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Tag: foaf

working archive plugin, please!

Over the last two weeks Ive ported all old neverendingbooks-post from the last 4 years to a nearly readable format. Some tiny problems remain : a few TeX-heavy old posts are still in $…$ format rather than LaTeXrender-compatible (but Ill fix this soon), a few links may turn out to be dead (still have to check out those), TheLibrary-project links do not exist at the moment (have to decide whether to revive the project or to start a similar idea afresh), some other techie-things such as FoaF-stuff will be updated/expanded soon, et. etc. (and still have to port some 20 odd posts).

Anyway, the good news being that we went from about 40 posts since last july to over 310 posts, all open to the internal Search engine. Having all this stuff online is only useful if one can browse through it easily, so I wanted to install a proper up-to-date archive-plugin…

The current theme Redoable has build-in support for the Extended Live Archives v0.10beta-r18 plugin which would be ideal if I could get it installed… Im not the total newbie in installing WordPress-plugins and Ive read all the documentation and the support-forum and chmodded whathever I felt like chmodding, but still no success… If you know how to kick it into caching the necessary files, please drop a comment!

The next alternative Ive tried was the AWSOM Archive Version 1.2.3 plugin which gave me a pull-down menu just under the title-bar but not much seems to happen when using bloody Safari (Flock was OK though). Maybe Ill give it another go…

UPDATE (jan. 9th) : The AWSOM Archive seems to be working fine with the Redoable theme when custom installed in the footer. So, there is now a pulldown-menu at the bottom of the page.

**UPDATE (jan. 12th) : Ive installed the new version 1.3 of AWSOM Archive and it works from the default position **

At a loss I opted in the end for the simplest (though not the most aesthetic) plugin : Justin Blanton’s Smart Archives. This provides a year-month scheme at the top followed by a reverse ordered list of all months and titles of posts and is available as the arXiv neverendingbooks link available also from the sidebar (up, second link). I hope it will help you not to get too lost on this site…

Suggestions for a working-from-the-box WordPress Archive plugin, anyone???


get your brain subscribed to

In the
to my brain’ post
I promised to blog on how-to get your own

button up and running on your homepage. It seems rather unlikely
that I’ll ever keep that promise if I don’t do it right away. So, here
we go for a quick tour :

step 1 : set up a rudimentary
: read the FoaF post if
you dont know what it’s all about. The easiest way to get a simple
FoaF-file of your own is to go to the FoaF-a-matic
and fill in the details you feel like broadcasting over the
web, crucial is your name and email information (for later use) but
clearly the more details you fill out and the more Friends you add the
more useful your file becomes. Click on the ‘foaf-me’ button and
copy the content created. Observe that there is no sign of my email
adress, it is encrypted in the _mbox_sha1sum_ data. Give this
file a name like _foaf.rdf_ or _myname.rdf_ and put it on
your webserver to make it accessible. Also copy your
_mbox_sha1sum_ info for later smushing.

step 2 : subscribe to online services and modify your
online-life accordingly
: probably you have already a few of
these accounts, but if not, take a free subscription just for fun and
(hopefully) later usage to the following sites :

  • a social bookmarks manager
  • citeUlike a service to
    organise your academic papers
  • connotea a reference management
    service for scientists
  • bloglines a web-based personal news
  • 43things a
    ‘What do you want to do with your life?’ service
  • audioscrobbler a database that
    tracks listening habits and does wonderful things with statistics
  • backpackit a ‘be better organized’ service (Update october 2017 : Tom Howard emails: “I thought I’d reach out because we’ve just updated our guide which reviews the best alternatives to Backpack. Here’s the link
  • flickr an online photo management and
    sharing application
  • technorati a Google-for-weblogs
  • upcoming a social event
  • webjay a playlist

So far, I’m addicted to and use
citeUlike but hardly any of the others (but I may come back to this
later). The great thing about these services is that you get more
value-information back if you feed more into the system. For example, if
you use as your ‘public’ bookmarks-file you get to
know how many other people have bookmarked the same site and you can
access their full bookmarks which often is a far more sensible way to
get at the information you are after than mindless Googling. So, whereas
I was at first a bit opposed to the exhibisionist-character of these
services (after all, anyone with web-access can have a look at
‘your’ info), I’ve learned that the ‘social’ feature of
these services can be beneficial to get the right information I want.
Hence, the hardest part is not to get an account with these services but
to adopt your surfing behavior in such a way that you maximize this
added value. And, as I mentioned before, I’m doing badly myself but hope
that things will improve…

step 3 : turn these
accounts into an OPML file
: Knowing the URL of your foaf-file
and sha1-info (step 1) and your online accounts, go to the FOAF Online Account
Description Generator
and feed it with your data. You will then get
another foaf-file back (save the source in a file such as
_accounts.rdf_ and put it on your webserver). Read the Lost Boy’s
posts Subscribe to my
and foaf:
OnlineAccount Generator
for more background info. Then, use the SubscribeToMyBrain-
to get an OPML-file out of the account.rdf file and your sha1.
Save the source as _mybrain.opml_.

step 4 :
add/delete information you want
: The above method uses generic
schemes to deduce relevant RSS-data from an account name, which works
for some services, but doesn’t for all. So, if you happen to know the
URL of RSS-feeds for one of these services, you can always add it
manually to the OPML-file (or delete data you don’t want to
publish…). My own attitude is to make all public web-data
available and to leave it to the subscriber to unsubscribe those parts
of my brain (s)he is not interested in. I know there are people whoo are
mainly interested to find out whether I put another paper online, would
tolerate some weblog-posts but have no interest in my musical tast,
whereas there are others who would like me to post more on 43things,
flickr or upcoming and don’t give a damn about my mathematics…
Apart from these online subscriptions, it is also a good idea to include
additional RSS-feeds you produce, such as those of your weblog or use my
to have your own arXiv-feeds.

step 5 : make
your ‘subscribe to my brain’-button
: Now, put the
OPML-file on your webserver, put the button

on your
homepage and link it to the file. Also, add information on your site,
similar to the one I gave in my own
subscription post
so that your readers know what to do when do want
to subscribe to (parts of) your brain. Finally, (and optionally though
I’d wellcome it) send me an email with your URL so that I can subscribe
(next time you’re in Antwerp I’ll buy you a beer) and for the first few
who do so and are working in noncommutative geometry and/or
noncommutative algebra, I’ll send a copy of a neverending book. Mind
you, this doesn’t apply to local people, I’m already subscribed to their
brain on a daily basis…

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Meyers-Briggs INTJ

Freewheeling on your interests may lead to interesting discoveries.
Today I wanted to add some meat to my FoaF file and discovered in the
vocabulary the foaf:meyersBriggs

The foaf:myersBriggs property represents the
Myers Briggs (MBTI) approach to personality taxonomy. It is included in
FOAF as an example of a property that takes certain constrained values,
and to give some additional detail to the FOAF files of those who choose
to include it. The foaf:myersBriggs property applies only to the
foaf:Person class; wherever you see it, you can infer it is being
applied to a person.
The foaf:myersBriggs property is interesting
in that it illustrates how FOAF can serve as a carrier for various kinds
of information, without necessarily being commited to any associated
worldview. Not everyone will find myersBriggs (or star signs, or blood
types, or the four humours) a useful perspective on human behaviour and
personality. The inclusion of a Myers Briggs property doesn’t indicate
that FOAF endorses the underlying theory, any more than the existence of
foaf:weblog is an endorsement of soapboxes.

Okay, but
how to determine your MB-type (after all there are just 16 such types)?
Clearly, you can consult the official Myers-Briggs page. You
can also follow the online Test,
but by far the quickest way to determine your type is to look up the Myers-Briggs
. One makes four choices between 2 options (pretty obvious, at
least to me). In a few seconds it was clear to me that I had to be an
INTJ-personality. But, what does this mean? There is an excellent
page The
Personality Type Portraits
explaining what kind of information is
contained in your MB-type : ISTJ – The Duty Fulfillers
The Guardians
ISFJ – The Nurturers
ESFJ – The Caregivers
ISTP – The Mechanics
ESTP – The Doers
ESFP – The
ISFP – The Artists
ENTJ – The Executives
INTJ – The Scientists
ENTP – The Visionaries
INTP – The
ENFJ – The Givers
INFJ – The Protectors
– The Inspirers
INFP – The Idealists
This may look like a
self-fulfilling phrophecy but I swear I didn’t know any of these types
before. Still, let’s have a look how a typical INTJ is
supposed to interact with others

Other people may have a
difficult time understanding an INTJ. They may see them as aloof and
reserved. Indeed, the INTJ is not overly demonstrative of their
affections, and is likely to not give as much praise or positive support
as others may need or desire. That doesn’t mean that he or she doesn’t
truly have affection or regard for others, they simply do not typically
feel the need to express it.

sounds familiar? Another

When under a great deal of stress, the INTJ
may become obsessed with mindless repetitive, Sensate activities, such
as over-drinking. They may also tend to become absorbed with minutia and
details that they would not normally consider important to their overall

Fortunately, I ended up with a common career for
my MB-type…

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added to MyBrain : arXiv

Clearly, someone who
subscribed to your brain
shouldn’t have to check the arXiv every morning only to find out
that you still haven’t posted _the_ paper s(h)e is expecting of
you, based on your recent BrainActivity…

So why not
package this into your Brain subscription? It is easy enough to get all
posts by a specific author from the archive but, unfortunately, the
arXiv doesn’t provide RSS-feeds of this information (at least, not to my
knowledge). Still, it is possible to fix this with a tiny

So copy the code and adjust it replacing MyInfo
by Yours (or sligthly safer, get the
file as I had to add a few spaces to get it un-parsed) and safe it
somewhere on your system.

So how to put this to use? Btw. I know
that all of you know this by heart and that I may have given you the
(false, i swear) illusion to be fairly knowledgeable writing a
Perl-script in half an hour, but believe me, in two months (and sooner
when it’s up to me) I will have completely eradicated all this
techie-stuff from MyBrain. Then, it will take me infinitely longer to
remember/reconstruct things than it will take me now to blog this here,
so please either bear with me or go somewhere more interesting.

You’d better have Perl installed on your system, but then you have to
install extra modules from CPAN the
Comprehensive Perl Archive Network (this is to Perl what CTAN is to TeX for the mathematicians
among us). That’s pretty easy if you remember the correct commands. The
generic way to do this is by firing up your Terminal and typing things

 iBookLieven:~ lieven$ sudo perl -MCPAN -e shell
Password:  cpan shell -- CPAN exploration and modules installation
(v1.83) ReadLine support enabled  cpan> install Template::Extract

and similarly for the other modules you’ll need,
LWP::Simple and XML::RSS. You may be asked questions but just go for the
default. If something goes wrong and you get a message that the module
failed to install, you have to go for a manual override…

Go to CPAN and do a search on the module’s name. You’ll
be given a list op files to download, go for the one you need and
download the souce somewhere. Then, again in Terminal do the following

  • cd to the downloaded and extracted directory
  • perl Makefile.PL
  • make
  • make test
  • sudo make install

Even if the test fails with
certain errors, just go ahead (it will not matter for the trivial uses
we have for these modules) and the last command is Mac OSX only (I’m
pretty certain that Linux-fanatics know what to do instead and for
Windows-diehards, well….).

Having all modules installed
you can execute the file with


(assuming you created the Directory in which the program
is supposed to safe the arxivXXX.rdf file and assuming you made it
writable). That’s it. You now have your own RSS feeds of all your papers
on the arXiv which you should make for of YourBrain subscription).

Just one more thing you should do. Make this a cron
. Check at what local time the arXiv puts online the new papers
of the day (assume it is 3am) then do a sudo crontab -e
and then add a line to the file as

5 3 * * Mon-Fri perl

and your subscribers will
only have to wait 5 minutes to know whether you did it…(or not).
You can check it out either by subscribing to MyBrain or subscribing to

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subscribe to my brain

rather, I’d like to subscribe to your brain! But I figure you’d allow
this (at best) only on a ‘share-alike’ basis so let me take the first
step. Maybe you already have your newsaggregator pointed to this
weblog, but what if you could be able to follow all traces I leave on
the web (or at least those you feel like following)? It’s a great idea
which started off with a couple of posts. Like John Resig’s Life as RSS

A little while ago I began to realize just how much of my personal
information is digitally created every day. This is both scary and
enticing (to me). Scary, due to the fact that people can harness this
information for evil/marketing. Enticing because I should be able to
(theoretically) harness this information to provide a better user
experience for the people who care (me and my friends, I assume). So,
the other day I sat down and tried to figure out every accessible data
medium that I generate and have access to.
… My masterplan:
Essentially, an RSS aggregator (makes sense, nothing special) that pulls
all of my personal RSS feeds into one place and provides an overall
statistical view of the information that it contains. I may even provide
some detailed information, save for things in the ‘Personal’ category.
What I like about this is the fact that most of this information is
completely public (or is possible to make completely public) – they’re
all using common/widely available programs or tools. So, stage one: Set
up a personal life browser – stage two: Open it up for the world to play

soon to be followed upp by Lost Boy’s My Life in
and continued by Louche Cannon I want to subscribe
to your brain

The other day I was talking to a former
colleague and I was trying to explain how I have gradually switched to
using an assortment of social content tools as my primary mechanism for
finding relevant and authoritative information on the web. With these
tools, I can subscribe to an assortment of RSS feeds produced by people
who I trust and think of as authorities in their respective subjects. In
short, I said, “I can subscribe to their brains”.
Or at least I
can in theory! At the moment, for those of non-geekly tendencies, the
practicalities of “subscribing to somebody’s brain” are a little
daunting. If you have an RSS-aware browser or have installed one of the
useful bookmarklets provided by the likes of bloglines, then subscribing
to individual RSS feeds is relatively easy. The problem is that I might
be interested subscribing to:
– What person X is blogging
– What person X is bookmarking- on several social bookmarking sites
(e.g., CiteULike, Furl)
– What person X is listening
to (e.g. AudioScrobbler)
– What person X is taking pictures of
(e.g. Flickr)
– What person X’s travel schedule is (e.g. iCal)

– What books X is reading or planning on reading (e.g. Amazon
wish lists)
The first problem is finding out what feeds person
X provides. Most of the time you have to ask them, or search through the
individual services for the person’s name. If you are dealing with a
relatively clued-in person, you might be lucky enough to find links to
their various feeds off of their home page or in the margins of their
blogs. If you are dealing with an uber-geek, then you might find this
information encoded in their FOAF file. All that seems to be missing is
the button titled “Subscribe to X’s Brain”.

While it is
still a Work In Progress (and will continue to be for some time as I’d
like to get used to the idea and explore its possibilities) you’ll find
a button to ‘subscribe to my brain’ on the buttom left. Look out for
this :
Click on it and you’ll stare at a text-file. Save it to your desktop,
fire up your Newsaggregator (which I assume is something like NetNewsWire ). Look under
‘File’ for ‘Import Subscriptions’ and open the saved
BrainLeBruynL.opml-file. It will make a folder with name the present
date&time but you can always rename the folder to something like
‘Lieven’s brain’… Then you will look at something like
will give you a pretty good idea of what I was upto just now (posting a
few references on Cuntz and Berest to CiteULike while listening to Rebekka Bakken via iTunes. If
you’ll open up the folder you get an even clearer picture which tells
you that since last time I’ve posted three new references to CiteULike,I
listened to at least 10 new songs (Audioscrobbler only remember the last
10 ones) and that there is one new post here! You can also check on my
recent bookmarks at and over the next few weeks you may also
detect activity in a few other places (and I may add an arXiv scraper
just in case you think I’m not posting there anymore). Clearly, it is
up to you to unsubscribe to those regions of my brain you don’t care to
follow but the overall picture may give you a pretty accurate picture of
my present ‘state of mind’. In the coming posts I’ll take you through
the process of setting up a ‘subscribe to my brain’ for yourself and
I’ll explore (for myself) some of the possible uses of this scheme. The
ultmate aim being to see buttons like appear on
your site as well!



about work done behind the curtains, here another tiny addition to this
site. If you ever looked at the source of this page, you will notice
that as of today there is one line added near the end of the

< link rel="meta"
type="application/rdf+xml" title="FOAF" / >

which will point
spiders and suitable aggregators to the (first installment of) my own
_foaf-file_. According to the Friends of a Friend (FOAF)
its intended purpose is

FOAF is a way to
describe people and relationships to computers. FOAF stands for Friend
Of A Friend. Technically, it is an RDF/XML Semantic Web vocabulary.
Because of this, FOAF data is easy to process and merge.
pages typically say things such as:
“My name
“I work for…”
interested in…”
“I live near…”
“My blog is…”
“I write in this
“You can see me in this
FOAF is a way to say all those things, but
so that computers can interpret it. Computers can’t understand English
yet, so we have to be a little more precise in how we say these things.
FOAF is a way of saying these things for computers.
What would
computers do with this information? We experiment all the time, but here
are some questions that computers can answer using FOAF data:

“Show me pictures of bloggers interested in (foo) who live near
“Show me recent articles written by people at
this meeting.”
“Is this person vegetarian?”
FOAF is a SemanticWeb project. The Semantic Web is an effort to make
it easier for computers to get useful information from the Internet.

Sounds intruiging doesn’t it? But how do they go about
realizing some of this? Well, by encoding all relevant information which
you are willing to share about yourself, people you know, your work etc.
in an RDF (Resource Description
file. The source file can be bit scary at first but
fortunetely you do not have to type these tags yourself. To begin with
your own core-FoaF file, you can use the excellent on-line foaf-a-matic or
the Java-desktop version foaf-a-matic mark
2 beta-2
. Just fill out the data you want to include and these
programs will turn this info into proper FoaF-code. There is one
important thing to consider. These two programs allow you to keep
email-data out of the FoaF-file (for obvious spam-reasons). However, the
whole FoaF-strategy is based on linking various FoaF-files together into
one semantic net and for this reason one has to be able to identify a
person which may occur in different FoaF-files under different nicks or
slightly different names. FoaF takes as its Unique Person Identifier the
email address, so removing this data from your file makes it entirely
useless. Fortunately, the FoaF-community came up with an alternative
keeping the email-address as the UPI but scrambling it to make it
useless to spam-bots. That is the whole purpose of tags such as

 mbox_sha1sum ac5cefa7e1e7df92f7257ea663dfd06a4a4be212

which gives the result of applying the _SHA1_
function to a ‘mailto:’ address. I haven’t checked the online
foaf-a-matic, but the desktop version manages to give the sha1 of your
own email address, but doesn’t give those of the people you know. So, I
had to use the online sha1
and paste the result into the file. Still, all of this
is just scratching the surface. Later on, I will extend my FoaF-file by
adding more people, together with additional information about them and
myself. To get an idea of what information you can encode have a look at
the FOAF Vocabulary
. You can at all times check on the progress looking at
the source file reference. This last bit was achieved by the FoaF header plugin
for WordPress

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