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Ie-only sites

25 agosto 2003

Grr I hate internet explorer-only sites. I’m enjoying watching the 9th World Championships in Athletics (ever since I have been able to watch TV on my computer I am watching a lot of sports events), but the IAAF site does not work under Mozilla/Firebird.

The site looks pretty nice and displays flawlessly, but the left navigation menus do not work. You open up the source to try and find the links to the competition’s timetables (which are buried deep in their site ofc), and nothing comes up. Grrrrrr.

For those of you who like watching the Championships, here is the link to the timetable. BTW I am always amazed at how pretty most of the athletes(ses) are. A good body usually goes with the job, but it’s not only that. Maybe the greeks where sort of right?

The Italian Experience

18 agosto 2003

If you’re a veteran procrastinator then you too have known these moments when large matters, easily visible from a distance of six months away, finally somehow depend on the heroic scramble to beat a five minute deadline or to find a new ink cartridge for the printer. Ridiculous. [Making Change]

Being sort of an outsider in most of life situations, I usually enjoy descriptions of the Italian Life by foreigners, outsiders in a pretty strange culture.

Thus I spent a funny 5 minutes browsing through Stumbling Tongue, a blog kept by an American (?) living in Milano (found it via geourl). I especially liked Making Change, a description of the Italian Way of dealing with cash and change.


What's the use of an empty blog?

17 agosto 2003

Hmmm maybe save people from writing dumb and uninteresting things….well, after the time spent writing the software to drive my weblog, I have to fill it with something, otherwise I’ll feel even dumber for developing something I don’t use (sounds like a well-known feeling, uhm).

Spent most of the afternoon at my parents’ hacking on the new window shades for the office downstairs. Hacking feels like the proper word, as it’s as slow and painful a process as developing something ugly in an unfamiliar language, or worse. The only thing that saved the afternoon was my parents’ sat tv (now you know why I went there on a Saturday afternoon).

Saw two Premier League matches (UTD-Bolton and Arsenal-uhm Everton I think), and as usual was impressed by UTD. They’re so fun to watch, their games are beautiful. And their latest buy, the young Portuguese Ronaldo, looks like a baby champion.

This evening I came back not for more hacking on the shades, but to watch the NZ-AUS Three Nations rugby match. I expected a better match, after NZ easy win two uhm three weeks ago. I can’t wait to see my favourite team, France, against NZ at this Fall World Cup, hoping they get to meet. Watching NZ play, one feels that France or any European nation (except England maybe) would be crushed instantly by the All Blacks strength, speed and hyper-technical plays. Then one remembers past World Cups, and France’s creativity, and the exceptional talent of most of its players (Poitreneau is my favourite), and the wait for the next World Cup feels even longer.

Looks like it's (partially) working

16 agosto 2003

StaticBlog (my Python flat-file blog) is up and running. Of course, given the short time I’ve been able to work on it, it’s missing most of the features I’d like it to have.

I started writing StaticBlog a few days ago as the tool to manage my personal web site, based on a few considerations:

  • blogs change a few times per day at most (if we exclude features like trackback and comments, which can be easily implemented on separate scripts or — better — not implemented at all)
  • you don’t need a database for a blog since entries are few, sorted only on date or category, and indexes have to be built anyway for menus or archives
  • I don’t like CGIs =)
  • there are lots of really good apps to write blog entries, a few of them even come preinstalled on modern PCs, they’re called editors (and if you’re like me, you spend most of your waking time in fron of one)
  • did I mention that I hate CGIs?
  • static pages are faster than dynamic pages and they’re cache-friendly and searchbot friendly by default
  • I much prefer working from the command line than using a web interface

If you’re reading this, it means StaticBlog is (at least partially) working. What I’ve managed to hack together so far:

  • filesystem based entries and categories, more or less like Pyblosxom (using the wonderful path Python module)
  • modular converters (.txt, .html, and .rst do far) to convert entries
  • input encoding support (since I’m Italian I’m pretty sensitive to it, things like àèìòù should work)
  • template based (via simpleTAL)
  • monthly archiving (partially done)
  • parsing only of the actually modified entries and HTML generation only of the actually modified pages (thanks to the shelve module)
  • rc based configuration with sensible defaults (at least for Unix systems)

What I’d like to add soon:

  • RSS generation (it’s already built in, I only need to write the XML template and feed it to TAL) update: as you can probably see, RSS is working now generating an RSS 0.91 feed for each category; I’m thinking of adding an RSS 2.0 feed (it’s just a matter of creating the template) to use entry dates, etc.
  • logging support, using the 2.3 logging module
  • new entry submission to blog engines (via XMLRPC? is it really a nice feature? hmmmm have to investigate this a bit)
  • support for formats needing external converters, like LaTeX or Office docs (I really only need to write a converter for them)
  • completing the half done features ofc =)
  • improving the architecture maybe by planning it a bit =)

Testing StaticBlog

12 agosto 2003

Well, this is just a test using the asis converter for text and HTML. BTW, StaticBlog is the tool I’m developing to manage my blog. Not much planning apart from knowing the features I need, and a simple key feature: a blog is a static thing, and entries live well in the filesystem. Parsing the filesyste, or querying a database on every request IMHO is a waste of resources, given the average posting rate for a blog.

Hurry Up!

6 giugno 2003

Looks like I really need to start coding on my alternative to pybloxsom. I took an instant dislike to pyblosxom when I sent a very small patch to make it run under mod_python to its author.

He made a few changes (not noticing that the content_type for the rss was set to text/html) and promptly posted a news item announcing the patch, saying that it was sent by a kind soul.

Well, this kind soul has a name, and is not so kind usually, or so people say about me. I do not need publicity, and it was just 6 lines of code, and kind soul takes less time to type than my name (which is pretty long, I agree), but credit should be always given, unless the person receiveing it decides not to.

The dislike was augmented (but this may be my usual wannabe hacker attitude that makes me want to rewrite 80% of the Web apps I stumble upon) by looking at the code.

Now I notice that all entries are displayed on the front page, or so it seems. Hmmmm better hurry with the coding =)

My USB Key

5 giugno 2003

Switch to pyblosxom

2 giugno 2003

Well, I finally decided that I needed a blog like everybody else so I shopped around a bit, and finally settled on pyblosxom. Being a wannabe hacker, I was not satisfied with the standard pybloxsom install, and decided to run it under mod_python. After a bit of hacking (mainly due to my ignorance of mod_python) I came up with a patch that I sent to pyblosxom’s maintainer. Now I have my shiny new blog, and am already thinking of rewriting it to better suit my tastes (using ZPT for templates for example). What my gf calls inutilities. =)

The few useful things on my wiki will slowly get transferred here.