Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Transhumanism RSS feeds

I'm interested in the subject of Transhumanism. I suspect that most of my fellow technologists are also interested in the concepts it embodies, even if they're unfamiliar with the term.

"Transhumanism" is a catch-all term for enhancing our abilities as human beings. It is related to Posthumanism,which is more about what human beings will transform themselves into and/or AI that we may create that will surpass our abilities.

There are plenty of blogs and online magazines on the subject, but many of them either have no RSS feed ("and you call yourself a transhumanist!").  Many others only have a feed that delivers a couple of sentences with a link, which is to my mind both hypocritical and self-defeating (it drives almost no traffic, but does irritate potential readers like me). 

I haven't found anyplace that aggregates full RSS feeds, so I made a tentative start.  Here is a Google Reader bundle.  If you see anything you really like in there, I'd suggest  that you subscribe to it in your own reader of choice - I will almost certainly change the list of blogs in here over time, including deleting some that I don't read.

As of this writing I haven't done more than skim these to see if the content looks complete.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Content is King

Recently the content team at my employer showed us a presentation about the whys, hows and challenges that they face in organizing content for our products (mainly graduate-level research applications, but some general-use software as well).

Their problems differ somewhat from what most people thing of as "content" in that they don't create the vast majority of what we publish.  Instead, the company purchases or licenses large chunks of information in various forms, and then transforms it into something that you can search and read through a web app. 

What struck me as most relevant were the challenges they face in becoming "agile".  This seems like an area ripe for a better process and cultural changes to accompany it.  It is also far more important than the software development process ("pretty" web apps may engage people up-front, but you have to have something authoritative and useful behind it if you want end-users to want to keep coming back.)

There doesn't seem to be much out there right now on the subject.  About all that I found was this PowerPoint converted to PDF that covers are few of the "whys" and "how's" at a high level.

The author seems to know the subject well, but there's only so much you can get out of a PowerPoint without a person driving it.  (I know nothing about him, but his contact information is at the bottom if you want to ask him yourself  - looks like he does consulting work.)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cross-Browser Control of the Back Button

Update:  (3/30/2010) We ended up going with an Ajax solution instead.  Although the code below works, it is really annoying in IE, since you see the page redraw twice.

Here is a very brief how-to on forcing a reload of a page when the back button is clicked.  In my current project, I needed to do this because the header portion of the screen contains some status information that could be confusing to our users if the latest updates don't show up.

We're using JBoss Portal server, which is why I put the code in two  different places.

Using JQuery, the JQuery(document).ready function handles this just fine for IE, but not at all for Firefox.  Here is the IE code, which I placed in the header jsp that appears on all portal pages:

<input type="hidden" id="refreshed" value="no">
<script type="text/javascript">
        var e=document.getElementById("refreshed");

To make it work in Firefox, I added an empty "onunload" event in the 1column theme jsp page:
  <body onunload="">

That's it!  It took quite a while for me to track down examples of both of these, so I thought I'd put everything in one place to help out others.

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