Monthly Archives: March 2009

Het probleem met Encyclopedia Britannica (en Wikipedia?)

Nostalgie; de kleine larousse. Wie verkoop dat nu?Sinds april vorig jaar heb ik als “regelmatig publicist” gratis toegang tot de Encyclopedia Britannica. Ik vond dat toen fantastisch; encyclopedieën hebben iets magisch, zelfs als ze online staan. Maar die euforie dateert alweer van een jaar geleden en nu blijkt dat ik de encyclopedie der encyclopedieën eigenlijk amper gebruikt heb. Dat ligt niet aan de RIA-achtige interface of aan het feit dat de content eerder onhandig wordt ontsloten. Nee, ik blijf stelselmatig naar het “minderwaardige” Wikipedia surfen omdat ik daar méér informatie vind over méér onderwerpen.

Precies daarom begrijp ik niet goed waarom bepaalde krachten in de Wikipedia-gemeenschap denken dat ze met EB moeten concurreren door

artikels op Wikipedia verwijderen […] uit de één of andere overtuiging dat enkel het meest relevante van het meest relevante daarop moet komen, en dat alleen boeken, kranten en tijdschriften geldige bronnen van objectieve informatie zijn.

Lang leve het Wikipedia-inclusionisme! Dat gezegd zijnde ga ik nu mijn gratis abonnement op EB verlengen.

Fun with RFP’s: organizing a RAD-race

the original rad race logoSelecting a good (web-)application development partner is not an easy task. Between writing your RFP, reading offers, organizing Q&A-sessions, commercial and juridical negotiations, … it’s easy to lose sight of what is most important: finding someone with the right tools and the right knowledge and experience to efficiently build (web-)applications.

That is why (at work) we decided to include a POC in the last phase of our “web framework and development services” selection process. But not just your normal POC, where you have no control over the context in which the development takes place. No, we brought in Ivan Verborgh to help us organize an “original RAD race“. In such “development competition” you put the participating teams in 1 room and give them 1,5 days to create the same administrative application. And somewhere along the line you throw in a change request as well, just for the kicks of it (and to check agility off course).

Our participants had to use a Java-based solution (as defined in the RFP), but their frameworks were very different, with one opting for a commercial product and the other one for an open source component stack. Without going into too much detail, the RAD-race was a great experience for us as well as for the participants. Although neither team was able to complete the assignment, there was a clear difference in the teams’ performance. For some colleagues the results were a true eye-opener, with one competitor clearly having less knowledge and experience with their chosen framework. The result of the RAD-race was an important element in our decision process and it was a fun experience during an otherwise sometimes dull RFP-process.

Invitation to comment: dofollow

no nofollow = dofollow (sort off)Last Friday Steven of Some Minor Issues asked how he could increase the number of comments on his blog. I jokingly replied he should install the NoFollow Free WordPress plugin. Jokingly, because common blogging-sense claims that nofollow prevents people that are just looking for pagerank from posting irrelevant comments on your blog(*).

But then I began to wonder; why should I be afraid of not having “nofollow”? WordPress has  great spam-detection (Akismet) and I don’t allow comments to be published automatically anyway. Why not give people who contribute some pagerank-juice in return? So yesterday I installed NoFollow Free and configured it to remove nofollow for commentators who have 2 or more published (i.e. relevant, approved by me) comments.

So that’s that, this now is a dofollow blog. Now let those comments start pooring in! ;-)

(*) The ranking of your site in search-results depends amongst other things on the number of links to your URL. That implies that if you’re able to “seed” your own link in blog-comments, Google will like you more. To prevent this from happening, nofollow (which is a value of the “rel”-attribute of the “a”-tag) tells Google not to consider a link. If  Google ignores links in blog-comments, people who are only trying to get Google to like their site, will not bother with commenting any more. That’s why rel=”nofollow” has become default in WordPress (and other blog software) ages ago.

Van het stekken en knotten van wilgen en hoe alles terugkomt

Lang geleden plantte mijn vader wilgen achter onze tuin en ik hielp hem daarbij. We ontdeden enkele vers afgekapte wilgentakken van alle kleinere takjes, groeven een gat van een halve meter diep, spiesden de wilgenstok daarin en vulden de put met water en aarde. De stekken werden boompjes, de boompjes werden wilgen en mijn vader snoeide er in de loop der jaren fiere knotwilgen van.

Afgelopen weekend, meer dan 20 jaar later, kapte ik met mijn vader 7 takken van die knotwilgen. Die stekken heb ik op diezelfde manier achteraan in mijn tuin gepoot. Ik kijk uit naar de wilgenkatjes, het knotten en het opnieuw nemen van stekken.

Een boom planten geeft overigens veel voldoening, binnenkort zet ik ook een paar appelaars. En een beuken haag met wat hulst en rozebottel ertussen, ook dat heb ik van m’n vader geleerd.

While waiting for the new Firefox beta

While we”re waiting for the new Firefox 3.1 beta (which will probably be released on march 12th, after which 3.1 will become  3.5), the Mozilla Labs guys announced a prototype “about:tab” plugin. It builds on the ideas they put forward on the labs-blog last august and follows in the footsteps of what Opera and more recently Google Chrome and Safari 4 are doing, taking it up a notch.

about:tab in firefox3.1b by aza raskinAfter installing the plugin, a new tab will show you:

  • the title and favicon of the most recently closed tab, allowing you to reopen it
  • a button containing the text in your copy/paste-buffer with contextual actions;
    • if URL: go to that site
    • if physical address: put it on a map
    • else: search for that text on google
    • more actions might be added and the system will be extensible, taking from Ubiquity
  • a list of six of your most visited sites, with thumbnail and title and with the most recent rss-items of that site

Although the developers claim that it’s “a rough-cut prototype” and that “the visual design isn’t right”, I already prefer this sober and functionally rich new-tab-behavior over the shiny “top sites” implementation in Apple’s Safari4. I sure hope this will slip into Firefox 3.5 in the next few months!