Oct 15

FriendFeed and The River

Tech with tags: 1 Comment »

I have been playing with FriendFeed, the new meta-feed that sits on top of all of your friends services, created by Bret Taylor and other smart ex-Googlers.

I like what they have done in a very short time indeed. It is also funny to see the look and feel of the site itself. It looks like Google. Minimal. The top right corner bar. I can almost picture Bret going through Marissa’s UI review with this bad boy (which will make it all the more easier to sell back to Google ;).

Obviously this is only step one in their plan. I have already found that I don’t go back to friendfeed.com often. I forget. It doesn’t call out to me, and with the small subset of friends that I have on there, it drowns out pretty quickly as you are now getting every bit of noise from each person. I do sometimes look at the RSS feed output, and the one liners fit into the reader nicely. But I rarely jump through.

I am hoping that this can extend and become something more like The River. There are elements of it already, but I want more. I don’t want yet another site/feed to look at. I want one. I want top notch controls to help me filter out the noise. I need the back-end system to be very smart and to batch together information. If a bunch of my friends have dug something, that means a lot more than if Bob did.

I have a feeling these guys will iterate fast, and we will see more incremental tweaking in the near future.


Oct 14

Adding Facebook Photos to Wordpress

Tech 1 Comment »

I am finding that I use my mobile camera phone more often than ever. It is becoming a nice stream of what I am doing in the real world, and I upload a lot of the photos quickly to Facebook, which puts it in the Mobile Photos album automatically.

I thought it would be nice to supplement the activity stream plugin that sucks in my online life, to show the last photo from this stream.

I hunted around for a nice badge/widget that would do this for me, but there wasn’t really anything in the same vein of the Flickr ones. There are a few plugins that import photos though, such as FAlbum and Fotobook.

I ended up using Fotobook for its code, but tore it apart to give me just the simple widget for grabbing the most recent photo. I was hoping that it would grab new ones, but that didn’t seem to work, so I have cron helping out there.

This photo shows my trip to the local pumpkin patch with family and friends. Sam loved hunting around the patch.

Recent Mobile Photo

Oct 14

Changing my view of Google Code via Greasemonkey

Google, JavaScript, Tech with tags: 3 Comments »

Man I love Greasemonkey. I am a heavy user of Google Code, and there are a few links that I wish were on the site for my use cases. I could bug the team to get these links added, but to begin with, I wanted to add them for myself to see if I really needed them.

I have changed two pages, first the home page:

Greasemonkey: Google Code Home

All I did here was add a link to my open source projects page. Before hand, I would have clicked on Project Hosting and futzed around, or just remembered to type /u/ and gone via history. Now I have a big bold link on the top right thanks to the simple userscript.

Secondly, I have changed the project pages to add:

  • A tab to go directly to the trunk of the Subversion repository for the project. This saves 3 normal clicks
  • A link back to my projects on the top right, for jumping between projects. Ideally, I would change this to have a drop down of the projects.

This simple userscript does the deed.

Greasemonkey: Google Code Project

Oct 13

SWeb 3.0: Paul Hammant goes from Thicky to Swiby

Groovy, Java, Ruby, Tech No Comments »

Paul Hammant has been involved in a ton of fantastic open source projects, and some cool toys too. Thicky was a toy that I would often show off when I was doing the Groovy thing. Building prototypes of Swing apps with a nice builder API was great.

Now he is having a bash on the web, and has written up his thoughts on SWeb 3.0 which gratuitously joins the Web 3.0 debate although it isn’t some drivel about how “Web 3.0 will include even MORE participation ….”.

Paul has joined up to make Swiby happen:

With Swiby the pages, should be shipped from the server side web frameworks like those today (Ruby on Rails, or Waffle), and executed in the browser via that plugin. All of these will be possible:

  • AJAX-like behavior
  • lazy loading of hidden tabs, or sections of a page
  • threaded / timed events
  • client side object storage more sophistcated that the current browser cookie
  • amazingly rich interfaces (YouTube, GMail, Writely should be easy to do)
  • equivalent of CSS for properties of widgets
  • server side decoration a la Sitemesh or PhpMesh
  • tiny pages, quick loading, and quick transitions from one page to another

The philosophy is that Swing has a nice component model and the cool side of the Web is the REST stuff, and a page centric world.

Paul is trying to take the best of both worlds to make it easier to build very rich apps on the Web platform.

It is a bold play, and is obviously an up hill battle against the incumbants, but I am all for more projects pushing the edges here, and I can’t wait to see more.

Oct 12

Sun and the Multi-Language VM

Java No Comments »

Ted pointed me to the Multi-Language VM proposal. Nice to see Sun continuing to grok the whole Java as a platform meme. Maybe they will change their ticker symbol to MLVM once day soon ;)

Hello world. I propose a new OpenJDK project, the Multi-Language VM, to be abbreviated “mlvm”, and to be sponsored by the HotSpot group.

This project will be open for prototyping JVM features aimed at efficiently supporting languages other than Java.

The emphasis will be on completing the existing bytecode and execution architecture with general purpose extensions, as opposed to a new feature for just one language, or adjoining an unrelated new execution model.

The emphasis will also be on work which removes “pain points” already observed by implementors of successful or influential languages, as opposed to more speculative work on unproven features or niche languages.

Virtual machines produced by this project will be standards-conforming, in that they will not change the meaning or behavior of existing Java classes and classfile formats. They may define variations or extensions of the class format, or new kinds of objects, whose meaning and behavior are beyond the scope of current Java and JVM specifications.

However, these extended codes and data structures will interoperate as much as possible with Java objects.

In addition, as a way of delimiting separate prototyping efforts, each new feature will come with a switch which turns it off, and that switch will be “off” by default. This is the approach used in the Kitchen Sink Language project.

This proposal refines and completes a partial proposal I sent earlier this year to the HotSpot project, a proposal for a “Kitchen Sink VM”. The present proposal is more specifically directed at supporting new languages (i.e., those languages which are new to the JVM).

Here are some examples of features that could be prototyped in this project, if developers were found who are willing and able:

Prototyping for JSR 292 is likely to occur as a part of this project. Note that none of the above suggested features is specific to any single language.

As the current OpenJDK Project guidelines request, please send followups to the discussion list.

Thanks very much for your attention to this matter,

– John Rose

Oct 11

Small Print, Disclaimers, and Lawyers

British, Personal, TV / Movie 1 Comment »

The small print is really getting quite bizarre. Every year the small print seems to infringe on the actual content. Whenever I am back in England I try to work out what has changed since my last visit. These changes are often impossible to detect when you are living there every day, as they are too subtle.

London 2012 Logo

One of the random observations is courtesy of the BBC news. Before every bit of video footage the anchor would say something along the lines of: “There is some light in this footage, so be warned”. It is as though the country has all become epileptic and any flashing lights would result in gibbering wrecks. Do we really need to tell people that there is a bit of flash photography? It seems like the culprit is the awful London 2012 Olympics logo that has been known to flash.

Of course, the US tends to be king of the disclaimer. Why do shows on radio and tv has to always tell you that whatever is being said, it isn’t necessarily the opinion of the station owner. Nooooo. Really? When you show Sadam at his trial, he isn’t speaking for the station? Wow, thanks for making it really obvious.

Where does it all end!

Oct 10

Spellcheck meet Suggest

Tech No Comments »

Spellcheck makes you sloppy. Sometimes it is easier to misspell something quickly knowing that spellcheck will fix it for you.

This doesn’t work in some cases though, and I have found myself running into a pattern, which was exemplified by “guiliani” (as in Rudy).

If you get lazy there, spellcheck won’t help you. Rudy’s last name isn’t in a dictionary. However, if you copy the puppy and throw it into your search box, you will find that Google Suggest works it out right away.

Maybe it would be nice to make the spellcheck even smarter, and able to tie into suggest?

I spelled it out here:

Oct 10

Pam has changed her status to “It’s complicated”

TV / Movie with tags: , , , 1 Comment »

In Wired they have the section on items that go from Wired » Tired » Expired. As I got a chance to catch up with The Office last night I realised that I had one of these in front of me:

  • Wired: TV characters on Facebook (or Twitter)
  • Tired: TV character video podcasts (e.g. Mel on Flight of the Conchords)
  • Expired: TV character blog (e.g. Ah Dwight)

As the TV networks realise that they need to have shows break out of just primetime boobtube action they create rich worlds for them to live in.

We have had blogs and podcasts, but how about having the characters join Facebook? I would love to “friend” Pam and Jim from The Office. It would be so funny to watch them update their statuses: “Jim is screwing with Dwight yet again”. It would have been cute to have seen them start dating on the show and updating the fact that they are “in a relationship”. Chances are the show will have to have them break up at some point, so then it could get “complicated”.

The line is going to blur between the real and the fake. These characters will feel more real than the muppets on the reality TV shows.

Maybe it is time to start a company that offers services to TV shows to “be the characters 24/7/365 online”.

ps. Could you imagine the Facebook craziness of Ross and Rachel back in the day? “Ross is on a break”

Oct 10

The cobblers son got some shoes

Tech 2 Comments »

Wow, it has been years since I touched my blog software. I was running MT 2.x. I showed that to an ex-MT employee and he laughed heartily. I wasn’t the only one though, Cedric was a fellow 2.x-er, and why not.

Who has the time to tinker with their blog!

Well, having flights to and from London gave me the kick in the goolies that I needed to actually upgrade. I am a bit fan of Wordpress. I hacked it to kingdom come on Seeking Alpha, and Ajaxian is a proud to be powered by it.

The fact that on a given day I would be posting in Moveable Type, Wordpress, and Blogger, was a little insane. Each have their differences. Holy context switching.

Migrating the blog was mainly a pain due to wanting to be able to keep the old URLs working. I could follow past importers and that worked pretty well, but of course you need to tweak thins for your setup. This meant that a few Perl scripts later to do some data munging on the export files, and I was in business. A few more .htaccess tweaks to make sure that old images and other files were still accessible, and the new blog was the current blog.

Since I was on a platform that I knew, I could quickly tweak it to add a few pieces of functionality that I have wanted forever:

  • Show my status updates right here. I grabbed StatusPress and quickly butchered it to do the right thing for me wanting a single status update on the top of the page
  • Activity Stream: These days I have a link blog, videos on YouTube, photos on Flickr, etc etc… like everyone else. The top right corner aggregates all of the data (using a Yahoo! Pipe) in one place. Shortly it will show you where the data is coming from… but not yet)
  • CommentQ: I threw up my plugin that asks silly questions before allowing a comment. So, comments are back, and hopefully not spammers

I have a slew of other features I would like to add, but that may take another few years…. or maybe just until my next flight to London, which is in a couple of months to speak at the @mediaAjax conference.

Oct 09

Dynamic Feed Control with the Ajax Feed API

Ajax, Google 2 Comments »

The Ajax API team has taken the Ajax Feed API and created a simple Dynamic Feed Control that lets you input some feeds, and you get a nice control in a few styles (vertical, vertical stacked, and horizontal).

The Ajax APIs often show the pattern of giving you a very low level API, a simple control and then finally a wizard to generate all of the code for you.

The wizard also uses the new feed discovery mechanism itself, and here it is in action: