The Google Blog

As nearly everyone in the world has noticed, Google has a blog now. It’s too bad they didn’t go with the /blog/ URI because this one has extra redundant redundancy, and that doesn’t seem very Google-like. The new blog is very generic, it barely seems like a Blogger blog. On the same day Blogger releases gorgeous XHTML+CSS tempates from Doug and the crew, Google releases its blog with a table-based layout and funky HTML 4 (with no doctype). Also, Blogger uses utf-8 encoding by default now (like WordPress) and Google’s blog uses iso-8859-1.

So there isn’t a lot of information on their blog yet. The first post was signed by Ev, but after that it’s been non-entities writing (and modifying) the posts, which is very weird for a blog. Where to go for more information? Their Atom feed of course. The first thing I noticed was the <id> element, which contained tag:big.corp.google.com,2003:blog-1720. Big corp, ha! So who’s the mysterious author of the two entries after Ev’s?

<author>
<name>A Googler</name>
</author>

Well that’s helpful. Their second post on outsourcing has a more interesting bit of metadata.

<issued>2004-05-10T15:30:52-07:00</issued>
<modified>2004-05-11T17:40:57Z</modified>
<created>2004-05-10T22:39:01Z</created>

Bloggers edit their entries all the time, but “A Googler” actually changed quite a bit, removing a paragraph on outsourcing to India. Perhaps Google is already sharing more than they had planned, but I’ll stop now before they take away my Gmail account.

Spring Ping Thing

Now I know what you’re thinking. It’s Spring and time for me to stop teasing and come forward with something dramatic.

Announcing Ping-O-Matic, the automatic pinging fanatic that handles the pinging of almost a dozen different update services. Erratic server responses making pinging problematic? Bookmark the Ping-O-Matic results page and let us handle the dirty work.

With the dream team of Dougal and yours truly, you knew it was going to be cool. What you see is just the beginning. Think a unified XML-RPC interface (One Ping to rule them all, One Ping to find them…), think ping queueing, think quality of service and response graphs, think different, think global blogtimes, think update aggregation, think Ping-O-Matic.

So spread the word from here to Beijing. More than just a fling, we’re committed to being the Kings of Pings. We take this ping thing seriously, so you don’t have to.

Bing!

XFN Press

Today was a great day in that I got to read two excellent write-ups of XFN. The first comes from Shirley Kaiser at Brainstorms and Raves: Friends, XFN, and Hyperlinks. The second came from Molly and it’s a mouthful: Integrated Web Design: Social Networking — The Relationship between Humans and Computers is Coming of Age. Molly’s article quotes me on pages 3 and 4, so watch out.

I suppose now is as good a time as any to announce this little tool I wrote for XFN about a month ago. Exefen (pronounced exy-fen) reads any public HTML page you give it and then returns every external link on the page with a XFN Creator widget attached to it. You can then go and add XFN values as appropiate just by clicking a few boxes. Then when you submit that data exefen returns the original page source with all the XFN data added. Some features:

  • Works with all reasonably formed XHTML and HTML, different quoting styles etc.
  • Parses any existing rel values and uses those
  • Preserves formatting, etc in original document
  • Ignores internal and relative links

It could probably do more, and reasonable requests will be entertained. This tool was actually made in response to a comment by Zeldman saying he didn’t have time to add XFN values to his externals page. Using this tool he did it in less than an hour. In his words, “Fabulous! Great tool.” Are you XFN friendly yet?

Categories
Essays

An Introduction to PHP

An article I wrote for Digital Web is online, PHP for Designers. I am happy with how it turned out, and if there’s anything good about it I owe it to Molly, Nick, Paul, and Keith. I hope for this to be the first of several articles on PHP, but to continue I need to streamline my writing process. I don’t like writing, I like having written. Trim, cut, edit.

Notables

Some WordPress-powered blogs that have caught my eye recently:

Bill Day
“Bill Day is a Staff Engineer & Technology Evangelist at Sun Microsystems as well as Founder & Technical Guru of Day Web Development.
Bill’s J2ME Archive, writing, and speaking have helped drive J2ME adoption to hundreds of millions of devices and empowered tens of thousands to write applications for Java enabled handsets and PDAs.”
AxxLog
Joe Clark’s accessibility blog. Focusing lately on the (lack of) accesibility of a PVR.
Matthew Thomas
The same mpt, new domain. I don’t know if WordPress is the ultimate weblogging system yet, but it seems to work well for him. Matthew has given some brilliant input into the options interface which is going to be in WordPress 1.2.
Kimberly Blessing
Interesting gal I met at SxSW, Kimberly is a standards evangelist and developer at AOL.
Binary Bonsai
Great design and content. Most sites find a good design and stick with it. Micheal pulls out a brand new one just as good or better than the last every month or so. Michael is the guy who taught me how to make my XP desktop look decent.
Lars Holst
An very well-done WP site. Check out the style switcher.
Image Safari
Nicest WP photoblog I’ve seen yet. Reload for entertaining random header graphics.
Rebel Pixel
Excellent look and layout. Very interesting link styling. Nice linklog.
Debian WordPress package
Not a blog like the others, but an amazing development. Type apt-get install wordpress at your Debian command line and it’s there, automatically setting up MySQL, PHP, or Apache as needed. The packager says “I’m working on some scripts to make Debian automagically configure your blog on the next release of the package.” Awesome.

I hesitated to even start a list because this really is the very tip of the iceberg. I could write a post every day for the next 3 months highlighting someone doing something great with WordPress, and in July there would be hundreds more.

I know of a couple of projects in the oven and I can’t wait for them to (re)launch. If you’re doing something interesting or innovative with WP, let me know. Maybe I can even help out.

Browsing

Just a few links and excerpts I’ve come across lately.

Use absentee voting ballots so there will be a paper trail:

Michaan said, “I consider this to be the greatest threat to our democracy of anything we have ever faced in this country. There is so much possibility of fraud that there has to be a voting system that is verifiable with paper trails. Absent that we’re totally at the mercy of whoever controls this equipment.”

I have always thought it interesting that Diebold, known mostly for ATMs, has said that it would be too much trouble to have voting machines give voting receipts or some physical record of the vote when ATMs have no problem giving you a paper record of every transaction.

Quarantining dissent: How the Secret Service protects Bush from free speech:

When Bush went to the Pittsburgh area on Labor Day 2002, 65-year-old retired steel worker Bill Neel was there to greet him with a sign proclaiming, “The Bush family must surely love the poor, they made so many of us.” The local police, at the Secret Service’s behest, set up a “designated free-speech zone” on a baseball field surrounded by a chain-link fence a third of a mile from the location of Bush’s speech.

Similar suppressions have occurred during Bush visits to Florida. A recent St. Petersburg Times editorial noted, “At a Bush rally at Legends Field in 2001, three demonstrators — two of whom were grandmothers — were arrested for holding up small handwritten protest signs outside the designated zone. And last year, seven protesters were arrested when Bush came to a rally at the USF Sun Dome. They had refused to be cordoned off into a protest zone hundreds of yards from the entrance to the Dome.”

When the police attack sparked a geyser of media criticism, Mike van Winkle, the spokesman for the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center told the Oakland Tribune, “You can make an easy kind of a link that, if you have a protest group protesting a war where the cause that’s being fought against is international terrorism, you might have terrorism at that protest. You can almost argue that a protest against that is a terrorist act.”

Why does this secure CIA form for reporting terriosts use a Netscape favicon? I suppose I would be more scared if it was a Microsoft favicon. Maybe they should read my favicon tutorial.

The Myth of SUV Safety:

In a thirty-five-m.p.h. crash test, for instance, the driver of a Cadillac Escalade–the G.M. counterpart to the Lincoln Navigator–has a sixteen-per-cent chance of a life-threatening head injury, a twenty-per-cent chance of a life-threatening chest injury, and a thirty-five-per-cent chance of a leg injury. The same numbers in a Ford Windstar minivan–a vehicle engineered from the ground up, as opposed to simply being bolted onto a pickup-truck frame–are, respectively, two per cent, four per cent, and one per cent.

Matthew Thomas: Why I use WordPress:

WordPress is licensed under the GNU General Public License. I generally prefer GPLed software, because over a period of decades, it maximizes the rights of those who use it. (In the short run things may be different, but I’m a long-run sort of person.)

Right on. Plus all the cool Matts are doing it.

Grants for captioning? How quaint:

The U.S. Department of Education has apparently decided that certain programming will receive sponsorship for captioning and certain other programming will not.

Joe is also running WordPress. He uses more lists than anyone I know. I wasn’t sure if Joe, a militant hand-coder, would appreciate a fully dynamic content management system, but he has taken to it swimmingly.

Categories
Asides

On Orkut

What can I say, I like it. Orkut is a new social networking site funded by Google that takes the best of all the other sites out there and rolls it into one fast system. Let me emphasize fast. I gave up on Friendster because I’m not patient enough to wait minutes for every screen to load. I don’t know if anyone else has noticed this, but every site I’ve tried so far (with the exception of LinkedIn) feels like it’s held together by spit and duck tape and run on a 486. Not to mention the atrocious markup.

A neat thing about Orkut is that it’s invitation-only, so everyone there is connected to the original seed guy and programmer (whose name is Orkut, incidentally) which I think is an interesting idea. Scott Allen (who has a great new WordPress-powered blog) says that’s the most innovative thing about Orkut.

Scott remarked to me that he didn’t see Orkut flourishing the same way Ryze or Linkedin have because it mixes the personal and business aspect of things, while those two are mainly for business networking and only flirt with personal aspects. It’s too soon to tell, but I think Orkut is going to be a big success. It does a lot of things right.

So go check it out, and if you’re having trouble getting in let me know and I’ll send you an invite. If you’re already on, introduce yourself.

The Beginning of the End

Jacques Distler was flooded by random comments using a script specially designed for MovableType called FloodMT. Terrato.org seems to be down however the scripts are still widely available. We are working hard to address this sort of problem, for example comment throttling has been in WordPress from the beginning, but it is not a trivial problem.

Light of Experience

From Jeffrey Zeldman, A Little Death:

To avoid pain, we began to feel less. The price is a wall you build around yourself. At first the wall protects you; then it merely shuts you off from the light of experience and the warmth of love.

Assorted Links

  • 50 Miler Panorama is one of the coolest panoramas I’ve seen. Zach’s dad sent me an email detailing a little of the process:

    Dan Hale here – Zach’s dad, and the guy who created the panorama. I did this one entirely by hand in Photoshop. I made nine shots that day, placing the people in only the middle third of the frame of each. I shot with a super wide lens – a 17mm on a 35mm camera. The stitching was painstaking as I wanted to overlap the shots in such a way as to hide the transitions. This process was complicated by the fact that the cloud movement between shots varied the brightness, contrast and color of light. Evening that out took a lot of work. I did have the presence of mind when I did the shooting to use a constant shutter speed and aperture. I could go on and on about this labor of love. All in all it recon it took me 14-17 hours or so of work in PS to get to its current state.

    Wow. Hat tip: Zach.

  • Nightly builds of WordPress. Oh, and 1.0 is out. More on that later.
  • Adam Gessaman has the best response, Locke, Property, and Software, to the lame Aaron Swartz screed on Nick Bradbury’s On Piracy. One thing though, I’m tired of people making comments about Aaron’s ideas in relation to his age. Either talk about his age and be safely ignored, or treat his ideas independently.
  • How to fix <abbr in Internet Explorer. Nifty.
  • :hover anything in Internet Explorer. Awesome.
  • Simple Quiz from Dan Cedorholm has some of the most high-threshhold discussion of CSS and HTML semantics around.
  • Tantek is naked. Now what he really needs is to shed some of that extraneous list markup that really isn’t adding much to the semantic richness of his site. At least one level of that list could be eliminated. I’m not going to call Tantek’s markup bloated, but he could shave a few K off with that list markup. There are some novel ideas there though. I wonder what he could do with a good content management package. I’ve got a version of WordPress running with markup very similar to Tantek’s, but the blog isn’t public yet so I can’t link it.
  • Joi asks Are Blogs Just? I really like how he brings in things from all over the spectrum. Joi continues to pleasantly surprise me.
  • Apparently US money has a watermark of some sort so that if you open it up in Photoshop or try to print it the equipment has built-in guards. Pretty crazy.
  • WordPress nightly builds. Builds are released nightly, bugs are released hourly. Get 24 new bugs in every release.
  • Drawings from a guy on acid.
  • Cruft-free URIs in WordPress. 3 steps, one of which is clicking to the options screen and another which may be automated in a future version.
Categories
Design

Distributed Social Networking Software

One of the greatest things about South by Southwest interactive last year, which I just barely made it to, was the incredible creative energy born of like-minded people interacting with each other closely. Out of a conversation with Tantek Çelik regarding linking, social interaction, and leveraging HTML rather fabricating new formats I became involved in what now is known as XFN, or the XHTML Friends Network.

XFN is a standardized method for leveraging the HTML rel attribute to describe relationships between people. More simply, it’s about enhancing how you link to somebody. Together with Tantek and Eric Meyer (and wonderful feedback) we’ve put together some great information and guidelines for using XFN. Check it out and share the link.

As an example of an early XFN application, people who I’ve met in person now automatically have a star beside their name when I link to them. See the “timely dozen” to your right or my portal page.

Microsoft Embraces Blogging

It is always sad to see someone lose their job due to blogging. Shurely this matter could have been resolved amicable manner.

Assorted

A little of what’s going on in the corner of the world wide web I frequent:

Categories
Humor

Joe Clark Does Blackout

While the rest of Ontario was running around in the dark Joe Clark dialed into Compuserve and blogged. His observations cracked me up.

Categories
Humor

Glass House

Anyone feeling generous toward SCO today? Questions? Hat tip: filtrs.

To Read

Drool

I have a new favorite website.

Collected Links

Sometimes these things just build up, here are a few links worth browsing.

British MP Get’s Blog

Richard Allen, a member of the British Parliment, now has a WordPress-powered blog. How cool is that? Politician blogs in general are a great idea and I wish more mainstream politicians in the US would pick it up. (What if the President had a blog?) Look for more politician’s blogs in the future, as I’m exploring doing some web work for a local candidate.

Categories
Humor

Art of the Pun

The Art of the Pun—apparently the worse it is the better it is, which I’ve been saying all along but people just groan. Or at PVA they would do the classic “chop” to show their distaste. Philistines. 😉