Meerkat

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Most of the time Meerkat is really intensely cool! It's one of the few places I read day to day. Anyhow, there are a bunch of sites for which they provide totally bogus links which is irritating. I don't know if it's their fault or the fault of the sites--and I don't really care a whole lot....

What's really irritating is that on the about page for Meerkat (http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/rss/2000/03/17/about_meerkat.html), they have a section the bottom that ask for suggestions, bugs, comments, and other feedback and point people to their O'Reilly Network RSS forum. You click on the link to discover the forums are closed indefinitely and "new improved forums will be coming in the near future".

How irritating. How am I supposed to help out and make the service better when there is no feedback mechanism I can use to tell them there are problems?

Open source participation

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I'm on the mailing lists for OZ and OE because I own a Sharp Zaurus 5600 and at some point I'll have some time to play with it enough to get it to the point where it helps me in my daily life. I haven't had any time to devote to it in the last four months though, which is unfortunate.

Anyhow, someone on the openzaurus-users mailing list complained that there's no support for the 5600 to which Michael (one of the three and a half people who worked on OZ) responded, expressing a lot of frustration, then said this (and I'm quoting him slightly out of context):

   And just to prevent misunderstandings, I don't want to be thanked for
   all the work... I don't want anything at all except participation. I
   want to work in a team bringing the community forward - I want people to
   realize, they're not helping _us_ to produce a great handheld operating
   system, they're helping _themselves_ and by doing that, helping each
   other. After all, this is what I thought was open source.

On all of the projects that I've been a part of or led, that's exactly what I hoped and prayed would happen. I have a couple of projects right now where there are people interested, but nothing is happening because I'm not driving it [1]. Those projects will die because I'm just one man--I can't drive all projects I'm involved in unless I quit my job (which is the only income stream I have).

I'm not sure that's what open source is. But I wish more community sprung around open source projects. My experience has been that people just want the features they want. They're demand-oriented consumers and it boggles their minds that I haven't coded up their favorite feature. It's so ego-centric. There's a big world out there! 6.5 billion different lists of favorite features!

[1] I'm not even a great driver--I'm ok and I get things moving forward, but I certainly lack the finesse that I've seen other project drivers use. For example, Bruce Perens guiding UserLinux is riveting. I suspect that I drive through sheer force of will rather than sheer leadership--which doesn't really do anyone much good.

Bug reports from everywhere!

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I've noticed while working on PyBlosxom that bugs can literally be reported anywhere. Not only that, but people get annoyed (really annoyed) when you don't respond to their bug report which was reported using a method that I never would have dreamed of. We've had reports in all the following places:

  • on the pyblosxom-users mailing list (I prefer this one)
  • on the pyblosxom-devel mailing list (this one is great too)
  • in a comment on the PyBlosxom main site for an article that has to do with a release
  • in a comment on the PyBlosxom main site for an article that has nothing to do with a release
  • in a comment on some other site (mine, Planet PyBlosxom, ...) in an article that has nothing to do with a release
  • in a blog entry on someone else's site--someone I've never previously had contact with and whose blog isn't connected to anyone else's blog
  • in the PyBlosxom documentation wiki
  • in some other wiki that I've never previously seen
  • on IRC in the #pybloscom channel (these are cool, but I'll never hear about the bug unless I'm specifically online which is not usually the case)
  • sent in email to me or someone else
  • added to the bug tracker on our SourceForge site

It takes a huge amount of time to check all these places--many of which come and go. It really puzzles me why people don't try to be more social and send bug reports via channels that other projects typically use (bug trackers, mailing lists, and IRC). I've been trying to coerce people into a few standard channels, but it's really hard on a project like this and there's a lot of resistance.

Bottom line is that this kind of thing really affects the project's quality. There are bugs out there that I will never trip over that someone else did but because they chose to whisper it into their pillow at night rather than tell someone about it, the bug won't get fixed and will trip someone else up.

I thought blogs were supposed to be social tools to enhance communities and promote discussion.

Anyhow, we can only do the best that we can do.

PyBlosxom 1.0 Released!

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We've cleaned up a lot code and documentation and fixed a lot of bugs. We've stabilized the API and added static rendering. In short, this should be a pretty solid 1.0 milestone for PyBlosxom.

I encourage people to upgrade. When you untar the distribution tarball, read through INSTALL and README. These files will walk you through installation and upgrading from 0.9.

Download it at https://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=67445.

Personally, I'm glad we finally pushed out 1.0. I'm not sure it's a perfect release, but it's good enough for a 1.0 milestone and I feel good about releasing it at this point. It's hard to push a project through to a release when there's not much feedback from testing and usage of previous alphas and release candidates. I think at some point you just have to bite the bullet and push it out and see how it does.

Cheers to the PyBlosxom development crew!

Using stamps as a bookmark

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Using a sheet of stamps as a bookmark is a terrible idea for multiple reasons:

  1. You "run out of stamps" and have to get more--but are puzzled as to where you used them all.
  2. You put the book down for a year or so and when you pick it up again the price of stamps has gone up 4 cents which makes using those stamps a hassle (though my fix for this is to just keep waiting and eventually the stamp is the right amount for postcards).
  3. If you used the "licky" stamps, sometimes there's just enough moisture over the period of time it's been in the book that the stamps become parmanently adhered to the page that you bookmarked.

So don't do it! Terrible idea!

PyBlosxom 1.0 RC1 released

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I'm releasing pyblosxom 1.0 RC1 right now. I overhauled the callback documentation in the ReadMeForPlugins file and read through other documentation and I think we're good enough for a 1.0 release now.

The RC1 is at http://bluesock.org/~willg/dev/pyblosxom/pyblosxom-1.0-RC1.tar.gz.

Feel free to download it and test it out--it's very much like alpha1 with a few differences:

  • I threw in a logdir property into config.py and adjusted plugins that use logfiles to use it
  • Documentation fixes

That's about it, I think.

In the tar.gz file is an INSTALL file which details installing PyBlosxom. There is also a README which talks about differences between 0.9 and 1.0 (which will help you upgrade an existing PyBlosxom installation).

Let me know what you think. I plan on doing a 1.0 release in the next few days. Probably Thursday.

Seven Pillars of Wisdom

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I really loved reading this book. Between the sullen commentary of the Arab revolution from the perspective of TE Lawrence to the wonderful descriptions of the other characters involved it is at once a fascinating piece that talks about the Middle East and the cultures that exist there and also a journey by a single man putting forth all his efforts for a cause he doesn't quite believe in.

Anyhow, it's phenomenal. Definitely worth reading.

AMAZON::0385418957::Seven Pillars of Wisdom, by T.E. Lawrence

PyBlosxom: comments, feedback, etc

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We're working to put out PyBlosxom 1.0 which should be coming out very soon now. I'm in the process of overhauling all the documentation and doing some minor tweaks.

If you have comments/feedback/problems, toss me a comment and express them here.

Handling connection reset issues with bitchx

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I'm testing out bitchx at work on my other latop which I ignore in the back of my monstrously large cube. The problem is that I'll ignore it for an hour and then go back to discover that I've had my connection reset like 60 times and I can't see any of the conversation at all.

I think the problem is that the router between me and the Internet drops sessions that aren't passing data. Telnet has an AYT kind of thing to deal with this. So I started looking for similar things in IRC land (to which I'm pretty new) and discover nothing. The problem is that I don't know what they would call it and when I do a Google search for the error message, I get everyone's IRC logs.

bitchx has a timer, though. So I tossed an event in the timer to whois thepresident (who doesn't exist) every 2 minutes. That seems to have solved the problem.

The better solution would be for there to be more people hanging out on #pyblosxom thus creating more data going back and forth.

gnome-blog

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I'm testing out gnome-blog.... Not entirely sure what all these things do....

I'll post this entry and see if it does what I'm hoping it'll do.

Update: it sort of did what I expected. Gnome-blog seems to wrap everything in <p> stuff. It seems it handles the html for you which is nice, I guess. I had to go in manually and edit the resulting blog entry, though.