Tim Appnel's written up a rousing endorsement of SQLite as the database of choice for those running Movable Type, especially on local staging environments.
One of Movable Type's strengths is in supporting multiple databases, and Tim makes a good case that the portability, convenience, and simplicity of SQLite should make it your first choice.
Salesforce.com is one of the most popular hosted business applications, with an active community of users and developers. One of the ways that they're keeping in touch with these diverse audiences is through Dreamforce, their new TypePad-powered blogs with local sites for communities in Houston and Dallas.
Over at Spaceship No Future, some indispensable notes on integrating a custom login system with Movable Type using the TypeKey API.
Through a combination of the official documentation for creating a drop-in authentication service for Movable Type, the tk PHP library from Stuart Parmenter, and the resources from Everything TypeKey, it's possible to use an existing login system in place of the central TypeKey service to authenticate commenters.
Some of the steps are specific to this particular installation, but the general concept should work well with any existing database which needs to be integrated into Movable Type's comment authentication.
Joe D'Andrea just posted a useful writeup of the process of creating a new standards-based design for AT&T. There's an extensive list of the techniques and tools used as well, complete with links if you'd like to implement similar tricks yourself.
(Thanks to The Web Standards Project blog for the link.)
If you're not already familiar with it, you should also be sure to check out Jesse's Elements of User Experience, which provides an indispensable diagram laying out the relationship of each of the many disciplines that contribute to user experience on the web, providing helpful context for web efforts whether they're based on Ajax or not.
If you're involved in promoting or advocating for a cause, you'll want to check out John Emerson's excellent Introduction to Activism on the Internet. Covering not just blogs, but email, general techniques, and numerous examples of efforts that have succeeded in the past, it's a valuable resource for promoting a cause, and can even serve as a useful checkpoint for people doing traditional marketing on the web.
Blogging's disruptive impact could seem like anathema to an industry as historically conservative as the financial industry, ThinkEquity Partners has launched ThinkBlog.
Their new blog gives some rare insights into the thinking process at the investment banking firm. The New York Times delves deeper into the motivations behind and implications of ThinkEquity's blog in their story ThinkEquity Starts Web Log to Gather Ideas.
J.D. Lasica has a thoughtful article discussing The cost of ethics, considering the implications of bloggers accepting payment or rewards for their work, and how that affects content.
For individuals or organizations that are looking at blogging as an opportunity for a content business, it's an articulate overview of the ethical issues that can arise.
AlterNet has just published Christopher Rabb's Blogging While Black, with a compelling thesis:
For those millions of us Afro-netizens who go online to shop, research, and communicate with one another, the epicenter of black life has become the media. But until the media we rely upon includes blogs in particular, we are literally ceding our best of hope of communicating and organizing amongst ourselves – two bedrocks for any viable movement for a community's uplift.
The increasing influence of the African American community which has been participating in blogging since its start is also reflected in the addition of the first Blogging While Black panel at this year's South by Southwest Interactive festival.
An interesting new twist on city blogging, Cityfeeds.com lets you add your feed to an overall aggregation in cities ranging from Baghdad to Austin.
Musicblog is described as "a joint project between EMI Music and Pixelfury. We utilise the best social software applications to provide easy communication between music-lovers and artists."
Their currently featured site is the blog for Doves, powered by Movable Type. More and more of the online audience is finding the music they care about by reading blogs, so it's refreshing to see music labels embracing the medium so well.
The relationship between blogging and journalism has never been more contentious or more frequently discussed than in the past few weeks. Some of the best recent pieces covering the topic include We Have Seen the Enemy and It Is Us, by Elizabeth Spiers of mediabistro, The Blogs Must Be Crazy by Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal, and the ongoing exploration that Jay Rosen has been doing at PressThink.
One site that's been getting a lot of attention of late is PWNtcha, a project which is demonstrating the inefficiency of many of the CAPTCHA systems designed to verify human identity. CAPTCHA is still, of course, a useful tool, but it's important to be aware of potential weaknesses.
CAPTCHA is just one of the techniques we covered in our Six Apart Guide to Comment Spam, and can be a good choice in conjunction with other spam-fighting options.
Poynter Online discusses a smart new idea from the Ventura County Star, a newspaper in California. It's an editorial blog explaining the decisions behind what goes on the newspaper's website, including some of the discussion between staff members who work to publish the site.
It's a great way of showing how their Movable Type-powered blogs can complement the traditional journalism they've long been doing in print.
EContent magazine's published a fairly thorough overview of blogging business models entitled IN Search of the Blog Economy. There's a big focus on advertising, but little talk of the potential of subscriptions to blog content, as is possible with plugins such as TKPal for Movable Type.
One of the most interesting quotes is about the idea of doing small, targeted blogs as promotion:
Rather than fearing the sometimes monstrously uncontrollably viral quality of blog media, which can spread bad press faster than a cable news cycle, some consumer brands are not only advertising on blogs but embracing the format for themselves. Companies like Nike and New Line Cinema have commissioned Gawker Media to create sponsored, branded micro-sites.
Nick Bradbury's just announced FeedDemon 1.5, the new version of his popular XML feed reader for Windows. New features include better integration with online services, support for enclosures, and improved styles.
Elise Bauer has updated her overview of the weblog tools market. Besides all the facts and figures, Elise points out some very cogent points about the market for tools:
As we move forward, distinguishing the different dynamics in the consumer, small business, and the corporate markets will become more important, as customers in these segments are using blog tools for different reasons and have different needs.
More relevant to Professional Network members is the observation made about corporate deployments of blog tools:
The tools that will win in this space may not actually be the best tools per se, but have the most organized sales force, the best documentation, and the best support offerings.
We agree with Elise's focuses (with an added emphasis on reliability, manageability, and strong support for professionals who work with weblogs) and appreciate the perspective on how users choose blogging tools.
Quantum Diaries is a fantastic new community of physicists helping to explore and explain the World Year of Physics. (You didn't know it was the World Year of Physics?) With participants from Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, The Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland, the United States and Venezuela, this TypePad-powered blog community is a truly international effort.
O'Reilly's new Make magazine is already being praised as "a dream publication for an engineer or an engineer at heart". With the ecstatic reaction from geeks all over the web, we're really glad to see their new blog is powered by the eminently-hackable Movable Type.
You've probably noticed we've got a brand new family of websites for Six Apart, Movable Type, TypePad, and TypeKey. And we've added a LiveJournal section to the Six Apart site.
With the new launch, we know you've probably got some questions, so we've lined up some answers. As always, the thinking behind our relaunch is over at Mena's Corner, and the basics are below.
Q. Why did you redesign the website?
A. We redesigned our site to make it easier for you to find what you are looking for and to enable us to highlight new features, interesting new weblogs, and keep you up to date on what is going on across Six Apart. We now have a whole suite of complementary blogging tools and we hope that bringing everything together under one umbrella will ensure that our site is accessible to both the long-time blogger and those who are just discovering what weblogging is all about.
We've just launched the new Six Apart site that unifies the separate sites that made up our various domains, including the typepad.com and movabletype.org and sixapart.com pages. This has been a long process, trying to capture the mood of Six Apart, while still being able to present the company and products in a much more cohesive manner. The biggest problem with the old sites was that it was impossible to understand how our products were related or even easily learn about Six Apart. So, we faced the challenge of maturing our web sites while not being too corporate. Along the way, we improved the TypePad portal page that includes a focus on highlighted sites and an easier way to post after logging in.
Movable Type powers the entire site and we made sure to really push the limits of the tool. As I said in this earlier post, we plan to write up a case study about how we're using our tool and what our customers can do to get the most out of the software.
We feel that we've got a great new site that has the best characteristics of a weblog and a more traditional website. The elements of two-way communication are still present and we've made sure that the weblog content that makes up the site can be found in a singular feed, so that people can get as much Six Apart news as they can handle.
Thanks go out to Erika and Mike at Mule Design for working with and bearing with us during the redesign. I think they captured well our vision for the new site. Much thanks also go to the members of the team who helped make this site a reality, especially Deborah Schultz, Nick O'Neill and Alaina Browne. Thanks go out to the entire staff, many of which are featured in the various banners and promotions on the site. If you see a person featured on the site, they're more than likely a Six Apart staff member. We should probably offer a prize to the person who can accurately name everyone who appears on our pages.
Since this site was such a large undertaking, you may run into a Whoops! page while looking around. We're in transition and most problems should be settled in the next twenty-four hours.
Feedback is encouraged -- we've turned on TrackBack to hear your comments and suggestions. I hope that you're happy with the changes we've made.
When Anil pointed Face-to-Face, the the weblog of Jambo Networks out to me other day, I was pretty excited to see another company documenting their experiences preparing for the event. This is exactly the sort of weblog that I think illustrates the essence of capturing a moment in time (in their case, preparing for and telling their customers about their road to DEMO). I can look back at our weblog from our first DEMO and be grateful that we were able to document our own experience.
DEMO, for those who are unfamiliar with the event, is a chance for companies to spotlight new products or new aspects of their products in front of hundreds of journalists, technologist and peers. You're given six minutes to demonstrate your product live and you don't go over the alloted time.
In light of the coverage that the Register's interview with a link spammer is getting, it's worth reviewing some of the host-level changes that can be made to protect against these attacks.
Foremost among the options is mod_security. You can follow the latest on this Apache module on the mod_security blog, which is powered by Movable Type and protected by mod_security. If you're new to the module, you can read over this useful introduction to mod_security.
If you want to implement mod_security yourself, a great way to get started is Noel Jackson's mod_security rule generator, especially if you pair it with Peter Wood's blacklist_to_modsec, which lets you hook up Jay Allen's Blacklist to your mod_security rules. (This is also a handy way to cut back on referrer spam.)
Finally, you'll want to add in another contribution from a Six Aparter, Brad Choate's DSBL plugin. We've been using similar DSBL blocking on TypePad with great results.
The post below has been contributed to Mena's Corner by Ben Trott -- Six Apart's co-founder and CTO (and my husband). For lack of his own corner, he'd like to take some time to write about a new addition to our staff and his growing engineering team.
Although the announcement is a bit belated, I'm very happy to say that Tatsuhiko Miyagawa at Six Apart as our VP of Partner Engineering. Miyagawa-san was previously the Chief Technical Architect at Livedoor in Japan.
I've known Tatsuhiko for a while now, as he and I had corresponded fairly regularly about Movable Type, our respective CPAN modules, TrackBack, etc. We had met in person once, as well, at a Six Apart users gathering in Tokyo.
But when we were in Japan last October, we had dinner with Tatsuhiko, after our Japanese team told us that they'd been talking with him about joining Six Apart. I was, of course, already familiar with his work on CPAN and in the Japanese blogging community. On a whole, the Japanese blogging community is incredible about adopting technologies: TrackBack, for example, is very popular in Japan, and TypeKey (as a protocol) is also fairly prevalent. And Tatsuhiko had quite a bit to do with the adoption of both of these technologies, both from his work on CPAN and in the community in general. He's contributed everything from database replication plugins to mobile client libraries to a feed aggregation service.
He also likes to take photos of food and beer!
In short, he's just the kind of person that we like to hire.
Tatsuhiko adds to what is already an incredibly strong engineering team in Six Apart KK. For example, Daiji Hirata, who's been with us from the beginning (and before, at Neoteny), should be largely credited with making Movable Type as popular as it is in Japan. He and the rest of the team at Neoteny localized Movable Type into Japanese; he's also the author of a book on Movable Type, as well as running some important services for Japanese bloggers.
Part of what really motivated me to write this post, though, is just the past couple of weeks, when Tatsuhiko and Daiji visited from the Six Apart KK office, and Jean-Yves Stervinou and Yann Kerhervé visited from the Europe office.
I couldn't help but contrast this against the last time that we'd had engineers out from Japan and Europe to the office. We'd decided to have them out in May of 2004. Specifically, from about May 5 to May 15, scheduled specifically to be after the Movable Type 3.0 release.
Well, the schedule for MT3 slipped a couple of days, and so they spent the week and a half in our office in San Mateo, coerced into working to get Movable Type 3.0 out the door. It was a good bonding experience, but not that useful for the intended purpose of getting our respective teams in sync.
What really became clear to me during their trip this time is how much the company--and in particular, our engineering team--has grown. We've still got a ton of projects we're working on currently--and that's a good thing--but, for example, there are now lots of people for the visiting engineers to meet with. They have a purpose here, and there's enough knowledge at the company that even if one of our server engineers were to be forced to be on jury duty--just, say, as a hypothetical--we'd still have people available to get work done. And that's a very good feeling.
So, we're very happy to welcome Tatsuhiko, as well as the rest of the engineering team that we've added in the past year and a half. And just as another note, we're always looking for more engineers.