Monthly Archives: April 2006

Last Meals

Dead Man Eating is a weblog dedicated to documenting the last meals of death row inmates. Morbidly fascinating. There seems to be a lot of fried chicken. The weblog also includes things people have sent in as what they would have as their last meal, which generally seems to be enough food to feed a small village.

Conventional RSS

Alex from Textpattern has started putting thoughts down on what we’re calling “conventional RSS.” It’s not a spec, profile, or anything like that. It’s just a documentation of the things we do in our RSS 2.0 feeds. There are some minor differences with what WP currently does, but at least in the beginning WordPress and Textpattern will have a shared set of conventions and assumptions.

CNET Buzz Out Loud

Thanks to Michael Pate and Josh Jarmin who wrote in about Akismet and WordPress being mentioned on CNET’s Buzz Out Loud podcast on 4/26, I got in contact with the Buzz folks and they invited me in to the studio today for a brief chat. (I still live a block away from CNET.) Molly Wood and Veronica Belmont were fantastic hosts and hopefully Molly can get her firewall sorted out. It should be up on their site later today. Update: I snapped two photos to Flickr during the podcast.

Cross-Datacenter File Replication

Anyone have any favorite tricks for geographically diverse real-time file replication on Linux? It seems like most information is pretty dispersed, and suggestions range from every-30-seconds rsync to putting all files as BLOBs in MySQL and replicating that. There has to be a better way. (The scariest part is Microsoft seems to show up first for most Googles I can think of, but Windows is not an option.)

Typepad Switches Atom

I think that Typepad may have just switched it’s Atom feeds from .3 to 1.0. How do I know? Because two blogs I read just popped up with 10 new entries (none were new) and each one was broken in Bloglines. (Which is the single largest aggregator in the world, at least according to WordPress.com feed stats.) Here is Seth Godin’s as viewed by the feed validator. This is a bold move, but I certainly wouldn’t want to be their support department tomorrow. This could also just be my misunderstanding, as some feeds like this one from Marginal Revolutions (one of my favorite blogs) seems to be on Atom 0.2.

WordPress CrazyEgg

CrazyEgg is a pretty cool service that tells you where people are clicking on your web page. By far, the coolest feature is the “heatmap” doppler view of your page, which they overlay over a snapshot taken when you start the click tracking session. I’ve been running it for a few days on the front page of WordPress.com, here is a screenshot of the results. Next I’m going to try it on our signup form. And wouldn’t it be cool for the WP write page?

Funding Warning

Just a warning for entrepreneurs out there, if you ever announce funding you will be contacted by people offering the following services: banking; debt financing; PR services; other VCs; fancy SoMA offices; telephone services; India outsourcing; Kansas IT outsourcing; recruiting (x10); equipment leasing; renting/leasing/buying real estate; stories about Audrey Hepburn; web analytics; bandwidth; data communications (?); Java programming. Expect 50+ emails in the first 12 hours, and a steady trickle after that. They will also send emails to firstname @ your domain for every name they can find on the website. It gives you a newfound appreciation for those nice Nigerian banking folks, who gave you attention before you were “big.”

The Feed Validator is Dead to Me

Is anyone else sick and tired of the so-called feed validator changing its mind on fundamental issues every other week? I’m sure Sam Ruby and whoever else is still working on the Validator mean well, but the constant ivory tower decisions to change the way it interpets “valid RSS 2.0” is making it seem more like a political advocacy tool than anything else. Perhaps I should give the benefit of the doubt and “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

I’m not even talking about deciding they can change the world by decree. (Which has already been addressed.) The latest in their line of enlightened changes is that the author of the Well-formed Web spec has changed the capitializition of the wfw:commentRSS element at some unknown point to lowercase Rss. This arbitrary decision has been codified by the validator, which now reports the millions and millions of feeds that use the previously correct capitialization as invalid. Confusion ensues.

If the previous paragraph makes your eyes glaze over, congratulations, you’re normal.

Here is a post on their mailing list which also explains the issue and includes a link to the archive.org version of the page with the capitialization everyone uses, which was there for at least two years. One line can cause so much trouble.

But wait, there’s more. “In addition, this feed has an issue that may cause problems for some users.” They’ve also started marking all uses of content:encoded as potentially causing problems, which is funny because it actually avoids a ton of problems and (again) people have been using it in RSS 2.0 feeds for 3+ years now, and I even asked Dave Winer about it in the past and he said that was fine. Their documentation on the topic seems more geared toward instilling fear, uncertainty, and doubt in RSS 2.0 than addressing the reason they’ve decided to start warning about this element. Where a validator normally provides stability, the feed validator has become the Homeland Security of the RSS world, keeping us all in a constant state of dulled fear, insensitive to whatever warnings they’re giving us today because we just want it to stop.

I’m sure the content:encoded change can be rationalized with a perfectly convincing argument. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone as smart as Sam could do the same for the arbitrary wft:CommentRSS change. I know that the code is open source and we could fork it and create another version of the validator that doesn’t invalidate half the blogosphere on a Tuesday afternoon. But then we would have more than one validator, and that defeats the point.