hoping they'd use a name of a neighbourhood in Phoenix, AZ (any name would have done, and shut up, I didn't think hard about that one) or something Spanish (ditto).

But Firebird will do.

Update 10:44 PM: Minotaur is renamed to Thunderbird, but you knew that already. There are some screenshots available at Slashdot. Not for the humourless.

Posted by Richard at 10:18 PM | Category: Mozilla | Comments (1)

xhtml:body in MT »

How (and why) to include an xhtml:body in a Radio Userland RSS feed. This, LazyWeb, is your mission, should you choose to accept it: "I hope users of Movable Type and other platforms will offer similar tutorials."

Posted by Richard at 02:09 PM | Category: MT | TrackBacks (1) | Comments (0)

April 13th, 2003

On Computer Languages and Strings »

It's been blogged plenty elsewhere, and, necessarily, here too: The Hundred-Year Language are ruminations on what will make a programming that will last into the next century. Tim Bray follows up with thoughts on strings.

Update 11:10 PM: I read The Craft of Programming earlier today, and going through the aggregator just now, realized that this is related to the above.

Posted by Richard at 10:13 PM | Category: Geekery | Comments (1)

April 12th, 2003

Blog Anniversary »

This site is officially a year old. I treated myself to a domain name (a totally obvious one, and should propagate in the next day or so), which, for the time being, will be a simple redirect.

So it appears this idea of mine lasted at least a year, even though the subject matter expanded from simply Movable Type in February of this year.

Posted by Richard at 11:04 PM | Category: This Site | Comments (2)

Saturday Afternoon Links »

Posted by Richard at 01:48 PM | Category: Geekery | Comments (1)

April 11th, 2003

Yahoo! Remix »

As mentioned earlier, I thought there would probably be a remix of the new Yahoo! search page. Well, here's one, in XHTML, CSS and no tables. [via Joshua]

Posted by Richard at 01:29 PM | Category: Web Design | Comments (0)

Rather Busy Week »

It's been busy with a lot of things happening this week. Here's are just someof the things that caught my eye in the RSS aggregator. There are still dozens of good-looking items left in the aggregator to read.

Posted by Richard at 12:50 AM | Category: Geekery | Comments (0)

April 9th, 2003

Movable Type Syndication Templates »

Mark Pilgrim has provided various syndication format templates for MT, as well as the templates to (under a Creative Commons license). Note that many of his templates require MT plugins, which he seems to have not yet listed.

Update 11:50 AM: he has listed the plugins.

Posted by Richard at 10:06 AM | Category: MT | TrackBacks (0) | Comments (0)

April 7th, 2003

Yahoo! Search First Impressions »

Well, the new Yahoo! Search passed the first test: I didn't go blind. Okay, Simpsons references aside, the first test was "Does it look good in Phoenix?" Almost (see below). Second test: "Does my name come up first?" Yes.

Here's what I mean by almost looks good in Phoenix: when searching for my name (to see if there are photos of me floating around there on the net), then clicking Images, the bottom Images tab is broken by 1 pixel too many:

Screenshot of Y! Images

I like the little tab indicator telling you which part of Y! Search you're in (despite the above), and I also liked that the search box was available at the bottom of the results (with an extra option to exclude words). I also like that it's relying on CSS positioning (and, to be fair, still with tables) as well as CSS for the formatting, unlike the main Y! pages, which uses ungodly font tags.

To be quite honest though, I wouldn't use it unless it was on the front page. The Y! main page is still way too cluttered, and I use it only for news headlines. Typing "" is not as muscle-memory-friendly as "". (Why not just set it my 'home' page, you ask? Well, what the times when I use someone else's computer?)

The tabbed interface of the 'index' page is kinda neat though, and including words in the URL while excluding words in the page one-ups Google, but Google still beats Y! in terms of number of elements of the page you can search.

Anyway, just first impressions. Surely there will be more detailed analyses elsewhere, as well as remixes of the site by various designers.

Posted by Richard at 07:03 AM | Category: Web Design | Comments (0)

April 6th, 2003

Blogs Without RSS = Less Readers? »

I have come to the viewpoint that if you don't have an RSS feed, you shouldn't have a blog. Maybe thats harsh and there is a whole another model but I can't spend the time to surf a 150 sites a day. If its not on an RSS feed, I won't see your site or read it, and you know what? Most other people won't see it or read it either.

I disagree with that sentiment, which appears here. Odds are that the people who don't read Talking Points Memo have reasons other than the lack of RSS feed for not reading it, despite it being an excellent weblog. The above sentiment is echoed in this post elsewhere: "But if anyone wants to blog without an RSS feed... more power to them - just don't expect too many readers." Again, Talking Points Memo disproves that: it has quite a few readers despite not having an RSS feed (to my knowledge). Maybe if they qualified it with "if anyone is considering starting blogging, but without an RSS feed", then maybe I might be inclined to agree with their sentiments.

From that last-linked post: "And feeds that don't contain the entire post content aren't much better in my view". Fair enough. But at least they give us weblog-readers with news aggregators the ability to tell if a site has been updated or not, saving us from having to visit the site in question hour after hour (instead, we press Refresh on our aggregator hour after hour).

RSS is changing the way weblogs are published and read, but just because a site doesn't have an RSS feed, doesn't mean it isn't worth reading.

Posted by Richard at 08:35 PM | Category: XML | Comments (2)

SharpReader »

I may just have to switch news aggregators to SharpReader. The 'plus' icon is cool: it shows you what other feed linked to a link in the feed item your reading. There's less features than Syndirella (like no Feed Properties option), but SharpReader looks nicer. What I like about it most (as compared to Syndirella) is the ability to sort feeds. mm.

[via Phil Ringnalda]

Posted by Richard at 06:19 PM | Category: XML | Comments (0)

April 5th, 2003

Saturday Night Links »

Time to clear Bookmarks and Favorites again.

Posted by Richard at 08:02 PM | Category: Geekery | Comments (0)

Month without MP3s: Recap »

The month without MP3s is over (see here for the background). About 3/4 the way though, I discovered the Legal MP3 Download weblog, through which I found Zach De La Rocha ft DJ Shadow "March of Death". There was also Beastie Boys' "In A World Gone Mad" (both songs are anti-war songs, and I was more interested in the artists than the message). Here are the CDs of mine that I rediscovered, which would give you an idea of the type of music I listen to:

I also did a lot of listening to WOXY Cincinnati despite living thousands of miles away (thank you streaming audio!). I'm really digging the Postal Service's "Such Great Heights" and may have to download the MP3 buy the CD. That above list of CD's may not seem like a lot, but that can be explained away by the fact that got cable TV about halfway into the month.

In other news, I just recently quit instant messaging cold turkey. Wish me luck.

Posted by Richard at 11:40 AM | Category: MP3 | Comments (1)

April 4th, 2003

Amazon Links with MT »

Easy Amazon Links in MT: this could come in handy, since I always edit URL's by hand (cutting & pasting the ASIN, then going to the Amazon Associates home page, loging in, and pasting in the ASIN is too much work), and especially for days like tomorrow, when there will be a post with lots of links.

Posted by Richard at 11:34 PM | Category: MT | TrackBacks (0) | Comments (0)

Mozilla Pop-Up Blocking Avoided »

Advertisers can get around Mozilla's pop-up blocking using Flash: "I was tempted not to link to that site or to discuss this hole in Mozilla's armor, because I'm sure all the advertisers out there are going to quickly adopt this technique. Here's hoping the white hats find a way to block these too."

Posted by Richard at 07:32 PM | Category: Mozilla | Comments (0)

Microdoc News and Longer Thoughts »

Microdoc News is rather good website, mostly focussing on Google but also on microcontent and blogging. I tend to only have time to read the summaries in their RSS feed—okay, so I have enough time to read the full entries, but the summaries are actually pretty informative in and of themselves.

I haven't talked much about the blogging phenomenon much, or about the broader implications of other technology, and this is not a reflection on how much I have to say about them. Having a lot to say about something does not necessarily mean having anything of quality to say, however. But maybe in the future there will be an 'essays' or 'longer thoughts' section of this site, since, because of my Political Science degree with an informal background in computers, I do at least feel qualified to speak on the political implications of technology. That may mean breaking down and creating a sidebar of quick links la Anil & Kottke. As if the sidebar weren't crowded enough.

Posted by Richard at 02:43 AM | Category: Geekery | Comments (0)

April 3rd, 2003

IE Has More Innovative Extensions? »

Joshua @ Better Living Through Software: "All of the nabobs talking about how "closed" IE is had me fooled; in actuality it looks like there are far more innovative extensions available for IE than for Mozilla (or Phoenix or whatever)."

Thems fightin' words!

(He makes a fair enough point, actually, since my news aggregator of choice, Syndirella, uses IE as its browser when clicking on links inside RSS feeds, which I don't find too problematic, since shift-clicking loads a link in one's default browser.)

Posted by Richard at 11:27 PM | Category: Mozilla | Comments (0)

Replacing By Mistake? »

Are you worried that you'll press "Replace" by accident in MT? Well, Mena has posted a usability fix.

Posted by Richard at 11:14 PM | Category: MT | TrackBacks (0) | Comments (0) Redesign »

The redesign of my 'home page' can be seen in progress. It's not that much different from the current site, but it is tables-less and uses absolute positioning with a floating sidebar (there is an RSS feed, generated by PHP with a dash of .htaccess magic, for the sidebar forthcoming). Okay, the colours are different too.

I'll probably get rid of the navigation bar as it stands (too much like the original, plus I'd like to go with pure CSS tabs instead of the Javascript-generated one, and besides, the latter doesn't work in Opera 6). I'll test it tomorrow on some older PC browsers like IE5 and Netscape 4.x—I'm expecting the worst for the latter—and a Mac browser or two. So far it works as expected in Mozilla, IE6, Opera 6 (except for the navigation) and Opera 7.

Update 4AM the next morning: okay, having pure CSS tabs is making things difficult. Maybe having the old navigation, but with more accessible Javascript, is the better way to go. Or maybe going to bed would be a better idea.

Update April 12th, 6:30 PM: It looks good in IE6, IE5.5, Phoenix/Mozilla (latest builds), and Opera versions 6 and 7. Note that for Opera, it makes use of the *7 hack courtesy of Mark Pilgrim to show both browsers slightly different CSS (or, more accurately, to show CSS to all browsers to make it look like it does in Opera, and then hide CSS to make it look like it does in all browsers other than Opera). I have yet to test it in other browsers, and in any other operating system than Windows.

Update April 12th, 11:10 PM: Evidently it looks good in Camino, Safari and Opera for the Mac. Thanks Michelle!

Posted by Richard at 09:17 PM | Category: Web Design | Comments (0)

Blogger and Mozilla Still Don't Get Along »

Phil Ringnalda: Blogger's Still an Ignorant Slut. I had the same problem working on a Blogger-based weblog design for a friend while in Mozilla. Now I know why.

Update: apparently Blogger works with Phoenix now.

Posted by Richard at 01:19 AM | Category: Mozilla | Comments (0)

April 2nd, 2003

Open Source Filter Clones »

Interesting (if brief) discussion on MetaTalk about open-source MetaFilter clones. Last night I briefly considered converting Vancouver Webloggers to a filter site—largely due to the fact that I'd like a user signup page, so I can reject or accept people based on criteria rather than have them email me, and then set up their user accounts for them in MT. Luckily I slept on that idea. [via MetaPhilter; I still think the name is too similar to MetaFilter]

Posted by Richard at 02:43 PM | Category: Geekery | Comments (0)

New Mozilla Roadmap »

Good gravy! Check out the new Mozilla Roadmap! See the highlights at Blogzilla. I'm definitely using Phoenix near-full-time from now on (see below), now that Minotaur has arrived, and now that the project has some official sanction. There are a few annoyances with the latter, but I'll go into that later.

Also, am I the only one who gets "DNS not found"-type errors (or "document contains no data"-type errors) on Phoenix on sites that are accessible from IE?

Posted by Richard at 02:12 PM | Category: Mozilla | Comments (0)