Onward! Fjord-ward!

I’ll be getting married in a weeks’ time and we’re then headed off for fourteen days touring the fjords in Norway.

I was rather hoping that I’d be able to use Google Maps ahead of time to find our hotels and what was around us, and draw up a little map of where we’d be, but either Google’s location search for Norway is the pits, or the Norwegian addresses I have aren’t specific enough. Given that they do actually receive post however, I’m tempted to think it might be Google’s fault. Anyway, I’ll probably try and work with what I’ve got.

Additionally I’m semi-tempted to buy a GPS device and track some of the places we go so that when I get back I can plot that as an exciting animated treck across Norway. Yes, I’m a nerd. Welcome to my world. What this means is that I’d have to decide on and buy a device in the next couple of days – something that’s no more than £80, which is roughly what I have to spend. Maybe. I keep seeing devices that are cheaper than this, but I read further and apparently you can’t always get data off of GPS devices. How rubbish is that?

Anyway, I know practically nothing about GPS things so any advice along the lines of “X worked for me” or “Y is terrible, avoid!” in the next 48 hours will be warmly welcomed 🙂

PDF reading and CoComment starts being useful

It’s really nice to see Foxit PDF Reader get a bit more recognition (this article about it is on front page of Digg, no matter how briefly). I’ve been using it for a few years now, and there’s now way I’d move back to Adobe Reader now. It doesn’t require a proper installation – it’s just an .exe that runs. Foxit loads really quickly and I’ve never come across a PDF that it can’t read, I definitely recommend it.

In other news, CoComment has started being actively useful. The service only used to keep track of comments made by people with CoComment accounts but they’ve now implemented a crawler which actively retrieves comments from platforms with well-known page structures. In their own words:

If you make any comments on platforms such as WordPress, Typepad, MovableType, Blogger, Flickr, digg, Kaywa, Blogsphere, Kulando, ExpressionEngine or tblog, all subsequent comments in that comment stream will be viewable in the conversation thread on your “my conversations page” – whether they are from registered coComment users or not.

Finally! I gave up using CoComment after a few weeks when it became obvious that only other total nerds were adding any value to it, and not the people I actually wanted – people actually in the conversation. Now, using the Firefox extension, tracking my conversations should become totally transparent and easy! Here’s hoping!

LiveJournal Jabber support

LiveJournal have announced that they are now running an XMPP server, with users’ rosters auto-populated with their LJ friends.

Jean-Louis Seguineau wonders why there hasn’t been much coverage of this outside of the initial announcement on LiveJournal. I think you have to remember that this is the release of a service rather than a product, and only pre-announcement at that. Had SixApart officially launched a branded Jabber client that everyone could download and get going with, I think we’d have seen a lot more coverage. As it is, you need to know what Jabber is, know how to get a client, configure it and then connect. Then you’ll have to run it alongside all your proprietary messengers (unless you use a native plugin-based client like GAIM or Miranda).

We may still see that large announcement, alongside full instructions on how to get going on any platform and bots for posting to your LJ, but I imagine that the initial adoption rate will be slow.

Still, what this really means is another ten million or so potential Jabber users and a lot more exposure for the technology as a whole, which can only be a good thing. It’ll be interesting to see if SA take this further and integrate it with any of their other business services like Movable Type, TypePad and Vox.

LibrariesWest

LibrariesWest is a partnership between Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset. Somerset and South Gloucestershire public library services. This site offers you easy access to our combined catalogue and other online services.

If you live in that region, count yourself lucky. You can sign up for a library card online and straight away start using it to reserve books. If you reserve something that’s currently on loan, you can get an SMS or email when it’s back in the library and ready to collect. When your books are overdue you can get an SMS or email telling you so. Just browsing, a book has been taken out, so you want to buy it? No problem, they link straight through to Amazon.co.uk. I can’t figure out how to save a search yet, although that option is apparenly available.

LibrariesWest also links through to whichbook.net a web application which allows you to move some sliders to select some criteria (“happy/sad”, “conventional/unusual” etc.) and gives you a list of books which might meet those criteria, and an extract from each one. It then lets you drill down to anywhere in the country to see if your local library has a copy in stock and reserve it. As well as the book type criteria, it lets you switch to a more complex “character/plot/setting” search form where you can do all kinds of things like choose a “success against the odds” book with a 50+ gay asian woman in it (btw, “Sorry! No books match your request. Please try again.”). As far as I’m concerned, this is incredible flexibility.

All in all, this is library websites, the next generation.

IWMW 2006 postscript

I gave two seminar talks at IWMW 2006, “Sharing and Exploring Team Knowledge with Wikis” and “Exposing yourself on the web with microformats!” (slides for both to come).

These were my first time doing any kind of public speaking since I left school, so I managed to lever-in some internal presentations on how to use wikis in the previous week which were a great intro on what not to do 😉

The IWMW wikis talk seemed to go really really well with lots of questions from the audience, and some good feedback afterwards. The Microformats talk was, er, less successful – mainly due to me turning up to it twenty minutes late due to a mix-up over the starting time (not all my fault!) during which Brian Kelly manfully held the fort – but I think I still got across some of the more important points Both talks covered how the attendees could take these technologies back to their universities and start using them straight away.

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I need a new aggregator

I’ve not used a desktop aggregator for close to a year now, getting my information instead from these strange and archaic webpages, some of which are mini-aggregators like Digg or my del.icio.us network.

Recently however, I’ve been slowly picking up the pace again (which means visiting more than thirty sites a day) mainly because of I’ve been reading Planet Intertwingly which seems to have a high crossoverlevel with the core of my old aggregator.

I also recently (it was now about four months ago, but it feels recent) promised that I’d put together a cross-platform aggregator based around Planet and WxWidgets. I still want this, and made some small work towards it, putting together some integration between Planet and WikidPad, but it’s not really usable. I really need someone to kick my ass into getting this finished.

Also, I’m beginning to think that w.bloggar isn’t good enough for my needs. There have certainly been times when I’ve wanted to post something but been put off by w.bloggar’s startup time. Just load and let me write my post! Sort out the connectivity later!