Dave Johnson on open web technologies, social software and software development
Worth a read:
I'm going to break blog silence now to tell you about Apache Roller and Google Summer of Code 2011, which just wrapped up about a week ago.
This year we were very fortunate to get a another highly motivated and smart student, Shelan Perera, and an good proposal as well: Mobile-enabled Templates. Over the summer Shelan designed and implemented a new feature for the Roller blog server, one that enables theme authors to provide an alternative "mobile" template for each page template in a Roller blog theme. You can see a screenshot of the new Edit Template page in Shelan's blog How to change template codes in Roller.
Now, when a page request comes into Roller, Shelan's code determines if it's from a mobile device and, if it is, switches to a mobile template, if one is available. There's also an easy way for template authors to create a button to allow users to switch to the "Standard" site instead of the mobile version. The screenshot on the right, of Roller with a mobile theme comes from Shelan's most recent blog.
It was an honor to act as mentor for this project, and fun talking to Shelan via Skype most Fridays. I'm looking forward to getting this on my blog, and getting this cool new feature into an Apache Roller 5.1 release sometime soon. Thanks, Shelan! And, thanks to Google for running the most excellent Summer of Code program.
Lot's of activity in the OpenID and OAuth space recently. Both OAuth and OpenID have suffered from bad user experience, bad developer experience and low adoption. Now they're in the process of re-invention and folks from both Google and Facebook are involved. Here's my reading list so far on the topic:
IBM is going to be at Google I/O again this year, talking about OpenSocial and giving demos of new OpenSocial features in IBM products. Randy Hudson of IBM/Rational will be there to show how OpenSocial Gadgets can be used in Jazz-based product dashboards (introduced in Jazz Foundation 3.0 Milestone 5).
And IBM's Mark Weitzel, who happens to be an officer of the OpenSocial Foundation, will participate in panel discussion on Best practices for implementing OpenSocial in the Enterprise.
Best practices for implementing OpenSocial in the Enterprise
Social Web, Enterprise - Mark Weitzel, Matt Tucker, Mark Halvorson, Helen Chen, Chris Schalk
Enterprise deployments of OpenSocial technologies brings an additional set of considerations that may not be apparent in a traditional social network implementation. In this session, several enterprise vendors will demonstrate how they've been working together to address these issues in a collection of "Best Practices". This session will also provide a review of existing challenges for enterprise implementations of OpenSocial.
Session type: 201
Attendee requirements: General understanding of OpenSocial technologies. Some Enterprise experience is also recommended.
Tags: OpenSocial, Enterprise
Date: Thursday May 20
I started a new blog on this site to explore what's possible with Google Friend Connect (GFC). It's called the G Friend Connect blog. I've added the GFC Members Gadget and I replaced Roller's built-in comment macro with the GFC Wall Gadget. In theory, if you have a Google, Yahoo or Open ID account, you should be able to login via a gadget, make friends with other site members and leave comments. If you have a minute or two, try it out. Join the site and leave a comment. That will give me (and you) a better idea of how things work.
So far I'm not particularly impressed with the Wall Gadget as a comments replacement. Here is an example. It doesn't support rich-text editing, no HTML is allowed, the comment area is too small and there's no preview button. Maybe that's why it's called a Wall Gadget rather than a Comments Gadget. Or maybe I'm just not doing it right.
There will be a OpenSocial Summit: May 14th, at the Googleplex covering the new v0.8 spec changes and all sorts of other interesting things. Wish I could make it, but I'll be happily back home in the old north state. Hopefully, somebody from the SocialSite team will be able to attend.
I asked for Google Summer of Code (GSOC) ideas for Roller a couple of days ago. Below are links to the proposals I thought were good enough to volunteer as possible mentor for and to submit. The deadline is tomorrow, so you've still got time to suggest additions to the list.
Here's the full list of Apache GSOC proposals.
From the Graphing Social Patterns 2008 conference, a sweet OpenSocial presentation with a nice overview of the emerging standard, status of the Apache Shindig project, details of the Hi5 implementation, some cute pictures of my buddy Pat Chanezon's kids and some very fine art (I think Pat forgot to credit the artist).
I was pretty impressed how quickly Google was able to help my brother out when his Gmail account apparently disappeared. That makes me feel a lot better about trusting Google to manage my precious data.
Another reason to trust in Google is that they make good stuff. I decided to try Google Reader for a couple of days. I figured I'd be back to NetNewsWire after a couple of days, but now I'm hooked and I'm not sure I'll ever go back. The only things I miss are hierarchical folders and smart-subscriptions, which I was using to subscribe to a search within my subscriptions, e.g. alert me when any of the feeds I'm reading mention "roller". I'd like to see better blog-search integration in Reader and features like FeedDemon's popular topics.
My brother's popular film blog FilmBabble, hosted on Google's Blogspot site, is now dead in the water and he cannot find any way to get help from Blogspot or Google. He's followed the help links to send support requests to both Google and Blogger.com last week, but Gmail tells him that his email address does not exist!
Could this be another case of mass email deletions at Gmail.com? Personally, I wouldn't trust Google to host my blog or my email; I only use Gmail for mailing lists that are archived elsewhere. Seems like my caution might be well justified.
So please help, Google folks. Please tell us: how do you get help from Google when your email address and therefore your Google identity is apparently deleted?
Update 1: apparently Dan filled out this help request form on Friday. I wonder what kind of turn around time they have for this type of issue. Guess we'll find out.
Update 2: Google responded today and restored Dan's account, after only two business days. I must say, that's pretty damn good for a free service. Still, the "that email address does not exist" message is pretty damn scary. It's pretty nerve wracking to get locked out of your blog.
I was playing around with the new flight simulator in Google Earth and flying over Raleigh when I noticed the extensive and very detailed set of 3D models for the NCSU campus. Here's an overview that shows the brickyard, D.H. Hill library and Harrelson Hall:
The details are pretty amazing, with signage and steps and hand-rails. Here's an example that shows the stairs on the side of Reynolds the old basketball coliseum:
The work was done by students competing in Google's Build Your Campus in 3D competition. Follow that link for a (tiny) video and you can also find a catalog of all the student's work on the Google Earth site.
Congrats to Mark Pilgrim on his new job at Google, where he'll be working on the "right" vision for the future of the web. I assume the "wrong" vision, in Mark's mind, comes from the W3C and specifically the W3C's semantic web activities. Mark's comment pointing to his earlier The Overton Window post seems to back that up. I think it's interesting that Mark will be working remotely; that's a rare thing at Google.
And congrats to Debian Linux co-founder Ian Murdock on his new job at Sun, where he'll be working on all things OpenSolaris and, I hope, helping to make it as easy and fun to use as Debian or even Ubuntu.
Ian Kallen: I'm not condemning AdSense per se, it's a great service and revitalized web advertising after the flame-out a few years ago. But black-hat SEO's have definitely cranked up the game over the last year or so and are putting the whole market at risk again. Google may not be particularly motivated to go out and find the abuse but they have to act against it when you bring it to their attention. Watch this video.
Andy Oliver: For all I know Google is search, email, maps and a large experiment where programmers who do cool things are bought, frozen and put in a crate after having all of their spinal fluid removed. Why spinal fluid? Well just like most of Google's betas it might be useful someday.That cracked me up. You know what else cracked me up? Laser Cats killed on Saturday night. Not sure how well it will work on Tuesday morning.