magpiebrain

Sam Newman's site, a Consultant at ThoughtWorks

Posts from the ‘Blogging’ category

So let’s look at the figures. Number of posts: 272. Number of comments: 506. Number of trackbacks: 12. Spot the odd one out? “Trackbacks(What is a Trackback)”:http://www.plasticbag.org/archives/2003/03/what_is_trackback_part_one.shtml have been enabled since virtually day one of this blog, and have been surprisingly underused. I’m starting to wonder if they were worth the bother.
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An email from Atlassian’s Mike Cannon-Brookes pointed out something which I really hadn’t noticed – the “del.icio.us”:http://del.icio.us links being spliced in using “FeedBurner”:http://www.feedburner.com seem to be getting a huge number of hits – not just compared to the normal dross I put out, but compared to everyone else too. So far I’ve been unable to see how this could be happening – Javablogs only tracks reads made via JavaBlogs itself, which implies someone/something is hammering these specific entries via Javablogs itself. I think Mike is going to look into this a little more, but if we can’t find a fix I’ll pull my del.icio.us links from the Javablogs feed.

Back from Glastonbury, and it seems people have been busy in my absence. A while back I integrated some Javascript from “Stuart Langridge”:http://www.kryogenix.org/ which parses Textile formatted text into HTML – I used this code to create a live preview for commentors (which itself was inspired by the HTML live preview on “Jon Hick’s”:http://www.hicksdesign.co.uk/journal/ site). Jeff Minard spotted my “original post(magpiebrain – Live textile comment previews)”:http://www.magpiebrain.com/archives/2004/05/18/preview on the subject, and “took it upon himself”:http://www.creatimation.net/journal/textile-live-preview to add support for some aspects of Textile formatting that were missing from Stuart’s original script prior to integrating it into his own very nice blog (another site that has encouraged me to start a minor design overhaul). When I get a spare moment, I’ll certainly be integrating Jeff’s changes into this site.

I woke up this morning to a pleasant arrival in my inbox – no, not the latest Nigeria scam, instead a communication from “Sixapart”:http://www.sixapart.com/, makers of “Movable Type”:http://www.moveabletype.org. Firstly they informed me that my Personal Edition has been upgraded for free to an Unlimited Personal Edition (so I can now have as many authors as I like), but have also explained that the standard Personal Edition now allows an unlimited number of blogs too (previously you were limited to five authors).

When the original licensing structure was announced many bloggers got a “little histerical”:http://diveintomark.org/archives/2004/05/14/freedom-0 – I instead decided to wait it out and see how Six Apart dealt with the criticism. Six Apart listened, reacted, and the net result is that the new license scheme was to my liking. I paid for a license an am very happy with it. The fact that they’ve further rewarded me for my support is icing on an already quite nice cake.

Thanks to some code from “Stuart Langridge”:http://www.kryogenix.org, I’ve managed to implement a live comment system supporting “Textile”:http://textism.com/tools/textile/. Originally inspired by “Jon Hick’s”:http://www.hicksdesign.co.uk/journal/ comment system, as you type comment the text is parsed and formatted as HTML, and inserted into another div. The Javascript doesn’t support all Textile formatting, but supports all of the quick tags (apart from Span) and some of the block formatting (such as blockquotes). I may add support for more of Textile’s formatting commands later – I’ll see how much people use it. Anyway, feel free to give it a go and “let me know(Contact Me)”:http://www.magpiebrain.com/contact if you experience any problems.

“Bloglines”:http://www.bloglines.com/about/news continues to add enhancements to their excellent free online feed aggregator service, and further improvements are being added by others – “Chad Everett”:http://www.cxliv.org/jayseae/2004/05/10/extending_mozilla.html has developed a very nice plugin for Mozilla and Firebird which embeds the bloglines notifier in the browser’s status bar, and also adds a right-click context menu which allows quick subscription to pages you are currently viewing (I assume this will require embedded RDF in the page in question to support auto-discovery, unless it searches bloglines itself). All of this could be done by downloading the notifier separately and using a bookmarklet, but Chad’s work provides a nicer package with a decent interface, and the fact that it will work on any platform capable of running a recent Mozilla build probably makes these features available to more people than ever.

Inspired by the rather enjoyable “meme(LaughingMeme – page 23, sentence 5: an autopsy)”:http://laughingmeme.org/archives/001960.html, I decided to integrate an ongoing series of Page 23 posts on my sidebar. To summarise the original aim of the meme, it has each participant write the fifth sentence on the 23rd page of the book they are currently reading. My slight subversion of the meme is to do the same for various books which I have read or am reading that I can recommend. The aim is to have a picture of the book, the sentence in question, and a link through to Amazon on my sidebar. I alsowant to vary the book displayed as often as possible. What I really want is a dynamic slideshow – which is what we are going to build now.
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Well, as per “MarkPilgrim’s instructions(Cruft-free URLs in Movable Type)”:http://diveintomark.org/archives/2003/08/15/slugs and with a little help from Dave Dribin’s “@MTEntryShortTitle@”:http://www.dribin.org/dave/software/movabletype/ plugin, my URL’s should be a little more “user friendly(Jakob Nielsen – URL as UI)”:http://www.useit.com/alertbox/990321.html, and a little more “future-proof(Movable Type’s non-permanent permalinks)”:http://mar.anomy.net/entry/2003/06/09/13.28.59/. Getting Apache to handle my files as PHP without file extensions was more work than it should of been – conventional wisdom has it that Apache’s @DefaultType@ directive should of worked:

DefaultType application/x-httpd-php

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I’ve been looking at the issue of getting Movable Type to produce some more friendly URLs off the back of my recent site redesign and the decision to start using PHP to build certain parts of the site. By default, MT generates pages with URLs like this:

http://www.magpiebrain.com/archives/000226.html

The first problem with such a URL is that it is by no means friendly. Secondly they are dependent on the server-side technology I’m using – for example what if I decided to produce PHP files rather than HTML? These and other issues are looked at in Jakob Nielsen’s “URL as UI”:http://www.useit.com/alertbox/990321.html and in Tim Berners-Lee’s “Cool URIs don’t change”:http://www.w3.org/Provider/Style/URI so I won’t go over them in any detail here – suffice to say if you’re interested in the subject you could do worse than read both of them.
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