Phillip Pearson - web + electronics notes

tech notes and web hackery from a new zealander who was vaguely useful on the web back in 2002 (see: python community server, the blogging ecosystem, the new zealand coffee review, the internet topic exchange).


Why Java?

I'm having a look at Java for web development right now, but have no idea why I want to use it rather than, say, Python (or Perl or PHP). It seems like you have to type rather a lot of code to get anything done. Can someone enlighten me? Point me at something to counterbalance stories like this?

I know there are one or two Java bloggers reading this; it would be cool if someone could tell me why Java is such a hit for web dev. Is it particularly well-suited to a certain situation? Integrated well into something?

Note to self

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PyDS now has built-in Topic Exchange support

Hot on the heels of Matt Mower (who is baking support for the Internet Topic Exchange into LiveTopics), Georg Bauer has updated his PyDS blogging tool to allow liveTopics-like post categorisation and Topic Exchange pinging.

It works really well. To enable it, you click a link on your desktop website home page and are presented with a list of available topics (everything from here). You check a few boxes and click 'Save', and from then on a set of checkboxes marked 'Topics' will appear under the 'Categories' line when you want to make a new post. Check a box and make a post, and it will automatically be syndicated up to the Topic Exchange. Great!

See also: my test post | the test posts on topicexchange/t/test

Update (in response to Seb's comment): PyDS is a blogging tool, an open-source clone of Radio. Anyone can use it, although if you're already happily using another blogging tool, you don't need to. If you want to have a go with its Topic Exchange support, feel free to create an account on my PyCS server (NB: PyCS != PyDS) to try it out.

You Know Me - tracking conversations

Dave Winer writes about a technique for tracking conversations on the web: The "You Know Me" Button.

The idea here is that, when you post a comment somewhere, you also authenticate (via the comment server) with an external identity server. From then on, the comment server informs the identity server of any replies to the comment.

As others have said, this is like Passport, except on a smaller scale. Which brings up the possibility of using the identity validation (implied by a successful login to an identity server) to 'sign' comments. Current comment systems tend to blindly trust you when you tell them who you are, making impersonation trivially easy. A verified identity could be shown on the comments page.

This might make things a bit tricky, however, as it would need some sort of crypto signature (signed hash of the comment), otherwise server admins would still be able to trivially impersonate others on their own sites. Hmm.

Dave points to SourceID, an implementation of the Libery Alliance protocol. This is interesting, although pretty complex. I don't think it's practical to expect all comment server coders / admins to support something like this. We need something simpler - something easy to implement like TrackBack or XML-RPC.
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