Archive: Oct 2008

I Voted

I thought I’d be in India on November 4th. Circumstances changed and I’m still in NYC, but I had already asked for an absentee ballot.

A couple of weeks ago, I filled in the ballot and sent it in to ensure it is counted.

Absentee voting is just not as fulfilling as going to the polling station and pulling the lever. To make myself feel better, I am giving myself an “I Voted” sticker I would have gotten if I went to the polls instead.

Let’s hope Wednesday the 5th is a new day of hope, promise and progress!

Lifestream data and plugins

As I tried to collect my “lifestream” data for my In The Moment tab, I first investigated the incredible land of WordPress plugins. This is one of the core reasons I use WordPress – the open platform means that there’s probably a plugin for pretty much anything you can think of.

There are several plugins that promise to collect all  your data from around the web. The primary issue with these is that they are just RSS feeds themselves. That means none of the data is duplicated onto your database. That’s fine if all you want to do is showcase the latest, but I actually wanted to duplicate it and have a copy myself.

1. Lifestream seems like the oldest one out there. But the plugin seemed complex and would require me to write a class file etc. Er… right. Also, given the date it was created, I wasn’t sure it would work with WP 2.6. Gave it a pass.

2. SimpleLife is display only, no archive. I understand why some people want display only. I just want more.

3. Lifestream (yes, another with the same name) is the newest and seems to work for a lot of people. When I tried it, the formatting was very messed up and I couldn’t figure out where to change it. And it still had the issue of not being in my db.

Twitter Import

4. WP-o-matic is a plugin that pulls RSS feeds from anywhere and imports it into the database. This seemed perfect and I use it for other things on this blog, but it has two issues. One, it is highly temperamental and second, it populates the header and the body with the same content. So the content of a tweet would be the header and the body. Ugh-ly. I guess I could have figured out a way to change the template of a post based on whether it was in the category “In The Moment”, but it felt like complex code and I didn’t venture there.

5. Twitter Tools by Alex King does do a database import. However, it only works for Twitter and it also had the “tweet as header and body” issue.

Besides these plugins there are others that do the same thing including MyBlogLog’s “new with me” feature and the Profilactic WP plugin. I looked at them, but seeing they are all just RSS feeds, I skipped them for the same reason.

If you are looking for a plugin that will display the last 20 tweets or last couple of days of activity, one of these plugins is sure to meet your needs.

Since I was looking for database import (and backup of my dispered data), and a reasonably good presentation of the results, none of the plugins I could find met my needs. I gave up and decided to use Tumblr instead. More to come on the pros and cons of that decision.

My data – happy together, in one place. Finally!

With the Web 2.0 goodness, we are leaving tracks everywhere. Your photos are on FlickR, your videos on YouTube, your tweets are on Twitter, or Plurk (if you hopped on that passing craze). Your song choices are on LastFM or Pandora, links you like are on Digg or StumbleUpon and your blog posts are on WordPress, Tumblr or any of the other providers.

And all of this is *your* data. You created it, it is a piece of you – what you were thinking, looking at, watching, saying or reading at a moment in your life. I, for one, want a record of that.

I know there are websites that will aggregate that for you, but again – it is being aggregated somewhere else – someone else now owns your precious data and to get it you have to log in, sign up and hand them tons of information.

So I decided to just aggregate everything myself. It took a fair bit of investigation to figure out how exactly I wanted to configure things – enough to deserve a separate, followup post. But now I have what I want.

And voila – the new tab on my blog. In The Moment.

In The Moment is what I named my Tumblr blog when I started it. At that point, Tumblr was my repository for all my data – my blog posts, my tweets, everything. I’ve now repurposed it to collect all my non-blog “lifestream” data [Updated – i.e. the In The Moment tab *is* my Tumblog and the RSS feeds pull in all my dispersed data]. Right now it is mainly tweets, but all other things will be added in as well.

In The Moment is still a bit of work in process. Skinning my Tumblog to look like my main blog was more work with CSS than I had expected and there are little nits I am working through.

But it is up and it is active. And it is me… as I live in the moment.