Blog entries tagged with "blogging"

Three posts tonight

Monday, December 6th, 2010 at 8:17 pm

Tomorrow I shall take posession of a two bedroom unit in Mount Waverley. I expect that settling in to it will occupy every spare minute I will have for the next few months. I have lists of things to get and stuff to do, but once I move I expect that there will be numerous things that I haven’t yet thought about.

On another list are three blog posts that have come about from events in the last two weeks. One about OSDC, one about the first ever TAM Australia and a final one about Microsoft ruining an otherwise useful product.

I will try to write all three posts tonight. The first two should have accompanying photos, but I am even more behind in sorting photos…

Update 11:13PM: The posts are done:

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What happened to January?

Monday, February 1st, 2010 at 10:17 am

Today is the first of February and I have realised that for the first time since I started blogging in September 2003 that I have gone for an entire month (ie January) without making a post.

That does not mean I haven’t been doing anything.

In fact it is the opposite as January was, for me, quite busy. Now, although I haven’t written any blog posts, those who follow me on identi.ca, twitter or facebook would be aware of at least some of what I have done.

The highlights:

Amongst all of this I have scanned thousands of slides (my parent’s from the 60/70s) and made decent headway into sorting through my own backlog of photos (which increased markedly due to the Snowy Mountains road trip). I should be able to start posting some of the latter (starting with the club outing to Mount Macedon back in July) later in the week.

I hope.

In addition I have a couple of semi-formed blog posts that I should get around to completing, one that is still fresh in my mind is how something that I was relying upon for backups, is actually dangerous to use for backups. I should also have one of those published by the end of the week and I will also try to post on a more regular basis.

I promise.

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I don’t trust the cloud

Saturday, August 15th, 2009 at 3:29 pm

Since StixCampNewstead I have been meaning to write a post about trusting the cloud. I did start it, but it turned into quite a long and detailed post that I never got around to completing.

It seems that every couple of weeks that something happens to compromise user data. A couple that I noted were Ma.gnolia losing their database, Bloglines being neglected after being sold, Google dropping services, Kodak chaning their terms of service, and one of the many examples of Facebook privacy issues. The one prompting this post is the recent (now reversed) decision to shutdown tr.im (a URL shortening service).

I don’t use URL shortening services very often, partly because I haven’t needed to and partly because I also don’t agree with them, but this type of action by tr.im has made me decided to setup my own. I’ll probably use one of the WordPress plugins, but Lifehacker has an article with other options.

I have all sorts of data that ranges from private data I need to keep (emails, document, financial records) to public data that I don’t care about (dents and tweets). In between is data that I care about, both private (family photos) and public (photos for competitions or that I have up on Flickr).

I have two rules:

  • If the data is private I try to store it at home (with appropriate backups) instead of on a remote service.
  • If I care about the data I make sure that it is stored at home, or if stored in the cloud I have a backup.

The first rule is why I still run my own IMAP server instead of shifting it out of the country to Google or similar. The second rule is why I still have all the originals for my photos that are on Flickr and why I have nightly cron jobs to backup this site, my delicious bookmarks, etc.

My data aside, it is interesting to see what othes are doing, and not just for their own data, but for others. One great example of this is the Archiveteam which is keeping track of services that are going down, but also steps in to try to preserve their data, as is happening with Geocities. Archiveteam is run by Jason Scott, creator of BBS: The Documentary. His blog post FUCK THE CLOUD prompted quite a reaction and now, six months later, it is still getting comments.

It isn’t just your own data that you should care about, but also any data that you rely on.

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Should I try to be an Iron Man?

Thursday, April 30th, 2009 at 9:27 pm

A bit over a week ago I heard about Matt Trout’s proposal to get more people blogging about perl on a regular basis: We Are Iron Man. Basicially if you post about perl once a week (on average) for six months you qualify as an Iron Man.

An announcment without the swearing can be found courtesy of the Enlightened Perl Organisation.

It looks like this is gaining quite a bit of momentum as I have heard about it from quite a few different sources and there is a Planet Iron Man to show that there are quite a few contenders so far.

Should I enter?

I don’t know. While I should be able to keep up with the schedule, I’m not sure about the content as I don’t know what I have to say about perl.

To see what I have said that is remotely perl related, check out my blog posts tagged with perl. Not that much is there?

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My life in a stream

Thursday, February 26th, 2009 at 11:23 pm

A few minutes ago I changed the home of popcorn.cx to display the output of Lifestream for Wordpress, the plugin that I have been playing around with for the last week. Previously the home page was the same as the blog index except for the addition of a Flickr badge across the top.

Despite not saying anything, I have had a look at other lifestream plugins. I returned to the first one I tried because it was easy to install, it worked and it has active development. I am also planning to send in some patches for the couple of bugs that I have fixed so far.

Of the big list I initially gave, some were me not understanding the functionality correctly (the iBox stuff), some were actual bugs, some were changes to other things and some I am going to live with for now.

The changes I have made are:

  • Reverted back to an earlier version of SimplePie, the RSS parser, as I traced the problem with the Amazon wishlist back to the latest devel version. I submitted a bug report with them.
  • Modified the FeedBurner plugin to also check for ?direct=1 in the URL so the links to my own posts were not redirected through FeedBurner. (The main reason for this was because FeedBurner seems to be playing up – sometimes with feedproxy.google.com URLs and sometimes with the original feeds.feedburner.com URLs, but not the most recent posts)
  • The timezone setting for the plugin let you choose an offset from -12 to +12 (displaying adjusted time in a drop down), but that is not an offset from epoch, it is an offset from the server time. My server is in -8 while I am in +11. That is an offset of +19, yet when I chose the correct time of day it gave my -5. So all events were a day out. I tweaked the settings page to adjust the offsets based on the server zone (-4 to +20 instead) which fixed that.
  • In the rendering code I needed to apply the offset where it works out if it should display ‘Today’ or ‘Tomorrow’ instead of the actual date.
  • The code that groups all of the events for a day also needed the offset added as it was done using the SQL DATE() function which (again) uses the (MySQL) server timezone.
  • Added ordering to grouped events (so they show the same as how I added them)
  • I added LibraryThing as a feed.

I still have other changes planned, but these got me to a point where I was happy to use it on the home page.

One major change that I would like to do is to change the Flickr feed to use the Flickr API instead of just the RSS feed. A limitation of the RSS is that it is only the 20 most recent items. The other night I added 67 photos from the photo walk. Initially it was showing 40 items because the feed refreshed during the upload, but now it only shows 20 because I readded the feed and it lost the history. The API wouldn’t have that limitation: my photos page (that has been there for a while, but I don’t link to it from anywhere) uses the API to get all the photos that I have uploaded. And as you can see it also gets set information that might be good to include.

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Trying out a lifestream plugin

Thursday, February 19th, 2009 at 11:11 pm

As well as creating some accounts, I spend most of the evening playing around with a lifestream plugin for Wordpress. Although I found a couple of different options I decided to play around with the first one I came across: Lifestream for Wordpress.

Installing the plugin was pretty simple and it was jut as easy to create a new (temporary) page for it. (The redundant heading is because my theme isn’t really setup for pages)

Here are my thoughts so far (version 0.93b):

  • It automatically setup the blog feed, but as I use FeedBurner the URLs that it links to are the FeedBurner ones, not mine. It does redirect back, but it would be nice if the real URL was visible. (A list of user agents to exclude on the FeedBurner plugin is a solution for this)
  • It was nice to be able to specify my own favicon as the image for my blog feed (or any feed).
  • I might want to have more info about each post shown, tags or maybe an excerpt.
  • Adding Delicious and Flickr was straightfoward.
  • As was my Amazon wishlist after I found out that you need to get the link to the RSS feed when you are not logged in to Amazon.
  • The Amazon links end up at a 400 error page in Firefox, and doesn not work at all in IE7.
  • I would expect items that are grouped together to still be in date order, they are not.
  • I installed the iBox plugin to see what functionality that gave. It is funky, but I would probably not use it.
  • The iBox functionality does not want to turn off. No matter what the ‘Enable iBox’ option is set to, it always uses it.
  • The timezones are broken. I have told it my current time, yet right now it is saying ‘Yesterday’ for items from earlier today.
  • It was easy to add support for LibraryThing – I copied how the Amazon worked (from RSS feed) and just had to change the regex to extract the thumbnail url.
  • As well as grouping not being in order they seem to be missing items. I have LibraryThing added twice, one with grouping and the other without. On January 16 I added 19 books. When grouped only 8 books are shown, when not grouped all 19 books are shown.
  • I’m not sure if I want items grouped by “same day”. What happens if I bookmark some links in the morning and then another batch in the evening. Will they all be grouped together? I would want them in two groups – ie grouped if within 1 hour of each other.
  • I’m not sure if I like the phrasing of the labels. Instead of “Added an item to their wishlist on Amazon” I would prefer something less third person like “Item added to Amazon wishlist”.

I shall keep playing with this plugin, as well as looking at the others.

Update: A major problem now is that the two most recent posts (this one included) are not being picked up by this plugin. They are definitely in the RSS feed. Not good.

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BBQ and photos at Jells Park

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009 at 11:02 pm

Tonight, aside from catching up on a couple of blog posts, I went with David to the Waverley Camera Club meeting: A BBQ at Jells Park.

I ended up taking about 200 photos, some of which are multiple exposures ready for some HDR experiments. Now I need to find time to process them, but I have run out of time tonight, and tomorrow I’ll be in the city for Sub Standards.

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Blogging tools for more than blogs

Thursday, December 6th, 2007 at 11:48 pm

Tonight I went into the city to hear James Farmer ask Whoever Said Blogging Tools Were Just For Blogs? at a Web Standards Group meeting.

Compared to the Webates the turnout was low, but it was still respectable. As for the talk itself, it was good. Although it was less technical than I had hoped, it still showed how blog tools can be used for a sites that does not look like a blog, instead it can (for example) look like a news/magazine site.

Afterward we ajourned to the pub where discussions continued. It is a different experience talking with people that are not as technically involved as I am as they provide an alternate perspective.

One other thing is that this has encouraged me to having a proper look at converting my friend’s site (ride-extravaganza.com) to be based on Wordpress which would make editing easier and provide the ability for vistors to leave comments about each ride.

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The ultimate spam comment

Thursday, September 6th, 2007 at 7:43 pm

Ever since I enabled comments I have been using the Akismet Plugin to combat spam which has been remarkably successful:

  • Around 1,000 comments are identified as spam per fortnight.
  • One or two comments are marked for moderation per week, all except one has been handled by clicking the ‘recheck queue for spam’ button.
  • One comment slips through a month that I need to manually remove and mark as spam.

Today the following comment slipped through:

hello , my name is Richard and I know you get a lot of spammy comments , I can help you with this problem . I know a lot of spammers and I will ask them not to post on your site. It will reduce the volume of spam by 30-50% .In return Id like to ask you to put a link to my site on the index page of your site. The link will be small and your visitors will hardly notice it , its just done for higher rankings in search engines. Contact me icq ________ or write me __________ , i will give you my site url and you will give me yours if you are interested. thank you

I was speechless…

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Licensing my work

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007 at 9:49 pm

A few days ago I finally got around to doing something about the copyright infringement I discovered many weeks ago: I asked the Commons Help desk and got a helpful response. However, before I uploaded my images to Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license I wanted to actually have this site under the same license.

A few additions (HTML head, blog sidebar, page footer) later and I am now stating that all of the content on this blog and in my computer collection is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 License.

I also jumped over to my flickr account and set the license for all of my existing and future photos.

I think my next step will be to tag the photos in the collection, initially via the "Copyright" Exif metadata tag and then via XMP. Once I figure out what that is.

Scratch that. My immediate next step is to address the copyright infringement…

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The unfinished posts

Sunday, April 15th, 2007 at 10:03 pm

One thing I forgot to mention when wondering about the purpose of this site was that there are a few posts that I started writing but have yet to finish.

Stay tuned for:

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What am I trying to say?

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007 at 8:17 pm

A few months ago I asked the question: Why do I collect computers?

Recently I have been contemplating what the theme is for this blog. So far this month five of the six posts have been about cycling. Going back to March this was four of the eight posts.

Three and a half years ago when I started blogging I predicted that I would post about my computer collection (the posts), my current computers and software development processes.

The first two of those have been covered the most (this can bee seen in the tag cloud) but irregularly when I get a new item, rearrange things or simply get around to taking (and uploading) photos. Although I haven’t been posting about processes they haven’t been far from my mind as the processes we use at work are slowly evolving (mostly for the better).

So what am I trying to say?

To be honest I am still not sure. One direction I can take (resume is possibly the better view) is to it as a way of documenting things that I learn. By putting my conclusions out there there is a possibility that others will see them and respond which could, in turn, further the learning experience.

My post on Thomsett project management is an example this type of post. Even after more than three years this post appears in the first few results in a search for “thomsett sliders” and people are at least following the link. I wonder if I have helped anyone with their understanding because of this, even though the meat of that post is actually how Extreme programming conflicts with established project management techniques.

Where to from here?

Since I don’t know exactly what I am trying to say there is no clear next step. But talking about a next step does imply some sort of plan so that may be what I should do, make a plan. Unfortunately I still have issues with time management.

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Notification of followup comments

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007 at 9:24 pm

After I got my first legitimate comment I started to wonder how they would know if I responded with another comment.

A short time later I found Subscribe to Comments which does exactly what I want. If the commenter checks the notify box they will be emailed whenever there is a followup comment.

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Comments are encouraged

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007 at 10:50 pm

As of today is is now possible to leave comments on these posts.

The advantage of using an existing tool for my blog is that all I needed to do to enable comments was to turn on the appropriate option and to copy over (and modify) the appropriate part of the default theme into my custom theme. There was also some effort involved to remove the comment functionality when I first setup the theme but that was a long time ago.

In contrast I would have needed to spend a considerable amount of time building the functionality if I had opted to write everything from scratch. Score one for the first B in bend/buy/build.

(Time will tell if anyone leaves a comment, let alone reads any of these posts…)

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How much memory does WordPress need?

Monday, October 9th, 2006 at 9:57 pm

Over the past weekend I undertook the next step in rebuilding my linux boxes which was to perform a fresh install and moving services over. As expected installing Ubuntu went smoothly with the first issue arising when setting up the local copy of this site.

Getting apache, php and mysql installed was pretty trivial as I just selected the appropriate packages for installation. After getting used to how the apache configuration files are arranges I quickly had two virtualhosts defined, one for my internal site and another for this site, and I copied the files and databases over.

The snag came when I tried to load up this site and all I got was a blank page. At first all I could find about this issue talked about mysql not loading properly but I knew that wasn’t my issue as the code I had written from scratch that talks to the database was working fine. Eventually I found a reference to the php memory limit. At first I doubled it from 8MB to 16MB. No luck. I tried looking again for other solutions until I thought of doubling it again to 32MB. It was now working.

After a bit of trial an error I found that I needed the memory limit to be at least 26MB for WordPress and the plugins I use to load (but I left the limit at 32MB). Does it use this much memory for every single request and then throw it away at the end? Hmmm…

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Being self-referential

Sunday, July 23rd, 2006 at 8:05 pm

A few weeks ago I droped the day of the month from the permalink structure of this blog as I realised that I would have to post multiple times every single day for it to be any use.

Although I added a rewrite rule to accomodate the existing links I realised that as the majority of links to my posts were from other posts I had made and those should not depend on the rewrite rule. What I needed was a shortcut in making these links that automatically used the current permalink and also simplify my current process of copying and pasting both the url and title of the relevant post.

A google search later and I had found the Easy Post-to-Post Links WordPress plugin. Unfortunately this created the links with the title of the post, not the contextual form that I use.

After upgrading to the latest version the other day I looked into it again and this time I came across AutoLink which is a much more powerfull plugin that lets me use contextual links as I have been as it picks up a special url scheme.

However when I tried to play around with this one I couldn’t get it running on my local server (I need to update the PHP installation as it does run fine on my paid host) I opted for a compromise which was to adopt the syntax used by AutoLink for post to post links but rewrite the Easy Post-to-Post plugin to do what I want.

One of the many items on my list is to update my local host so that it is running the same versions as my paid host and once I have done that I expect I will give AutoLink another try. My immediate need is to not require the rewrite rule for any internal links.

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Taking a plunge

Friday, July 21st, 2006 at 9:33 pm

This evening I upgraded this blog to the latest version of WordPress in under twenty minutes with most of that time waiting for the new files to upload. How did I do it so quickly? By spending over three hours on Tuesday evening upgrading the copy of this site that I run at home and finding the issues there.

As well as upgrading WordPress I also needed to upgrade to the latest version of Ultimate Tag Warrior which has also given me a working tag cloud.

The reasoning behind upgrading was not to upgrade for the sake of it, instead it was the bar that I imposed before moving an a couple of ideas I was considering. Ideally I will look into some of them over the coming weekend.

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A tag based blog

Thursday, December 8th, 2005 at 10:25 pm

Many months ago I came across a blog post about how to make wordpress tag based in a similar form to del.icio.us. With my OSDC posts this week I have finally started to add tags and this evening I added in the display of the tags for each post and the display of all the tags in the side navigation bar.

Now I need to find the time (yes, more of it) to go through my past posts and add sensible tags. I shall see how things go…

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Two years and counting

Saturday, October 1st, 2005 at 12:20 am

Technically it is now two years and one day since I started this blog. I really should get back to learning about development techniques as I intended to do

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WordPress based blog

Sunday, May 1st, 2005 at 10:16 pm

The new month brings change as this weekend I finally got around to migrating my blog over from my homegrown solution to WordPress as I mused about back in March.

The biggest task involved in the migration was the creation of a theme so the look and feel of the blog could largely remain the same. The biggest change is that there is now a sidebar on all the blog related pages with links to the monthly archives. This has also been the most painful task as although the WordPress templating system may use PHP it does not relate to any half decent programming practives. Each ‘tag’ in the templates is actually a PHP function and some of them print a string, some of them return a string, and some of them have an argument to say whether they print or return. Don’t get me started on everything being global…

At first I thought I would have to write some code from scratch to migrate the existing entries into the WordPress tables but I was pleasantly surprised when I found that WordPress comes with a RSS import script. I did have to modify the RSS generator in my old blog to both include all entries as well as the complete text of each entry but that was fairly trivial which allowed my to discover a bug in the import script. WordPress stores two dates with each entry, the date in GMT/UTC and the date with the desired offset, and in the import script these were back to front which meant that all my posts were imported with a date twenty hours different. This was fairly straightforward to correct and I suppose that I should contribute my changes so no one else has this problem.

The final task involved in the migration was to insert some rewrite rules to redirect requests for my old blog over to the new one. Initially I was going to lookup the old style 12 digit time/date string in the database to determine the exact url to redirect to but I realised that they were wrong anyway because of when I changed back from daylight savings (I’m not going to bother with that in the future) so instead I just extract the date and redirect to the appropriate day archive. The only time this will fall down will be when I posted close to midnight…

My next task (well the next task related to my blog) is to get the trackback functionality up and running and after that are investigations into the numerous plugins that are available…

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One year. Woo!

Thursday, September 30th, 2004 at 10:22 pm

It has now been a whole year since I started this blog.

I really should post more often…

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Blog started

Tuesday, September 30th, 2003 at 12:15 pm

As a place to keep track of my thoughts I have joined the great unwashed and started my own blog.

At the moment I expect most of the comments to be about my computers, both current and my collection, and software development processes…

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