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Today has been an awful day, starting just past midnight, I lose the database for my site. Later, I played in the most dreadful soccer game ever. We only fielded ten players, but the other team only had seven showup to start! Yet, they managed to put three in the back of the net by half-time.

At half time, one more of their players showed up and one of ours had to leave, leaving us with a only a 9 to 8 advantage (which felt like a disadvantage at this point). If it wasn’t for a red card one of their player’s drew for kicking me in the chest while I was down on the ground, they probably would have scored 10 goals in the second half, rather than keeping the score at 3 to nill. It was complete and total humiliation.

Now, after recreating my blog entries (an upbeat note), my Toshiba M205 takes a dive with the blue screen of death and won’t boot properly. GodDamnPieceOfShitSonofabitch!!!

Anyways, I’m annoyed, but not too down about it. Heck, I live in Los Angeles, it’s sunny outside, and my wife made me a nice coffee. I really can’t complain. But I just did, didn’t I. ;)

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that my office smells like dog piss because Twiggy has taken a liking to doing her dirty deed in a particular corner of the room. Just lovely.

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As a developer, I like choice. For example, WiX doesn’t currently support managed custom actions. You can hack it together, but they won’t support your endeavor. Personally, I want the choice to shoot myself in the foot with a managed custom action. Hand over that gun!

However, too many choices can be quite paralytic as well. You ever try to round up more than four coworkers for lunch and figure out where to go? So it comes as no surprise that having too many options in a company 401 (k) actually decreases overall enrollment (as reported by The Wall Street Journal). My buddy Walter here has a analysis of the topic.

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a professional developer, it is that “TIP” is bad. Never Test In Production! Unfortunately in my case, it was past midnight, I was tired, and I had two query analyzer windows open, one to my local host, and one to my website’s database, both with the same database name

I was testing an installation script that would drop and recreate the Subtext database, and I just happened to run it in the wrong Query Analyzer window. You can imagine my distress as I visited my site to find it pretty much gone.

Fortunately, my hosting provider takes regular backups and they had a backup from four days ago. Once the backup was restored, I went in and carefully recreated four days worth of blog posts with help from my RSS Bandit cache. You see, it’s more than vanity that I subscribe to my own feed.

In case your curious, I used Query Analyzer to reconstruct the posts since the URLs were generated using the ID column (identity) and the DateAdded column. With liberal use of the

DBCC CHECKIDENT (‘blog_content’, RESEED, 3073)

command, I recreated the proper IDs so that existing links to these posts would not break. Unfortunately I lost all comments.

[Listening to: Duke Pearson (With Airto And Stella Mars) / O Amor Em Paz (Once I Loved) - Blue Note Plays Jobim (5:24)]

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From Scoble’s blog we hear that…

MAJOR NEWS. Steve Ballmer is sending email to all Microsoft employees explaining that Microsoft is reversing its position on the anti-discrimination bill.

You know, it would be petty to say it, but I will. I Told You So! ;) All kidding aside, I’m heartened to see Microsoft change its positions. It just shows that corporations can look solely past the bottom line and consider the common good. In doing so, I believe it will support the bottom line anyways in a more far reaching manner.

As for those who worry that..

…people should be able to use Microsoft products without having to support political causes they don’t.

I’d like to point out two things. First, by choosing any product you’re endorsing certain causes whether you like it or not. You’re wearing clothes made by children in a sweatshop in Chile? Guess what, you’re supporting an oppresive system. Secondly, by purchasing Microsoft, you’re already supporting this particular position. This bill in particular is merely a reflection of a policy Microsoft already has internally regarding anti-discrimination. It’s not taking rights away, it’s merely protecting rights in the corporate environment. In other words, it’s a gimme.

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Scoble has posted Steve Ballmer’s email on public policy engagement and outlines the thought process behind the reversal.

After reading the email, I just have to say, much props and kudos to you Steve and Microsoft! One of the key points Steve makes is…

After looking at the question from all sides, Ive concluded that diversity in the workplace is such an important issue for our business that it should be included in our legislative agenda. Since our beginning nearly 30 years ago, Microsoft has had a strong business interest in recruiting and retaining the best and brightest and most diverse workforce possible. Im proud of Microsofts commitment to non-discrimination in our internal policies and benefits, but our policies cant cover the range of housing, education, financial and similar services that our people and their partners and families need. Therefore, its appropriate for the company to support legislation that will promote and protect diversity in the workplace.

It highlights that social responsibility is good for business.

This devotion to diversity, frankly, is heartwarming and uplifting. As a “mixbreed”, I’m all over diversity. The more colors the better (although that doesn’t always apply to web design people). Reading Ballmer’s email made me feel that Microsoft might actually be a great place to work. And that’s a good thing for Microsoft. To be seen as a progressive workplace will invite the best and the brightest. As will shipping timely solid software. One down and one to go.

[Listening to: Decoder - Dumb - Diesel Boy - System Upgrade (2:50)]

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Tentative logo Ken Robertson points out some minor inaccuracies (none intentional) in my announcement about Subtext concerning Community Server.

I went ahead and made some corrections in the announcement, though I defended my point about targeting different markets which I will repeat here.

As for the target market, I see your point that I may be slightly off. My point is that by commercializing Community Server, you’ve created an incentive to target the needs of larger paying corporations. You’re a business and you need the cash inflow. Nothing wrong with that.

I also go on to mention in my update to the announcement

Starting this project is not an attack of Telligent or Community Server by any means. I do wish them well. I just think there’s still room for a tightly focused Open Source blogging engine targeted to individuals with no restrictions. It’s very likely that Community Server 1.1 or 1.2 will blow our socks off and have us questioning whether Subtext is worth the time. But until then, I think Subtext will ride the wave of backlash at the perceived hastiness in which CS 1.0 was released and hopefully turn into a compelling product in its own right. We’re carving out a niche here.

Only time will tell if I’m proven wrong or not. In the mean time, we have a team of people really amped about this project. It will be a fun experiment whatever happens.

Get involved!\ If you’re interested in helping out, please feel free to check out the project site, make or comment on feature requests, or if you’re really bold, load up CVS and take a look at the source code.

Also, if anyone out there is a WiX expert, I could certainly use some help!

P.S. That logo up there is a tentative logo made by Robb. Who knew that dude was an artist?

[Listening to: Need You Tonight - INXS - The Greatest Hits (3:01)]

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I’m looking for a Windows Forms control or dialog used to both parse and build connection strings by walking the user though selecting a server, database, etc…

If you know of such a control, please provide a comment. I’ve been able to build OLEDB connection strings using the Microsoft OLE DB type library, but it only produces OLEDB connection string. I want a dialog or control that can walk a user into building a valid connection string like:

Server=localhost;Database=SubtextData;Trusted_Connection=True

Thanks!

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This quote from Sharp as a Marble just cracks me up.

Then, on the way into work, a car passed me with a bumper sticker on the window that said These colors dont run and a picture of the American flag. Cept the sticker had not weathered the rain very well and the ink had ran. Irony, eh?

[Via Sharp as a Marble]

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I’m posting this in the hopes that it helps someone out there with the same problem because I just KNOW how often you’re adding files using CVS. It’s the little spark that gets your juices flowing while sitting at work daydreaming about how much you can’t wait to use CVS again.

Anyways, I was creating a new CVS module and adding the contents of some source code to the repository when I heard the sound of breaking glass that TortoiseCVS uses to indicate a problem (it’s a rather lovely sound).

It seems I had some sort of network issue while adding files. No problem, I thought, I’ll just add the files that haven’t been added and then commit all the files.

Unfortunately, every time I tried commiting files I heard that dreaded breaking glass. My error message was something like:

cvs commit: failed to create lock directory for `/cvsroot/MyProject/SomeDirectory’\ (/cvsroot/MyProject/SomeDirectory/#cvs.lock):\ No such file or directory\ cvs commit: lock failed - giving up\ cvs [commit aborted]: lock failed - giving up

Well that’s strange, the error message is having trouble creating a lock for the directory “SomeDirectory” because it doesn’t exist. But when I use Tortoise CVS to add contents, it shows that everything has been added.

What I discovered is that CVS stores information about the state of the repository in local hidden folders named, you guessed it, “CVS”. If something very bad happens, it’s quite possible that the local information will get out of synch with the information on the server. That’s exactly what I ran into.

To fix it, I copied my source tree to a new directory, deleted the old source tree, and ran a Checkout command to get the latest version that actually made it into the repository. Then I copied that set aside source tree over the one I had just checked out so that all the new files made it into the tree. That then showed that I still needed to add some files and directories to the CVS repository, which I did. Finally, a commit of the source tree worked flawlessly.

By the way, I’m a relative CVS rookie, though I’ve used it quite a bit. So if there was a better way to do this, let me know.

For a great tutorial on source control, check out Eric Sink’s series Source Control HOWTO.

[Listening to: Chinese Burn (Forbidden City Remix) - Paul Van Dyk - Perspective CD2 (10:36)]

subtext comments edit

This document describes the goals for future versions of Subtext as well as a plan for achieving them. The goals for this roadmap are the following:

  • Communicate to end users what features are planned for future releases
  • Elicit feedback from users about upcoming releases
  • Provides a prioritization of features

This document is a work in progress and feedback is welcome.

Administrative Road Map

  1. Documenting existing source code and features. (priority: high)
  2. Fill specific project roles (patch manager, forum manager, etc…) (priority: high)
  3. Set up a website and Wiki for Subtext (unfortunately subtext.com is taken). (priority: med)
  4. Set up an automated build process (NAnt) (priority: low)

Upcoming Releases

As we flesh out the roadmap, we’ll divide it into sections based on planned future individual releases. For now, this document will simply list goals and features planned for the near and far future.

Gotta Have It Features Immediately (priority 1)

These features will directly support the principles of the Subtext project. UPDATE: We are rethinking the single vs multiple blog support. More details later. One important “feature” that must be discussed is the dropping of the “multiple blogs on one installation” feature. In order to maintain Subtext’s goals of simplicity and it’s focus on the hobbyist and individual blogger, it makes sense to focus on the scenario where users are using Subtext to create a single blog. This will distinguish Subtext from Community Server which is geared towards corporations and groups that wish to host multiple blogs. Please provide feedback on this decision.

  • Installer for local setup: We’ve started an installer using the WiX toolkit. Initially, this will be an MSI package that will install both a website and the database when run locally. Eventually, it will have to be able to upgrade an existing installation.
  • Simplified configuration (single blog): By removing the multiple blogs feature, configuration can be simplified immensely.
  • Configuration utility: Upon first installing Subtext, the configuration utility will be an easy to use WinForms app used to set the connection string (and certain other settings if any) within the web.config file. This utility can be run at any time to tweak web.config settings without having to muck around the XML by hand.
  • Kick ass documentation: Can’t stress this enough. We’ll use NDoc to generate code and API documentation. As for user documentation, we’ll have both a project site and a wiki.
  • Comments Automatically Expire: This is currently hard-coded into Subtext and needs to be made configurable. Allow the user to have comments turned off after a configurable number of days. Existing comments will still be displayed, but no new comments will be allowed.

Gotta Have It, But Just not yet (priority 1.5)

  • Friendly Urls: Currently, Subtext creates permalinks that look like http://haacked.com/archive/2005/05/04/2953.aspx. In a future version, we want the permalink to have a more human readable URL. For example, this might be converted to http://haacked.com/archive/2005/05/04/AnnouncingSubtext.aspx.
  • Improved Usability: One of my pet peeves about .TEXT is how hard it is to edit a really old post. You have to page through the data grid of posts till you find it. Instead, a simple option is to create a new admin token that skin creators can place in their skin where a post is rendered. When a user is logged in as an admin, the token is displayed as an icon with a link that the admin can click to edit that post. Thus, to edit an old post, simply make sure you’re logged in as an admin and leverage Google to find the post, and then click on the admin token.
  • Replace/Upgrade FreeTextBox.dll: Hopefully with something that won’t mangle HTML.
  • Comment Moderation: This is merely one tool in the constant battle to fight comment spam. Allows users to turn on and off comment moderation.
  • Simple Comment Filtering Rules Currently, haacked.com uses a simple trigger that filters out comments with a certain number of links. This exceedingly simple filter does remarkably well. To fight comment spam, we should start with a few simple (and configurable) rules for filtering comment spam. We can add more complex rules later.

Important, But Maybe Next Release Features (priority 2)

  • Membership Provider Model implementation: This will be a very simple system that allows a blog owner to create accounts with certain roles (reader, author, admin). Thus a blog can have multiple authors for a single blog.
  • New CSS based Templates: These will be templates that can be “skinned” purely via CSS (ala CSS Zen Garden). We’ll provide a tool for a blog owner to edit and switch CSS for this particular template.
  • XHTML compliance: Both transitional and strict.
  • Comment Filtering Rules Engine: This will be similar to the Junk Mail rules engine in Outlook. We’ll provide a web based interface for creating filtering rule used to combat comment spam.

Features to dream about (priority we’re dreaming)

  • A Spell Checker: For all those bad spelers out there.
  • Migration utility: We’re not so arrogant as to believe you’ll never use another blogging engine again. If you do, we want to help you migrate your permalinks and posts to it.
  • MySql Provider: because not everyone wants to pay for SQL Server hosting and some people want to honor their license agreement for MSDN Universal. ;)
  • Mono support: This may be way down the road, but supporting Mono would be a nice way to introduce the Linux crowd to the beauty of ASP.NET and Subtext. Besides, we’ll finally get props from the Slashdot crowd for our 1337 sk1llz.
  • Intelligent comment filtering: Whether it be via Bayes filtering or some other means, but a more autonomous method of spam filtering is called for.

Tags: Subtext

subtext, open source comments edit

sub text\ Function: noun\

  1. The implicit or metaphorical meaning (as of a literary text)\
  2. A story within the story.

What is .TEXT?

.TEXT is a popular (among .NET loving geeks), scalable, and feature rich blogging engine started by Scott Watermasysk and released as an open source project under a BSD license. Scott did a wonderful job with .TEXT as evidenced by its widespread use among bloggers and being the blogging engine for http://blogs.msdn.com/ among others.

Sounds great. So why fork it?

There are several reasons I think a fork is waranted.

.TEXT is dead as an open source product.

.TEXT is dead as a BSD licensed open source project. Out of its ashes has risen Community Server which integrates a new version of the .TEXT source code with Forums and Photo Galleries. Community Server is now a product being sold by Telligent Systems. There is a non-commercial license available, but it requires displaying the telligent logo and restricts usage to non-commercial purposes. I’d prefer to use a blogging engine with an OSI approved license, in particular the BSD license works well for me.

As an aside, if you’re wondering how they can take an open source project and turn it into a commercial product, it’s quite easy actually. Here’s the story of another commercially acquired open source project.

Community Server Targets A Different Market

Another reason is that Community Server has become sort of the Team System of blogging engines. By virtue of it going commercial, it’s being targetted to a different market than your average hobbyist and blogger. While I’m sure many are looking forward to the tight integration with forums and photo gallery, that’s just not something I personally need. This integration project was quite ambitious, but it resulted, in my opinion, a rushed 1.0 release as evidenced by this list of bugs. Bugs are fine, but many of these are regressions of RSS functionality that worked fine in .TEXT. I’ve helped Jayson with fixing some of these bugs in CS. As a developer on the RSS Bandit team, you can guess that proper RSS support is very near and dear to me. Starting this project will enable me to have a hand in both ends of the blogging spectrum.

Ok, So Who Does Subtext Target?

Subtext is the name I’ve chosen for this fork of .TEXT. Subtext targets the blogging enthusiast who wants a usable and tightly focused blogging engine. If you’ve ever caught yourself throwing your hands in the air and declaring that you’re going to write your own blogging engine from scratch, Subtext is going to be for you. My first and primary task is to streamline the installation and configuration process (hence my recent fascination with WiX).

What are the Subtext Guiding Principles

There are several principles that will serve to guide development on Subtext.

  • Usability
  • Badass Quality
  • Documentation
  • Focused
  • Easy to install and configure

One of the difficulties of many open source projects is their typical lack of documentation. Working with Dare and Torsten, I helped improve their already impressive documentation of RSS Bandit. I’d like to do the same for Subtext.

Likewise, I want to make setting up Subtext a pleasure, not a royal headache. That’s my first task and highest priority at this point.

Where’s Subtext At Now?

Currently I’m in the planning stage for Subtext. I’ve uploaded the code to the Subtext SourceForge project and am currently recruiting a few core members to help out. I’ve started with the .TEXT 0.95 code base, so if you have patches to submit, by all means please do. I’ve already added some small changes to make it more XHTML compliant. In the beginning, I plan to recruit a small core team of developers with write access to help me review and apply code patches, as well as do some of the development. Over time I hope the team will grow as we find developers who are making meaningful contributions.

In the meanwhile, I’ll be drawing up some project guidelines and a roadmap so stay tuned.

UPDATE: Ken Robertson points out some inaccuracies with this announcement in his blog. I went ahead and made some corrections.

One thing he mentions is that I’m slightly off when I say that the target market for CS is larger institutions. I agree that CS may work well for small fries like me, but I defended my assertion with a comment in his blog.

As for the target market, I see your point that I may be slightly off. My point is that by commercializing Community Server, you’ve created an incentive to target the needs of larger paying corporations. You’re a business and you need the cash inflow. Nothing wrong with that.

Starting this project is not an attack of Telligent or Community Server by any means. I do wish them well. I just think there’s still room for a tightly focused Open Source blogging engine targeted to individuals with no restrictions. It’s very likely that Community Server 1.1 or 1.2 will blow our socks off and have us questioning whether Subtext is worth the time. But until then, I think Subtext will ride the wave of backlash at the perceived hastiness in which CS 1.0 was released and hopefully turn into a compelling product in its own right. We’re carving out a niche here.

Tags: Subtext

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UPDATE Wow, check out the privacy policy for Google Web Accelerator… On second thought maybe I’ll hold off on installing that.

When you use Google Web Accelerator, Google servers receive and log your page requests. Page requests and data sent in encrypted form using an HTTPS connection will not go through Google. It is possible that some personally identifiable information could be sent to Google, if the information is sent without using an encrypted (HTTPS) connection.

To enhance Google Web Accelerator’s performance, Google temporarily caches cookies from third party sites that are used in your Web requests. For more information, please see our FAQ.

To accelerate delivery of content, Google Web Accelerator retrieves and caches webpages before you request them. Therefore, your Google Web Accelerator cache may include copies of webpages you have not visited. You can clear the cache following instructions in the FAQ.

Google Web Accelerator Google announced on its blog that they’ve release a beta version of their new web accelerator designed for broadband use. I’ll give it a shot and see how well it works.

Man, these guys are pushing out a lot of interesting products. My screen is starting to look like a Google sponsored desktop.

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I started off planning to write a quick installer for a little something I’m working on. Unhappy with the limited abilities of Visual Studio’s Setup and Deployment project, I finally started playing with WiX.

After a good deal of time reading through the documentation, I have a pretty good handle on it. However, it’s difficult to apply the WiX philosophy (build your setup project as you go along) to an existing project that already has several hundred files.

Along comes Tallow to the rescue (part of the WiX toolkit) which can generate a fragment containing components themselves containing references to your files. Sweet! But now you have to reference all the generated components within your Feature element.

So that drags me further into the hole where I’m performing minor surgery on the Tallow source code. I soon discover a list of other feature requests (auto-generate Guids, etc…) and I soon catch myself. Hey, I’m just here to build a setup project, not rewrite the whole damn setup toolkit.

So I now have a customized version of Tallow.exe that will generate Guids for components. It will also generate a commented section of ComponentRef statements like so.

<!–\ <ComponentRef Id=’component0’ /<\ <ComponentRef Id=’component1’ />\ <ComponentRef Id=’component2’ />\ –>

You can manually (eww!) cut and paste that section into your main .wxs file in order to reference all the components in the generated fragment.

Now back to my initial task…

[Listening to: Daydream - Privilege - A Trip In Trance (CD 2) (3:45)]

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You’ve heard CSS purists beat it into you over and over again that “Tables are bad, umkaaay?”. But man, what a pain when you’re trying to do something as simple as a web form and you want the labels to align to the right and the controls to align to the left.

So Dimitri here rides in to the rescue with TILT (Table Injection for Layout Technique). He showed this to me a few weeks ago and has finally polished it to the point that he’s ready to tell the world.

Essentially, this technique allows you to mark up your code semantically like the CSS purist you are, but then with some crafty usage of Javascript, modify the DOM and inject a TABLE (with all the benefits therein). Genius.

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The Corporation I know I’m late to the game, but since I rely on Netflix, I’m always watching movies long after the general population has seen them. However, we just finished watching the documentary “The Corporation” and I couldn’t recommend it more if you haven’t seen it already.

Even if you’re a tried and true Capitalist (like I am), it’s worth watching as it does a pretty good job of raising questions about how we define wealth and corporate responsibility among other things.

It certainly provides insight into the question of whether corporations should act purely on self interest. Corporations should definitely be responsible to their shareholders, but perhaps also to their stake holders. If a corporation is owned by people in the U.S., but pollutes the air in Chile, it’s being responsible to its share holders, but what about the stake holders?

In the end, I think the big take away from the documentary is that for corporations to be truly responsible to shareholders, they must redefine what it means to provide “value” to shareholders. Value is more than immediate cash profit. Value is also provided via sustainability. Clean air is valuable. Clean water is value.

A second take away is that when our news agencies are in the pockets of big corporations, how will people get the truth so they can make more rational decisions about policy regarding the environment and corporations? That’s a real disheartening topic.

Well not one to underestimate human nature, it leaves me with the big question of how do you make it profitable for companies to be sustainable? That’s certainly one way to enact change. But it has to be done in such a way that it is inherently profitable to be sustainable. Enacting policies might just make corporations leave U.S. soil. One approach is to wait till the environment has been plundered so much that there’s no other way. I’d prefer we not wait so long.