Open Source

Solving Problems In Secret

Matt Blaze computer and information science at University of Pennsylvania and blogs about security at Exhaustive Search. His recent post on mistakes in spying techniques, protocols, and hardware caught my interest: Indeed, the recent history of electronic surveillance is a veritable catalog of cautionary tales of technological errors, risks and unintended consequences. Sometime mishaps lead […] » about 400 words

The Bugs That Haunt Me

A few years ago I found an article pointing out how spammers had figured out how to abuse some code I wrote back in 2001 or so. I’d put it on the list to fix and even started a blog post so that I could take my lumps publicly.

Now I’ve rediscovered that draft post…and that I never fixed the bad code it had fingered. Worse, I’m no longer in a position to change the code.

Along similar lines, I’ve been told that a database driven DHCP config file generator that I wrote back in the late 1990s is still in use, and still suffers bugs due to my failure to sanitize MAC addresses that, being entered by humans, sometimes have errors.

I’ve written bad code since then and will write more bad code still, but as my participation in open source projects has increased, I’ve enjoyed the benefit of community examples and criticism. My work now is better for it.

Usability vs. Open Source

This article comparing the usability of Joomla vs. WordPress has already been linked by everybody’s uncle, but it’s still worth a look.

I find it amusing, however, that none of the comments so far on that blog post mention the commitment that the core WordPress team appears to have on making blogging fun. If you start with the goal of making something fun, then add sophistication to make it flexible without being complex, you’ll get a very different result than you would if you started with different goals.

MySQL 5.1 Released, Community Takes Stock

MySQL 5.1 is out as a GA release, but with crashing bugs that should give likely users pause. Perhaps worse, the problems are blamed on essential breakdowns in the project management: “We have changed the release model so that instead of focusing on quality and features our release is now defined by timeliness and features. Quality is not regarded to be that important.”

Still, people are finding inspiration in OurDelta and Drizzle. Competition from those braches/forks and criticism from the community are sure to help re-align the MySQL core, or provide a reasonable alternative if Sun/MySQL can’t deliver. In the meanwhile, the High Availability MySQL blog is worth following.

Fiddling With Open Source Software for Libraries Theme

I generally liked CommentPress, but when the Institute for the Future of the Book website went down recently, it started throwing errors in the dashboard. So I decided to re-do the Open Source Software For Libraries website using Derek Powazek’s DePo Masthead. I think it’s a beautifully readable theme, and I only had to make […] » about 200 words

Many Eyes, Bugs Being Shallow, All That

WordPress 2.5.1 added a really powerful feature to register_taxonomy(): automatic registration of permalinks and query vars to match the taxonomy. Well, theoretically it added that feature. It wasn’t working in practice. After some searching yesterday and today, I finally found the bug and worked up a fix. I made a diff and set off to […] » about 200 words

BuddyPress: The WordPress Of Social Networks?

Andy Peatling, who developed a WordPress MU-based social network and then released the code as BuddyPress has just joined Automattic, where they seem to have big plans for it. I’d been predicting something like this since Automattic acquired Gravatar:

It’s clear that the future is social. Connections are key. WordPress MU is a platform which has shown itself to be able to operate at Internet-scale and with BuddyPress we can make it friendlier. Someday, perhaps, the world will have a truly Free and Open Source alternative to the walled gardens and open-only-in-API platforms that currently dominate our social landscape.

Chris “Long Tail” Anderson On Open Source

Open source and the Long Tail: An interview with Chris Anderson

The shift of software from the desktop to the Web will really be the making of open-source software. The Long Tail side of software will almost certainly be Web-based because the Web lowers the barriers to adoption of software. There will always be some software best delivered as packaged bits. But the big problem with packaged software–or one big problem–is the risk associated with installation. It just might not work. The Web removes that problem.

People Make Scriblio Better

It’s way cool to see Lichen‘s Scriblio installation instructions translated to Hungarian. Even cooler to have Sarah the tagging librarian take hard look at it and give us some criticism (and praise!). But I’m positively ecstatic to see Robin Hastings’ post on installing Scriblio (it’s not easy on Windows, apparently).

Part of it is pride in seeing something that I’ve been working on for so long finally get out into the world, but Scriblio really does get better with every comment or criticism. And it takes giant leaps forward every time somebody installs it and reports on how it went. Way cool. Thank you.