June 2007 Archives

I haven’t seen this mentioned anywhere, so I thought I should mention it: If you’re running Movable Type under FastCGI and one day find that you inexplicably can’t login, try killing all the running mt.fcgi processes.

Don’t know what caused the problem, but that was the fix for me.

Screenshot of Google Mashup Editor I received an invitation to the Google Mashup Editor a couple of days ago. I haven’t had time to really play with it yet, but I wanted to give my initial impressions.

When I first heard about it, I was under the impression it would be similar to Yahoo Pipes. While the idea is similar — primarily, using feeds as data input for building web apps — the implementation is completely different. Where Yahoo Pipes is a visual app builder, Google Mashup Editor is a web-based IDE. It consists of a text editor, feed viewer, and a test environment.

The real meat of GME is the <gm:> tags. You can think of this as a templating language. The tags provide UI controls, data access, control structures, etc. You combine these with basic (X)HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to build your mashup. When you run the application, the tags are “compiled” into standard JavaScript.

Now, here’s the $60,000 question: If the <gm:> tags are simply template tags that turn into JS, why didn’t Google just release it as a library? It seems like it would be simpler — and more useful — to let people download a Google Mashup Library than to build an entire IDE around it and restrict applications to only living on their servers. But maybe that’s coming later.

As I said, I haven’t had much time to play with it yet, but hopefully I will get something built with it soon to really test out what it can do.

Script Frenzy Participant After two years of writing novels for NaNoWriMo, I decided to give the first ever Script Frenzy a try. If I’ve learned anything from NaNoWriMo it’s that my writing tends to be heavy on dialogue, light on description — which seems like it would translate well to screenplays.

When I first heard the challenge would be 20,000 words in 30 days I thought, “This will be a piece of cake.” After doing 50,000 words in a month — not once, but twice — this sounded like a vacation. As June grew closer, I started to worry I was underestimating the task. Writing a screenplay is very different from writing a novel, which could mean it’s also more difficult.

Two days in I’m back to being pretty confident. I’m ahead in my word count, which is highly unusual for me. It’s also not taking me very long to reach my goal each day. Part of that is because of Celtx, an absolutely incredible piece of open-source screenwriting software. It’s very easy to use, and it takes care of all the formatting so you can concentrate on writing.

I don’t have aspirations of being a screenwriter, but it’s a fun little creativity challenge, and an adventure — and adventure is good for the soul.

Plus, if I ever encounter someone famous I’ll have something to ask them to read and therefore make them feel awkward about the whole meeting.