Kermit's revenge

the green guitar strikes again

I accidentally cross-posted my entire LJ archive to Livejournal
space marine
skyfaller

My apologies to everyone who is following me on Livejournal! I re-imported my entire Livejournal archive into my blog but I accidentally left my LJ cross-posting plugin turned on, so it got into an infinite loop where I would import a post, and then it would get cross-posted, and then imported again… This meant that duplicates of my old posts dominated everyone’s friends pages. I went back using Xjournal and manually deleted all of the duplicate posts from Livejournal, so everything should be back to normal.

The good news is that all of the old LJ comments have been imported with threading this time, thanks to the new Livejournal importer in the unstable “trunk” version of Wordpress :) Huge thanks to Beau for writing the importer, it worked perfectly.

Originally published at Skyfaller.net. Please leave any comments there.


I'm leaving Livejournal: what should I take with me?
space marine
skyfaller
I'm moving my blog from LiveJournal to my new personal website at Skyfaller.net, following in the steps of Nick. The rumors about LiveJournal being in danger of shutting down certainly triggered this move, but it's something I've wanted to do for a while, to have more control over my own data.

I would like my loyal LJ readers to follow me to my new site, and to achieve that I'd like to make sure that my new blog has all of the features of LiveJournal that my readers find important. Why do you use LiveJournal? What makes it a good experience for you? What features of LiveJournal do you think are useful, and distinguish it from other blogging sites? I have already added a number of features to my blog that LiveJournal has:

  • Threaded commenting - This is included by default in Wordpress 2.7 but not all Wordpress themes have been updated to use it yet. You also have to turn it on in Settings->Discussion->Other Comment Settings->Enable threaded (nested) comments, it isn't on by default.

  • Reply notifications by e-mail - Below the comment field is a checkbox labeled "Notify me of followup comments via e-mail". If you check that box, you'll get an e-mail when someone replies to your comment (if you've filled out the e-mail field). I'm using the Subscribe to Comments plugin.

  • Not having to enter identifying info every time - I've enabled OpenID using this plugin, so all you have to do is enter in your LiveJournal URL in the website field and it will accept your comment. No need to fill in your name and e-mail each time.



What else should I do? Please let me know in the comments.

Originally published at Skyfaller.net. Please leave any comments there.


Microblogging: worthwhile, or a horrible mistake?
space marine
skyfaller
Do any of you microblog? Do any of you have a Twitter account, or use any similar service like Jaiku, Pownce, Plurk, or Identica? I've been microblogging for about 6 months, as you might have noticed since I've got my Identica syndicated to Facebook using the excellent openmicroblogging Facebook app (source code here), but I'm still not sure whether it is a worthwhile endeavor or a colossal waste of time. (If "Twitter" is the magic word for you, I now syndicate my Identica on Twitter as well so you can follow me there.)



On the plus side, it takes much less time to *finish* a micro-post or tweet than to finish a serious blog post, and therefore I am able to do it much more often. Posting interesting, relevant stuff to my blog on a regular basis takes conscious effort, discipline and willpower. Posting something interesting in 140 characters can be tricky but easy to complete and therefore more immediately rewarding. Ultimately, writing enough interesting tweets to match the length of a real blog post takes as much if not more effort, but like most mere mortals I often have difficulty finishing what I start, and finishing and releasing stuff frequently seems superior to letting stuff stew in my brain until the Great American blog post emerges.

Also, microblogging can replace some of the functions of social bookmarking (which doesn't seem to have really caught on the way microblogging has), namely sharing links with my friends and spreading memes (mwahahahaha). I am still extremely excited about the next generation open source / decentralized version of Ma.gnolia, Ma.gnolia 2, but I am not desperate enough to use any of the current social bookmarking services while I wait... the network effects are just too limited. (I like open source service Connotea for instance, but it doesn't actually let you friend people or anything... it's missing the "social" part of social bookmarking!) Given the existence of microblogging, I now mostly want to use social bookmarking services to build a public online searchable database of articles that interest me... a reference trail, rather than a way to alert friends to what is currently interesting to me.



On the minus side, deep analysis is impossible in microblogging, and it is difficult to have thoughtful discussions with a 140 character word limit. At best you can reference thoughtful discussions occurring elsewhere, or respond with pithy one-liners that summarize your positions. Summaries can frequently be hilarious (brevity is the soul of wit) and to the point, often people add words without adding meaning/substance. But there are still fundamental limits to what can be said on a microblog, and therefore I think it would be sad if microblogging took away too much time/effort from real blogs such as this one.

Additionally, there are a limit to how many useful links you can include in 140 characters, and it can be difficult/impossible to include pretty pictures or videos in microblogs without the help of external services. As long as you are happy with following links that may not be a problem, but something is lost I think when you can no longer bundle all of the media together in one cohesive page.

No doubt there are other pros and cons that I haven't thought of. What do you think?

UPDATE: The Identica badge at http://kentbrewster.com/identica-badge/ won't work in Livejournal because LJ bans scripting languages like Javascript from LJ posts. Phooey. The Twitter badge does work, however.

Making panoramic photos with Hugin
space marine
skyfaller
I am in love with this panorama photo-stitching program called Hugin. Perhaps it is because it is open source and cross-platform. Perhaps it is because of the adorable logo, which is a person hugging a panoramic photo. But most likely it is because it makes really beautiful panoramic photos for me with almost no effort on my part. All I did was take a few pictures by spinning around in one place, feed those photos into Hugin, and ta-da!

panorama A

panorama B

Aren't they pretty? Why don't you download Hugin too and give it a try?

I've decided to vote for Barack Obama
space marine
skyfaller
These last several weeks have been very difficult for me.

I voted Libertarian in 2004, I consider myself to be a libertarian with a small "L", and I generally support the positions of the Libertarian party. The World's Smallest Political Quiz pegs me as a left-leaning libertarian. I met Michael Badnarik personally (the picture of me meeting him somehow found its way onto Wikipedia) and after talking with him I found him to be a genuine, principled person, albeit a bit old and clueless about free culture / technology policy and similar issues that are very important to me. While I did not consider his political acumen to be amazing, and I didn't think he would have a chance to win even in a fair election (as opposed to one rigged against 3rd parties), I respected his principles and passion for the cause.

I generally disagree with the Democratic Party and its platform, I do not trust it to preserve my civil liberties or to do anything good with free culture issues and IP / tech policy, and I frequently find myself in conflict with the nanny state. Why the @#$% can't I buy raw, unpasteurized almonds or raw cheese? As an amateur pyrotechnician I've seen my friends persecuted+prosecuted by the police despite strictly following safety procedures and doing their very best to follow the letter of the (unreasonable) law. The war on drugs, the war on filesharing, the war on moisture in our airports (and of course actual war) have all continued under a Democratically controlled Congress and I do not expect the Democrats to make any positive changes in any of these areas. I oppose big government and its intrusion into my private life, and I hold the Democrats responsible for a great deal of it.

This election, however, I had to make my decision based on the candidates, rather than the general philosophies of their parties. While I do not agree with many of Obama's positions, and in fact disagree violently with some of them, I have come to believe that he is the candidate best prepared to lead our country for the next four years. This is sad, because I also do not trust him to keep his word or protect my civil liberties after his FISA vote. However, after researching this year's Libertarian Party candidate, Bob Barr, I do not think he is good for the Libertarian Party, I do not trust him or believe him to be a sincere libertarian, and I do not think he would be a good president even if he had a chance of being elected. Despite my serious misgivings about Obama, there are many things I like about Obama as a person, Obama as a President, and Obama's policy positions that allow me to cast a vote for him in good conscience, to vote FOR him rather than against the other guy (which is not something I would ever want to do).

I intend to follow up this post with details about my feelings on Obama and why I decided not to vote for Libertarian candidate Bob Barr.

Conferences in the SF Bay area
space marine
skyfaller
Today I'm in Burlingame, CA at the First Annual Seasteading Conference, sponsored by the Seasteading Institute... it's all about building floating platforms on the ocean and living on them. I'm liveblogging it on my identi.ca, and there are other people using the tag #seasteading08.

Tomorrow and Sunday I will be at the Free Culture 2008 conference at Berkeley, hosted by Students for Free Culture of course and its Berkeley chapter. People will be microblogging that with the tag #fc2008.

I'm speaking at the University of Utah this Monday
space marine
skyfaller
I'll be speaking at the University of Utah this Monday, September 22nd, noon-1:30pm in the Collegiate Room in the Student Union. The title is "Free Speech, Free Software, Free Culture: The Movement for Cultural Participation". (I'm always torn as to whether to title my talk something witty/silly, or to try to be serious and official-sounding, but I usually go with the latter because different people have different senses of humor and I don't want someone to skip my talk because my attempts at humor on the advertisements didn't agree with them.) I'll also be giving a talk to some librarians beforehand about the Diebold case etc., and afterwards I'll be doing a "how to start a chapter" workshop with the brand new Students for Free Culture chapter which is starting up there. Monday will be a busy day ^_^

If anyone is in Salt Lake City on Monday night, I'd be interested in meeting up for dinner... just leave a comment or drop me a line. And naturally, if you attend the University of Utah, please come to my talk!

UPDATE: Apparently my talk is only open to invited guests, perhaps because they are serving lunch. If you want to attend, please contact me so I can put you on the invited list.

Identi.ca
space marine
skyfaller
Is anyone else on Identi.ca? It's an open source, decentralized Twitter-like microblogging project, and it is pretty awesome. Among other things, you can post to it using a Jabber account such as Gtalk or LJ Talk, and it can send you your friends' updates over Jabber as well. (I understand this functionality has been broken/disabled on Twitter for a while.) Anyone can install their own version of the software driving it, called Laconica, and friend people on other Laconica services (such as Identi.ca itself).

If you want to follow my posts or "dents", just subscribe to skyfaller on identi.ca or use the RSS feed you can find on that page.

Hope to see you all there!

Open Source vs. Operating System - a dilemma
space marine
skyfaller
On a completely abstract level, if you had a choice between using proprietary software on OS X, or installing Windows in order to use some open source software which for some reason only runs on Windows, which would you do?

Poll #1227784 Open Source vs. Operating System
Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 16

Which is worse, using proprietary software on OS X or open source software on Windows?

View Answers
Proprietary software on OS X
8 (50.0%)
Open source software on Windows
8 (50.0%)


I suppose the answer might turn on how good you think OS X is (partially open source, prettier, easier to use, less crufty) and how much you hate Windows, but perhaps this question is more complicated than that?

I would like notifications for bugfixes/features
space marine
skyfaller
Frequently I find myself waiting for the nightly builds of some open source program to fix some bug, or to add a feature that doesn't exist in the stable version of the software. It would be wonderful if there were a good way to be notified when a bugfix or feature appears, either in the unstable or stable versions.

For instance, right now I need some open source software that can capture a screencast from the output of my computer screen. VLC is supposed to support this, but that feature does not work in the stable version on OS X. The next version of VLC, 0.9.0, will apparently have a GUI for recording output from an iSight camera or your screen, but although the GUI is there in the unstable builds, it doesn't succeed in saving to a file yet. I would like to be notified when VLC supports recording screencasts on OS X.

For another example, I would like to start using Thunderbird 3 with the Lightning calendar/todos add-on... Thunderbird 2 has been boring and stagnant for a long time, and I'd like to help the Thunderbird 3 effort in any way I can, at least by testing the nightly builds. However, there is a showstopper bug which prevents you from switching back and forth between the mail pane and the calendar pane (it gets stuck in calendar mode), and until that is fixed Thunderbird 3 is unusable for me. I have subscribed to the bug so I get an e-mail every time someone submits a patch or makes some uninteresting comment on the bug, but really I just want to know when the darn thing is fixed so I can use Thunderbird 3 again. I don't want to get all of this extraneous e-mail.

What I'm imagining is a sort of social networking interface, or perhaps a Digg/reddit voting interface like Ubuntu Brainstorm, for bugs/features, where you can get a feed for each bug / feature request, or "friend"/"favorite" them on the website. Then you can either track all activity on the bug/feature request, or simply get a single update e-mail when the bug is fixed or the feature is implemented. This would be really awesome as a global interface for all open source projects, but a more realistic goal may be for something like this to be released as an easy to use/install open source package which all projects use and thus the interface is at least familiar even if it is not a single interface/website for every project under the sun.

Will someone please create this for me? ;-)

You are viewing skyfaller