Wednesday, January 27, 2010 is dead, long live

I've always registered my domains using two companies. The first being the behemoth GoDaddy for my .com's and the second being TransIP for my .nl's.

However one domain remained with Protagonist and that has been bugging me for some time. Since they don't actually provide the service I want (ssh access) and the fact being that I want everything centralized.

So! The time for ignoring it is over. Today I initiated the transfer and signed a hosting cancellation form. After about 5 years its time to ditch Protagonist for my very own Linode instance.

Sure it takes a bit more work and you have to know what you're doing. Though if you've got multiple hosting plans with multiple providers, its almost always cheaper and less of a hassle. Well.. for me at least.

I will also be moving my email accounts to gmail or google apps, but I haven't decided yet which is best. I'll let you know how that works out.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Django FileBrowser and MarkItUp

What I wanted to do was override the default action for the insert Picture in the markItUp edditor with the FileBrowser manager popup, and have the image selection flow back into the edditor.

Thats right, it will be a nerdy post.

I used django-filebrowser 3 without grappelli found here:

First I changed the sets.js, which defines your settings (in JSON).

I copied the markitup/sets/textile folder to my own js folder and added the MARKITUP_SETS to my to point to the new location. Check the django-markitup docs for more about settings.

After that I changed the "sets.js" file to this:

mySettings = {
 previewParserPath: '/markitup/preview/',
 onShiftEnter:  {keepDefault:false, replaceWith:'\n\n'},
 markupSet: [
        ... snip ...
     {name:'Picture', replaceWith: function(markItUp) {;
         return false;
        ... snip ...

I added the FileBrowserHelper object so that it can store the original markitup
object that fired the event / popup, so that I can use it when trying to return 
to the edittor.
var FileBrowserHelper = {
    markItUp: false,

    show: function(markItUp) {
        this.markItUp = markItUp
        var textarea_id = $(markItUp.textarea).attr('id');, '/admin/filebrowser/browse/?pop=1&type=');
    triggerInsert: function(url) {
            [{replaceWith: '!(left)'+url+'(beschrijving)!'}]);

I used Mark Story's story for inspiration.

The problem I had was that the code which does the roundtrip for the default FileBrowserField does not support a textarea. So I had to create a seperate piece of code and override the template which handles the file selection view (filebrowser/templates/index.html) and change the default FB_FileBrowserField.js for my own.

I changed this (original):

    ... snip ...
    {% ifequal query.pop '1' %} <!-- FileBrowseField -->
    <script language="javascript" type="text/javascript" 
      src="{{ settings_var.URL_FILEBROWSER_MEDIA }}js/FB_FileBrowseField.js">
    {% endifequal %}
    ... snip ...

For this (my filebrowser/templates/index.html):

    ... snip ...
    {% ifequal query.pop '1' %} <!-- FileBrowseField -->
    <script language="javascript" type="text/javascript" 
      src="{{ settings_var.MEDIA_URL }}js/filebrowser/FB_FileBrowseField.js">
    {% endifequal %}
    ... snip ...

Next I copied the FB_FileBrowseField.js and placed it in my own js directory. I changed the FileSubmit method to the following code so that it triggers the right event and injects your image into the textarea on the position of your cursor:

function FileSubmit(FileURL, ThumbURL, FileType) {
    // var"___").join(".");
    var preview_id = 'image_' + input_id;
    var link_id = 'link_' + input_id;
    var help_id = 'help_' + input_id;
    input = opener.document.getElementById(input_id);
    preview = opener.document.getElementById(preview_id);
    link = opener.document.getElementById(link_id);
    help = opener.document.getElementById(help_id);
    // set new value for input field
    if(input.type == "textarea") {
    } else {
        input.value = FileURL;
        if (ThumbURL && FileType != "") {
            // selected file is an image and thumbnail is available:
            // display the preview-image (thumbnail)
            // link the preview-image to the original image
            link.setAttribute("href", FileURL);
            link.setAttribute("target", "_blank");
            preview.setAttribute("src", ThumbURL);
            help.setAttribute("style", "display:block");
        } else {
            // hide preview elements
            link.setAttribute("href", "");
            link.setAttribute("target", "");
            preview.setAttribute("src", "");
            help.setAttribute("style", "display:none");

And that's that really.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Kraken, Linode, Wufoo and my muses

I need to tell you a story.

Last year we did a project at Fabrique for Heineken for the Champions League called the "Star Final". Its was game where you needed to sail from South Africa to Thailand. To win it you needed to get the highest score and to receive points you needed to join fleets and also do some Champions League pop-quizzes.

While designing Bram and I were convinced that when you have a game where you are sailing the world's oceans on a raft you're going to need your basic mythical creatures or at least a few pirates. So our idea was that when a player cancels her account a Kraken would appear and would drag the raft down into oblivion.

Right? Seriously.. how cool is that!

Anyway, initially the PL and Designer said "no". The reason being that it did add anything of value to the game.


But we persevered and in the end The Kraken made its appearance in the messaging system. We (concept by Joris) created a way to send messages from one player to the other by using a "message in a bottle". When you removed the message a tentacle would creep up along the sides of the bottle and drag it down. It was a minor detail, BUT! we got the Kraken in there.

Victory at last.

(UPDATE; Lots of thanks to the hard and loving work, the epic struggle of Joris. Dedicating his own precious time to create, I dare say, a Legend. Couldn't have done it without you. Our hero.)


But it didn't end there. During the project we talked about the Kraken for so long and with such intensity that it started to become a meme at Fabrique. Now everything had to have a Kraken somewhere. It was getting out of hand. We had to do something.

This was last week.

We decided to create A website about all things "Kraken".

Bram registered the domain and I needed to fix the hosting. I chose Linode. We now have our very own linode VPS running our brand spanking new site

Having this new server to play with, I decided to redirect all my domains to that very same server. I've had some ideas about applications and websites over the years and every time I had a "Holy Shit I'm Going To Get Rich"-thought I registered a domain for it. Tim Ferris calles these things "muses".

But there it always stopped for me.

Until today!

Today I actually did some work toward at least testing the ideas to see if there is any market for it. For every domain I registered and that was just sitting there I created a landing page like this:

Though it isn't a proper test (because there isn't anything of value yet), at least I've got all the domains set up and can now start to write copy and do some SEO for all these pages individually.

To give you an idea of how many domains were talking about here. This is the complete list:

The contact form you see there is actually a form from Wufoo where you can design and create your own forms and just plunk them in the site with a bit of javascript. Done. Saved me a lot of time not having to create any mail handling code for some kind of homegrown form. I was also very impressed by their interface, I can recommend it. Especially for stuff like this.

So there is some forward motion. Lets see how long it lasts.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How sets expectations for the Beta

Just got for the Beta and this is how they set my expectations:

The Baby Beta is unique in that we are truly giving you a product before it has matured. IT WILL SUCK BADLY. And when I said badly, I mean like one time, at band camp, when...well, lets just say it sucked. Badly.

We decided to give you the Baby Beta because we know that you care about building a really kick ass product, and we know that we must crawl before we can walk. If we dont get you involved now, the end product will just, well, suck badly.

You will be disappointed. A lot, and I mean A LOT, of features are not working yet.

I love it. Its a win-win. It sets my expectations low so that whatever I get to click on will only make me go "aawwh it aint _that_ bad". Only way to go is up.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Anders stopt even met falen

Ik heb een haat liefde relatie met Aan de ene kant heb ik altijd netjes mijn boeken binnen gekregen en zijn de redelijk goed met mij voorzien van informatie of (en wanneer) iets verzonden is of niet. Ook kan ik vrij goed vinden wat ik zoek. (Al zijn ze soms wat traag met nieuwe boeken, vooral amerikaanse)

Maar aan de andere kant ben ik nu al 2 keer mijn met-moeite-bij-elkaar-gezochte verlanglijst "kwijt" geraakt. Daarnaast ben ik een tijd lang niet in staat geweest te kunnen betalen waarna ik na mail verkeer tussen support maar uit wanhoop een nieuwe account ben begonnen.



Wat bol niet lijkt te begrijpen is dat die verlanglijst een van de belangrijkste dingen is die mij (en ongetwijfeld meer bezoekers) op de site terug brengt. Het is mijn "deze-boeken-moet-ik-nog-kopen" lijst. 30 potentiele verkopen. 30 x centen.

Elke keer als iemand zegt "dude dit boek is de shit" dan gaat het op mijn lijst op Vele uren heb ik besteed aan het samenstellen van deze lijst.

En dan .. POOF! .. gone.

De verlanglijst zouden ze tot bloedens toe moeten bewaken. Niet alleen ben ik nu mijn lijst kwijt, maar er stonden ook een hoop boeken op die ik nu niet meer weet en waarvan de kans klein is dat ik ze nu uberhaupt nog zal kopen.

Oh, en mocht bol dit lezen, een publieke link naar mijn verlanglijst zou ook niet gek zijn. Neem een voorbeeld aan hoe Amazon dit doet: of het feit dat je je wishlist op je eigen site kan plaatsen. Ook niet gek no?

k thnx bai

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Haha your medium is dying.

(Laat ik bij voorbaat zeggen dat ik het rapport zelf nog niet heb gelezen en dus af ga op wat er op de trouw website staat. Dus mocht de informatie van trouw door de spindoctors verdraait zijn, vergeet deze post.)

Ik las net dit op Trouw:

De overheid moet een heffing opleggen op alle internetabonnementen. Met dat geld moeten innovatieve initiatieven in de krantenwereld worden gefinancierd.

In het advies van de commissie-Brinkman aan minister Plasterk (media) wordt niet rechtstreeks het verband gelegd, maar duidelijk is dat vooral internetinitiatieven bij regionale media hiermee moeten worden gefinancierd. Volgens de commissie kan de heffing ook helpen om de consument van media en internet duidelijk te maken dat nieuws en nieuwsgaring niet gratis is.

Blijkbaar is het de "schuld" van het internet dat het slecht gaat met de kranten. Beetje zoals wanneer mensen meer chocopasta gaan eten we chocopasta gaan belasten om innovatie te betalen in de pindakaas industrie. Wat een gelul.

Nou is dat natuurlijk alweer oud nieuws. Maar raar is wel dat er een commisie nodig is te kijken hoe de "oude media" gered kan worden. Terwijl ze net zo goed gewoon de volgende boeken hadden kunnen kopen: WWGD, The Cluetrain Manifesto, Naked Conversations en The Innovator's Dilemma

Persoonlijk vind ik het niet zo erg dat de kranten dood gaan. Is dat niet precies wat marktwerking en kapitalisme betekenen? Blijkbaar is marktwerking alleen goed als het in het voordeel is van de gevestigde orde.

Natural selection is a bitch.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Minutes Schminutes

I've been browsing through a lot of frameworks lately and one thing bothers me: Screen casts which show you how to build a weblog in x minutes.

First of all, how many weblogs can one person build. Is a weblog really the thing as to which your framework is most suitable for? Why the hell would I use a full fledged app framework to build a weblog (in 5 minutes) while I can just as easily download wordpress or whatever flavor of the month weblogging system is the current "hot shit" and install that without having to write one line of code.

To be fair, the fact that everybody shows you how to build the same weblog in 5 minutes is that it is easy to compare how different frameworks implement the same idea. Also, I dont think I want to watch a 4 hour screencast to see how someone builds something complex.

But that was not the point.

My point is that those screen casts are deceivable. First of all its only really 5 minutes for the creator/expert of the framework, not for anybody else. It takes a lot of time to wrap your head around the framework's design and only after that period of head-wrapping is it possible to create something quickly IF the framework can deliver what you need. Until then it will just be a lot of hard work, frustration and reading a lot of documentation.

I've build many frameworks myself and for me to build something useful using my own tools is no trouble at all. For somebody who is not you and not (yet) comfortable with your design choices its something else entirely. For them to build something will probably take a lot longer and with a lot more headaches along the way.

The problem with these promises of delivering results in mere minutes is also that "management" actually believes these magic tricks.

"What do you mean it will take 2 months, I've seen a screen cast of some dude more or less creating the same thing in 5 minutes"

Nigga please.

Second, the ease of use for any framework is not in the elegance of the implementation but in the quality of the documentation. So for a framework to actually deliver something in minutes it will need some kick-ass docs.

For me the documentation is one of the key elements in trying to choose which framework to use for my projects. For instance I like the documentation to explain the magic to me. Almost all frameworks have black box area's which do something cool but where the "how-they-do-it" is completely invisible. I want to know how it works and how the information flows trough the pipes. The documentation should at least try to show me a little bit of the mechanics. "Show me the blueprints"

The reason I choose a framework over DIY in the first place is that the promise that you can build something fast, appeals to my developer-laziness. But if the documentation only manages to explain how to build a weblog, then forget it.