Ten years of blogging?! That's come as a bit of a surprise to me, admittedly I've been hardly prolific for the last 2-3 years, but I am still going to keep this going. Much of the shorter content that I used to blog now goes to Twitter, Identi.ca or Delicious, and arguably gets exposed to a far smaller audience. With that thought in mind I'm aiming to bring more content back here, let's see how that works out.
I suggest you put your feet up, and watch how this evolves.
The above is from the Ergast API Gallery. In their words: "The Ergast Developer API is an experimental web service which provides a historical record of motor racing data for non-commercial purposes. Currently the API provides data for the Formula 1 series, from the 1990 season onwards."
It's an absolute goldmine of Formula One stats, and trivially easy to use, the API Documentation gives you a taster. The api is RESTful and has great urls for every request and json or xml results. If you're just into mere tinkering most web browsers will present the xml in a very usable form. I've used the core data for the Wiki's Grand Prix 2009 page, I now need to write a script to auto-populate my wiki page with the latest results after each round.
You probably already know that the daily buzz is one of my favourite vlogs. However the bad news is that the global financial downturn seems to have caught the Mobuzz folks in a cashflow crisis.
To the best of my knowledge Mobuzz are the only major European video blogging organisation producing shows in more than one language. I follow the English show and a couple of the Spanish shows, but not the French one which is a little strange because my French is far better than my Spanish, and Osiris is a babe.
But I digress, Mobuzz's content is far more pertinent to us Europeans than similar shows from the US, and they really are worth saving as a business. Details of how to do so can be found here, the easiest route being to go to paypal.com and send some funds to firstname.lastname@example.org I'm sure they wouldn't mind receiving envelopes stuffed full of used tenners either though...
Since Twitter gave up on providing IM and sms access to their service, leaving most people stuck with web and api access there's been a variety of apps surfacing. Personally I use TTYtter a Perl command line app, nothing pretty, but it works for me.
To do so you need to edit the .ttytterrc file in your home directory so that you replace http://twitter.com/ with http://identi.ca/api for any urls, and disable polling for direct messages as identi.ca does not support these yet. The changes are as below:
There's been a lot written about Identi.ca a micro-blogging service based on the Free Software Laconica software. Whilst some view it as a Twitter-clone in many ways it's very different, with a primary focus on open software and federated servers, rather than relying on one closed-source central server. Much like the advantages of Jabber/XMPP over the monolithic, closed systems of MSN/AOL in many ways.
One area that Identica/Laconica currently lags Twitter is in the plethora of 3rd tools. However with a Twitter compatible API the list of apps is growing rapidly, some being simple ports of existing Twitter apps, others being entirely new.
The primary reason for this post is Kent Brewster's cuddly little identica badge, which although still a prototype is plenty functional enough for many people. Below is how my Identica content looks like on the badge.
Nice, simple and with a bit of tarting up/visual bling, it'll be quite pretty too. Click on an author's name in a post, to explore his or her friends' posts. To see my identi.ca page, click the top link on the badge.
Following Saturday's mention of the Orange Animals Balloonacy I've now signed up for my own balloon, you can follow its travails/travels here. If you seee it come past your site, please give it a wave!
I ought to file this under "Odd, but strangely compelling".
So I'm balloon racing for Orange, if you look at the bottom right of the page you should see a small orange balloon bobbing around (click on it if you dare), tip of the hat to Tom's site for pointing me towards this balloonacy.
What does this mean? Possibly some more traffic to the site, and it's something suitably silly so I like it. So, for the newcomers, welcome (have you seen the wiki?), and for the regulars, yeah I've sold out (again) don't panic, it's short term and normal (shoddy) service will remain in place. Enjoy!
I'm not entirely sure whether I should post this in the widgets category, but given that there is a widget involved, I guess it's as good a place as any. As an aside, I suppose that's why folksonomies are so popular, as there's little angst about choosing the perfect single category, you can just shotgun all the selections that are close enough.
Today's widget is for the Techdirt Insight Community, of which I happen to be a member. The Techdirt Insight Community (TIC) is an invited community of experts, who currently provide analysis and feedback on a competitive basis on a number of submitted cases. I find the competitive aspect interesting, and approaching the cases in a serious and analytical manner certainly appears to be the most successful approach.
Today's news of an alliance with Thomson Financial, allowing Techdirt to distribute research material from the Techdirt Insight Community (including TIC's new Smart Dossiers) through Thomson's leading research and analysis platform is a big step forward for TIC. Providing another route to market for TIC's data, and potentially more interest in the entire TIC programme.
Bronwen runs Norg Media who have a chunk of sites in style that I just love - user generated news. Think Digg, Slashdot, Newsvine, Unrumor, Techmeme, Norg is up there with them. Norg's niche is people powered local news, Australian local news at that. So they're in an ideal niche for mobile interactivity, people reporting on the spot with videos, pictures and stories direct from their mobile devices.
However, they don't currently have a mobile version, Bronwen mentions that it's something they're working heavily on for this year. But, until then here's the Mowser-powered versions of Norg for Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. These look like a great interim solution until Norg themselves are ready to rock out their mobile version.
I'd suggest that Norg have a good look at Mowser's publisher FAQ, as it would be trivial for them to let Mowser to do 99% of the heavy lifting for their mobile content adaptation, which would leave Norg to focus on just the few best bits they need. Norg use WordPress heavily, so the Mowser WordPress plugin should also be very useful.
It's somewhat ironic that I haven't had a mobile friendly web presence until now, given the primary focus of my blog and wiki; plus, a potential audience of over 2 billion handsets is stupid to pass up. When you consider there are more S60 users than Mac users, the old complaint of "this web site doesn't render nicely in Safari" starts to look rather silly...
So, for now I'm taking the simplistic route - it's not ideal, but for a low traffic personal site, it's quick, easy and does most of what I need. I've got Mowser to do the heavy lifting of crafting an appropriate transcoded version of my content for anyone who visits the mobile version of this site.
Can I use Mowser to make my web site or weblog mobile? YES! Please! You can even help automate the process by adding headers to your websites (check HeadersOverview for more info) or directing a mobile site to Mowser via its own domain. (DomainRedirect for more info).
In fact the Faq makes it sound quite tough, it just needed one small DNS change (my hosting co did this in minutes), and a couple of small html changes to the headers of a couple of pages (not essential, but useful). If I was a WordPress user, it looks even easier with the Mowser WordPress plugin. What can I say, highly recommended!
Add this to the "it seemed like a good idea at the time" list.
Now perhaps it's down to the way I use Truphone, but for me it's pretty much useless. The idea of the button is that it shows whether my phone can take Truphone calls right now, or whether they'll be forwarded elsewhere (at a possible cost to both parties). There's one fatal flaw in this apparently useful button, I haven't and won't give my Truphone number out, as I don't believe in the concept of me paying to receive calls. So, I only connect the Truphone app to my WiFi when I need to make free international calls, at which I must admit it is very good, with a sound quality that makes Skype look like the toy it is.
If this all makes me sound like some curmugeonly old luddite, then so be it. I'm a big fan of VOIP, but with the cost of voice calls approaching zero there is very little benefit for me (YMMV) in fiddling around and gaining yet another phone number.
Case in point, I have more inclusive minutes every month on my mobile contract than I use, so almost all UK calls to landlines or mobiles are effectively free from my mobile. My landline provider offers free calls to everyone using the same provider, which is 2/3 of my regular calls, and cheap rates otherwise. So going through some hassle to save a very small sum really isn't worth it.
The rebirth of Russ and Diego as bloggers has reminded me - not that my stats haven't been telling me for a while - that this blog has been crawling along. The posting has been sporadic, and whilst I've been quite happy with the quality of most of the content, the focus and sheer volume of interesting posts hasn't been there. Two or three years ago I was posting at least one item a day every day, it's now slowed to one a week (if you're lucky), sure there used to be more dross, but also more useful nuggets. I suspect the signal to noise ratio was little different, and it was a more interesting read overall.
So, to get back to those heady levels I'm going to re-embrace some of the techniques I used then, and bone up on a few of the strategies in the following guides:
I suspect the two Mark's are the ones I'm going to take most seriously, I wonder if Mark Twain has joined Google yet? It certainly looks like it...
Returning to the main theme, the most productive technique I used was to have one (just one) large text file in which I wrote all my draft posts. In this file I scribbled short sentences, ideas, and saved links for later use. I have tried other strategies (multiple files, dumping links on delicious, editing on a wiki), but none worked as well for me as one big melting pot. I'll use Unison to keep the file synched on multiple boxes, so I can take notes wherever I happen to be. I'm also going to be jotting down notes on the most interesting stuff I talk about on im or irc as some of that probably deserves a bigger audience.
Something I've had on the wiki for a while is the search box below. It's a swicki from eurekster, and it will find you a load of search results optimised toward Symbian smartphone oriented results. The more searches you guys do, the better it can be trained to return great results.
Do you watch MobuzzTV? I
do, it's one of my favourite vlogs. Anyway they've now made it nice and
simple to embed the latest episode on your weblog / home page / whatever;
simply add the following line of html and "Bob's your
This is the first new category for a while. Here's the logic
behind it, I like widgets, buttons, badges etc for blogs, but I also like
minimalism. So as a compromise between a stack of
the latest shiniest widgets all over the sidebar of my blog (the teenage
girl bedroom look), and the Zen purity of tasteful white space, I've
decided to dump the widgets I like in this category of the blog. If
you feel you need widget overload, fight your way thru this category,
otherwise be grateful that the irregular posts here will fall off
the front page reasonably quickly.
This blog will be changing ip address some time tonight/early tomorrow as the splendid folks at JaguarPC are putting this site onto a faster and better connected box, for the princely sum of zero extra bucks!
I ought to praise JaguarPC more often, I pay very little ($8/month) for more bandwidth than I can consume and a fast enough server that offers everything I currently need. Less than 2 beers a month for something that just sits there and works can't be bad, lets see how well the new box goes.
The DNS stuff is all set ready to go, see you on the other side!
As a user, you might not want to put all your eggs in one basket and use just one service, so your best bet is to mix and match. There's a couple of tutorials on how to use Twitter as your main service and to get it to cross-post to your Jaiku account, here and here, which work simply due to Jaiku's ability to consume RSS feeds, I see this as a big plus for Jaiku - flexibility is good!
Jaiku's extra flexibility appeals to me, their native S60 client is a big draw too, the lack of IM integration is a pain, but I can't believe their website can be flakier than Twitter's...
So taking the leap, how would you cross-post to Twitter from Jaiku? The simple route is RSS, but, Twitter hasn't (yet?) gained native support for RSS import, so your best bet is to use one of the third party services like twitterfeed or rss2twitter. Here's how to do it with twitterfeed:
Create a new twitter user at twitter.com (or use your existing one); as this twitter user is going to be the one posting your blog entries, twitterfeed needs to know your twitter username and password to post your Jaiku updates to your twitter account
Login to twitterfeed using your OpenID - Don't have an OpenID? Get one free at MyOpenID. AOL, Yahoo! and Livejournal users should find they already have an OpenID anyway
So I've succumbed to the meme, and joined the Twittering masses. Like Matthew I'm probably the wrong generation, being ancient enough to be Nathan Barley's dad, and experienced enough to remember life before Web 0.0 (shudder).
Restraint is a wonderful thing, it's too easy to think of Twitter as IM and fling open the kimono like a dirty mac.
It's micro-blogging, innit? The whole post-a-phrase is not unlike Gustaf's observations category. Should I integrate my Twitterings onto this blog in a daily summary? The jury's out on that one for now.
Multiple entry methods are good; web, im, sms, api, pick the ones you want to use.
It's not very interactive, a few times I've wanted to directly reply to someone else's Twitterings on Twitter, and the direct reply documentation is a little hidden away. I wish I'd spotted that earlier.
It's too easy to forget that a friend's Twittering is not public, in fact I don't know of an easy way to discern the intended visibility of a friend's comments. Beware.
IM is Jabber/XMPP - hurrah, sanity! It also means Twitter doesn't suffer from the problems that IMified are suffering with MSN, dead-end locked-in IM systems, just say no.