Technology Weblogging

Why Wordform needs active users

Wordform is not being developed in isolation, specifically because I hope to capture input from people who could be considered the potential users of the product. It is more fun to go ‘Ta Da!’ and have the application all finished, to ooohs and ahhhs; but an inherent problem with this is that each of us brings our own interpretation of what is an oooh, and what is an ahhh.

A better approach, then, is to communicate as you develop (rather than after), keep your mind open, and solicit feedback as much as possible. And for this, I need active users — people who are willing to step up and say what they want, and how they want it.

For instance, when Marius points out the polished interface to the textarea within Blogger, saying that this is more meaningful than the Quicktags within WordPress, we can quickly show him a screenshot of the prototype for the Wordform edit page, currently in development. This is using the beta of HTMLArea, which is a very rich text editor currently being tested with Mozilla-based browsers, such as Firefox. It, as with Blogger, will work with IE and any of the Mozilla browsers. Unfortunately, it won’t work with Safari; but then, neither will Blogger.

The PHP program will test browser and insert quicktags, HTML tags, for browsers that can’t work with these rich text editors. However, Blogger’s switching back and forth between WYSIWYG and HTML tags, is a very nice feature. Luckily it’s already included as a feature within HTMLArea — just click the button labeled “<>” to toggle between HTML source and WYSIWYG.

As a sidenote, the new Comment Edit window in Wordform will also have a rich text editor, but I’m removing the HTML capability (HTMLArea is completely customizable). Why? So that I can ensure that tags are properly closed and that nothing harmful is added, while giving commenters a very rich editing experience.

Oh, and HTMLArea has plugins that will allow me to add in spellcheckers and various other nifty goodies. Don’t you just love open source?


Mindless spot on eternal lack of sunshine

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I am not one to do movie reviews. I rarely write on a movie I see, and when I do, it’s usually favorably. But I feel compelled to write about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, primarily because I disliked this movie so much.

I found my reaction to be somewhat disconcerting, too, because it seems to be such a universally beloved movie. I don’t think I’ve read one unfavorable review of this movie, either by webloggers, in comments at Amazon and other online sites, or by professional critics. However, I disliked the characters from the first five minutes, and my loathing for them only increased as the movie progressed.

This movie is “urban angst” taken to an almost pure artistic form. It’s like walking through a showing at an art gallery consisting primarily of photos taken of reflections from car door handles.

The premise behind the movie is that the lead characters are so shattered by their breakup that they have all memories of each other wiped out (or start to have them wiped out), so they won’t have to suffer the pain of loss. Yet the lead character, played by Jim Carrey, finds that he can’t let go of his former love (played by Kate Winslet), and tries to hide memories of her here and there, to protect them. The concept is extremly novel and the execution intelligent and creative. But it failed with me.

I’ve found through personal and difficult experience that the loss of love and the bitter and hollow disappointment that can come from such, is a rich, and even beautiful experience, albeit best when viewed from a distance. It is just this loss of love, or love unmet that forms the inspiration for much of our art. I have a hard time understanding how a person would want to eliminate even one second of this experience, no matter how painful.

Of course, Carrey’s character finds this out as the erasure is taking place, and this begins the real journey featured in the movie. But by then, the necessary connection I felt you needed to have with his character before this journey takes place just wasn’t there, at least not for me. He irritated me. His girlfriend irritated me. Even the lady in the waiting room crying into her hankie irritated me.

The filming was clever and ingenious, but I sometimes think that this movie was a case of a director wanting to try different techniques, and then finding a story that would connect the dots, so to speak. Maybe if I had accepted it as such when I watched it, I would have at least appreciated the dots, if not the journey between them