Style Tiles 

Style Tiles

Catchy name for a good idea.  ”Style Guide” always seemed to vague and formal.

How to get up and running on Amazon EC2 quickly (for OSX people)

So I needed to set up my OSX rig to access AWS, spin up and configure an Ubuntu instance, install Apache, PHP, MongoDB and do various other tasks. Good thing I found these two great resources:

Fist, here’s Robert Sosinki with a great guide on how to get set up with the EC2 command line tools on Mac OSX. Really clear and well done.

Next, here’s a quick guide from RSM on how to turn that brand new instance into a full LAMP (that’s Linux, Apache, Mongo, PHP) stack … though really you could install whatever packages you need.

CanopyEngine — Grist’s Knight News Challenge entry 

CanopyEngine — Grist’s Knight News Challenge entry

Check out this project I’m involved with at Grist — in fact I’m starting serious work on it next week while I’m in Buenos Aires.  It’s all about building an open source platform for realtime/algorithmic news.  If you want to be really really nice you could even “like” the project over here.

Arianna Quotes Jess Zimmerman

Congrats to my Grist colleague Jess Zimmerman, who was quoted heavily today in the Huffington Post by Arianna in a piece about the fetishization of social media.

“See, no matter what some social media guru told you,” concludes Zimmerman, “Twitter is not just a marketing amplification engine. It’s a bunch of people, sharing things they think are worth sharing. Trying to start a McDonald’s appreciation hashtag is like the smelly, creepy kid running a write-in campaign for Prom King — not gonna work, and probably gonna backfire. People don’t start liking you just because you suggest a way to express their admiration.”

This was actually from a really good GristList post back in January.  Better late than never.  Now I wonder when people will begin to realize that Twitter has not quite matured into a medium (or at least expressed an interface) that fulfills that higher goal “a bunch of people, sharing things that they think are worth sharing.”  If the point of the whole thing is the things that they are sharing, how many of those things are we all missing now due to the fire-hose nature of Twitter itself, the lack of good discovery tools and the poor interface? I say this not to be a jerk, but rather because it’s becoming more and more obvious (to me anyway) that Twitter, or the developer community around Twitter, needs to do a better job of solving some of these problems so that Twitter does not end up going the way of RSS, a technology with obvious merits but an unclear use case and purpose.

New blog design on Grist today

Today we rolled out a new blog design at work.  There are a number of reasons I’m happy about this:

  1. This is our first work with Mignon Khargie … she’s the designer we’ve been working with at Grist.  She’s not only a spectacular talent, but a pleasure to work with.
  2. This is our first test of a new set of iterative practices we’re using for design.
  3. This is just the first setp in a larger series of changes we’ll be making to the site in the coming months.  I’m really excited about this process, and the team we have in place to do this work.

More on Grist, EE, periods in URLs

Ryan Irelan, the guy behind EE Insider and overall reputable dude has a post summarizing an interesting recent thread (the same one I noted the other day) on his site about our recent move from ExpressionEngine to WordPress on Grist.

Not-very-related aside:  What do you notice about the URL for the post:

http://eeinsider.com/blog/feedback-on-grist.org-move/

Hey! A period!  Today I noticed that this is illegal in WordPress, though EE permits it.  (It’s illegal in WordPress in the sense that requests for URLs with periods [and terminal dashes] are rewritten without those characters.)  In any case, this may be either uninteresting or obvious to others, but rfc1738 is more liberal than I thought about what characters can appear unencoded in URLs:

Many URL schemes reserve certain characters for a special meaning:
their appearance in the scheme-specific part of the URL has a
designated semantics. If the character corresponding to an octet is
reserved in a scheme, the octet must be encoded. The characters “;”,
“/”, “?”, “:”, “@”, “=” and “&” are the characters which may be
reserved for special meaning within a scheme. No other characters may
be reserved within a scheme.

Thus, only alphanumerics, the special characters “$-_.+!*’(),”, and
reserved characters used for their reserved purposes may be used
unencoded within a URL.

So neither WP nor EE are wrong in the way they do this!