blogs and wikis
July 25, 2004
More on blog spam
For quite a while, I've been moderating comments as a way to deal with blog spam (here are the the steps I followed back then).
This has worked relatively well, except for the case where you get auto-spammed...where someone posts tens or hundreds of a spam at the same time. So, what I've done is modify the version of mt-comments-pending.cgi that David Raynes wrote to do two things:
You can find my version of mt-comments-pending.cgi here (saved as mt-comments-pending.txt). I also recommend that you check out Elise's great spam tutorial for other ways to get a handle on blog spam.
July 12, 2004
A blog version of show 'n tell
Into photography? Like stories? Then you'd probably enjoy A Picture's Worth. Here's some info:
Officially launched on the 1st of August 2003, A Picture's Worth is a personal project that aims to highlight the inspiration that can arise from a photograph and to capture it in the form of words which in turn can reveal the true beauty of a photograph. Ultimately, the project seeks to inspire and enhance captivating story writing and beautiful photography.
Some of the photos are really amazing, and ya just gotta love how the whole "word of mouth" thing works. Now to find a photo with a good story...
June 3, 2004
BusinessWeek on wikis
BusinessWeek has an article on wikis that's worth a read if you're a fan of the tool (as I am). They note that "wiki-wiki" is the Hawaiian word for "quick" (it's the name of the shuttle buses at the Honolulu airport--see right).
The article credits Ward Cunningham as the father of wikis, but doesn't provide a link (that's easily remedied). It does point to some well-known wikis (like wikipedia) and also some other interesting wikis (like those at OpenGuides).
Thanks to John Robb for the pointer.
December 31, 2003
Finally, a favicon!
Better late than never? I've finally gotten around to creating a favicon for IDblog (see right for the 32x32 version). Now that I'm using bloglines to stay current with my various RSS feeds, I began to suffer from serious favicon envy.
December 10, 2003
More power to the people
The miserable failure Google bomb was an amusing application of grass roots power on the Internet. But one enterprising, and pissed off, consumer has leveraged this power to -- dare I say it? -- the greater good.
Evidence: www.ipoddirtysecret.com by the Neistat brothers (one of whom is the said pissed-off consumer). As they note, it's not obvious that it was their action -- a great QuickTime movie -- that led Apple to change their policy re iPod battery replacement. But the ability for a consumer to get out their complaint in such an amusing way that it becomes fodder for the greater weblog community, and eventually get picked up by tech media is evolutionary if not revolutionary.
All this said, I'm not sure it was actually a battery problem. Back in the spring, my first-generation iPod wouldn't hold a charge, and my Internet research turned up a design flaw related to some capacitor. There was a great site that showed you ow to pry your iPod apart and disconnect the right connector that allowed this capacitor to discharge. Voila...no more battery charge problems. I apparently didn't bookmark this great resource, or I'd link to it now. (Bummer...I may need it in another 12 months!)
Thanks to Capulet Communications for the pointer.
December 5, 2003
The opposite of miserable failure
Now, the weblog community is adding insult to injury. Taking Dick Gephardt's commentary (picked up by The Atlantic), bloggers are taking advantage of Google's search algorithm so that links like this one -- miserable failure -- make the president's official bio the top site returned by a search for 'miserable failure' on Google.
BTW, the first site returned on a search for 'weapons of mass destruction' is still online.
November 21, 2003
Happy birthday xblog!
One of my very regular reads, xblog, turned 4 earlier this month, and celebrated by re-tooling the back end :). I'm very flattered to have been included in their list of recommended reads while they were offline.
Right back at ya, Bill!
November 18, 2003
Moms and blogs
I don't normally read the Onion, but this entry caught my eye: Mom Finds Out About Blog. An amusing read if you're so inclined.
November 17, 2003
The DSL comes back tomorrow...yeah! Only two weeks after the move...guess it could be worse. I'll be back to more traditional blogging then. In the meantime, here are a few more interesting links for your blog surfin' pleasure:
November 13, 2003
Here's another collection of (I think) interesting links. As they say, your mileage may vary! What struck my fancy:
October 25, 2003
Practices in web design
The site has been developed by Heidi Adkisson (an "interactive architect" ... oy!) in order to make her masters thesis (an MS in Technical Communication...yes!) more accessible. In it, she reveals the results of surveying 75 leading e-commerce sites...how they handled web design essentials such as global navigation, breadcrumbs, search, and link colors. As she notes, common practice doesn't equal best practice, but knowing what is common can help inform your own design decisions.
Heidi has recently launched a new weblog, called IA THINK, which looks at "Interactive architecture, writing, and design." One of her recent entries is about Geoffrey Moore's Crossing the Chasm which I'm reading for class (after having read The Tipping Point just for fun...my masters thesis used diffusion of innovation theory as its framework). Looks like another feed to add to the aggregator!
October 15, 2003
I came across the byrdhouse review today. It's tagline is "Smart talk about architecture, design, and photography." Very nice!
Two entries I particularly enjoyed were modHouse, which shows a series of logo comps that were developed for a client, and a recipe for color, which describes a neat way for coming up with a natural color palette for design.
The latter is cool just because it is such an easy technique to reproduce. The former is cool because it exposes something from the field of design that I'm not sure is common in the field of web design, and that's the idea of exploring lots and lots of solutions to a design problem.
I think this is related to the problem with high-fidelity prototypes. Once you get close to something that is real, it makes it much harder to go outside the box and consider a design that isn't simply an extension of a known design.
October 12, 2003
Caleb goes TypePad
Oops...that's what I get for trusting the blogroll...Yinzer buddy Ken has migrated his weblog, caleb walker, to TypePad and I just noticed!
Big yeah, there's now an RSS feed so he can now go in the reader with all my other favorite haunts! Now I can read about cool things like the blogger boobiethon (oy, now there's a project for class). And I can see that he has the same bearded visage as he did when I was last in Pittsburgh. Love the funky crop :).
October 11, 2003
Fighting comment spam
I've been intrigued by the relevance of the double-edged sword as a metaphor in life, particularly regarding technology. Everyone's on the Internet? Big yeah! But now we have millions of computers that have security holes you can fly a 747 through. Yikes.
Similarly, I've been enjoying blogs both as a reader and an author for years, but now I'm being forced to deal with the dark side of it--spam via blog comments. Yuck!
Over on Brainstorms and Raves, there's a great summary of the problems and potential solutions for dealing with unwanted comments. I've gone ahead and implemented the "Screen Your Comments" option (i.e., comment moderation) for IDblog.
So, my apologies to my readers, but I'm getting really tired of deleting porn spam from my comments. Since I think the universe of spammers is much larger than the universe of IDblog commenters, I'm choosing to moderate the comments rather than try and keep up with blocking the spammers.Check out the extended entry if you want to read more of the technical details. MORE...
October 5, 2003
Internet research blogs
September 14, 2003
Ah, now we're getting somewhere! My idea of doing the second blog is looking very promising now that Donna has pointed me to the OtherBlog plug-in for MT. This way I can set up a second blog that incorporates the useful templated stuff (like the category and monthly archives) of IDblog. Neat!
Facets in MT
Note to self...not sure if I will use pixelcharmer's note on the faceted Moveable Type (which appeared on the blog scene a month ago), but I should bookmark it just in case. I looked it up as I'd like to add a booklist feature to IDblog, and haven't exactly seen a good way to do this.
Over on Asterisk*, Keith discusses how he's approaching this. Seems closer, but looks like a heck more hacking than I'd like to do. Given this, I'm actually thinking an easier way to do something close to what I'd like is creating a second weblog and then just using a version of IDblog's templates! Then I can have categories that map to my existing categories, with the entries for each corresponding to a single book (which makes it easy to support comments for each book, so other folks can share their two cents about the titles).
The only real question is whether I can refer to IDblog's category or date archives (your standard right-nav fodder) from this second blog using MT, or whether I have to hard-code 'em. Another question (that isn't as important) is whether it's worth using the MTAmazon plug-in. Stay tuned!
August 21, 2003
A blog facelift
Ah, a quick lunchtime entry. I just noticed that City of Bits has gotten a facelift (and new face for author Louise Ferguson :). I'm undecided about the mouseover behaviors of her non-clickable right-nav heads, but otherwise really like the new clean look!
August 19, 2003
Google ads and blogs
John Robb talks about being in the middle of the second web advertising boom and suggests that this one is likewise doomed to fail:
The first step is to put advertising on weblogs that are "qualified" as contextual content through an automated mechanism of keyword analysis (Google's Adsense). A flawed mechanism if there ever was one. The second step is to trust that visitors to weblogs are very likely to click-through on Adsense text ad in order to provide, at zero cost to themselves, a small stipend to the author of the weblog. This "click to contribute" impulse will grow until the system breaks down.
Besides that, they are ugly, aren't they? For example, check out typographica, which is experimenting with this blog "money grubbing." Maybe you can style 'em up a bit, but if you're going to hide 'em way below the fold to keep them less obvious, why bother at all? You're hardly going to get enough clicks to matter.
At least with Amazon Associates, you get to decide what gratuitous product advertising you do. With Google, you're at the mercy of their algorithm.
August 9, 2003
I'm not sure if this is really necessary (what with this being a weblog rather than a website), but I've finally spruced up IDblog's 404 page. What's kinda creepy is that in reviewing the logfiles, I don't see 404 errors for old files that are no longer around or links that someone coded wrong...instead I see searches for FORMMAIL.PL. I wonder how many sites still have that vulnerability in place?
August 7, 2003
BloggerPro still unavailable
I guess I'm not done questioning weblog hosting services for the night. It appears that BloggerPro is still "offline while we retool. Sorry for the inconvenience. Please check back next week. " I got that message a month ago. Curious.
Here's an interesting "feature" of the new TypePad weblog hosting service. If you decide to set up a "typelist" of books or music and you didn't specify an Amazon Associate's ID when you set up your user profile, TypePad will use theirs (actually Six Apart's; see example).
If you aren't familiar with Amazon's Associate program, the program pays people based on purchases made at Amazon via links on Associates' websites. It's not a bad program...sites can make a little money (or more if they have great traffic) and Amazon gets great referral traffic.
I use an Associate ID for the links on IDblog, though I don't get the dough. What little revenue is generated goes to STC (a non-profit organization), where I founded the ID SIG.
That doesn't mean that I think it's bad for bloggers to try and make a personal profit. But what you may not know is that the Associate gets credit for anything someone buys at Amazon during the visit after they follow the link. Well, almost anything. I think I tried buying my Treo after clicking on one of my Amazon links and didn't get credit for that. But STC did get credit for the "Rough and Tumble Ball Pit" that someone purchased... makes you wonder what series of clicks that person made :)
So if you have moved to TypePad or you plan to, you might want to go ahead and sign up as an Associate...it's free, and why shouldn't you get the perks of sending traffic to Amazon!
I just signed up to go to BloggerCon, which will be October 4th in Cambridge MA. You have to be "invited" to the conference, but all you have to do to get it invited is to sign up for their email list or email firstname.lastname@example.org. It'll be fab to be in the old neighborhood again...I miss it terribly.
July 24, 2003
Lou updates too!
July 15, 2003
Fun with MT
Boy, if I ever really want traffic, all I need to do is write an incredibly useful article like Beyond the Blog, by Matthew Haughey. In it he describes very cool ways to extend Movable Type's basic functionality. Thanks to Nick over at Digital-Web for the pointer.
Oh, and speaking of them, in pulling up the page again, I noticed the entry about Netscape's official death. It may be tilting at windmills (I like to do that), but this seems like an organization I'll want to support: the Mozilaa Foundation. Sure like their browser!
July 11, 2003
July 10, 2003
Origins of 'weblog' and 'blog'
This one's more for me (want to log it for the record), but some of you may be interested too. Responses to a question on the air list (for internet research) about the origins of the terms "weblog" and "blog" have pointed to Jorn Barger and Peter Merholz, respectively as the source for each.
While declining to provide precise numbers, Jorn Barger, who publishes Robot Wisdom, one of the oldest and most popular weblogs, and who coined the term weblog, said his daily traffic has grown to tens of thousands from the mere hundreds when he started in 1998.
PeterMe does take credit for "blog" on his own weblog here:
As such, it's weird to experience how my love of words and wordplay has actually made an impact. Sometime in April or May of 1999 (I can't say for sure when I exactly did it), I posted, in the sidebar of my homepage:
In this same post, Peter credits the Blogger folks with keeping "blog" from dying "a forgotten death," but I bet it would have succeeded regardless.
Anyways, just wanted to file this...bet it might come in handy when I take Nancy Kaplan's class on information culture in the fall!
July 7, 2003
Getting spoiled by RSS
Alas, it is powered by blogger. I almost titled this post "blog snobbery" for there is a bit of snootiness that can be associated with which blog software you use, but here's my real issue. If a weblog doesn't have an RSS feed, it's kinda like, "hey, that's great...see ya in a year."
Alas, poor blogger folks. It is just fab that they have access to a free tool. I started IDblog on blogger. But it sucks that an RSS feed is (apparently) only accessible via the for-fee blogger pro interface. I say apparently because if you go check out blogger pro, you get:
Ouch! Blogger Pro ordering is currently offline while we retool. Is it just me, or would you have figured that the folks at Google would have thought of a way to let folks sign up while they retool? Good thing for them that Ben and Mena still have TypePad in limited beta!
After a visit today to Zen Haiku, I was inspired to update IDblog's most recent comments area (see top, right) to preview comments rather than simply list number of comments per topic. Let me know how you like it.
BTW, I think Movable Type is simply wonderful, but I'm not sure I can honestly say the same about their documentation. In particular, important attributes for tags (like the "trim_to" attribute for the "MTCommentBody" tag) aren't listed where the tag is. Bizarre. So instead you wind up having to search and find source code you can modify (thanks to scriptygoddess.com and fembat.net for their help).
So in case this might help some other MT blogger, here's what I've added to my template to get the results you see:
<MTComments lastn="6" sort_order="descend">
July 1, 2003
Shirky on groups
Well, this one's destined to be the blog post of the week (I saw it as an email entry by Peter Morville on an IA list). It's a slightly revised keynote by Clay Shirky, titled A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy . It's an extremely interesting read, particularly if you're interested in "social software that supports large and long-lived groups." My apologies for pulling a quote that may be somewhat out of context, but I found it interesting and amusing:
I can't tell you why it took as long for weblogs to happen as it did, except to say it had absolutely nothing to do with technology. We had every bit of technology we needed to do weblogs the day Mosaic launched the first forms-capable browser. Every single piece of it was right there. Instead, we got Geocities. Why did we get Geocities and not weblogs? We didn't know what we were doing.
In the article, Shirky notes that it is impossible in these situations to separate technical and social issues, that 'members' are different from 'users,' and that sometimes the group rights need priority over individual rights. He also describes four factors that contribute to successful groups, including useful 'handles' that aren't too lightweight, ways of having members of good standing, barriers to participation (this isn't unrelated to the previous factor), and a way to handle scale.
Shirky suggests that the lack of barriers killed Usenet. I'm not sure I agree. It is certainly the case that as the masses poured in (FidoNet was a huge problem), previously manageable groups became much less useful. But the other thing that "killed" Usenet (which isn't really dead anyways) was that the popularity of the WWW took off at nearly the same time. Lots of folks who spent all their time in foo.bar now were experimenting with this new toy. But what Shirky doesn't really mention is that web-based discussion groups still suffer greatly in comparison to client-server Usenet groups. Usenet readers are still preferable in terms of their user experience (in part because they can maintain state between sessions; cookies buy you some, but not all of the functionality in newsreaders).
Or to state the point a different way, who isn't depressed about the state of spam? Yet most folks I know aren't dumping email because they are getting bushels of crap in their inboxes...they are learning to cope because there is no useful alternative to email...nor is there another type of software (even IM) which is causing folks to keep email in the back burner.
My subscription list on Usenet is much smaller than it was in the mid-80s. But I still have 8 subscriptions. I might have had more, but email lists (if which I'm subscribed to a scary number) have supplemented this. When you add the web-based archive capability and the ease of setup (a la Yahoo Groups) to the direct in-your-inbox interaction, email lists are great applications of social software. But Shirky's right...they can be their own worst enemy!
June 23, 2003
Here's another one of those 'may be more useful for me than you' features (a la search, mentioned previously). But I'm experimenting with doing my blogroll (over on the right, under categories, key links, and groups) via blogroll.com. I'm doing this because I like the feature that shows you weblogs that have been recently updated (the way I have it configured, that's the last 24 hours).
Of course, this is really a nice feature for you as well as me...there's nothing so annoying as being presented with 80 links in a blogroll and then finding out that they've not been updated in 10 years. Then again, maybe you're all using an RSS newsreader, so this is a moot point?
So...while I'm experimenting, feel free to let me know if you're on my blogroll but I don't have the link that matches your blogroll.com entry, or find out how to ping blogroll.com if you want to show up as an updated blog any weblog that uses the blogroll.com service, or email me if you're wondering why you aren't on my blogroll!
June 19, 2003
Cross that off the list!
Finally! I've upgraded to the latest version of Movable Type. I have to (perish the thought) read the manual to find out what else I may want to tweak, but I've already gone ahead and added the search capability to IDblog (see top of right nav area). I'm not sure if anyone besides me will find it useful, but if so, enjoy!
June 6, 2003
I just spent the last three days at a WebTrends class. Since we've been using WebTrendsLive for two years, the first two days were a total wash (yep, I know the difference between a 'hit' and a 'page view'). Fortunately, on day three we got to the advanced stuff (and the things that were different between WTL and the new WebTrends Reporting Service we were being migrated to).
Since my company had moved to web-accessible Outlook, I spent the better part of those first two days on email, dealing with work stuff. I had a great PC, with all the Windows 2000 bells and trappings that the training center could muster.
Know what I really missed? My AmphetaDesk RSS reader.
Yes, I had a web browser with broadband access to the web. But without my nice little RSS subscriptions (I think I'm at 50+ weblogs now), it was just impossible to do my daily check up on all but my faves.
So, it was kind of amusing today (now that I could surf thru all my subscriptions) to see this blogged by Doc Searls: RSS newsreaders are TiVo for blogs.
I had to laugh, as I'm also a TiVo devotee now. I hadn't been that tempted by their offering, but I figured my TV-happy sister would love it, so I bought one off of eBay one November (there weren't any available in stores that close to Christmas) and then decided to make sure it was working.
I hooked it up, and three days later, I knew I wasn't giving her the one that I had bought. It was just way too cool to be able to pause live TV so you could go to the loo or answer the phone. Couple that with the way that it could easily record the programs you were interested in, and that was it...I'm a DVR lifer!
RSS has been much the same. I don't tend to read my weblogs via the RSS interface. But it helps me know when one of the weblogs I like has new content, and thus saves me all that "oh drat, hasn't been updated" effort to stay current.
RSS=TiVo? Maybe not, but I'd sure hate to give up either.
IDblog is Beth Mazur tilting at power law windmills. A little bit Internet, a little bit technology, a little bit society, and a lot about designing useful information products. Send your cards and letters to email@example.com.
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