A Swiss Army Knife
The other day I wrote a little about starting a new blog. I mentioned this blog wasn't so much about the content, that it was instead more about the technology powering it.
For a blog with content, take a look at my wife's (relatively) new blog: Small Ways.
This whole experiment started when I made a feature request of the proprietor of these tools, Dave Winer. I discovered that this blog engine (scripting2) has built in support for live-blogging that publishes an rss feed with each update. Adam Curry chimed in that he uses this feature to collect links and notes that become the show notes for the No Agenda podcast. Once he's got everything in, he just changes it to a normal blog post. It's a pretty good workflow.
Back to my feature request. I use another of Dave's tools called Radio2. Radio2 is a microblogging tool (think Twitter without the corporate overlords). My thinking was that since Radio2 publishes a feed of links and notes, why couldn't that feed into the live-blog feature of Scripting2? So I made my request, and I got called out.
BTW: You can follow my radio2 feed here.
It was the classic, "You call yourself a hacker? Do it yourself!" Fair enouugh. Later, Dave provided some guidance and reference material on how I might go about this. After reading some more documentation and walking through some tutorials, I find myself very impressed with this piece of software.
Actually, I'm really surprised that I had never heard of Frontier before this.
Of course, I'm also the guy that had never heard of HyperCard until 2007 when I attempted to reverse engineer it.
I referred to the OPML editor before as a swiss army knife of an app. Now I know that it is. This is a technology that is very powerful and flexible. It's a hacker's tool. Had I known about this in the 90s, I wouldn't have been as hard on the Mac as I was. (I was a PC guy until 5 or so years ago.)
Anyway, I'm sitting down here now ready to start hacking something together, but first I felt like I should post something. I am very impressed with the core technology of the OPML editor. There are some annoyances about it. For one, it feels like an old piece of software. I believe it's open source, so maybe one day I'll feel adventurous enough to delve in and do some kernel hacking.
But first, I have a tool to write.
I'm in the process of building a new blog. In fact, you're looking at it right now. Why am I building a new blog? That's a question that I don't have a good answer for. I have an answer, I'm just not sure it's a good one.
A blog should be about the content, but this blog exists because of the technology that powers it. Perhaps this technology will be more condusive for writing which will cause me to produce more content. Then it will make better sense. But for right now, I'm just playing with a new tool.
There are three components to this blogging tool:
The Authoring Tool / Outliner
The Publishing Tool / Server
The Content Host / Amazon Simple Storage Serice (S3)
The Authoring Tool:
I'm using a piece of software called "OPML Editor" to write these posts. On the surface, this software appears to be a tool for creating ane editing outlines, but it is actually a swiss army knife of an application. For the purposes of blog authoring, it's outlining functions are the main feature.
Each blog post is an outline. This allows me to take a non-linear, iterative approach to authoring. I can build out the structure of the blog post and then go back and easily fill it in and re-arrange the comments. This is what it looks like:
The Publishing Tool
The publishing "server" is actually my old 12" Powerbook running a copy of the OPML Editor. Remember how I said that software was a swiss army knife? The same program can function as a server. The Editor on my laptop connects to the Editor on the "server" to create and modify blog posts. The Editor on the "server" generates all the html and xml needed to create the website ans stores it on the content host.
The Content Host
This entire blog is hosted on Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3). S3 is an easy and inexpensive file store on Amazon's "cloud". Lots of web sites use it for storing static content like images, movies, and downloadable apps. I'm using it to host this entire blog. This may not mean much to you, but as a computer nerd, I think it's pretty cool.
Remote Posting Test
The 'server' is on another machine. I'm posting from my laptop. Does this work?
3/22/11; 8:43:38 PM by TCH
I think that's a yes.
I like the image uploader. That is slick.