FreeGuide packaging and plugins

I couldn’t sleep last night, I think because my viva for my DPhil (PhD) is coming up on Monday. Work is going to be a struggle, but at least I got a chance to think about FreeGuide.

Alex is working on a plugins system (it’s sort-of-working in CVS) that will allow us to split the grabbers out from the main program, and allow people to innovate with new plugins without delving into all the code, which is quite large and a bit messy to say the least. Both of these things are really good, especially because my own time is very limited, so allowing people to work on plugins seperately means progress can continue without me being such a bottleneck.

However, handling plugins means we need to change the way FreeGuide is packaged. I’ve had some thoughts about how to do it, and I’ve put them together into an Impress presentation (or try the PDF). I’m looking for comments on this before we finalise the system. Once it’s established it will be hard to change, so I want to try and get it right.

If there are a couple more sleepless nights we might even see FreeGuide’s 0.10.x branch going stable … Alex has a few more bugs to fix, but we’re getting there.

RSS working?

I think I’ve managed to work out a system to make RSS work. Basically I write my blog entries into a raw RSS file, and then run a little Python script to add ids, links etc. and generate an HTML page from that. It’s been a hassle to write (mainly due to timezones, which I’ve now decided to ignore) and if anyone’s interested in some highly-customisable blogging software that only requires FTP on your web host, get in touch, especially if you’re the kind of person who thinks its cool to hand-code your RSS.

Guilty Expression

Having previously been the anonymous benevolent dictator of Guilty Expression I have decided to become non-anonymous and I’ll just have to make sure what I write there is either acceptable or I’ll have to log out before I write it. Guilty Expression is a web site for people who want somewhere to express the thoughts and feelings they have about God and Christianity that they can’t express in their church (if they have one) or with people in real life.

I set up the sire after talking to several of my friends who used to be church-going Christians, but were hurt in one way or another (by their church, or by God in the sense of things happening to them) and are now almost-Christians, or ex-Christians but who still think a lot about these things and want to talk about them without being branded unsound or a heretic. A couple of these people have very genuine relationships with God, which, by their very messed-up-ness are very real, but they obviously suffer from not being part of a community. GE is supposed to provide a way back in to talking to people like them and people who feel more confident in their faith (but are very tolerant of those who aren’t).

GE is also a place for Christians to complain about their churches and the attitudes of other Christians, and other people, and almost to let off steam about things in a way that does not have very bad consequences in terms of hurting people or causing division in their church or group.

We’ve had articles written by people of lots of different ages and backgrounds (from pastors to non-Christians) on loads of topics (from anorexia to the bible to science) and lots of different viewpoints.

My excuse for writing about it on what I hope to be a mainly technical blog is that it presents an interesting challenge in terms of how to build a community. The site is supposed to be for people who are feeling disposessed and out of it, and so they’re not likely to be looking for it. The vast majority of visitors and contributors to the site are people I have told about it personally, and it has spread a little from there by word of mouth. My being anonymous has not helped, because it has made it difficult for me to spread the word through my other web presences, and that ti why I’ve decide to own up. If you have any ideas about where it might be useful to spread the word, let me know by email.

If you’re interested in GE, go to the site: and consider signing up for the mailing list to hear every now and then when a new article is published.