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A Journal about the experiences I have developing little applications in C#, Perl, Html and Javascript and talking about things new things that I use. Always Geeky; Always Nerdy; Always poor Grammer!

I am a Software Analyst Developer working in Southport, England but living in Liverpool. I develop mainly in C# and ASP.Net. I have been developing comercial software for several years now. I maintain this site (hosted at SwitchMedia UK) as a way of exploring new technologies (such as AJAX) and just generally talking about techie geek issues. This site is developed through a host of Perl scripts and a liberal use of Javascript. I enjoy experimenting with new technologies and anything that I make I host here.

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Web www.kinlan.co.uk

Friday, September 30, 2005

IAEA - International Atomic Energy Agency

I have no idea how or why, but the http://www.iaea.org/ is one of the biggest referers to my site this month. I have checked their site to see why but I can't for the life of me work out why :) I hope I am not being investigated, obviously my home brew nuclear power plant has caused alarms somewhere ;)

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Wikipedia Documents
Wikipedia: Nuclear Power ,International Atomic Energy Agency - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Springfield Nuclear Power Plant - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

Update to AJAX Tagger 2

I am still working on the development of AJAX Tagger 2. Currently I am developing a little framework that will help me query datasources.

I have developed a priority queue for AJAX Requests. There are 5 queues and work is delegated between the queues based on the need of the request. An urgent request will get placed in the queue that cycles the fastest, a non-urgent request will get placed in a queue which only cycles every once in a while.

Take a look at , and you will see the tags are requested on a priorty queue and the tag stats are requested on a slower "thread".

All the page is completely async! :)

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Wikipedia Documents
Priority Queue - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Queueing Theory - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Wikipedia: Ajax

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Finally a use for OPML

I think I know how and where I can use OPML in the next version of the AJAX Tagger [note the new version doesn't do anything yet].

I will let you all know later :)

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Wikipedia Documents
Opml - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Dave Winer - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Wikipedia: Ajax

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Update and a link

A lot of stuff has been happening recently, and I haven't had much of a chance to update my blog or version 2 of AJAXTagger.

I am currently working on version 2 when I get some free time :) [you can see a very early version here].

I have had to over come some minor issues with the Javascript, but I am starting to build up a pretty cool framework. I do need to point you to http://blog.dreamprojections.com/archive/2005/01/17/530.aspx because this post hepled me work out how to call Javascript Object methods using setInterval. I am using this in the Priorty Queueing system I am making :)

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Wikipedia Documents
Hypertext Transfer Protocol - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Wikipedia: Ajax ,Javascript - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Object-oriented Programming - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Xmlhttp - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Worker Threads in Javascript?

Does anyone know if it is possible to simulate worker threads in Javascript. I need a method of constantly polling a particular resource and dispatching events based on conditions in that resource.

Currently I am thinking that I will have to have methods triggered off timers. Is this acceptable?

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Wikipedia Documents
Javascript - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Ecmascript - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Wikipedia: Ajax ,Wikipedia: Thread (computer Science)

Quick Question about the Wikipedia Articles

This is just a quick question about my AJAX Tagger and my journal entries.

Do you like the article links?
Are they any use to you?
Do you have any recomendations?

Email me: paul.kinlan@gmail.com or leave a comment.

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Wikipedia Documents
Wikipedia: Ajax

Just Cancelled my XBox Live Account

I have just cancelled my XBox live account. I hadn't used it for 3 months, partly because my connection was so poor [not an XBox thing, it was our Wanadoo account]. Let me just say, it was cancelled in about 2 minutes. No messing. I don't know if I should be happy, they didn't offer me a couple of months free or anything ;)

Maybe when the XBox 360 arrives I might plum for it again.

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Wikipedia Documents
Wanadoo - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Xbox 360 - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Start Of The Requirements

Okay, here goes. This is the start of the requirements that I have gathered/made up/learnt that the next version of AJAXTagger should achieve. I am finding it quite hard to get the requirements down, so I think the best thing to do is to break them down in functional areas. My application should really achieve all of these for it to be a success (in my terms anyway).

Features of the application


  1. The application must be able to tag journal entries easily.

  2. The application must be able to find related information about tags so that the user can decide if to use them or not.

  3. The application must be able to find related articles on the users site.

  4. The application must be able to find related blogs.

  5. The application must be able to find related websites.

  6. The application must be able to find related articles on any particular web site.

  7. The application must provide the user with searches related to the subject via a variety of search providers.

  8. The application must provide the user with all the search results (where possible) in one simple feed.

  9. The application must be able to find images related to an article for inclusion.

  10. The application must be able to extract items that could be used to help associate schemes.

  11. The application must be able to pull an article from either a site or a blogging system such as blogger.

  12. The application must be able to save an article to either a site or email system.

  13. The application must make a minimal number of round trips to the server.

  14. The system must be able to determine when a client can perform work that the server needs not.


UI


  1. The user must be aware of all the data that is entered on to the system

  2. The user must be required to do as little work as possible.

  3. The user must be able to see the results of editing straight away

  4. The user must be able to hide information that they do not require

  5. The UI must not interfere with the results the user requires

  6. The user must be able to see the results of their actions immediatly


Business Logic Client Side


  1. The application's logic must not cause the browser to be stalled.

  2. The application must be able to access data across domains if needed but be able to fall back to server side proxy scripts.

  3. The application must function in IE6 and IE7.

  4. The application must function in Firefox.

  5. All Business Logic must be performant in Firefox

  6. All Business Logic must be performant in IE6 and IE7

  7. The system must be created in such a way that new functionality can be added easily

  8. The system must be created in such a manner that adding new search engines and results sections is straight forward.

  9. The system must be created in such a way that it can be easily maintained

  10. The system must be able to handle errors

  11. The system must be able to handle broken communication

  12. The system must be able to manage chained events, one action causing another action causing another etc

  13. The system must be able to handle multiple data requests at any one time

  14. The system must be able to prioritze system events that require access to external data sources so that not too many requests happen at once


Business Logic Server Side


  1. Any logic that is done on the server should be as short as possible

  2. Any logic done on the server must be performed in as secure a manner as possible


Data Access


  1. Data should not need to be stored on the server

  2. Data may be stored in cookies so that the user doesn't have to enter

  3. Direct access to external data sources will be as short as possible

  4. Direct access to external data sources may be cached

  5. Direct access to external data sources will fail gracefully if errors occur


Known External Dependancies


  1. Amazon

  2. Yahoo

  3. MSN

  4. Google

  5. Ebay

  6. FindOry

  7. Flickr

  8. Alexa

  9. Wikipedia


Known Internal Dependencies


  1. No Root Access to server

  2. Bandwidth constraints

  3. HTML Interface

  4. Javascript

  5. XmlHTTPrequest

  6. Internet Explorer 6 & 7

  7. Firefox


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Wikipedia Documents
Rss (file Format) - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Web Feed - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Wikipedia: Search Engine ,Search Algorithm - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Weblog - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Internet Explorer - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Proxy Server - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Wikipedia: Ajax ,Mozilla Firefox - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Business Rules - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Aspect (computer Science) - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Automated Business Process - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Cookie - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Alexa Internet - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Yahoo! - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Tag Cloud - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

Monday, September 19, 2005

Web Service List

I seem to be always complaining that there are no good references/directories to companies who offer web services. I finally found one http://www.programmableweb.com/apis. It is a pretty decent list of some major API's on the Web. It does however, highlight the pitiful lack of companies offering decent API's to developers.

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Wikipedia Documents
Application Programming Interface - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Web Service - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Web Services Description Language - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Web Services Discovery - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

Sunday, September 18, 2005

You may have noticed

In some of my previous posts, the Wikipedia articles where out of sync with what was in the text. This was a problem with the AJAX Tagger. I introduced a very stupid error.

It is fixed now.

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Wikipedia Documents
Rss (file Format) - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Wikipedia: Ajax

C# 3.0 and LINQ

Watch this if you are interested in the future of C#, it is as simple as that.

The video includes lots of information from the main man (Anders Hejlsberg) behind the langauge. Regardless of LINQ, you see some of the features in the video that are really important such as the ability to extend classes with methods without having to make a derived class and (something what I am coming around too) Lambda functions. The extension of the class was just a small note, but it seemed that by including System.Query each object that was IEnumerable suddenly got extra methods which allowed you to perform SQL style operators. Now that seems pretty darn sweet!

It looks pretty sweet, just need to work out where I could use it. If I think of anything more I will let you know :)

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Wikipedia Documents
Wikipedia: Channel9 ,Wikipedia: Msdn ,Anders Hejlsberg - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,C Sharp - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Sql - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

Saturday, September 17, 2005

I can't belive I missed this About IE7

Directly from IE Teams Blog,

Weve also continued to add web developer platform features and fixes: weve continued to fix CSS and other web standards bugs, but weve also rebuilt the <select> element as a windowless control, so it can be visually layered under other elements. IE 7 implements a native XMLHTTPRequest object for Javascript applications, instead of requiring an ActiveXObject to be created. This also means XMLHTTPRequest will function on machines that have ActiveX disabled. Weve providing support for International Domain Names weve also done some thoughtful work to prevent spoofing of URLs by using similar characters from other languages.


There will be a navtive XMLHTTPRequest object in IE7. It is definatly not in Beta 1, so lets hope it is in Beta 2! I would love this to be in ASAP because I keep running in to security issue having to always insure that browsers are set up correctly for ActiveX.

On a side note, it is also amazing to hear that they are producing a SELECT input box that can be layered properly!!! hopefully it will also be able to be styled better.

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Wikipedia Documents
Wikipedia: Internationalized Domain Names, Domain Name System - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, Javascript - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, Wikipedia: Ajax, Beta - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, Wikipedia: Internet Explorer ,Internet Explorer - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, Xmlhttp - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, Dom Events - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

C# 3.0. Ugh!

I have just been reading some bits about [read: one or two posts] about some of the language features of C# 3.0. One of the new concepts is something called Lambda Expressions, while I am still trying to work out why they might be useful, I can tell you now I don't like the sytnax at all; It looks nothing like C#; It looks convoluted; It looks NASTY!!!

If someone knows better [most probably most of the world :)] then please leave a comment or email me: paul.kinlan@gmail.com

Abhinaba at Microsoft doesn't like it too much either, but for more well thought out reasons than I.

To Quote:
Why I don't like lambda expression in C#:

C# has originally developed from C++ /Java and is (was :^) ) a strongly typed object-oriented language. The new features being introduced like closure, continuation (yes, yes very limited continuation) in C#2.0 and now type inference, lambda expressions are de-generating the language. Even though there are people go gaga about continuation and lexical closures these are fundamentally functional language features and should be left to that. Introduction of bits and pieces of functional language features are not going to add value to C# and at the same time the surface area of C# is growing beyond what most developer can grasp.
Every language has a domain of application and an audience. Most people who work in C# developing web-services and web-based applications today are not necessary computer science grads. For them these concepts are a huge variation from the way C# used to behave. Functional programming is for the academia and not from the industry and should be left as such.
If I am asked, whether I'll use these language features, my answer will be maybe, and that is because the code written by me will be reviewed and maintained by people in MS who are fairly conversant with these. However, I think these features add burden to the learning curve of people who are not super interested in C# and should be avoided in favor of easier language constructs that might take couple of lines of code more, but would be more readable and maintainable.
These are just my opinions and I'm sure the designers of C# had given a lot of thought before adding them, but I strongly feel that these features are just adding more surface area to the language and will mostly go unused by the masses.


I do agree with him a little, as it stands now, at first glance I don't think I understand the point of it, nor do I want C# to change from an OO language into one that has seemingly convoluted Functional Programming constructs.

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Wikipedia Documents
Microsoft - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Microsoft .net - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Wikipedia: Msdn ,Wikipedia: Functional Programming ,C Sharp - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Type Inference - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Object-oriented Programming - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

Developer Toolbar for IE announced at PDC

There is now a developer toolbar made by Microsoft for Internet Explorer both IE7 and IE6. Just installing it throws up lots of warnings in the Microsoft Anti Spyware tool, and it requires a restart of the Computer!!! Why does it need to do that! [I found that it works without a restart]

Anyway I am about to start playing with it. I will let you know what it is like.

Here is the article taken from the blog entry.

The developer community has asked for a long time: Where is the free developer toolbar for IE? We recognized the popularity of free IE tools like Fiddler and we listened to your feedback. I am glad to announce the next addition to our developer tool support: The IE dev toolbar. This tool will help developers to explore their HTML documents and understand everything about it.


With the IE Dev Toolbar you have several features at your fingertips to go deep into existing pages or pages that you are currently creating. You will be able to explore the DOM tree and find elements on the page, disable IE settings, view information, outline elements, control images, resize pages to common screen resolutions and have a powerful ruler that lets you measure pixel perfect content on your page. It also will help you to validate against existing standards and provides pointers to W3C specs.


At Chris's talk at the PDC on Tuesday, he announced that we would have a beta version available very soon. This is now ready and available for download. It is designed to work on IE6 as well as IE7.


I would like to thank our interns, Carl LeCompte, Mary Ann Jawili, Barbara Morales, Seth McLaughlin and Jeffrey Varga for doing a great job working on this project, and also a big thanks to David McKinnis, our developer.


I would love to hear in the comment section what you think and what additional features you would like to see added. Bugs can be reported at the Channel9 wiki.


 - Markus


[Via MSDN Blogs]

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Wikipedia Documents
Internet Explorer - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Wikipedia: Msdn ,Internet Explorer - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Microsoft - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Microsoft Antispyware - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

Just a test



Minor Test with AJAX Tagger

I have just been fiddling with the AJAX Tagger. Based on my previous entry about Wikipedia Integration I have now added support for generating links directly to related Wikipedia articles.

The results are shown below which are for this article if that makes sense. They were created in about a minute and I think they are all pretty relevant.

One of the things that I have noticed is that sometimes the URL isn't the direct url to wikipedia, sometimes it is the ClickUrl in the Yahoo search results. I am not too sure why this happens, but I will let you know if I make any progress on this.

I just need to think about ordering on them.

How would you like to see your tags and related documents ordered? Email me paul.kinlan@gmail.com or leave a comment.

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Wikipedia Documents
Yahoo! - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Search Engine - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Wikipedia: Search Engine ,Search Algorithm - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Wikipedia: Ajax ,Wikipedia: Main Page ,Wikipedia - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ,Rss (file Format) - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

Friday, September 16, 2005

AJAX Tagger Second Question

I am just working on some requriements for the next version of the AJAX Tagger application. If any of you could get back to me then I would greatly appreciate your feedback.

The reason why I created the AJAX Tagger is that it allowed me to add value to my blog entries by linking readers of my blog with other blogs of a very similar topic. Would you like to be able to have it use different sources rather than Technorati. For instance would you like it to link to IceRocket etc? Or is linking to related blog lists not what you want, would you like it to link to a site such as Wikipedia?

What I am trying to get at is: Where would you like the application to create automatically tagged links too?

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AJAX Tagger Question

I am just working on some requriements for the next version of the AJAX Tagger application. If any of you could get back to me then I would greatly appreciate your feedback. Would you as a user like to be able to have the posistion of the tags configurable? What I mean by this is would you like the option to include links to technorati tags inline with the blog entry or at the end of the article.

Currently it creates a list of related tags at the end of the post. Would it be good if they were inline with the post? This has a minor problem, because sometimes the Yahoo Term Extraction API doesn't uses phrases and related keywords that aren't in the blog itself.

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Check out Channel 9.com

Channel 9 has had a major influx of Video's. Way to go! These are really good videos and give an amazing about of information about Windows Vista.

Rob Franco and team - IE 7 Security
Steve Ball - Learning about Audio in Windows Vista
Abolade Gbadegesin and team - Networking in Windows Vista

There is a more complete list of videos here.

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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Follow up to Start.com entry

After having a little moan [the only way I can describe it], two members of the MSN Start.com team got back to my email response. Basically the gist of what they said is that they are swamped with extra work that they have to do on this project but will be working on the section that handles mouse clicks from events like closing a panel down. They said that they will probably replace the mouse down event with a mouse up event.

That was a good reply from them and it made me very happy :) Way to go start.com.

Here are some of my entries about the subject

http://www.kinlan.co.uk/2005/09/msn-startcom.html
http://www.kinlan.co.uk/2005/09/startcom-still-that-minor-issue-exists.html
http://www.kinlan.co.uk/2005/09/startcom-please-listen.html
http://www.kinlan.co.uk/2005/07/startcom-little-annoyance.html

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First Public Comment and use of AJAX Tagger

I just recieved a nice email from Gaby de Wilde, this is the first person who I don't know directly who has used my AJAX Tagger. He even gave me a link on his site.

Thanks!! I have taken the feedback and will add some of your suggestions to my requirements for the next version.

Anyway, take a trip over to his blog to see my tags in action.

If anyone has any suggestions I would greatly appreciate feedback.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Note to self

Don't get stuck in to ATLAS just yet.

Everyone, make sure I don't do this. I don't have the time for this project and also it is not done .Net [although that is my day job].

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MSN Start.com

I just recieved a reply from some of the people at MSN's Start.com about some feedback I sent to them, I will talk about it tomorrow when I get a couple of spare moments :)

Anyway thanks to Venkat and Hadi for their responses. I appreciate it.

More Tomorrow. I have a couple of posts that I want to get up! I have just been really busy at the moment.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Start.com, Still that minor issue exists

Even after start.com has been updated and Robert Scoble said the Start.com team respond quickly to feedback

They also posted Start.com/developer and are looking for feedback on all this stuff. They react fast and seem like they are adding new features every few days.


I still haven't had a reply [or any sign of implementation] to my UI improvement suggestion. I don't think I am being silly, all I would like to hear is someone say, yeah it is good or yup kinlan you'r a fool :). I know you guys are busy, but everyone elses suggestions seemed to get taken on board.

Anyway, here is the email about feedback I sent.
Hi,
I really love what you are doing on start.com, but I still have a minor greavance with the way the "x" button on the content panes work. It seems that every pane will close even if I don't confirm the click action by releasing the mouse. It is quite annoying because you can easily remove content panes by mistake.

http://www.kinlan.co.uk/2005/07/startcom-little-annoyance.html
http://www.kinlan.co.uk/2005/09/startcom-please-listen.html

It also seems that you respond to everyone elses critisms except this one, I don't think I am being silly and I do belive that if you fix this it will improve the useablity a bit more
Kind Regards, RSVP
Paul Kinlan

www.kinlan.co.uk


I have just re-read my email... I sound like a nag :)

Here are my related entries:
http://www.kinlan.co.uk/2005/07/startcom-little-annoyance.html and http://www.kinlan.co.uk/2005/09/startcom-please-listen.html

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Requirements Requirements everywhere

I am starting to document things a little more at the moment. It is a slow process, I keep getting distracted by all the cool stuff I am missing that PDC. Most of my slowness it is revolving around MSN opening up there search to a public API. I don't really know whether it is worth me doing anything with it, it is a soap API and doesn't seem to offer anything that I can't already pull from their RSS Searching and RSS results. I will think a little more and I might see if I can offer some services in my next AJAX Appication (AJAXTagger v2), however I have to be really sure that I don't get bogged down by feature creep.

I have some resources all in one place on my main blog.
http://www.kinlan.co.uk/2005/09/msn-search-apis-are-up.html
and http://www.kinlan.co.uk/2005/09/startcoms-developer-centre.html


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Start.com's Developer Centre

As well as MSN releasing their Search API's, MSN's own start.com has also released an API, which I think is built with the ATLAS framework that Microsoft are trying to get ready for the release of ASP.net v2.

Why do I say ATLAS? because over on http://start.com/developer/default.htm, you will see a link to an ATLAS runtime overview http://start.com/developer/atlasruntime.aspx.

All of this requires a bit more investigating :) It is really interesting because it appears that it is all about creating components called Gadgets that Javascript RSS consumers.... I think. All of which have to be hosted on your own server. I don't know if it has to be IIS specific though.

One thing I have noticed from the "Getting Started" is that you need to enable cross domain data sources in Internet Explorer, whichI have already talked about in an earlier post [here].

I need to look in to this too :) I am going to have a busy weekend!

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MSN Search API's Are up

The MSN Search API's are up. Yay!

I have not had much time to look at it just yet, but I have some links for you.

Why MSN Search? http://msdn.microsoft.com/msn/msnsearch/whysearch/
MSN Search API Download: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=C271309B-02DE-42A7-B23E-E19F68667197&displaylang=en

As far as I can tell the search API is a SOA0P service [http://soap.search.msn.com/webservices.asmx?wsdl], so no direct calls from IE it seems, and it looks like I will have to create a proxy forwarding kit :) ala My yahoo ones. :)

The download includes some documentation and some sample projects and you have to obtain an application ID which appears to be like the Yahoo Application ID. The forms can be found here: http://search.msn.com/developer and it looks like you need a .Net Passport.

If anyone knows how to consume SOAP in Javascript let me know. paul.kinlan@gmail.com

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Monday, September 12, 2005

Ad Targeting by Yahoo! Publisher Network

I saw an interesting article about Yahoo's version of Google AdSense. over on Search Engine Roundtable, according to the article it allows you to target adverts directly againts a Yahoo Category. I think this would be really great if google had this in AdSense then I think the ads that I provide would be targeted better to my readers.

JenSense was the first I have seen to jump on the news that YPN added ad category targeting. What does Yahoo! Publisher Network Ad Targeting do? Simple, it allows you to define on a page, directory or site level the...

I like the idea of target ads. So come on GOOGLE! catch up! :) I could see that my next version of the AjaxTagger might be able to determine the best advert category to target a particular post too. Brilliant! :)

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Sunday, September 11, 2005

I am just testing to see if how well w.Bloggar works

Just testing because I like the way that I can use RSS Bandit to automatically post a comment about a blog on my blog. If that makes sense :)

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Technorati Blogger

I have just discovered that to be listed in Technorati's Blog Search you have to configure your claim and then add 20 keywords that relate to tags. These tags don't even have to be on your blog.

Why on earth is it done this way. They have a list of all the tags that a blog uses and all the journals that cross reference each other, so why can't they use this information instead of stepping back 5 years in search technology.

Ah well.

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OPML. Nope I still don't get it

In an earlier post I talked about promising to include an OPML list of the blogs I read in the page. Seriously, is this all that it does? I just don't get what OPML is supposed to help me do or to how it helps anyone who reads my blog.

Here is a list of all the people ("Web Celebs") who like OPML and must know what to use it for; If anyone of them could tell me I would be very greatful. [I am trying to find more people]

Robert Scoble;
Dave Winner;

Hmm, I really do think I am missing something. Should I be using OPML to help me find people who are OPMLing and know what it is for?

All I am trying to say is that I don't know what I am supposed to do with it!

ps. I tried to use Technorati's Blog Finder to find OPML supporting Blogs, there where 4 I think. Way to go Technorati!

pps. If your like me. The best resource I found was over on Wikipedi [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OPML].

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Some Minor Changes to my HTML

I just noticed that when I went to any of the pages on my site that have been linked from my main blog, then the title wasn't appearing at the top of the page, only the page URL.

Thanks to my AJAX Tagger for pointing this out :)

More on MSN Search API's

Robert Scoble links to some more information about the MSN Search API's. There is not an amazing amount of extra information in the linked article, however a figure is mentioned about how many queries that you can do with the API.

I have broken down some of the figures so that you know what they are in comparison to other Free (Not mentioning Ebay) API's

Google: 1000 queuries to the Search API per day
Yahoo: 5000 queries to each individual API per day
MSN: To be confirmed but it appears to be 10,000 per day [this could be per API or in total]
Amazon: 1 query per second = 60 * 60 * 24 = 3600 * 24 = 86,400 per day

Technorati Tags
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Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Failures of my First AJAX Application: Part 9

This is the 9th an Final part of my Failures of my First AJAX application series. This is titled: "It accomodated the lowest common denominator in web browsers, therefore it was not as client (as in browser) as I wanted."

Hmm, looking at that I am trying to remember exactly what it meant.

Ahh, now I remember.

I am used to developing in Internet Explorer, so whilst coding and testing the App, I didn't give much notice to Firefox. I kind of just assumed it would work.

The first time I tested in Firefox, I got a lot of security errors (Cross domain data retrieval). Once I had sorted that out by creating proxy scripts I tried it again. This time the errors revolved around the fact that XML DOM model is slightly different in both browsers and requires a little bit more effort in the Javascript to have the same code that IE and Firefox can both use to process XML nodes.

So basically the moral of the story is that you should always think about cross browser support before you start to develop, it will save you a lot of time in the long run. Think about features that one browser has that the other doesn't. If you do this correctly then you should be able to code around the missing features, much like CSS developers do.

The next version of the application will be completly cross-browser compatible, I might even consider testing it in Safari and the like [I need you, the reader to help me here :)].

That pretty much concludes the Success and Failures series, and it has been a great help to work out the requirements for my next version of the application.

Hopefully one of tomorrows entries will contain the start of formalising some requirements. :)

Technorati Tags
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Minor Test in the AJAX Tagger

I have just done a little experiment with the existing application. I have in the past talked about Citations and problems finding previous articles that I have written so that I can cross reference what I have been talking about. I have added in some functionality that will search kinlan.co.uk, to find in articles that are related by keywords that have been selected by the tagger.

All this is using the Yahoo API and it works pretty well. For each tag that the I select from the article that is inputted in to the Ajax tagger, a link is shown for each of the posts that contain that key.

Give it a go if you want: http://www.kinlan.co.uk/AjaxExperiments/AjaxTag and use this entry as an example input.

This is just a test at the moment, but some other more important aggregation features will be in the next version of the application.

Technorati Tags
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The Failures of my First AJAX Application: Part 8

This is the 8th installment of my Failures of my First Ajax Applicaiton and is titled "It didn't generate much in the way of extra traffic".

There is not too much to say for this one really. I was hoping that it would generate a lot of needed interest in my web page so that potentially I might be able to earn some ad revenue, but after working on the project a little I have realised that revenue is not too important, just getting people to use it is more important.

Once I am happy with the requirements for the next version I will have to work out some sort of "marketing" campaign, which will really highlight the benefits of this application.

Technorati Tags
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MSN are launching APIs

Yes! Yes! Yes!

MSN are launching API's that enable developers to access their search results accoriding to the Search Engine Journal which quotes an article by the Search Engine Watch. Basically if you go to http://msdn.microsoft.com/msn/ you see a holder page which tells us to come back on Tuesday 13th of September.

Expect me to investigate them and talk about them here and on http://tagger.kinlan.co.uk. I just hope they do something innovative like Yahoo's related searches, Contextual searches and Term Extraction and not just provide access to their search results [which would still be cool though].

Technorati Tags
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Friday, September 09, 2005

The Failures of my First AJAX application: Part 7

This is the 7th instalment of the failures of my first AJAX application and more commonly know was "It generated no feedback from anyone at all!"

As in my previous post, when I was creating the application I had grand ideas about the people who might use this application. I had visions of thousands and thousands of people using it and having to ring up Yahoo to ask to have my 5000 daily query limit increased.

In actual fact, I was really the only person who used the application. Even though I was posting about it in my journal I didn’t receive any feedback at all from the public.

This got me thinking. Even though the application is primarily for my benefit I would dearly love other people to use it. I would also need to get people talking about it. I would also need all the information to be available in one place (regarding the AJAXTagger).

My first step to more exposure is this Blog. All my content will still be aggregated on http://www.kinlan.co.uk, but this blog is designed to deliver all the information about the development and use of the application in one simple place.

My next step after this will be to promote it. I need people to start talking about it; I need people to investigate the functionality it offers; I need you to use it, break it and criticise it!

Do you have any ideas how I might do this? Email me or leave a comment. I need the feedback to make this application better for me and for you. Every comment and suggestion will be taken on board.

Paul.kinlan@gmail.com


Technorati Tags
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The Failures of my First AJAX application: Part 6

This is the 6th instalment of the failures of my first AJAX application and it is subtitled "It didn’t help anyone other than myself".

To be brutally honest, when I had this idea for the AJAXTagger I think I thought I would solve my problems with tagging my posts and also everyone else's problems.

The idea is a simple one: to provide the user with tags that Technorati can pick up without the user having to manually handcraft each tag; additionally each tag would be auto picked based on the context of the journal entry.

There were some other features I wanted in the app based around related searches, citations but they had to get pulled.

As I was creating this as my first ever AJAX, XMLHttpRequest application I knew that it wouldn’t be great, but I still had delusions of grandeur.

In the end the only person it helped was me. Looking back, this is absolutely fine by me. It helped me not get bogged down by all the extra leg work to make my blog a little more special. It helped me enjoy Blogging.

So….. [I am trying to think why it was a failure, when in actual fact it was a very good learning experience].

I think the next version of the application will be more focused around what I need, but with an eye on what extra value it might provide other users. If it adds extra value to my readers then that is all that matters.

Keep watching.

If you have any features that you would like to see, email me or post a comment.

Paul.kinlan@gmail.com

Technorati Tags
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The Failures of my First AJAX application: Part 5

This is the 5th post about the failures of my AJAX application and it is subtitled "It wasn't visible to people other than myself what it actually achieved."

If you were to look at my application without me explaining what it did, you would not understand what it did and what it was supposed to achieve. I am a great beliver in intuitiveness and the ability to understand what an application\product is supposed to do with very little prompting from a user manual.

If you look at Google's site, you know you are supposed to use it to search the Internet and that when you try to search you know that you are about to do it….. If you get my meaning.

The AJAXTagger wasn’t in the slightest bit intuitive, it wasn't obvious what it was supposed take as input and neither was it clear what it should produce as an output. Through each stage of interaction with the application it wasn’t clear what the user was supposed to do to move on to the next stage.

I asked a couple of my friends to try it, and they got stuck at the first page (the page where you insert the text that you want tagging). They didn’t see the point (until I showed them a Demo). Once they started using it, it was quite simple for them to see how to use it.

I found it really useful. From taking about an hour to do a complete post (including Technorati Tags) it now only takes the time it takes to write the entry; about 30 minutes in total.

The next version of the application must be intuitive. It must be obvious what the program does, what it achieves and what user interaction it expects. Not only for my use, but if I wanted to promote the application and get as many people as I can to use then it must work and work well.

Some of this can be solved by some hints and tips in the application; others can be solved by better visual queues (maybe including a sample document to tag – to show the user what is expected as an initial input) and perhaps other problems can be solved by a more insightful UI. Finally, better user documentation would be needed.

If you have any recommendations about making the AJAXTagger easier to use and more insightful please email or post a comment. I will respond to every comment.

Paul.kinlan@gmail.com

Technorati Tags
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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Creating a Second Blog

I am starting a new Blog alongside this blog that is completly dedicated to my AJAX Tagging HTML application.

Technorati Tags
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OPML and BBC Radio 4

I was listening to ShopTalk, a BBC Radio 4 Broadcast the other day and the topic of conversation was about Web logs and the Blogosphere. There was an interesting comment by one of the guest speakers [a woman whose name I can't remember]. The comment roughly went like this: Bloggers in the US and the rest of Europe tend to link to other sites and other bloggers a lot more than UK bloggers. [Currently there is no permalink for the current issue]

So being a UK Blogger, I promise that I will upload an OPML File so that you can know who I read. :)

I think I am starting to get the point of OPML. Well, the basics of using it in an RSS Feed and Online Journal. I will just be using OPML to show a list of feeds and how I have catagorised them.

I am also tempted to provide a part of the site where I explicitly just link to other interesting articles that I read in the feeds that I subscribe to, along with a small comment.

Technorati Tags
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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Failures of my First AJAX application: Part 4

When I first started investigating AJAX as a potential methodolgy for creating a really cool website, I thouhgt that it would solve all my problems, my bandwidth problems, my UI problems and that it would be really really really quick.

But it didn't.

This entry is entitled "It didn't work to quickly (but it did lead to success number 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ..... :))"

The very first iteration of the application included some Technorati Stats for each tag, so you knew whether it was worth creating or not and also related searches for each of the tags provided by the TermExtraction API.

Each of the above two proccesses where Sequential (thus only JAX and not AJAX). For each Tag it would perform two queries, thus meaning that the overall speed of my application was limited to:

(time of technorati request + time of yahoo related searches) * number of keywords selected by the TermExtraction API.

Yahoo was pretty quick; Technorati's performance was diabolical.

I eventually pulled the Technorati API, and stopped using the Yahoo related searches. The reason I pulled them rather than reworking the app is at the time I didn't want portions of the page to be trickle filled, I wanted the page to be fully completed before the user viewed the results. Having a fully rendered page negates the benefits of AJAX principals, I might as well have had the server generate the complete page.

The next version of the app, will be fully async, because there will be a built in request manager. Thus the results will trickle in and be parsed and displayed as they arrive. When one result is in, it may trigger other queries that will be completly managed in the background.

To see what I mean, play around with my AJAX Technorati Tagger: Simply enter some text, maybe a news article or one of your journals and see what happens.


Technorati Tags
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Monday, September 05, 2005

The Failures of my first AJAX Application: Part 3

This is the third installment of my Failures of my First AJAX application and it is titled "It looked absolutly terrible!!"

If you take a look at my application you will see that it looks diabolical. I realised about five minutes into my experimentation that I really need to improve my design skills. I thouhgt initially that it might have been the tools I was using, but as the old saying goes "A bad worker blames his tools".

I then realised that whilst I am quite good at programming, I sometimes lack the designers eye; that is to say I have a vision but not the skills to implement the final vision.

I can conceptualize the code easily and the implementation, it is just the UI that lets everything down.

The reason that this was the case is that the implementation of the software was highly dependant on the UI. The UI drove the application code. The next version of the software should be highly UI agnostic. The code that calls the web services, should not rely on the HTML elements, rather it should rely on the data structures present in the application. The UI should interrogate these data structures to determine what information to display.

In essence, the next version of the application should be tierd better. The UI and the Logic (Business Logic if you like) should be loosly coupled together. I should be able to change the Logic without affecting the page and likewise, I should be able to change the UI without having to alter the AJAX logic etc.

This would allow me to concerntrate my efforts on indiviudal parts of the application at any one time. So I can develope an AJAX framework, the business logic and the UI all independantly of each other.

Technorati Tags
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Question About Site Searches

I am starting to have trouble finding things on my site and am in need of a search engine for the contents. I was thinking of going with Googles site search because I might be able to get Advert Revenue, but I don't think that it is really an issue.

Does anyone know any good, free site searching software. If you do drop me an email: paul.kinlan@gmail.com or leave a comment.

Technorati Tags
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Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Failures of my first AJAX Application: Part 2

This is the second instalment of the "Failures of my First AJAX application" and is subtitled "It didn’t help reduce bandwidth".

One of the initial goals of the application was to access all the web services directly from the page without having to pass any queries through my own server. This would mean the only data that my server sent to the client would be the HTML and JavaScript for the page. All other requests would be handled by the client and would be directed straight to the third party web service. This would greatly reduce my bandwidth demands.



The diagram shows that my server should only return the response to the initial request. And the client will handle all the other requests by use of AJAX method (JavaScript and XML) directly with the required web services.

It turned out differently however. The actual implementation suffered from lack of foresight. As soon as I created what I thought was my ideal solution [see above], I ran across problems running the AJAX code in Firefox. I also then realised in a high security environment in IE 7 and Internet Explorer 6, data binding across data sources is disabled.

To get around this I had to create proxy scripts [here and here]on my server that the client page would call (because it is on my domain name IE and Firefox would allow this). All that the client scripts do is to pass a request that the client makes onto the correct web service. [see image below]



There is an added benefit to using a proxy script; you can hide any secret information that should not be available for the client to see, things such as the developer token that Technorati requires.

The major downside that I see and the point of this entry, is that I have to handle every client request to the desired web service rather than having the client manage the request. Thus increasing my bandwidth demands.

Advantages:
  • Hides security information needed in some web services.
  • Will allow the developer to monitor the requests that I a client would make.
  • Proxy scripts would allow you to merge requests and perform any kind of data manipulation on the script before it reaches the client.

Disadvantages:
  • All data is passed through the server, thus using extra bandwidth.
  • Requires proxy scripts to be created.
  • Proxy scripts may be insecure and also may take up too much server bandwidth

I fully intend to support in the next version systems that allow cross domain data sources, because it will greatly help my bandwidth demand situation. But there may be some situations that I need to perform multiple calls to web services in one single call to my proxy script.
Technorati Tags
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Saturday, September 03, 2005

Bloggers Spelling Suggestion of Technorati

I was spell checking my last entry, and Blogger's spelling suggestion for Technorati was Degenerate.

It made me chuckle.

Bloggers spell checker is so poor, it doesn't recognise Blog [or British English Spelling]. At least it keeps me on my toes.

Technorati Tags
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Another Thing I just noticed

After months and months at being at the bottom of Technorati Rankings (because I had no one linking to me), I just noticed [besides other problems that I have had with Technorati] that someone had linked to me. It was someone whose article I read after they left a comment in my blog. When I read his blog, I didn't realise he linked to me.

But yay, I have an inward link :)

Thanks Zoli ;)

You know, I criticize a service, it gets fixed and works for me, and I feel bad for criticizing :)

Technorati Tags
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Just Looking at my Logs

I use AWStats for my log analysis, which is the one my host provider uses. I was looking at the logs for the visitors who have accessed my site via a Search Engine.

Currently this month, Google is at 4 and so is MSN. Yahoo is nowhere to be seen. Anyway, I noticed one of the searches was for "does blogging make money". This got me thinking, I'll type this in on Google and MSN (I can't tell which search came from which search engine). I couldn't find my page with in the first 15 pages of results on both search engines. I went through each page of results and got bored looking for me.

If you are that person email me: paul.kinlan@gmail.com and tell me how you found me :)

I can answer the question "does blogging make money". Well for me, No it doesn't ;)

Technorati Tags
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Friday, September 02, 2005

Technorati, boooooo [Part 3]

After a comment from Zoli Erdos on my blog entry about Technorati, I don't completly agree with the article, but then again the only problem I have seen is that my posts don't get indexed correctly [although, each time that I mention they don't about a day later they appear in the listing]

I do however agree with the following statement:

Now, let’s talk about communication: emailing techorati support is a
complete dead end. Bloggers quickly learned the trick: emailing Dave Sifry
(CEO), or perhaps Kevin Marks, or tagging blog entries with their names used to
result in a response, and sometimes even corrective action. That’s no
longer the case. I understand. The CEO personally emailing back is
not exactly scalable communication. But why doesn’t Technorati have a
searchable Knowledge Base, or at least a FAQ of known issues and
solutions? This is really Customer Service 101.

We need a FAQ, we need a knowledge base, we need better community support from your support. You can't continue with the "support service" as is, because, it doesn't support any service. [ps I don't think a Wiki is the answer either, the developer Wiki is rather rubbish, the pages should just be static support pages]

I really don't know if we should be complaining about this, after all Technorati is still a free service, it has a free access API and it has provided me with a lot of hits on my blog.

Technorati Tags
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Thursday, September 01, 2005

Start.com, please listen!

Start.com/myw3b has been promoted to the main http://www.Start.com site. It is a really cool AJAX style web portal that processes Web Feeds (RSS etc) and displays them in a really snazzy HTML Interface.

The problem that I have had with it is one that I mentioned ages ago (http://www.kinlan.co.uk/2005/07/startcom-little-annoyance.html) and is still there. It revolves around not being able to cancel a close event on the RSS feed panels that you have when you enter the page.

Can Start.com fix this, it really bugs me.

Technorati Tags
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FeedBurner

It appears that the RSS feed that Feedburner produces wasn't outputting any content to the articles.

I think I have fixed it. You can view the RSS feed by clicking the Feedburner Icon in the top left portion of the Title. The ATOM feed is at http://www.kinlan.co.uk/atom.xml.

Enjoy!

Technorati Tags
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Technorati, Booooooo [Part 2]

I would like to add a quick note. The problem I had with their support, may or may not have been rectified. I can see some results that I have been looking for, my main problem is the fact that I didn't recieve a response from the Technorati Support.

A quick email saying:
"Your site was black listed" or, "yeah we had a problem", or "your site was down when we tried to index it so it was taken off our lists"; would have sufficed.

Anyway, I still love you Technorati :)

Technorati Tags
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Technorati....Boooooo!

Over on Sifry.com, David Sifry talks about some of the failures that Technorati has been experiencing whist they have been achieving great successes and tries to placate the masses by letting us know the steps they are taking to rectifying their problems.

Some of the failures they have experienced are massive slow downs in "cosmos" search and massive backlogs in their support queue.

I would like to add in my 2 pennies (2 cents (2 yen etc)) here, I sent a support request in close to three weeks ago now and have still not recieved any reply.

I know that you (Technorati) are providing a great service and it is "Free" at the point of use, but to have your site claim that within 3 business days a reply will be sent, and then not to have a reply; it is a bit silly and I am sure I am not the only one.

This isn't hate mail or anything, I love Technorati; I regularly use Technorati; Technorati has helped the readership of my blog increase massivly for which I thank no end, but you still need to get a handle on your support issues.

I will still stick with you though!!

Technorati Tags
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