ralphm's blog

Friday, 1 August 2003

Version 0.3 of the User Moods JEP

More, more, more!

Triggered by my post to the standards-jig mailinglist, offline offlinestpeter has issued version 0.3 of the User Moods JEP. In this new version a few new moods have been added to the list of possible mood values. Some of these moods (like hungry, cold and sick) are arguably really user states. It seemed rediculous to make another JEP for those, also because most user states directly invoke a mood.

Also, stpeter made me co-author of this JEP. Check out my Moods overview page for the cool icons I assigned to the new moods.

New Blog Unreadable?

Where did the content go?

Because I had so much to blog today, I put my new blog engine in production in a hurry. I forgot to update the production site with all necessary changes. Sorry about that.

As a side note, the notification sent out by Mimír, and also the descriptions that will appear in the RSS files when I have them ready, are just abstracts. The blog contains all the long-winded stories ;-)

New Blog Engine

Now fully XMLified

I've been thinking for a while about my blogging engine. It used to work a lot like blosxom with .txt files. These files then have their first line as a title and the rest as content, using HTML markup.

Somehow, I didn't like having to use HTML for my blog. It is very presentational, really. For other documents, I use DocBook XML to write in. DocBook has the great property of being almost completely presentation agnostic. You just say what is a chapter, a title or a figure.

So, also inspired by the XML powered blog by offline offlinestpeter I've created an XML format for the source documents of my blog, using DocBook-like markup for all content. That way it can be rendered in all kinds of formats, without having to deal with the quirks of HTML.

The work is not complete, as for example the RSS feed is not yet done, but the HTML rendering, with archive, should work now. Also I've created a little tool to publish each new item to my pubsub node. The only subscriber so far is Mimír.

Later more.

A new home

Leaving the birds' nest.

The best news arrived on wednesday and is of course the fact that Irma (my girlfriend) and I have been drawn as #1 candidate for an apartment in Veldhoven, a suburb of Eindhoven. Whohoo! We have been wanting a place of our own for a while now, and this time been lucky in the housing lottery.

For a hardcore Eindhoven guy this is almost betrayal, but then again, Veldhoven is a part of Eindhoven really, they're just still in denial!

For those familiar in the area: the address is Nijverheidslaan 99, in 't Look. The apartment has a large livingroom (32 m^2, after we have taken down a wall) and two bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom and separate toilet. It is located on the fourth floor (3e verdieping), on the corner of the building and we have two balconies and a small side window. A small Albert Heijn (supermarket) is nearby.

Tonight, we will be taking a first look on the inside, but the housing organisation had rated it well taken care of, and that is a qualification they apparently rarely give. My girlfriend already took a look on the outside, and it all seems pretty nice.

If all is well, we will receive the keys on 29 August, and move in late September. We will probably be ordering most of hour furniture this weekend, because delivery times are somewhere between 10 and 12 weeks.

User Activities JEP


Last monday I talked with offline offlinestpeter about another kind of extended presence. We formalised this in the User Moods JEP. User Moods tell what a user is doing at that moment in time. This can range from having coffee to on vacation. There are three pieces of information here: a general activity, a more specific activity and a natural language text.

I think people can more effectively communicate with each other when they know what the other person is doing. Sure, you can use away messages (as part of presence) for that, but having it formalised with fixed values, you can have clients that do something with it. This is easier that scanning natural language text.

A way of presenting this information to the user is using icons. For example, you can have a cartoon character (like a smiley face) and attire that with items. If you are on the phone, the client of all subscribers to your user activity, can display a phone with the cartoon. If you are busy with working, you can give it a builder's hat. And so on.

Other things you could do is use the activity to have the client warn you when you start typing a chat message to someone. If I am in a meeting, it will probably not read your message for a while.

Setting your current activity might be tedious. A client should try and present extended presences together when you want to change one of them. If you are going to have dinner you'll obviously be away, so your presence can be altered, too. Keyboard shortcuts can come in handy here.

If your client has access to your calender (like with the Chandler project, it can also set user activities for you. If you have an appointment scheduled, your client can set your activity to having_appointment. If you have a scheduled holiday, the client can show that, too. Note that you do not necessarily have to be online yourself (presence) to set your activity. Maybe your client can also detect when you are on the phone. Handy!

The JEP still needs a bit of work. We have to clean up the possible values a bit, and I also want to have a way to communicate how long the current activity is going to last. Stay tuned.

A Moods JEP

When things get formalised.

I've been expirimenting with moods for a while now, as you can see throughout this site. I took moods as my first application on top of pubsub to get a feel of how that could work.

Moods are how people feel. It is something belonging to you and can be seen as an extended kind of presence. There are more things that fall in this category like location and user activity. Last week, offline offlinestpeter published a new JEP on User Moods. It was a first draft on how you could communicate user moods.

The JEP used the <presence/> element to transport the moods. As I am a firm believer in pubsub for these kinds of information, I proposed to use that instead. Furthermore, the JEP contains a list of possible mood values, taken from research on this subject. But there was no natural language field to augment such basic mood information, like in my home-grown protocol. So that's in there now, too.

It is also possible to send your mood in one-on-one chats, inside the <message/> element, which I think is a very nice touch.

Anyway, I've worked on moods last week and updated my site and tools to use the new JEP, and it works great. Because the JEP proposed a fixed set of mood values, I had to get a lot of new icons for them, too. Checkout the Mood Overview Page for more information.

Flashback of the week

What was it like?

What a week. This week had a lot of things happening, but I didn't take the time to blog on them. I'll try to do that a bit better in the future. Blogging as it happens, so to speak. I will cover the events in separate entries.