Articles by Ben Roberts

As today is hack day at #IndieWebCampUK I have decided it is finally time to start testing out syndicating all my longer posts to FaceBook. 

Starting last week I began having my site cross post all my quick notes to twitter.  These notes will hopefully be small and get posted often.  I don't want to flood everyone's FaceBook feed, so I won't do all of those, but I will share any longer ones.

What the hell am I talking about? Well its pretty cool.  I make a post on my site, it sends a message to a and where I already signed up and gave it access to twitter and facebook.  Next, it will automatically post to those sites and include a link back to the original post (you can turn that off).  Okay, thats a little neat, but here's where it gets really interesting.  It will continue to watch the posts it made on my behalf on facebook and twitter.  If anyone likes/favorites, comments/replys, it will pass that information back to my site so I can display it on my page.  Any response from twitter or facebook will all be in one place.  I will eventually do this to Google+ as well, but there I have to make the post manually.

A big thanks to the gang at for making this all possible.  They are really figuring out a new way for the web to work.

Also note, I know the site needs a lot of graphical work.  Give me a break, I'm not a designer.  I'll be updating it slowly as I have time.


So you may notice development picking up again.  I finally said "to hell with windows" and put Linux on my laptop.  Now first, a little background.

I pretty much exclusively use Linux.  My home computer is Funtoo Linux (a more up to the minute variant of Gentoo).  And my work computer is Ubuntu (I would have used Gentoo or Funtoo as well if it weren't that I was already installed for me).  So why did I have a Windows laptop?  Well a few years back I started a consulting job and screen sharing in to some ridiculous machine on the other side of the country basically requiring a Windows machine with a large screen.  Thus I came to own this beast of a laptop.  As a side note, I hope I never have to deal with Microsoft Sharepoint EVER AGAIN.

Two years ago I stopped that consulting job and since then this laptop has basically sat unused.  It did however come in handy whenever I just needed a Windows machine.  Minor things usually, but over the last few months that has dwindled off to almost nothing.  So I decided that since I really don't want to deal with rebuilding everything on a laptop, I'd just go with something simple.  I set aside several hours for install and set up the new system.  My impression of the whole process was "WOW. They have made this easy now!"  The install was fast and painless.  It knew I was installing on a laptop.  It connected to my wifi and waited asked me if I wanted to just do all the system updates as it installed.  It even knew that I had a Windows 7 installed and asked exactly what it wanted me to do with it.  Now, to be honest, I did cheat a little.  I did not use a CD and instead just DD'd the image on to my flash drive.  So there was no lag at all in the install.  By the time the few hours were up I had just about everything set up, more or less how I wanted it.

So that takes us back to now and a laptop has basically become my IndieWebComp-uter.

So now that I have a development platform, I have a laundry list of items to get through in the code.

Obviously the site needs some design work.  I think I'm just going to go back to the method I had originally planned and will just have two streams on the home page, The first will have images and notes only and will be on the left.  The right side will be larger and designed for longer form posts.  Future types will have to just be classified to either side.  But all that falls under templates.  I certainly welcome any contributions on that front.

Next I do plan to do a ton of work on the administration pages for openblog.  This work somewhat depresses me since its all work that won't really be seem by site users, but it really needs to be all sorted out.

I finally have some free time again and it is taking the form of some template updates.

While sempress worked for a quick solution (and I am still using a number of elements of it), I really need something new.  So I have begun work on a new layout.  Its not quite going to work the way I had originally imagined it, but I believe that it will suffice for now.


More to come soon now that I'm out of the weeds of my last project.


My decent into the Indieweb continues...

I have been working as I can to keep adding new features to OpenBlog.  And I have to say, I am pretty proud of what I have done thus far. '

New features now include having Notes, showing mentions of my posts and notes, and just recently I have finally started adding the ability to actually send webmentions.  Now the question is.  What to work on next.

Here is the current list

  • clean up admin controls - This will be necessary at some point since I want to have this responsive enough to work on my phone.  Posting a quick note from mobile would be great.  Currently many of the controls don't even work.
  • fix the design - I am no artist, but I clearly know this site needs a lot of work.  The header could certainly use fixing and comment display is not pretty.   I also have a lot to learn to make sure all my microformats markup is correct.
  • Syndicate to Silos - I want to at least syndicate to 1 location as a test, but really I feel this should wait until my site looks halfway decent. (see previous entry)
  • indieAuth - I'd like to be able to have friends easily able to log in with indieAuth to my site and from there get my personal info and get access to anything extra I add (private photos, etc.)  This could be pretty essential for some of the things I want to really get to work on.
  • Contacts List - I want to have a page the gets populated from friend's sites that is my list of contacts and info.  Personal access only, and a mobile design.  Basically start to implement Tantek's Mobile Communication Ideas.  This would mean translating my current address book in (probably just some csv import so I have a start point too).
  • Anything else you can suggest.

What do you guys think I should work on next?

As of today, I have webmention working on my site. What does webmention mean? Well start by checking out IndieWebCamp. Its basically a system for people to like and comment on my posts by simply making posts on their site and sending me some notice of it.

I have a lot of work ahead of me still. I want to be able to send out these types of posts, and I don't even really have any admin interface for my site. I am typing this right now straight in to the database. Yes, I'm just that cool.

Actually, I just noticed regular mentions aren't noted anywhere. I shall have to fix that.

A second post. I am in the midst of building my entire site from scratch.

I say from scratch but in reality I am actually ripping apart opencart to build on their basic MVC structure. Hopefully I will have this in github by the end of the day. If not, next week.

As of today I am finally setting up my personal site. I have only owned this URL and hosting for it for about a year and thus far had only used it to be my email address.

So what is it that lit a fire under me? IndieWebCamp and IndieAuth. I’ll be working on some new ideas I have for how we could get people to host their own contact info. It could be quite nice. Perhaps working with other sites like to follow an open standard.

That would be amazing. Anyway, back to work.