Friday, September 20, 2002

Semantic Cyc

As I said, I don't worry all that much if we don't get the RDF stuff in RSS. I share some of the doubts expressed here.

When talking about metadata and making stuff "easy" for computers to "understand", people should always remember that this stuff is not easy, and computers aren't going to turn smart overnight, however much metadata is fed to them.

New release of Straw out

As some of you might have noticed, there's a new release of Straw out, 0.10. It has two new minor features — number of unread shown on the title bar, button to sort feeds alphabetically — and one important-ish one, incremental search of items.

The title bar status view is bit of a compromise. What I really want to do is a status applet, or docklet, or whatever is the approved technology for this kind of thing in GNOME 2. But this does its job and is a nice solution, so it will most probably stay.

Search is a feature which will need some love before it's where I want it to be. There's at least one bug I know (add something in the middle of the search string, it won't show what it's supposed to), it doesn't deal with updating feeds and it's a bit too eager to start searching. As of version 0.10, it doesn't wait for one microsecond to start searching once you've inserted something into the search field. It should probably have a hysteresis of, um, maybe one third or one fifth of a second, so you could type normally and it would search when you are paused. Maybe it could deal a bit better with keyboard navigation too, and I'm still not quite sure should find pop up a dialog as it does now or should it just unhide the controls in some part of the main window.

But still, it's pretty nice. Even if it's not exactly like the search feature in Apple's mail application, which is what Marko wanted.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

blogChannel module

Thank you.

Monday, September 16, 2002

On competition

Dave said Straw competes with his own software. I never really thought about it that way, but I can see his point of view. Two things about their relationship and the competition.

I've never used Radio, but it is a full-blown weblogging tool, for both authoring and aggregating content. Straw is strictly an aggregator. I have no idea what percentage of UserLand's Radio customers use it only for aggregation, and I don't expect them to tell, but still, the focus is different. I've been thinking about writing a desktop weblog authoring tool, with possibly some kind of communication going on between it and Straw, but that's a project that might never happen, and would be a separate tool.

The other thing is platforms. Straw is written for the GNOME desktop. Radio works on Mac and Windows. I don't have access to those platforms, and therefore Radio; users of those platforms don't (well, I suppose OS X users might theoretically run Straw) have access to Straw. GNOME does — or will some day — compete with those two desktops, and I see Straw as a part of that, and in a way, Radio is on the other side of that fence, as a part of the larger world of those two desktops. But that's desktop A versus desktop B, not software package Z running on A versus software package X running on B. But unlike me, Dave has a commercial interest in this, so I wouldn't be surprised if he saw things differently.

Of course, Radio might be ported some day, and so might Straw (no, that's not in the current plans and I have no interest in doing it.) If they do port Radio, I genuinely wish UserLand the best of luck with it, because I'd love to see them, and a commercial desktop software package for "normal" users running Linux, succeed. I don't know if the time is ripe yet.

Thanks, everybody

It does wonders to your ego, being hyped by (at least) Aaron, Mark and Uzopia (which doesn't seem to answer at the moment, so no direct link.) And finally, Dave putting my face on Scripting News was quite a surprise :-)

(And just to clarify — or maybe not — my position in the whole RSS thing, I'm maybe not quite as pro-more stuff in base RSS as the bit in Scripting News makes me sound. I'd just like to see some new features in it, and I'm not enough of a Semantic Webber, and am sceptical enough about everything related to XML, to be too gung-ho about the namespaces thing. But namespaces might keep things more hygienic, so maybe they might be good. Shrug. Let's just get on with it.)

Sunday, September 15, 2002

Brokenness detected

There seems to be something strange with fetching new articles, figuring out which ones are new, and saving them with the current version of Straw. I haven't yet checked if this is problem is already there with 0.9.3 or with just my current development version, but I'm seeing definite weirdness here: Straw thinks that some oldish articles are new, and doesn't seem to save the articles quite correctly. I guess I should dig into this instead of hacking on search...

[UPDATE, +15 minutes]

Take a feed, read it through, add an item in the middle of the RSS, poll the feed, everything is suddenly unread. Whee.

[UPDATE, a few minutes more]

And I'm locking up the DB too, trying to quit straw results in a hang.

[UPDATE, too many hours later]

Phew, maybe now the thing works. 0.9.4 released.