Monthly Archives: June 2005

TextDrive seeks to sweeten control with Rails application

TextDrive seeks to sweeten control with Rails application.

TextPanel is the name of TextDrive’s effort to modernize Webmin and the whole of branch of control panel software. They’re hard at work on it.
And it’s going to be a Rails application, of course. Like all the other
management software they’re building over there. The first we’ll see of
TextPanel will be a reduced version, which will power the forthcoming Strongspace offering.

Cheers
to Justin, Marten, Jason, Dean, and all the others at TextDrive for
pushing the hosting envelope on so many fronts. And what a steal in picking up a relationship with Michael Koziarski. He has been the untiring force behind verifying, prioritizing, and managing the ticket cue on Rails for a good long while. Congratulations to both parties.  [Riding Rails]

Taking Ajax higher with next Rails release

Taking Ajax higher with next Rails release.

Thomas Fuchs has been doing awesome work building on top of Prototype (the Javascript engine driving Ajax in Rails) to bring us script.aculo.us: Better effects and drag’n’drop capabilities. Together with the upload progress enhancements
from Sean Treadway, we’re going to have a big upgrade to the Ajax
capabilities of Rails in the next, forthcoming release (0.13).

If you want to see what’s in store for you, checkout the addition of drag’n’drop to Backpack. Shows off very nicely just how cool drag’n’drop can be in a Web 2.0 application.

There’s more chatter about this on Loud Thinking, Signal vs Noise, and mir.aculo.us.  [Riding Rails]

Asterisk

Asterisk. By nat

Asterisk
is amazing. I remember PBX systems being the mainframes of the business
telephony world: huge expensive systems that trapped you with a vendor.
Now you can bring up a Linux box to manage your company's voice systems
in a matter of days, with more features than you could afford in
hardware. Maddog said
it'd be bigger than Linux (no word on relative popularity to the
Beatles and, through transitivity, God). We're putting our money where
our mouth is: we're not just running OSCON tutorials and publishing books
on it, we're making the switch. Our IS department is finishing up the
plans to replace our PBX (which must join two campuses, Sebastopol and
Cambridge) with an Asterisk system. I look forward to being emailed my
voicemail, having an office extension no matter where in the world I'm
logged in from, and all the other perks. I'll let you know how it goes.  [O'Reilly Radar]

Tacit knowledge and cortical algorithms

Tacit knowledge and cortical algorithms.

When I had dinner recently with InfoWorld Contributing Editor Phil
Windley, he put his finger on something I've been trying to nail down
for years. Like me, Phil works mainly in a home office, is married to a
nongeek, and is often called on to deliver spousal tech support.

From his wife's perspective, Phil said, it looks like he knows
how to do everything. But his own, subjective experience is very
different. He doesn't really have detailed procedural knowledge of most
tasks. He's just very good at discovering that knowledge.

“What I'm actually doing is figuring things out on the fly,”
Phil said. That's what all IT adepts do, all the time. We do it in such
a rapid, fluid, and automatic way that we don't seem to be constantly
learning or relearning. [Full story at InfoWorld.com]

The title of this column, The Tacit Dimension of Tech Support, refers to The Tacit Dimension, a 1967 book by the scientist/philosopher Michael Polanyi. One of his touchstone phrases was: “We know more than we can tell.”
[Jon's Radio]

microformats.org Launched

microformats.org Launched.

Officially announced at Supernova2005
earlier this week, a new community-based site has been launched to be
the official home for microformats — with a logo and simple site
design from SimpleBits.

microformats.org
contains anything and everything you'd want to know about microformats,
how to implement them, who's involved, and how to join the conversation
regarding a new way of thinking about meaningful markup. [SimpleBits]

NeoOffice/J 1.1 Finally Released

NeoOffice/J 1.1 Finally Released.

After
five years of development, NeoOffice/J is finally released. From the
announcement (found in a NeoWiki cache):
The goal of NeoOffice/J is to provide an entirely free and complete Mac
OS X office suite based on the international OpenOffice.org project —
only with the look-and-feel you'd expect from any Macintosh
application. … [a million monkeys typing]

Dreamhost now supports Ruby on Rails

Dreamhost now supports Ruby on Rails.

Word on the street is that popular webhost Dreamhost
now supports Ruby on Rails. That’s great news, especially if you’re
already married to DH and wants to do Ruby on Rails development. For
everyone else starting out or looking for a new host, the premier
choice for Rails hosting is naturally still TextDrive. They have multiple Railers on staff, support the Rails project, and rock (this site is running on TextDrive).  [Riding Rails]

Why RSS and Folksonomies Are Becoming So Big

Why RSS and Folksonomies Are Becoming So Big.

The Importance of RSS

“Unfortunately, Google’s well of good data is being poisoned by the likes of comment spammers, trackback spammers and adsense mongers. And while Google, the other search engines and the blog software community have been fighting the good fight with ideas like nofollow, Typekey and stop gapping,
I think Google knows that when it comes to blogs, they’re losing the
semantic ground. And I think they’ve known this for a long time,
because for the last year Google has been resting their hopes on a new
medium of information—really simple syndication. The technologically
capable know it as RSS.

If you think about it, rss feeds are a librarian’s wet dream (and make no mistake that Google is essentially a library, check that mission statement
out again). An RSS feed is a blog distilled to its core essence. If you
look at the output of an RSS feed in a reader, you’ll see no comments,
no trackbacks and (for the most part) no design. It’s the better blog.
It’s pure data.

And so RSS feeds provide Google all the
goodness of blogs without all the semantic garbage that might come with
a system open to users that are not the content provider. RSS feeds
provide Google clean data, good data and thanks to wide-spread adoption
by companies and the major blog software entities, lots of it….

…If
RSS is getting face-time at the expense of search, Google has something
to worry about. And it makes sense. From personal experience, I know my
daily routine to keep up with the information overload doesn’t really
involve searching anymore, but subscribing. Thanks to services like Del.icio.us, Technorati and Digg.com, people are spending a lot less time actively searching and more time passively reading what’s being updated in their readers….

…In the race to find what deserves face-time, services like Del.icio.us, Technorati and Digg.com in combination with the rapid adoption of web apps like bloglines, newsgator, feedster and kinja are making Google’s search seem very, very slow. And it’s all being accomplished with RSS technology….

Let
me give a concrete example based on our experiences here at
Particletree. When we launched this site, we knew that the tutorials
and information we were gathering and creating were good—that they
would be somewhat valuable to the web development community. The
problem was that we didn’t want this useful, time-sensitive information
to sit around for days (or even weeks) waiting to be picked up by
search bots and then found by people accidentally or when they were
desperate for a solution.

So I proposed that we turned to Del.icio.us
to expand our readership. Every time something went up on the site that
I felt would be good enough for a wider audience, I added it to my
Del.icio.us account with the appropriate tags and descriptions. Our
goal was to try and get a feature on del.icio.us/popular
by the end of July and to our surprise, we accomplished it in less than
a week. After two weeks of diligent posting and tagging, Google gave us
a little over 50 referrals while Del.icio.us gave us over 700.

I think the reason Del.icio.us is so successful at bringing the appropriate audience to good material is because they track the changing web
by using people to calculate what is essentially ‘page rank.’ They get
access to decent fuzzy logic for a fraction of the cost and the
democracy of the system allows anyone to get their idea of what
deserves face-time into the system almost immediately.” [particletree, via Dave Farber’s Interesting People mailing list]

Kevin
Hale makes some really interesting observations in this essay, so you
should read the whole thing, especially if you don’t understand the all
of the hoopla about these sites.>Feedster and the like make Google seem slower.

And
if Hale is right about all of this, it makes you wonder if this isn’t
just one more place librarians and our expertise aren’t going to be
found, even though we should be. And don’t we already have goldmines of
data that could be found in these services if we just started tagging them (in addition to the structured searching we already provide)?

Oh,
and someone already left a comment about the whole “Google as library”
part, although no one called him on his assertion that there are no
comments in RSS. Especially good since Hale ends the essay by referring
back to the “why” of all of this for Google – Adsense revenue.  [The Shifted Librarian]