Category Archives: General

Google Help Milestone, 1000 Answers

Alistair Lattimore Google Help Forum Profile, 1000 AnswersA couple of months ago I decided to put my search engine knowledge to the test and started answering questions in the Google Webmasters Help forum. In that time, I’ve now answered 1000 different questions from people of all different skill levels from around the world in an attempt to help them get their website issues sorted.

To people that frequent forums online, 1000 posts/comments might not seem like very many; however when they are narrowly focused on helping people about a specific topic and it isn’t just casual banter/discussion about your favourite football team or motorsport, I think it is actually a pretty neat achievement.

Next goal is reaching Level 11!

Firefox Software Upgrade Process Inefficient

I’m using Firefox for the first time on my notebook in quite some time and I noticed that it was downloading an update.

Curiously, I checked to see what version I was currently running and it was 3.0.10 and I assumed that it was going to update Firefox to the latest 3.5 series but I was mistaken. Instead, it upgraded to 3.0.11 which I thought was odd. As soon as it had completed, I checked for updates again and it said that another was available – surely this time it’ll get to Firefox 3.5, no it upgraded to 3.0.12. Checked again and another update was available and finally, it managed to upgrade Firefox to the latest and greatest version.

I’m sure there is a reason for doing an inline upgrade, however you’d think if you were going from 3.0 series into 3.5 series of an upgrade that it’d just make the jump and be done with it.

YouTube Subscriptions & Unexpected Notification Behaviour

I use the YouTube subscription feature to try and keep on top of a swarm of excellent video content being provided through YouTube.

In my account settings, under the Email Options section I have all of the default options selected – which equates to email me whenever something in my account or channel changes and also send me a weekly email regarding my subscriptions.

The Google Webmaster Central team have a Google Webmaster Central YouTube Channel which I’m subscribed to. I’m not the kind of person that will login to a site, such as YouTube, just to check on things – such as a subscription. For this very reason, I was happy to see that YouTube support email notifications for subscriptions.

Over the last couple of months, I’d assumed that the Google Webmaster Central channel was largely inactive as the weekly email was showing only a handful of publications over that period. It wasn’t until today that I clicked through to the channel and noticed a plethora of fantastic question and answer style content from Matt Cutts.

I had expected that when new videos were published into a channel I’m subscribed to, that the weekly email notification would essentially be a digest of the changes from the week.

This serves as a simple warning for the uninitiated, check the videos tab against each of your subscriptions from time to time or you could be missing out on great video content.

Django Internationalisation (i18n) Statistics

The Python web framework Django supports internationalistaion (i18n) for nearly 30 different languages already.

While reviewing the changesets flowing through the Django source repository, I often notice amendments to the internationalisation code and it got me thinking about how ‘complete’ the i18n status is for the languages that Django is attempting to support.

Enter a visually simple but very informative web site built using Google App Engine which polls the Django subversion repository periodically and compiles a table showing the percentage completion for each of the different languages.

I’m impressed that with nearly 30 different languages under their belt that the majority of them are reporting very solid percentage completion numbers, no wonder so many non-English speaking developers are using Django.

Source Control Commit Visualisation

Software development relies on source control management software such as CVS, Subversion, SourceSafe, Bitkeeper, Mercurial, Git and the like to track and manage the changes in the source code over time. As a project progresses, developers come and go, contractors come and go and the activity on a given project ebs and flows as required.

Attempting to visualise who, what and how much of a project is changing is quite complex as there are so many variables – however Michael Ogawa has built a project named code_swarm which does just that. Instead of providing tabular or static images to help visualise a projects changes, he has managed to animate it into something quite spectacular.

Following are five different code swarm visualisations of popular open source projects:

The amazing thing that a visualisation such as code_swarm provides, is to show just how many people actively participate in a given open source project, how much each of them participates and what sort of tasks they are normally performing on that project. As an example, comparing the number of different people in SQLAlchemy compared to Django isn’t a competition – Django is ahead by a mile, though compared to Apache, the others seem insignificant.