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Archive for October, 2005

OK, so it’s just local Seattle NPR. But it’s streamable all over the world, and now, even in podcast form!

…the process of looking for a job and the process of finding new employees can both be frustrating for everyone involved. All those openings, all those zillions of resumes, all those web sites, all those emails. And while the internet has been great about spreading information, it hasn’t always been so great for people looking to narrow that information down. Jobster, a new Seattle company, is attempting to solve those problems by combining elements of job search sites with community building outlets like Friendster.

94.9 KUOW – The Works with John Moe

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Requisite Flock Post

The developer preview of Flock was released a few days ago, and the blogging geeks have gone nuts posting about it. This is not surprising; Flock received a quite a bit of coverage and hype leading up to its release, as it is positioning itself as a browser for bloggers (a “social browser”, as the cool kids are calling it). Consider this entry but one more pebble in the Flock “avalaunch“.

My favorite feature of Flock is that it’s built on top of Firefox, the browser I use for most of my internet needs. Its Firefox heritage provides Flock instant multi-platform compatibilities, with binaries available for Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux. Between work and home, I use all three of these platforms on a daily basis, and so this coverage is appreciated. I’ve installed Flock on all supported platforms, and the experience is typical of what you’d expect for each: a painless Windows installer, a “drag icon to your Applications folder” dmg file for Mac OSX, and a plain ol’ tarball for (i386-based) Linux (flock still hasn’t shown up in my yum repositories). Even better, Flock is (currently) completely open-source, so if you’re using a platform not represented in the above, you’re almost certainly geeky enough to know how to compile an application from its source code.

In fact, Flock in its default mode feels pretty much identical to a stock Firefox installation.  And even though Flock doesn’t support every Firefox extension, they’ve gone to the trouble of ensuring the most popular ones are usable on Flock. So, even if Flock provided no additional value, it provides essentially the same experience as the browser I use normally. Of course, that’s a pretty crappy reason to switch browsers, so let’s discuss the value-add, shall we?

Flock provides a host of additional features that are right in my wheelhouse. It’s replaced bookmarks with “favorites”: URLs stored online at the site del.icio.us (provided you have an account there). Folders, of course, are gone, replaced by “tags” and “collections”. I’ve blogged in the past about implementing roaming bookmarks with del.icio.us; this is even better.

Flock also ties into the picture-sharing site Flickr. It provides a view into your (or someone else’s) photo collection at flickr, along with a handy drag-and-drop interface. While I haven’t had much time to use this feature other than for its novelty factor, I’m still optimistic. Given that I’ve been using Flickr for several months now, including integrating it into this blog, I’m sure I’ll find this feature handy in the future.

Speaking of blogs, this is the technical arena that Flock is really playing in. Flock wants to be the browser of bloggers, and all of its features are geared towards making the life of the active blogger easier, from its “Shelf” tool for easily storing URLs, images, and snippets of text (properly attributed to the originating site), to the blog editor that lets you draft and publish blog posts to a variety of blog applications/services. This last feature in particular has me more excited than anything else. I’ve lamented on multiple occasions about how uninspired I am about blogging when presented with WordPress’s default editor, even to the point of considering hooking up Google’s blogging service to my site in a rube goldbergian fashion. With Flock, that may no longer be necessary. Even though Flock’s actual editor is still pretty clunky (no undo, no spell checker, spastic cursor, etc), its integration into the rest of the application is inspired. Drag-and-drop blog creation, using either the “Shelf” or the “Drag stuff to blog it!” target, makes the act of starting a blog entry (usually my biggest hurdle) insanely easy.

This deep integration of the browser into the blogger’s experience has much potential, which Flock has only begun exploring. One nice subtle touch is that since I’ve associated my blog with Flock, I’m automatically logged in whenever I navigate to it. But there’s so much more they can do with this, both large and small. Phil, my CTO, had another such idea:

One thing that would incredibly cool is something like the WordPress “Edit” link which is displayed next to my posts could invoke the Flock editor instead of the wordpress page.   Given their deep  integration with the browser, Flock could make something like this work.

Bogle’s Blog

Anyone who follows this particular blog would never mistake me for an “active” blogger, but a browser like Flock may help turn this posting-challenged lurker into more of an actual interlocutor. Even with its myriad bugs and beta-quality features, Flock shows significant promise of rethinking the browsing experience, at least for those that are looking to do more than just browse.

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The Pluot Era

…has arrived.

I just received word from Patrick that Mark and Laura had their baby, 6 weeks early. The little lady put up a 20 hour fight, but eventually succumbed to the pressure. At 5.5 lbs, the baby is doing just fine, as is her mommy. Mark, I’m sure, is freaking the heck out.

Congrats and best wishes!

Update: Pictures available at Flickr

Update #2: Mark has added several posts to his blog with much more detail than I’ve given here about their new little one.

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The Colbert Report

Wow. That was good.

Tonight was the series premiere of “The Colbert Report”, a “spinoff” of the best show on television: “The Daily Show”. Stephen Colbert was easily the best of the “correspondents” on TDS, and he certainly put his best foot forward tonight. Despite some awkward moments and obvious jitters, the show had my wife and me rolling.

Stone Phillips made a lovely first guest. Stephen’s impersonation of Stone’s famous nodding was priceless. And I thought I was going to lose it watching their “gravitas faceoff”, as they dueled each other reading fake news copy. Where else will you get to hear Stone say, “In the interest of fairness, this reporter admits to having a piercing in a similar location”?

Stephen will be missed on The Daily Show, but I have a welcome new addition to my Tivo’s “Season Passes”. While I may have lost a correspondent, I’ve gained an anchorman.

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6:30 AM

If I’ve learned anything over the past 5 or so years, it’s that being a software developer for a Seattle startup (oops—sorry Jason—“emerging Internet services company”) comes with certain perks. One of my favorites is the hours. I may be constantly working, but I can show up to work pretty much at any time. And I usually do; my arrival times vary widely from 8:30 AM to 11 AM.

Except on days we have a company all-hands offsite (this time at the lovely Edgewater Hotel). Then Jason wants everyone there on time by 8 AM (we’ve received friendly but firm reminders that he’s not kidding). And since I’m biking in (I’ve been told we’ll have an actual hotel room available to us, so I can shower upon arrival), I need to be up by 6:30, out of the house by 7, there by 7:30, and showered, caffeinated, and in my seat by 8. Ugh.

It’s still very dark outside. I hope there’s juice in my bike light…

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Fallow

This blog has been fallow for some time. I’m getting back into the game by using blogger as a publishing tool. Despite warnings all around me, I’m a google junky. It’s my homepage (of course), I forward all my email to my gmail account, I always make sure to froogle significant purchases, and now I’m using their new reader tool to keep all my favorite feeds organized. Of course, it’s nicely integrated with blogger, allowing for quick-and-easy blogging of items one finds interesting. Maybe this level of integration (plus blogger’s superior editor) will encourage more noxious ramblings from yours truly.

Then again, I think I may be more interested in blogging tools and tech than I am in blogging itself. I got all excited about moblogging once, and I never did it again.

Now I just hope the wordpress “import from blogger” script works and doesn’t wipe out my site…

Update: Well, that worked fairly well. Blogger automatically published my post to my ftp site, and the wordpress import script turned it into a normal post. The import script is idempotent, too; it was smart enough running it a second time to skip over already-imported posts.

Unfortunately, the import script wasn’t smart enough to update the post after I had updated it on blogger. This isn’t surprising; the script was created to handle transitioning a blogger.com blog to a wordpress blog, not as a tool for using blogger as a wordpress publishing tool. Time to try out my PHP skills and see if I can get that to work.

Additionally, in order for this setup to really work the way I want it, the improt process would have to be automated. Currently, after publishing to blogger, I have to then go run the import script manually. I should be able to setup a simple script that is able to recognize when the blogger import file is updated so it can then trigger the import process. Hmmm… See, I told you I enjoy the tools more than the actual content creation.

By the way, for those that are curious, I used Andy Skelton’s Modified Blogger Importing Tool (via the excellent visual tutorial) to get my blogger-to-wordpress setup configured. Awesome stuff.

Update #2: Another downside to this approach is that there’s no way to tag or categorize a blogger post (at least none that I can see) that carries over via the wordpress import. So it seems I’ll have some postprocessing to do regardless of how well I get this automated.

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