Thursday, November 22, 2007

My first OpenSearch plugin

Well, yesterday I crawed out of my cave and discovered OpenSearch, the XML-based description format for search engines. Both Firefox 2 and IE 7 can import search engine settings from OpenSearch description files and add the search engine to their respective search bars. In fact, there are already description files for just about every search engine you can think of.

There is a great guide to writing your own OpenSearch description and how to link to the description file such that Firefox or IE automatically discover it. The specification is relatively straightforward so, excited, I decided to whip up an OpenSearch plugin for Kelly & Cristin's Wine Reviews.

I only encountered two obstacles:
  1. Getting an icon for my search plugin. I didn't already have a shortcut icon for my site that I could simply re-use, so I had to first make an icon.
  2. I typed the XML document by hand; I left out the final slash in the OpenSearch XML namespace declaration. Firefox will not recognize the file as an OpenSearch document unless the namespace is exactly right. This should have been quick to diagnose except that Firefox gives you no error message to aid in debugging - it simply refuses to load the file.

The text of my OpenSearch description is here. But if you visit the web site using Firefox 2.0 or later, you'll notice that icon next to your search bar gets a blue highlight; if you click on the icon, you'll see an option to add my Wine Review search to your search bar.

Anyway, without the half hour it took to figure out why Firefox wouldn't recognize my OpenSearch plugin, it would have only taken a few minutes to add a search plugin and plugin auto-detection code (one link tag in the HTML head) to my web site. I don't seriously expect anyone to want to be able to search my silly wine review site from their browser search bar, but certainly was neat to be able to add it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Back on-line

This is just a quick note to mention that I finally got my Internet access hooked up this past weekend. After picking up a 100V power supply in Akihabara, my little Soekris 4801 is back up and serving the domain again.

I'm still getting settled into my new routine at work, but I hope to have time to start regularly writing posts again soon...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Unix storage solution

I've been lax in updating my blog lately, mainly due to lack of Internet access at my apartment since we've moved to Tokyo. It is nice and all that I have a variety of high-speed Internet service providers to choose from, but it would be really great if any of them could actually hook up my service is less than a month. :(

Anyway, until I get my own Internet service, I've been "borrowing" access via an open AP with a signal just strong enough that I can associate if I stand right next to my window. Sitting is no good; I have to have the laptop pretty high in the air to get a signal. As you can imagine, I've been reluctant to get on the Internet any more than I have to.

That said, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share a surprising Unix storage solution I discovered today. Actually, my wife picked it up unintentionally while shopping at the Don Quixote across the street...

I kid you not, these are cheap little plastic refrigerator storage boxes. I couldn't believe my eyes when she showed them to me. Now if I could only find ones that said "FreeBSD" and "Linux" I'd be set on souvenirs the next time I go back to the U.S.