Trusted new design

Trusted places new design

If you want prove design can make a huge difference, check out's new web 2.0 design. Its something very beautiful and ever so sweet to use. Also very clever putting the survey in after you login. My drink selection says it all. Good work guys, now I feel so much happier logging in and using the site.

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Playing with Twitter, but I’m not all that happy yet

Twitter screenshot

After hearing Ryan Freitas talk about Twitter among other things, I've been trying out it out. If you don't know what Twitter is, check out Derek Powazek's description.

Twitter lets me SMS to a group all at once and creates a handy 'what I'm up to right now' insert for my site. A kind of in-situ, realtime, status message blogging. Fun!

So yeah its a good way to send short timely messages to a pool/group of friends. Those messages can be text messages (sms) or even im using jabber. It sounds really good but it has problems. Tantek posted up shots of ways to improve the pretty poor signup process. But I've been having problems registering my work mobile phone which is on O2 with Twitter. What also bugs me is the fact you can only register one mobile number. Yes I know its rare people have more that one mobile, but those who would use Twitter are much more likely to have 2 phones or 2 lines. My other issue is around adding your friends. Please please, allow me to add either my flickr network, upcoming network (why flickr and upcoming don't interop, is still beyond me), Plaxo contacts or even a Foaf file. I just can't be bothered to setup another network of friends in Twitter.

I do see the use of Twitter, specially for setting up adhoc geekdinners and getting people organised. But I would prefer to see Twitter used as an output point for messages. So I could send messages to it from almost any application or service and it would amplfy it to a certain group. Maybe it can do this already, it has an API so its certainly possible.

My username on Twitter is cubicgarden under the name of ian forrester, as you'd expect.

David Czarnecki has wrote a Twitter Plugin for Blojsom 3.0. Its currently in CVS but it will update twitter when there is an update or new entry to a blojsom blog. Damm I need upgrade to blojsom 3.0.

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RSS as the vaseline that’s greasing the wheels of Web 2.0

Jeremy Keith writes about how everything he uses outputs RSS of some kind which can easily be mashed up. Yes this is pretty straight forward and I hope commonly known now but what prompted me to blog was this bit.

At the recent Take Back The Web event here in Brighton, Rob Purdie talked about RSS being the vaseline that’s greasing the wheels of Web 2.0. He makes a good point.

Over the course of any particular day, I could be updating five or six RSS feeds, depending on how much I’m blogging, how many links I’m posting, or how much music I’m listening to. I’d like to take those individual feeds and mush ‘em all up together.

I think were finally at the stage where its accepted that RSS and ATOM can be like RESTful API's. I remember having a email exchange with Jeff Barr about this and he disagreed. Well I'm sorry but it looks I was right.

What Jeremy also talks about is why I love XSL so much. As long as its valid XML and web accessable I can do something with it. I've been asked to be involved in a special project for Christmas to do with XSL, so look out for that soon.

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Web 2.0 Summit coverage

Quick heads up on where to get really iindepth information on the O'reilly Web 2.0 Summit which just finished recently. Richard MacManus from the Read/Write Web has tons of posts which seem to cover pretty much everything. His wrap up post links to everything he's written in notes.

I also have to point to Ben Metcalfe's post about his ignoyance about the people attending the web 2.0 summit. Richard also picks up on this.

Some folks, like Ben Metcalfe, think the conference has lost its edge. Maybe it has, but the Web 2.0 Summit is a different beast now than it was last year – and that's a sign of the times.

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What the heck happened to x3d?


Well it would seem the x3d community blog has the answer to my question.

5-10 years ago people were touting that it would only be a matter of time before everyone started building 3D web sites just like they were building HTML pages. What happened? Is it that 3D on the web failed? Or is it that many of us didn''t really understand that the Web is a much bigger and more diverse place than HTML pages? X3D, particularly in it's XML incarnation, is actually growing very very rapidly on the web. But it's not growing as HTML pages – it is growing as real XML-based applications that demand serious technical chops to develop

That maybe but come on, your telling me the x3d guys don't want people to mashup realtime data and api's into something x3d? Then looking back a little longer, I found this gem.

OK, so we've spent like 5 or 6 years moving from VRML to X3D…what's the point! Visually the advanced VRML browsers compete pretty well with X3D browsers but it's time to make the XML magic really appear.

Sandy suggestions some implementations and boy oh boy are they run of the mill. No disrespect but there pretty boring and if I saw these, I would shake my head in shame. Recently I've been very much into the visualisation of complex data and honestly I think via some very clever use of x3d you can generate something actually very useful. Lets do a better example. Take Digg data and boy oh boy you could do some very clever things to map whats hot and whats not. Through transparency and using the zindex it would be possible to show existing stories from days before and maybe there peaks. It would be like a landscape of stories with there digg totals in yindex (height), date in the zindex (distance) and maybe relvents or grouping across the xindex (across). Using your mouse you could hover over one and things would open up a little to show you more details of that story. Alright maybe my example isn't much better but at least its not your usual 3d on the web stuff.

I'm dying to try out some of this X3D stuff via XSL and the cocoon framework. I'm thinking about the fun I use to have with Povray and what I can currently do with XSL and XML. And I have done stuff with VRML and Javascript in the past, so I should be able do something quite interesting with a little time. I did download a X3D viewer the other day but only tried out the sample files.

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Tape it off the Internet, no really do!

Thanks to a comment by Duncan in my kill TV post a while ago, I've now checked out Tape it off the Although its not actually a web 2.0 application or social tool yet. Its got a lot of potential as idea at least.

They seem to have a lot of the simple things right, for example there is a post about why recommendations could be important when you drop off the schedule. There right, when you drop off, you end up relying much more on friends recommendations and what people and things around you say. So for example me and sarah have become big fans of Firefly and Serenity, browncoats some would say. The reason I engaged with Firefly and the movie serenity was a couple of things. My friend doug, a lot of blogs about the treatment Firefly got from Fox and what tipped the balance a Wired article. I was recommended Lost by my buddy Waheed and Prision Break from Tom but another way I gage interesting shows is by torrents which have lots of downloaders times by the time it was published. Some Torrent sites make this easy to sort by, others dont. It would be nice to have a webapi for these things sometimes.

But back to tape it off the internet, another thing which made me shake my head in agreement is the friends x episode tracker. Its best explained in the post.

Let us take the problem outlined below, that of different friends of yours not all being on the same episode of a show, making conversation about said show… delicate to say the least, lest you drop a clanger of a spoiler.

Seriously this happens all the time, i usually have to ask what episode someone is on before talking about it. Lost is a nightmare right now because a ton of people are on the UK series which I believe is coming to the end of series 1 soon. A couple of friends have seen the whole series 1 but not started on 2, and then about 3 people I know are fully up with ep5 of series 2.

So guys behind the idea, when's the vaporware going into Permanent BETA with a Open API, tagging and tons of Ajax? hehe…

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Flock finally revealed to the public

flock logo

So at long last Flock is out in a form that the general internet public can download and play with. And honestly after all the hype and secret squirrel secrecy, its a bit of a let down. Let me outline what it is and what it does differently.

He's my screenshots of the Flock and everyone's Tagged Flock pictures.

It looks to be a Deer Park alpha build of Firefox (might be wrong but its at least a beta) with additional features. What are the extra features? Well…

Add a blogging tool,
Add bookmarking but remove regular bookmarks,
Add a Safari RSS type aggregator and remove livebookmarks,
Add a nice, well designed skin and little tricks here and there.

And you pretty much got Flock.

tagging up star items in flock

I think if Greasemonkey was not available I would be very much more impressed. But lets be clear, its a early alpha and can be steered in different directions. I like that fact they have put bookmarking deeply inside and its certainly better than the firefox plugins you can get which do simlar things. But the flickr intergration feel more like a poor after thought in comparison. Its nice to have a blog app right there, but right click and blog is a little sucky and I couldnt get it working for Blojsom under the Atom, moveabletype or even metaweblog API's at all. Which is strange because I thought at least metaweblog would work. I checked the blojsom logs after David's comment, nothing is coming through from Flock or any other besides my own wblogger client. Oh yeah heres the nasty html error I get. Try and make some sense of that…

So at the end of the day version 0.4 alpha is not bad, I won't replace firefox because Flock is certainly not amzingly stable. People have already took pictures with boxes being cut off and the like. Here's a few of my grumbles. It could be that I'm running Flock on my tabletpc computer but I dont think so. Greasemonkey can do a lot of the little tricks Flock has, but there not as smooth or well thought out. Flock is worth keeping an eye on for later.

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Should we solve one click subscriptions by turning the html off?

Thinking about RSS in a slightly different way is Bill de horas (found via Paul James).

at some point weblogs flip over and the HTML website bits will become secondary fluff to the XML content, like how PDFs are secondary web fluff to HTML today

It certainly looks like the first site is actually down at the moment. But even the title and quote raises a load of questions which I've been thinking about.

When (if ever?) will RSS, Atom, or something reading out grows HTML browsing?
Will it be via RSS, Atom, Web Api's, Webservices or something else?
How will the write nature of the web fit with such a change?
Is it worth having a specification beyond XHTML 2.0 in the light of this title?
Should the w3c push for a standard of RSS or go along with Atom?
When will the first lot of RSS only services and sites (maybe not the best term now) emerge?
Is content negotiation really your friend or actually your foe?

Maybe some of these questions are answered by the post, but I still cant access it. Here's the google cached version.

So now finally seeing the entry fully, heres some more thoughts…
Bill certainly thinks along the same lines as Miles. But he certainly does make some good points.

While the browser wars continue on their merry percentage-driven dance, it all seems somehow kind of pointless and wistful, like having a really satisfying argument over the pros and cons of various 8-track tape players, while the rest of world are sucking down MP3s into their iPods.

Indeed, the upcoming browser wars is largely irelevent for a small but growing group of internet users.

The idea of turning off the website for this place and just serving up the feed does not look unreasonable at this point. I'm betting 90% of traffic to the archived html files here is only driven because the permalinks and trackbacks point there instead of direct to feed entries. It's slavish. Honestly, permalinking to a html file is starting to look more and more like a bug. Why not point to the XML entries? (Answer: I'm not sure, but in my case it might have something to do with having a Perl Deficit).

Good point, but RSS archiving is pretty important when you consider this point more deeply. I guess it would make sense for myself to link directly to the blojsom entry files which are simply subset xhtml files. This would also make sense if you consider client side transformations.

The frontpage would be the feed, the archives would be Atom entries, and instead of a “subscribe to the feed” buttons, you could have “read this stuff in a browser” buttons

Nice idea, I love the idea of a view this with a browser button.

Web browsers are still good for the following however:

1. Testing webapps
2. Shopping
3. Posting to delicious
4. Search forms

That list is pretty much what Miles came up with too. How odd… But following on.

1 is a self-fulfilling prophesy (or a death-spiral, I can't tell). 2, well, Better Living Through Shopping obviously, but it's only conditioning to be unlearned – how long can it be before I start buying stuff via an aggregator? 3 and 4 represents feature deficit in today's aggregators, insofar as they they don't have much by the way of tool bar goodness. A Mozilla based aggregator will eventually fix that right up.

Mozilla based aggregator, how great would that be? And before anyone replies, I'm aware of Sage, newsmonster and a couple more. The ability to shop or transact within a rss aggregator is the next logical step for paypal/ebay, amazon, etc. Its also interesting to see this already happening when you consider the field bigger than simply aggregators. You know little applications/widgets which interact and transact with Amazon and Ebay webservices.

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The new simple API, RSS and Atom?

A Web API lets you use a web site’s computers, data, algorithms, and functions to create your own web services. Google, Ebay, Amazon, Yahoo, and many other web services have APIs.

RSS is like an API for content. RSS gives you access to a web site’s data just like an API gives you access to a web site’s computing power. Most important, RSS gives you access to your data that you have locked up on a web site.

Every Web 1.0 company will have to decide what content they will open with RSS. For example, Amazon already makes their content like their book catalog available through their API. But will Amazon open up user-contributed content through RSS?

This is a quote from this post titled RSS is an API for Content, which is part of the series – RSS is the TCP/IP Packet of Web 2.0. I've been kicking the same idea around for quite some time now. The overheads of SOAP and XMLRPC are already quite clear and although there really good, there too heavy weight for most general use (which makes up most of the use of webservice use out there). Using a range of RSS or ATOM with Namespaces, Microformats and RSS-extensions its possible to model most syndication type content. I've wrote examples of SMIL and SVG in RSS which a newsreader will still accept as plain RSS. Theres tons of tools and frameworks for RSS, much more than SOAP or XMLRPC. Imagine trying to parse SOAP with a lightweight Javascript library… But I'm going on. This isnt about webservices, this is about the pipelines of the net being RSS.

Someone once said, they dont visit sites which dont have RSS. I laughed then, but now I dont. I wouldnt dare join a service or site which doesnt support good clean RSS/ATOM output. Its important to get my data out on my own terms, but I would also like to get my attention data out. This is the next step but RSS will have a role to play in this too. I remember listening to a podcast (cant remember which one) where they spoke about how the public will be expecting tools and services like they experience online. Its happening, I've noticed a large amount of discussion about gmail vs thunderbird just recently. Why is search online better than search on the desktop or on your companys intranet?

Blogdigger has a good entry explaining why there using RSS through-out there system.

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