Atom and Microformats Intro

My most recent article at IBM developerWorks is up (part of David Mertz’s “XML Matters” column), discussing the intersection of Atom Syndication Format, Atom Publishing Protocol, and Microformats:

Up And Atom

Actually, it’s been up for at least a week, but I was out of town at JavaOne (and too tired to post), then off the grid completely taking my daughter’s school to camp. I’m still getting caught up, but nearly recovered.

I think I’ve figured out why my new blog is not being picked up by Planet Python too: the planet software has only recently begun to support Atom 1.0, and that version hasn’t been officially released yet. There should be a 1.0 release of the planet code soon, and hopefully Planet Python will upgrade then and all will be well with the world.

I guess that’s one downside to developing my own blogging tools to support open standards: I may not have to implement deprecated formats or protocols, but if others are still stuck with legacy systems it can still hurt.

Silent Boggle

In my sidebar, under Mini Projects is one called Silent Boggle. When my daughter was born, my wifed Daniela and I like to play Boggle a lot, but we worried about the noise waking the baby, so I coded up a quick CGI script to create a web page listing the letters with the same frequency as the game. That worked OK, and now we could play without rattling the box, but of course a project never stops where you thought it would. I kept thinking that it would be cool if I could list all the words available, making it useful for learning new vocabulary, or just checking your score. It turns out that Peter Norvig covered solving Boggle as an AI problem in his book AI: A Modern Approach. And he also provides the code from the book, in both Lisp and Python. So, armed with a standard linux word list, munged to remove words illegal or impossible in Boggle (and to handly my funky hack involving the Qu face of the Boggle dice) and the AIMA python libarary, I was able to get something going. A little slow, and resource intensive, but it works (if that project ever starts getting much traffic, I’ll have to stick the wordlist in a seperate, long-running process).

The thing is, the linux word list has a lot of words I don’t recognize and cannot find in any dictionary. At first I wanted to create links from the “answers” to a site with their definitions, but for many of the words there don’t appear to be definitions. I’d like to use this as a vocabulary building tool for my kids (my newborn daughter at the start of this project is now nine, and my son is now five and both are avid readers), but I can find two types of resources on the web: word lists suitable for use with the AIMA library, and dictionaries that don’t have associated word lists. I suppose I can dowload an open-source dictionary and extract the word-list myself, but it seems like with all the work that’s been done out there on wordlists and dictionaries, that there should be one that combines them both, that I just haven’t found yet.

So, lazyweb, I invoke thee! Please help me to find the wordlist + dictionary that I have overlooked in my searching.

This Friday in Vancouver: Stop

My friend and neighbor Malcolm Ferrier has been at work for the past couple of years writing, shooting, and editing a science fiction movie called Stop. It’s going to premier on Friday, and based on the unfinished version I saw last year it should be a lot of fun. Malcolm and I share an interest in amateur movie-making, but he has taken it much futher than I and actually made a feature film. It’s been an exciting process to watch, and I can’t wait to see the finished version.

After two years of hard work, STOP the motion picture is finally finished and I wanted to invite you to the premiere. It takes place at the BCIT Telus Theatre (SE6-233), 3700 Willingdon Avenue, Burnaby, BC at 7:00 PM on Friday, May 12th. Admission is free, but donations are accepted for Amnesty International.

Feel free to bring friends and family (as many people as you’d like!).
For more details, check the website:

Hope to see you there!

Pipestreaming Microformats

My latest article for David Mertz’s column XML Matters on IBM’s developerWorks site has been up for over a week now, but I’m finally coming up for air long enough to post about it. The title is Pipestreaming Microformats and it is a survey of attempts to apply the Unix pipe metaphor to XML content, then some blue-sky dreaming of how to apply that to microformats.

One thing I mention in the article is that Norm Walsh’s SXPipe would be cool to re-implement in Python using lxml. While I was writing the article and in the time since, lxml has been undergoing a flurry of activity the results of which (among other cool things) are that it now has Python eggs for easy install on Windows, OS X, and Linux. So I think it’s ready, I just need to find time to spend with that project. If there is interest in such a thing, let me know so I can bump the priority up.


Boffers are foam swords for safer swordfighting. Here’s how to build boffers easily.

Make Simple boffers

And here is my first link on the Make blog, also on boffers.

Boffers on Make (my first entry in the Make blog!)

Remember to follow the rules and take care of your sword.

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