Monthly Archives: October 2003

Dann's going to be a Dad!

Good luck with everything, Dann! I'll be looking for photos in a couple of days…

I will be dropping off the air for a few days on this site as my wife and I welcome into the world our first child, Molly Janett Sheridan. We are heading into the hospital this evening to begin inducing my wife and coaxing Molly out of the womb. She seems to like it in there. I am sure I will be posting many times on the baby site this weekend. Stay tuned! [Dann Sheridan's Weblog]

CSS stuff via Bryan Bell from Zeldman

Bryan, I got this from you, but I read the zeldman feed too. I read the article yesterday, but some of it was out of my depth. CSS and XHTML are gettting closer and closer to a page description language like PCL or PostScript.

Sliding Doors of CSS. This is one of the hardest thing I have tried to teach my friends, and now I don't have to cause Douglas Bowman did a great tutorial on ALA:

“Image-driven, visually compelling user interfaces. Text-based, semantic markup. Now you can have both! Douglas Bowman’s sliding doors method of CSS design offers sophisticated graphics that squash and stretch while delivering meaningful XHTML text. Have your cake and eat it, too!” [A List Apart: for people who make websites]


Userland's discussion forums

I contributed to a couple of discussions on the “Radio” discussion group and was disappointed. The people that are using Radio have greater expectations of Userland than what Userland can provide. One person vented their frustrations and I defended the product. As a reward, I was ridiculed. I now have a small idea of how Dave feels.

It hurts someone to insult them, especially when you don't know them and haven't met them. This person called Userland (and it's employees) “thieves”; I called him an “ass”. Yuk.

Radio is not a perfect product–very few software products are. It works remarkably well considering it's age and every-changing code base. Radio comment hosting and the xmlStorageSystem servers are average at best. I regularly have problems getting comments pages to load and when I was on the “cloud” I had problems getting posts to upload. I solved that problem by going on my own for hosting and I'm glad I did.

I'd love to care about this more, but there are more things in life than software products. For me, I don't want to chase MT issues integrating modules or using the right version of perl, python, or whatever. I can and am capable. I have set up my share of Linux and Solaris servers to do just that. But for personal publishing, Radio can't be beat. It's easy to use and understand. It supports web standards and can interoperate with open standards like FTP, XML-RPC, SOAP and more. It's the only software that I would give my parents to use. It's the same reason that I own more Macs than I do PCs–my Mac is more satisfying to use and easier to maintain.

Six Apart makes a great product, but it's not for me, yet. Typepad is the best, web-based blogging software *I've* seen, but I can't afford it. To match the same flexibility as a single copy of Radio, you'd have to buy the high end product. No way, thank you.

Dave Winer on Radio's Aggregator and me on "Pirate!"

Dave talks about Scoble's use of NewsGator as an aggregator:

A picture named scoble.jpgJust had a phone talk with Scoble, and finally I have a clue why people use aggregators integrated with email clients. He had a couple of compelling reasons. 1. Since it's integrated with email he can easily forward an item to people he works with via email. 2. He has a folder where he drags items he wants to write about later. BTW he uses NewsGator. I still prefer the blog-style interface of Radio's aggregator. [Scripting News]

I like Radio's aggregator because I run Radio on a home server. This gives me the easy ability to read and post news from a consistent interface anywhere on the planet.

I dislike the aggregator in Radio in part due to it's use of tables and lack of customization. I've tried the myRadio but haven't found what I'm looking for yet.

Imagine a product for Radio users called “Pirate!”. It's a tool that loads at startup and modifies the calls in Radio.root to use “Pirate!” calls for things like the aggregator. First on the agenda: rewrite the HTML output for Radio's aggregator and set a preference for it. Pref #1–text only summaries, pref #2–classic or current style, pref #3–CSS based templates with allowance for headlines, grouping, etc.

Next, aggregator email to user based on criteria. Example: I want any post that comes in to my aggregator from Dave Winer to be emailed to me, but only once every two hours. I want a second summary email twice a day (8AM and 4PM) with news from selected sites out of the many I subscribe to. Finally, keyword searching like “directory” “google” “scripting” found in a feed generates an immediate email.</p.

“Pirate!” would also do theme generation, much like TypePad does. Take the user through a series of questions, generate the preview and have the user approve it. This would open the door for a little more web-based fun and imagery than we have now, and allow CSS-valid templates more flexibility.

In all, I want to propose that we need Radio Lite. Radio is a simple user tool, but the infrastructure is too complex. Rewrite and redevelop Radio like this:

  • DB backend like embedded mySQL (think NetNewsWire)
  • Standard UI instead of the web page. Two programs (Radio and web browser) doing one this is confusing to users. Beginners don't get the outliner. When they do, graduate to Radio
  • Leave the cloud metaphor in place. $40 gets Radio Lite and hosting on the cloud. $80 gets regular Radio and domain mapping.

These are ideas. Add your own. Brent Simmons is almost there with NetNewsWire. He's written an aggregator that posts news, but still requires the weblog software. Why not take it the next step further?