My Rental Agent Runs Linux

I guess I’ve gotten old so I’m moving out of this area and over to the outside edge of Cambridge. I had an appointment at Maven Realty the other day looking at some apartments, as I watched the agent bring up pictures from various listings I noticed his desktop was running Ubuntu. Later I asked him, “I saw you’re running Linux on your Desktop, what do you think of it?”. “Yeah, I guess. It runs Firefox just like at home…”, he said. Interesting research point.

With a couple of more tech savvy rental agencies I’ve been able to send them a map of places I’m interested in. I really like the My Maps part of Google Maps for this process. I created an area shade to show what regions I’m interested in moving to and sent that along with my other requirements so hopefully this will all be a little easier than it used to be.

View Larger Map or view it at my blog

If only they’d add to my map the places they want me to look at with pictures and descriptions attached!


Firefox Journal

What is it?

Right now it uses Firefox 3.  So you’ll have to download that and try it out.  The download is only 8 megs, so just try it out.

We’re taking advantage of Firefox’s new Places system, which is basically storing history, bookmarks, annotations, and tags in a local sqlite database.

The Journal takes over as your homepage.  What?  You read that a homepage isn’t useful? Yes, well this isn’t a “homepage”, it’s a journal and according to wikipedia a journal is a daily record of events or business.

Go, read the Firefox Journal wiki page.  The instructions are easy: download, run, grab the extension, and you’re done!

What is the Journal doing?

We have lots of plans for the Journal, but lets start with the basics.


The Journal rewrites history!  For the better of course, that’s the only reason anyone would rewrite history… The Journal tries to write your history to you like you’d want to read it.  It’s trying to change what you do into an adventure instead of a log, as if Theodore Roosevelt was writing for your browsing history.

For example, my browsing history might look like this:

Theodore Roosevelt – Google Search
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Battle of San Juan Hill
Battle of San Juan Hill

When it could look like this:

Searched for: Theodore Roosevelt
Found: Theodore Roosevelt
Fought in the: Theodore Roosevelt » War In Cuba
Fought at the: Battle of San Juan Hill
Charged up the: Battle of San Juan Hill » Kettle Hill

Obviously, I’m adding actions to the history that are fictitious but still quite possible.  By understanding URLs and websites the Journal can optimize the view of your history; shorten URLs, improve titles, remove useless URLs.

Look at your current browser history

Go ahead right now and open up your browsers history.  Ctrl-H is usually the access key assigned to your browsers history.  Firefox will open up a sidebar with folders for different time periods and a small search.  Epiphany does a much better job with a separate window for looking at your history and some grouping by host name is helpful, much better than the grouping by date that Firefox does.

However any of the current systems are only logging your history, and for what?  How often do you use that log?  Probably not very often and I think that’s because it’s not actually written for you to use.  Well we’re changing that, by writing the history in a way that’s useful for you to use.

Getting those links back

I’ve been using the Journal now for about 2 weeks and I was able to write this entire blog entry without hitting the network once.  All the links I needed were available from the Journal’s view of my history.  The search uses the internal Firefox search methods so it’s quite good at using multiple terms and finding the right thing.

So check out the code and try out the Journal.  Next up are other enhancements of the history, making it active with site information via RSS, grabbing microformats to save addresses and phone numbers.