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Preview: JayAllen - The Daily Journey

JayAllen - The Daily Journey



The Daily Journey is a personal hybrid weblog/journal maintained by Jay Allen focusing heavily on web technologies, the lurrrrve of life and other riveting navel-gazing subjects.



Updated: 2006-12-05T16:43:04Z

 



Using blogs in beta testing: Benefits and lessons learned

2006-12-05T16:43:04Z

I recently received an email from someone who was interested in using a blog to communicate with beta testers of their software. They were writing me to learn from our experiences during the many Movable Type beta tests. Below I've... I recently received an email from someone who was interested in using a blog to communicate with beta testers of their software. They were writing me to learn from our experiences during the many Movable Type beta tests. Below I've compiled a quick list of my thoughts on the subject. Being that it is a quick list, I've certainly forgotten things and will continue to add to this as I think of more. The blog is an excellent way to keep people apprised of progress in the beta and to highlight important announcements or answer frequently asked questions. At the beginning of the beta tests, I always post a number topical entries about different aspects of the beta tests. For example, having a continuously-updated entry highlighting known bugs is useful and informative. Regardless of how high-profile the information is or how bold/large the text is, many users simply don't read. To combat this, boil everything down to only the most crucial information, keep it short and point to it constantly. In general, short topical posts tend to be better than one big long one. Having a sidebar high up above the fold of the main page of the blog containing all of the important links they need is crucial to an informed tester base. I always link to the introductory topical posts. Post frequently! Posting often raises the energy level of the testing community and provides for a lot of touch points with them. With comments enabled, it also serves as a nice hub for your community of testers. Requiring email address is a must so that you can correspond with people if needed. We used TypeKey authentication because having an authenticated identity not only kept people honest/civil but also made (pretty) sure that they had a valid email address we could use to contact them. A blog with comments open is an irresistible target, however, for anyone who is having a problem with the software and trying to handle bug submissions/technical support in blog comments is untenable. If you wish to avoid this, you MUST provide both an alternate and better means for technical support and bug submission and mandate that they be used and not the blog. We found that a regular old discussion forum, linked from the blog, provided good place for technical support. It also served well as a place for general community interaction. For bug submission, we used a web form which posted into our internal bug tracker (powered by FogBugz). More on this in a second. To make this work, you have to follow the "broken windows" theory. When someone posts a comment in which they are asking for help or reporting a bug, you must remove it from the blog (i.e. unpublishing) and respond to them via email, letting them know about the appropriate place for their request/submission. Leaving these sorts of comments on the blog begets more like them. Users always assume that any problem they encounter is a bug. To avoid overwhelming your dev team with investigating issues where user error is the cause, push the use of the forums heavily as the primary place for posting followed by the bug tracker. Due to technical constraints, we had to use an internal bug tracker that, submissions aside, was not accessible to users. I WOULD NOT recommend this. Allowing ALL testers to see other people's bugs reduces the number of duplicate submissions and gives them a sense of motion of development. Even if you have to set up a secondary, public bug tracking system for the duration of the beta test, I think it's worth it for this reason. The length of your beta test and frequency of releases is solely dependent on the complexity and type of software you are testing and how engaged your beta testers are. We provided the beta software in three different ways: Versioned beta releases - Three or four of these, every 4-7 days. Most tested of the three[...]



What should I hack at the Hackathon?

2006-11-14T16:11:14Z

Today is the Movable Type Hackathon where a number of developers, designers and other MT hacking dillitantes gather together or work remotely to create cool things using Movable Type. I'll be working with the group at the Six Apart...

(image)

Today is the Movable Type Hackathon where a number of developers, designers and other MT hacking dillitantes gather together or work remotely to create cool things using Movable Type.

I'll be working with the group at the Six Apart offices and have a laudry list of things I'd like to work on, but I'm wondering if any of you out there have a great idea that you'd like to see me produce. If so, leave me a comment. Otherwise, I'll post my work at the end of the day.

[Image courtesy of Jesse Gardner]




DreamHost, Movable Type and FastCGI

2006-11-01T23:53:45Z

After spending an inordinate time trying to get Movable Type 3.33 running on DreamHost under FastCGI, I finally did it. Before I struck upon the final solution, I kept getting these two errors in the webserver error log: FastCGI: comm...

After spending an inordinate time trying to get Movable Type 3.33 running on DreamHost under FastCGI, I finally did it. Before I struck upon the final solution, I kept getting these two errors in the webserver error log:

FastCGI: comm with (dynamic) server "/PATH/TO/mt.fcgi" aborted: (first read) idle timeout (120 sec)
FastCGI: incomplete headers (0 bytes) received from server "/PATH/TP/mt.fcgi"

You can ignore just about everything else you read on the web and do the following:

  • Turn on FastCGI from your DreamHost control panel and wait a few minutes for it to take effect.
  • Download the new Bootstrap.pm file from the Wheeljack branch on code.sixapart.com and install it in lib/MT/
  • Change the name of all *cgi scripts except mt-config.cgi to *fpl[1]. For example, mt.cgi becomes mt.fpl, mt-comments.cgi becomes mt-comments.fpl, etc.
  • Add the following to your mt-config.cgi:
     AdminScript mt.fpl
     CommentScript mt-comments.fpl
     TrackbackScript mt-tb.fpl
     SearchScript mt-search.fpl
     XMLRPCScript mt-xmlrpc.fpl
     AtomScript mt-atom.fpl
     UpgradeScript mt-upgrade.fpl
     ActivityFeedScript mt-feed.fpl

And that's it. Really. Forget about .htaccess changes. You don't need a dispatch script. You don't need to (and shouldn't) hard or soft link any files. If you do anything else, you will waste an entire day. Just like I did.

Also, under FastCGI on any host, if you add/remove a plugin or if you modify the code, all you have to do is execute this command from shell: touch mt.fpl (or fcgi if you're using that extension). When you do that, FastCGI notes the change in modification time of the file and reloads the application on the next request.

[1] - You can use either an fpl or fcgi extension. It doesn't matter which. However, the lines in mt-config.cgi must match the actual names of the files.




Happy 5th birthday, Movable Type!

2006-11-01T23:53:45Z

We interrupt this radio silence to wish my product, Movable Type a happy 5th birthday! I know that your parents are proud because you've grown up to be such a good and well-mannered piece of software with a sharp...

(image)

We interrupt this radio silence to wish my product, Movable Type a happy 5th birthday! I know that your parents are proud because you've grown up to be such a good and well-mannered piece of software with a sharp professional side and a great future ahead of you. I'm happy to have been one of your guardians over this period of time.

Over these last five years, Movable Type has been such a massive part of my life, first as a consultant, then as an author and then, for the last two, as Product Manager. I'm more hopeful now than ever about the road that lies ahead. The MT team is bigger and working better than ever before and we've gotten to the point where each member of the team is specialized and contributes to some essential part of not only he software but everything that surrounds it.

So it is with all of that momentum and the symbolism of this auspicious day that I am happy and proud to announce that soon I will rejoin the excellent Professional Network community to work with Movable Type and Movable Type Enterprise in the field as a consultant. Consulting is what I truly love doing and I've missed it greatly. It will be wonderful to once again work with clients on their exciting projects and get back to hacking Movable Type! (Yes... Yes... I know... And the answer is "yes")

I did nearly all that I joined Six Apart to do and while I'll be sad to be miss the daily interactions with my coworkers — especially the Movable Type team — the products are in excellent shape and it's time for me to get back to not only what I love but also where I'm needed most. I look forward to focusing my efforts back into the ProNet community and to helping the world understand what an incredibly powerful piece of software Movable Type has become.

(*sniff* *sniff*) Happy birthday, Movable Type! I look forward to our new adventures together.




Vox rocks

2006-11-01T23:53:45Z

For those of you who may have missed me, I've been a lot more active recently over here on Vox. Kind of ironic, I know, but it's addictive, easy, rewarding and damn pretty....

For those of you who may have missed me, I've been a lot more active recently over here on Vox. Kind of ironic, I know, but it's addictive, easy, rewarding and damn pretty.




Movable Type 3.3 beta

2006-11-01T23:53:45Z

Oh, did I forget to post it here? Yes I did. The thingOne of the things (the other is here) I and my team have been working on for the last eight months is now available in an open beta...

Oh, did I forget to post it here? Yes I did. The thingOne of the things (the other is here) I and my team have been working on for the last eight months is now available in an open beta test: Movable Type 3.3.

It's hot. Go get yours now... And if Movable Type/Movable Type Enterprise isn't you cuppa tea, then you'll probably love Vox. Hell MT is my cuppa tea and I love Vox...




Testing the awesome TextMate blogging bundle

2006-11-01T23:53:45Z

This is a test of Brad Choate's TextMate blogging bundle. If you haven't tried it, or TextMate or if you don't know Brad, you're totally missing out......

This is a test of Brad Choate's TextMate blogging bundle. If you haven't tried it, or TextMate or if you don't know Brad, you're totally missing out...




[LINK] Speak truthiness to power

2006-11-01T23:53:45Z

OMG what a perfectly timed and composed shot! Look at the faces, the angles, Stephen's hand casually resting on the podium over the presidential seal. I love that man.. [via brad]...

OMG what a perfectly timed and composed shot! Look at the faces, the angles, Stephen's hand casually resting on the podium over the presidential seal.

I love that man.. [via brad]

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[LINK] Colbert Has Stones, Get Yours Now!

2006-11-01T23:53:45Z

Sold! To the man who honestly had no idea that Colbert not only had such a large pair but an incredible ability to stay in character....

Sold! To the man who honestly had no idea that Colbert not only had such a large pair but an incredible ability to stay in character.

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Greg Knauss walks back in

2006-11-01T23:53:45Z

From An Entirely Other Day: "Only at two in the morning can "Start a blog" look like the solution to a mid-life crisis." Well, whatever the time or reason, I for one welcome Greg Knauss back to the fold. It's...

From An Entirely Other Day:

"Only at two in the morning can "Start a blog" look like the solution to a mid-life crisis."

Well, whatever the time or reason, I for one welcome Greg Knauss back to the fold. It's so hard to believe that it's been four years since he walked backwards out of the room and just never came back. It's like the "September that never ended". Except in reverse...

And he's using Movable Type 3.2 too. Maybe that's what did it. :-)




[LINK] Bring Your Own Big Wheel

2006-11-01T23:53:45Z

Can someone please tell me why in Dog's name did I miss this event?...

Can someone please tell me why in Dog's name did I miss this event?

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[LINK] Rocketboom and Ze Frank

2006-11-01T23:53:45Z

boop!...

boop!

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Photo gallery plugin for Movable Type

2006-11-01T23:53:45Z

What do you get when you mix Doug Bowman's sense of aesthetic and the plugin-making machine that is Byrne Reese? A kick ass plugin, that's what... Want to see it in action? Check out his first two subjects. Awesome......

What do you get when you mix Doug Bowman's sense of aesthetic and the plugin-making machine that is Byrne Reese?

A kick ass plugin, that's what...

Want to see it in action? Check out his first two subjects.

Awesome...




[LINK] Anil Dash: The Ultimate Commenting Experience

2006-11-01T23:53:45Z

Men likes to hear themselves type. And now, for a redux.......

Men likes to hear themselves type. And now, for a redux....

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[LINK] SubEthaEdit collaboration over SSH

2006-11-01T23:53:45Z

It may sound geeky, but collaborating on the same document remotely over a secured connection routed through a middle-man server with both of us behind firewalls was so cool. If only this had been possible when I lived in Budapest......

It may sound geeky, but collaborating on the same document remotely over a secured connection routed through a middle-man server with both of us behind firewalls was so cool.

If only this had been possible when I lived in Budapest...

Comment