Ideas for the online revolution.

Refactoring

So over Christmas I finished reading Code Complete 2 and Refactoring. Both are good books and very highly recommended for anyone doing software development. Code Complete 2 is the more accessible of the two. It's good because it doesn't follow any specific school of software development. So instead of giving you hype about "extreme programming" it provides you with best practices that are based on surveys and studies done by researchers.

I also ordered most of the books recommended at the end of Code Complete 2 in the reading list for developer's. So that's more than 12 books I hope to read this year.

Categories or Tags?

From the beginning, I figured that using a limited number of categories was the best way to organize the listings on CampusActivism.org.

However recently, there has been a growing movement towards tagging as an alternative method of categorization.

Flickr lets users upload images and give them any tag they want. Livejournal lets you give any name you want for your interests. del.icio.us lets you choose any tag you want for your website bookmarks (which are shared with other users). Similarly, Google, the best search engine, doesn't use categories (whereas its poorer counterpart, Yahoo, does).

Canada Election 2006 polls

Very strange polling. The SES polls consisently show a 3-5% bias in favor of the Liberals compared to those of Strategic Counseling, which is pretty serious because that can be the margin between the Conservatives or Liberals getting the most seats (if the Conservatives are only behind 3%, they might get more seats because their vote is more strategically concentrated), or the margin between a Liberal minority and majority (if the Liberals were stronger, more in the 41% area).

Election Polls

The bias seems to come from the remaining four parties rather equally (1-2% from the Greens, BQ, Conservatives and NDP -- hard to measure all that precisely with a good degree of precision).

Online Activism Conference in UK

I don't think I'll go because flying to England isn't that cheap (and Europe is generally expensive), though it looks good!

There is an e-Campainging Forum from Jan 18-19 in Oxford, UK.

The event is focused on bringing together practitioners in "new
media"/"e" activism. This is the third time the event has run
and each year we try and identify more people like you who would
both benefit from coming and have things to share with others.
You can see the current participant list at:
http://www.ecampaigningforum.com/event/participants

The draft agenda is at the bottom of the page at:

Greenpeace Starts Work on an Online Activism Networking Application

Looks like campusactivism.org (and to a lesser extent beta.indyvoter.org, because they don't seem to want to go the friendster/myspace route), except they're single issue. It will be interesting to see if they believe in open data or just open source.

Campusactivism.org is publishing all of its data, with some privacy exceptions, via web-services. And whether anyone realizes it or not, this is currently working - see activismnetwork.org.

"You can use it to start a group, share resources, publicise events, find contacts and build networks." - This sounds very close to language I've been using for a couple years.

My First Civicspace / Drupal Site

I am working on converting the existing Student Environmental Action Coalition website so that it runs on Civicspace/Drupal.



Check out the
New Version




Old Version




I still need to do some work on the SEAC logo, the color scheme, increasing the visibility of the navigation menu, and I'm going to rewrite all the forms so that they aren't so long (we had some 400+ line html pages) and to switch from using CGI to PHP for the form processing.



Some of the Advantages that I came up with for advocating this transition include:

Vancouver Election Results 2005

Vancouver (Canada) has municipal elections every three years. These elections include mayor, ten city councilors (elected at-large), school board, and parks board.

Canadian municipal politics differ from the US notably in the proliferation of local parties that often lack direct ties to their provincial and national counterparts.

Thie time the rightwing NPA (badly named "Non Partisan Association") won a small majority. The previous election COPE (Coalition of Progressive Electors) won its biggest
majority in a long time. After getting in power, COPE had a
left/right split with the larger right (which included the mayor)

Notre Dame Living Wage - Online Petition

I created a website for the Campus Labor Action Project which is working to get a Living Wage for Notre Dame staff.

It's a tricky balance, but I think we'd prefer to have people sign our petition only if they have a connection to Notre Dame (alumni, staff, faculty, spouse, parent, etc).

We have a committee of currently around 7 alumni (mostly who graduated in the past 4 years, but we're doing outreach to other decades). Our strategy is to build a large base of alumni supporters (hopefully 500-1500 people). Getting people to sign the online petition is the first step.

Philly Activist Tech - First Meeting is a Success!

The first meeting of the Philadelphia Activist Tech Group was a success. We had 13 people! Instead of having long meetings, it looks like we're going to focus on projects. So people will propose and join projects, and we'll skip the meetings for the sake of meetings.

We'll probably organize workshops ranging from "this is how to use email to do activism" or "how to be virus/spy-ware free", to more advanced topics like "Intro to Google Maps API".

Also we might organize the occasional social event, and connect people who have questions with people who have answers.

If you want to find out about our activities, then Subscribe to our low-traffic email list.

Friendster Hacks

Notes on Friendster hacking. By hacking, it's more exploring than doing any harm. And I'm doing this partially to learn how to prevent problems with my own software.

The Gallery
http://www.friendster.com/gallery.php

If you do a search, you get to see all the possible parameters in the URL.

Distance: I think the maximum is 65536 (aka 2^16 - a common data type). Or it used to be. Now I'm not entirely sure. They might have noticed that I was running queries that were timing out after five minutes and put some validation on the data. When I did a distance of 66000 it would time out relatively quickly, whereas under 65536 it would take five minutes. For that matter smaller distanaces (eg 10,000 miles) were taking that long too -- though this probably depends on Friendster's load. Friendster should validate this value and put a maximum on it. Also Friendster should be logging slow queries. Heck, I'm smart enough to do that!

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