Category Archives: 2741

Web 2.0 definition

At the Bloggers’ Lunch at TechEd, the panel was asked how they would define “Web 2.0”. They largely talked about new tools such as Silverlight and AJAX, and about the interaction of consumers and sites (particularly in relation to blogs). But none of them touched on what I think Web 2.0 is about.

I think Web 2.0 is simply the second dot-com bubble. In the late 1990s, companies threw massive amounts of money into web-based ventures. Confidence in the internet was very high. Of course, this all changed in late 2000 – the bubble burst, and people saw the web (and IT in general) as an area with low return on investment. In the past few years, this has turned around again. Companies have seen the internet become more and more accessible, and the public have come to expect business to be done online. Consumer confidence in the web has continued to grow (it never really stopped), and in the Web 2.0 days, business confidence in the web has recovered.

For me, Web 2.0 is defined as “the second wave of confidence in the idea of doing business online”. Of course it has been helped by an improvement in tools, by improved security, by broadband, and by the interaction that we see in myspace-style sites and rest of the blogosphere, by mash-ups, by Google Maps and Google Earth, by Silverlight, AJAX, and everything else people in the IT space love. But Web 2.0 is really just about businesses being confident about the web again – about business investing in internet-based technology.

Bloggers’ Lunch at TechEd AU

TechEd is always a great event. Today I’ve helped with an Instructor-Led Lab on Report Builder, attended a few sessions, helped plenty of people with questions, and participated in the Bloggers’ Lunch.

This was a panel that Frank Arrigo hosted, involving five people from the blogging space. It was interesting, but I had to leave early.

I did get to ask a question about what they saw as the difference between ‘proper’ journalism and blogging. The panelists generally agreed with my thoughts that the main difference was the responsibility that journalists have. Bloggers (including me) have no responsibility over what they write. They can write whatever they want, flaming people as much or as little as they like. On the other hand, journalists tend to represent their newspapers and their professional reputation, and therefore need to be more careful about what they say.

But then someone who blogs on behalf of their organisation would seem to be somewhere in between. And then I think the difference between bloggers and journalists is the skill. Journalists tend to study journalism, and make a career of it. So I think you’re going to find that in general, journalists write better posts than non-journalists. But perhaps things are changing.

GotDotNot

Wot with GotDotNet disappearing soon, Paul Stovell asks the question what will happen to all the links to the site. Spot on, Paul. Rotten situation, so let’s hope Microsoft have a solution for this. Not least, it could remain in a read-only mode to make sure links don’t fail. GotDotNet content could also be moved across to CodePlex with a redirection service in place.

Lots of people have used GotDotNet over the years. Hot site, we all agree. Jot down your support for Paul’s suggestion if you can.

Dynamic friends list with Whooiz and Ajax

Whooiz is changing. They have a new logo, they’re dropping the capital H (but it might take a bit of time for this one to go through), and the widgets are now much more dynamic.

So in my blog (if you’re reading this from elsewhere, go to http://msmvps.com/blogs/robfarley), I now have a much smaller ‘whooiz friendz’ section, and I only show one friend. It’s not that I have offended everyone and only have one friend, because if you watch for a few seconds, you’ll see the friend change to a different (random) friend.

This is really nice. It’s something I was tempted to do myself before, but Clarke beat me to it (it’s fair enough, he’s the guy behind Whooiz). I told him I was going to do it, but just didn’t get the time over the holidays to scrape through his script for the bits I wanted to change.

Unfortunately it now lives within an iframe, which gives a little less control over the CSS. My trick of setting the header to not display no longer works, but instead, you can now put ‘&noheader=y’ on the end of the querystring, and that achieves the same (or at least, it will once Clarke has made the change for this).

The code I’m using is:

<div class=”sideNavItems”><h3>Whooiz Friendz</h3>
<iframe id=”Iframe1″ frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no” height=”200px” width=”100%” src=”http://whooiz.com/FriendsList.aspx?Profile=56&type=0&bg=ffffff&hrd=000000&fn=1&noheader=y”></iframe>
</div>

The 100% lets it fit nicely in the div tag, and 200px is what I reckon makes it fit nicely, although it could probably be adjusted down a little more.

Now, presumably this could be thrown really easily into a sidebar gadget… 

Cricket PowerGadget

I was thinking about PowerShell and how you can get it to do fantastic things. And I wondered how easily it could be used for scraping cricket scores.

So I threw together four lines of code to grab the cricket scoreboard from cricinfo and rip out the title.

$ret = (new-object Net.WebClient).DownloadString(“http://content-aus.cricinfo.com/ausveng/engine/current/match/249226.html?view=live;wrappertype=mainframe”)
$titlestart = [Regex]::Matches($ret,”<title>”,”IgnoreCase”)[0].Index
$titleend = [Regex]::Matches($ret,”</title>”,”IgnoreCase”)[0].Index
$ret.Substring($titlestart+7,$titleend-$titlestart-7)

Edited: This can be done easily in one line – Lars pointed out the use of Regex to grab the section between the title tags, which then means we don’t need to store $ret at all. It can now be:

[Regex]::Match((new-object Net.WebClient).DownloadString(“http://content-aus.cricinfo.com/ausveng/engine/current/match/249226.html?view=live;wrappertype=mainframe”),”<title>(.*)</title>”,”IgnoreCase”).Groups[1].Value

It’s not particularly elegant, but it works nicely. I would’ve liked to have handled the HTML as XML instead, and just gone straight to the Title tag, but there’s stuff in there that won’t convert to XML, so I guess that option wasn’t available.

And the really nice thing about this is that I can put these four lines into PowerGadgets, and in all of 10 seconds have a floating gadget which I can use in XP as well as Vista, and (in Vista) put in the sidebar if I want. I’ve told it to refresh every minute, which won’t refresh as quick as some, but hopefully won’t stop working too quickly. It’s not quite as nifty as Darren Neimke’s gadget, but then again, this was really really quick to throw together.

And of course, I’ve left the advert for Cricinfo in there. I wouldn’t want to hide the source of the information. And if they ask me not to do this, then of course I’ll stop. Cricinfo have a great site, and I really don’t want to upset them.

cricinfo

Cricket gadget

Being English, I’m finding this Ashes series quite depressing. I updated the Wikipedia site to say that Australia had won the series 3-0, but took no joy in doing so. It’s not often you get to update Wikipedia with information about a live event – but this time I did.

I’ve been following the cricket by either listening to the radio, watching a TV-stream, or keeping half an eye on the cricinfo site which updates the score in the title of a browser window. Doesn’t work so well now that tabbed browsing is all the rage, but it’s still useful. Not as useful as having a Vista sidebar gadget do it for me though. So one day when I was at home during a test (must’ve been Perth), I played around at making a gadget that would display the cricket score. I could get the score easily enough by just putting a http-request in to the cricinfo site and pulling out the title. I had it displaying happily for a few minutes, and set about making it look nicer and making some sort of a settings bar to be able to follow whichever match was of the most interest, when it just stopped working. I guess cricinfo have something to detect screen-scraping which then stops the page being served. When you look at the page in a browser, it redirects to a framed version, and I guess there is something to make sure that the framed version is requested (along with all the right adverts) with an appropriate frequency compared to the page which contains the score.

At this point I stopped trying… I had other things to do like gardening.

Today I see that Darren is asking the ABC for a cricket gadget. I think cricinfo could provide one too, and provide some competition here. It would be so simple for them to put together… alternatively, they could provide a web service that presented the information and let the rest of the world put it together (along with live.com gadgets, RSS feeds of game milestones, etc), but I imagine that like most sports scores, there are licensing issues involved.

Insecure websites

It really worries me when I stumble across an insecurity in a website. I don’t go looking for them, but when I find one, I feel like I have a responsibility to do something about it. I don’t mean tell the world about it – that would be bad for the company and more importantly for their unsuspecting customers, I mean to let them know.

In the case that I found today, I have used the “Contact Us” part of the site, and will call their head office myself tomorrow if I haven’t heard a response. I really hope they take me seriously. I will offer to help them out to resolve their problems of course, I have no desire at all for them to be hacked.

Configurable sidebar (News section) in Community Server

Customising your blog when you don’t host it yourself can be pain. 

Heaps of blogs out there are on Community Server. blogs.msdn.com is one of the more prominent ones. msmvps.com is too. Having previously been on blogspot.com, where you can control almost every aspect of your template, I’ve found the transition to Community Server a little painful at times.

There are a bunch of skins I can choose from, and that’s great, but if I want to change the information that appears down the side, I need to put it into the News section. But then it looks like it’s News, when really it’s not.

So I’ve made a few workarounds.

For starters, I’ve added some custom CSS to the spot where I choose a skin. In particular, I’ve told the newsTitle style to be hidden. “display:none;” is the code you want, like this:

.newsTitle
{
    display:none;
}
 

Now because I still want my stuff to display in sections, I’ve done some more tweaking. Within the News section, I’ve defined my own. So I have things like this in there:

<div class=”sideNavItems”><h3>Can’t find something?</h3>Try checking my old blog…<br /><a href=’http://robfarley.blogspot.com’>http://robfarley.blogspot.com</a></div>

The ‘sideNavItems’ bit puts the box around it (or whatever your skin wants it to do), and the ‘h3’ makes the header the same style as the other sections. This makes it look like it’s a proper Community Server section, but it’s not. It’s just my own content. So now I can have my own lists, and exercise as much control over them as I like.

Customising the wHooiz Friendz list

If you look at Nick’s blog, you’ll see that he has a lot more wHooiz Friendz than me. That’s probably because he’s a lot more popular than I am. But also, I filter my list to show only a few. If you refresh the page, you’ll see more.

You’ll also notice that he has a big blue and white title at the top, which currently says “Friendz recently here” (but is subject to change – this comes from the wHooiz script that produces the list). But I don’t have that on mine. I have the standard Community Server sidebar heading, but that’s it. And here’s how I did that… Really simple – I looked at the HTML that’s shown, to see that that title bit has an id of whooiz_tr1, and then altered my CSS slightly, adding #whooiz_tr1 { display:none; } to it.

I guess I could’ve just changed its style to be just like one of my normal sidebar headers, but I actually figured that it would be easier to scrap it completely, and have my own header there. 🙂
 

Oh, that’s how you do Whooiz with Community Server…

When I first put the link to the bit of script to list my Whooiz Friendz, it didn’t work. It would just display as the link. Seems <script would be replaced with &lt;script – but there’s an answer!

http://communityserver.org/forums/thread/496622.aspx shows you how to tell Community Server to allow things like this. A quick tweak to communityserver.config (or in my case, a quick email to the ever-helpful Susan Bradley), and hey presto!

So now my friendz are listed nicely. 🙂