She Wants The World… And a Search Log Analyser!

Just kidding, but I got some details back from Lisa C, and she appears to have some very specialised requirements for her system. I have suggested that it might be better if we work together to develop a “base system” which would include the complete logging functionality, and then she can customise and/or extend the reporting/analysis interface as required.

I think this approach should work quite well, allowing me to collaborate on a logging module, and to refine the database schema, then develop a generic, “useful-across-the-board” analysis interface, which should be capable of being extended easily. Metabase, here I come.

Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox

Fortnightly articles/reports posted by Monsieur Guru Nielsen himself. Some of these are pretty good, personally I think some of them are just plain stupid.

An example of taking things too far: in the most recent alertbox, Nielsen extrapolates his calculated statement that the companies he studied which would “spend $3,042 per employee annually to cover time spent on the sixteen tasks we measured” to mean that if we improved intranets to the best ones they saw in their tests, we would “save the world economy $1.3 trillion per year”… come on dude, seriously. You so can’t make that assumption.

Calendar Added to RESTxom features

I have added a simple calendar which will be displayed in the place of a @ CALENDAR@ tag in your RESTxom templates (head or foot preferably!)

The calendar will include links to any days which contain posts, and those links will go directly to the archives, where that day will be shown, and you can locate whichever post interests you. I’d like to add support for allowing the browsing of months, but the handling of the 403 errors doesn’t seem to allow that…?

blosxom rocks!

blosxom is the amazingly simple, yet endlessly powerful blogging application written by Rael Dornfest which is now running most of the DentedReality website.

I have made some pretty schmick “helper” scripts (even if I do say so myself), which allow me to manage a blog using directories, and you can link straight to a directory, and it will show you the blog entries via blosxom in that dir.

The Silence of the Asilomarians

After joining the AIfIA (and paying the membership fee), I have been somewhat disappointed with the response I received from the CELIA idea.

I signed up for the IA Library project with AIfIA, and have suggested that perhaps CELIA could be done as a part of that project, but have received no response. Zero. Nada. Zip.

I think Karl and I are going to start planning it out a little, hopefully I will be able to knock together a simple-ish system which can handle the stuff we would be working with, and that would allow us to get started. I think it’s a really valuable thing, and something that perhaps isn’t as important is the US, because IA is more established, but it sure is important here, where I have met all of about 3 people who even took a punt on what Information Architecture is!

Putting blosxom to REST

The plan with these helper scripts that I am writing is that blosxom will be able to operate in a “REST-like” environment. This means that directing a browser to a URL like /blogging/ should load the blog entries in that directory (if it is within a defined blog-tree).

It’s working so far, and I have added in the option of linking to ‘rss.xml’ within any directory in the blog-tree to get an RSS feed of that level/category/sub-blog. Sweeeet. Next up is to eliminate the permalinks needing to use the script in the URL (i.e. so that archives don’t have to link to at all).

webpad Needs Some Love

webpad has been sorely neglected, and it is starting to show. I have a bad feeling that it won’t work on a default install of PHP anymore, and there are a number of reported bugs related to the install and configuration process which have done anything *but* go away with time. I think it is getting close to time that I need to re-write the core code for little-ole webpad, and try to bring things up to scratch.

There are also a number of improvements I would like to make to the system at the same time, but priority one will be to bring all of the existing code up to a certain level, then move forward to a new version.

And so… the requirements (as far as I am concerned) for version 2.1 public are;

  1. Re-write of backend code to standardize style/syntax etc.
  2. Ensure that all code is 100% compatible with a default installation (no register_globals being the big one here)
  3. Switch all of the operations over to using the new, inbuilt XML-RPC functions in PHP, rather than the external library it currently uses.
  4. Ensure that all operations still work (their API has been all over the place, so who knows??)
  5. Iron out any bugs in the install process to ensure that the app can be installed with a minimum of fuss.

With that out of the way, I will then look towards a 3.0 release, which should look something like this;

  1. Inclusion of ODBC, PostgreSQL and possibly Oracle plug-ins for authentication
  2. Streamlined setup/install and user management (*large* improvements planned)
  3. Improved support for authentication methods other than WIXAS
  4. Much better file management (directory creation, renaming, deleting etc)
  5. Integration with Blogger Pro, Radio and MovableType if possible (expanded to include template management and better post management)
  6. Ability to load a file from the filesystem via direct request (i.e. http://webpad/?file=/path/to/file.txt) assuming permissions allow it and it’s within the user’s home dir.
  7. Much better mult-user support
  8. Commercial licenses will attract a modest fee (in the vicinity of $USD15), while personal use will remain free

Ho Ho Ho…

Christmas morning and I’m on the computer already… sad? dedicated? driven?… bored. Still working away on the new site, so hopefully it will be done before too long.

Interesting question from a friend last night regarding how much time I spend on my own projects & websites – he asked me to explain “why you’re putting in so much work into it”. My answer wasn’t that thorough or convincing, but, I believe that there are a number of things you can get out of running a website like mine.

  1. Honing of personal skills: building this site gave me a chance to work out a complex CSS/XHTML layout, while integrating a dynamic content management system and honing a search system!
  2. Giving something back: considering how much the web community has given me in the form of code, knowledge, skills, tips & tricks, this site is a minor return-favour
  3. Educating people: building information on this site gives me a focus point where I can send current and potential clients to find out about IA, usability and general user-centred design.
  4. Publicise my projects: making a site which people like to come back to gives me a place where I can promote my projects and get them out in the public
  5. Raise my profile: no point beating around the bush, one of the reasons I maintain an active website is that it raises my profile in the web community/industry. These days anything that can do that for you without spending a truckload of money is a Good Thing.


When I thought I had “finished” the mainline code for RESTxom, I forgot that I hadn’t thoroughly tested the RSS code (allowing you to request rss.xml from any topic and get a correct feed from that point ‘down’). Turns out it doesn’t work properly… double-slashing problems and whatnot, shouldn’t be too hard to fix hopefully, but darned annoying in the meantime.

So off I go to fix the RSS code, then have to fix it in the archives as well (which are working now!)