I dread taking minutes at working group meetings because it usually means projecting a text editor which is hard to read for the other people in the meeting, and hard to edit for the minute taker. I’ve used IRC, but I hate that the minutes get polluted by the “back channel” discussion. On the flight over, I thought to myself, “Hey, I could easily make a little web app to do this.” Here it is. Everything is stored in the DOM, and there’s no save back to the server which is an issue. It would be nice to have a backend store for minutes to make sure there’s a backup in case of a browser crash, but I did this between the plane and jet lag. I also haven’t tested it in anything but Firefox and Safari. If it works for you, great. If not, sorry.

Jonesing Nerds

Instead of providing its own network, the W3C decided this year to use the hotel’s network… which I don’t think was designed to handle a couple hundred nerds and their laptops all connecting at once. Connectivity has been spotty, and it’s been fun to watch a large group of people used to being connected all the time without that connectivity. I have a feeling that the waiting room at a methadone clinic looks about the same.\
Otherwise, my jet lag has been horrible, but the food is still lovely, and the weather is great. I’m looking forward to the next four days of meetings.


I’m in France!! This post would have a picture of Mandelieu at the top, but I forgot the USB cable for the camera (because I’m smart). Other than not sleeping at all on the plane (I tried, laws yes, I tried), the trip was fine. I met Molly at the airport after her flight from London and we shared a ride to the hotel. I’ve no driven in another country! It wasn’t all that scary, other than stalling the car a couple times (mushy clutch and the fact that I haven’t driven stick in months) and a mad rush to find change for the toll. We got off the highway too soon and ended up winding our way through Cannes, and then had a lovely drive along the beach until we saw the big R on the side of the hotel.\
I stayed up until 8:30, and woke up for good around 4:30. Now, I’m just waiting a little while until breakfast, and then it’s time for Nerd-a-palooza 2006!

Announcing I Am Alpha

I can finally reveal what I’ve been working on for the past couple months that’s making me write all this javascript. It’s I Am Alpha, something kind of new and interesting for AOL. Why? AOL doesn’t do public development. We’re usually very close-lipped about what’s going on with a product. We just launch stuff on an unsuspecting public. We also don’t often foster any sort of interaction with the outside developer community. There are things like AOLserver that’s open source, and the new AIM plugin stuff is open to the public, but I can’t really think of much else we’ve done in the area. That’s changing, as of today, with this thing.\
What is it? Well I Am Alpha is just a prototype to give folks some idea of what’s coming, and to introduce our microformat for transporting modular content and the idea of creating modules for this new product.\
I think this is really cool. No one’s paying me to say it’s cool, either. I think getting more people to create microformatted content is great, and I think our microformat is pretty cool (don’t know what a microformat is?). I think some of the stuff we don’t have a live prototype for, like server-side modules is super-cool.\
It’s going to be a little rocky. We don’t have a lot of experience with the whole public development thing, and a lot of things won’t be public (old dog, new tricks), but we’re trying. We’re really really trying. We’re going to be using Dojo for our internal framework and for modules. We’ve released the microformat under an extremely liberal license, and with this alpha, are actively seeking feedback.\
It’s great to be involved in a product at AOL that feels so open, and with forward-thinking standards at its core. It didn’t take hours and hours of red-faced pleading to get us to create a microformat for modules instead of YATXS. It didn’t take kicking, punching and hiding bodies to get us to agree to create (as much as we can) valid, accessible pages. Of course, we don’t control what goes into modules, but we’ve set up the pages that will be saved (the current ones aren’t perfect or what’s going to be final, to be sure) will be valid XHTML, and we’re requiring that all modules are valid too.\
Oh yeah, and it’s the first public facing thing I’ve done at AOL where I was the designer and wrote almost all of the content. So, if it sucks, it’s my fault. I didn’t build the prototype, but I helped design the microformat, the server-side module process, and wrote 95% of the documentation. Hooray for flying under the radar!\
I’ll try to keep the posting about it here to a minimum. Mostly, I’ll be yakking about it over on the unofficial official blog. Come join in the fun!

Blogroll Changes

I know, you probably didn’t even know I had one, did you? But, I do, and it’s been updated. I used to use Bloglines to import it on the page, but I realized that that’s ALL I used Bloglines for, and it was a pain. So, I’m doin’ it myself now. I’m taking the OPML file exported from NetNewsWire and transforming it with XSL into the unordered list you see on the page. I’ve put more details and the files (so you can try it yourself if you want) on the blogroll.\
Is it revolutionary or even all that interesting? Nope. But, my foot hurts, the pain pills make me stupid and sleepy and this is what I do in between the extremes of the two (stupid and sleepy).\
Oh, and last night, I organized my tags and got the latest version of Cocoalicious so I can keep all my links organized (because they weren’t before, you know).\
If I can’t sleep tonight, I might play with doing something fun with my Flickr photosets or maybe something else. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just watch more bad movies.

How To Convince Your Company To Embrace Standards

Since we’re listed on the official panels list, I figure I can blog about it. Our panel got approved for SxSW Interactive next year!!\
It’s called How to Convince Your Company to Embrace Standards and should be a lot of fun. We’ve had a really interesting experience the past couple years trying to push AOL to adopt and embrace web standards. I think we have a lot of interesting information to share about how to translate the technical benefits of web standards into terms that decision makers understand, and how to build a grassroots standards movement “under the radar” without getting yourself fired or pissing off too many people (or at least the wrong people). Since AOL is the size it is, a lot of the strategies I’ve seen posted on blogs and at other conferences don’t scale. Hopefully, we’ll be able to help fill the gaps.\
We’ve lined up some really interesting folks for the panel, all with a part in the drama, and all with slightly different perspectives on the whole process:


I love feeling like I’m on the edge of something huge. I’ve felt kind of stagnant the last few months, and I think I’m finally coming out of it. I’m still frustrated by a lot of what I have to do at work, and some of the people here (ok, a lot of them). But, I think I can get around that by working on this new thing. It’s huge. It’s revolutionary for our group and what we do. It could free me and the other two engineering guys up for bigger and better things.

I’ve barely started on it other than proving that it can be done. The first round rules. It works! It doesn’t crash anything. It plays well with others and doesn’t break anything (yet). I need to add a bunch of configuration options to it and clean it up, which is the least fun part. But, once I’m done, I may never have to hear anyone say, “Can you move it two pixels over and make it blue? I’ll send you the color later today.”, ever again. Won’t that be nice?

It’s too bad I can’t tell you all what it is. It’s really cool. It’s revolutionary. It’s counter-culture intuitive. It rocks the socks off the box. It’ll make you cry out my name and beg for more. Ok, maybe not that… but it’s cool. And it’s mine.