September 30, 2003
OSAF receives $2.75 million in grants

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the 25 university members of the Common Solutions Group (CSG) have agreed to provide OSAF a total of $2.75 million in grants. These funds will allow OSAF to extend the functionality of the Chandler software application to meet the information technology needs of higher education.

Complete announcement
Chandler in Higher Education - Westwood (More info and links from OSAF Web site)
Chandler and Higher Education (12 slide PDF)

Posted by mitch@osafoundation.org at 11:44 AM
September 29, 2003
Usage Notes on Mail.app

Now that I'm on Mail.app, I'm noticing things which aren't there (or which I haven't figured out how to do) or which don't work the way I want.

Mark outgoing mail as high priority

Compose a bulleted list

Integrate an HTML page (cut and paste almost works, but doesn't preserve tables. This never worked in Eudora at all, but I was hoping for more.)

More options to control what gets checked in spelling so it doesn't flag potential incorrect spelling in parts of URL's

Typing at the summary window doesn't auto-scroll to name of recipient

The spam filter is not what I had hoped. I'm leaving it in training mode and instructing it that many messages aren't being caught. I hope it gets better.

Despite trying to follow advice, I can't seem to get the summary window of my Sent messages to remember to display the recipient, as opposed to the sender. For now, I'm just showing both To: and From: in all windows.

While it's a nice feature to be able to merge display of several mailboxes by doing a multiple select on them in the drawer, it would be even nicer if there were back and forward buttons to be able to get back such a display as opposed to having to recreate it. I suppose I could keep multiple viewer windows open, but it wreaks havoc with my screen real estate.

Auto-completion of addresses should be adaptive and propose the most-recently selected match of a set first. If I'm sending mail to Esther Sun, and I've just sent mail to her at esther@osafoundation.org, and I'm now sending her another email, if I type "Esther" it should propose that address first, not all of the ones for Esther Dyson and for Esther Sun's other email addresses first (which it does I assume because that's the alphabetical order).

It would be nice to be able to add any address, even in the body of an email. to the Address Book.

I'm miss Eudora's ability to do a "Forward to...". Saves a step or two.

Posted by mitch@osafoundation.org at 10:05 AM
More Mac Annoyances, mostly Word

Periodically (at least a few times a week) Word and Safari just crash. Splat! Sometimes, the crash takes unsaved work with it, despite my being careful to save often in Word. I'm running OS X 10.2.6 and there's nothing odd, to my knowledge, about my installation. Thoughts, ideas, resources? OS X itself seems rock solid, i.e., it hasn't crashed on me yet in about a month.

I got iSync and ICal working together via my .Mac account, which solved one of my problems - how to have a calendar editable by multiple people. Now Esther and I can both edit my calendar. Doing this though loses one of the nice features of publish/subscribe, which is the ability to selectively publish individual calendar. With iSync/iCal, it's an all or nothing proposition. You can bet Chandler will do this right.

However, there were a whole series of very strange and unhelpful error messages the first time it tried to synchronize. I'm guessing that some of the events I originally exported from Outlook into iCal have a format which iCal likes but iSync doesn't. I'm ignoring these, probably at my own peril, but superficially, everything looks ok.

Word periodically seizes up for 2-3 seconds after I delete an item in an outline. It's not an overall RAM problem, I'm pretty sure. No excuse for this.

I'm incredibly baffled by some of Word's formatting. Why in Normal view does one of my outline headings sit flush left but the others are indented, even though they appear to have exactly the same formatting?

In general, how do I fixed up the formatting of the outline to get longer lines in either outline view or normal view? Word breaks the lines. Partly it has to do with margins, but there are, I am afraid, deeper mysteries. Why are some lines longer than others – they appear to have the same style applied to them?

Nothing new here. Word is baroque. Just thought I'd let everyone know I suffer from it too.

Make note: look at other options for creating documents on the Mac.

Posted by mitch@osafoundation.org at 09:39 AM
September 27, 2003
Chandler 0.2

The 0.2 release, now available, contains more of the Chandler's underlying infrastructure but little in the way of end-user features. We're making progress, even though there's little visible evidence of it. That will start happening after the .3 release around in early 2004.

Data Model and Repository: a very flexible Data Model that allows a full spectrum of data representations, from loosely structured to highly structured.

Notification Framework: provides a publish and subscribe mechanism for various parts of Chandler to communicate high level events

Agent Framework: partially implemented with the underlying machinery for defining agents that automatically respond to conditions as they arise, but no user interface yet.

Chandler Presentation and Interaction Architecture (CPIA): The rudimentary beginnings of a novel presentation and interaction framework

Improved Code Development Features: support for WingIDE and other features to make debugging a parcel easier

Details and many links available in OSAF Status Report #9.

Posted by mitch@osafoundation.org at 03:36 PM
Still on the IMAP Operating Table

Thank you Brian, Matthew, and others for your most helpful comments to On the IMAP Operating Table.

I have managed to solve almost all of the gross problems standing in the way of switching to Mail.app as my primary mail client. Goodbye Eudora, you've been my most faithful companion for a decade. Actually, I've gone to considerable lengths to move messages to the server in a way I can still use Eudora when I want to. Thank you, IMAP. But Eudora now is strictly a secondary program.

Because email is my most heavily used app, I am now trying to customize Mail.app and learn its nuances so I can work at full productivity.

Glitches I am working on, aware of , or just complaining about:

A whole bunch of messages in the server folder Sent Messages are showing with a date sent of today (as well as date received, but we've been over that), which is not when they were really sent. I need to identify the set of messages, delete them and re-export them from Eudora to the IMAP server.

There's no way short of Applescript to copy (as opposed to move) a message to another folder as far as I can see. I used this feature heavily in Eudora to create a copy of every non-spam, non-mailing message I received into a single Log folder. That way I could move messages out of In into other folders to help keep me organized, but still search a single folder to find messages.

Junk mail processing doesn't always happen automatically. I don't know why. I have to manually execute a rule to move junk mail to the junk folder. I am keeping it in training mode because it's still making quite a few mistakes, mostly false negatives. Not sure when to turn off training.

Mail periodically (and unexpectedly) decides it needs to index mail or process the colors, whatever that means. Having the activity views window open reveals a lot about what it does, but it does interrupt my work flow and is not done so seamlessly, jumping the display around in the mailbox to cause me to lose context. It could be a lot smoother.

I miss the "Forward To" command of Eudora, though good auto-completion of addresses goes a long way.

Posted by mitch@osafoundation.org at 03:22 PM
September 26, 2003
Linus Torvalds on Microsoft

From the New York Times, 28 Sept 03

"Really, I'm not out to destroy Microsoft. That will just be a completely unintentional side effect."

Posted by mitch@osafoundation.org at 09:52 PM
On the IMAP Operating Table

You (well, some of you who bothered to comment) advised me to get off POP and switch to IMAP for receiving my mail. Ever your faithful servant, I have attempted to do so. Here is my report.

I started out switching from POP to IMAP in Eudora, and creating a few IMAP folders. I then brought up Apple's Mail client on the same account. Subject to the many problems below, the basic functionality I wanted does work. All my mail shows up in both clients more or less automagically. However, even allowing for the fact I still haven't learned all the nuances, my impression that Eudora's IMAP functionality is weak appears to be amply borne out. I'm trying to transition off Eudora to Mail, but as you can see, there are some real problems and one or two showstoppers.

Eudora can't seem to create a folder inside the main IMAP folder. This is a showstopper for me. It just gives me a flat space. I can't tell if Eudora has some sneaky way of doing it or not. If it doesn't I'm going to have to do some incredibly laborious work to recreate the folder structure I want using a different client.

I created a new IMAP folder using the Mail client, but Eudora can't see it. Unlike Mail, Eudora doesn't seem to have an explicit "synchronize mailboxes" command. If it did, I'd expect it to find any new mailboxes which had been created. This makes freely switching back and forth between clients unworkable. For now, I'm still stuck in Eudora unless I can solve this problem and will continue to be in it until I'm ready to make a once-and-for-all switch. Not my preferred choice.

When I create a new IMAP folder in Eudora and synchronize it with the server, then run the Mail client, all of the messages (eventually) appear, but display as the date not the date the mail was originally received, but when the mail was copied into the IMAP folder (i.e., Today). This looks like a bug in Mail. Perhaps there is a workaround.

When I take mail I have previously created in Eudora, which resides in my local Out mailbox and transfer it to a new IMAP folder Sent, Eudora properly displays the mail with the name of the recipient in its summary view. When I view the same folder (well, actually the local copy) in the Mail client, it displays the name of the send, i.e., me. Somehow Mail doesn't understand we're talking about mail which I've composed. I don't know what the trick is here or if this is a bug.

Sometimes, we a large number of message are being transferred from a local folder to an IMAP folder, Eudora quits in the middle and doesn't notify the user.

Sometimes when a local folder with a lot of messages (hundreds) is being synchronized with the folder on the server, Eudora either stops synchronizing without notification or fails to display the activity in the Task Progress window. In other words, it looks like nothing is going on. Eventually, however, the operation completes. At least it always has so far.

In Eudora, if a large synchronization involving creation of new folders on the server is incomplete, and you try to use Eudora to do other things, you get an endless series of meaningless error messages about not being able to open mailboxes.

Neither Mail nor Eudora seems to have a way to set which folders get subscribed to from the server. If I had lots of folders on the server and I tried to bring up the client for the first time, I imagine this would be a problem.

Mail I compose in Eudora is stored locally in Out not in the IMAP Sent folder. Mail has an option to cause composed mail to be stored in Sent, which is what I want. Eudora appears to lack this feature. This means that mail I write is not automatically available from any IMAP client.

Posted by mitch@osafoundation.org at 01:00 PM
iBlog

I've been playing with iBlog. I'd send you over to it to see the results but I can't figure out what the URL is of the test blogs I've created on my .Mac account. Funny, no? Spent 20 minutes looking through help and trying various tests with no luck. Other than this small detail, which I'm sure some kind reader will see me through,it's a pretty nice desktop (Mac) client for both reading and writing blogs.

UPDATE: If you change the name of your blog from the default, then it's published to an address like http://homepage.mac.com/mkapor/iblog/B976004395/index.html. This is mine, but it's currently empty. That is, it assigns a random string as part of the address. Not the best design choice IMHO. When you use iBlog to publish, you have to remember to put a checkmark in front of the blog name or it won't do anything. Not sure why they made this the default.

Posted by mitch@osafoundation.org at 12:51 PM
Government Announces Segway Recall

Need we say more?. Actually, it's a just a little problem with injuries being caused by the Segway falling over when the battery is low.

Posted by mitch@osafoundation.org at 12:01 PM
September 20, 2003
Eudora Annoyances

In switching from Eudora on the PC to Mac Eudora, I've come across several annoyances. I'm sharing the pain.

There appears to be a serious bug in sorting mail by subject within a mailbox. I keep a mailbox (folder to non-Eudora users) with emails relating to events I am attending (conferences, etc.). I edit the subject line to put the date at the beginning of the line in YYMMDD format. By keeping the mailbox sorted I have a handy way of referencing by date-related emails by date. Pretty clever, huh? This worked fine for years on the PC, but on the Mac mail is mostly sorted properly but some items stubbornly appear in the wrong place. I've yet to think of a workaround. Of course, what I really want is to integrate these emails more with my calendar, but that's in the scope of Chandler.

The HTML rendering generally sucks. I see this is order confirmations from vendors who send HTML email. Fonts are wrong, plain ugly and the wrong size. Lines are randomly centered or right-justified which shouldn't be. I don't know which HTML renderer they are using on the Mac, but they should put it to sleep and start over. Worse, when rendering just plain text any time, anti-aliasing appears to be turned off. It's hard to read and hideously retro.

In replying to a message the body of the original is automatically selected. If, as I do, I typically want to include the entire body of the original in my reply, I have to remember to de-select before entering new text. So now my mantra is command-R up arrow, return, up arrow which produces the desired effect. On the PC the default it to include the body of the original in the reply but not select it, which is what I want. If they had done this, then it would take one keystroke to select the entire body which is not much of a burden. I have considered trying to use Quick Keys to create a little macro, but it seems like a lot of effort for not much result.

The home and end keys don't seem to do anything while editing text. I'm used to home moving the cursor to the beginning or the line and end to the, you guessed it, end of the line.

Posted by mitch@osafoundation.org at 04:31 PM
Bill Gates, Joel Klein on Same Team

It was nice to see two old adversaries, Bill Gates and Joel Klein, sharing a stage last week. In the Clinton era Klein headed the Justice Department’s fruitless antitrust suit. Klein is now in charge of the New York City public schools to which the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation made a $51 million grant to establish 67 small, themed high schools. According to the New York Times: “Asked about their previous dealings, Mr. Gates nodded and barely cracked a smile. "I'm glad to be working on the same team," he said. Behind him, Mr. Klein flashed a sheepish grin."

Such philanthropy (the latest in a series of high-profile initiatives) doesn't lessen Bill's responsibility for visiting the indignities of Windows and Office on computer users the world over, but it is to his considerable credit nonetheless, and it does balance a bit better the scales which weigh his overall impact.

Posted by mitch@osafoundation.org at 01:50 PM
The Practice of Transparency

Much of what follows will be obscure unless you have been trying to follow the inner workings of OSAF as it assumes you know a lot about who the players are, what they've been doing, and so on. So, as an experiment, I will judge by the comments to this post whether it is worthwhile to supply more of that context or not.

From a posting to osaf-announce by Mitchell Baker:

OSAF has two regularly scheduled meetings a week. One is the development meeting, sometimes also called the "all hands" meeting. The other is the Management Committee meeting, which consists of Mitch Kapor, Chao Lam, Michael Toy and me. These meetings are pretty regular events now and have reached the point where the substance might be of interest to those following the project.

So I'll be posting the Meeting Notes for these two meetings on our wiki. Please keep in mind that the notes may not be polished, and may have holes or even incomplete thoughts. You might even think of this as a reflection of our state of being, though errors in the notes will undoubtedly occur. I've opted for imperfection rather than circulating the notes for comment, as this takes more time.
The notes from the past week's Management Committee meeting can be found here.

The notes from the past week's Development meeting can be found here.

You can get to these notes from the link on the front wiki page titled "Status Reports, OSAF Development Meeting Notes and OSAF Management Committee Meeting Notes. "

[We are working on transitioning to RSS feeds and away from mailing lists as a principal means of communication. My post here is an ad hoc step in this process. -- MK]

Posted by mitch@osafoundation.org at 09:12 AM
September 14, 2003
CTUE

Acorrding to rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in
waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, olny taht the frist and lsat
ltteres are at the rghit pcleas. The rset can be a toatl mses and you
can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed
ervey lteter by ilstef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

frmo a frined who sahll rmeian aynonomus

Posted by mitch@osafoundation.org at 02:10 PM
The RIAA's Winged Monkeys

"We don't condone copyright infringement," said Adam Eisgrau, the executive director of the group, P2P United, "but it's time for the R.I.A.A.'s winged monkeys to fly back to the castle and leave the Munchkins alone."

Complete story here

(NY Times free registration required)

Posted by mitch@osafoundation.org at 02:05 PM
September 12, 2003
I Can't Read Your Blog

A reader writes:

>Great. Now if you could only fix the width of the text so that we don't have to
> scroll horizontally back and forth to read the text. I have to maximimize the
>window (1280x1024) and even then I still have to scroll right to view the
>entire right column (the left column has to be totally hidden). I'm using IE 5.5 >(corp. std)

I want to drive my blog, not be its auto mechanic. It's actually ridiculous, when you think about it, that someone like me who just wants to publish entries has to get into very granular technical details in order to make a pleasant reading experience. Obviously, it's really somebody else's responsibility to make sure things like this don't happen. Pardon my frustration. I understand blogging tools aren't mature as a genre.

I think I heard that this particular problem has something to do with the fact that some Moveable Type templates use CSS features which are not supported in some versions of Internet Explorer. (For the purposes here, if this so, we have to accept it as a fact and work around it. In another context, the idea that there are well-defined standards that the market leader with 95% share doesn't support is an appropriate subject for head-scratching, lamentation, and revolt.)

If there are any kind Moveable Type experts who could advise me as to a stylesheet template which is clear and simple, has black type, and doesn't have the horizontal scrolling problem, I'd be much obliged. Hopefully, it will not require an advanced degree in HTML technologies for me to figure out what to do.

P.S. I've already made one pass about looking at other blog publishing software, but the other products had issues that were at least as serious, if not more so, than MT. e.g. comments being undeletable.

Posted by mitch@osafoundation.org at 02:47 PM
Deleting Spam Comments

My newest job is routinely checking for and deleting spam comments from the blog. It's a weird kind of spam -- innocuous but off-topic comments with a fake email address and a commercial URL (free trial for DVD rentals, for instance). Gosh, this is annoying. I'm getting two or three a week now.

See also this from Steve Johnson this subject. It appears some of these comments are also unibited attempts to leverage the target blogs PageRank in google.

Posted by mitch@osafoundation.org at 08:53 AM
September 11, 2003
Making Blog Text More Readable

Thank you Morgen Sagen of OSAF for showing me how to adjust the text color of blog entries to be darker. (In the Stylesheet template in Moveable Type, change the color in the .blogbody and .titlle classes to something like 000 to make it black.)

Posted by mitch@osafoundation.org at 01:30 PM