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September 2004 Archive

Going Wayback to My Netscape

posted by DL Byron on September 29, 2004

my netscapeMy Yahoo with RSS is another good step in the progress to making RSS suck less. While reading the copy, "You don't have to visit each site individually because the headlines or brief summaries are delivered right to you," I realized we'd gone wayback to My Netscape and the channel metaphor. Not that customizing channels is a bad thing, I wrote about that in part in the, "What Productivity Gains with RSS," post and Glassdog posted a similar topic with, "What's Wrong With: Feed Readers." I just noticed that it took us 6 years to go back to where RSS started with Netscape.

The internet archive cache shows Dec 12, 1998 as the earliest incarnation of My Netscape and the History of RSS shows it being developed for Netscape in March 15, 1999. Then in 2001, Netscape dropped RSS support. Today, My Yahoo brings it back.

Damn, what's old is new again. I remember developing channels, webtop, and the active desktop. There's even a Textura Design sidebar out there for Netscape 6.0.

The difference now, as noted by Jeremy Zawodny's blog, is that Yahoo is taking RSS to the people and making it easy for their users, publishers, and bloggers.

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Lost in Translation

posted by DL Byron on September 25, 2004

PB BoatI’m working on a deal with a Central American company and needed to translate a term. I searched Google and used it to translate a page from Spanish to English and this phrase was returned.

“Two are kissed underneath writing desks,
Two are One near the seized rough draft and”

Wow. In a completely random way, that verse reminded me of Pam, how much I work, and a book deal. I paused for about 5 minutes reading that over and over again. Maybe Google and the universe is telling me something.

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A computer that's a real pleasure to use

posted by DL Byron on September 24, 2004

I can't recall a time when I've read more positive press about Apple. The thin new iMac is gathering it's well-deserved share of glowing reviews, but more importantly are the articles about switching to Macs for security. I chatted with a Windows developer earlier this week who removed all personal data from his Windows machine and does all of his computing on a PowerBook. He still uses his PC, but connects to it via Remote Desktop Connection (RDC). I do exactly the same thing. I've worked on both platforms for years and switched full time to my PowerBook last year. For testing, I use Virtual PC and RDC for work and both work very well.

As Walt Mossberg states, "It's a computer that's a real pleasure, not a hassle, to use." Moreover, Kevin Maney of USA Today quotes Daryl Forrest, a developer of software for Windows. "I have moved all non-work-related computing to a new Apple Power Mac G5," he writes. "I like Windows XP, but the risks are too high these days. It's sad that it has gotten to this."


Check these articles for more on Mac.

Giving props were due, Microsoft is working very hard at fixing windows, XP SP2 is a good update, and Longhorn is on the horizon, but until then, there's no reason not to use a better and safer operating system. The family's new iMac will arrive in a few weeks.

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Just in time for Halloween, a Creepy Wax Museum

posted by DL Byron on September 21, 2004

creepy wax A friend periodically sends me odd things he finds on the web and cincodemayomusuem.com is probably the creepiest thing I’ve seen in a while; no worries, it’s work-safe. The discovery of the very creepy Cinco de Waxo museum started here on eBay with a wax pope and that’s not the full extent of the creepiness. The figures are from a wax museum that was never completed and have been in storage for 30 years. It’s freaky on multiple levels. I’m getting a Vincent Price, Phantasm, with a bit of the The Shining thrown in vibe.

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What productivity gains with RSS?

posted by DL Byron on September 17, 2004

readers My opinion that RSS isn’t that productive came up again this week with News.com’s article on RSS bandwidth. While News.com inevitably compares RSS to PointCast, I wondered again, how exactly I’m supposed to save time when I come back from a day offline to hundreds of unread posts. Even worse is a week offline where I have thousands of unread posts. To me, RSS is becoming another full inbox of time suck and I find myself not reading RSS to get my work done. I chatted with a couple friends that noted they haven’t had time to read blogs at all this week - it’s as if they need to get their work done.

Yes, I get the Scoble et al. evangelism on RSS, but going to a news site, scanning headlines, and picking a link also works well. On a news page, the page refreshes and expires old news, while a RSS reader presents 600 old, unread RSS posts.

Full inbox of time suck

Thinking maybe another RSS would be better; I tried FeedDemon’s Newspaper view. I’m sure much thought went into that layout, but that’s even more like a full inbox of time suck.

Many smart people are working on RSS and it’s bound to get better. It isn’t there yet.


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Fremont Oktoberfest

posted by DL Byron on September 16, 2004

Pauli GirlIn the off season, when I’m not spending my weekend on my bike, Pam and I get out more, party a bit, and try to have a good time. A few weeks ago, we saw a fabulous burlesque show hosted by Miss Trixie Lane at the Pink Door, near Pike Place Market. This weekend, we’ll visit the Fremont Oktoberfest with some friends. We went last year and had a great time.

Drinking microbrew, under a big bridge, with a troll nearby, and tubas playing in the background is good fun.

Also, I totally dig the “Pauli” girl poster.

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Browsing by Post Titles with Firefox

posted by DL Byron on September 15, 2004

Every time Keith and I talk about successful blogs, he asserts that you must use good titles. I was reminded of this maxim yet again when I tried the new RSS bookmark functions in Mozilla’s Firefox, which browses by post title. Firefox’s implementation is debatable, but what isn’t is the RSS inclusion in browsers and the marketshare gains that Firefox is making. And with Safari RSS coming up, that’s going to make RSS even more mainstream.


Related Firefox links

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Movable Type without Plugins

posted by DL Byron on September 14, 2004

Starting last week and continuing this week, I’ve been posting on the upgrade to MT 3.11. I upgraded in part to resolve ongoing publishing errors. Those errors occurred when I posted, saved a post, and rebuilt. They also occurred when a comment was posted. The errors were reported in error logs and include

  • Internal Server Error
  • Premature end of script headers
  • Plug in Errors

Errors and More Errors

The errors were inconsistent, somewhat random, but occurred everytime. After much troubleshooting (including a completely new blog) and help from MT support, I decided to remove all plugins and that solved the problem. I hope that’s a temporary fix and I can use plugins again, but according to a few commenters and the MT-Dev Yahoo Group, others are having the same problem.

Still good

MT is still a great app and 3.11 is even better. Running sans plugins is a bit liberating, it’s all minimalist; however, it came at a cost. I had to reformat all Markdown formatted entries, I have no MT Blacklist, and no opml generator. Now I’m editing in BBEdit, running Markdown and Smartypants there, and approving or deleting each and every comment in MT.

Lots of tweaks

While working through the errors, I made many tweaks in the templates to make the site more bloggy. I also launched our store/product blog. I should also note that the plugins were great, but somehow my system failed.

Now, I’d like to get back to normal posting …

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More on Upgrading to MT 3.11

posted by DL Byron on September 11, 2004

Despite the plugin problems I’m having, the upgrade to MT 3.11 has been a good success and I think MT 3.0 is a solid product. I’ll revisit the problems and look for other solutions later. The top priority this week was to resolve the errors and get back to publishing. During the update, I found these resources useful:

The upgrade has also been a good exercise for client sites we’re working on. I’ll write about those more as we roll them out. I’ll also update Clip-n-Seal in the next few weeks.

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Blog v. Message Board

posted by DL Byron on September 10, 2004

I was asked recently, "what's the difference between a message board and a blog?" To respond, I found a post by Common Craft that summarizes the differences and provides a grid. The simple explanation is that a blog is centralized and has an voice. A message board is decentralized with a community voice. Now a blog can have multiple voices and point to a message board for communites, but that's the basic difference.

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MT Plugin Problems

posted by DL Byron on September 10, 2004

By removing all MT Plugins, except for Markdown and SmartyPants, I’ve resolved the rest of the publishing errors. I’m not a plugin expert, nor a Perl developer, but expect there are issues with the version of Perl my host has installed. That’s a consistent problem with MT, at least for this site, is that all those cool plugins fail to work and a host is not going to install a version of Perl or a module just for me.

The upgrade to MT 3.11 went well. I had to remove MT-blacklist and can no longer use it, but I’m doing pretty much the same thing with approving each comment before it posts.

Next up is trying out MT’s PHP action.


Unfortunately, I’ve had to stop using Markdown and SmartyPants for blog posts. The error lib/MT.pm line 289 occurs when the system can’t load the plugin. In turn, that occassionally causes a timeout and the Dreaded Internal Server Error.

I will still use Markdown with BBedit as a filter. That’s one more step, but still very useful.

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The Dreaded Movable Type Internal Server Error

posted by DL Byron on September 09, 2004

New site features, including a store/product blog, and other changes we’ve rolled out have been overshadowed by the Dreaded Movable Type Internal Server Errors. I’ve troubleshooted everything I can think of and now it’s time to replace the whole system - there’s a corruption somewhere. So, this week, I’ll update to MT 3.0 and see how it goes. Until then, the commenting system is buggy and other problems may occur. For reference, see Makiko’s Movable Type Mystery.


The Dreaded Movable Type Internal Server Errors have been corrected. So, when posting a comment, the user doesn’t get a 404. However, a new, not as dreadful “Exiting subroutine via next at lib/MT.pm line 289” is occuring. Working on that …

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posted by DL Byron on September 03, 2004

I instant messaged Pam, “cool, Public Enemy is playing Bumbershoot this year, let’s go.” “ok, cool, ” she replied. Then Marcus noted, “it’s $25.00 per day.” And we all said, “that sucks.”

It sucks because what was once an eclectic, vibrant event has been washed clean in the banners of corporate sponsorship. It’s the WalMart of Cultural Events. You pay to stand in oversold lines, wade through crowds, and wonder exactly what happended.

Just like film festivals that lead to antifilm festivals, maybe we need an antibumbershoot, have those Cirque de Flambe artists run it, and burn a bunch of corporate shit down. Or maybe that crew from Seattle that asked SXSW attendees what they could do to not suck so much could say something? Make it better?

Regardless, we’ll pass this year and hope to see that Circus of Flame sometime soon.

“If the roof’s on fire, let the mothafucker burn.”

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Thin New Imac

posted by DL Byron on September 01, 2004

I was initially underwhelmed by the new Imac until I read a few more reviews about how Apple keeps the computer cool and where they put the power adaptor. The design is what the previous dome imac was supposed to be, except it would’ve had a hump in the back or been larger, like competing PC products. Apple’s engineers waited until they could make a thin, all-in-one flat panel. As a minimalist, I think it’s remarkable and as a computer intended for the Ipod generation, it should be a success. It also may very well be the last desktop we see from Apple before it’s all laptops and tablets.

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