Managing Twitter Lists

Veröffentlicht am 9.11.2013, 22:37 Uhr

I started to group my “twitter users I follow” (Why is there no better word?) in (public and private) thematic lists to be able to follow them seperately. List management in Twitter’s web and mobile apps lacks a lot of features, so I went to trusted Google to find what is out there. Here are my 3 recommentations:

With these tools I was able to move some people around and dramatically clean up my lists.

Now to find (or create) a Twitter client that is made for lists and this style of reading. (On Windows, I recommend Tweetdeck.)

How to use private and business Dropbox accounts on Windows (7) at the same time?

Veröffentlicht am 4.11.2013, 22:17 Uhr

There seem to be two working options:

  1. http://nionsoftware.com/dbpahk/instructions
    This one got a nice installer and you can choose a colored icon so you can actually recognize your private/business Dropbox systray icon.
    But it uses an older Dropbox installer.
  2. http://semi-legitimate.com/blog/item/multiple-dropbox-instances-on-windows-7
    Here you need to create a second user account so Dropbox can save its configuration somewhere. Nice hack, but very hacky.

I’m testing (1) right now and for now it seems to work great. Hope it keeps working.

Thema: Kram Keine Kommentare - :(

Dropbox for Business

Veröffentlicht am 4.11.2013, 10:26 Uhr

I had to research Dropbox for Business today. Here are the most interesting links and help files:

Nice product, well executed. And if you want some advice: Create a business account as soon as possible to avoid the moving of stuff and shared folders. That can really be a pain.

WordPress Multisite

Veröffentlicht am 3.11.2013, 23:00 Uhr

Today I spent some time reading up on WordPress Multisite. It was born out of WordPress MU and included in the Core of WordPress since version 3.0, but I never got around to really understand and use it. Here we go:

Information

Plugins

Special Cases

Future

Summary

Multisite seems to work fine but sometimes behaves a bit strange, especially if you want to do special things that it’s not (really) supposed to do. The documentation lacks a lot (note to myself: maybe help) and the not-in-the-focus development from MU to Multisite causes lots of problems with old blogs posts, strange wording and information, confusing everybody. So I’m going to try using it.

Laravel 4, Eloquent: Check if there is a Model with certain key-value pair in a Collection

Veröffentlicht am 17.10.2013, 16:47 Uhr

I wanted to find out if there already is a Model with a certain value for a certain column in a Collection that I retrieved realier in my code, e.g. is there already a User with name = Müller in my $users Collection?

$users->contains() can only check if there is a model with a certain primary key, and there also is no method to trivially search through all Models. Of course this all could be hacked together somehow*, but after a bit of searching I found this nice way to solve my question:

$value = 'Müller';
$key = 'name';
if(in_array($value, $users->lists($key))) { ... }

Collection->lists() gets an array with all the values of the Model for the requested key. Checking if our new value is in there, is super simple.

*Of course I first tried it this way:

  1. use $collection->filter() and then count the result
  2. hack $collection->contains() +$collection->find() to accept a field name as a parameter
  3. see 2, but copy the methods as private methods to my controller instead of tinkering with the framework code directly

All 3 solutions worked, but needed lots of ugly code.

How to connect to Campfire using your favorite IRC client

Veröffentlicht am 12.10.2013, 17:08 Uhr

The team of a new project uses Campfire for group chat. Campfire is 37signal’s web based chat solution from back when they launched a new product every few months.

I don’t like chatting in a browser. And I’m a Windows guy and all the native Campfire clients for Windows work, but are not very pretty. You could probably even say they are a bit ugly. That’s why I went on a hunt to get Campfire into a Jabber or IRC client.

I’m in IRC all the time on freenode for several development channels, so I was really happy to find a small script that builds a brigdge between the Campfire API and IRC: https://github.com/zerowidth/camper_van

Here is a small ‘how to’ on how to get it to work on Windows:

  1. Download Ruby Installer: http://rubyinstaller.org/downloads (I would suggest using the 1.9.3 version.)
  2. Use these options for the installation:
  3. Download the matching Development Kit from the same site.
    The installer is a bit crappy, make sure to extract to a new folder on your HD (e.g. “C:/Ruby Devkit”).
    Run the following commands in a command prompt in this directory:
    ruby dk.rb init
    ruby dk.rb install
  4. Now you can install the camper_van Ruby gem:gem install camper_van(Will take a while)
  5. Run camper_van to start the Campfire-IRC-bridge

Now you can connect to 127.0.0.1 on port 6667 using “##campfire_subdomain##:##your_api_key##” (You can find both on your member site of the Campfire chat room) in your favorite IRC client. After connecting, /join #channelname to join your channel and you’re done.

camper_van translates all nicknames from “Foo Bar” to “foo_bar” so you can use it to reply to people in chat and your client can inform you if you were mentioned. Same for images or tweets, should all work.

Thema: Kram Keine Kommentare - :(

PHP Frameworks

Veröffentlicht am 2.10.2013, 11:16 Uhr

As I’m getting back into working with PHP more hands-on I spent some time to look around to build this small overview of PHP frameworks. I seperated them into 3 groups: Most popular, Others and Obscure / Ancient / Dead.

Google Trends graphes

To be able to assess the popularity, these simple Google Trend charts may help:

The “old guys”


(WTH happened in October 2009?)

The “new guys” (+ ZF for comparison)

Please note, that many people probably only search for “Zend” to find Zend Framework.

Others

Obscure / Ancient / Dead

Sources

 

Firefox Tab Groups – Making Firefox even more useful

Veröffentlicht am 27.9.2013, 14:00 Uhr

Somewhere between Firefox 3 and the current Firefox 23 Mozilla decided to add the concept of “tab groups” to the browser. I don’t know exactly when, because I didn’t notice it. But it absolutely changed how I use Firefox.

Before, most of the time I had 2+ Firefox windows open to seperate different tabs depending on the content, task or context. I listen to music most of the time, very often in web based sites like Soundcloud or Mixcloud, for example. A second window had become my queueing system for the music I wanted to listen to next.

Tab groups offer a better solution to that problem:

Now I just have a second tab group open all the time where I put the music related tabs. I pin the currently playing tab, so I can also access it from my normal work tab to be able to be able to stop and resume the music. When a song is finished, I close the pinned tab, switch to the other tab group and select my next track, start and pin it, and continue working. Without ever leaving the current Firefox window.

It’s not perfect. But that’s what add-ons are here for:

With these two I can change between tab groups with one click (before, you had to go to a tab grou overview and then select the tab group), and open links and bookmarks directly in any of the open tab groups.

Thema: Kram Keine Kommentare - :(

My Google Reader replacement

Veröffentlicht am 26.9.2013, 14:48 Uhr

After Google closed their RSS reader I of course was looking for a web based replacement for it. Wanting more a  “river of news” than Pinterest or “Let us decide what you want to read”, the search actually got quite complicated – many of the new reader replacements popping up didn’t match my requirements, and even if they looked like they did, most of the time they were broken or not really thought through.

A more structured list of my requirements:

I used ReplaceReader, Russel Beattie’s Readerpocalypse-the-Players-article, this epic list and some Google searches to find the following list of replacements:

Feedly, free

Very feature complete. Sometimes strange UX, quite often doesn’t really save read progress. But has an API that is supported by the biggest iOS readers.

TheOldReader, free

Matches the old Google Reader very closely. Didn’t scale well in the first days after the shutdown, actually seems to closely related to Google Reader to innovate.

Aol Reader, free

Big company, good designers. Makes a great rss reader with a perfect design. Shame they needed sooooo looooong to offer users to reorganize their imported feeds. Small feature, big frustration if it’s missing.

Digg Reader, free

See what I wrote about Aol Reader.

Newsblur, limited free, $2/month, $24/year

Oldie but a goodie. Works great, but I don’t like parts of the interface.

Feedbin, $3/month, $30/year

Ben Ubois created one of the newer Google Reader alternatives, and he did a pretty good job. I really like the general style of the product, but really dislike the user of tags instead of folders and the missing ‘complete articles river’ view.

Yoleo, free (or $9/year donation)

“the beautiful reader” is it’s tagline, and Jamie Gilgen did a really good job at that. Unfortunately, she also made some very strange decisions and the river of articles, or “waterfall” as she calls it, is still missing.

Curata Reader, free

“The Cleanest Reader”. Yup, but also missing lots of the functionality I want.

Feedspot, free, $3/month, $24/year

Again, most of the stuff of Google Reader (and more) works and looks pretty decent.

Commafeed, free

“Bloat-free feed reader”. Support the most important stuff, but is also quite slow.

Hive, free

“Content first, no distractions”

Bloglovin, free

Works, pretty, but also not flexible enough. Very Pinterest/fashion oriented.

kouio, free

Prettyyyyyy. But no river view and not really made for lots of folders.

Others

More great readers, but didn’t really bring anything new to the table beside variations in design and which features were or were not supported:

Tiny Tiny RSS

Because it actually looks good I also decided to include this self hosted reader.

So which one did I choose? Feedly. It just worked when all the others had scaling problems and it supports all the features I need. It’s not perfect, but now I’m used to it.

Thema: Kram Keine Kommentare - :(

Wikipedia Mobile #1

Veröffentlicht am 8.4.2012, 02:00 Uhr

This morning I accidentally installed Wikipedia’s mobile app on my iPad. It felt sluggish, strange and not at all what I expected. As bitching doesn’t help and I wanted to use my professional knowledge in my free time, I started poking around. This is the result.

Starting position

The iOS Wikipedia app has really bad ratings. Users complain about bad performance, bad usability and about the feeling that this is more an Android app but an iOS app. In sum, this creates you a rating of only 2 stars for the current version. Ouch.

Android users seem to be happier with their 4.5 star rating. The problems only exists with the iOS version of the (similar) app. Strange. Let’s start with the basics and look into the feature set:

Doesn’t sound too bad. It’s not only stuff a mobile web site could do, so an app makes sense. So lets start to investigate.

What’s the background of all that?

The AppStore description of the app also links to a Twitter account and the source code of the app on Github:

From these two links I basically spent hours reading, clicking, reading again – typical procrastination stuff (Procrastinators beware if you are even near Wikipedia articles…). But I learned a lot ;) Back to topic: The following links all are relevant to the mobile efforts of Wikipedia:

While reading these pages, I noticed information about two different iOS apps: One is based on Rhodes, one on Phonegap. It turns out the Phonegap version for iOS is quite new and the old one is to be retired and phased out:

So we have several projects and initiatives in the mobile space of Wikipedia:

Not too bad. Of course the articles in the wiki are quite… organically grown and sometimes hard to differentiate and classify. But I think that’s the case most of the time when volunteers and professionals work together.

The funny stuff: code

Now I have an overview, so let’s get back to the funny stuff: code.

As I have never used git before, I spend some time installing all the tools and learning how to use them. After that I can finally checkout the repository on Github. While I do this, I notice that the README.md isn’t as pretty as all the readmes of the other Github projects I know. So that’s the first thing I decide to fix. 1 hours, lots of reading and 3 minutes of ‘coding’ and a pull request later, it is done. My commit gets integrated by reedy a few minutes later. I’m in.

But now to the real code. The folder structure of the repository isn’t very clear. There are lot’s of confusing files in the root that don’t really belong there in a multi platform project, several folders that also don’t make sense to me or I can’t identify. Again, this seems to have grown over time. This is definitely something that could and should be fixed.

In /assets/www I find something that looks like the html application. Loooots of Javascript, jQuery and Zepto *confused. Anyway, using –disable-web-security I can open the Phonegap app in Chrome and even get it working! Still, several ‘file not found’ as non-existant files are requested. But here it becomes quite clear, that the app itself is no bad in itself. It works, the code is more or less structured, you can see what the developer was thinking. Normally that’s a good thing. So as to not fish around without all information, I conclude my little poking session for today.

Conclusion

After getting this short glimpse into Wikipedia Mobile I think that the code isn’t the first problem to fix. First it needs some love in the Documentation and Organization of the code. So that’s where I will start. Let’s see what I can do.

PS: Well, I installed the app on my old iPod 3 (iOS 4.2.1) and tried to use it – completely unuseable. Maybe we should start with the code after all.

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