I’m back to programming, rather than theologizing, for the next few weeks. Now I know I haven’t done much for a while, and so when today I wrote a bunch of subroutines which had more than the usual number of “goto” statements in them, I wondered whether I’d just lost my touch. But I don’t think so. I think in both cases, this is a rare “good” use of goto. Read more about Good uses of goto
This is a (highly) technical post; Ccbloggers may wish to change channel now.
My Songbee project is aimed at Japanese churches and, as such, it has to work in Japanese. Part of this has been achieved by localizing the interface, which XUL’s coding standards make very easy for me, but the other half is localizing the documentation. This is more of a pain. My documentation toolchain is XML Docbook and FOP. It works very well for producing documents in English which look just like every other Docbook document out there, but to get it working with Japanese, you need to teach it about fonts. I scoured the web for good information on how to change fonts in FOP and found very little.
Here’s how to do it. This applies to changing fonts in Docbook documents in general, as well as the special case of Japanese. Read more about Docbook, FOP, fonts and multilingua
One of the more fascinating courses I’ve been doing at college has been about organizational culture. While this hasn’t been strictly Christian stuff, it’s another of those areas that applies nicely to community organizing for open source. Part of the work, and the essay that I’m doing at the moment, is about planning a cultural or structural change in an organization. I’ve started by developing a change model that (I hope) works for my mission agency, and I think will probably work well for open source movements too because they share the same voluntary associative nature - in other words, you can’t force people to come on board with the change. You have to win them. Here’s how I plan to do it. Read more about How to bring about change
I was thinking just yesterday about the whole topic of errata in publishing, and then one appeared in my email for me to deal with. There’s a whole page of errata for my latest book, and occasionally I get emails from my publisher telling me about new problems that people have found in the book. Some of them aren’t errors at all; some of them are minor typos and mistakes; some are suggested improvements, how I could have done things better; some of them are major problems, either where my understanding was wrong or where the topic that I was writing about has changed under me and what I’ve said no longer applies. But the point is that anyone can submit errors and suggestions, I can interact with them, and everyone can see the results.
It got me thinking that I’d like to see this extended to, say, Christian publishing as well as technical publishing. I realise this morning that I think I will see that, and it’s part of a wider shift in culture. Read more about Errata, monologue and dialogue
I’ve thought on a few occasions that there’s a big crossover between what I used to do in Open Source and what I now do in Church work. As a really good example, I’m currently taking a course in “building transformational communities”; meanwhile, Skud is writing a series of blog posts on the craft of community and putting together a community management wiki. Read more about Advocacy and Evangelism
Since writing my post the other day on mail learning, I’ve had a few people contact me to say “how about my product?” So for completeness, here’s a look at two more competitors in the arena, Postbox and Mozilla Thunderbird 3. Read more about Mail learning 2: Thunderbird and Postbox
Since about 2002 I’ve had a passion for mining data and relationships information from email. I organise my life around my email, as I’m sure that many people do, treating it as a big datastore. I’m convinced that your mail contains everything you need to know - appointments, addresses, phone numbers, URLs, documents, relationships… The trouble is, how to find it all.
(As an aside, since 2002 I’ve called all these things “assets”, so I use the same terminology here.)
I worked for a year for a company in Belfast with the same vision - build something to index, search and retrieve key data from email. Things never took off, and then along came Google Mail and we were sure they were going to solve the problem. It’s now seven years later, an age in Internet time, and they haven’t. There are now - finally - a few players in the arena but (once again) none of them quite gets it. Let’s look at what they’re doing, what needs to be done and, much more importantly, how to do it. Read more about Mail learning: the what and the how
For the past few months I’ve been meaning to get around to understanding PSGI and Plack; for various reasons, I guess. First, because it’s always good to keep abreast of what’s going on in the programming world; second, because they’re by Miyagawa, and really, anything by Miyagawa is worth looking into; third, because I’ve been writing a bunch of different web applications recently and wanted to know what the state of the art was. Read more about I finally get PSGI and Plack!
So, here’s a thought: Anyone got (or know of) a church, mission organisation or other Christian organisation whose IT strategy and implementation they’re particularly proud of? Something that’s making use of the state of the art, that could serve as a model for others. In fact, I’ll be happy with “doesn’t suck”. Because I honestly can’t think of any. Bonus points if you’d agree to be interviewed by email about it. Read more about Christians can't do computers
I did a report a while back for a major church about how they could be and should be using IT in their mission. Politics took over and they rejected the report, so I feel free to publish it here, anonymised and with some of the more specifics removed. I’m focussing on the bits I wrote about external communication rather than improving internal communication
Technology, computing and the Internet has gone from changing the way we work to changing the way we think. Read more about "Missional IT": A strategy for churches