Alpha by Sunday night? Maybe

Cross-posted from the Particls blog.

Alpha not far away, guys – in fact thanks to the assistance of a good mate of mine (the StormWarden) who managed to crack a C# AppBar class and get the ticker docking properly. He also added to this by creating types of docks, so you can limit the docking to “Top and Bottom”, “Left and Right”, or “All Sides”. Naturally you can set visualizations to always “float”.

He has offered to extend this class so the visualization will dock to the current window with the focus, giving Chris the title bar ticker he wants SOOOOO badly.

…And now for something completely different:

Bi-Directional RSS – Something Chris and I were discussing in our deluded states last night: It occurred to me that the TouchStone outputs do not have to be restricted to the users screen. I think that the possibility of bi-directional RSS is a great idea, and it’s quite exciting because the TouchStone architecture completely accommodates this idea. TouchStone Server…might be a future side project for unilaterally dissecting, prioritizing and parsing RSS feeds and output them in a number of ways, including back into RSS. Imagine a TouchStone UI which can administer 1000’s of RSS feeds (and other content sources) and filter them for an entire household. RSS alone takes enormous bandwidth – so it would save time and resources (not to mention precious bandwidth) if a UI were developed to determine which household members want which content and using that same UI as an adapter to another TouchStone Core, on another machine. Bi-directional RSS makes this even more powerful again, allowing people to post and reply to content as it is streamed to them live.

According to Site Meter stats the average reader spends 96 seconds reading the average blog. Do our bosses know this?

Cross-posted from the Particls blog.

I know this isn’t really anything to get excited about, but I have to say that I’m really excited about us getting ranked 1 and 2 on Google. I think I really want to get ranked 1 for “rss gadget” but I guess we have to start somewhere.

BTW, TouchStone pre Alpha is running at the moment with Chris’ FeedDemon OPML file and “The Office – Email Scandal…” – apparently. 😉

I also had an argument with a person I work closely with (in the real world – as opposed to the ‘TouchStone’ world I seem to have found myself in recently) about the intrinsic value of blogs and other personalised content on the web. They were claiming that blogging is just as bad as the old days of the internet when every second person had a dodgy website made from Word saying “Under Construction” or “this is my website and i have 2 cats and a dog“.

I disagree with this. Passionately! I argued the virtues of blogging and RSS. Blogging is the long tail of publishing. And on the internet, nothing is as important as the long tail. If you think something – and write it down – then the odds are other people in the world feel the same way. It’s a way for us to connect to other people we otherwise never would/could.

I Should'a Put This In a Comment…

Cross-posted from the Particls blog.

As you would expect, I read Chris’ last post probably the moment he posted it, and while this is technically a reply to his post – I felt its simply too important to bury.The point, dear bloggers, is that RSS readers are all well and good… but nothing exists to manage your feeds when your being productive – as Chris said, when you’ve got your readers (or other apps) minimised. Having all 120 of your feeds managed and given to you in a way you can actually digest, is what we’re actually talking about.By the way, the BagItAndTagItParser class is well underway

I just did something very stupid but Chris still loves me

Cross-posted from the Particls blog.

I just opened a .vb file from another project, and upon closing the window (and subsequently not saving) I realised all too late, that Visual Studio had in fact oped the file inside the Touchstone project. You can probably guess the outcome. So off I go again, recoding the complete structure of the BagItAndTagItParser class – be assured that I wont be opening any “stray” .vb files for the rest of the day! Chris is ok with this though, because we just implimented the first ticker system and its actually reasonably functional!

It’s interesting, starting this project has opened my eyes to a whole subculture of RSS, which I was previously unaware of. I think that reading the excellent intellect of Nick (from FeedDemon) and others regarding some sort of solution to the growing ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) is inspired.
With the rapid expansion of content sources, the more ways we can think of to manage this content without hindering productivity (I am a pragmatist after all) is where we need to redouble our efforts. This is the philosophy behind Touchstone – and I’m coding as fast as I can. Aside from the heavy setback today, I should have the Bag it and Tag It Parser complete before the coding marathon tonight. If you feel inspired enough to chat with us through comments on this blog, please do – we like to feel popular.

Online again…Mostly

Cross-posted from the Particls blog.

A follow-up to my last post I have to say – I was without my precious internet for only a few days and I’m a little rugged from the experience.

It also reinforced what might happen to TouchStone if a person is offline for a while and then get their feeds updated. Could be chaos – better bring the buffer back? I’m not sure. Perhaps I should pass the buck and make sure that the UI buffers content it can’t show rather than hold up the alerts by adding buffering to the core? mmm…..shit. While Chris is partying away I’m left to make the really hard choices.

Like, should I include Ninjas or not?

He leaves ALL the hardwork for me.

Names are Important!

Cross-posted from the Particls blog.

Well.. first let me re-iterate, that i still stand by my initial feelings that our names for the three distinct areas of the Touchstone Core are appropriately and awesomely named, but I have to say…damn!

“Namespace TouchStone.Core
Public Class BagItAndTagItPaser”

It is getting very annoying to type “BagItAndTagItPaser” every time Ii need to create an instance of the class…bah!

On the other hand I have perfected the rounded form code. It’s pretty cool how VS.Net 2003 allows you to bind a form’s boundary to a defined region, but i have to admit that its not really easy to use. I found a cool little site with a bunch of useful apps – in particular, one that allows you to get the coordinates of a mouse drawn window. I had to tweak the output, but it’s great for anyone interested with the idea of non-standard window.

This brings me to the reason for my post tonight, the first OFFICIAL screenshot of the TouchStone Core GUI. I admit that it needs some tweaking, but overall, I think Chris’ plans for a simple, clean and elegant GUI are a complete success.

I think the man has to go actually. I think it needs to be replaced with the TouchStone “balls”. I estimate that the “BagItAndTagIt” Passer should be complete by Monday night. Here’s hoping I guess.

Offline…..and hating it!

Cross-posted from the Particls blog.

After a fiasco resulting in the temporary disconnection of my internet connection, I am suddenly faced with the harsh reality of being disconnected from my regular (and only source) of information.

Now it’s a true statement that im not an RSS junkie (like Chris) for the simple reason that I was grossly unhappy with the delivery of RSS feeds into my machine – or is that my life. I have tried RSS in the past, and enjoyed the simplicity, but it was full of holes, and poorly (and ugly) executed.

So as I found myself feeling more and more isolated from reality without the net, I found myself appreciating more and more the power of TouchStone.

Now….”Show me the Gadget!”


Cross-posted from the Particls blog.

Well, thanks to Chris and his intrepid suggestions, we have chosen to build v0.0.1 as the first client build for the project. The process has been very interesting. In this build we have elected to shelf the marquee for the time being and work on the far easier messengeresque style alert UI system – and the results are fantastic. The _event form spawns each time that an alert is received and it has built in functionality that enables each alert spawn to determine when and where it should appear on the screen.

Technically speaking the 0.0.1 build isn’t much at all, but its a valid proof of concept that has shaped the way the TouchStone UI will operate.

The Current List of Problems (what we are so cutely describing as the CLOP):We are having troubles with alerts overlapping each other if alerts are terminated as a new one are spawned. To combat this we have developed the TouchStone Alert Buffer – a subsystem that queues up Alerts that are unable to be displayed at the screen immediately.

Displaying alerts on any screen is going to be a problem, but for the time being, the screen is going to be divided up into “slots”. These slots will be defined by a member of a UI class called clrGlobal. The array will store which slots are filled and which are empty. Events will be launched into available slots or be moved to the buffer subsystem. The number of slots will be derived later to accommodate screens of any resolution.

Apart form this, things are actually moving far faster then I initially thought possible. More importantly though, things are fun – so it makes the journey all the more rewarding.

An Interesting Conversation

Cross-posted from the Particls blog.

블๑bourboN๑블* says:
블๑bourboN๑블* says:
u need publicity
블๑bourboN๑블* says:
like just curious, what is ur aim with touchstone ?

There is something very scary about being asked this question, so in the interest of being clear, I thought I would mention it here. I want it to be popular. I want it to be a synonymous with RSS. When people think Instant Messaging, they think MSN/ICQ/Yahoo – when people think alerts management system, I want them to think TouchStone. I want it to facilitate attention management and augment many of the awesome and popular news readers.

I want TouchStone to be one of those apps you simply have to install before your nice new ‘puter, or recently reformatted machine, feels right – the type of app that makes people wonder how they ever worked without it!It’s funny though, because the more I look for TouchStonesque RSS gadgets on the ‘net, the more I find things like this!

Just call me Big Kev

Cross-posted from the Particls blog.

I’m excited. System Tray Alert UI behaviors are well on their way and we have completed the alert buffer subsystem (and watched it work). I feel refreshed, tired, but refreshed. I found myself marching forward with new passion and determination.

Next: the audacious task of developing the custom event triggers.