Covered topics: life in general, personal productivity, life hacks, organization, software development, technology, etc.

Interesting Freshmeat projects

  • Squishdot
  • Squishdot is a Slashdot-like weblog application based on Zope.

  • PHPList
  • PHPlist is a mailing list and newsletter manager that allows posting via a Web page. It works well when used for announcements, and can handle very large email address lists. Users can sign up to multiple lists, but will only receive a single copy of cross-posted messages.

    Scott Watermasysk's AppBug experiment

    My AggBug Experiment.

    This blog is powered by Scott Watermasysk's .Text blogging engine, but it's an older version of the software, one that doesn't support statistics.  More recent versions of .Text provide a rough estimate as to how many folks have read your blog through the use of AggBugs.  Prior to the popularization of syndicated content, determining how many folks read your content was a rather simple task of parsing the Web server's log files.  But with syndicated content, examining the number of people who requested the RSS feed does not give a strong estimate.  For example, my aggregator might slurp down a particular RSS feed 24 times over the course of the day, yet I may read a particular entry only once or twice, or maybe not at all.

    To surmount these problems, AggBugs are commonly used.  An AggBug is a tiny bit of HTML in the RSS feed that typically is an <img> tag that requests a 1x1 transparent GIF file.  Each time someone loads up a particular entry in their aggregator (or visits the particular blog entry page), a request is made to that GIF file.  To determine how many times your blog has been read, you can simply lookup in your Web server's log files to see how many times that GIF has been requested.

    Since the version of .Text I use lacks the AggBug feature, I have never really had a good idea as to how many folks read my blog entries.  The suspense has been killing me, so I decided to implement by own AggBug feature for a particular blog entry, Sample Chapter of my .NET Web Services DVD.  (Rather than using just a simple 1x1 GIF, I created an ASP.NET page that returned a 1x1 GIF, but logged more information than just a simple hit (namely the user's IP, their User-Agent string, and so on.)  It's now been 24 hours since that blog entry was posted, and here are the results:

    • 553 unique IP addresses requests
    • 860 total requests
    • Twice as many people (2) hit my site with Netscape 3 than did with IE 4 (1).  Only 2 folks visited with Opera, which is as many people as visited with Safari. 
    • The vast majority (95+%) use IE 6.0 (I believe the popular blog readers - RssBandit, FeedReader, FeedDemon, etc. - use IE as their browser by default, so this makes sense).

    It'll be interesting to see how the readership for a particular blog entry shrinks or grows as the days progress.  I'd wager something like 80% of the views occur in the first week (maybe two), and the remaining 20% occur over the rest of the year.

    [Scott on Writing]

    Hack the Feedster

    Hack the Feedster.

    When I teach my RSS class, the first moment that blows everyone away is about 45 minutes in when we do a Feedster search and they save the feed of the search into Bloglines. Jaws drop open and you can hear the "wows."

    Which is why I'm happy to hear that Steven has started a new blog dedicated to Feedster Hacks. Into the presentation it goes.

    Keep up the great work, Steven!

    [The Shifted Librarian]

    My Blog - yet another blogging application

    My Blog 1.23 [freshmeat.net]

    My Blog aims to be simple to use while taking care of many advanced features for the user. This includes automatically resizing pictures when uploaded, pagination of blog entries as specified, and truncating and formatting of text as specified. The admin chooses from posting via the secure online script or via email, making blogging via camera phone possible. The admin is emailed when visitors post comments. Plugins for the My Photo Gallery and My Calendar scripts are available, and the admin can write his own plugins. The templating scheme is simple and compatible with all of the other scripts.

    Amazon Sued Over Recommendation Patent

    Amazon Sued Over Recommendation Patent. PaschalNee writes "Cendant is suing Amazon for their recommendation patent saying it infringes on a "System and Method for Providing Recommendation of Goods or Services Based on Recorded Purchasing History" patent they own. " [Slashdot:]

    Contest for faith-based orgs

    Contest for faith-based orgs. The Faith and Service Technical Education Network (FASTEN) is hosting a new contest for congregations and faith-based organizations. The “Partners in Transformation” awards program will give $5,000 to ten FBOs who bring about tangible, positive results for kids, families, or neighborhoods while working with groups outside the faith community (schools, police, HUD, Chamber of Commerce, etc.). FASTEN will publish a report highlighting the ten winning programs and distribute it to hundreds of private charitable foundations. Get your contest application here.... [World Magazine Blog]

    Automatic Ad-Rotation in JavaScript. In an earlier article, the author wrote about how use JavaScript to display random advertisements when the page loads. To complement that article, he now focuses on rotating the ads in random order, over a period of time without reloading the page. By Jonathan Fenocchi. 1104 [WebReference News]

    Crossing over

    I've been reading some "alternative" blogs at blogs4God. By alternative, I mean not my usual faire. I've been sampling the Journals category and Kathryn Lively's St. Blog's. Interesting what you can find when you take the time to try something new.

    Phil Younger blogs about shutting down his blog and why he did it. It makes sense. He said that his motives revolved around the need for attention and the craving that it forms. I can relate. When I first started blogging, I was checking my referrer logs every hour to see if I had any hits. I still check my logs regularly, but not in the same way. Plus, any comments that came my way were a big bonus. "Wow, someone real out there knows that I'm alive, and they read my blog!" You get the idea.

    Then there was a provocative, well-written, beautifully presented journal called This is not for you... Oddly enough, the thoughts and events recorded were so personal that I was both moved and bothered. Bothered because I was reading something so personal. I hope that Candace, her family, and Matthew weather the storm of illness.

    I tried some other blogs, too, only to find that they had fallen prey to link rot or some other form of abandonment, such as tekBlog.net.

    But then I was quickly back to my old haunts in the techBlogs category. I must say, even though I'm not a Mac fanatic (don't love 'em, don't hate 'em), I was totally impressed with northoftheborder's graphic design, layout, and content. Sweet and kudos! I gave a quick read to his description of an XML-configurable Flash video jukebox. Did I get that right? Curious. His blog archives use PHP. I wonder what system he uses to run his weblog. Is it homegrown?

    I had to check in at Boyink to see how things were going. It appears that scoundrels have finally targeted his blogging platform, pMachine, with the bane of bloggers everywhere: comment spam.

    On another note, I just discovered that NewsGator now has a free version of their online service. Very cool! I tried the NewsGator for Outlook trial edition, and I plan to buy it when I can. It's only $29, so not a bad deal.

    Here's an example of stupidity in usability. On the pickup window of a
    local Burger King drive-thru, there is a small sticker that reads,

    Please present coupons before ordering.

    First of all, shouldn't the notice be posted at the point of ordering,
    rather than at the point of pickup?

    Second, shouldn't the print be much larger?

    On top of all that, the sticker is on the outside of the pickup window
    which folds out when opened, so the reader can no longer see it.

    Of course, when I mentioned all of this (as nicely as I could) to the
    person at the window, all she could do was blush, smile, and shrug just as
    all helpless, unempowered peons do. The old "Don't look at me--I just
    work here" line applies to this situation.

    I'm sure she thought I was either a nut, a jerk, or both.

    Ain't life grand?

    Grab bag

  • GeoNiche 1.33
  • GeoNiche is a GPS enabled PalmOS program for geocaching, hiking, fishing, bicycling, and other outdoor activities. In addition to a whole host of standard features, GeoNiche includes many features not found in other GPS applications.

  • MSDN: Introducing the ASP.NET 2.0 Web Parts Framework
  • Summary: Web Parts provide you with the infrastructure for creating customizable Web applications. When you build a Web site with Web Parts, the Web site can be easily customized by either the administrator of the Web site or the individual users of the Web site.

  • Dan Gillmor's eJournal - Let's Have Real Time Fact Checking, in Debates and Elsewhere
  • In the 2004 presidential campaign's latest detour into relative trivia, there's been a small uproar over whether President Bush was wearing some kind of audio receiver during one or more of the debates with John Kerry. The implication was that the president might have been getting unfair coaching.

    Bush and his people deny they broke the rules prohibiting such devices or other aids. I don't see any big reason to doubt them even if the bulge in the back of Bush's suit was remarkably rectangular.

    I would argue that in this case the rules need updating. Voters would have been better off if the candidates had all kinds of technology at their disposal, so they could double-check their own facts and precisely rebut opponents' misstatements.

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