Friday Aug 31, 2007

RSS Feeds: This might be important after all

I'm still in the funny videos frame of mind (see my previous entry). However, the video included in this entry includes some how-to info that was really useful to me (not just funny).

First of all, let me say that the info is more useful if you use Firefox as your browser and/or Thunderbird as your mail client,  but not necessarily. I have sort of understood the RSS thing and the blog feed thing and stuff like that. However, I'm glad I watched the video and implemented the steps because now I'm REALLY starting to understand it and I can see why I should care about this feed stuff.

Below, I'm including the URL field of a Firefox browser that you would see when visiting this blog (the blog you're reading right now). Blogs generally have feeds available, so that little orange square shows up to let you know that feeds are available. You can do a lot of things with those feeds. For example, you can retrieve them as bookmarks or you can add them to your Thunderbird mail client and have them show up in the Folder pane of the Thunderbird interface. Next thing you know, your reading your favorite blogs right from your email. The best thing is that you can add a blogfeed (either as a bookmark or a email "folder") and then you can get the last 30 entries for that blog listed all nice and neat.

 The URL field of a Firefox browser

Click that orange button and you'll be presented with a couple of options, as such:

  • Subscribe to 'Recent Entries (Atom)'
  • Subscribe to 'Recent Comments (Atom)'

If you select Subscribe to 'Recent Entries (Atom),' the first thing to notice is that the URL changes to the following: http://blogs.sun.com/JohnD/feed/entries/atom

The above URL is the feed to my blog. In some cases you'll want to copy that URL. However, you'll also notice that the web page changed when you clicked the "Subscribe..." button. At the top of the new page you are presented with options. For those options, you don't need to copy the URL.

You have the option of adding that feed as a Live Bookmark right in your Firefox browser or you can add it to another blog reader. The blog readers available at the moment are Google Reader, Bloglines, and My Yahoo. In Firefox, after you add the bookmark (let's say you add it directly in your toolbar), you can then move the arrow over the bookmark to see a list of the 30 most recent entries.

If you want to add the feed to Thunderbird as a mail folder, you can do the following:

  1. Copy the feed, such as http://blogs.sun.com/JohnD/feed/entries/atom.
  2. Go to Thunderbird.
  3. Select File>New>Account.
  4. In the Account Wizard, select RSS News & Blogs.
  5. Scroll down the Folders pane and click the RSS News & Blogs option.
  6. Click Manage subscriptions
  7. In the dialog box, click Add
  8. In the Feed URL field, paste the URL you have saved.
  9. Click OK

 The feed to that blog should show up under the RSS News & Blogs heading. You can click the blog name to see the 30 most recent entries listed just as emal messages are normally listed. Click an entry to have it appear in the window below where you normally read messages.

With the instructions above and the video that I've linked to out on YouTube, it should be semi clear. And if you're smarter than I, it might be very clear. I suppose it's actually quite simple, I just had to concentrate quite a bit while watching the video. I also had to review a few parts like 5 times until I finally got it. Hey, but that's me. With the instructions I've added above, hopefully things are easier.

Tuesday Aug 07, 2007

Software tech writers & media specialists: all together

From time to time, such as here, I've blogged about the Information Products Group (IPG). IPG includes technical writers and other media and tool specialists. There are a fair number of IPG members who blog and now you can see all their blogs in on blog, so to speak. Each of these blogs has a blogfeed into a single location. Such an aggregation of blogs, is referred to as a planet, and a new one exists for IPG. The planet is called Software Information since the group provides information about the various software products at Sun. Here's the link to planets.sun.com, which lists all the current official Sun blog planets.

So, if you want to get a sense of the various software products that technical writers and the like are blogging about at Sun, such as Solaris, NetBeans, Application Server, etc, then visit the Software Information planet and you'll see the most current blog entries from various IPG members. In the Software Information planet, in the right column, you'll see a list of the current blogs by IPG members. Actually, I have such a list in my blog, too. If you look in the right column of this blog, you'll see a heading labeled Other Writers & Such. Under that is an expandable folder labeled "+Software Related." Click that entry to get a list of all the blogs maintained by software technical writers and such. If you can click any of those links to visit the respective blog.

Saturday Jun 30, 2007

More about a user-friendly blog

It seems that making a blog more user friendly is an endless quest: maybe, probably not, could be though. Also, I consider a corporate blog, which this obviously is, to have its own set of challenges when it comes to user-friendliness and other things.

Let me ask you a question: Can you tell what this blog is about?

I would consider the following to be a tremendous compliment:

Yes, John, though I find the content so boring it's nauseating, I absolutely know what this blog is about.

As I'm sure you agree, that's quite a compliment. Anyway, I'm going to continue to work on making this blog easy to understand while I also try to make it easy to find information about Sun Java System Access Manager Policy Agent, which kind of includes the Access Manager software, too.

Okay, for now, I just want to explain what's often referred to as the "blog roll." It's a list of links to other people's blogs. I have such a list in the right column of this blog. You'll notice that most of these links have an asterisk, \*, next to them. The asterisk is related to the image that's in the right column of this blog as well as on the right side of this paragraph. That's my low-tech way of saying that you can move the pointer over a link that has an asterisk next to it and after a half second or so an explanation will appear about where that link goes.

I see some of those high tech solutions for this problem, such as showing a mini version of the page the link goes to, but those never seem to help me understand where the link goes. That could be my problem. The theory is that my little solution will help you decide if you want to actually visit that blog or site.

So, tell me, does that do anything for you at all?

Anyway, that explains my journey. Well, not really, but I'm pretty sure it explains something another.

Wednesday Jun 06, 2007

Making a more user-friendly blog

Back in my entry Various Bloggers, Various Views: Sun Software, I mentioned that I was working in my group, the Information Products Group (IPG), to make blogging easier and better. Some of that involves working on an internal blog.

Contributing to that internal blog has made it more clear that this external blog could use some improving. I've been working on the improving-this-blog thing for a while. Have you ever noticed that the busiest people in the world can always find the time to tell you about how busy they are? Therefore, I'm not saying I'm busy. I'm just saying that I'm not exactly idle, which means I have NOT improved this blog as quickly as I would have hoped. Anyway, slowly and surely I'm making progress.

The story that I've been trying to get to here is that while working on that internal blog, I came across, again, a blog entry by Jakob Nielsen as follows:

Weblog Usability: The Top Ten Design Mistakes

That blog entry was written October 17, 2005. That's almost two human years ago, which is equivalent to 14 blog years. That was a long time ago. Also, I'm not sure it applies exactly to corporate blogs. That's my way of saying that I don't think that everything that Jakob wrote in that entry applies 100% to this corporate blog in 2007. By the way, some people don't like the idea of companies "encouraging" their employees to blog (I've put the word encouraging in parentheses for reasons I'm not really sure of). About the corporate blog controversy, I like to see every side of an argument, however, in this case, I've decided to make an exception.

Back to Jakob. I first read Jakob's "top ten mistakes" about eight months ago, which was before I started this blog. It convinced me that I wasn't crazy since before that I was looking at blogs saying, "I have no idea what this blog is about. This is ridiculous!" Thusly, after first reading Jakob's "top ten mistakes," I decided to make this blog a little more clear. Which is why I immediately started with an "About This Blog" category. But still, I realize now, that I could have done more. So, now I've added a quick Blog Description at the top. Do you see that up there where it says the following?:

Blog Description: A technical writer of Sun Java SystemTM Access Manager Policy Agent documentation is pretty much blogging about the same thing.

You see, that's suppose to make things more clear. I mean, both quick and clear. Do you feel that? I've also got the photo thing going on now. Here, I'll just add the photo again below, so you don't have to scroll or anything:

I'm not convinced that a picture is as important in a corporate blog as it might be in a non-corporate blog. I've added one, but, somehow pictures can be embarrassing. Anyway, I couldn't get myself to add a regular picture, so I added this one that was taken with a camera phone, and set to some special-effect-thingy option. It either looks like an extremely poor quality picture or like I was in a horrible accident of some sort. All the same, that's better than just having a regular picture of me. A cartoony photo like this one just isn't embarrassing. Or maybe it is, but not to me for some quirky reason.

How about them tags at the bottom of every entry? You know what I'm saying? Tags! Like the ones displayed at the bottom of this entry. You see those, like "daytemplate" and "ipg" and such? Isn't that cool? I like it. Okay, I haven't really made good use of them in this blog yet, but it seems I will some day. I'm still toying with the idea of using a tag cloud in this blog somehow.

In Roller, which is the software we use for blogs here at Sun Microsystems (it's used in lots of other places, too), there's a template called the _day template. One would select Preferences>Templates to get to the _day template and that would only work if one had already customized one's theme. Goodness it seems so complicated now. It seemed so simple when I was doing it.

Like I was saying, if one wants to display tags at the bottom of every entry, one could add the following code in the _day template (this would come after the code used for the comments):

<U>Tags used in this entry</U>: #showEntryTags($entry)

Okay, I think I've explained enough about how I've made this blog better. If I explain any more, at this time, I won't be able to stand it, and probably neither will you.

Wednesday May 16, 2007

This blog is number one!

Though not in a meaningful manner, this blog registers as number one. I make this claim based on extensive research.

Research Methods: In a browser, I brought up Google Search and typed my last name, Domenichini, as such:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=domenichini&btnG=Google+Search

How I Made My Blog Number One (Based on My Last Name):

Well, mostly, I was born with a somewhat unusual last name.

If your last name is Smith and you want to make your blog number one based on "Smith", good luck, I wouldn't be able to help you there. Sounds like a lot of work.

Keep in Mind

Even though my blog is number one in a rather meaningless way, I don't even expect to keep this number one status for very long. By the time you read this blog entry, I might have already lost my number one spot. That Google can be pretty fickle. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Okay, you can now resume your regular daily activities.


Monday Feb 26, 2007

Oracle, Liberty Alliance, and me

Oracle has contributed to the Liberty Alliance by giving the alliance it's Identity Governance Framework. I most certainly don't get the full import of this. However, it's significant to me since I got this information automatically.

I'm still not “in,” but I'm not so far out. I'm going to create a trackback to the blog from which I got this info: http://identityman.blogspot.com/2007/02/oracles-donation.html

No, I'm not going to create a trackback. I just tried. Either I'm doing something wrong, or I need to register in order to create a trackback. It seems I need to register, but I'm not that interested.

Now let's see if you can understand the twisted logic that follows. Recently, I set up a ZapTxt alert (I plan to make an entry about ZapTxt one of these days) to various blogs and such trying to capture identity management-related stuff. I've played with the key words and tags and such, to get info that suits me. I have the info being emailed to me and then I have a filter which sends all ZapTxt alerts to a separate folder. Okay, I think I have a couple alerts that are actually sending me things that are useful for me.

Today, I got an alert to Ash's blog. Inside his entry was a quote from Don Bowen, director of Identity Integration at Sun. I've actually met Don Bowen. Now, suddenly everything seems more personal. So I see that as reason to celebrate. There, is that followable logic?

Truth is that information has been out there for a while:

http://www.infoworld.com/article/07/02/06/HNoracleidentityframework_1.html

That's almost three weeks ago. However, the quote from Sun wasn't in there. Anyway, slowly I'm figuring out how to get info I want. After I got that alert, I did a search and found that Info World article. Then I set up another ZapTxt alert to the InforWorld site. Again, I'll probably have to play with the keywords and tags to see if I can get the right amount of info.

Is it just me?


Friday Feb 23, 2007

Tracking Blog Visitors for Free

I've been using StatCounter's free web tracker for a little while now.

At the bottom of this blog you'll see a number for the number of unique visitors this blog has had since I set up my StatCounter account. Under the number, you'll see this link:

See real link below. This is what the StatCounter Link looks like on my blog.
It's not a link here, but it is a link at the bottom of the page.

Then what happens? I'm asking you. Really, I don't know. I thought I was giving anyone full access to my stats. Have I? Can you see everything? One thing for sure, you at least have to register with StatCounter before you can see my stats. However, I don't know if that's enough, is it? No really, I'm asking you.

Anyway, in the spirit of Sun's embrace of full transparency just about all the time for just about everything, I decided to make these statistics fully transparent to anyone who's interested.

What you should see once you get in is something like this:

John Domenichini's StatCounter Statistics
It took me about 21 minutes to be set up with my own project. Not bad considering that I'm not all that technical of a person. Figuring out what the options are has taken a while. I still don't get it completely. But I get it enough to know that it's all very interesting.

The amount of information that you can get about site visitors is downright frightening. One person visiting an entry of mine somehow had an IP address that was to some sex site. The person found my blog entry through Google by typing the words:

  • Identity

    and

  • Paranoid

That person ended up visiting this entry of mine:

http://blogs.sun.com/JohnD/entry/identity_management_only_the_paranoid

It appears that he left my blog immediately. I would guess that's not what he was looking for. I'm not sure I really wanted to know all that. I was too innocent when I came up with that title for the entry.

Anyway, outside of all that nonsense, the information from StatCounter could be extremely valuable depending upon one's blog or site. I can see detailed information on the last 100 visitors and it's all free. One can upgrade to an even more Big Brother-ish account, but I'm as big of a brother as I need to be at the moment.

There are other free web trackers, such as Google Analytics. However, I haven't tried anything else. I'm not sure what the pros and cons are of the various trackers.


Wednesday Feb 21, 2007

Blog Look, Blog Feel

I want to talk about the look and feel of this blog and, therefore, to some degree any blog using Apache Roller blog software. And come to think of it, any blog design in any way, anywhere. Sun bloggers use Roller as do thousands and thousands of other people. And it seems the number of bloggers using Roller will increase dramatically in the future.

In my February 18, 2007 blog entry, Getting Even More Identity, I implied that I'd like to discuss some of the items that I've added to this blog. For this entry, I want to talk about the three following links, which you should also be able to see somewhere in the right column of this blog (Again, if it's something like 2046 don't expect those links to be in the right column in exactly the same fashion, if at all, as shown below):

Cool Sun Blogs:

I'm not sure “Cool” is the correct adjective here or not. They're cool to me in that they help me decide what I want my blog to look like and they help me understand the possibilities. Each is important to me for different reasons. Each blog is a result of some sort of customizing of templates:

Dave Johnson:

He keeps his blog looking simple. Though he's a Sun employee, his blog is not on blogs.sun.com. Dave created Roller blog software. Yes, he created it (at least, that's what I read). Therefore, if his own blog appears simple, it's no mistake (of course, what do I know). His blog has a tag cloud. Other than that there aren't too many buttons, widgets, or gadgets about his blog. The truth is that his blog is more complicated than it looks. I'll discuss the look-of-simplicity below.

An Entry:

A blog entry of Dave Johnson's that helped me tremendously in understanding the look and feel of blogs in general is as follows:
http://rollerweblogger.org/roller/entry/approaches_to_blog_customization

I really loved that entry. I truly felt less intimidated about blogging after reading it.

Tag Cloud:

A tag cloud is a list of tags. For Dave Johnson's blog it includes words, such as Roller and Sun. Usually tag clouds have words of different sizes: the bigger the word, the greater the number of times the blogger has tagged an entry with that word. For his blog, I'm not sure if he's listing all tags there or just the more recent ones.

I don't get the tag thing completely myself. I use tag tags in conjunction with Technorati:

Technorati Button

If you click the words “View my profile,” just above the Technorati button in the right right column (no, your other right), you'll get a list of some of my tags. Here's the link to the Technorati page that's all about my blog:

http://www.technorati.com/blogs/http%3A%2F%2Fblogs.sun.com%2FJohnD

Eventually, I'll add a tag cloud, but one step at a time. One thing I do know about tags is that you can search all the entries that I've tagged with a particular tag or all the entries that anyone at Sun has tagged with a particular tag. I demonstrate that with the following links to the tag “accessmanager” (if you visit one of the links below, click the back button to return. I'd hate to lose you now.):

That way you can view blog entries that have the “accessmanager” tag in my blog or all of Sun. I think it's one of those things that's more useful as lots of people use the feature.

Key Point:

To me, a key point about Dave Johnson's blog is that it's not as simple as it looks. For example, if you move your mouse over the links near the top of the page (rollerweblogger.org Weblog About Archives Links Login) you'll notice that the addresses (which you can see in the status bar. That's at the bottom of the browser window) aren't of categories, but pages. For example, you'll see that the “Links” link goes to http://rollerweblogger.org/roller/page/links. The word page in that URL means it's a separate page. I created a separate page for my blog Policy Agent 2.2 Page, but I provide a link to it in the right column of my blog. Only his Weblog link shows the tag cloud; the other pages don't. So what's my point? I think that's my point. I'm not sure what it all means, but I think it means something.

If you experiment by looking around the Archives and Links pages you'll see that you can find stuff that's he's blogged about or linked to in the past. Then there's the Del.icio.us thing, which is social bookmarking. They've got there own tags. Yeah, I'm going to get around to figuring that out one of these days.

Dave Levy:

I came across Dave Levy's blog early after starting my blog. I liked it because he always seems to be experimenting with how to present as much information as possible without overwhelming the visitor. He'll even add an entry saying that he's changed this or added that.

An Entry:

I thought the following blog entry was cool:
http://blogs.sun.com/DaveLevy/entry/changing_my_version_of_the

To save room, he moved the tag cloud right onto the header image. He's changed the image since then to try to make the words and the image play nice. I think the image/text match is still not perfect, but he's given himself more real estate without making things feel crowded.

Powered by Snap:

Dave Levy's blog has a lot of features to slightly boggle the mind. There are plenty of bloggers out there doing the same things, so it's not that mind boggling, but it's still impressive. One of them is that you can move your pointer over an icon, such as this Technorati icon:

Technorati Icon

Then, you will see a medium-sized image appear for a Technorati web page, such as the following image:



Technorati page shown by Snap

In a frame at the bottom of the page (but not shown in the image above), you'll see the words “Powered by Snap.” You can click that medium-sized image to get brought to the actual Technorati page. This feature, “ Snap Preview,” is available to the likes of you and me, I guess. I visited the link in the sentence above just long enough to copy the link and read five seconds worth of info. It's another one-of-these-days things.

Key Point:

To me, a key point about Dave Levy's blog is that you can find anything you want in about 19 different ways. The links Yesterday's Words & More Tags & Links (Beta) provide lots and lots of links. You'll notice that there are more tags available on the Yesterday's Words page than in the cloud tag on the main page. I think I read somewhere that you can show tags for a recent period of time, maybe six months, which might be what he's done for the main page. I'm not sure of any of this.

Like Dave Johnson's blog, Dave Levy's blog has an archive with all the months listed one by one. Actually, Dave Levy's blog has that in the right column in a slightly different way than he has it on the Yesterday's Words page. I like having access to the listings by month, but I'm not sure if all the availability is too much. Truth is it's probably fine. I can just ignore the extra pages unless I'm really looking for some information that I just can't find. I don't think I need to understand how all the info overlaps or whatever. If I think about it, my head hurts. It seems I'm taking this too seriously.

Gregory Reimer:

Somebody knows a thing or two about web design. Gregory didn't exactly use one of the themes provided by Sun for bloggers (well, sort of in a break it down, build it back up kind of way), he didn't use one available out on the web either; mostly, he just pieced one together (at least, that's how I read it).

Three Entries:

I couldn't do just one entry for this blog. It just wasn't possible. While I don't fully understand these three entries, they are very, very exciting (like watching Pulp Fiction only completely different).

  1. http://blogs.sun.com/greimer/entry/blog_redesign

  2. http://blogs.sun.com/greimer/entry/how_this_blog_design_was

  3. http://blogs.sun.com/greimer/entry/where_s_the_calendar

Can anyone read those three entries and tell me they aren't cool? I mean, is such a thing humanly possible?

The Calendar:

There is no calendar! Get it? That's the interesting feature or lack thereof. You'd have to read entry 3 above to understand why he doesn't use a calendar. I didn't agree with his theory the first time I read it. Now, I feel like I'm not worthy. It might just work out fine not having a calendar. In fact, it might just be brilliant.

Key Point:

To me, a key point about Gregory's blog is what he calls the “four-layer approach.” Again, he explains this in the entry numbered 3 above. For this approach, it seems that the following page of his is pretty important:

http://blogs.sun.com/greimer/page/Archives

I'm not sure if such an approach will hold up if there are hundreds of entries. But, like I implied before, I'm not worthy of critiquing such a well crafted blog at this point.

Conclusion:

Basically, these bloggers and I are in different leagues; different games perhaps. Still, there are things I can pick up here and there by looking at/reading their blogs. My main conclusion is that it's too early to conclude anything. Some things about blog design are probably a matter of personal style. Some things are probably hard-wired facts about how humans best interpret information. When will I be ready to make some conclusions? For lack of any idea whatsoever, I'll say 2046. That seems to be as good a year as any.

If anybody reads something in this blog entry that is absolutely ridiculous, or brilliant, please let me know. I'd like it better if you said it nicely, but whatever works for you is fine.



The opinions expressed in this blog entry were stolen from various people, but are not necessarily opinions shared by my employer.


Sunday Feb 18, 2007

Getting Even More Identity

By now, my blog has definitely acquired more of an identity.

Look around this blog and you'll more or less see a real blog. I come across pretty much like a blogger.

Considering that I didn't understand a thing about blogging just four months ago, I'd say that's good. The truth is that at this point I don't really understand all the widgets on my own blog, but I do know that it somehow seems appropriate to use the word “widgets” in this context, so there's that. I might not actually be using the word correctly, but one thing at a time.

I think I'll focus a few blog entries here and there over the next few weeks on things I've added to my blog, but as of yet, have not explained. For example:

  • I've recently added a few links in the right column to other people's blogs.

  • I've also added the following:

    • A Technorati button:


    • A ZapTXT button:


    • A StatCounter counter (at the bottom of this blog):

The identity-management-ness of all this new stuff is not obvious, but the connection is often there behind the scenes. For example, the way I've been experimenting with the Technorati and ZapTXT stuff has a pretty strong relationship to identity management.

I'll transparentize all of that stuff soon enough. Right now, I'm just coining words and otherwise abusing the language for no transparent reason.


Friday Dec 15, 2006

Adding this entry from StarOffice

So, I'm writing this blog entry using the StarOffice Weblog Publisher, which is an extension. Here's a page about StarOffice 8 that includes info about the Weblog Publisher extension:

Star Office Info, including Weblog Publisher extension

What I didn't catch when I first tried installing the extension was the following:

Requires StarOffice 8, StarSuite 8 (Update 3 or higher) or OpenOffice.org (2.0.3 or higher)

That would have been good for me to know. That's all been worked out now. At one point, I even went to the following page, which provides detailed information such as the version of StarOffice required to use the Weblog Publisher, but I didn't notice the “ Update 3 or higher” part:

Sun Weblog Publisher page

We'll see what works for me using Weblog Publisher and what doesn't.

Right now, I'm typing into StarOffice. I then

will add an image. But that's a bit funky. Adding an image while using StarOffice? It would seem that StarOffice wouldn't know what to do with an image that I add using Insert>Picture. I mean, it can show it in StarOffice, but how's it going to transfer it to my blog when I submit it. Won`t I have to upload the image separately?

No, I guess not. I just submitted this entry and started uploading the image separately. However, it was already there. Or I'm losing my mind. In my blog entry, it's already pointing to the image that StarOffice renamed somehow. That part is magic to me. Anyway, with StarOffice I was able to submit this entry directly to my blog. A lot of things, such as images, are just taken care of.

This arrangement with writing my entries directly in StarOffice has promise.

By the way, looking at the image above, you'll notice a Weblog menu. That gets added when you add the Weblog Publisher extension. Another "by-the-way", does the image quality seem low? I'm not sure if it's worse than usual or not. Questions, questions.

NOTE: I added this note later. The image above should look clear now. I went back and took away the height and width tags. It seems StarOffice adds those itself. It was height=”472” and width=”594.” That re-sizing to a smaller size caused the image to be really choppy. However, I'm guessing those measurements, especially the width, are good guidelines to keep in mind when creating images. I say that because after I took away those tags, the image was huge. Therefore, I deleted the image completely and created another screen shot, which is what you should see now. The first time, the screen shot was of the entire StarOffice window. This time I re-sized the StarOffice window to a much smaller size. I actually viewed it at less than 100% so it would be a lot smaller when I went to make a screen shot of it. Now, the image is just over 600 pixels in width. That should fit better.

If I had kept the original width of the image, it could easily have extended into the right column. The person viewing the blog would then need to enlarge the window, if possible. If the resolution of the person's computer was set to something not so fine, then perhaps the image would take up too much real estate no matter how big the window is re-sized to. Just things I need to keep in mind. By the way, I also renamed the image. I'm not crazy about having an image name that's just random numbers and letters.

I submitted this entry as a draft. Therefore, it didn't go directly to my blog as a blog entry. It showed up in my blog as a draft in text format with all the tags included. Then I could see how StarOffice tagged everything to see if it teaches me anything. It taught me that it spaces things in an interesting way between paragraphs. I'll have to get used to that. I had way too much space, so I just took out a lot of spaces between paragraphs. So, it seems I'll still want to be ready to edit the HTML tags.

That's that!


Wednesday Dec 06, 2006

Roller blogging software: method to its madness

I was wondering if I would trip up the blogging software for blogs.sun.com, Apache Roller (incubating) 3.1-rc1 by having two or more blog entries with the same exact name. I've used the following title twice so far:

Writing Out Loud...And in Incomplete Sentences

Somehow Rolller was able to create different URLs to the two entries by adjusting the title of the entry:

It would seem Roller is pretty busy behind the scenes just waiting for some idiot like me to use the same exact title twice. Now, I wonder if I use that same title ten, a hundred, a thousand times, what will Roller do to the entry name to ensure that it's unique? Will it finally hit a limit of iterations it can come up with or will it just start adding a number to the title, such as "writing_out_loud...and_in_incomplete_125,"or what exactly?

Obviously, a developer has thought through all this before. And to think, most people will never even notice.

Monday Nov 06, 2006

Yeah, What He Said.

I'm using this blog to trackback to Dave Levy's blog entry, "Finding stuff I said last year!"

First, I want to see how this trackback thing works. Second, I'm just so sure that there's really something huge to learn from Dave's entry. The entry caught my eye in Sun's main page of entries at http://blogs.sun.com. That page (in the left column) presents a list of recent blog entries by Sun employees, So, his is gone by now. However, it seems his blog usually shows up in the top fifty Sun blogs in the right column of that page [Hot blogs (today's hits)].

People are going pretty wild on email today here at Sun about easy tagging recently being introduced in Sun's blog software (Apache Roller). Maybe in a month, I'll completely get what they're talking about. Maybe then, I'll go back to Dave's blog, try to read the HTML source code, and actually understand what he's done. It sounds clever somehow. So, I'm on "trackbacks" while everyone else is on "tags." When I get to "tags," everyone else will probably be onto something else. If I ever get ahead of the curve, it will probably be out of style. I'm afraid that by then, the future will be so yesterday.

Sunday Nov 05, 2006

It's Not a Blog, It's a Lifestyle Change.

I've been doing this blogging thing for a little more than two weeks now, and as I expected it takes some getting used to.

It definitely requires a shift in thinking. It seems better if one is always thinking in terms of the blogability of things:

  • I just sent out a new document for a Policy Agent. Should I blog about that?
  • I don't get this tagging thing with blogs and Technorati and whatnot. Should I blog about that?
  • I just listened to some obscure band called "The Runs." Should I blog about that?
  • I just fell off my chair. Should I blog about that?

People don't keep blogs going. That's the problem. They can't think of anything to say. They aren't constantly thinking about the blogability of things. As George Costanza might say, "I can't think of anything to blog about...That's a blog." I've looked. The most popular blogs out there are often about nothing. But it's the way they're about nothing.

So, I don't want to try too hard to say something brilliant, because that usually happens for me about once every three years. That would be a pretty sparse blog. I'll settle for constantly saying "not much" in a mildly entertaining manner. I'm good with endurance and consistency. I've always been good at those things. Therefore, I might just have a shot at this blogging thing. It's not about making your words count. It's about counting your words...Do I have that right?

There's still so much to learn. I don't get the lingo, I don't get the concepts. It seems kind of like someone saying "English follows the order of Subject-Verb-Object. Here's a dictionary. Have at it."

There are feeds, trackbacks, bookmarks, and mediacasting. Certainly, you know about del.icio.us, Digg, Bloglines, Flickr! I've even visited these sites and leave them thinking, "Now how am I going to use that site to help me blog?"

Okay. baby steps, baby steps. Right here, I've pretty much just completed another blog entry. See, I don't know much about blogging, but I have quite a few entries now. I just need to continue to do this for the rest of my life. I've lost three pounds already. I'm not even making sense. But that's not the point right now. Just keep writing. Keep on blogging.

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