Tag Archives: Blog

A Little About Code Names

Throughout the internet, you’ll find a slew of geeks who refer to their projects by “code name.” Realistically, this isn’t GI Joe, so there’s no real reason to need a code name for your projects, right? I’m here to argue that.

Since I’m involved in several web endeavors, there is always a lot of development code on my computers. When I start something like a firsttube.com redesign or something much larger, like an OSNews redesign, it doesn’t make sense to have a hundred folders called “osnewsv4” or somesuch littered about. I used to date the folders, but osnewsv4-tuesday doesn’t help. And something like osnewsv4-20071017 doesn’t help much either.

Now it gets even more complex: what if I build something and then decide to approach it differently? How will I know which folder is the one that contains relevant code? Enter codenames!

When I knew I was going to build a brand spankin’ new version of OSNews, I knew it would eventually be called version 4, so it made no sense to start calling the first code off my fingers “v4.” As it turns out, there were actually almost 10 versions of “OSNews version 4″ before we accepted a codebase. The first ones were much different in both look and feel and code. So, for my own organizational purposes, I use code names. All that matters is which code base eventually gets promoted to the “version 4” title.

So, here a list of the codenames I’ve used on my projects in the past, going back as far as I can remember:

I used to maintain an open source weblog called Flip, which later become Small Axe. Although Flip 2.0 may have had a codename, I can’t remember or find any reference to it. Flip 2.1 was called Lobster. Flip 2.2 was called Shark, although I never released that code, largely because before I finished it, I released Flip 3.0, Turtle. Flip 3.1 was to be called Jackrabbit, but again, I never released it. Flip 4.0 earned the codename Blueberry, but it was merged into the first release of Small Axe. We’ll get back to Small Axe in a minute. The nicknames of Flip were entirely random, they meant nothing, except that I wanted the 2.x and 3.x family to be animals, and for 4.x, a complete rewrite, I decided to use fruits. That never materialized.

A large part of why verison of Flip went entirely unreleased is because the app became big and tough to handle. As a result, I stripped out the core of it and released “Flip Lite,” which was called “Red Squirrel.” There was a running joke in college about a “blue raccoon,” so “red squirrel” was a silent tribute. When Flip Lite 2 came about, it was called “Rivet Boy.” Here’s why I called it “rivet boy”.

Small Axe Weblog took over where Flip left off – I really need to get around to updating it, since I’ve probably worked up to v 0.7 by now! – but the roadmap, along with the codenames, are listed here. They are codenamed after the japanese Iron Chefs and their popular guests.

firsttube.com itself had codenames, some of the time. firsttube.com 3 was “Milky”. 3.1 was Crossbow because it was built to be cross-platform. 3.2 was Scoop Face, because it was inspired by Scoop. 3.3 was “Semi-Scoop”, much for the same reasons. 3.3.1 was “Flip”, because it was the first version to use code from the Flip project. 4.0 was lazily called “Lobster” because it was running Flip 2.1. 5.0 was “Linkfarm”, because it was – for the few weeks it lived – a link farm. 6.0 may or may not have actually had a codename when I built it, but it was listed in one directory as, “Wikitube”, because it ran phpwiki software. I merged it and my weblog for version 7.0, which, along with 8.0, didn’t earn codenames. The recently released firsttube.com 9.0 was called “Chalkboard,” because at one point, I thought the header looked like a chalkboard. Obviously, it doesn’t anymore.

On to OSNews: Again, these codenames are mine and mine only, they are neither “official,” nor even known the rest of the staff, as it was only as I was developing code that I used the codenames. The now defunct OSNews Meta Blog is actually Small Axe, so it was in a folder called “Small Axe.” We renamed it “meta blog” literally days before making it live.

The OSNews Staff Blog used to be called ftblogroller, and I actually still have the very first working version on my company’s intranet test server. The funny thing is, I chronicled it long ago on firsttube.com. That was the engine of the OSNews Staff Blog. It also powers the OSGalaxy site, although there I refer to it as “Galaxy,” I never actually got around to packaging it.

Jobs.OSNews, an experiment that everyone liked but nobody used, was called Meadow, only because it was green.

OSNews v4 had a few codenames on my computer. “NEW” was one of them, as was “TCO,” which was an acronym for “three column OSNews.” The one that eventually earned the title version 4 was Blueprint, because I threw everything away and literally started from scratch. Even the queries that fetch data were rewritten to be most efficient.

Two projects in the words: “Timber” is the codename of a module that does OSNews native polling. Why Timber? A poll takes a tally, tally like tally ho, like timber ho!. I didn’t say they made sense or were funny, I just said I used them.

Another project that has had several lives already is the iPhone optimized OSNews site. I have gone through several versions of this code as well. Recently, I tossed aside “iui-osnews” and “knox” to really work on project “McBragg.” Commander McBragg was the general in the Underdog cartoons. I seemed to remember him going on several safaris, so I stole his name for my code. McBragg’s javascript framework and CSS is not finished yet, but the underlying PHP appears to be sound, so I expect to finish that within the next few weeks.

As you can see, having codenames can help a develper understand what code he’s looking at. It would not help me at all to see a folder called “firsttube.com-20060722” because I wouldn’t know what version of firsttube.com or whether the code was even used on the live site. But certainly, if I saw a subfolder in my OSNews directory called “mcbragg,” I’d know it has relevent code. I think there’s something to be said for categorizing your code that way, plus, it’s kinda cool to have codenames. Yeah, I said it.

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How To Blog Like Robert Scoble

Robert Scoble is media. I am media as well.”

Robert Scoble, you may know, is a very prominent blogger with a whole hell of a lot of readers. Scoble is someone who I’ve kept up with over the last few years. He worked for Microsoft doing blogging and videos for Channel 9 then recently moved to Podtech to do video blogging. Scoble is a nice guy, he writes fairly well, and has a lot to say. But lately, reading his stuff has been putting me to sleep.

Scoble has zeroed in on a few keys things and has not been able to stop talking about them. So, while his blog has always been a reflection of his life, it was much more interesting when he did Channel 9 and visited the Live Mail team or the Windows Mail team and we learned about new things.

Lately, Scoble’s passions have centered around just a few things. First, and most notably (or most annoyingly), Facebook. Having friended Scoble on Facebook early on, it was interesting to be connected to so many people. Now it’s lame: Scoble’s headlines fill my “mini feed” page, even after I set it to specifically limit Scoble news. He boasts about how linking to him is like being linked to everyone of value in the tech world. But frankly, I find Facebook to be worthless to link to someone I don’t know who doesn’t use it as anything but a friend collector and an app demonstration ground. Facebook is for keeping up with people you know, not just a worthless MySpace clone where the goal is to amass the highest number of friends. Scoble treats Facebook like a contest and then tells us every detail of his experience. He’s made a few worthwhile observations (such as the question of whether Facebook is a viable advertising platform given it’s demographic) and lots and lots and lots of really boring ones.

Scoble is very proud of his iPhone, and hasn’t stopped talking about it. Seriously… like… at all.

Also, Scoble is a social network sucker junkie, and has carried on about Pownce, Jaiku, and Twitter for weeks. We get it. I tried Pownce. I don’t see what the hell I’m supposed to do with it that I can’t do elsewhere or in an easier manner. But reading scobleizer.com, you’d think it makes you breakfast or shines your shoes for you.

So, how does one blog like Scoble? All you need to do is go to Digg, find a cool buzzword or website likely to interest the bleeding edge technology people, and blog about it 5-7 times a day. Do not relent, just keep your stream coming. Join endless social networks and add as many friends as possible, whether you know them or not. Make provocative statements and then link to prominent people’s blogs; try to get them to blog about you, good or bad. Make sure you mention people like Dave Winer and Matt Cutts. Lastly, be certain to pimp targetted buzz apps like Google Reader and Adobe AIR at least twice a week.

In all seriousness, I really do enjoy Scoble’s blog. If you don’t already read it, you should really check out his feed, once he moves past his love affair with Facebook and the iPhone.

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gmail, phones, and moe., and blogging

1. gmail is incredible. since my firsttube.com account gets nothing but Russian spam now, I’ve directed it to my gmail account instead of my main account. I love the label system and the threaded conversations.

2. I’m so over my cell phone saga with AT&T TDMA, AT&T GSM, and Nextel. I’ve got the i830 which is cool but a ripoff, and f it, I’m keeping the son of a bitch. Plus, Nextel works, even in Deltona.

3. moe. was a good time. It was a money show, and I met this chick H, who was a blast, and we’re going to hang out sometime. I’m psyched, because she was actually a lot of fun. More on that, I hope.

4. Blogging is tough. You have to actually have something to say, and I’m pretty proud to say I don’t. I code a bunch of shit, but rarely have astute observations.

I coded this whole moderation thing, and then never actually used it for anything. After all, nobody really wants to test it, I think. I just had a good time doing it. moderate() will be in Flip 4, and that will be that.

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the needs of a blogger

All this recoding of firsttube has gotten me thinking about the needs and wants of the typical blogger. See, I don’t get livejournal and blogger users- the majority of them are just keeping an online diary. Worse off, the content is tripe – entries like “went to the mall with Jordy today, it rawked. we <3 shoos!” Ultra lame.

So I pondered this: what does the average blogger really want? Do they care about a valid rss feed? Do they give a crap about the code? No. They care about this: a nice, pretty, clean interface and the ability to quickly and easily add and edit their posts.

So I will add the boldify and italify and underlinify and linkify functions to Flip Lite, and start thinking about what in Flip Lite gets to graduate to Flip c2.

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Blogs Are Dead

A few years ago, when slashdot was about the only real blog out there, the idea of a weblog – a dynamically generated “newsfeed” that allowed for posting and commenting via the browser, was a novel and cool idea. Along came other alternatives, phpnuke, scoop, geeklog, radiouserland, (Flip!), and all the others, and it caught on. There’s nothing quite like having your own dynamic corner of the internet.

Of course, now, as my on-again-off-again relationship with my own blog illustrates, blogging is practicaly the norm. In fact, it’s so mainstream, that AOL is planning to offer it as part of AOL 9.0. The real problem is not just that it’s caught on, but that 99% of blogs, this one included, really offer nothing to anyone but the author and perhaps his immediate circle of friends. A blog without content is a search engine pollutor, a bandwidth sucker, a spam harvester, and a general waste of time. Blogging without a purpose is pointless. Get a friggin diary and keep it. No one else cares.

Now, I, of course, will not heed this advice, as I harbor delusions that there are people who actually read this blog –well, I know of a few at least — and will continue, hopefully, on a more frequent basis, to mumble publically. But you, you shouldn’t keep a blog. Really. They’re lame.

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It's Funny Cause It's True

I’m such a loser. I don’t need a weblog. I never kept a diary, why would I use a weblog? The truth is, I like having a project like Flip. It keeps me occupied. It works, but there’s always stuff to tinker with. I get a kick out of building it and making it come to life.

I was perousing some of the other weblogs out there. Not many support flatfiles, which is kinda neat. It makes Flip unique. Of course, there is one really super advanced flatfile weblog called Easy Base System, but I can’t really find any mention of it anymore. Still, Flip doesn’t have the professional feel that some of the other, more developed weblogs do. I happen to think Flip is more attractive, but it’s not as “pro” feeling. I might rip off some of the Slash-esque feel.

So, Which I know is lame, but I do it. It’s a clean, healthy habit – and as long as I stay away from Star Trek, the X Files, and Mountain Dew: Code Red, I should be okay. Alas…

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It’s Funny Cause It’s True

I’m such a loser. I don’t need a weblog. I never kept a diary, why would I use a weblog? The truth is, I like having a project like Flip. It keeps me occupied. It works, but there’s always stuff to tinker with. I get a kick out of building it and making it come to life.

I was perousing some of the other weblogs out there. Not many support flatfiles, which is kinda neat. It makes Flip unique. Of course, there is one really super advanced flatfile weblog called Easy Base System, but I can’t really find any mention of it anymore. Still, Flip doesn’t have the professional feel that some of the other, more developed weblogs do. I happen to think Flip is more attractive, but it’s not as “pro” feeling. I might rip off some of the Slash-esque feel.

So, Which I know is lame, but I do it. It’s a clean, healthy habit – and as long as I stay away from Star Trek, the X Files, and Mountain Dew: Code Red, I should be okay. Alas…

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Boo Hoo.

So no one uses this weblog anymore. Except me. And Heidi – a little bit. The novelty wore off, I guess. But it’s okay. I’m still going to use it for myself. I make myself laugh sometimes when I read the stupid crap I write. Sometimes, I’m embarassed I wrote it, but most of the time I’m amused.

I once wrote a short story called “Earl’s Roadside Motel.” It actually started as my first college essay, “If I could be any person, living, deceased, or fictional…” but in the end, it became some 20 page story. I thought it was hilarious. I shared it with my Creative Writing class in college. Some people thought it was funny. Some said it sounded effortful. Some said it was a glimpse into the mind of a boy with ADD. I just thought it was random fun. It’s funny. Maybe I’ll put it up here sometime.

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