permalink.gif 2004-10-05

permalink.gif Making blogs spider friendly

Tue Oct 05 23:54:08 BST 2004  Permalink 

I've been playing with indexing blogs and, mindful of Anjo's comments, decided to try an experiment in making my blog spider-friendly.  The original idea for this was Paolo's, we talked about it a while ago.

What I've done comes in 3 parts the first two of which are part of a Radio tool I will release shortly.
  1. Write each weblog post into it's own separate RSS file. That's right, I now have about 1583 little XML feeds which each contain a single post. Here is an example feed.
  2. Create a blogmap.opml file which maps each post from it's permalink to it's XML feed.
  3. I add a tag to my blog pages which says where to find the blogmap OPML file.  This works the same way as the tag which says where to find your RSS feed.
The net result is that an application can now access the contents of my blog in a completely predictable way. From any page with the tag (which, in theory, is every blog page) it should be able to locate the blogmap outline and from there it can find every post, or, using the permalink as a key, any individual post. Each post is encoded in it's own RSS file and can be read using any standard RSS2.0 parser.

Right now the tool has to be triggered manually and generates everything from scratch which is a complete waste of time (you don't want to upstream 1,000s of files every time). The next version should hook into Radio's publishing events to keep everything in sync quietly & automatically.

I would have thought similar implementations for MT, WordPress, TypePad and so on should be pretty trivial. Assuming, of course, that the idea makes sense in the first place...

permalink.gif New GMail contact lists

Tue Oct 05 17:36:14 BST 2004  Permalink 

Speaking of GMail I've just noticed the new Contacts feature in the left hand menu.  Has it been there long?  It lets you see a list either of all your contacts or just the frequently used contacts.  If you select a contact it will show you all of your conversations with them.  This is where the flat structure of GMail shines since you don't have to worry about foldering.

Incredibly (to me) I am barely trying organise my GMail messages at all.  I currently have 2 only labels: one called Reg for marking emails containing registration details, receipts and so forth, and another called Hermes about which I may talk another time.

It's very liberating not to have to care where my email goes!

permalink.gif 1% and counting

Tue Oct 05 17:02:14 BST 2004  Permalink 

So i'm at 1% of my GMail accounts 1GB allocation.

I'd been at 0% for so long I wasn't sure it would ever happen but, now that it has, I'm starting to wonder how quickly I might fill the whole thing and what might happen then?

So far I have only been deleting messages that I obviously won't ever want again and archiving the rest.  As far as I can tell this is the intended way of using it.

Have Google mentioned whether more storage can be obtained?  I looked for a way of sorting messages by size but couldn't find anything which would make pruning a bit tricky.

permalink.gif Sigmund says

Tue Oct 05 16:03:04 BST 2004  Permalink 

Sigmund on the US Presidential Debate. Cameron Marlow has posted a listing of the most popular noun-phrases in the transcript of the US presidential debate between George W. Bush and John F. Kerry. I have applied Sigmund to the same transcript. Sigmund is a kind of... [Anjo Anjewierden]

Sigmund is a cool tool.  I look forward to the public release with eager anticipation!

permalink.gif Hurrah for the first day of school!

Tue Oct 05 13:06:30 BST 2004  Permalink 

So i'm back at University after 8 years away. After I graduated in 1996 I was pretty happy to be out of education. The degree had been a 4 year labour of  love and, although I had some academic ambitions, I couldn't work up the enthusiasm for post grad study.

Now I'm really pleased to be back. Doing psychology is certainly a change in direction for me but, when I think about it , I guess i've been studying psychology on and off for a few years now; As i've faced problems and challenges in my life, I've often turned to people & books that can help me with new ways to understand how I think, feel, and act in any given situation. It feels good to put it on a firm footing at last.

Yesterday I started a course which I will study one day a week for 3 years, 2 modules per semester.  The first module is on developmental psychology which seems to be the study of how our cognitive processes develop from infancy. This introduced some theories by a chap called Piaget (who was big on experimenting on his own children) which looked at the age at which infants understand concepts like "an object still exists even when we can't see it" and "two objects cannot occupy the same physical space." (Don't go getting all metaphysical on me now!) The main thing I took from this was how the results are so open to interpretation and how the accepted interpretation can change pretty fast even backwards & forwards!

The afternoons lecture was an overview of the psychology of personality. This introduced 6 different paradigms of how psychologists attempt to define and understand personality from the biological theorists who think it's all in the genes to the humanists who think it's all the fault of our parents! At all times our lecturer Jo Lusher was keen to instill in us the idea that these things are to be questioned.  At first I was a little impatient to get on with it, but by the end I found i'd absorbed a great deal and had lots of questions to ponder about the different theories.

Something I found very comforting was that the lecturer is an active researcher in this area and spoke briefly about her own work on addictive personality and a particular gene which seems to be present in many addicts (she mentioned long allelles but I didn't catch the whole of it). It seems that the psychology department here has a very active research portfolio. It also seems a pretty vibrant place to study.

All in all a really good start, a fun day, who could ask for more?

permalink.gif Bloglines citation macro

Tue Oct 05 12:23:55 BST 2004  Permalink 

A while ago I wrote a macro for Radio blogs which lets you add a Technorati Cosmos citations link to each post. Yesterday I did the same thing for BlogLines.

You can get the macro, called blogLinesCitations, here. This file should be downloaded and placed in the macros folder under your Radio Userland program folder. You may also need to restart Radio before it picks the new macro up.

To add the citation links to your blog you need to place a call to the macro into your #itemTemplate.txt file in an appropriate spot. The call should like like:
<%blogLinesCitations( <%itemNum%>, "Text you want to appear in front of the link" )%>
Radio will replace <%itemNum%> with id of the post number when it renders each page. New pages will automatically pick up the new citation link however to get it on old posts you will need to republish those pages (or even your entire weblog!)

Update: My thanks to Donovan Watts for pointing out an error in the example!

permalink.gif I should learn to keep my big mouth shut

Tue Oct 05 12:05:03 BST 2004  Permalink 

So, just after saying how good it was to be back in the saddle of my blog I get a technical hitch that means I can't post :-)    Thanks to Paolo though it got sorted out pretty quickly and now I'm back.  If I can find time I'll post my experiences of my first day being a student again after 8 years!