When Too Much Objectivity Is Not Enough

Well, I have just finished my first (real) assignment for this study period, a 500-word
essay on the subject Objectivity is Impossible. For those of you who have
never actually tried; writing an essay in 500 words is really hard! It’s very
short indeed, and covering a topic like objectivity is quite difficult to do in so few
words. I’m not totally happy with it, but at 570 words I can’t exactly go "fleshing
it out&quot, so I am going to have to live with it. It really doesn’t feel like you have
any time to develop an argument (or even define objectivity properly!) in so few words tho.

Oh well, we get to expand this into a 1000-word essay a little later in the study period
I think, so perhaps I will be happier with that version. We’ll see if I can’t revise it at
all tomorrow to make it a little tighter anyway ๐Ÿ™‚

Dano = AvantBlog-friendly

Slight update on my post about AvantBlog working now – it appears that only blogs which have been converted to the new Dano system are working, if you are still running an older version, then you will need to upgrade before you can use AvantBlog apparently. If anyone finds out anything to the contrary to this, please let me know!

Too Much Wisdom

As measured in teeth anyway, apparently. I was at the dentist today and she tells me I am going to need to get all 4 of my wisdom teeth taken out. I was given 3 options as far as the actual surgical procedure goes;

  1. General anaesthetic – go to a hospital for the operation, pretty expensive
  2. IV Anaesthetic – apparently they can have an anaesthetist come to their surgery thing and dope me up, it’s somewhere between general and local
  3. Local only – they just stick a needle in me at their local surgery and rip the things out (hopefully!) – cheapest, but highest potential for great pain.

So what’s the verdict people? Anyone else out there had their wisdom teeth taken out? What sort of anaesthetic did you have? Would you reccommend it? I’m all ears, and need to make a decision soon, so please throw me your ideas ๐Ÿ™‚

AvantBlog Having Problems

Thanks to changes in the Blogger.com API, AvantBlog appears to be failing to post on all blogs now. I plan on re-writing the Blogger API code that I have available for download which will be used to upgrade AvantBlog and hopefully bring it up to speed with the recent changes.

In the meantime, sign up to the mailing list to be the first to find out when it’s available and working properly again.

Thanks to those who have emailed me to let me know that it wasn’t working ๐Ÿ™‚

webpad 3.0 Under Development

I don’t know what the heck prompted me to actually start this project now, but I have started coding/planning on version 3.0 of webpad. The first release will be webpad 3.0 Personal Edition, which will only have a single user function, and will require manual modification of a configuration file for the username/password and other options. Following that, I will also release a separate, more powerful version, which for now I am calling webpad Pro 3.0. This version will include multi-user support, a complete administration and installation interface, and will be targetted towards power-users and businesses.

webpad Personal Edition will remain free for everyone to download and use, but webpad Pro will attract a small licensing fee which is yet to be finalised. I will also be slightly changing the balance of features in each version, so you will find that some features you would like to be available may only be in the Pro version, although I will keep as much as I can in the Personal Edition.

Sophie’s World

Well, as part of REA11, I am reading
Sophie’s World
, which so far is ok, even if it’s a little dry. I’d much rather be reading this than a text book any day.
One interesting question I’d like to ask though, is "why hasn’t Sophie called the police to report the stalker/harrasser
who clearly knows where she lives, and too much about her lifestyle/patterns to be comfortable???"

The book is a fiction story intended to teach the reader about the history of philosophy, so far covering Ancient Greek
philosophers and heading towards the modern way of thinking (‘rationalism’). I must say that I didn’t expect to be doing a
unit about philosophy, but it could be a lot worse than it has been so far ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m looking forward to when the theory catched up to ‘current thinking,’ since obviously that’s a bit more in-context
for us to look at.

AIfIA Translations Project

Was talking with Peter, the organizer of the AIfIA Translations Project and it looks like they are into beta mode. It’s a great project which aims to identify key texts in the IA field and translate them to as many languages as possible.

So far, there’s some;

  • Spanish
  • Dutch
  • Portugese
  • Italian
  • French
  • Japanese, and
  • Danish

which I think is pretty impressive. You can even get a large portion of the actual website in your preferred language once you go to the translations page (selection on the left).

Is Open Source Software Development Objective?

I’m reading some of the notes for REA11 and I am coming across the idea that objective
people "don’t care about the answer as long as it is accurate". This got me
thinking — is open source software development the same sort of thing but for the s/w world?

Theoretically, OS development isn’t influenced by the normal external factors such as
budjet, time constraints, resources or even the intent to make profit (thus introducing
useless gimicks like the Office Assistant). Since these influences are not present, does
that mean that the development of this software will objectively pursue the path of the
best possible production, meeting only the requirements of the software and nothing else?

In my experience; no. Although none of the normal, commercial biases or influences are
present, the people involved will inevitably bring their own biases etc, and if none are
found, then some will surely be created somewhere along the line.

Blogs: What Are They Good For?

NOTE: This post was written in 2003 and in places is now out of date. WordPress is now the dominant self-installed blogging platform, and continues to gain more of the market. Updates have been integrated into this post.

What is a Blog?

In its ‘purest’ form, a blog is something akin to an online, personal journal or diary, taking the form of a series of chronologically-ordered, short, personal posts on a website. It is easy to update and normally works by adding short posts to a template design of some sort.

BLOG is short for weB LOG, and became recognised widely as a web-publishing format in about 1999, when, among others, Evan Williams (via Pyra Labs, now owned by Google) created Blogger.com, a free-to-access blogging tool which published your blog back to your own site by FTP. Blogger.com is currently one of the most popular blogging platforms in the world, along with WordPress,ย LiveJournal and MovableType.

Blogging (the process of posting an update to a blog) took off, as did the community around it. Bloggers proved to be a friendly bunch, and many of them linked to each other and other sites, creating a dense web of links and opinion. The personal nature of most blogs meant that blogs became one of the most accessible personal-opinion formats on the web.

Why Blog?

Why would anyone want to keep an updated record of their personal thoughts and opinions online? There’s a lot more to blogs than just that, but even for that purpose alone, it’s an amazing way to exercise a right to free speech, and to reach potentially millions of people with your thoughts.

There are a growing number of different applications of blog-technology, including:

  • Professional News Sites/Portals
  • Lightweight Content Management for all sorts of websites
  • To-Do Lists (personal or across a group)
  • Review Sites (movies, music, food, you name it!)
  • Corporate Knowledge Management (Knowledge Logs or K-Logs)
  • Project Management (recording work completed at ‘x’ time for ‘y’ project)
  • Podcasting (delivering audio segments periodically)
  • Vlogging (Video-blogging; delivering video snippets/segments periodically)

There will no doubt be more uses for the technology in the future, especially as blogs and related technologies evolve and mature more, and as different kinds of meta-data is stored within blogs.

How Do I Blog?

Most blogging systems have their own interface of some sort for posting blogs, whether it be via the web (like Blogger.com and MovableType), using one of the many desktop clients (like w.bloggar and MarsEdit), or even straight into a text file in a directory (like blosxom uses).

A common thread amongst each of these systems is that each ‘post’ is treated as a separate entity, which allows for a number of cool features (see below).

Today, there are tools of all sorts for posting to blogs, including 2 of my own, AvantBlog, for posting to Blogger.com from a handheld/Palm device, and webpad, a more powerful editor with access to a number of different blogging systems and number of HTML tools for managing post content.

Bells & Whistles

With blogs becoming more popular, a number of related technologies and extras have developed in the last few years. Some of the more popular features/extras are:

Comments
Allowing readers to contribute comments to a blog post creates a feedback loop and in many cases provides a simple discussion forum/community feel.
Categorization/Topics
Most blogging tools allow for some sort of categorisation of posts so that they can be organised according to topics. Different systems handle this in different ways, for example MovableType allows you to store a post against multiple categories, while blosxom stores a post in a single directory, representing a topic/category.
RSS/Atom
RSS allows other users to easily syndicate the content of your blog into their own, or into a news reader/aggregator of some sort (web-based like BlogLines, or desktop-based like NetNewsWire). In addition to content syndication, Atom also provides a programming interface for modifying posts made in a blog using other tools.
Calendar Navigation
Many blog tools offer the option of including a calendar on your blog, so that people can navigate your posts by jumping straight to a particular date and seeing all posts on that day/month/year.
Permalinks
Upholding the spirit of a ‘permanent location’ for everything on the Internet, so-called permalinks are automatically-created URLs which are intended to be the permanent location of a post, even after it ‘scrolls off’ the homepage of a blog (since only a certain number of posts will be displayed on the homepage normally).
Blog-roll
Since bloggers are such a friendly bunch, they often maintain a list of the blogs which they read regularly. This list is normally presented along the side of their own blog, so that you might also find other sites which interest you. This list is called a blog-roll (see blogrolling.com for more about blog-rolls).

Hopefully this has provided you with a bit of an introduction to blogging and blogs, and you can see that they are a great way to get information online quickly. Their personal and business uses are only going to grow, and it will be interesting to see where they go in the future. Sites like Technorati and BlogDex are probably good places to keep an eye on if you’re interested in the future of blogging.

So now, if all you want is to see a blog in action – jump over to the blog section of this site and knock yourself out!

A Cool New Word

Rael Dornfest (editor of the Google Hacks book, amongst other things!) mentioned a word on the blosxom mailing list which I have heard a times now, and which I think will become more popular;

mindwidth
A human’s capacity for thought and or mental processes such as attention. The amount of available mental “processing power” to perform a variety of tasks at any one time.

I like it ๐Ÿ™‚ – Just for fun, ask Google who else is using ‘mindwidth’?

Checking Out REA11

Ok, so I finally got access to both of the units that I am enrolled in, after having
problems with my account, and then with the units that were available to me. I had a look
at both of them today, and I am going to post a few things as they cross my mind while
looking at REA11 in more depth;

First Assignment: a 500-word essay on one of these topics — "Knowledge can never be
certain" OR "Objectivity is impossible", due on the Monday of week 4 (23rd
June if I am not mistaken). For no particular reason, I am thinking of doing the one about
Objectivity.

Rational thinking and logic: "to determine all the little answers needed to explain
why things happened" and thus determine the ‘big’ answers…

I really like this one; accept my rational explanation, or "else be damned as
‘irrational’ and thus unworthy of inclusion in normal society."

More later perhaps, must eat and then get off to my partner in crime’s house to put
the humansciences.com.au website live
tonight.

Domain Offline… Again

Up until recently, I would have recommended phpwebhosting.com with flying colours for their fantastic, very cheap web hosting service. Unfortunately, over the last couple weeks, I have had a few days where pretty much for an entire day my site has been unreachable. I haven’t really had any feedback from the staff there as to what’s going on, except to say (after the fact) “we had to do some upgrades, but they are finished now”… only to have another day’s outage soon after.

I still think they are a great provider, but they are going to have to be very stable for a pretty long time to get me back to my very happy status of yester-week…

Meeting e-Classmates (.com.org.net.au!)

Last night I dropped a message on Alysha‘s blog. I found her details on the listing available through the OLA class listing for both REA11 and NET12, so it looks like we are going to be classmates for this study period ๐Ÿ™‚

She emailed me back again later in the evening, but I haven’t had a chance to reply yet, I’ll drop her a line after work tonight!

More Dramas With Curtin

Well, after the usual 15 transfers and multiple “we don’t deal with thats”, I have finally gained access to the WebCT system which runs all of the online courses at Curtin — only to find out that apparently I’m not enrolled in anything at Curtin as of yet! (read: they haven’t gotten around to adding the 2 units I am enrolled in to my account, so I can’t access them!).

The stupid thing is that in the end, I knew my password, all I needed was someone to tell me what my username was, so that
I could try out a couple passwords and guess the right one. I don’t even want to get started on how I feel about finally
getting online, only to find that I still can’t start — I’ll email the course co-ordinator and see if he knows when we might
actually start…

Karma 0.3 Already

Well, Fletcher has been flying away at the karma plugin we discussed and has got a version 0.3 going already. This one
has the following features;

  1. Show number of visits/votes
  2. Show positive and negative votes
  3. Show Controversy Index
  4. Show Karma Index
  5. Show Visits Index
  6. Only show posts with minimum of ‘x’ for;
    1. Karma
    2. Controvery
    3. Interest

You can download karma 0.3 and drop it in as a plugin immediately. It’s pretty self-explanatory if you understand the concept. To figure out the way that controvery and interest are calculated – have a look in the code for now, I’ll post the formulae when I get a chance ๐Ÿ™‚