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Mac OS 9 Browsers

Recently Tantek said about Mac OS 9 web browsers:

Of course if you’re running OS9 (say, for example, if you’re using a Mac that just either won’t run OSX or doesn’t have enough memory of CPU power to make OSX usable), IE5/Mac is still your best choice – those other choices either don’t exist or exist only in abandoned versions far shy of IE5/Mac’s capabilities.

I agree that IE5/Mac was a very nice browser, 4 years ago… But instead of using a 4 year old browser, you could use a 1 year old browser with many of those modern day browser features, in the form of WaMCom.

WaMCom is based on Mozilla, and provides a version which runs on Mac OS 9 (and even 8.6!) which is good, because official Mozilla development of non-Mac OS X apps ended a while back…

Of course Tantek probably has a soft spot for IE5/Mac, so I guess I can’t blame him for liking it. ;)

I was going to mention something about the benefits of open-source, but I’ll spare you this time, as I’ve got code to debug…

See Also: Unofficial Mozilla for Mac OS 9 (Mac OS Classic), Mac OS 9 Web Browsers: A Mini-Review, Mozilla: Old Releases

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Are You a Journalist?

There seems to be this debate going on whether “bloggers” are “journalists” or not.

From Dictionary.com, journalist:

jour·nal·ist

  1. One whose occupation is journalism.
  2. One who keeps a journal.

Ok, so anyone who “keeps a journal” is a journalist, and if we assume a “weblog” or “blog” is a journal, then we are all journalists.

Some people might be referring to that first bit, “One whose occupation is journalism” though, and that’s fine. Don’t think of yourself as a journalist, think of yourself as a reporter.

Hold on, let’s check on reporter:

re·port·er

  1. A writer, investigator, or presenter of news stories.
  2. A person who is authorized to write and issue official accounts of judicial or legislative proceedings.

Ok, I think we can cover that first one. Plenty of bloggers have presented news stories, that seems undeniable.

I remember years ago, when I knew somebody who screamed for a band saying they weren’t really a singer, and I told them that was ok, because while they may not have been a “singer” they were definitely a “vocalist” – yeah, I know, if you look those two words up they sort of point to each other in a circular motion, but the point is, if the word in use doesn’t match up to the expectations of the word in people’s eyes, find another word.

In other words, confuse people, and viplos bimcus!

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Database Abstration

Panic: dynamic SQL (? placeholders) are not supported by the server you are connecting to (Damn you Microsoft!)

The above bit is the message I got when using Perl’s DBD::Sybase module to talk to Microsoft SQL using FreeTDS, whch technically, is a feat all in itself, but anyway, I’m all for database abstraction in applications and code. Jeremy thinks abstraction layers must die, and if I was someone who was an expert in one database, and got to choose to always use that one database, I might agree. Actually he goes on to say:

The author uses an argument I hear all the time: If you use a good abstraction layer, it’ll be easy to move from $this_database to $other_database down the road.

That’s bullshit. It’s never easy.

In any non-trivial database backed application, nobody thinks of switching databases as an easy matter. Thinking that “the conversion will be painless” is a fantasy.

Ok, the use of “non-trivial” makes this true depending on your definition of trivial, but some things might be considered trivial, and still be quite useful. Some systems can easily swap which database they use very easily. I’ve managed to switch things between MySQL, SQLite, and Microsoft SQL with ease. Now granted, none of these things were enterprise-level, make-or-break application (I’m not at Yahoo!) but they’re important to me and the people who own the data.

Database portability doesn’t have to be a myth. It’s all data, right? Moving it from one system to another should not be a nightmare.

See Also: Database Abstraction Considered Harmful

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Yet More Aggregator Madness

We continue to hack away at our aggregator, originally based on Feed on Feeds, it doesn’t quite resemble it anymore and my changes aren’t exactly neat little patches. (I’m considering calling it “thehomer” but we’ll see.)

So these are some of the features it has today, or I’ve been thinking about trying to add:

  • Per-feed poll frequency, variable depending on the feed itself
  • Per-feed purge times, some items I want to save forever, some I want just a few days
  • Ratings, similar to iTunes, so if I was in a hurry I could just choose to read the feeds/items designated as 5 *’s
  • Thumbs up/down rating system for items
  • IM notifications, alert me via IM (Jabber or AIM perhaps) about certain events/things/etc…
  • XFN, so I could do interesting things based off of the feeds/items from people I have some relationship with
  • del.icio.us integration, currently I can add an item to del.icio.us with one click. There’s more to do here of course, like doing an md5 on the url, and hitting del.icio.us to see who else links to it…
  • Technorati integration, currently I can do a Technorati Cosmos search with one click
  • Google integration, currently I can do a Google “realted” search and find items Google thinks are related to an item. Eventually I’d like to do something a bit more advanced with the Google API)
  • Click counts, which keep track of how many times I click on something leading to another site.
  • Temporary subscriptions, so when you add a feed you can choose how long you’ll be subscribed to it. (Great for comment feeds!)
  • blo.gs integration, I’m currently using Phil’s PHP Blogroll to pull in data, as well as providing a live link to blo.gs update list. (Still contemplating tighter integration here, possibly for marking things as read after visiting a site)

I’ve read through some of the ideas that l.m. had (see "Info Freako, or who’s already past arguing about syndication formats?") as well as stuff Rogers had (see "Wanted: Gluttonous RSS Feeders") and looked at the feature sets of a number of existing aggregators. There’s a lot of good ideas out there!

I’ve also grabbed SimpleAggregator, Andrew’s Feed Reader and Auto-Blogroll, and should read up on Temboz while I’m at it too!

I guess when it comes down to it, the aggregator is becoming a Total Information Portal, to some degree, and maybe Knowledge Management is more where things are heading. I’m really not sure, but I find it quite fascinating.

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Daddy, what’s a virus?

Recently a friend of ours got a new computer. It was running Windows. After four days of owning it, they had a virus.

Now, I won’t even go off on how crappy Windows is and all that, because the bottom line is really that you install software from sources you trust, right? Right. (Except in the case of your crappy software vendor’s browser installing things without your permission, but I won’t get into that either.) So, since many people know I’m a “computer guy” I got enlisted to help.

(BTW, it confuses many people when you tell them that you indeed are a computer guy, but you really don’t use Windows. Try it sometime.)

It was all quite exciting, since the last time I dealt with a virus was the Autostart worm of 1998, which was extremely easy to deal with. Since I don’t really use Windows, I don’t worry much about the virus problem. So here I was, attempting to kill a Windows virus on someone’s 4-day old PC… What next?

Well, I first tried the anti-virus software, which did not fix the problem. I tried to update the anti-virus software. It didn’t help. I had no idea what I was doing since the last time I used anti-virus software was probably around 1994 when System 7 was totally awesome. So I then managed to track down the scumware and attempted to delete it. I could not delete it all. I tried killing the process, no good. Tried logging in as another user and killing it, no good. Tried combinations of all of those things while standing on head. No good. It was cool to see all of the files suddely appear in the directory. The virus seemed to be self-repairing software. Neat!

I ended up recommending a complete re-install of system. Friend did that, but afterwards reported that virus was still there, and I realized that a re-installation did not whack it, but probably would have if we wiped the disk. I don’t know how to do that in Windows.

So ends my brush with a Windows virus.

As for the “Daddy, what’s a virus?” title, that’s what my daughter asked me that night. She’s been using computers for almost 7 years, and has probably never heard the words “computer” and “virus” in the same sentence at our house. We runs Macs and we run Linux. The only windows around here are made out of glass and let the sun shine in…