Some assembly required

This blog is about unimplemented ideas. At least until they get ticked off; I suppose a few eventually will have implementations too, but fresh posts never will. Because that's the primary purpose of this blog: keeping track of ideas I'd like to dive into, or problems I'd like to see solved. Feel free to join me in implementing, or further developing these ideas. I don't mind working solo, but it's a whole lot more fun working in concert!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

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MochiKit regexp visualizer

This RegExp visualizer was rather well executed; in some ways better than the one that has been sitting unimplemented in the back of my head ever since I did my first hack using the RegExp match object's index and length properties to do I-don't-remember-what (count word lengths and embolden all words longer than N characters, perhaps).

It lacks only one thing: clearly marking what parts of the input text is part of what match paren pair index. My own plan was to make the entire input text visible somewhere in the page, and then style match 0 (all matched text of the regexp) bold, and 1 (first paren), ...all the way through paren N with differently colored border-bottom:s, at growing padding-bottom distances (since a particular character can be part of many matched parens at the same time, and hence have multiple underlines), and appropriate title attributes for each such span, attributing which parens it was a part of.

MochiKit, again, seems like a really pleasant framework to work with; I've got to play with this. Really. This just might be the ideal entrance door to doing it, too.

The half a second delay until things happens is just silly, though; it ought to be more like a tenth or even fiftieth of a second; computers are fast these days, and this feels like it would be an AJAX application running home to a mother server for answers, rather than done fully client side. It's sluggish, and for no good reason, either.
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Automated comment trackback tool

My previously proposed semi-automated publish trackback tool needs a sister: the similarly semi-automated comment trackback tool. Once you write a comment somewhere that links to other pages, that page ought to get a trackback ping, if it has a trackback URI, to make the web better interconnected. Links on the web are not both ways by default yet, but trackbacks try to mend that misdesign, when we want them to be -- and that should be encouraged. Tools help with such things. This would be a useable means to that end.

I don't care that Blogger has another solution, which could fill the same function for the specific case of Blogger blogs equipped with backlinks lists; the tool is useful in the wide scope of alerting people anywhere when others bring perspective, new ideas and / or thoughts to the mix -- trackbacks are good. Let's make them better and easier to use.

And why not couple this with a bookmarklet that lets you mark a section of text in a page, run the bookmarklet, and perform the trackback scanning of pages linked in that bit of text (or other markup), to show a context menu much like Book Burro's where you can tick the pages you want to trackback ping from the present location. While at it. That would be a truly worthy hack. (Or Greasemonkey menu command, if that's your preference. I personally find them a bit unwieldy as accessibility goes, though.)

Feed curiosity. Make it easier for others to hear your own ideas making out with theirs. That is mostly what creative cross pollination is all about. And it's good.
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Make anonymous faceless comments purely faceless

My Blogger inlined comment faces hack doesn't recognize non-blogger comments, see?

I need to add some bit of code that makes sure that blogger-profile-less comments don't get any space reserved for the face; it just locks Really Tacky.

Lower bribery threshold

Bribery can actually be a good thing! When it occasionally lowers our thresholds to doing other good things, for instance (I don't believe it ever applies to things like government, no).

I've been thinking of setting up something like a quick "tip me a dollar" link, or some such, to make it easy for people who stop by to read something they found Really Useful (I do occasional howto articles, occasionally rather extraordinarily adoption friendly, like that one) to express a little gratitude in a way that would once in a while buy me a good book, or, admittedly much more likely, sponsor someone else similarly.

Because once in a while, I really feel that way -- this I would like to pay for, whether I need to or not, or in some other fashion add to the author's bin of incoming appreciation that hits the mark, making him/her feel a little better about having done whatever that was and having shared it with me. These things should be encouraged.

Blogger hacks has a rather nice PayPal "tip jar" kind of thing, which verbally gives about the right feel. It's a bit on the spacious side, and kind of eats space I would prefer not to have to allocate. Besides, the more space we allocate for it, I think (and this could of course be argued), the message "give me cold, hard cash" kind of gets nailed in (yes, the text testifies to the opposite; this does not change anything, though). I don't want it to look like or be perceived as that. I just want to make it easy for someone of my own mindset to drop a dollar or two, or whatever feels appropriate.

I wish I were a bit more graphically inclined; these things are difficult to design, if we think "an icon", and perhaps a bit of title text to clarify (on hover, perhaps) -- if anyone tosses some graphic creation (perhaps including the PayPal logo?) I like placed under the public domain (I intend to do the same), I'll be sure to drop my own first tip at you. :-)

Regarding licenses, by the way, I usually like the Creative Commons licenses, but for once, even the least restrictive ones quite make the cut; we can't have this be the ShareAlike license, because it requires that you must make clear to others the license terms of the work, and we just don't have the space, and risk mixing up that with the work on the page it sits on, and we can't have the Attribution license, for the same reason (and adding that the creditee would again be blurred and mixed up with page content). Public domain was good in the Amiga days, though, and still is good.

I will place the results of this idea in the public domain, whenever I finish. Feel free to do whatever you want with it, hopefully for the better of the state of things. :-)
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Add Blogger calendar date format options

My Blogger calendar doesn't allow for any other date formatting options than beautiful ISO YYYY-MM-DD dates (mostly since I wrote it for my own blog, and only coincidentally also wrote a tutorial on how to use it in your own).

Yes, I admit to also subconsciously, maybe even consciously, whoop at the thought of spreading the use of a date format that is not susceptible to misinterpretation, such as two-digit years, and the horrible DD/MM and MM/DD formats used by Britons and Americans, or Americans and Britons. Or whomever else use whichever of those formats, for that matter; they are Evil! Begone! (Out! Out! You demons of stupidity!)

A bit later on, I actually wrote up a rather ambitious date parsing routine for another (more benevolent) article I wrote, on how to add previous and next date links to Blogger blogs, which would be able to serve the same purpose in a future Calendar article, if I wrote one.

Maybe I should start by making myself more easily susceptible to reader bribery.