21 July 2008 - 11:14amValidation

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Today I decided to run my homepage through the W3C’s Validator. I found a couple errors (ampersands in URLs that needed to be converted to entity references and also some bugs in the way WordPress formats a post with misplaced <p> tags). I fixed them quick and then added the provided badge thing to my sidebar.

Then I was reading this article by Jeff Atwood on his blog, “Coding Horror,” in which he mentions that Google’s homepage has 63 validation errors. I think I did it once before, but just for kicks I decided to run Google through the validator to see how it’s doing these days. Check it out for yourself.

Now, considering the fact that Google employs some of the smartest people in the world, why on earth can they not manage to include a DOCTYPE at the beginning of their page?

Moving past that issue and manually selecting a DOCTYPE from the dropdown yields far less than satisfying results. What could you possibly be doing on such a simple page that you end up with 180 errors? Get one of your geniuses to fix them real quick. By the looks of the errors it would only take about an hour or so. I’ll even do it for you.

Does anyone else think that’s ridiculous?

2 Comments | Categories: COSI, General

8 July 2008 - 2:03pmUpdate

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Hello all. Updates follow, categorized for easy digestion:

Wedding Plans: Not much progress on this front lately. We did purchase some paper the other day to use for making “save the date” cards (a task we need to get started on). Other than that, there isn’t much to do at this point. We’re going to look at the guest list some more to see who’s missing and how many we have (we’re trying desperately to keep the numbers down so we don’t end up spending a fortune). We were in the paper the other day! Our engagement announcement appeared in Saturday’s edition of the Press & Sun Bulletin. Check out our wedding website for a link to the announcement online.

Google Calendar Feed Parser: As many of you know, I wrote my first WordPress plugin recently and I’m happy to report good news. My plugin has had 50 downloads so far with 9 being the most downloads in one day! I’ve also had some comments on the plugin’s post on this blog. Check out that post or its page on the WordPress Plugins site.

Future Plugin: My second plugin will come in the form of a directory application that can be integrated into a WordPress blog. This idea stems from a directory app I’ve been working on for my church. I recently set up a WordPress blog as the main site for the church and rather than have a separate login for the directory, I decided the directory would function better as a plugin to WordPress, thus allowing a user to access both the blog and the directory without logging in twice (creating a plugin is the only way I know of to accomplish this). Look for more information in the coming weeks.

New computer: I’m in the beginning stages of building a new computer for my parents/sister. Our Dell has held up over the years, but it’s just too old to handle Windows Vista (our new Dell laptop came with Vista and because we needed to be able to use the printer attached to the desktop computer from the new laptop, an upgrade to Vista was the logical solution). Now, no one uses that computer because it takes so long to do anything on. So after some researching online, I’ve come up with what I think will be the final specs and we’re going to purchase a few pieces at a time over the coming weeks.

New phone: I recently purchased a Samsung SCH-i760 off of eBay for a hefty price. This was a long-awaited upgrade from my Motorola v325i and I have to say I’m very pleased so far. I really like having a full keyboard and the touchscreen is excellent as well. Joelle likes it because it has Solitaire and Tetris (which I have to say are quite nice).

Work: Work is alright. I’ve had an opportunity to do more of the web development work that I was supposed to have been doing all along. When I get to work on that, I like my job a lot more. Somewhere around the beginning of August I’m being reassigned to a new department: the operations center. This department monitors web application availibility, network traffic, server availibility, etc. for the entire site and many of the remote sites. I’m looking forward to it.

I think that’s about it for right now, stay tuned for updates in the coming weeks.

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21 June 2008 - 9:49pmMy First WordPress Plugin

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I just wrote my first WordPress Plugin! You probably just saw my post about it… I decided to do a formal post to document the plugin (which I can use for the plugin’s URL on the WP Plugin site) and then post afterwards to announce it to the masses.

Anyway, it’s called Google Calendar Feed Parser and it does basically what the title implies. You give it the URL for a Google Calendar feed and it parses and displays the feed for use in a sidebar to show upcoming events on your calendar. There are still a lot of improvements that I’d like to work into it, but version 0.1 has some pretty solid core functionality and should work well in any WordPress theme.

Try it out on your blog and let me know what you think. I’m excited about it and I plan to continue working on adding functionality so suggestions are very welcome.

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21 June 2008 - 9:40pmGoogle Calendar Feed Parser

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Update: Version 0.2 was released today (4/19/2009) which allows configuration of a timezone offset that can be customized to force start and end times from the XML feed to be displayed in the desired timezone (see documentation of the option below).

Update: I’ve added a screenshot of the plugin in action on a blog I administer.  You can view it here.

Google Calendar Feed Parser is a WordPress Plugin designed to facilitate incorporating a Google Calendar XML feed into your WordPress blog.  I wrote this plugin after being unable to find an existing plugin to provide similar functionality.  I intend to keep this plugin up to date, compatible with the most recent releases of WordPress, as they occur.  If you have suggestions, comments, advice, etc. or you would like to help me develop the plugin, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.  Any help is appreciated (especially since this is my first WordPress Plugin).  Please let me know if you have any timezone related issues, I had some odd problems getting the times to appear properly.

To install Google Calendar Feed Parser:

  1. Download the zip archive and extract it to the wp-content/plugins directory.
  2. Go to the “Plugins” page in the WordPress Admin interface and click the “Activate” link for the Google Calendar Feed Parser.

To configure Google Calendar Feed Parser:

  1. Go to the “Settings” page in the WordPress Admin interface and click the link for the “Google Calendar” page.
  2. Set the URL for the calendar feed and other settings as desired (see below for full explanation of all options).

Options:

  1. Feed URL: This is the URL of the feed you wish to incorporate in your blog.  It should be of the form:

    http://www.google.com/calendar/feeds/userID/public/full?param=value&param=value…

    • For a listing of available parameters, see the Google Calendar API documentation. I found the following query string to provide desirable results:

      ?orderby=starttime&sortorder=ascending&futureevents=true&singleevents=true

    • Note that the max-results parameter should not be specified here as it will be handled by the setting below.
  2. Static URL: Use this option if you want to have each event link to a single URL (e.g. have each event link to a page where you’ve embedded your Google Calendar).  If you leave this set to “No”, the plugin will use the link provided by the feed for each individual event.
  3. Max Results: Use this to set the maximum number of events to retrieve and display from the calendar.  If left blank, the plugin’s default is 4.
  4. Timezone Offset: Change this value only if you are having issues with times from the feed displaying correctly. The value supplied in this field is a number of seconds added directly to both the start time and the end time for each event. The default for this value, if left blank, is 7200 seconds. Note: In a future release of the plugin, this option will be replaced with a more comprehensive timezone customization feature.

To Use Google Calendar Feed Parser:

  1. Include a call to the function gcal_parse_feed() at the spot where you want the feed to appear.  I use the feed in my sidebar but you could use the feed wherever you want.
  2. Include style rules in your template’s stylesheet to customize the look of the feed.  A single event outputted from the plugin would be of the form:

    <div id=”events”> <div class=”event”> <h3><a href=”http://some-link-here”>Event Title</a></h3> <p id=”event_time”>July 12, 2009 from 9:00pm to 10:00pm</p> </div> …more events here… </div>

Donations:

If you like this plugin, please consider donating.


Changelog:

Version 0.1 (first):

  • Ability to set feed URL.
  • Choice of whether to use event URL from feed or static URL for each event.
  • Ability to set max-results parameter.

Future Functionality:

  • Ability to customize query string from the Admin interface in WordPress.

90 Comments | Categories: COSI, General, Technology

12 June 2008 - 10:13amFirefox 3 Release Date Announced

The release date for Firefox 3 has been announced. On June 17th, Firefox 3 will be released to the masses. Download pledges on spreadfirefox.com have reached 1,095,440 as of 10:10 this morning. To pledge your download and help Mozilla set a world record, click the link on the right and sign up for notification emails.

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29 May 2008 - 1:03pmFirefox’s World Record

The Firefox team is going for a world record number of downloads of the latest release of Firefox (Firefox 3, release date TBA) within the first 24 hours of its release. Visit the site (which I saw on Digg) and pledge to download Firefox. They’ll send you an e-mail notification when the release date is set and then some reminders to go online and download it.

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14 May 2008 - 10:34amAndroid Winners

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A list of the 50 winners of the first portion of the Android Challenge has been posted on the Android blog.  After reading through the titles, I found a link at the bottom to the Phandriod site where links to many of the winner’s websites or videos have been aggregated.  Take a look at them.  These people developed some pretty outstanding applications.  I looked at several of the 50 that sounded interesting based on the description and I’ve picked a few favorites.

  1. Commandro – A new take on social networking, Commandro utilizes the Android platform’s location-based services to show you where your friends are and what they’re doing at all times.  It makes good use of the Google Maps functionality available on the device and the interface looks very intuitive.
  2. AndroidScan – This application is really cool.  Using the phone’s camera, AndroidScan allows you to take a picture of a barcode that it will then process, giving you a list of places where you can buy it and the price it’s being sold for there.  In addition to websites carrying that item (which you can view by clicking a link), the application also searches for nearby stores with that product and, in the case of a book, nearby libraries.  One thing I thought was particularly cool is that if the barcode you scanned belongs to a CD, the phone will access the Amazon MP3 store and give you the option to listen to the 30 second previews for each track on the album.  The AndroidScan website has a 3 minute video that shows it off pretty well.
  3. ShapeWriter WritingPad – This application is truly phenomenal.  Developed by ShapeWriter Inc., this application facilitates entering text into your touchscreen phone in a way I’ve never even imagined.  The best way for you to see what I mean is to just watch the video.  This application is really cool.

Now I can see more clearly why our application was not among the top 50.  The applications that won had truly innovative ideas that were almost flawlessly implemented.  Though I thought (and still think) that our idea was innovative, taking the whole social networking thing from a different angle, we didn’t have the skills or the time to implement it in such a complete way.

Edit (3/9/09): Thought I’d add in some information about our entry to the Contest.  Our team consisted of 6 students from Clarkson University (all undergraduates of various class levels) and one professor.  We developed an application we call “Digital Lifelines.”  Basically, it allows the user to custom create timelines of any type by choosing what fields to include for each entry.  These are created by following a simple XML format and then pulling that XML file from the internet for loading into the program.  Users add entries at will and then have the ability to browse through all their entries in a timeline-like fashion.  Our goal was to develop a web component where users could log on and see their timelines presented in a more visually appealling format, but that feature has yet to come.  We do, however, have a website you can visit where the source code will hopefully be posted sometime in the near future (we’ve been neglectful in attending to that).

1 Comment | Categories: COSI

12 May 2008 - 4:04pmGoogle sucks

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As may be evident by the title of this post, our team of 7 was not one of the 50 winners of the Android Developer Challenge. We were informed by email Friday afternoon that, regrettably, we would not be receiving one of the $25,000 prizes.

In all reality I knew we didn’t have much of a chance. I saw a few of the other entries that people had posted on the internet and our application just doesn’t even compare. I’m proud of what we did and I had a lot of fun doing it… I wish we’d had more time and energy to come up with a submission that could have competed better with the top entries.

There’s another Android Challenge starting later this year, perhaps we’ll continue work on our application in preparation for another submission then. At some point in the future the write-up we submitted (and possibly the source code) will be posted on our website.

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30 April 2008 - 9:55amHappy Birthday Joelle!

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Today is Joelle’s 21st Birthday! If you see her or have some way of contacting her, wish her a happy one. I’ve got to get her a present this weekend (or maybe I already did…).

It has been a long time since I posted on this thing, so several items of importance follow:

First, an update on the RSS Challenge I mentioned that we had in COSI. I didn’t win, Ryan did. My entry had some database issues and several bugs which needed to be ironed out.

An update on Android: We submitted our entry to the contest on the April 14th deadline and are now waiting anxiously to hear from them. Winners for round 1 are notified on or about May 5th.

School: Last week was dead week (the last week of classes before finals). That means I had a buttload of work to do and no time to do it all. I had two programming assignments due last Thursday, a project presentation on Friday, another presentation this past Monday as well as write ups for each of those. I had one final each Monday and Tuesday and I have two today (one of which is already over). Good news is that I got everything done and turned in on time and I think I’ve done decently on all my tests so far.

I start my co-op on Monday and will be working almost full time from then until Christmas. I intend to work on a few different things this summer, hopefully one of which will be Android (I really hope we win this first round). When the fall gets here I’m thinking I’m going to follow along with the Cryptography course Tino is teaching via Ryan and Jake. I’d like to take the course but I won’t have an opportunity since it’s only offered in the fall.

All that said, I have about 80% of my stuff packed and will be heading home tomorrow probably around noon. Hopefully I’ll have time in the near future to mess with the theme and get the colors the way I want them (I know some of you have said it’s too light, too boring, etc.).

Leave a Comment | Categories: Clarkson, COSI, Life

9 April 2008 - 9:18pmBlah

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Sometimes people are very frustrating.

After tonight’s COSI meeting (which is now), I’m presenting my entry to the COSI RSS Challenge. Unfortunately, it’s not ready for public consumption (still has some database efficiency issues, etc.) but pretty soon I will link to it here for people to try out if they’re interested. There are a whopping two other entries to the Challenge by Jake and Ryan so I expect competition to be fierce.

Also being presented tonight is Jake’s Open Server Platform project. It’s a really awesome server framework written in Erlang. He’s just released version 0.2 and his project is attracting the interest of people not only here in COSI but all over the place. His code is all open source and can be viewed on Google Code.

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