Busy making things: tinycast, github, links, photos, @mc.

Tracking PyCon 2005

Posted: March 23rd, 2005 | Author: | Filed under: Python | 21 Comments »

I’ve tried to gather a list of resources that will allow people who are not attending PyCon to keep track of the various things that are going on. There are also RSS feeds associated with many of the resources below:

Pycon DC 2005 Day 1

Posted: March 23rd, 2005 | Author: | Filed under: Python | 3 Comments »

I’m gathering up various bits and pieces of gear before heading out the door and taking the Metro down to PyCon. The schedule is impressive, and that’s not even counting a lot of the ad-hoc goodness that will be going on in the open spaces.

I plan on blogging as much as possible and will keep link to my posts throughout the day from this meta-post. The official backchannel is #PyCon on irc.freenode.net, and I’ll be there.

Day 1 posts:

In Search of a Javascritpt WYSIWYG HTML Editor that Doesn\’t Suck

Posted: March 19th, 2005 | Author: | Filed under: PHP, Projects | 8 Comments »

The title says it all. I’m looking for a Javascript-based What-You-See-is-What-You-Get HTML editor that doesn’t suck. I fell in love with HTMLArea when I bought my copy of Radio back in 2001. I’ve since used HTMLArea 2 which is pretty decent but is IE only. Until recently I had been tracking the HTMLArea 3 pre-releases which worked in both IE and Mozilla and were beginning to deal with things like copy/paste content from newer versions of Microsoft Office products that embed all that nasty XMLish markup. The other day I went to htmlarea.com to see if there was a new beta release only to find that the lead contributor had mothballed the project:

htmlarea 2 and 3 have been discontinued. They were free wysiwyg editors that were distributed on this site. Visit the directory to find similar products.

What a bummer. The source is still in CVS, and I’m hoping that a leet Javascripter will take over the project, because HTMLArea 3 seemed pretty darn stable and quite near release. I’ve looked quickly at a bunch of possible replacements, but each one seems to have a showstopper. RTE is quite good for when you need a small, simple, compact editor, but it has its quirks. For instance, it’s an editable iframe instead of a layer over textarea, so there are some limits to the script-fu you can do with it. Don’t get the post title wrong, RTE does not suck at all, but it has its limitations.

And so I ask you, dear reader, what the heck are you using these days for something like this? While I take the time to look closer at the lists of editors that I’ve glossed over before, I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to drop me a line (matt at ooiio dot com) or take a look at my JavascriptWyswiygHtmlEditors page and add your two cents. Please help, I’m at my wits end!

My New Printer: File, Print FedEx Kinkos

Posted: March 19th, 2005 | Author: | Filed under: Web Services | 41 Comments »

File, Print FedEx Kinkos

I’ve got a crappy little inkjet printer. It does a darn decent job at printing a page or two in black and white, but anything beyond that is just too much for it. Stuff usually prints, but not always. Sometimes it’s a bit smudged. Other times the paper jams up. Sometimes the cats run off with or otherwise mangle the printed page before I can get to it. The darn thing seems to take a lot of union breaks.

A few weeks ago I was doing research on a paper for my computer organization class. I did much of my research at the University of Maryland’s awesome Engineering and Physical Sciences library, taking notes, xeroxing some pages, and checking out a book. There was also a weath of information available to me at the ACM Digital Library. I ended up downloading 150 or so pages of papers and articles from the vast ACM library.

As much as I love technology, I’m just not able to skim text and read for long periods of time on a computer screen. I decided to print out the 150 or so pages, but had absolutely no desire to do that on my crappy little inkjet printer.

I’ve wanted to give Mimeo a try ever since I learned about them a few years ago. They allow you to upload documents to their servers, preview them online, and then they print ia try. I stumbled upon them a few years ago and ship it to you. It’s a very cool idea, but it was Saturday and my paper was due Wednesday.

Enter Fedex Kinkos. They have a similar service called File, Print Fedex Kinkos. After you download their software (win32 only, sorry), it creates a printer driver and integrates itself with Office. They offer the option of shipping your order to you, but more importantly they allow you to pick it up at your local Fedex Kinkos location.

I spent a bit of time seperating the various articles I wanted to print with bibliographic information and eventually combined them all in to one big PDF file using Adobe Acrobat. I sent the job off to the File, Print Fedex Kinkos printer and chose options for my order. Since I was going to be flipping through all of the pages, I decided to go with double sided printing on the cheapest possible paper with three holes already punched. The el-cheapo worked out to somewhere around 6-8 cents or so (I forget) per printed page. I flipped through the preview and entered my billing information. It took a few minutes to upload the document to their servers, but after that was done I got a receipt to print and an email in my inbox. About an hour and a half later I got another email saying that the order was ready to be picked up.

It’s not perfect though. Their premium laser paper is about 20 cents a pop and their options for binding are a bit limited. Their system is only set up to deal with one document at a time, so if you want to make a bunch of different copies of a bunch of different documents, you’re going to have to upload, set up, and pay for each one seperately. If you’re looking for more binding and layout options or for better handling of multiple documents, I’d strongly suggest that you check out Mimeo. Non-Windows users should check out the FedEx Kinkos web interface which looks to be multiplatform aside from some basic Javascript requirements.

FedEx Kinkos is doing a very smart thing with this service. They’re taking advantage of the fact that they’ve got locations all over the US for pickup. They can also call on the FedEx infrastructure for shipped documents. They’re also making it easier for users to send them orders, reducing employee time spent on taking in orders. They are also probably keeping printers busy that might have otherwise been idle.

Open Screencasting

Posted: March 19th, 2005 | Author: | Filed under: Open Source, Weblogs | 2 Comments »

I’ve been a big fan of Jon Udell‘s screencasts of various products and hacks for as long as he’s been doing them. Screencasts can be curious oddities but are more often extremely helpful. For example, this screencast covering the setup of Ruby [quicktime] adds a ton of value to the HOWTOs and install documentation on the Ruby on Rails site.

That’s why I was especially excited by this flash screencast by Dan Winship demonstrating the basics of Stetic, a Mono-based Gnome GUI designer. After viewing the screencast, I noticed that he produced it with a program called vnc2swf:

Vnc2swf is a screen recording tool for X-Window (X11), Windows and Mac OS Desktop. Vnc2swf captures live motion of a screen through VNC protocol and converts it a Macromedia Flash(TM) movie (.swf).

The program is available in source and binary form for OSX and a few flavours of Linux. It’s defeinitely not a program polished for end users (it looks like installation may be tricker than many casual Linux users would be comefortable with), but it’s great to be able to produce quality screencasts using open source tools. SWF isn’t the most open format on the planet, but let’s look past that for now. I’m sure that you could convert it over to mpeg or something a little more “open” if you really wanted to.

I see screencasting as a possible “next big thing.” I don’t think it’s going to be the next weblogging or podcasting, but it has tons of potential. I’d love to see little thumbnail screencasts fly by my aggregator when I read the freshmeat feed.

Divester: Google Ads as Design Element

Posted: March 8th, 2005 | Author: | Filed under: Weblogs | 2 Comments »


I caught the announcement of another Weblogs, Inc. weblog the other day: Divester. You guessed it, it’s all about SCUBA diving. I used to dive, though it’s been a few years since the last time I got wet with a tank strapped to my back. Fearing information overload, I haven’t subscribed to the Divester RSS feed yet, but I’m going to pop in every day or so and check out the website, and reevaluate my RSS position in a few days.

The design is quite striking. Big splashes of blue (as one might expect on a diving blog) and the sillouette of a diver. The coolest thing (I think) is the use of the Google Ad up top as a full fledged design element rather than something grafted on later.

Come on Ride the D-BUS (hey), Ride it (woo woo!)

Posted: March 5th, 2005 | Author: | Filed under: .NET, Linux, Open Source, Python, Web Services | 8 Comments »

The February 2005 issue of Linux Journal contains a gem of an article by Robert Love called Get on the D-BUS. I didn’t notice it until I was trawling through the ACM Digital Library while working on a paper for my computer organization class. All tangents aside it’s a great article and anyone who uses Linux on the desktop should check it out, as I think that you’re going to see D-BUS do a lot of heavy lifting over the next few years.

I’d strongly suggest reading the LJ article for a full definition, but to summarize: D-BUS is an interprocess communications system that is (or soon will be) used in both Gnome and KDE environments. It allows apps to send and receive messages to and from each other in a happy object-oriented easy-as-it-should-be way. The Gnome Mono codemonkeys are using it with Beagle, and probably other apps. There’s a D-BUS package and several apps that use it backed in to Hoary. There’s even a Security Enhanced DBUS built in to Security Enhanced Linux.

The APIs and the software are under constant development, but there are already working libraries for C, Glib, and (yes I checked) even python. Here’s example-client.py (edited slightly to fit in my layout):

#!/usr/bin/env python
import dbus
bus = dbus.SessionBus()
remote_service = bus.get_service("org.designfu.SampleService")
remote_object = remote_service.get_object("/SomeObject",
hello_reply_list = remote_object.HelloWorld("Hello!")
hello_reply_tuple = remote_object.GetTuple()
hello_reply_dict = remote_object.GetDict()
print (hello_reply_list)
print str(hello_reply_tuple)
print str(hello_reply_dict)

It looks like D-BUS (or DBUS if you would prefer to abbreviate it that way) is going to be adopted in both the Gnome and KDE camps, which is A Good Thing. I think that it is going to lead to better interaction with applications on the desktop. I imagine a sexy Growl workalike telling me about all kinds of things that I may or may not want to know in a cute and unobtrustive way. As the technology is adopted, I see apps talking to one another and reacting to one another more and more. I see apps and frameworks taking advantage of external web services flowing over DBUS.

Keep an eye on this list of apps that use D-BUS expand quickly.


Posted: March 5th, 2005 | Author: | Filed under: Apple | 18 Comments »

I’ve been hearing the word Quicksilver being thrown around quite a lot lately in Apple circles. After looking at the website I can’t help but think that there will be an eerily similar feature in OSX 10.5 . It just seems like it’s good enough to be placed alongside Watson and Konfabulator in the list of apps that Apple has rip^H^H^Hemulated and baked in to the OS.

C.K. is Blogging on TUAW!

Posted: March 1st, 2005 | Author: | Filed under: Apple | 7 Comments »

Congrats to C.K. whose weblog I’ve been reading forever now. It was great to see his first post of The Unofficial Apple Weblog in my aggregator this morning.

Hoary Needs Beagle

Posted: March 1st, 2005 | Author: | Filed under: Linux | 3 Comments »


One Mono app that I didn’t mention last night in my Hoary post was Beage. This was an oversight. Beagle isn’t included in Universe, so I tried to build Beagle using these instructions from the Ubuntu Wiki. I managed to get it built after fiddling with the configure.in file (it was looking for dbus 0.23.1 and all I had was 0.23, but couldn’t get it to do anything useful.

From the screenshots that I’ve seen, Beagle is probably the most useful Gnome Mono apps, and is the one with the biggest cool factor. I’d really love to see Beagle included in Hoary Universe so that we can play with it and use it without building from source.

The fresh 0.0.7 release might just make that easier.

Yahoo! Web Services!

Posted: March 1st, 2005 | Author: | Filed under: Web Services | 1 Comment »

I guess that explains why Jeremy has been so quiet about work lately. While wait for my tea to brew, take a look at Jeremy’s list of required reading, including the Yahoo! Search Developers Network and the O’Reillynet article on the subject.

Rock on.