Blog posts tagged "opensource"

Gmail-like Open Source IMAP Client?

September 7th, 2005

I haven’t seen it, but someone has got to be working on it, so where is the open source webmail app, that can front-end my IMAP server, and works like Gmail? So calling out to the LazyWeb I haven’t seen it, but someone has got to be working on it, so where is the open source webmail app, that can front-end my IMAP server, and works like Gmail? So calling out to the LazyWeb

Its funny, Gmail just added the one feature that I was missing so much that I was ready to leave, the ability to customize the From: field, and yet I’m more ready to leave then ever. Why?

Spam false positives.

Bad Spam Filtering

False positives, are unforgivable in a spam filter, especially lots and lots of them. False positives mean you have to manually look through every spam message you get and manually check that each one isn’t spam. I don’t know what algorithm Google is using, but it sucks. I’ll admit my address has been out on the web for years, and so I’d understand if spam was getting through (and it does), but what I can’t understand is why:

  • mail from the moderated mailing lists I’m on get flaggeds as spam
  • mail from people already in my inbox gets flagged as spam
  • mail from people who I’ve emailed gets flagged as spam
  • mail from Google HR personnel

In particular Gmail seems to hate the microformats list, of which a significant percentage of the traffic gets flagged as spam. Editorial commentary I wonder?

Which is really a shame, as Gmail (or any of the centralized mail houses) should be in possession of plenty of information to do an excellent job on the filtering.

The Potential

And once we had our own Gmail-like client we could adding features without having to rely on Greasemonkey scripts!

My short list:

  • mailing list aware
  • roles ala Pine
  • GPG integration
  • archive this thread (aka conversation) and all future messages to it

That plus client independence with the IMAP backend. There have been a few good comments added to my original Gmail IMAP post if anyone is looking for inspiration.

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Not To Mention All of Us

June 30th, 2005

Joe Kraus’s post “It’s a great time to be an entrepreneur” mirrors what I’ve been seeing for the last several years. He makes a lot of good points in the pursuit of explaing why Excite took $3million to go from idea to reality, and JotSpot took $100k. However he fails to mention one of my favorites.

You see 1.0 was probably one of the most expensive, least efficient public education projects in history, but for those of us who lived through it, it was an amazing, free (we called our grants “investments”), world class education in software development, project management, web development, open source, user interaction, and on and on.

Cheap hardware, free (libre) software, and a global market are all major factors, but don’t forget the huge pool of talented, trained individuals, who not only know this stuff, but learned it in the sort of creative, hands on, team oriented environments that educational theorists are so fond of.

(Now if we could just cut out the capitalist circus and realize that education create value for the economy as well as the individual, we’d really be getting somewhere)

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Simple FAQ Software?

November 28th, 2004

Anyone have a recommendation for simple FAQ software? Needs to run on Sourceforge, and ideally would be driven off the file system, and attractive by default to minimize database and stylesheet futzing. Was thinking about doing a quick hackup of blosxom, but I thought I’d check the collective wisdom first.

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WordPress RSS Aggregator

July 18th, 2004

I’ve been playing with the idea of a devblog for a while, a place which collates the various feeds associated with a project into a simple location for easy viewing, and commenting it. Fisheye, and CIA are full blown attempts at solving this very problem for large open source projects. This morning, unable to get back to sleep, seemed simpler and faster to write something new, then finish reading the install instructions.

I present my quick and dirty RSS-to-Wordpress aggregator. There are a number of tools that allow you to display an RSS feed on your WordPress blog, and several that allow you to import an RSS into your blog, but I didn’t find any that worked as aggregators, periodically polling a feed, and creating new posts from the items found within. So that is what I built.

Some features:

  • dc:date becomes the postdate, dc:creator (or dc:contributor) becomes the postauthor, title maps to title, description to post_content, dc:subject to category.
  • a postmeta variable is used to track which RSS items have been seen before, and only insert them once.
  • you can assign 1 or more categories to be automatically attached to each post per feed. (e.g. a ‘CVS Commits’ category)
  • new authors, and new categories are auto-vivified if they don’t exist.


  • I wrote this to parse our internal cvs2rss feeds, and our Twiki feed. Those both produce RSS 1.0 feeds that conform to my particular RSS aesthetics. As such the script doesn’t try to hard to support other versions of RSS.
  • Links are treated as perma-links, and unique identifiers.
  • Ignores content:encoded
  • Only handles inserts, not updates
  • I wrote this with nightly build 2004-7-14, your milage may vary.

None of these would be hard to fix, but this was good enough for my needs this morning, in the short period of time I wanted to spend on it.


Some other features that would be nice to:
  • Store config in the database and add WP UI for managing aggregated feeds (should be doable with option groups?)
  • Support adding categories by name instead of id. (and auto-vivify categories)
Uses Magpie (surprise!), so you get to leverage support for fetching private RSS feeds. (which I’d recommend for serving up internal RSS feeds) Expanding on the devlog theme, you might want to include the RSS from your project management tool, and bug tracker. (we aren’t currently using RSS enable tools for this, but if, for example, you were using TasksProp or Basecamp, those would be good feed to include.)

A Few Observations on WordPress

  • Doesn’t support PHP5 yet. I’m not sure how pervasive the problem is, but it uses a modified version of ezSQL for its DB abstraction layer, which isn’t PHP5 compatible. Too bad they aren’t building on top of PEAR DB.
  • Excellent for whipping up an attractive, feature rich blog.
  • Faster then expected, really zippy in fact, at least without load.
  • Code is kind of a mess (or at least old school PHP). Very little OO, SQL, and HTML is scattered around, core use of global variables.
  • I’m not a fan of the “PHP is already a template argument”, but I understand why some people are.
  • Doesn’t feel as polished as MT, but is certainly more hackable. Reminds me of the Kwiki “every installation is a snowflake” goal. Interesting to see if this creates a surge of creativity, or just balkanization.
  • Option groups, and the postmeta table make it incredibly simple to add new features.
  • PHP5+SQLite support, and a one-click install could make WP the Kwiki of blogging tools.

update [2004/10/28]: In Boston, but on Seattle time, fill in some extra details. This quick hack is growing faqs, and might need to sprout a page of its own pretty soon. In the mean time there is a new version which uses a simple config file, and has expanded support.


  1. How do I print the link of the original RSS item?
    <?php echo getpostmeta($id, 'wpaggrss_id', true) ?>
  2. Dates aren’t working, all my posts are from 1969. Currently wp-rss-agg only supports dates in dc:date field, however there is a feature in magpie-cvs that should make it simple to provide Atom and RSS 2.0 date compatibility as well.

update: FeedWordPress is an actively developed and maintained version of this script. Charles has taken it beyond my simple proof of concept, and it is almost certainly what you’re looking for.

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