August 2002 Archives

August 26, 2002

Techbargins: useful place to keep track of cheap tech has - um - bargains on tech stuff.  Looks useful; I'll try it the next time I have money to spend on tech stuff.

This page says that the folks who run this do this mostly as a labor of love.  They do accept ads, and they do accept products for review, but they claim they aren't biased.  In any case, the main feature of the site is factual information - who's selling what cheap for how long.

August 22, 2002

Using MovableType with mod_perl: perf improvments

Dan Kapusta (of In My Experience) asks about what kind of performance improvement I saw from getting MovableType to work under mod_perl.

I was originally running MT on a P133 without mod_perl. Response time dragged - probably 4-5 seconds after each click to get the system to response.

When I moved to mod_perl, performance crossed a threshold. Most responses came back in about 2 seconds, which is pretty good - I've got a DSL line at home, and doing a click on seems to take about 3 seconds.

mod_perl really only helps with response time. If it take a while to rebuild your pages, chances are it will still take a while: mod_perl only really helps on startup; once Perl and MT is loaded into memory, it should take basically the same time.

Speed is also worth a lot. I've been running MT on a 1GHZ+ P4 under mod_perl, and performance is very snappy. I like it.

I just completed migrating a couple of MT blogs from my home P133 running under DBI to another system running MT with MySQL. The migration went ok, but there were a couple of bumps:

  • For reasons I didn't understand, when I did an export of my items off my home system and then a re-import on the new MySQL based MT install, it doubled all my posts: they all showed up twice. I ended up manually deleting half of them, but now that I think about it, I probably could have done something better in SQL. (But my SQL skills aren't good, so it was probably fast to delete by hand.)
  • Not surprisingly, my links back to previous items within my blog had troubles. All the ids for the posts changed, so I had to fix those manually. Fortunately, I only had a few, and I was able to use a SQL select statement to help me find the bad links. This points up a perhaps better reason to move to MySQL: moving from one machine to another should be smoother: I can recreate all my site settings by exporting and recreating the MySQL db.

Weaving Wikis and blogs together

Les Orchard, who runs the 0xDECAFBAD blog, has come up with something brilliant. (0xDECAFBAD comes up at the head of my blogroll, at least until some other hex-inspired blogger does him 0x1 better.)

Les has created two MovableType plugins that allow users to type content using Wiki tags instead of HTML tags. For those who don't Wiki, Wiki systems use simple-yet-powerful markup that Wiki systems translate on the fly into HTML. For example, in a Wiki system, preformatted text may be indicated by indenting the content two spaces. A list item may be created by starting a line with '* ' --- you get the idea.

One of the things I've had to learn to do in order to use Radio under Mozilla (no nice IE-based HTML tool) or MovableType is learn to compose simple HTML on the fly. (Actually, if I'm going to type anything of any length, I paste it into NT Emacs, edit it using the html-helper mode, and paste it back into Radio/MT). It's not that it's that hard, but it is an impediment to introducing others to using these tools. I've been using UseModWiki for about two years, and one thing I can say about Wiki text formatting rules is that they are dead easy to use.

Les's plugins let you type Wiki-format text in your MT entries, and then use either a local or an XML-RPC service to convert your Wiki format text into HTML when you republish your pages.

Weblogs are great for the thought of the moment, but Wikis are great for aggregating content around a given area, or remembering other kinds of knowledge. Les has been publishing both a weblog and Wiki for some time. For me, the combination he's put together has been interesting but not compelling, but I think with this idea he's really onto something very good.

The only downside so far is that Les doesn't quite support UseModWiki yet. Les is TWiki guy. (I tried TWiki once, but found the resulting sites a little too cluttered.)

August 13, 2002

Weblogs in education

Useful introduction to weblogs in education. I hate the name they gave to it: Edublogs. (On first glance, I thought they said Edublobs.)

August 7, 2002

Dreamweaver Standard

Dreamweaver Standard.

The State of Utah is currently putting together a standards document that will help develop more coordination and interoperability between its departments.  Guidance levels are defined as follows:

Approved: An Approved standard is critical to the Enterprise and will be enforced. The numbers of standards in this category will be minimal.


Best Practices: A Best Practices standard produces superior results for the enterprise.

Agencies are accountable to justify a departure from best practice standards.


De Facto: A De Facto standard identifies choices that are widely accepted because of widespread use within the enterprise whether or not they qualify for an actual Best Practices designation.


Sustained: A Sustained standard indicates a standard or practice that no longer shows

promise but is still used or even expanded because of a prior standards solution.


Migrate From: A Migrate From designation refers to a standard or practice that has been abandoned for a better solution. It is not a favored standard yet continues to be in use around the enterprise. Organizations should plan to migrate away from solutions assigned with this designation


Emerging: Emerging standards may have future value within the enterprise but have

proven no specific benefit at the time. The enterprise may be conducting a pilot project to establish the potential benefits and risks of selecting this standard.

A standard for web design and development has now been defined.  Dreamweaver is listed as the defacto standard, although some agencies still use things like FrontPage.  Standard web development kit items can be found on the State's Enterprise Development Group site.  Matt Brown has put together an excellent Dreamweaver Blog.

[David Fletcher's Government and Technology Weblog] 

Internet security: Factotum from Bell Labs

The NYT has a little tease on a security paper being presented at the 2002 USENIX Security conference starting today:

A group of Bell Labs computer researchers will describe new network security software on Wednesday intended to protect personal digital information and increase security when connecting to remote computers and Web sites.

The technology, designed for individual and corporate use, is significant because it does not require the centralized structure now necessary with many existing software security systems. Moreover, it could become a widely used and free alternative to similar software that is being developed by companies like Microsoft and Sun Microsystems.

The two programs, Factotum and Secure Store, will be described in a technical paper to be given by the researchers at the Usenix computer security conference scheduled to begin on Wednesday in San Francisco.

The researchers said they had solved the problem of storing a diverse collection of personal information — like user names, passwords and digital network credentials — used to identify computer users to online merchants and other electronic services.

The NYT didn't mention the names of the researchers, but by looking at the program, I think I've found a link to paper they're presenting: Security in Plan 9 Russ Cox

August 6, 2002

Ray Ozzie: Why Collaborate?

It's sure to be widely noted, but Ray Ozzie's essay about Why Collaborate is brilliant.  He codifies several things that I've observed but haven't really recognized.

...  over the years in watching human behavior in work environments, I came to the specific conclusion that in order to create a comfortable environment that naturally entices people to do real work with others online, it simply won't work if they feel as though they're working in a fishbowl. (Mental exercise: how would you use eMail if your inbox was published on the Intranet?) And empirically this is being proven out: people are drawn to Groove for their interactions because it "just works" and they don't have to think about issues of confidentiality or random observers.   ...

Of course, blogs are (and the theory behind klogs is, I believe) at the complete opposite end of the spectrum - being "make public by default". By choosing to work "in the open", others surely can benefit from work that "should" be published.  And let there be no doubt: if you can get people to work in the open, it can be quite valuable to others so long as people broadly understand what should be shared and what shouldn't.

[Ray Ozzie's Weblog]

Udell: moving from to inforworld

Jon Udell has written a note about moving his site from to Infoworld. [Jon's Radio]

August 2, 2002

Content addressable web?

This makes me recall blog posts to the Open Content Network I'd seen awhile back. Sounds like a little bit of the HTTP Extensions for a Content-Addressable Web and Content Mirror Advertisement Specification voodoo magic would hit the spot here.[0xDECAFBAD]