It's Just this Little Chromium Switch Here

Weblogging and commentary by Chip Rosenthal

Sensible Podcast File Names

Please give your podcast files sensible names. By sensible, it means I should be able to look at your podcast files on my MP3 player or server, identify they are yours, and easily sort them chronologically.

Here are some guidelines to help do that.

Briefly identify the podcast source. And I do mean brief. It only needs to make sense to a person who knows they've subscribed to your podcast.

The "Science Talk" weekly podcast from Scientific American, for instance, names its files something like sa_podcast_080813.mp3. The simple "sa" is good enough to identify the file as a Scientific American podcast episode. I'd argue the "podcast" part of the name is redundant, and thus noise. I think a better name would be scitalk_080813.mp3. (But probably not better enough for them to bother changing.)

Category Listings in Drupal 6

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In case you haven't noticed, I upgraded my web site to Drupal version 6 over the weekend.

The biggest challenge of Drupal version upgrades is making sure your theme and modules make the transition. The APIs can change radically between major releases. That means your add-on components won't survive the upgrade unless their maintainers are actively supporting them.

That's why, for instance, this site is running under a simple, barebones theme. The theme I was using hasn't been updated for version 6, so I had to leave it behind.

As far as modules, only one of my add-on modules wasn't available for version 6—and it's one I wrote myself.

I write a module called category_listing that provides a simple, themed list of taxonomy terms. It's what I used to produce my blog categories page.

The enhanced views module comes frustratingly close to providing this capability. I found two limitations.

Neo FreeRunner: More Hobby than a Phone

Neo FreeRunner phoneBuy the Neo FreeRunner if you want a hobby, not if you want a phone.

The Neo phones are the world's first "open source" phone. If you want to build your own you can. The schematics and design drawings are available. It runs Openmoko, a free and open source mobile phone stack based on Linux. The FreeRunner is their second generation design and the first intended for general use.

First availability of the Neo FreeRunner phones happened this month. A group of Austin folks got together and did a group buy from the first shipment. The phone is normally $400. We got $50 off and a grab bag of extra goodies (neoprene case and earbuds).

When you turn the device on, it's a sight to behold. A standard Linux boot runs on the 1.7" x 2.27" screen, each character barely larger than a grain of salt. It's not readable, but it will be instantly familiar to anybody who has seen a text mode Linux boot.

Home A/V Wiring Diagram

A/V wiring diagramOne of my projects for the weekend was to sit down and do a wiring diagram for the A/V setup. The system has grown in complexity, and it's reached the point where I can no longer figure out connections in my head.

The final straw was last week, when my wife ordered a Netflix Player by Roku, a device that connects to the Internet and streams video provided by Netflix. I was pretty sure we had the connections for it. But when she asked whether she should order the high-def cable package, the best I could do is say, "Uhhh, maybe?"

So, this weekend I mapped out all the connections and did the wiring diagram I needed to figure this out. You may view the PDF of my current A/V wiring setup.

Drupal Teaser Rate Link

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Last December, I published a patch to the Drupal Fivestar module that adds a "rate this post" link at the bottom of article teasers, such a syou see on the front page of my blog. As I explained at that time, the intent is to let people know they could rate the post and to encourage them to click through to access the ratings widget.

I'm pleased to report that as of release 5.x-1.12 of the module, the patch is no longer necessary. The maintainer has incorporated that functionality into the module.

To enable the link, go to:

Administer -> Content management -> Content types

Then, edit the content type of interest, such as story or blog.

Finally scroll down to the "Fivestar ratings" section and set the "teaser display" setting to "Teaser link to full node widget". That will enable the "rate this post" link on teasers of the selected content type.

Mailman Virtual Hosts: Still Wrong After All These Years

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One of my chores this weekend was to reconfigure a server to convert the Mailman mailing list manager already installed to support virtual domains. I've been using this package ever since its early releases, but it's been several years since I've reviewed what's changed.

One of the greatest limitations of Mailman has been its "virtual domain" support. That's where a single server supports mailing lists that live under different domains, such as list1 [at] example1 [dot] com and list2 [at] example2 [dot] com.

Unfortunately, the virtual domain support hasn't improved recently.

Here is how Mailman supports virtual domains, at least when using the Postfix mail transport. When you want to setup a mailing list called listname, you create an alias file entry that says something like:

listname: "|/usr/local/mailman/mail/mailman post listname"

This takes incoming email messages sent to listname and feeds then into the Mailman system.

GTOPS Statement

Chip at GTOPS press conferenceLast weekend, I mentioned the press conference to announce the Grant for Technology Opportunities selections for this year. The press conference happened this afternoon, and will be replayed this week on cable channel 6. Here is the statement I gave at the press conference:

Over seven years ago, local leaders had a vision to use technology in novel ways to help people and to strengthen our community. That vision led to the Grant for Technology Opportunities program, or GTOPs.

GTOPs was created in 2001. It was designed by the predecessor of the Austin Community Technology and Telecommunications Commission. The Commission wanted to support digital technology projects that could benefit our community. GTOPs is funded by the city, and is administered through the city's office of Telecommunications and Regulatory Affairs, or TARA.

The goals of GTOPs are to:

GTOPS Press Conference Monday

On Monday, I'll be participating in a press conference where the City of Austin will be announcing the 2008 selections for the Grant for Technology Opportunities program.

Here is the press release:

Austin City Council Member Brewster McCracken and members of the Austin Community Technology and Telecommunications Commission will present the 2008 Grant for Technology Opportunities Program Awards at an announcement ceremony on Monday, April 21, at Austin City Hall, 301 W. Second St.

Ten winning projects will receive GTOPs funding for connecting citizens with information technology, computers and the Internet.

"GTOPs enables local organizations to leverage technology in novel ways," said Commission Chair Chip Rosenthal. "Its achievements are remarkable, and a tribute to the innovation and community spirit of Austin."

Community Forum on the Transition to Digital Television

Earlier this year I wrote about the transition to digital television.

This weekend, the Austin Community Technology and Telecommunications Commission is co-sponsoring an educational event to let people know about DTV and how it affects them.

The Austin Community Technology and Telecommunications Commission and the City of Austin’s Office of Telecommunications and Regulatory Affairs will present a free community forum on "The Transition to Digital Television" from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 30, 2008, at the Conley-Guerrero Senior Activity Center, 808 Nile St.

Members of the community forum are invited to learn more about the digital TV (DTV) transition, and who will be affected by this technological advancement. This transition affects viewers with televisions that operate with roof-top antennas or "rabbit ears."

The full details are here: City to host forum on transition to digital television

last.fm Submission Flakiness

I have amarok configured to submit tracks played to last.fm. If you go there you can see what I've recently listened to.

I get frequent errors in the amarok status bar such as

Failed to submit 'Mining for Gold' and 8 other tracks

and

Failed to submit several tracks to last.fm

I Googled the messages and found many reports of the problem, such as this thread. Most people pointed their fingers at a server problem. I was skeptical.

When, however, I tried to log into last.fm through the web interface and saw it intermittently fail, that confirmed for me that the flakiness lives in last.fm servers.

I saw this thread that suggested resetting the password--even to the same password--cleared the problem. I tried that and it worked. Before, I had dozens of songs pending to be posted. After, they all went through.

Here's hoping that last.fm eventually fixes their infrastructure problems.