Updated: 5/25/2006; 12:21:24 AM.
Notes from the Metaverse
Writing, working, open source

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Well, folks, barring some most unusual circumstances, this will be the final post from this particular corner of the World Wide Web.  Notes from the Metaverse has been coming to you by the graces of Radio Userland for nigh onto three years now, but my account here runs out in just eight days. Since your host here is hitting the road to see friends and family in Boulder, CO for the next 10 days and I ain't gonna install Radio on my mother-in-law's PC... well, you can do the math.

It has been fun learning the blogging process here with Radio. It's a pretty good tool, even if I didn't really ever get too advanced with it. And I still love the look of this theme.

But as I noted back on January 7, it always felt a little strange relying on a Windows-based tool to write mostly about Linux and open source. When Wordpress.com went up, I thought I had a new home -- and so I have (though I still don't post often enough!).

So for those of you who have this humble site in your blogroll or feed reader, please feel free to join me at Notes from the Metaverse, the Wordpress Edition. We'll welcome you warmly. You might even get some vacation posts! With some good fortune, I may even get to import all the old postings over there for your reading pleasure.

So many thanks to those who continue to toil on Radio Userland. And we'll see you in the Metaverse...


12:20:53 AM    comment []

Saturday, April 22, 2006

If you are among the hordes of folks who get their DSL through Wisconsin Bell/Ameritech/SBC/AT&T (or whatever it is they're calling themselves today), you may already have a glimpse of the new face of web-based email. Wednesday, what used to be SBC Yahoo DSL launched the beta of The New AT&T Yahoo Mail. I was lucky enough to be included in the semi-public launch group.

The great thing about web-based mail is that it's always accessible. So if you've got something urgent to deal with via mail, you can check in pretty much anywhere these days. But the old Yahoo Mail interface was almost not worth fighting through to locate that urgent mail, at least if you have to deal with the volume of mail I get in the average day.  I could go on about this (and may wind up doing this yet), but suffice to say that it looked just like GMail, but was considerably more cumbersome.

About a year ago, Yahoo bought another web-mail company, Bloomba, and that acquisition was clearly a smart one. The interface is much more familiar, and the ease of use is tremendous. I will get a screen shot up here soon so you can see for yourself, but users of Thunderbird, KMail, Evolution and even ... Outlook will be at home here.

Among the new and positive changes from the old interface:
  • You have the option to view messages (or not) by pressing V. Don't know whether this is AJAX, but the view pane appears with a minimum of waiting.
  • Clicking on a subject line opens the message in a separate tab, also allowing for multiple messages to be open at the same time.
  • Easy creation of folders for sorting (but filtering is not automatic, at least for now).
  • Automatic mail checks if you leave the client open (I haven't timed the frequency, but it's often enough, maybe 10 minutes). You can also check manually with a big button next to the Compose button.
  • Search also happens in the same interface, not on a separate screen (which took several clicks to get to anyway).
The new interface also fixes one of my pet peeves. Yahoo's spam filters are (or perhaps were) inconsistent, with far too many false positives for my taste. The old interface required you to open a message marked Spam and look at it before you could mark it non-spam. Now you can simply select messages that (to your eye, at least) aren't spam and mark them OK from the main screen.

One minor kvetch: The first time you send a message to a particular individual from the web interface, you have to prove you're a human first (type letters from a graphic). It's annoying, but more than understandable. One of those things you have to put up with.

Yahoo Mail is now also an RSS reader. Click the All RSS Feeds tab and you can read your favorite news items and blogs in the mail client. What I didn't notice at first was that if you have already set up a My Yahoo page, the client automatically imports all the RSS feeds into this folder. Quite enjoyable. Access to your Yahoo Contacts, Calendar, and Notepad is just as easy.

The mail client officially supports all Mozilla flavors and that other browser in Windows. They have only tested browsers in Windows and Mac. I've had no trouble with Firefox 1.5 in SUSE Linux, but it would not open in Konqueror -- you got a "Sorry, this won't work in your browser" message. With Firefox, you got a "we haven't tested this, but do you want to try it anyway?" warning. Opera's a no-go in all OSes. Haven't tested Epiphany yet, but I suspect the same fate as Konqueror.

It's important to note that in these days of extensive government snooping, Yahoo is not the purest of heart. If you have "dangerous opinions," you may want to choose another outlet. But if you are stuck with them as a content provider, you could do worse for a web-based mail.

11:04:47 AM    comment []

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

It's been a big week for ever more consolidation among the mass media giants. I haven't had the time to fully organize my thoughts about the Disney-Pixar merger, nor the UPN-WB fusion (much less properly grieve The West Wing), but while I do that, you can perhaps ponder these quick hits:

1) No matter what you read or hear about how powerful Steve Jobs is going to be in all this Disney business, remember this basic rule of acquisitions (especially in the tech industry): It is never good to be the acquired company. The acquiring company always says "We want to learn from this hip, successful, non-stodgy company so we can loosen up ourselves." It never happens.

2) With the combining of UPN and the WB networks, does this mean there's a glimmer of hope that there might be non-cable broadcasts of the Milwaukee Brewers in the City of Festivals in the near-to-mid-term future?

Sorry for the link-free content. Probably more tomorrow.

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11:05:14 PM    comment []

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Releasing exactly when they said they would, the Performancing blog plug-in for Firefox 1.5 is out. Download
here or use your Firefox update tool if you have it installed already. The plug-in also works for the Flock browser, as well.

I haven't tried it on the Linux side of the box yet, but (as you can see if you're reading this from the Radio site) this version has solved the mysterious Radio connection problem.mentioned here last weekend (thanks to Jed Brown for his attention). It also posts much faster. There are assorted other whistles attached to the new version that I look forward to playing with as well.

Overall it's a great tool, that simplifies the blogging process immensely. Try it out!
8:25:36 PM    comment []

Saturday, January 21, 2006

I've been trying to work with the Performancing plugin for Firefox to simul-post to WordPress and Radio this week, with no success. It appears that posts do get to the Radio webserver, but don't get posted to the actual site. Performancing is promising a new version (1.1) on or about Tuesday, so with some good fortune, that will fix the problem. If anyone knows anything about this, I'm all ears (and I've seen the thread at the Radio support page).

Meanwhile, I've got posts over at WordPress on the (fixed) KDE security flaw and Drupal on SUSE. to pique your curiosity. And pretty soon, there will be links to new articles from me, and a book excerpt up at NewsForge. Enjoy!

5:18:06 PM    comment []

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Well, of course, now that I've sent out a bunch of press releases pointing to this site as my blog, things change. As longtime readers (and I know there are a few of you out there) know, I've been looking for a more penguin-friendly blogware for awhile. I'm a little behind the times, but at long last, I've discovered the right place: WordPress.com, a new free hosting service from the people behind WordPress. I've been posting to Notes from the Metaverse, the WordPress Edition now for a few days, and am just thrilled. So you should go over there now.

I also have some great company over there: Dave Winer's there, Scoble's there, another Linux blog is there. Just great stuff.

As for the future, I'm planning to try this service I just learned about that forwards blog posts from one location (e.g., WordPress.com) to another (weblogs.com). As long as that works, you should be able to read the blog from either place (I'll blog about it too once I get it working). But barring some major development (in several senses) in the Radio world, I'm not likely to renew my webspace here when it's due come May.

That's it for now, gang!

7:21:16 PM    comment []

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Well, it's Christmas Eve here in North America, among other places. Tomorrow is the first day of Hanukkah, and we're a few days out from the Winter Solstice. Whatever you celebrate, may you have fun and find a good time.

They say it's the season for giving around here, and I'm trying to remember that. A friend and co-worker of mine came by my cube the other day and said he was ready to try OpenOffice at home. I was excited, and told him what he has to look forward to. Then he asked how big of a download it was; I said something along the lines of "Oh, no big deal. It's about 100 megs." Slightly crestfallen, he said "Over my dial-up?" Oops! I've gotta remember that not everyone is set up for broadband yet!!

Anyway, I finally got around to thinking about delivering a burned CD with OpenOffice on it, but then there was all that extra space on it. Here's an opportunity to introduce a bunch of different open source programs all at once. Some folks from the Milwaukee Linux Users Group had done something like this at UW-Milwaukee a year or so ago; that is, put together a CDs worth of programs that run on Windows to give people a taste of the open source life. Today, it finally occurred to me that I'd seen actual projects like this at Sourceforge too, but I couldn't remember what the project's name was. A little bit of Googling (and some navigational voodoo) got me to this article by Mike Hillyer (hey Mike, trying to use the Open Source subject archive to find this article generates this WordPress error message: Fatal error: Only variables can be passed by reference in /home/www/openwin/html/mike/wordpress/wp-includes/classes.php on line 629).

So my friend will get a late present this year, TheOpenCD. It seems really cool, and should solve my friend's problem. If you know someone like him, I recommend it.

5:35:51 PM    comment []

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