Friday, January 18, 2008

"Citizen Correspondence" - KUAM's new UGC initiative

It's been a pretty crazy week development-wise here at Camp Happy. After furiously hacking all weekend, we launched Guam's first-ever user-generated content initiative, "Citizen Correspondence". It's our means to motivate the community to embrace citizen reporting, and short of giving out gear, we're providing all the technical facilities would-be newshounds need to get their stuff out to and considered by the public.

Here's our spot:

Josie also gave us some street cred, noting that inexorably at some point an event is going to happen that needs documenting, and the mainstream media may not always be there to catch on the spot. This is the point: the average Joe/Jane deserves to have their thoughts, voice opinions heard through a well-respected theater. Empowering people with the storage and venue to exhibit their work is critical to making this work.

As we get submissions, they'll be available in an online gallery, and there's a TV segment we'll feature each week, too. At the risk of tooting my own horn, it's freakin' cool.

Who knows? We may discover the next Marie Digby (remember this?). In addition to spot news, I'm hoping we'll get some creative pieces, too.

More to come...stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Book review: The Definitive Guide to Django

I've been messing with Django for some time, and I've long awaited the release of APress' The Definitive Guide to Django: Web Development Done Right. This is one of the few times I've painstakingly gone through all the code samples and replicated as many of the examples as I could. The book's chapters are laid out logically and the material is presented intelligently by the creators of the framework.

The authors don't waste time and energy exhaustingly spewing rhetoric about how Django came to be, how they developed it and what their mindset is/was/will be. They just let you get to work, quickly be productive, and have fun developing cool stuff for the web. Which is the whole point of Django to begin with.

It's not written with a total newbie audience in mind, so some experience with web work, databases and Python programming is helpful, maybe even necessary. But, with some elbow grease, an open mind and a little persistence, you'll catch on. Although the authors are partial to Linux and Mac environments, the book gives more path and settings examples in those OSes, as well as Windows.

However, in criticism a scant few of the examples rely on a slightly older build of the framework, so some of the namespaces might be inconsistent with the book, and code snafus are spotty. I found myself hungry for more screenshots, which is a minor, but still desired shortcoming of the text.

Nonetheless, the book is chock full of little tidbits and tricks to help you write less code that's more reusable. Best practices are enforced as far as maintaining the "MTV" application architecture, including heavy doses of refactoring. As far as topics, Simon Willison's demo of building an intra-site search utility was what I found to be the book's coolest example. Other great chapters are working with non-HTML content, internationalization and working with Django's templates. The appendices are also phenomenal, making for excellent books-within-a-book reference guides.

In future editions of the book I'd hope to see more pragmatic app examples, more APIs and their capabilities cited, more "one-off" utilities built, and perhaps even an app developed consistently across chapters to bring the whole thing together and reinforce the concepts.

This book is without doubt essential reading for getting down with Django.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

FAVICON.ico requests when toggling Mozilla tabs

I was just noodling with an app I'm building in Django, so I've got that framework's development web server open and running locally. To pass the time while debugging, I vapidly started hammering CTRL+TAB, forcing Firefox 2's open tabs to quickly swap between windows.

I've got different pages within the same app, each of which share a HEAD section that references, among other things, JavaScript libraries, stylesheets, RSS feeds, and custom icons. Interestingly, I noticed the server logging GET requests for each page's FAVICON.ico file - not when pages were normally reloaded, but when their tabs were toggled.

I tried the same example in MSIE 7, and it didn't replicate. Interesting.

Might this be a security flaw that could lead to a hacker being able to overload a server with requests by pre-loading a bunch of dummy pages into Firefox at startup and then infinitely looping through the tabs?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

KUAM's Top 10 Stories of 2007

Ahh...another year, another retrospective special. In contrast to our 2006 countdown (video) of the top stories from that year, I had a lot of help writing, researching, producing and editing this year's 30-minute special. It came our really nice and our audiences have dug it so far.

Watch our special at Google Video


It's the (other) most wonderful time of the year...

Snappy New Year, everyone! I'm enjoying the annual giggles I always get on January 1, as the dynamic date/time code printing the current year I'd written in the footer on did it's annual changeover to reflect another 12 months gone by:

What can I say - I'm pretty easy to please. Have a good one...and stay safe!

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