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Web Services gone wild

Here's a cool idea: using the web services of Google and Technorati together to find other, related blogs. Here's the idea:

One of the things I am trying to do with BlogBridge is to help users discover new blogs that they would be interested in. Let 's say I am interested in finding other blogs which are related to or similar to one of my favorites, Scripting News.

  1. First we ask Google for other sites ' related to' Scripting news (click here to see result.)

  2. Starting at the second entry, we ask Technorati whether the returned link is part of a blog. If so, chances are these are related blogs.

Now I chose Scripting News as my example before I actually tried the excercise and I must admit it generated a weird set of so-called related blogs:

I actually had only heard of one of those. And I have to say I don't know exactly why Google thinks that they are related to Scripting News, but still it's an interesting approach that I will work on refining and then incorporate into BlogBridge.

Mars Rover tracks seen from space

You know I am a fan of the cool little Mars Rovers. Here's an interesting little bit from Nasa:

"Mars Orbiter Sees Rover Tracks Among Thousands of New Images

NASA's Mars Global Surveyor, starting its third mission extension this week after seven years of orbiting Mars, is using an innovative technique to capture pictures even sharper than most of the more than 170,000 it has already produced.

One dramatic example from the spacecraft's Mars Orbiter Camera shows wheel tracks of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit and the rover itself. Another tells scientists that no boulders bigger than about 1 to 2 meters (3 to 7 feet) are exposed in giant ripples created by a catastrophic flood.

Those examples are available onlinehere and here. In addition, about 24,000 newly catalogued images that Mars Global Surveyor took between October 2003 and March 2004 have been added to the Mars Orbiter Camera Image Gallery here. These include additional pictures of the Mars Exploration Rover sites seen from orbit."

Amazing, huh?

BlogBridge Usability Victims

We are looking for a few people who would be willing to give verbal feedback on BlogBridge usability. I think it would take at most 1/2 hour of your time, and you'd have a chance to have a very direct impact on the direction of the product. Please call Pito or email me at and I will fill you in.

When we have T-Shirts , you will get one, gratis!

BlogBridge releases coming fast and furious

BlogBridge is going " Great Guns" as I told my friend David in answer to "What's going on with BlogBridge?" Well I don't really know what the heck that means except that I am pumped to see the progress we've been making. More and more every day. And now there's a way for you to see it too!

We just made a beta release (0.5.6) Betas have been coming about once a month.

Beta releases are tested (to a certain extent) on multiple platforms, include a web site update, emails and so on. We also snapshot the source code to SourceForge for the open source community.

Well, we realized that we have useful running code more often than that, so we've introduced the idea of an Alpha release , which is not really tested but feels pretty stable and consistent. We will issue an update email, do a very minor update to the web site, and again snapshot the source on SourceForge.

See our web site for a more detailed explanation and let us know what you think!

BlogBridge Beta 4: Sept 15, 2004

Ok, guys, we have another beta release with lots of great new goodies! It will be up on the web site tomorrow hopefully. It sports lots of new features, which I will be describing when I have some more time to do it. For now, please go to the BlogBridge web site and look around. Some links of interest:


One of the cool new things in this beta is the BlogStarz feature , illustrated to the left. Notice that each Channel has several new pieces of information. Not all are fully implemented yet. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Now, here's the real story:

  • The icon on the top left (pointing up or down or not) indicates how 'popular' this Channel is. Today, Popularity is measured by the number of inbound blog links as reported by Technorati.

  • The Starz in the top center summarize BlogBridge's measure of this Channel's interest to you. One Starz - Not very; 5 Starz - Very Very.

  • The Icon on the top right (heart or bomb) is clickable. It is where you subjectively tell BlogBridge how you feel about this Channel. Kind of a Tivo Thumbs up/down. By the way, of course this icon will change to a thumb.

  • Finally there are 3 numbers at the bottom left. These correspond to how many articles there are total in this Channel, how many you have not read, and how many BlogBridge guesses you will consider Good articles. The numbers go in the opposite order: good / unread / total.

Try the new beta. I hope you like it. Let me know!

Patterns from the master

I came across a fascinating article, a transcript of a speech by Christopher Alexander , architect and author of "A Pattern Language."

Alexander is the guy who invented Patterns as they have now been broadly adopted by the Software Design community. In this piece Alexander tells of the thinking and objectives that led to the Pattern approach to architectural design - much more than simply cataloging patterns that were known work. He was hoping that when architects used these patterns they would be led, driven, forced into creating living and livable structures.

In his words:

"However, that is not all that pattern languages are supposed to do. The pattern language that we began creating in the 1970s had other essential features. First, it has a moral component. Second, it has the aim of creating coherence, morphological coherence in the things which are made with it. And third, it is generative: it allows people to create coherence, morally sound objects, and encourages and enables this process because of its emphasis on the coherence of the created whole.

I don't know whether these features of pattern language have yet been translated into your discipline. "

A really good read.

Why Blogs are great, #102

I am often asked what 's so special about blogging. I always answer, technically it's pretty simple, so that's not it. It's that there are people in the world, who for their own reasons have chosen to write down their thoughts and opinion. I learn things that I would never have learned otherwise from blogs.

Here's the latest example. Now I am not a Bushie - by any stretch of the imagination , and I haven't bothered checking the credibility of this post.

But I find it a fascinating discussion of the analysis that is leading some to question the authenticity of certain documents that are purportedly showing that Bush had problems with his superiors in the National Guard back in 1972.

I had not heard or seen this before. An interesting perspective. That 's why blogs are great!