Archive for the 'Old Code' Category

About the Esoteric Settings Plugin

The Esoteric Settings plugin allows access to manila settings that are not normally availiable to the editor over the web. (But are still safe to privide for hosting providers). Download from updates.wiredfool.com: .root or .sit. the plugin allows you to edit the following settings over the web.

Allows you to set your site to require membership to view anything in the site. This also sets the “disable membership” setting, since that setting allows people to sign up for your site, defeating the purpose of requiring everything to be members only. The editor can still add members on the admin page.

When setting a site back to open access, it does not reset the “disable membership” setting.

Index Discussion Group Messages allows you to index all of the messages in the discussion group, instead of just the stories, and home pages.
Index Now kicks off an indexing run over the whole site. This is not exactly nice to either the hosting or search engine server, so use it with care.

Allows you to turn off either rss or the scriptingNews2 feed individually. I’m not sure why you’d want to turn off the scriptingNews2 feed, since it accurately portrays the front page of your site. The RSS feed is less accurate if you’re not using the news item home page feature.

Signup Questions:
Allows you to edit the signup questions on your site. Be somewhat careful and don’t remove the password, email, or name fields, as I’m not sure what that will do to manila.
There’s also a button that restores you to the default signup wizard.

Fine Print:
There are no rpc handlers or macros associated with this plugin. It was written using the prefs suite wizard framework for the user interface. The basic structure was created with the plugin factory. See the updates page for information on updates. This plugin is copyright © Eric Soroos, 2001 and released for use under the Gnu Public License. Released with the permission of Socialecology Inc.


Imagemagick Thumbnail Script.

Updated here

This is a perl script that I whipped up to rapidly turn lots of images into thumbnails. It will drive imagemagick (default install in redhat, availiable for nt/win and other platforms) to produce thumbnails, medium sized images, and full resolution.

For this to work with NT, you will need to change path characters to “\\”. You also need to set the path to your imagemagick installation.

Command line examples:

thumb.pl /var/dropbox/photos /home/erics/photos
thumb.pl /var/dropbox/photos /home/erics/photos-r "-rotate 90"

That’s thumb.pl – source dir – dest dir – options

Watch line wrapping, some of the lines are really long.

# Copyright (c) Eric Soroos 2000
# Permission to use, copy, modify, distribute, and sell this software 
# for any purpose is hereby granted without fee, provided that
# the above copyright notice appear in all copies and that both that
# copyright notice and this permission notice appear in supporting
# documentation.  No representations are made about the suitability of this
# software for any purpose.  It is provided "as is" without express or 
# implied warranty.

$targetExtension = "(jpg)|(tif)|(bmp)";
$thumbnailExtension = "jpg";
$thumbnailSize = "133x133";
$mediumSize = "400x400";
$thumbnailName = "-tm";
$mediumName = "-md";
$lgName = "-lg";
$pathToIm = "/usr/X11R6/bin/";

($startDir, $destDir, $options) = @ARGV;

opendir (START, $startDir) || die "Couldn't Open Start dir: $startDir";

@files = readdir(START);

closedir (START);

if (not -d $destDir) {
	mkdir ($destDir, 0775);
open (OUTFILE, ">$destDir/index.html") or die "Couldn't open index.html";
open (OUTFILE2, ">$destDir/index2.html") or die "Couldn't open index2.html";

foreach $file (@files) {
	($fname,$extension) = split(/\./,$file);
	if ($extension =~ /$targetExtension/i) {
		`$pathToIm/convert $options -interlace NONE \"$startDir/$file\" \"$destDir/$fname$lgName.$thumbnailExtension\"`;
		`$pathToIm/convert $options -interlace NONE -geometry $mediumSize \"$startDir/$file\" \"$destDir/$fname$mediumName.$thumbnailExtension\"`;
		`$pathToIm/convert -interlace NONE -geometry $thumbnailSize \"$destDir/$fname$mediumName.$thumbnailExtension\" \"$destDir/$fname$thumbnailName.$thumbnailExtension\"`;

	print OUTFILE "\n";
	print OUTFILE2 "\n";

close OUTFILE;
close OUTFILE2;

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Thread View

The current discussion group thread view mechanisim is less than ideal at conveying the maximum amount of information in a minimum amount of space. Using minimal space is essential if the link macros are to be used in interesting locations, such as in a right hand column. Cramming lots of information into a small area requires care and attention to exactly what information is important. I’m trying to model my interactions on Edward Tufte’s information presentation theory.

The first example below (unimplemented) each asterisk would be a link save the current page. The second and third examples are implemented and can be downloaded at the respective links. The thread listed in the examples is the current thread.

One Idea: “Thread View #1, using UL” “Thread View #2, using pre”.
(Not Implemented)

{threadView()} {threadView2()}

The principles that I’m going on are

  1. No redundant information
  2. Compact, so we can show as much relationship information as possible
  3. Reduce marginally relevant information
  4. Bring important information to the foreground.
  5. Allow additional information with user interaction.
  6. Every pixel conveys information by position, color, and content.


Titles are not relevant information. Most of the time, they are the same as the message that is being viewed. Perhaps differences in the titles should be highlighted when the changes are more significant than a missing Re: or a change in capitalization. (principles 1,2,3)

The relationship to the whole thread is important. Visually identifying the current position within the thread by not linking the current document (putting it in a single bold line?) is essential. Distinct colors for unvisited and visited links is also essential. (3,6)

To a reader familiar with the community, the author is typically the best predictor of the value of an article. Using only the first name of the author can convey a significant amount of the possible information within the smallest possible space. Even where there are multiple members with the same first name in a community, the consequences of confusion are small. (4,5)

Revisiting the first model, I’m not convinced that * is a good link anchor. The character itself does not convey any useful information about the content or revelancy of the article. In place of the author name, there could be some other small piece of relevant data. Perhaps a count of page views of the message is a valid measure of the usefulness of the article.

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