Pinboard.in suites me just just fine

About a month a go I wrote a quick rant about Delicious.com and why it could have been a sucessful web2.0 business (relatively low costs and lots of opportunity for advertising and pro/paid for features). At that time I said I was moving to pinboard.in, especially as delicious.com’s future was being questioned at the time.

This is how I use/used the two sites

  • When trying to find a site, page or link – often for a product/app/site with a name I don’t remember – I will use Pinboard’s (and used Delicious’) search feature with a keyword to try and find it, hoping that I either tagged it using the word, or title/description included it. This is my primary use case.
  • My second use case was picking a tag and browsing by it for the same reason.
  • Third use case was having no idea what I can search for, so just browsing through my entire bookmark list, perhaps picking roughly the time period I might have saved it.

I’m not looking back. I like:

  • It’s fast, clean and simple.
  • It has the features I use from Delicious and not those I was not interested in.
  • I never used the Delicious, nor can I think if a good reason to have them. Pinboard does not have them by design.
  • Automatically adding favourite tweets is a brilliant idea, I, like others, use the favourite tweet feature more as a ‘read later’ option for interesting links.
  • I use pinboard (and used delicious) as a cross browser, access anywhere, bookmarking system. No browser plugin or sync feature comes close.
  • When I searched delicious it would show three of my bookmarks and the the rest of the page would show bookmarks with the search term saved by others. This was useless to me, and just created an extra click for me to select ‘show me all bookmarks that match this search. I have one less click with pinboard which does not show me other people’s bookmarks by default.
  • I quite like the pay a little to use it concept. Even with freemium sites (which have a free option, normally the most popular, and a pro version) you are ultimately paying for both you and the cost of those using the free version. There are often anti-social users, who devalue the site and add to the cost of running it. Not so with pinboard, if you can’t be arsed to spend a few quid (or dollars) on the service then, no offense, go elsewhere. I like the fact that anyone using the site has shown a small monetary commitment to it. It makes it not another site where the whole world signs up and then forgets what it is (god knows I get enough emails a month from web2.0 services keeping me updated about their service which I have no idea what they do or why I signed up).
  • However I do find the concept of the signup cost going up with each new user somewhat strange. It might encourage early adoption but it will mean the site eventually becomes too expensive that many will choose not to sign up.
  • Likewise it’s a one off cost for a service which will have ongoing costs. So new signups will have to fund the service. Perhaps move to a $4/yr model (perhaps with multiyear discounts $10 for three years) to provide a consistent and ongoing income.

In summary pinboard keeps things simple, fast and is created by committed developers. Suites me just fine.

webpad : a web based text editor

So I have WordPress (and in fact Drupal, Joomla, mediawiki, Moodle, damn those Dreamhost 1-click installs) as a way of running my website.

But there are still many pages which are outside of a content management system. Especially simple web app projects (such as ircount and stalisfield) and old html files.

It can be a pain to constantly ftp in to the server, or use ssh. Editing via ssh can be a pain, especially over a dodgy wireless connection, or when you want to close the lid to your macbook.

But trying to find something to fit this need didn’t come up with any results. Many hits were either tinyMCE clones which are WYSIWYG html editors that convert input in to html, do good for coding.

Webpad screenshot
Webpad screenshot

Until I came across Webpad. It not only suited my needs perfectly, but it is well designed and implemented.

After a quick install (more or less simply copying the files), you simply enter a specified username and password, and once authenticated you are presented with a line of icons at the top. Simple select the ‘open’ icon to browse to the file you wish to edit on your web server and you’re away!

It’s simple, yet well written and serves its purpose well. If there was one thing I would I suggest for future development it would be improved file management functionality. You can create directories and delete files from the file open dialog box. But I can’t see a way to delete directories, or move/copy files. Deleting directories is of use, as many web apps (wikis, blogs, cms) require you to upgrade the software, edit a config file, and then delete the install directory, or similar.

Oh, and it’s free!

Check out webpad by Beau Lebens on dentedreality.com.au

Zoho and WordPress themes

Zoho.com is very impressive. The Web based Apps are of very high quality, there are many of them, and all this is such a small space of time. It makes Google Docs look rather poor. They are free (for most things), and have a business model (such a rare thing these days!).

I had checked out the Word Processor before, but today looked at the other offerings, they even have a Customer Relationship Manager and Project Management tool, the former I have no real need for (I don’t have any customers or sell anything) but good to know these are here.

It was readwriteweb.com which reminded me of Zoho. A website I need to remember to read more often than I currently do. They have some great articles (I liked the look of tinychat), and focus on writing about the latest web apps, rather than the companies behind them like techcrunch.

An aside: When I have a spare five minutes in front of the laptop I’m finding myself going to specialist news sites (and blogs) like this more and more, instead of going to my RSS reader. Seeing a long line of blogs waiting for me to read just seems like hard work. Sometimes it is nicer to just go to a website you haven’t been to for a while and see what is there. Maybe RSS readers need to work on a way of turning the long list of feeds in to something more visual: cover view, or some sort of scrolling article headlines which you could pick from? </aside>

While reading readwriteweb.com I was impressed with the readability and appearance of their font. I used firebug (which I’m really starting to find useful) to discover it was just Ariel, with a particular size and line-height.

I decided to edit this blog’s theme to use the same style, but a tiny flaw at one stage meant I had no css formatting at all after refreshing the page in my browser. The problem was quickly fixed, but I was amazed how readable the old fashioned Times New Roman on white background was, and how pleasant to read the text with the distraction of widgets and menus running down the sides. I was almost motivated to use a minimal theme with all navigation links and menus at the top or bottom.

Instead I opted to convert this blog to use the Georgia serif font instead of the previous Sans Serif Verdana. So, again using Firebug, I played with font sizes and line-heights in ems, and a few other bits and pieces until I was happy with the new look. Which I am, and hope it is ok for you too (though those of you reading via your RSS readers probably couldn’t care less).

The theme is called Greening, and I noticed the link at the bottom of this page has stopped working. So I Googled for ‘Greening theme wordpress‘ and, ummm, the first hits were to this very blog. Most odd as the Theme was quite popular and was a pre-installed option on Dreamhost. Now the theme and its owner seem to have disappeared.

If the situation doesn’t change, I may think about making the theme (and my changes) available for download from nostuff.org, with due credit to the orginal author of course.

At least I don’t have to worry about a lot of blogs using the same theme as me for now.

ircount : new location, new functionality

A while a go, I released a simple website which reported on the number of items in UK repositories over time. It collected its data from ROAR but by collecting it on a weekly basis could provide a table showing growth week by week.

First it has a new home: http://www.nostuff.org/ircount/

Secondly, it now collects data for every institutional (and departmental) repository registered in ROAR across the world. Not just the UK. It has been collecting the data since July.

The country integration isn’t perfect, you have to select a country, and then you are more or less restricted to that country (though you can hack it, see the ‘info&help’), and there is a lot of potential with improving this. There are also a couple of bugs, for example when comparing four repositories it seems to (a) forget which country you were dealing with, and (b) it stops showing the graph/chart.

I’m currently looking at trying to make an educated guess at how many fulltext items are in a given repository. This is proving to be a steep learning curve in the joys of OAI-PMH, and how the different repository systems (and the different versions on these systems) have allocated information about the fulltext in to different Dublin Core (DC) elements. But this is for another post.

In the mean time, I hope the worldwide coverage is of some use, and feel free to leave any comments.

Radio Pop

Radio Pop is an interesting experimental site from the fantastic BBC radio labs.

It is a sort of soical network site for radio listening. It only records your listening through the ‘radio pop’ live streams. I (like many) mainly listen to listen again and the radio iplayer, and they are working on intergrating with both. You can see my profile here.

Screenshot of radio pop
Screenshot of radio pop - click for a larger version

You can ‘pop’ what you are currently listening to (basically a ‘i like this’ button). I’ve added my ‘pop’ rss feed to my dipity timeline.

blip.fm

Very first thoughts of blip.fm, and therefore not a proper review, and based on first impressions, not research.

blip.fm is interesting but so far for me has proved a little frustrating in understanding how to get the most out of it.

[For reasons not clear to me I have dumped my thoughts as bullet points (which would have worked just as well as sentences, but can sometimes make it more readable).]

  • blip.fm doesn’t seem like a ‘set it going and leave it to play’ website. which I guess is what i’m most interested in.
  • it has been described as a cross between twitter and last.fm, which I agree with.
  • on signing up, it suggests you enter three bands you like, and then adds 30 people (DJs) to your feed.
  • You then see a realtime feed of what your favourite DJs have been listening to, you can then start listening to this list.
  • Though I want to discover new music, many of the songs in the list (from people in my automatically created favorites) were of no interest. However it is easy to skip songs (though, this is just one element of the ‘needs your attention’  I described above).
  • Now i would guess that for most people, creating a list of favorite DJs based on three artists will produce some matches with people who on the whole you don’t share music taste with, and one of the first things they will want to do is refine the list and their preferences…
  • So you’re listening to the music, and skipping the ones you’re not so keen on. How can you refine this list? Well you can remove a DJ you don’t like a song of. But this may be just one bad song from what is generally a good mix of music. So I’m reluctant to this. Plus, to remove a DJ you need to follow a link to their page to remove them…
  • Which leads me to an annoying quirk. Almost anything you do leads to navigating away from the current page and therefore the music stops. You have to constantly remember to right-click links to open a new tab. Very Annoying.
  • Another oddity, one time I tried it, it seems no one from my DJs were currently playing anything (I’m in the UK and I’m guessing most of my regular blippers are on the west coast US or similar). So the first page of ‘what my DJs have recently played’ stayed static (most recently played song first, just like twitter). It was dominated by two people and most of the songs were crap. lots of skipping meant i soon got to the end of the list. but instead of moving me to page 2, or something like that, it just took me to the top of the list again, to play the same crap as the first time round.
  • You have two options next to each track,: ‘add it to playlist’ and ‘give dj props’. The former, urm, adds it to your playlist. However this does not mean it will show up in the list of tracks played by me (i.e. if anyone is following me as a DJ, or on the homepage ‘all’ feed), it really does just get added to to a playlist page for me, and doesn’t do much. The second option will use one of my ‘props’ credits to this DJ, a basic way of saying ‘hey, i like your stuff’, though not total clear how this meter of popularity differs from the ‘number of followers’ metric which blip.fm seems to promote more (ie in user’s pictures/aviators it shows roughly how many people follow that person’s playlist).
  • However, what i really want is a way to say ‘I like this’ or ‘not for me’ (props are one way of showing you like it, but they are in short supply). basically a thumbs up/ thumbs down. some way for me to tell blip what i like over time. based on this it could probably build up a much better list of DJs for me to follow.
  • This is what I don’t get, I’m guessing people will be hearing songs for a first time and want a way to record if they like it or not. For example, I mentioned earlier that removing DJs was difficult (or at least I am reluctant to do) because you are making the decision based on what that person has just played, rather than whether they have played good/bad stuff over time. Flagging songs good/bad would then allow the site to show the amount of good/bad points you have given each DJ over time, so you can either manually see those who you have on the whole given thumbs down to the songs they have played, or even it can suggest which DJs should be removed (based on thumbs down), and perhaps some who should be added (based on the artists you are giving a thumbs up, and those DJs with the best match).
  • Ok, so that’s the listening ‘read-only’ side, but what about the other side of the coin, your own stream of tracks which others can listen to?
  • At the top of the page is a text box to enter the answer ‘what are you listening to?’.
  • At first this seems like an odd question, duh, what ever is blip.fm is playing for me!
  • However, if you ignore this and enter what you WANT to listen to, enter an artist say and then select the track. It will then prompt for a twitter-like short message which will be displayed with the track. If available it will then play the track.
  • This is cool, and a good way to hear a specific song you have in your head.
  • But it stops whatever you are listening to originally.
  • In fact I can’t see how a balance of listening to the songs of others while adding in some of your own could work, as each time you add your own it will stop the playlist (you can avoid this with a keyboard combination), it would be good if it just played it once the current song is finished.
  • Anyone who follows me will only see those i have manually typed in myself. This seems almost a waste, I may listen to several hours of music, and add to my playlist several songs i love which others have played on blip, but these will not show up in my stream, so while someone following me may well love the ones I have flagged, they will not hear them unless i then manually search for the very song I am listening to on blip fm and blip it myself (which will then play it again for me, which I don’t want as I’ve just listened to it). Cutting the current song/artist from one part of its display to post in to another, to answer the question (what am I listening to) which it itself knows because it is the very thing playing it to me seems odd. Though as I said at the beginning, I may yet to master how to use blip.

Coming back to what I said at the start, it requires your time, to skip crap tracks, to add your own (but only when a track is just finishing – unless it is an aforementioned crap one – to avoid it being cut off), to keep an eye on who is playing good stuff (so you don’t remove them) and who is playing rubbish (so you can remove them if they keep it up!), to move to the next page of music once you have played the first page in your list, etc. This need for constant attention wouldn’t be so bad if it lead to some long term good, i.e. it helped build up a preference profile of what I liked (eg I don’t mind spending time adding ratings to my itunes library because I can use those ratings in the future)

While removing DJs is possible once you have identified whose music tastes don’t match yours, adding DJs is not so simple, as you are basically starting from scratch. What songs you’ve played, the songs you have added to playlists, the DJs you having given props to, all mean nothing, you just type in two or more artists names and it will suggest some DJs from what appears to be just those which include those artists.

This seems simplistic, and wouldn’t be so bad if there was an easy way to gradually weed them out or perhaps rank DJs so their music took a lower priority. The latter suggestion would alter the whole model, at the moment it works like twitter, you either follow someone or not, by only half following someone, or by giving their music a lower priority, say for example, if their songs only show up in your feed if other DJs you prefer are not playing much, or perhaps only the songs they play which have a good match to the sort of music you like.

I’ve been quite negative hear, look it is a social music listening site, and is worth playing with, but what I wanted to get down was why it doesn’t seem to fully work for me. Maybe you need people you know on it, so you can follow them and stike up more banter?

[here is a gap in time]

Amazingly I played about six songs myself (and therefore they, and they only appeared in my stream that anyone else can follow), and I now have four followers. This instantly gave me a pathetic ego boost and suddenly I went from trying to make blio work as something to listen to, to full blown how many listeners can I get. This involves playing a lot of cool music and doing nothing else, and carefully timing it so the next one starts as the previous ends (otherwise annoyingly it plays the song before last again). Now this is a different use, but now I’m enjoying myself. I’m listening to no one else’s music (and so not discovering anything new) and not getting anything else done. but my god my music taste is damn good! current listening to the long version of I Am The Resurrection – The Stone Roses. poptastic.

UPDATE Feb 2009

The above was written just after I started using the service. I’m not a heavy user of blip, but do use it every few days. The ‘interactive’ (ie, it needs your attention) is still true. But this is very much like twitter. You get the most out of it when you are blipping music and listening and responding to other’s music.

You do get familiar faces and people you respond to, especially if you are a frequent user. However this ‘conversation’ element is not – for me – as great as Twitter, where you are following people you know or have similar interests, with blip you are following because you like their music, so conversation doesn’t extend much more than this (though blip comments such as ‘listening to this as it reminds me of Berlin’, for example, might get people discussion from those who have been there).

Blip works best when, like twitter, you are working away on your computer and are happy to switch back to blip every so often to play something new / slip a song your not keen on / reply to someone etc. I originally pondered on the idea of blipping a number of tracks at once so you can line tracks up to play in a row, rather than constantly going back as each song ends to find the next one. I’m now less sure on such an idea, the point of blip is its real-time qualities, people are playging these songs now, and the comments they leave with each blip are – like twitter – are current, not batched up when they first logged on.

Blip really is the Twitter of music playing, right down to no one really being sure of their business plan. It works. It is social music in a way that last.fm and similar can never be. Good stuff.

to do list software

this is a ‘thinking out loud’ blog post.

For years my to-do list survived as a combination of my email inbox and a bit of A4 paper which i would scribble lists on to and write numbers next to them in the planned order i was going to do them. (which was somewhat laughable)

But things were being missed so it was time to look at different ideas.

Nothing has yet hit the sweet spot. This blog post tries to decide what the sweet spot is and if anything has yet come close.

Ideally: Something that can be accessed anywhere, is real quick to bring up and use, presents information just as I want it, allows me to track progress of the job/task, allows me to pass it to someone else (yes!). Also, ability to track changes, and – if it doesn’t accept email (like RT) have a nice big notes field for paste-ing in the email which started it all off.

So what have I tried:

Meetingmaker

Meetingmaker it pretty good software, and as you might guess, its main function is shared calendars (making meetings). A slightly odd history, it had no software updates for years, then suddenly they released a new version (about 2005) which was a lot nicer to use, with the message that they were now actively finding out what users wanted and developing new versions. Nothing has come since (apart from an update to change light-saving hours for a timezone somewhere).

Anyways, it comes with a to do list function. It has a windows3.1 feel to it, and a big thumbs down is the user interface. Being part of the diary/calendar package, it tends to be the window sitting behind your calendar window, which can be annoying. And it doesn’t remember your settings, so even though each time i open it i set it to not show completed tasks and to show in order of priority, it forgets this. Which is annoying.

Apart from this it does its job well. Title, Category (which are user defined), priority, percentage done and a nice big notes field. It does all the basics (in a ugly and slightly tedious way). What it fails on is the other stuff. When did I create this task, when did i finish it. I want to transfer it to someone else (should be do-able as we all use MM), I want to see a list of items completed this month. What progress have i made? All impossible.

RT

Until recently RT was not an option, it was so amazingly slow. I mean really slow. But now our IT services have upgraded it, and it’s much improved.

RT is a Request Tracker, and as such is not really a to-do list, and its functionality (and lack of) reflects this. A RT install has a series of Queues (e.g. helpdesk, webteam, workstation-support), and each queue has tickets (i.e. jobs/tasks). So, What’s it good at?

  • you or someone else (just by sending an email to a specific address) can easily created a new ticket, with the title being the emails subject line
  • It provides excellent progress tracking, each email you send is tracked, and you can add comments (which can cater for any notes you want to add but don’t want the requester to see).
  • You can add requesters, add owners (people like you who are dealing with this task), and remove them as needed (useful as jobs change in nature and different people required).
  • You can easily transfer to a new ‘queue’, if it belongs to another department
  • It includes ‘time taken’ and percentage done
  • everything is time stamped.

Downsides

  • Interface not great, eg when listing tickets (tasks) you just see the title of each ticket and last time someone updated it. anything more than that requires going in to the full ticket.
  • editing anything (owner, requester, status, flags) requires going in to some sub-screens, which is slow and annoying. They really need AJAX for this (hello flickr, you are amazing).
  • General navigation sucks. big time.
  • Things you think will be built in are not, especially reporting. What have we completed recently? my tickets? my tickets that i haven’t done anything with recently? tickets that need attention? or took a long time to complete? It does give you what is essentially a SQL interface, which is good, but not a quick way to recall saved reports or views, which in many cases is essential.
  • When looking at a ticket it can be very verbose. telling you lots of information you don’t want to know, and the log of activity takes lots of space but still missing out key information. For example, a ticket with just a few emails can easily span many many printed pages, as it shows the quoted text for each email, and has lots of lines showing you that an outbound email was recorded (which actually take up much more than a line as it has its own block), but still fails to show some important things, such as who exactly got that email (important for covering your arse!).
  • It has a concept of ‘fields’ which are associated to queues, you can think of them like categories. You can associate each ticket in a queue to many fields (the names of which you decide). However this is far to slow and requires far too many clicks.
  • People only appreciate the value of entering metadata/information if it is quick to enter and provides useful information in return. RT, like so many applications, does not meet this.

dot.project

I only tried this as my webhost, dreamhost (get good stuff by following that link!), has a one-click install for this open-source web based system.

This is the one I have tried the least, and after quickly logging on to it again, think i should try it again. First of all, when speed is the essence having a piece of software on a server on the west coast of the US, and me on the sunny south coast of the UK does not help (unless the server is google, in which case using it is amazingly fast, I mean amazing). But this small open source project has a lot of potential.

It has the concept of projects, and tasks (and other things, like tickets) associated with that project. But you as a user can see all tasks for you in a nice list, regardless of which project they belong to. In this sense, projects can be treated like categories, if need be. The interface is good. For example, hover over a task and a larger description pops up which the mouse is above it. this is javascript put to good use.

It has a lot of functionality and features and has good support for different users, so if you can get your whole team/colleagues signed up then it could work really well.

A downside, for me, is in the design, currently you need to browse to a project (which I use as categories) and then you can add a task, I would much prefer being able to see my tasks, and from them their be able to add more tasks as they come in (which I often want to do quickly).

Rememberthemilk.com

Rememberthemilk.com has had quite a lot of exposure among web2.0 fans. It has a lovely interface which makes great use or ajax/javascript. It also makes full use of single (no shift/ctl required, good!) keyboard commands, something which I caught on slowly to.

I’ve being trying out rememberthemilk.com for a few days. It works well, and again, brilliant interface, but doesn’t quite hit the sweet spot. Why?

First and foremost, if you select/add a task, and then immediately add/select another, they are both selected. In fact throughout tasks stay selected until you unselect them. Perhaps I am unusual, but i find this annoying.

I add one, give it a priority and some tags (the nearest it comes to categories, but hey, this is web2.0), do the same for another task, and find I’ve updated both.

It, like many of the applications mentioned, make strong use of deadlines and times. Which I don’t really use much (perhaps I should?!). I tend to be much more priority based, rather than hard deadlines. The task info appears on the right of your task list. It does have a number of properties, but these are mainly time/location based. It has a notes tab, and you can add many notes to a task, each – brilliantly – with a timestamp, but these are really designed for notes (it is in a 200px-ish box), so not really great for posting in that important email associated with the task. Plus ‘tags’ really have to cater for anything to do with categories/projects. So no drop down menus to select these by.

I’m not sure if its ‘adding a new task’ function is good or bad. Being ajax, it is quick, click ‘add new task’ type in a title and hit return and you’re done. And its (bank) properties will be shown on the right, but not selected by default (so requires a mouse move/click, or some keyboard command I haven’t learnt yet) Oh and remember that those properties are for the task, AND the one selected previously, unless you remembered to clear it before adding this one (which is quick once you leanr the keyboard shortcut ‘n’)…

…ok so I’ve just played some more to make sure what I was saying is true. I think the key is you need to learn the keyboard shortcuts. Also, oddly for me, even with many select, if you hit s for ‘edit tags’ it will only edit the last selected item. And you can select items, and move the cursor up/down using the keyboard to. It seems it takes a bit of learning, and a bit of getting used to, but could be useful. Again, add contacts, and you can then pass on things as required (though I suspect not everyone would love this interface, something i would have to consider). However one additional limitation is the lack of good progress/percentage complete. Viewing completed items is a little weird too… make sure nothing is selected, and move your mouse to some white space to be able to select ‘9 completed items’ to see them. Apart from the notes (with timestamps), there is little in the way of progress monitoring (I’ve already mentioned lack of percentage complete), and some way to summarise this in the list itself (number of days since last activity, for eg). Would be good.

Summary.

Nothing hits the sweet spot. I really want to-do list, ticket/email tracking and project management in one, with an amazing nice to use, use anywhere interface. Not going to happen. Funny enough, my conclusion after writing most of these is, hmmm, actually I need to investigate further. And that really needs a disclaimer, this is just my random thoughts, I haven’t read the manual or even used them for what they were designed for. I just used them in a way that suits me, and in a way I found intuitive. This means my words are probably of use only to me. Take note!

MM meets my needs in many ways, but the failure to track progress, provide timestamps and allocate to others is a real killer. dot.project needs another look (and perhaps installing on a local sever), and rememberthemilk requires more playing with and learning how to get the most out of it. Finally, I love the fact RT has such a clear record of activity, and as it is used by my peers, an easy way to allocate/pass work to others, across campus, and the need arises. However, it really is a ticket tracking tool and its interface is not perfect (the latter applies to all).

Lifehacker and other reccomendations, many of which I have not tried.

And on a totally different note, if you haven’t already, check out Wine Library TV.

Dreamhost and nostuff

Well nostuff has been with Dreamhost for a while now, and they are responsible for running the dream. the dream was the ideal of nostuff, which was, ummm, no stuff. They gave me so many goodies that I have ended up with, well, stuff.

For the techies, they give shell access, cron and a powerful web-based control panel and good control over the domain.

Example: I only have one domain associated with my account (i could have more). but I can set up sub-domains easily. Each can be anything you dream of: a redirect, a directory of your main site, something completely separate, have it’s own (unlimited) email addresses (hello@whatever.nostuff.org), have it’s onw google apps etc. Very impressive list of options. The whole setup is very flexible, so if you want to do something unusual with your mail setup or whatever, then you probably can. It’s also the little things, it’s not just that I can setup a WordPress blog with one click, but I can setup unlimited number, at any domain, sub-domain, directory and database I choose, and setup with a good selection of themes and plugins.

This evening I have installed moodle (1 minute), setup words.nostuff.org to point to da blog, setup google apps on nostuff.org (start.nostuff.org, docs.nostuff.org and loads more) and upgraded two blogs to the latest version.

So this is one big advert for dreamhost.

Must find complaints… hmmm, having a web host running servers in West Cost US time when you are in the UK can be a slight pain, and there can be a tiny lag at times (I think). Though my last host was a very simple affair I was never aware of my website being down. Dreamhost have had a few problems leading to downtime, and they seem to take a while to fully resolve it (they do follow up with blog postings explaining why, but of course swear a strange one off occurance caused it and it will never happen again).

But that’s all nickpicking.

All in all, very impressed, and glad I moved my site here.

Now, having written all this (and only after writing all this), I’ve just had the idea of linking to this sign up link and mentioning the sign up code NOSTUFF (using the code should mean YOU get $20 off, think of what you can do with all that cash). Using either means I get a tiny bit of cash off my next payment to Dreamhost, so if this tempts you at all, then hey I am not above whoring. Heck even if you don’t want a hosted domain service, perhaps you’re looking for a new dishwasher, or car insurance or smack, then sign up here, this is what you want. Just enter that promo code and enter you credit card details and do it before thinking about it.

UK repositories : growth of records

For a while now I’ve been running a weekly script which connects to ROAR and grabs the number of records for each UK based Institutional Repository. I’ve finally got around to writing a web front end to this, which you can see here. All quite basic at the moment, and I have lots of ideas of what I could do to improve this (one idea based on the compare average number of deposits per repository). Have a look and let me know what you think, and let me know of any bugs.

UK Repository Records Statistics (the name sucks!)

Google Books API

Google released an API for their Book Search at the end of last week. You can implement this in two ways: static (just linking to a URL with a ISBN inserted) or dynamic, which basically means using javascript, which will check to see if Google have the book available as the page loads and can show a link accordingly.

The (very rough and basic) ‘catalogue’ I recently created already had a link to Google Books for each item. This was just a very simple URL with an ISBN stuck on the end, e.g. http://books.google.com/books?as_isbn=0596003722

Tonight I have made the first steps in adding links to items using the Google Books API using both the static (simple) and dynamic methods.

You can see an example here http://www.nostuff.org/tdn/6b/item.php?item=0596003722.

You can also do a search via http://www.nostuff.org/tdn/6b/

The layout is currently very rough, and the dynamic search is broken in that it will only show a result for the first ISBN for a given item (I know why but don’t have time to fix now).

I have to confess I know very little javascript. The examples from Google only use a few lines of code but not really understanding what it did, did not help. For example, for the dyanmic display, I found it did not work at all, until I added a second paragraph tag for every ISBN. I can’t see what in the js makes this so :(