February 2007 Archives

I’m a big fan of Postel’s Law. For example, it is the guiding principle behind how I handle email. You can send me anything you like: top-posting, bottom-posting, text, HTML, RTF, AEIOU… I don’t care. Recently, someone emailed me a Word document. By that I mean they typed their email message in Word, then attached the document to an email and sent it to me. And I’m fine with that.

But I’m particular about how I send out email. I send plain text, with quotes relentlessly trimmed and replies in line, if appropriate. Sorry, but that’s just how I was raised.

One of the nice things about GMail is if someone sends you HTML you can convert it to plain text when you reply. One of the bad things is it totally hoses quoting in the reply. As I was writing an email today and fixing this problem for the umpteenth time it occurred to me that I should be able to write some kind of script to fix this. So I did.

It’s called Quoterize and it’s a very simple — and most likely buggy — bit of JavaScript that properly formats a paragraph for email quoting. If this is your kind of thing try it out, play with it, do something cool with it. If I get real ambitious I might put it into a Greasemonkey script, but don’t hold your breath.

I’m writing about this for two reasons: First, one of my goals this year is to learn — I mean really learn — some new technologies that will help me build better websites. This is part of my learning Prototype, and I plan to write more about it as I do more with it. Second, I spent an hour this afternoon writing a script to do something I could have done in 30 seconds, so by George, I’m going to get a blog post out of it.

Via Mark Pilgrim: Add OpenSearch to your site in five minutes

Reading that, it occurred to me that it should be pretty easy to create a Movable Type template for the XML file. Fortunately, I didn’t think about it too long before Googling it — Firefox Magazine has complete instructions for doing this. One change I would suggest: Abstract the template even more by using MT tags for the search URL. To do so, change line 13 to this (line break added to simplify my life):

template="<$MTCGIPath$><$MTSearchScript$>?search= {searchTerms}&amp;IncludeBlogs=<MTBlogID>">

Screenshot from Yahoo Pipes I’ve just started playing with Yahoo Pipes. Amazing — it’s one of those technologies that makes complicated things simple and expands what we can do with data on the Web.

In a nutshell: Yahoo Pipes is a visual programming environment for feeds. It allows you to combine user input with feeds of your choosing and massage the data in a lot of interesting ways.

I’ve still got a lot to learn about how it works before I can make anything really useful, but I was able to throw together a quick example in just a couple of minutes. Inspired by Jeremy Keith’s life stream, I built my own life stream Pipe that combines the various feeds I publish. That Pipe can then output my combined feed as JSON or RSS so that, potentially, it could be fed into some other interesting application. Want to subscribe to my life stream? You can.