Archive for January, 2006

Atom All-Stars!

January 30, 2006

Need to do some one-stop Atom shopping? Lucky for you Planet Atom is open for business!

As expected of “planet” sites, Planet Atom collects and consolidates the individual feeds of Atom-minded gurus. It isn’t yet very pretty, but so what? A “planet” site is for feed funneling, and Planet Atom does it very well.

That might not be apparent on first glance. Doing a view-source on the Planet Atom feed reveals thousands of lines of whitespace! Yikes!

But look at all the well-behaved XML! Look at the preserved entry ids! Apart from the weird <a shape="rect"> in everyone’s atom:content, things look hunky-dory.

I wish Planet Atom as a site did a little bit more with its feed content. In particular, feed entries are coming in with different category schemes. It would be nice to see this information on the site.

Beyond categorization, Planet Atom might benefit from some editorial oversight. Like many “planets”, Planet Atom takes every entry from every participant, whether or not the entry fits the topic. Currently (using the Friday afternoon update) eleven entries out of 40 mention Atom. Only 11 out of 40? Not exactly “A fusion of atom-related news.” Heaven knows what plantetary damage this is causing Phil Ringnalda.

Perhaps the scope of Planet Atom will be limited, but their list of contributed feeds doesn’t suggest it.

Wait; let’s take a closer look at these contributors:

Mark Pilgrim

Could it be? The return of Mark Pilgrim? Or is this just wishful thinking?

I’m inclined to think the latter, no matter how much I enjoy his rhetorical flourishes. I even enjoyed the few entries on his IBM blog following his main weblog shutdown.

Apparently, though, there are Pilgrim-watchers more rabid than me. Last week a mailing list message by Pilgrim inspired a flurry of links. And I thought bloggers only linked to other blogs!

I half-expect that on my next visit to the Mariano estate, I’ll pass throught the greater Raleigh area to find that Pilgrim has stapled Yard Sale flyers on various telephone poles. The flyers will be surrounded by frenzied Pilgrim fans.

With devotees like these, who needs a planet site?

Our Feeds, Ourselves

January 19, 2006

On January 5, Nikolas Coukouma made what appeared to be the final adjustments to a patch for WordPress that would allow it to generate Atom 1.0.

The experience drove him insane.

Or, more accurately, Coukouma was so disgusted that he summed up all his hard work with the sentence, “I never want to look at WordPress again.”

By the way, what happened to his hard work? According to Trac, Coukouma’s patch is sitting right where he left it, with no discussion or integration with any future version of WordPress.

That’s a shame, because the patch addresses all the shortcomings I could spot, not that a non-programmer playwright/blogger is someone you want auditing your code. If the patch works as advertised, what’s the hold-up? Do the WordPress developers not like their XHTML sent as escaped HTML in the feed? Do they not like that the patch removes Atom 0.3?

Or is it something else entirely? Some in the WordPress community are looking at the tool’s other feeds, and think it might be time for RSS 1.0 and RSS 0.92 to walk the plank. Lording over the fates of two feed formats is a lot more fun than making sure another one works as expected.

Luckily Owen Winkler is trying to pull back from this feed deathmatch. WordPress needs to handle comments, categories, and permanent links in a consistent way, regardless of the feeds it produces. Winkler is talking about the next generation of WordPress, while Coukouma’s patch only updates the existing Atom 0.3 template (for example, the patch does not create an Atom Comments Feed).

So, should WordPress’s Atom template be updated now? Or should everything feed related be completely redone later? Why can’t we do both?

Image Evilness!

January 6, 2006

Sam Angove of rephrase describes a text obfuscation technique so cruel, so hostile to the web, yet so inventive that it’s like the offending web designers learned the technique from some mirror universe version of A List Apart.

POINTILLIST IMAGE TEXT, by Evil Joe Clark.  Tired of people copying, scraping, or right-clicking on your valuable text?  Worried that the blind may somehow conquer your precious Javascript?  Pointillist Image Text can protect you.  Evil Joe Clark tells us how.

Talking ’Bout URIs

January 4, 2006

Consistent web identification seems to be the topic of the day; observe posts by Gordon Weakliem and Christian Stocker. By chance my own experiences allow me to contribute to this discussion.

Late last night on our usual weblog I mocked The Village Voice in an entry titled Shaw ’Nuff, complete with that copied-and-pasted right single quote (doubling here as an apostrophe). I finished the entry, hit publish, then ambled over to the main page and hovered over some links. That’s when I saw this permanent link:


Rather than stripping the apostrophe, WordPress had masticated it into an undigested, percent-encoded nightmare!

There’s nothing cool about that URI, so I immediately committed a web no-no and changed the Post Slug to shaw-nuff. As far as I know, though, the dark magic of Ping-o-matic (or is it now Ping-o-mattic?) had already sent the mangled link far across the Web, so I added a permanent redirect in .htaccess.

I was surprised; we no longer live in the WordPress dark ages. Authors can no longer fall into the same trap Eric Meyer did fifteen months ago. I use cites, ems, and apostrophes in my titles all the time, and WordPress 1.5.2 never lets me down.

But contracting “enough? as “’nuff? was too much for the program to handle. And barring my emergency surgery, George Bernard Shaw would have one ugly link.

Do you think WordPress MU/2.0 has corrected this problem? Only one way to find out….