Tag Archive: Blogging

FeedWordPress Collapse Filter

September 7, 2007 8:40 am Published by 1 Comment

There’s a serious dearth of FeedWordPress filter plugins out there. I aim to rectify the situation. FeedWordPress Collapse Filter will collapse multiple posts being imported from a single feed into a single post. I use it here on Plutor.org to keep Flickr photos (which I frequently upload by the handfuls) from overwhelming everything else. Each syndicated feed can be separately configured to collapse (or not) with a different time threshold.

Download FeedWordPress Collapse Filter 1.0

Plutor.org v10

September 6, 2007 12:43 pm Published by 2 Comments

In celebration of what was apparently Plutor.org’s sixth birthday a couple weeks ago, I hereby unveil version 2.0 7, let’s say it’s version 10 of my blog. Simpler, cleaner, no more silly orange stripes or fixed menus. I hope the individual pages put more emphasis on discussion, and I hope that in the future, I spend more time writing than linking.

Thanks to Brian and Chris for being the actual impetus behind this change. They staged a webdesign intervention, and to them I am grateful.

Apple’s Font Rendering and high DPI displays

June 15, 2007 7:16 am Published by 7 Comments

The release of a beta of Apple’s Safari for Windows earlier this week has resulted in an interesting flurry of activity in web designer circles. Nevermind the instant security bugs and the quick release of fixes from Apple. I’m talking about typography.

The day that the beta came out, Jeff Atwood asked “What’s wrong with Apple’s font rendering?” He pointed out that others had discussed this before, but it wasn’t until the difference was visible side-by-side on the exact same machine with the exact same fonts (and with presumably the exact same font libraries) that it became truly surprising. Joel Spolsky responded with the answer: Apple and Microsoft have very different priorities when it comes to font rendering, and at current screen sizes and resolutions, Apple’s total respect for the letter shapes can mean blurriness. Their diligence becomes especially impressive when you consider the work that Apple must have had to go through to get Safari to run on Microsoft’s home turf but render fonts the way it would on Mac OS X.

Dave Shea piped in with his own opinion and a caveat: I like Mac’s look better, but I think Microsoft’s is a better choice for the medium. But more importantly, he points out that as soon as higher-DPI screens are available, the whole question will be moot. Microsoft’s deference to the pixel grid will be essentially meaningless. Which brings us back to what Jeff Atwood does best: a big post with research and quotes and numbers showing how far screens have come since the release of the PC AT and Macintosh. Not far. The sad realization:

Short of some kind of miraculous technological breakthrough, I can’t see computer displays reaching 200 DPI in “a few years”. It’s unlikely we’ll even get there in ten years. I’d love to be proven wrong, but all the evidence of history– not to mention typical consumer “bigger is better” behavior– is overwhelming.

Can e-ink or OLED be the miraculous technological breakthrough we need? Possibly, but neither of them are yet ready to replace CRTs or LCDs.

[1] The always brilliant Joel ends with a great metaphor about how people usually prefer what’s familiar. He doesn’t say it, but I think he was implying that this is a big contributor to entrenchment in computing holywars: Mac vs. PC, vi vs. emacs, KNF vs. OTBS.

So long, Planet

April 19, 2007 7:57 am Published by Leave your thoughts

For the last year or so, I’ve been using Planet to aggregate my del.icio.us links (white background), Flickr photos (blue), blog posts (yellow), and recently Last.fm music history (tiny text with eighth notes). I knew from day one that there were a few shortcomings, but I was able to code around most of them, like collapsing multiple consecutive items from the same source into one (like how photos show up with “and 3 more”). And I needed to write plutor.org twice, in two totally different templating languages. But in the last few weeks, several minor annoyances have become bigger. I never liked having my archives across several different sites. And some feeds are too short (Flickr, occasionally, but definitely Last.fm). Since planet was totally stateless, and just grabbed the RSS on every execution, once something fell off the source feed, it’d be gone. Even if it didn’t yet need to fall off plutor.org.

Starting today, I’m using FeedWordPress to import these external feeds directly into WordPress. No more Planet necessary. There’s a totally separate list of things I need to code around, and some of them are less trivial than they used to be. But I’m hoping that getting that data pulled into WordPress will allow me to make plutor.org even more complete than it already is. Twitter? Netflix? What else can I integrate?

Is Google a killer?

August 23, 2006 8:49 am Published by Leave your thoughts

It’s hard to argue with the fact that Google has grown to the point where it can be a real challenge to compete with it. The first public demonstration (in my memory) came this week when web calendar Kiko went up for auction on eBay, and the obvious reaction was to think that it was killed by Google Calendar. Paul Graham went so far to say that the big lesson here is “to stay out of Google’s way”. The Kiko team itself came away with some rather different lessons.

But I think that David Heinemeier over at 37signals said it best. Google isn’t the be-all end-all. In fact, no one product or application or website will ever be the best thing for everyone. There are plenty of Google applications (among them the Calendar), that while neat, don’t suit my needs. When people balked at this idea, claiming “Google is big. Backpack calendar is small. They win, you just haven’t realized it yet,” Jason Fried piped up with defining your own success. Success is not a zero-sum game. Two competitors can both succeed.

And that’s probably the most important lesson.