I'm in the process of adapting and updating the Delicious Glue script for use on Dreamwidth. It's what powers my daily linkdumps, and I find it very useful.

The current version is http://notzen.com/mat/Delicious-Glue.zip and contains the script itself, a required XMLRPC bit of code, and some CSS that can be adapted for your journal to make the posts look good (also useful for anyone to put in for their Reading page if several friends are using it).

I plan to write a how-to on the whole thing when I've finished everything, but I'm having a few technical problems fixing some less important areas that I'd like to have work (over here if you're interested), especially setting a post security level. ETA: problems solved, me making schoolboy errors, all now updated, how to and instructions to follw when I've got time.

In the meantime, as I've not time to write it all up with screenshots right now, better to have it out there for those that do want it. You'll need your own server, running PHP5 or higher, or find someone with server space to donate (I am very grateful to [personal profile] andrewducker for both fixing the time zone issue and donating hosting space for me). If you get stuck, holler here as it'll help me figure out what needs to be in the walkthrough.
One of the best things about the internet is the ability to share stuff with friends and others. It can be stuff you've made, done or written, or it can be stuff you've found. Lots of people like doing this so much that there're sites dedicated to the whole idea, or have that sort of function built in as an attraction to users.

Making it easy makes sense

If you're creating content, encouraging others to share what you've written with their friends normally makes sense. Making it easy for them makes it likely that they'll do it. Well, normally, some churlish types are less likely to share something if the site's trying to make it easy. No pleasing some people...

The first weblogs were, literally, logging the web, they existed to share cool stuff found. Now? Billions of aps out there. Awhileback, Debi polled her readers to find out what they like to use, I'm just going to ask.

coding sharethis buttons

I'm coding a share this set of buttons, initially for my and [personal profile] miss_s_b's layout, but eventually to possibly be submitted as part of the core function of Dreamwidth. I don't want to have too many little buttons, but I think I can make it so users can choose which buttons appear on their layout, and today I finally asked how I could strip the html, a silly little problem that'd be stopping me for weeks. I also want to have it only display on public entries, but that's a lesser issue.

I want it for my reading page, to allow easy sharing of links for me. That it might encourage others to share stuff I've written is an added bonus. If I ever get around to writing again regularly.

So, already coded I have Facebook, Livejournal, Twitter, Dreamwidth, Blogger, StumbleUpon, Bit.ly and LibDig (the last being, obviously, a very niche sharing tool). What major tools have I missed?

Unfortunately, as far as I can see, I can't do one for Wordpress.com, let alone custom installs, as the post page is always within your own subdomain, if someone shows me a hack to get around it or an alternative URL, I'm very much all ears.

What link sharing sites do you read or use?

The joys of blogging using a completely new platform with a development team that really want to make it work, instead of just make it sellable is palpable.

Dreamwidth is, still, not a finished, ready-for-general-release product. That's fine, it's getting there. What's really good though, is that the team behind it are really keen on getting the documentation up to speed, and are generally pleased when you go point out something that isn't working right.

After a lot of headscratching, and a bit of trial and error, I've finally got the sidebars to my main layout almost looking right (at least on this browser, on this laptop, with my preferred default settings). Setting the margin for some of the lists to -12px was a daft solution, but until I can figure it out better, it's a working solution.

Dreamwidth's default settings for page TITLE tags were, well, a bit weird, and broke basic usability and SEO rules. So I've been hacking. )

I know a lot of people don't like reading entries against a dark background with light text--I've fixed that for you )
Prettifying the Crosspost link in the metadata )
It's all, naturally, still being tested, but I thought I'd post and let people know that a) I'm still alive and b) I'm trying to be useful.

This layout is, officially, 1337

But more importantly, hover over that 'Dark' link. Look at the S2 ID number. Everytime someone creates a new layout on DW, it gets assigned a new, sequential, number. There are loads and loads and loads of them. But those of us who signed up to the site really early, well we've got styles with low numbers. Mine isn't that low. But it is pretty cool. S2 layout #1337. This layout is, officially, 1337.

I just felt like sharing that.

(feedback on the code, suggested improvements, bug reports, etc very very welcome. Pointing out that the pale layout is barely personalised and needs a lot of work will be a statement of the already known, I'm looking for unknown unknowns out of preference...)
Some bloggy adminy points with some questions:

1) Thank you to the person who just paid for my account to be upgraded to paid; I'm always very grateful when people do this, while slightly bemused; it was on my to-do list for payday, but that's not for a few weeks, danke.

2) I've been doing some more tweaks to my layout, it's still nowhere near finished but it's better than it was. However, [profile] mooism had problems with the tag cloud in the side column obscuring the text ox for commenting; this shouldn't happen in the code and I can't replicate it, is it happening to anyone else, if so can you let me know what browser you're using and send me a screenshot?

3) [livejournal.com profile] theweaselking had problems logging in with OpenID so commented on the LJ mirror of my post; I know the OpenID commenting setup here isn't ideal, and it's being worked on by the dev team, but does anyone else have problems enough to stop them commenting here? Would a walk-through/explanation help people? I'll be doing some more work on my idea for improving the taskflow at some point as well; knowing what problems people have would be good, but obviously it's a low priority until post-election.
In my Monday post about icons, I gave replacement codes for the 5 icons that DW commonly uses as well as the 3 that LJ commonly uses. I missed one that DW uses, namely direct links to LJs using the new custom site code.

If you didn't know, rather than the old [lj-user="matgb"] code, DW has replaced it with [user name="matgb"], ie removing the LJ bit given, obviously, it's not on LJ. But cunningly, they've also added another option, if you code [user name="matgb" site="livejournal.com"] it will link to matgb on LJ, not DW. And it'll take the LJ usericon from the LJ server as well.

Which would be cool. Except it doesn't auto-discover whether it's a person, community or feed. So my post Tuesday mentioning the Russian President's blog displayed it as a person, not as a community. Which I think is slightly unintuitive and misleading. So I've fixed that.

I've added another bit of code for DW so that off-site links to LJs instead display the LJ pencil, to show it's something on LJ, not a bloke regardless of what it is on LJ. So, if you look at this post on DW using my style, it'll show the little pencil when I repeat the link. Look: [livejournal.com profile] blog_medvedev. I suspect I could keep doing these for ages—if you regularly link to IJ, WP, JF or whatever people, y'know what? Sort your own code out, ask me if you need help.
Couldn't resist writing this one up: In post-Soviet Russia, President blogs you. The President of Russia has a Livejournal ([livejournal.com profile] blog_medvedev) and updates it (or gets someone to, anyway) fairly regularly.

LJ, its future, DW not a threat and SUp taking it in the wrong direction )

Ah well. I'm supposed to be writing up what's wrong with the OpenID implementation on both LJ and DW, but I keep getting distracted.

Short version: Both sites are problematic, DW has the excuse of being new, LJ has no excuse at all )

That's pathetic. Hopefully the competitive pressure from DW will push them into making more improvements, like it has done elsewhere. Competition is, after all, a good thing, and LJs been stuck in its own little rut with nowt but a bunch of clones for too long.

Meh, rambling. Time to go do something constructive.
OK, testing again. Using the Dreamwidth poll wizard, then looking to see if/how polls crosspost to LJ. Odds are you'll need to login with OpenID to vote, etc, but it's about time you did that anyway.
Poll #197 Poll wizard testing
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 24


You use the Web posting form for

View Answers

all of your posts
13 (56.5%)

most of your posts
4 (17.4%)

some of your posts
2 (8.7%)

none of your posts
2 (8.7%)

What is this posting thing of which you speak?
2 (8.7%)

The web posting editor

View Answers

You use the HTML page
19 (79.2%)

You use the Rich Text page
1 (4.2%)

You switch depending on need/mood
2 (8.3%)

I told you, I don't use that page
2 (8.3%)

The Rich Text page poll wizard

View Answers

Of course I knew it existed
9 (37.5%)

You didn't? But I thought Mat knew everything
6 (25.0%)

It's quite nifty isn't it?
3 (12.5%)

You mean there's an easy way to post polls?
5 (20.8%)

Polls? That means having a paid account
5 (20.8%)

Ticky Box! Ticky boxes are cool
15 (62.5%)

There is no spoon

View Answers

Yay Matrix!
11 (50.0%)

Yay Dog Soldiers!
6 (27.3%)

Huh?
4 (18.2%)

Mat's forgotten the crucial cultural reference that I shall elucidate in the comments
1 (4.5%)

I am having difficulty figuring out words for describing how cool this is:



My quote of the day is from the description:
Keep in mind the scanner and floppy drive are not musical instruments. These are mechancial devices whose frequencies tend to drift and can cause some notes to be out of tune.
Seriously, how cool is that? (via)

Also, I'm testing the DW crossposter, apparently there are issues with post edits and embedded videos that we need to iron out. So comments off on LJ and on on DW, I don't plan on making a habit of this until it's way out of closed beta, but you all know me and plans...
OK, forgot to tick a box on the crossposter, let's try that again.

If you're already on Dreamwidth then really, nothing to see here...

This are a test post. There is nothing really to see. However, if you fancy following the link and saying hello to test the OpenID login, that'd be cool.

Gotta love beta testing features, this might not even work...

ETA: not only does it work, but apparently it auto-edits as well. How cool is that?
This are a test post. There is nothing really to see. However, if you fancy following the link and saying hello to test the OpenID login, that'd be cool.

Gotta love beta testing features, this might not even work...
So, following a few how-tos and some half remembered tricks from last time I messed around with my LJ layout, I've hacked into the Zesty theme and done some surgery to it.

ETA: I'm not currently using the Zesty layout, you can see where I got to here:
http://matgb.dreamwidth.org/?s2id=5702 and read this entry using it here:
http://matgb.dreamwidth.org/359787.html?s2id=5702

Firstly, I added in some code to let me define an off-site stylesheet (which I'm hosting in a Wordpress theme on my server as I can edit it online easily, a trick I'll build on I think).

Then I took out all of the "theme" CSS from the layout code and saved that in a seperate file. Now I'm adding in CSS from my normal colour scheme, slowly, in order to try to get the general look and feel of my LJ layout, but improving on it based around stuff I've learnt since I last did it.

Seems to be going OK so far, I have at least got a bearably readable friends page—it'd be nice if one of the themes available during Beta wasn't a white background, it was giving me headaches and I'm nowhere near as bad as some are.

I plan to write up a how-to anyway, would people be interested in full source for it? I've always found fiddling around with S2 to be more effort than its worth, hence the need to get a stylesheet I could edit ASAP. I reckon it'd definitely be worth getting the codebase for Zesty (and eventually Negatives for SB) into a styleable position, but I'm guessing I'm doubling up some work already being done.

Ah well. Haven't done proper code hacking for ages—it's still a bit flaky, need to finish some tweaks just on what I've managed.

If anyone can figure out how I can get my header to shrink down a bit, or how to get the navigation menu over to the right of the page, I'd be grateful.

And I do plan to get back to this layout at some point, I'm currently using just Core2 with my own stylesheet, I like it.
So, I've mentioned previously the Dreamwidth project, taking a fork of the LJ code, going back to first principles, and building a really good blogging/feedreading/social media platform out of the nascent ideas that LJ had but never did well, right?

I've also, previously to that, talked about other alternative platforms, specifically trying to build a distributed platform with the social/privacy features of LJ but without the reliance on one centralised point of failure. The specific idea being to try to Reclaim the Web.

our sort of blogging

Well, I never did get that project going. Partially because, well, it was fairly reliant on a few other individuals. All of whom are involved in Dreamwidth. All of whom share the idea of a distributed social model for our sort of blogging, a way to write about whatever you like, keep in touch with friends, but be able to interact with others on other sites easily and effectively, and crucuailly allow them to interact with you.

Dreamwidth is doing all that.

The Friends Page is replaced

But more importantly, they've taken so many little annoyances or stupidities out of LJ and replaced them with something that makes sense. The Friends Page has gone, it's a Reading Page. If you add someone to your friends page, you subscribe to them. You might also want to Grant Access to your privacy enabled posts, or you might not. Essentially, find someone interesting, follow them for a bit, learn to trust them, you can grant them access. Meaning I can follow the execrable [livejournal.com profile] j_rentoul's outpourings but not let him read my private thoughts.

OpenID actually works!

OpenID is substantially improved. You can tie an OpenID to your DW account if you've got one, and you can use your OpenID to control any syndicated feeds from any sites you've got (so LJers can turn off comments to the Dreamwidth feed of their stuff if they want, which is good). Well, you'll be able to anyway, that's not quite working yet.

easiest backup I've ever done

Most importantly, the import feature isn't finished yet. It's still the easiest backup of everything I've ever done—all my stuff from LJ is over there, including my icons, filters, bio, etc.

So, even though I still hope to set up my own server running the code eventually, I'll wait until the code is in a proper release model to do it first. In the meantime, I'll be going there properly as soon as they've finished a few features.

I won't be leaving here

Most importantly, I'll be going there, but I won't be leaving here. They're building a cross poster, so when I write a post there, it'll turn up here. You'll be able to follow links there and comment there using your LJ ID without problems, and I'll still be reading everything here.

Basically, it looks damn cool. It's what LJ should already be, and they've not finished yet.

Interested? First person to click this can use my last invite code Gone to [livejournal.com profile] akicif. I'll likelyalmost certainly get more.
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Livejournal)

So...

Apr. 10th, 2009 12:24 am
Import seems to have worked well, need to check it all out and fiddle with some stuff.

Then, well, content has been a bit low everywhere of late. I'd blame it on the norovirus but that's only been for the last three days.

I guess I need some Dw icons now.
Several things online have made me happy today, most of them related to the previously mentioned DreamWidth project.

Firstly, when designing the site navigation structure, they used a card sorting usability test to get it right, and came up with this navigation scheme, based around a design by [livejournal.com profile] grrliz. I've used my LJ OpenID to login at the site, and while it's superficially similar to Horizon, it just makes sense. I was stoked about this project just fromt he basic ideas behind it, that they're actually following usability and accessibility guidelines? Yowsers. I uploaded a userpic. I was asked to provide "a description for visually impaired users". Userpics will get proper ALT text. If that means anything to you you know this is cool.

Secondly, they've got what appears to be a top notch comment importer:
When I import, your comments will be assigned to the OpenID you made them with, which means you take control of them if you want )
Such a simple, simple thing to do, but apparently beyond the ken of most other import tools I've encountered.

On the subject of importing or backing up, remember when I promised I'd write a backing up how to? Well, I never did. Don't really need to now, Wordpress.com (my preferred online backup option) has upgraded their importer and launched Even Easier LiveJournal Migration. Seriously, you create an account, go to 'import', and follow the easy instructions. Mine is here if you want to bookmark it somewhere in case of LJ dying unexpectedly, I'll be turning off the search presence over there, don't want it to look like a mirror. Thanks for the heads up [livejournal.com profile] foxfirefey. SRSLY people, you can mark the whole thing as private "your eyes only", just make sure you've got a copy of your journal, just in case?

Lastly, a completely non geeky post. I post a lot of anti-religion stuff when I'm in a ranty mood. I know that not all religious types are crazy bigotted loons, but idiots like Christian Voice tend to spoil it for the sane majority. Today, I got another reminder, several people linked to:

The Life and Opinions of Andrew Rilstone: An Immodest Proposal

Go read it. Really.

Anyway, my importer has finally finished, so time to shut down the PC. G'night all
Short version. Livejournal has today fired about half of its US based staff, including several people that I'd say are key, if not crucial to the operation. This means that while SUP/LJ Inc have the right ideas about where to take the site, they're running out of money (and paid over the odds anyway) and can't afford to do it.

I suspect that LJ itself will continue, as it has ongoing revenue, but the improvements that it needs to turn itself into the successful site it could've been will now be significantly slowed, which puts the long term health of the site in danger. Not got time to do a full post, but here are some links:
... )
I promised a 'how to' on backing up your journal and exporting it to other platforms, in order to write that I first need to do it myself fully and properly, so that'll happen later on (hopefully tonight, depends if I can get it all to work). In the meantime, some of the comments/posts linked abouve are from [livejournal.com profile] rahaeli/[livejournal.com profile] synecdochic, who used to be an LJ staffer but left to concentrate on her writing career (I got the impression she was asked to defend the indefensible once too often)—she's a good fiction writer FWIW. Last year, she announced that with a small number of others she'd be working on a fork of the Open Source Livejournal code (to be called Dreamwidth) to update it, make it compatible with modern servers and run a platform that'd be more community friendly in the way LJ "used to be". Many of the proposals she put forward were ones that echoed what I was looking for—crucially a separation between your 'reading' list and the people you trust to read your friends locked posts, as well as complete interoperability with other sites on the same codebase.

That latter is interesting—if she/they (we?) can get it going, then different people could run Dreamwidth installations and you could still add people, let them read your secure entries, etc from your friends page, without much if any extra effort on your part. That could mean that anyone could pay for a server and run their own site. Drawback is that you'd need your own webserver, renting one of them is a minimum of £50 per month, much more for something decent.

But if enough people were to chip in, it'd be more than possible. In fact, it'd be more than viable, it'd possibly be a very good plan. There are a bunch of you reading this that know a lot more about the backend side of this sort of thing than me—we'd need to work to set it up, and then install updates, etc. Almost certainly viable with enough people, so, well...
[Poll #1326311]
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)

British Liberal, house husband, school play leader and stepdad. Campaigner, atheistic feminist, amateur baker. Male.

Known to post items of interest on occasions. More likely to link to interesting stuff. Sometimes talks about stuff he's done. Occasionally posts recipes for good food. Planning to get married, at some point. Enjoying life in Yorkshire.

Likes comments. Especially likes links. Loves to know where people came from and what they were looking for. Mostly posts everything publicly. Sometimes doesn't. Hi.

Mat Bowles

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Stuff and nonsense

I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats & the membership secretary for Calderdale Lib Dems and run the web campaign for the local candidates. I have a job, a stepdaughter and a life.

Here's the legal text:
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