Eclecticity: Dan Shafer's Web Log : Where author, poet, sports fanatic, spiritual teacher, and dabbler in things Pythonesque and Revolution(ary) Dan Shafer holds forth on various topics of interest primarily to him
Updated: 11/13/02; 1:50:20 PM.


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Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Other Blogging Tools

In response to my radio suggestions piece Saturday night, one reader suggested I check out Movable Type. I had looked at it before, but when I re-visited it I remembered why I didn't choose it for my blog. I don't want to be bothered with hosting hassles. I don't know of any other blogging tool that does what Radio does, allows me to script it, control its appearance via templates, includes RSS aggregation, and is upstream hosted or centrally hosted. Do you?
4:06:31 PM    Add your viewpoint [ comments so far]

Should Have Been a Story

Now as I look over my last post about racing the aggregator in Radio, I realize it's too long for a blog entry. Should have written a story and linked to it.

Still learning. Still (as Dave Winer would say) digging.
11:25:32 AM    Add your viewpoint [ comments so far]

Racing the Aggregator: My New Favorite Pastime

You may not know this, but my deep background story is that I used to be a daily newspaper reporter. I covered sports, but also did some work in politics and government, business, and technology as well as what gets lumped under the rubric of "general assignment." Two things I loved about the life of a daily reporter: deadlines and instant gratification.

Since I've taken up blogging again in the past couple of weeks, I've renewed my passion for deadlines. Not the kinds of deadlines I face with book manuscripts and feature articles (which are measured in days and weeks) but rather the instant and constant feeling of beeing under deadline now. And now. And now.

My new favorite sport is Race the Aggregator. The news aggregator that comes with Radio (the tool I use for this blog and the best on the market as far as I can tell) acts as a kind of central nervous system for my news addiction as well as for my blogging experience. I've subscribed to 27 news sources. I know this because my home page in my blog writing environment tells me this. Every hour on the hour, 24/7/365, it scans those 27 news sources for updates and puts what it finds on one page of my Radio server site.

I love this. I enjoy scanning through the headlines, marking stories that I want to read and/or consider for commentary on my blog. Then I enjoy reading the marked stories. Some of them take a while to read. Others are very quick. If I decide I want to comment on one of them, I click on a "POST" button and Radio copies the entire message and appropriate links into its editor, where I add my viewpoint, a headline, and some markup.

The thrill comes when I look up at my computer's clock and it's creeping slowly up on the next hourly news feed and I haven't finished slogging through the overnight accumulation yet! Omigod! it's 10:58 an I have two more articles I haven't had a chance to read yet. Now what?

I read one of the pieces, decide to post it to my blog, go through the steps, then look at my home page and see the 11:00 news run has completed. There are seven new stories to look at. Whew. Only seven. I can do that before the noon run!

God, this is fun!
11:24:23 AM    Add your viewpoint [ comments so far]

Steve Champeon's Excellent Overview of Markup

Thanks to Mark Pilgrim, I got a lead on this very useful and robust story about Web page markup by Steve Champeon.

I highly recommend you read it and keep it in mind as you build your Web pages. Helpful stuff.
11:15:13 AM    Add your viewpoint [ comments so far]

OpenOffice Beta for Mac Ready Finally

I've been running OpenOffice on my Win2k box for some time. I've been waiting and waiting for the day when it was available for my Mac. Now it is. I'll be downloading and installing the beta today.

I aim to be Microsoft-Free in 2003!

Free OpenOffice for Mac users. The first beta of Sun Microsystem's open-source competitor to Microsoft Office that caters to Mac users is finally here. [CNET]

11:01:55 AM    Add your viewpoint [ comments so far]

Thanks to Salon, This Homeless Blogger is Now a Regular Visitor in My Life

I love this kind of stuff! This piece was so refreshing and Barbieux' blog so darned intriguing, that I've been looking over a lot of what he has to say. He has a lot to say and he speaks for at least some portion of the homeless, our society's great shame.

This guy's wit, passion, and insights are better than 90% of the blogs out there. Probably including this one.

The homeless blogger. Kevin Barbieux sleeps in abandoned buildings or shelters -- and writes a daily journal that has made him an Internet celebrity. []

10:58:33 AM    Add your viewpoint [ comments so far]

Keeping the Brain Fresh and the Neurons Excited!

I've read some recent stories that indicate that continuing mental activity and life-long learning are great vaccinations against Alzheimer's disease. Now a couple of pretty savvy guys have suggested that neurons have needs to be stimulated and that if we fail to do so, we become stupid.

Yet another good reason to keep on blogging and learning and writing and programming and wondering why I keep on blogging and learning and writing and programming!

A Word for Brainy People: Plastic. The smart brain is a plastic brain and it has a plethora of needs that must be met, lest it descend into stupidity. Michelle Delio reports from the American Neurological Association convention in New York. [Wired News]

10:53:46 AM    Add your viewpoint [ comments so far]

My Spiritual Path Uses Lots of Affirmations

Jerry Frankhauser. "Affirmations are like prescriptions for certain aspects of yourself you want to change." [Motivational Quotes of the Day]

10:49:58 AM    Add your viewpoint [ comments so far]

Latest Python Released

Python 2.2.2 is out. Python 2.2.2 is out. Download mirrors. What's new. (35 words) [dive into mark]

10:49:07 AM    Add your viewpoint [ comments so far]

Tinderbox Looks Intriguing

Matt Neuberg over at TidBITS reviews and explains Tinderbox, which, coincidentally, I had just downloaded and begun exploring after a friend recommended I check it out.

This is definitely one intresting piece of software. I have great respect for StorySpace, which is Tinderbox's older sibling from the same Eastgate System folks. Even though I can't justify spending $145 on YAWT (Yet Another Writing Tool) right now, I can and will justify spending a few hours looking over the product.
10:47:20 AM    Add your viewpoint [ comments so far]

Blogs and Journalistic Integrity

Dave Winer has had an interesting thread going over on Scripting News about bloggers as journalists from the perspective of the ethical duty owed blog readers when the blogger is being paid for something about which he's writing. I'm from the Old School of Journalism (which I frankly thought died a few decades ago based on what I see that passes for news these days) that says objectivity is a virtue. It's good to see that the idea is still alive even if its practice is diminished.

Doc Searls, one of the true guiding lights in the Internet space, wrote about something he got paid to do and didn't divulge the payment. Winer took him to task. Here's the upshot of the exchange.

Doc Searls: Blogo Culpa. Doc acted for the benefit of the jungle, paid a small price (not really) and gained a deeper respect from his readers. [Scripting News]

10:43:33 AM    Add your viewpoint [ comments so far]

Accessibility on the Web: Reviewing a New Book

Making your Web sites usable by people who need a little extra help is not only good politics and good design, it's also the law in the United States.

Constructing Accessible Web Sites. actiondan writes: "Constructing Accessible Web Sites is about how to build ... [Slashdot]

10:37:46 AM    Add your viewpoint [ comments so far]

Good Experience Looks at Google and Comes Up With Useful Tips

One of my must-read newsletters is Mark Hurst's "Good Experience." Hurst is one of the best design reviewers and writers I've run across. When I ran the annual Live! conferences for CNET, I always tried to get him to come to New Orleans. The Oct. 15 issue has a penetrating interview with the UI guru at Google. Really worthwhile.

I found her observations about ads and why Google deals with ads the way they do particularly intriguing.
10:22:32 AM    Add your viewpoint [ comments so far]

Fox Sports Personal Web Sites Are Blogs

The other day I noticed Fox Sports allows members to build their own Web pages. Curious, I logged into that area and started poking around. Imagine my surprise when it turned out that the site they build for you is a blog. It even describes itself as one.

I don't know whose software they're using (probably developed by one of Lycos' properties) and I'm not impressed with the feature set (which is pretty bare-bones), but, my gosh, a blog creating tool right there, smack in the middle of mainstream Fox Sports. Now that's interesting.

In addition to whatever other obvious ideas emerge from that experience, one thing stands out for me. This is a very clear endorsement, from one of the most heavily trafficked sites on the Web, that blogs are an important technology that can make the user experience richer and more rewarding than building the usual static Web sites. And because it's also much easier (the whole process of getting started takes less than five minutes), I suspect they're going to get a lot of their members to build "fan sites" that are really blogs.

8:43:06 AM    Add your viewpoint [ comments so far]

© Copyright 2002 Dan Shafer.

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