Archive of Posts from July 2006

Yahoo! Hacks Video

Molly Wood (hooray for!) over at CNet took some tips from Yahoo! Hacks, and made a four minute video pointing out some Yahoo! Search tips: Video: Yahoo hacks.

OSCON Wednesday 2

Just for some OSCON closure...I enjoyed the rest of the day. Michael's talk convinced me that I should be looking into this whole "Ruby on Rails" thing, it's impressive what he's put together (, unroll backwards) with Rails and Scriptaculous. He mentioned that he barely knew JavaScript, but was able to put together the highly interactive interface for the game thanks to existing libraries.

I saw a demo of the Google Ajax Search API, and got a better feel for that. It's definitely buzzword compliant, but I'm not convinced it improves over the standard Google API beyond the perceived response time. I personally wish Google would put as much effort into expanding their existing Search APIs, rather than delivering the same data in a new, souped-up way.

The rest of the day I was on the "Six Apart" track. Artur Bergman lead a session about 6A's infrastructure. Lots of talk about load-balancing, caching, and managing servers ensued. Then 6A-er Tatsuhiko Miyagawa demoed his project Plagger—an RSS/Atom slicer and dicer. It does a ton of cool stuff, but it looks hard to install. I need to play around with it.

I didn't make it to the community sessions I was talking about, but I had fun peering into windows on tech worlds outside of my normal experience.

OSCON Wednesday

I'm blogging live from the Portland Convention Center where OSCON 2006 is well underway. After attending Webvisions last week, it's amazing to see a conference that is several orders of magnitude bigger. Instead of a few hundred people spanning a handful of conference rooms, OSCON feels like thousands of people spanning dozens of rooms. (Don't quote me on the numbers.)

It's always great to hear Tim O'Reilly talk about what he's thinking about. He listed five ideas related to open source that are designed to provoke the audience:
  1. Architecture of Participation
  2. Open Source Licenses Are Obsolete
  3. Asymmetric Competition
  4. Operations as Advantage
  5. End of Open Data
Out of context, these probably don't mean much. But I've added them here for my own benefit. And he included a couple of quotes that I'd like to remember: "When the best leader leads, the people say, 'We did it ourselves.'" -Lao Tzu, and "In the future, 'being on someone's platform' will mean being hosted on their infrastructure." - Debra Chrapaty, VP Windows Live.

Anil had a keynote this morning as well, and he talked about making meaningful applications to help people connect. He also talked about the open source Six Apart developer tools for building scalable web apps. He mentioned that most of the applications we think about when we think Web 2.0 are using at least some of the tools. I didn't realize how widely they were used.

Conference organizer Nat talked about a new focus on talks about community at OSCON—one of my primary areas of interest. And there are a bunch of sessions today that aren't specifically about coding that I'd like to see.

I'm in Michael Buffington's talk about games with Rails now...

Webvisions Day 1

Webvisions was fun for me because I know most of today's speakers. And it was great to hang out and chat with friends, and meet some new folks.

The day started with Matt talking about making money with blogging. His recipe was simple: find something you're passionate about, write quality stuff, and an audience and money will follow. The section that stuck out to me was his post "templates" for generating content: product reviews, interviews, op-ed vs. news, and mining hard-to-use forums for good bits of information.

The blogginess continued with a Practical Business Blogging roundtable, where there were good stories about blog culture clashing and melding with the corporate world.

I had lunch with Oregon bloggers and pals with almost the same lineup as last year. With the "pals" being the guys behind Daily Ping. (It turns out I'd met Ryan several years ago at Web2000 in San Francisco.) It's great to meet people face to face for some eyeball contact when you only interact online.

And speaking of meeting up, Andy's afternoon presentation about virtual communities meeting offline was fantastic. It was a history lesson in virtual groups coming together in meatspace—from ham radio guys to BBSers to Metafilter meet-ups to He proposed a three component system necessary for virtual groups to assemble in real space: 1. Personal identity development, 2. Group identification, 3. A commons (or virtual backroom) for organization. His barrage of group pictures of all types of people meeting for all types of things were fascinating.

The day ended with Derek talking about distributed communities. He was kind to mention ORblogs as an example of a new type of "connective tissue" that helps visualize distributed communities. I like his "company town" analogy for describing centralized services, and I agree that in the long run completely distributed "suburbs" with "home owners" will be more stable than having a few large company towns. If these analogies don't make sense out of context, keep an eye out for a podcast of the talk. (Or check out this earlier version of the talk he gave at Etech: The New Community.)

All in all, great sessions, great hallway conversations, and a very casual day of thinking about some of my favorite topics. Thanks, Webvisions!


For the next few days I'll be in PDX, that city of Roses—Stumptown, Bridgetown, Little Beirut, last affordable city on the West Coast, also known as Portland, Oregon—where I'll be having visions. Of the Web. At Webvisions. If you'll be there too and want to talk about envisioning the Web, drop a line.

Oh, and to read what Oregon bloggers are saying about the conference in their backyard, tune in to Topic: Webvisions at ORblogs.

Update: I'll also be in Portland a week from today for OSCON—it's conference mania around here. Ditto on the line-dropping for next week. And ditto for Topic: OSCON.

A Slice of the Blogosphere

The Oregon weblogs site I run (ORblogs) is watching a tiny slice of the blogosphere. The site is currently tracking 1,051 active weblogs, and that number is made up of weblogs by people who choose to participate at the site. (And there are currently 48.3 million weblogs, according to Technorati.) ORblogs tracks a bunch of metadata from these 1,000+ participating blogs, with most of the data exposed in various ways across the site. However there are a few bits of data that you don't see on the site, and I think it's interesting to run some numbers and share them once in a while.

One bit of data collected from RSS feeds is the generator. If you look at the source XML of most RSS or Atom feeds, you'll often see a generator or admin:generatorAgent tag. And because weblog authors usually don't touch their feed templates—if they have access to their feed design at all—this tag is a fairly good way to see which weblog tool was used to generate any given weblog.

Without further explanation, here's weblog tool usage across Oregon weblogs flowing through ORblogs:
  1. Blogger: 431
  2. WordPress: 167
  3. Movable Type: 87
  4. TypePad: 72
  5. LiveJournal: 11
And to show off my Excel charting skills, here's a pie graph of this data:

generator pie chart

But wait! That doesn't add up to 1,051. True, of the total active weblogs, 70 don't have a feed associated with their listing. (Typically because their weblog HTML is missing an auto-discovery tag, or the tag contains a bad URL.) And of the rest that do have a feed associated with their listing, 173 feeds didn't have a generator listed. The rest were generators that numbered four or fewer such as Microsoft Spaces, and PMachine.

"What about FeedBurner?", you cry. ORblogs is tracking that usage too, and luckily FeedBurner passes the original generator information through in its feeds. Of these blogs, 55 were using FeedBurner.

Another interesting bit of data typically stored in these generator tags is a version number for the software. Here's how some of the version numbers break down (when a version number was available):

Blogger (who knew they had versions?):
  1. Blogger 6.72: 344
  2. Blogger 5.15: 76
  1. WordPress 2.0.3: 33
  2. WordPress 2.0.2: 28
  3. WordPress 1.5.2: 22
  4. WordPress 2.0.1: 18
  5. WordPress 11
  6. WordPress 2: 9
  7. WordPress 1.5: 8
  8. WordPress MU: 7
Movable Type:
  1. Movable Type 3.2: 52
  2. Movable Type 3.121: 5
  3. Movable Type 3.17: 5
  4. Movable Type 2.63: 4
  5. Movable Type 2.64: 4
  6. Movable Type 2.661: 4
  7. Movable Type 3.15: 4
TypePad had a few different version numbers (1.0 and 1.5.1), but most often simply listed 'TypePad' or '' as the generator. LiveJournal was LiveJournal, no version.

And that's what's happening with a slice of the Oregon blogosphere as of July 14th, 2006.

Update: And for fun, here's a similar survey I ran using the HTML generator tag in 2004 back when ORblogs was tracking just 309 weblogs: ORblogs Forum: Weblog Tool Survey. Blogger and Movable Type were tied back then.

Linux Code Editors

In case you missed the comments on my recent Ubuntu post—Linux These Days—the mob is helping me pick out a Linux code editor. Thanks, mob! For fun, here are the suggested editors I'm going to take a look at: jEdit was recommended several times, and emacs was mentioned a few times. I appreciate the help, thanks again everyone.