Finally Getting Tumblr [en]

[fr] Un tumblelog, c'est un blog réduit à sa plus simple expression: des articles, des liens permanents, un fil RSS. Pas de commentaires, pas de gadgets, pas de tags, pas de catégories. Un bookmarklet permet de facilement choisir entre six sortes de billets prédéfinis (texte, citation, lien, photo, chat, vidéo) et devine même pour vous si vous le cliquez depuis une page web.

C'est un lieu idéal pour bloguer en passant, au fil des lectures. Noter une idée en vitesse. Mettre en valeur une photo ou une vidéo qu'on a appréciée. Prendre des notes sous forme de citation lorsque l'on lit.

I’ve had a [tumblelog]( since February of this year, but it’s taken me a long time to figure out where it fit into my online presence.

I first tried importing **everything** into it, but that was a mess. [Jaiku]( is better when it comes to lifestreaming, for the moment. (Wow, just checked, and [Suprglu’s still alive]( — head there if you want the “fuller” version of my lifestream… with the lag, though.)

Anyway. This is what I publish on it nowadays: comments from other blogs, screenshots, quotes, and passing thoughts.

Let’s take a closer look.

#### What on Earth is This Tumblelog Thing?

A [tumblelog]( is a blog stripped of all the non-essential stuff: no categories, no comments, no monthly archives, no fancy layouts, widgets. What is left? Posts, permalinks, RSS feeds… and a simple, no-nonsense layout.


Back in 2000 when I started blogging, the revolutionary thing about blogging tools (which at the time meant Blogger, there weren’t that many others) was that they **made it dead easy to publish** things online.

Tumblr has focused on that. Make it simple. Remove everything that gets in the way. Make the act of blogging so effortless that it can really [become a true backup brain](

It’s a place for passing thoughts, interesting links, a video here or there. No time lost for anything else than the act of posting. Whatever you do, don’t think before posting.

A tumblelog is really a “me first!” thing. Stuff for me, first. Maybe you’ll find it interesting too — but if you don’t, no heat.

#### What I’m Importing

Tumblr Feed Settings

At the beginning, as I said, I imported everything into my Tumblr. But then, I wanted to import my Tumblr into my lifestream on Jaiku, and I ended up with duplicate content.

I decided to remove all my imports from Tumblr except for comments — through [coComment]( Comments on other people’s blogs are an important part of my online activity, and they deserve to be “kept” somewhere. CoComment does that, of course, but not in a really comfortable way for readers (the RSS feed is fine, and included on my blog, but it’s only the last comments). Reminds me that I never wrote that post about the disastrous launch of the 2.0 version, btw. Oh, well.

So, my comments go in my Tumblr.

During my stay in San Francisco this summer, I was converted (quite easily) to [Skitch]( by [Mr. Messina](, and since then, my ( has seen the arrival of a great many screenshots. I feel like I finally have a camera to take photographs of my online life — as soon as I see something of note or bump into a problem, Skitch allows me [](effortlessly upload a screenshot).

These screenshots are a narrative of my online wanderings, and as such, deserve to be displayed in a timeline separate from my thousands of photographs.

In the Tumblr they go.

#### What I’m Posting

So far, I’ve found two really important uses to Tumblr: quotes and thoughts. The Tumblr bookmarklet is smart enough that it recognizes that I want to post a quote if I select some text on the page before clicking it:

Posting a Quote to Tumblr

This makes posting quotes dead easy. It’s suddenly made my online reading way more valuable: I’ve always read books taking notes on what I was reading, copying quotes so I had them handy in the future — and when a lot of my reading shifted online, I lost that. With Tumblr, I’ve found it again. (Finding the quotes will be trickier, I hope Google’s indexing of the Tumblr will be sufficient.)

The [Tumblr Dashboard]( has six pre-set types of posts: text, photo, quote, link, chat, video.

Tumblr Dashboard

These pre-set post types offer different formatting and posting forms.

I’ve started to use the text post type to jot down random thoughts that occur to me, or notes to myself. For example, I’ve spent quite a bit of today thinking about a talk I’m going to give tomorrow, and jotted down some thoughts like [this one](

As you can see, Tumblr allows me to link to an individual post.

A few times, I’ve also posted [snippets of chat/IM conversations](

Similar Posts:

I Might Be Switching to Google Reader [en]

[fr] J'aime Google Reader comme lecteur RSS. Surtout la facilité avec laquelle on peut partager des billets qui nous ont plu.

[Robert loves Google Reader.]( Tempted me to try. I think I love it too.

I’ve been using [Bloglines]( for quite some time now (still doesn’t make me a good blog reader). I find the interface for [Google Reader]( clearer. It was easy to export my subscriptions as OPML from Bloglines to try Google Reader.

What really wins me over? How easy it is to [share the stuff I’ve liked with you]( I’ve even added it to my sidebar. See? Maybe Bloglines does it (I’m sure it does) but it wasn’t obvious enough and I never got around to doing it. With Google Reader, I just click on the “share” button at the end of each post I want to add to my share page.

Similar Posts:

Being an Adult [en]

Being an adult isn’t easy.

[fr] Est-ce difficile, d'être un adulte? On ne se réveille pas un matin magiquement 'adulte'. La vie ne devient pas plus facile parce qu'on a déjà  fêté certains anniversaires. Il y a toujours un effort à  fournir. Je pense que l'on se retrouve finalement toujours aussi démunis face aux étapes de la vie. Grandir, c'est apprendre à  affronter l'inconnu. Et ça a quelque chose d'effrayant.

‘Is it hard to be an adult?’ he said. ‘It’s certainly better than being a kid. You can’t get in trouble with your parents. And you don’t have homework.’

He’s thirteen. Yes, being a teenager is tough. I see it in my classes, and hear it from my students too. Some of them are voicing it on their weblogs already. Can’t do what you want. Can’t say everything. Have to do as your told.

I find being an adult isn’t easy either. Homework disappears, but is replaced to all these things we ‘have to do’: taxes, shopping, cooking, cleaning, paying bills. And if you’re lucky enough to be a teacher, you almost get real homework: tests to correct and classes to prepare. I spend more time at my ‘homework’ than the kids I teach — that will change, but this year, I certainly am.

Yes, it’s hard being an adult. You don’t wake up one morning suddenly ‘adult’, and magically up to it. You remain yourself. You learn how to pay the bills, cook, clean up, live without your parents, but all in all, there is never a clear line crossed into adulthood. You carry who you are with you at all times.

I’ve long lived in the illusion that life would suddenly one day become ‘easy’, that things would fall into place and all the tough stuff would just vanish. I now know that is not how life goes. Life is always challenging. Growing up is learning to deal with those challenges. But the tough times don’t go away.

The first real insight I had about what ‘being an adult’ meant was during one of my early conversations with Aleika, in India. She was telling me how being a parent isn’t something one can be really prepared for. As a kid, we always think our parents know what they are doing — but as a first-time parent, you just do what you can. You don’t know much more than before the baby arrived. You’re not transformed into another person because you just gave birth.

And it goes on. Becoming a grandparent and growing old is also a first-time experience for those who go through it. I think no stage in life is really easy. Growing up is about taking risks. Doing things you’re not really fully prepared to do. Taking responsability for your actions and your life. It’s exciting, and it’s frightening.

La vie n’est pas un long fleuve tranquille.

Similar Posts:

Requirements for a WordPress Installer Script [en]

To install 30+ WordPress blogs on a server, it would be nice to have an automatic installation script. Here is a list of what this script should do for me.

[fr] Pour installer plus de trente weblogs WordPress sur mon serveur, il serait utile d'avoir un script d'installation en PHP. Quelqu'un a offert d'en écrire un pour moi. Ce billet récapitule ce que devrait faire un tel script, de mon point de vue (installation et configuration de WordPress en fonction d'un nom d'utilisateur).

As you may know, I’m shortly going to install 30+ WordPress blogs on my server. Noderat on #wordpress kindly offered to have a go at writing a PHP script to automate WP installs. I sent him this list of what the ideal script should be able to do for me, but on second thoughts, I’m posting it here so that everybody may see it. Of course, if you know of an existing script which already does this, let me know!

  • take $username + $password as input
  • install wordpress in a subdir named “$username”, using table prefix “$username_” and with an extra user (on top of admin) named “$username” (password=”$password”), user level 3
  • mysql user should be “$username” too (password “$password” also), with grants only on the tables belonging to this weblog
  • set permalink scheme to
    /archives/%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/%postname%/ for monthlies and /categories for categories
  • generate .htaccess in directory, based on this template, with “blog” replaced by “$username” everywhere
  • in wp-config: define (‘WPLANG’, ‘fr’) and edit appropriate lines
  • wp-includes/languages and wp-content/plugins should be symlinked to directories I can specify in the script
  • blog admin password should be reset to something I can specify in the script

I should be able to edit the script config file to provide mysql root user + pass, wordpress database name.

It would also be interesting if the script was built in such a way that it could be further modified/developed to allow installation of blogs on separate subdomains rather than subfolders. From the point of view of the filesystem the blogs live in, this wouldn’t change much — but some extra WordPress options would need editing (e.g. blog address), as well as the Apache and Bind config files necessary to set up the subdomain. This is not mandatory, but could be useful at some point (if we’re thinking in the line of WordPress-farming).

Similar Posts:

Emergency SMTP Server for OS 10.3 [en]

PostfixEnabler is a small utility that allows you to use your OSX machine as an SMTP server to send e-mail when you cannot use your regular SMTP server.

[fr] PostfixEnabler est une petite application qui vous permet d'utiliser votre machine tournant sous comme serveur SMTP, pour envoyer des mails lorsque vous ne pouvez pas utiliser votre serveur SMTP habituel.

My ISP’s SMTP server is acting up these days, which means I can’t always send out mail. (Which, you’ll agree, can be frustrating.) Dave pointed me to a very easy solution to set up a local SMTP server on OSX (10.3 only with this tool, earlier versions require another similar tool). It can also be useful when you’re on the road.

  • Download PostfixEnabler and install it.
  • Launch it and click on “Enable Postfix”.
  • Send your mail.
  • Stop Postfix when you’re done.

Whenever possible, use an “official” SMTP server, as e-mail from private SMTP servers is often treated like SPAM.

Similar Posts:

Easier TopicExchange Trackbacks for WordPress [en]

A WordPress hack which makes it quicker to add TopicExchange channels to trackback, and makes them visible (like categories) in the weblog. (Sorry for the duplicate postings, trying to fix it.)

[fr] Ce 'hack' pour WordPress permet d'ajouter facilement des trackbacks vers les canaux de TopicExchange, et liste sur le weblog les canaux concernés pour chaque billet.

Here is a solution to make it a little quicker to trackback TopicExchange channels with WordPress, and make those channels visible in your weblog.

I love TopicExchange. When I asked Suw what they had talked about during BlogWalk, she mentioned trackbacks. I asked if anything had been discussed about trackback etiquette. For example, I’m often tempted to trackback people who have written posts related to mine, but which I haven’t linked to. Well, the consensus is that this is not what trackback is for. Trackback is really for making a “backlink”. TopicExchange is the answer to the “related posts” issue.

I’ve been using TopicExchange a lot during the last weeks, but nobody has noticed it, apart from those people who already use TopicExchange as a source of information. As Seb Paquet notes, TopicExchange needs to be made more viral. It needs visibility. What follows is my interpretation of “making ITE easier to use, and more visible.”

This WordPress hack creates an extra field in the posting form where ITE channel ID’s (e.g. “wordpress”, “multilingual_blogging”) can be entered (I was tired of typing the whole trackback URL’s all the time). It then stores these channel ID’s as post meta data (in the postmeta table), so that it can retrieve them and display links to the corresponding channels along with the post, just as is usually done with categories.

First of all, add the following code to my-hacks.php. Then, edit post.php (in your wp-admin directory) and add this code where indicated (the comment at the top of the file explains where to insert the code).

Also in post.php, after the line add_meta($post_ID);, insert the following code:

// add topic exchange channels
		$_POST['metakeyselect'] = 'ite_topic';
		foreach($topics as $topic)
    		$_POST['metavalue'] = $topic;

In edit-form.php, add this code to create an extra input field for ITE trackbacks:

$form_ite = '<p><label for="ite-topic"><strong>Trackback</strong> TopicExchange:</label>
(Separate multiple channel ID's with spaces.)<br />
<input type="text" name="ite-topic" style="width: 360px" id="ite-topic"
tabindex="8" /></p>';

It goes near the top of the file, after the line which defines $form_trackback (do a search for that and you’ll find it).

Finally, in your index.php template, you can use <?php the_ite_channels(); ?> to display a paragraph containing a comma-separated list of channels trackbacked for each post. If you want to change the formatting, play around with the function definition in my-hacks.php.

If, like me, you have old posts with trackbacks to TopicExchange, and you would also like these to appear on your posts, use this patch from inside wp-admin. The patch will tell you what meta data it is adding — just load it once in your browser and check the result in your weblog. (Don’t load it twice — it’s supposed to be able to check the existing channels in the database to avoid duplicate entries, but I haven’t got it to work. Read instructions and debug notes at the top of the patch file.)

In future, it will also be possible to use the TopicExchange API to return the “nice title” for the channels listed — so we sould have “Multilingual blogging” instead of “multilingual_blogging”. (I’ve asked, it will behas been added to the API.)

Good luck with this if you try it, and as always, comments most welcome!

Note: as far as I have tested, the code seems to work now.

Similar Posts:

Delicious! A Great Bookmarks Manager [en]

Delicious is an online bookmark manager. It makes it very easy to add and categorize bookmarks, as well as share them with other users. You can also extract your bookmarks from delicious and integrate them in your blog to create a linklog. When I say ‘easy’, I really mean it!

Now, why on earth didn’t I start using delicious ages ago, when I first stumbled upon it? Maybe it didn’t look pretty enough, and didn’t flaunt its features loudly enough for me?

A couple of days ago I paid delicious another visit. See, somebody on #joiito mentioned my Keeping the Flat Clean post, and I suddenly found there was a bunch of people from delicious visiting that article. I thought: “My, people are actually using this thing!” and signed up for an account.

So… what does delicious do? It allows you to easily add pages you visit to your bookmarks, using intelligent bookmarklets (two clicks and no typing to add a link if you want to be minimalist). This is already easier than what I have to do to add links to my LinkBall.

You can categorize your bookmarks very easily by typing words in the “tag” field of the bookmarklet. No need to define categories — delicious takes care of it all for you. You can then view your bookmarks by category or (and this is where it gets interesting) all the bookmarks marked with a same tag. Each bookmark in your list is one-click editable, and each bookmark in somebody else’s list is one-click copyable. For each link, you can also view a list of all the users who have bookmarked it.

Does it stop there? No. All the bookmark lists (by user or by tag) are available in RSS and can be subscribed to within delicious. As a user, you have an Inbox which aggregates the feeds you have subscribed to. You may subscribe to a “user feed” or a “tag (category) feed”. On top of that, bookmark lists are available in plain html, and many users have contributed various hacks which can help you integrate your bookmarks with your weblog. (Update 02.06.04: one thing you shouldn’t do, though, is simply include that HTML feed with a PHP include or an iframe, as this will cause the delicious server to be hit each time somebody views your page.)

If you aren’t a user of delicious yet, you need to go and register right now.

Similar Posts: