Monday, January 29, 2007

Ben Harper

This dude is just awesome. I've been listening to him casually since college (one of my suite-mates was a big fan). Through my casual enjoyment, my housemate has become a pretty big fan, so I got her the three-disc edition of Both Sides of the Gun. Of course, I've been listening to it as well :-)

As a result, I've been hearing a much more diverse selection of his music than I've ever had at my fingertips. And I've been listening more closely...

This guy is just amazing. He's got sounds and styles that range from Cat Stevens and Mick Jagger to Stevie Wonder and Stevie Ray Vaughn. He's got punk, jazz, honkey-tonk as well as his signature quiet laments. And he pulls it off in a manner fantastical. Not once does it appear as if this is a musician who can't make up his mind; quite the contrary. Everything he does on three-disc album is 100% Ben Harper, 100% committed to the music.

Go get it now. Before you get hit by a bus.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

The Twisted Show

We're doing a little experiment on the Twisted Labs site, and I thought I would invite folks to check it out:

It's also linked off of the front page under "New Feature", so it's hard to miss :-) We're aiming for podcasts down the line, but right now (while I'm learning how to actually *conduct* an interview) we're providing (edited) transcripts.

I'm actually kind of excited about this: it's such a great opportunity to chat one-on-one with folks who are using Twisted as part of their success -- which is ultimately what software is supposed to help us do.

Our first interview was with Renkoo, providers of a social networking software for fluidly and intuitively plan events with friends. It's a perfect match for planning get-togethers when the "when" and "where" haven't yet been decided.

We've got a list of projects in mind for interviews and/or podcasts, but I'd love to hear from folks on who *you'd* like us to interview. And the kinds of questions to which you'd be interested in hearing answers.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

How to Skin a Trac

Twisted ScreenshotAs some folks know, I worked with Huw Wilkins on the new redesign of the Twisted site. Huw did the design, CSS etc., and I hacked around on trac to make his vision work within that framework. He made my life very easy, though, as he produced the entire design to fit perfectly within trac.

The new Twisted site has been a success -- we're getting many more visitors and they are staying longer than ever. I believe that the design and the improving info architecture are the most significant contributors to this. And after seeing these changes and the assumed enjoyment that folks are deriving from them, all I could think was "This was so easy to do, there's no excuse not to have a good-looking trac instance."

Zenoss Trac ScreenshotHaving been inspired by Huw's great design for Twisted, I did the same thing for The Zenoss internal trac instances. I had a great time doing this, having explored a lot with the Twisted site redesign. What's more, with the use of the trac dev branch (forth-coming version 0.11) the Genshi templates really simplify the process. With the process I had established with the Twisted work and the Zenoss work, I was have the courage to update my own massive number of trac projects: 3 domains with each one being a trac "multi-sites" setup.

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People don't realize how quickly you can take a generic trac and have something quite unique. Here's all you need to do:

  • install Genshi and 0.11 Trac from subversion
  • design your look and feel and then prepare your images
  • edit the trac.css file
  • update the site.html and layout.html Genshi template files
Now, things do get a little complicated when you have trac multisites running. You have to write code that will render the sites index the way you want. Then you need to consider how to manage the templates across all the sites.

As an example, I've put the trac customizations in subversion here.

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