web

First thoughts about Django-CMS

I just set up a site using Django-CMS over at Pomme d'Api Preschool. Overall, I am pretty impressed. I really like the Django admin interface enhancements as well as the site overlay editing feature. One of the best things it he use of django-filer, a file management tool to manage all the uploads to the site. It's awesome and it makes me want to throw out this home page completely and switch over to Django-CMS. Image handling in Drupal has always sucked and still does. The fact that there was no official media/image handling in Drupal 6 sucks, and it's made worse by the fact that there is no real upgrade path to Drupal 7 for media/images, especially if you're like me and you used the "Image" and "image-assist" modules, two of the most popular modules dealing with images.

Django-CMS is pretty powerful and so far it has allowed me to do pretty much anything I have wanted to do.

Commentful and cocomment.com Review

Since co.mments.com shut down I've had to find a new site to track comments to blog article that I have commented on. It turns out that the two alternatives both suck, for different reasons.

Cocomment requires a firefox add-on that is fairly broken. It wants to track every comment page and the only way to not have it track a page is to right click on the cocomment icon in Firefox and disable it, then refresh the page. Annoying. The other problem is that it doesn't work on Drupal sites. When you try to submit a comment on a drupal site it will not work and you will be taken back to the submit comment page. Luckily Firefox won't clear the comment text box so your comment won't disappear. The only solution is to disable Cocomment on that page and refresh. The bigger downside is that my comment won't be tracked. The only upside to Cocomment is that the RSS feed does work. I don't particularly like the web interface though, it's too messy and overly complicated with little icons whose use I always have trouble remembering.

Commentful is nicer and works more like co.mments.com. You're essentially just submitting a URL to a web service that will then notify you when more comments are added. The problem is that the RSS notification feed doesn't work. Not only that, but when you go to your watchlist, you have to click on the little "Check" icon for each item in your watchlist. That's right, Commentful doesn't even check the websites for new comments unless you ask it to. I suspect they didn't have enough resources to be checking remote sites every 15 minutes so they disabled that altogether.

I'm really tempted to write a Django application to do this. The only challenging part is determining how many comments there are in a blog article, and being able to do that across many different blogging platforms (wordpress, blogger, drupal, custom sites, etc...)

Finally Joined Facebook

I finally joined Facebook. I kind of like it. It looks a hell of a lot better than MySpace, doesn't suck as much as Orkut, and is similar to LinkedIn in its clean interface and simplicity. I was on Orkut for a while when it first started and then deleted my account some time later. There just wasn't much too it and was too focused on forums. Facebook actually seems kind of cool. I really like the ability to tag people in photos. Because true image search/matching is probably still years away, it's a nice workaround. It's nice to be able to "write on someone's wall" especially if that someone from high school that you would never have take the time to email because you just aren't that close to them.

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LibraryElf: Library Overdue Book Reminder Service

I am constantly late at returning library books. While studying at the University of Waterloo I racked up huge fines, often just by being one day late (they would send me an overdue notice the day after they were due, thus incurring $1 per book, before I could renew). I eventually wrote a little python script that would log on to the University of Waterloo's library website and renew books for me (the script ran automatically every night). That worked great for the last year that I was at Waterloo.

When I came back to Vancouver I was also late at returning books to the Vancouver Public Library. I stumbled on a site a while ago called Library Elf that sends me reminders when my books I have taken out from the VPL are almost due. It supports many other libraries as well. It automatically logs into any libraries that you add to your account and you can receive notification up to one week in advance, or every week, by RRSS and/or email. It has worked great for me, except for one time when it didn't send me any reminder. Perhaps GMail thought it was spam, I'm not sure. I might add the RSS option, just in case.

Another neat feature is that in the reminder email, they will suggest a book that they you might be interested in, based on the books you have borrowed. It just recommended a great authentic Mexican cookbook to me that has a 5-star rating on Amazon on 13 reviews!

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Drupal Modules I am Waiting to be Ported to Drupal 5.0

I am really looking forward to upgrading this site to Drupal 5.0. I really like the new default theme and I am thinking of using it along with a customized colour scheme. I am a big fan of using default themes by the way because it means I never have to monkey around with my theme if anything in the underlying API changes from version-to-version. For a simple site like mine, using a default theme makes the most sense. Especially for someone who is by no means an expert in HTML and CSS. I have made a few sites using only CSS (no tables) that were fully XHTML 1.0 compliant and worked on all browsers but only after much work and late nights.

I am going to keep a little list here of modules that I am waiting to be upgraded to Drupal 5.x before I upgrade to Drupal 5.0. I will scratch them off by crossing them out once each of them is ported. Any remaining ones I will port myself if possible.

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My Cuba Photos at JPG Magazine

I submitted some of my Cuba photos to JPG Magazine. It is a neat print publication publishes photos based on online voting of user-submitted photos. Here's one I submitted to the "street" issue:

Actually, I've just noticed that you cannot just vote on any picture you want for some reason. It randomly selects certain photos you can vote on. I guess this is to prevent friends from voting for their friends' photos and in turn having their friends vote for theirs.

I just noticed one further gotcha. It looks like one can only submit one photo to each theme. These guys at JPG are really trying hard to prevent people from gaming the system and I admire that.

Generate Custom digg.com Feed

I found a really neat site that can generate custom feeds. I really wanted a way to not only get a feed of the most popular articles today on digg, but also have links directly to the dugg article, not to the digg page (sorry digg).

This site called RSSxl Beta could do it. I entered:

  • Page URL: <a href="http://www.digg.com/view/all/popular/today">http://www.digg.com/view/all/popular/today[/geshifilter-code]
  • Start String: <div class="news-body">
  • Start Item String: <h3 id="title.*?">
  • End Item String: <div class="news-details">
  • Start Description String: <p>
  • End Description String: </p>
  • Link Number: 1

That will give you a nice feed of the most recent 9 items on visible at http://www.digg.com/view/all/popular/today. The only downside is that it only displays 9. I am thinking I might write my own script to do this in python using a similar method to that done by RSSxl Beta.

Update: Just modified the "start item string" a bit. Didn't realize you could use regex.

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