Recently in Software Category

Google Translation API

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A quick post to try out the new Google Translation API. This API allows web developers to do dynamic text translation from within a webpage. Specify some text, set the language to translate from/to and then display the text that Google returns. Let's see if it works on this very appropriate Richard Feynman quote. You can also check out the Official Google blog post announcing the API. Note this won't likely work if you are reading this within a feed reader.

English
There is a computer disease that anybody who works with computers knows about. It's a very serious disease and it interferes completely with the work. The trouble with computers is that you 'play' with them!

French

Spanish

Japanese

SONOS and mime-types

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Sonos Controller I ran across a fairly obscure problem with the Sonos music system related to mime-types, file extensions and dynamically generated playlists. This is fair warning that this post will get a tad technical.

The Sonos music system supports Internet radio stations and is capable of parsing remote M3U playlists. My plan was to write a simple script that retrieves the latest This American Life archives page, parses the HTML to extract the set of show URLs and returns a dynamically generated playlist with the desired show URL.

Sonos didn't like my dynamically generated playlist and it took me a while to figure out exactly why. In the end it seems the Sonos ignores Content-Type HTTP header and instead relies solely on the file extension in the URL it is accessing. In this case the file extension was .cgi and since Sonos doesn't know what .cgi means it ignored the contents of the response.

The workaround I found was to enable the execution of CGI scripts with a .m3u file extension but only in a single directory. This is the contents of the Apache-style .htaccess file I used:
Options +ExecCGI
AddHandler cgi-script m3u
AddType audio/x-mpegurl .m3u
Then I renamed my script.cgi to script.m3u and Sonos no longer complained about corrupt contents and treated it like a regular playlist. Dynamically generated This American Life playlists streaming through my Sonos. Wonderful.

I've contacted Sonos and explained the issue so hopefully they'll fix it in a future firmware update and others can avoid the headaches.

JustBlogIt 0.3.1

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A minor update of the JustBlogIt firefox extension has been released. This update fixes a problem with blogging from within Bloglines and includes updates to work in Firefox 2.0b1.

Test from Windows Live Writer

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Tap. Tap. Tap. Is this thing on? Testing the Windows Live Writer. Allowing me to post to my blog through via an XML-RPC interface all from a purty wysiwyg UI.

You can check out the Windows Live Writer blog, or download your own free copy.

Nifty. Setup wasn't difficult and the app feels quite polished.

del.icio.us

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I was late to the game with del.icio.us. I had visited a few times but it never really clicked with me. I just didn't get it. Lists upon lists upon lists was all I saw in a very spartan unintuitive interface.

Two things have clued me in. First was the recent purchase of del.icio.us by Yahoo. From OddPost to Flickr, Yahoo has definitely been making great choices with its acquisitions. So why del.icio.us? After some digging I came across this article titled Interview With Experts: What's so cool about del.icio.us?. Apparently I wasn't the only one who was having trouble grasping the importance of this site. From the article:

Delicious is, basically, a social bookmarking service. In a nutshell, that means that Delicious stores lists of bookmarks for me and tens of thousands of my closest friends, and we all get to see and search through each other's lists.

The final step that brought it home for me was signing up for an account and actually trying it. Wow. Now I get it. After using del.icio.us for less than a day I can now say confidently that the Bookmarks systems within browsers is seriously lacking. Broken even.

I add new links to my browser bookmarks daily but since organizing is such a pain it just gets appended to a giant multi-page scrolling menu of bookmarks. The list is so daunting that I rarely actually go back and use those bookmarks. I typically will try to re-find a site through Google for many minutes before even considering scanning the monstrous list. And even then just giving up is more appealing.

Del.icio.us uses 'tagging' to help you organize your links and without a doubt bookmarks and tagging were meant for each other. And since the bookmarks and tags are all shared and co-mingled with other people's bookmarks and tag, you get that warm squishy good feeling knowing you are contributing to some larger useful system. I've been converted.

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