Thursday
Apr072011

A TiddlySpace review

Next week at Osmosoft Towers we're holding a week long TiddlySpace review / planning session.  In the past we've held similar sessions but over a much shorter time period (typically an afternoon) and focused on an specific area, be it functionality or documentation.  Next week everything is up for discussion.

I thought I'd write a short post ahead of the review session, talking not so much about the specifics of what'll be covered (you can read about that here) but more around how we're approaching the review and to explain who Osmosoft are and what TiddlySpace is...

Osmosoft are a part of BT who focus on web development, specifically focusing on open source web collaboration tools.  Before their acquisition by BT in 2007 Osmosoft was solely run by Jeremy Ruston who back in 2004 had developed a product called TiddlyWiki, a personal wiki designed to be stored locally but run entirely in the web browser.  TiddlyWiki had some unique properties which at the time generated a bit of a buzz on the internet earning it a bit of a following.  When Jeremy decided to make the source code for TiddlyWiki available via a BSD license a community of users and contributors began to form.  It was an interest in open source communities that interested BT and prompted the acquisition.

Since joining BT Osmosoft have to continued to focus on the development of TiddlyWiki, TiddlyWeb and more recently TiddlySpace, as well as providing a governance and advisory role around the use of open source products in BT.  You can read more about the things that Osmosoft get up to in this presentation.

Although TiddlyWiki was designed to be be stored locally there was a growing trend of people hosting their TiddlyWiki's making them accessible to more than just themselves.  To support this work began on a server side for TiddlyWiki called TiddlyWeb.  Although TiddlyWeb was well received within the community (as well as attracting many new people) the barrier to entry for installing and maintaining it was pretty high.  A simplified way of getting TiddlyWiki's onto the web was needed, and this led to TiddlySpace.

TiddlySpace builds upon both TiddlyWiki and TiddlyWeb and both are core to its development.  It follows the same premise as TiddlyWiki and shares much of the same functionality.  The philosophy remains that information is more useful when you can get to it – sounds obvious until you think of all the information locked away in PowerPoints, PDFs and Word documents.  Information in a TiddlySpace is broken down into small chunks called Tiddlers.  Tiddlers can then be mixed and mashed together depending on how that information is to be used.  Due to the way in which the content and the presentation are separated this allows for a rich diversity of customization if the same information.

TiddlySpace is a constantly evolving project and we've been working on it for around a year.  I wouldn't want to put a badge on it, but if I was forced to I'd say we're somewhere between a beta stage and a version 1.0.  There are a number of people using TiddlySpace to great effect and we're still expanding our thoughts where TiddlySpace needs to go next.  Hence the review.

One of Osmosoft's core principles is to be transparent in everything we do – a principle shared by many successful open source projects.  Transparency includes talking in public about what we're working on but also about sharing our thoughts and allowing others to contribute to and comment on them.  With this in mind we've been collecting our pre-review thoughts over here.  This includes some discussion about what is working well, how people are using TiddlySpace but more importantly it highlights areas we feel aren't working or things which require greater attention.  By having these conversations in the open we're forced to be honest with our thoughts and this combined with the insight gained from the community outside of Osmosoft will, I believe, result in a much better end result.

Thursday
Apr072011

Apollo Ghosts: Things You Go Through

Apollo GhostsOn a warm sunny day in London there's nothing better than a bit of jangling pop to accompany you.  Well, actually that's not true. There are lots of much better things and jangling pop normally isn't for me.  But this morning as I wandered through St James's Park on the way to the office Apollo Ghosts, Things You Go Through seemed pretty much perfect listening.

Apollo Ghosts are a Vancouver based band with Adrian Teacher on vocals and guitar, Jason Oliver on bass and the awesomely named Amanda Panda on drums.  With Vancouver better known for producing punk and hardcore bands the quirky, indie pop of Apollo Ghosts is an alternative fresh sound.

Things You Go Through is taken from their 2010 album, Mount Benson.

Apollo Ghosts: Things You Go Through


If you like what you hear you can support Apollo Ghost by buying their album from their bandcamp page.

Wednesday
Apr062011

The Kills: Blood Pressures

The Kills – Blood PressuresSince their 2008 album, Midnight Boom, The Kills have been better known as part front woman for The Dead Weather and part boyfriend of model Kate Moss.  Thankfully duo Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince have maintained a similar, yet subtly different formula to their 2011 album, Blood Pressures.

Blood Pressures oozes of the same dirty, bluesy, reverberating sounds of the three previous LPs however there are definite undertones you'd assumed influenced by Mosshart's time with Jack White – most notably on album closer Pots and Pans.

Midway through the album the pace slows dramatically with Hince taking over vocal duties on Wild Charm.  Its not a bad effort but following track, DNA, takes you right back to where you want to be – Hince's thunderous guitar riffs and Mosshart purring "fate with a single blow has custard-pied me now".

One surprise track on the album is the ballad, The Last Goodbye.  Far removed from anything we've previously heard from The Kills, Mosshart subdued vocals accompanied by strings and piano ache with melancholy as she tells you "it's the last goodbye I swear, I can't survive on a halfhearted love that will never be whole".

The Kills: The Last Goodbye.


Please support the band and buy the album from iTunes or from Amazon.