30 Jan

RSS native parsing in the next Firebird

Matt Haughey has a screenshot and it makes a lot of sense. Or you can wait till Longhorn’s release in 200? to have browser-based RSS support (snort). Could Newsgator use Outlook’s sidepane to achieve the same result? You would turn Auto-preview on to get the first line of each entry based on the RSS feed, then see it in the site’s content in the preview pane.
RSS is great but all that text sometimes makes me feel I’m stuck in Gopher. Rather than take more and more HTML into feeds, which at some point defeats the whole purpose, I’d like web rendering that’s integrated with my RSS reading experience (rather that clicking through, which sometimes take forever in Outlook). And I want this to happen in my email/contact client or in the browser, not in another application. I just don’t like the idea of using a separate news client (scratch that, I don’t like the experience, not just the idea, since I’ve been there already).
Update: it’s an extension rather than something that comes in Firebird, but it doesn’t change my point.

30 Jan

Can You Trust Metatagged Trust?

AuctionBytes: eBay Tinkers with a Delicate Feedback System

"Beginning February 9th, eBay will be adding a new "Mutual Feedback Withdrawal" policy, which has some users wondering about the usefulness of eBay’s feedback system, which is already widely criticized. The policy enables two trading partners, who have already agreed, to withdraw their feedback. Withdrawn feedback will impact the member’s overall feedback score. The text of the feedback comment, however, will remain in the Member Profile, and the following note will be placed in the Member Profile: "Rating Withdrawn: Buyer and seller mutually agreed to withdraw feedback for this item." The Member Profile will also include the total number of times a member has withdrawn feedback."

The hand-wriggling for something as simple as rating how smooth and honest a commercial transaction was, tells me the social software which lets you rate people on how trustworthy they are can’t be much more than a funny toy. But there’s a benefit to these sites: seeing all those faces makes you want to get to know those people better, rather than know many of them only through their representation in bits and electrons. Then maybe you can actually grant trust ratings around? Next on your browser: "People who trust Olivier also trust…"
Reminds me of my first year in business school, when someone had created a huge map of who had dated/slept with whom. That was funny to look at, and made you hope everyone was using condoms.

29 Jan

Templating Belatedly Comes to .Net

DevX: Introducing ASP.NET 2.0 Master Pages

"ASP.NET 2.0 introduces a new concept known as Master Pages, in which you create a common base master file that provides a consistent layout for multiple pages in your application. To create a Master Page, you identify common appearance and behavior factors for the pages in your application, and move those to a master page. In the master page, you add placeholders called ContentPlaceHolders where the content (child) pages will insert their custom content. When users request the content pages, ASP.NET merges the output of the content pages with the output of the master page, resulting in a page that combines the master page layout with the output of the content page."

This comes with Visual Studio.NET Whidbey, which will be released later this year. It’s hard to believe it took Microsoft so long to create a templating system, but better late than never. Here’s advice on how to do it in the meantime (i.e. with .Net 1.x).

21 Jan

New Graphical MySQL Administrator Console in the Works

IDG: MySQL develops new graphical admin tool

"Previously, the vendor provided command-line interface administration tools for its database, which are less intuitive and harder to use than the new graphical MySQL Administrator console, said Zack Urlocker, MySQL’s marketing vice president. […] MySQL Administrator provides all the capabilities of the old command-line tools and adds new features, Urlocker said. Some of the tasks that database administrators can perform with the new console are: server configuration, user administration, database monitoring, backup and restore, and log management."

Interesting that the LAMP world is getting there. As a small business we can’t be bothered with learning admin and monitoring tasks through a CLI. That’s what Microsoft understood with NT Server and taught Novell the hard way. Yeah, yeah, this has a downside with possibly unsound admin and security but small biz just want to get the job done.

20 Jan

Yahoo “Innovates”, Launches Research Labs

ResearchBuzz: Yahoo Announces Yahoo Labs

"Yahoo on Monday announced Yahoo Research Labs at http://labs.yahoo.com, describing it as " a research organization focused on inventing new technologies and solutions relevant to strategic Yahoo! businesses. The group will pursue a portfolio of topics that include pay for performance search, web search, vertical businesses and platform technologies." […] The first thing it lacks is some kind of API or at least guidelines on how programmers might use Yahoo data (since Yahoo is a searchable subject index, and is divided into categories, you could do some really fun stuff with the search data.) There needs to be more communication between Yahoo users and Yahoo."

19 Jan

And now for something different

There’s this weird kind of music which you don’t really know whether it’s deep and magnificent or just vain and pretentious. Challenge your ears a little bit and find out what you think:

  • Anders Johansson – Red Shift
  • Meredith Monk – Mercy
  • Godspeed You Black Emperor! – F# A# (Infinity)
    The beauty with music is that it talks both to your brain and to your body. Since I’m a freak I love everything from shake-your-booty funk to do-make-me-think cerebral stuff like those albums listed above. Celebrate the duality of the human being made of flesh and thought!

  • 07 Jan

    Website Maintenance Checkup

    Deborah Christie: Annual Website Maintenance Checklist
    Since I’m currently writing a bunch of procedures, this reminds me I’ll need to do these cleaning tasks on a formal basis at some point. A good site is supposed to more or less maintain itself or at least monitor itself and warn you about problems, but we’re not at that point yet.
    Here’s a question for you: do you know an online app (similar in spirit to dotcom-monitor) that not only monitors HTTP(S), DNS and POP3/SMTP, but also MySQL up/downtime? Is port monitoring (e.g. on port 3306) enough to know whether the database server is up and running?

    07 Jan

    Behr’s ‘Paint a Room’ Interactive App

    InformationWeek: Web Power: More Interaction Equals More Value

    "Paint manufacturer Behr Process Corp. saw an opportunity to use technology to make paint shopping online and in stores a whole lot easier for consumers. The company also wanted to offer highly interactive capabilities such as very quickly making slight changes of color or finding coordinating shades that stretched the limits of what many Web-development tools could do.
    Behr is using a new generation of tools from Laszlo Systems Inc. that offers that kind of interaction on the company’s Web site and in kiosks at 1,600 Home Depot stores where Behr is sold. Now customers looking at a shade called Chilled Lemonade can compare it to Pale Daffodil and Satin Souffl