New release

September 30, 2005 | Leave a comment

We’ve released Elgg v0.301 in order to fix the bugs causing problems at the start of the week and add a couple of usability features. Our internationalisation isn’t quite complete – it’s been pointed out that on some systems the dates don’t change language. We are using setlocale(LC_TIME) to attempt to force the system to return times in your language, but that doesn’t seem to be working; all suggestions received with undying thanks.

At any rate, if you’re wanting an English language Elgg, this release should work for you. If you’re wanting a foreign language Elgg, there may be a small amount of tweaking left to do. We apologise for this – as well as to our brave translators who have had to cope with us changing the language template file every five minutes – and have given ourselves another week in order to get it right.

A quick final note about installation: I’ve mentioned it in the INSTALL file, but this is really the number one reason installs fail. You must must must must must remember to upload the .htaccess file, which will likely be hidden by default if you’re unzipping the package on a Linux, Unix or Mac machine. If your weblog, file and profile pages aren’t showing up, the file isn’t there or mod_rewrite isn’t enabled on your Apache installation.

Thanks, enjoy, and have a great weekend everybody!

It’s Friday!

Have a big, pink bunny.

Wordprocessing on the cutting edge

September 29, 2005 | Leave a comment

Writely is a cross-browser (except Safari for some reason), AJAX, collaborative, tag-enabled wordprocessor. It’s pretty fantastic from what I’ve seen so far, and opens the door for a pile of similar products. I would imagine we’ll see a browser-based Microsoft Office within a year.

On reflection, the thing I really like about this is that it unbuckles documents and applications from individual computers – so rather than lug my laptop everywhere I go, in the future perhaps I’ll just log in to my applications from terminals at my destination. The only thing missing is a standard way for all these elements – web applications, web storage, your e-portfolio – to talk to each other. For example, there might be a standard for areas of storage space, which the word processor might use to save your document. There might be another one for aggregating tagged documents from all over the place and adding them to your portfolio. Perhaps everyone would authenticate using a generalised system like OpenID. Each application would be on a different server, your storage space would be on another server again – effectively your computer would now be a cloud of applications and data spanning continents.

Which is all well and good, but I wouldn’t say no to a local backup. One of the nice things about having everything on one computer is that you own it: once an application has made it from CD to hard disk, you dictate how it’s going to be used. Similarly for data files. If everything’s on a network, on computers owned by companies rather than individuals, rights issues start getting fuzzier. Do I really want people snooping my data, or disabling parts of my applications depending on where or who I am? No, but that’s a real possibility. Even with e-portfolios, the key really has to be your ability to own your space outside the context of the application that created it. (I say this while being completely aware that Elgg doesn’t quite do this yet.)

I’m not happy about centralised systems in general, and I think as more and more applications spread to the web, there’s probably something to be said for a personalised web server with back-end database – not for sharing pages with the world, although that’s useful too, but for downloading platform-independent applications and running them wherever you want. When this happens it’s not just a case of heading over to if you want to do some word processing; you can load your data there, but you can also load it into six thousand other word processor installs on the Internet, or the one on your local notebook. But who will write such a platform when it’s so much more profitable to make everyone go to the same place?

Also …

September 28, 2005 | Leave a comment

Seb Paquet’s icon cracks me up every time. “I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell!” *happy sigh*

Thank you. The technical director will now return to his hole.

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