Laconica – OpenSource microBlogging

I had fun today adding a microBlog to this site at /laconica/. It is called Laconica and is the basis for identi.ca which is an alternative to Twitter which I have mentioned in earlier posts.

A microblog, for those not familiar with Twitter, is a place to leave short messages for friends and followers to read. Twitter and Laconica have a 140 character limitation, something I find a bit frustrating at times but *shrug* They are trying to allow SMS (cell phone texting) compatibility. Since I totally and wholly object to SMS due to the phone companies outrageous pricing, the compatibility to SMS for a microblog is irrelevant to me. I guess that is why I like Pownce!

Anyway, Laconica has several very nice features. First, it is open source which mean anyone can set up a microblog using its code. It can even be modified for specialized usage. Companies which would like to set up an internal microblog for its employees can set up this code on one of their servers locked down so only their employees can use it.

Second nice feature is the potential (not sure how well it actually works yet) for people who sign-up on one Laconica based microblog (or any other code that implements OpenMicroblogging) can follow people on other OpenMicroblogging based microBlogs. This means that different specialized microblogs can be setup but allow people to follow people on each one without having to sign-up for each one and flit about from one to the other.

Another nice feature is its use of OpenID. This is a mechanism that was set up so that you can sign-up once with an OpenID provider and use it to log into any site using OpenID. Makes it much easier to sign up for different web sites. Yahoo has an OpenID implementation that I have been using. There are many others out there as well.

Feel free to play with my installation but I can’t guarantee I will maintain it well at this point. I personally have become rather disenchanted by microBlogging.  There just is too much noise and not enough good stuff on them. I do see that Laconica can maybe change that with very specialized microblogs oriented around specific topics.

I found the installation Laconica somewhat straight forward but only because I followed the instructions found on 0xDECAFBAD. Even then there were a couple issues.

First, he mentions a file named dataobject.ini which apparently you don’t need anymore. I spent a bunch of time looking for that file but decided that the configuration was now in the config.php file. No biggie. After a couple other minor configuration issues that I just had to get right, I had the microblog working with one major minor problem.

I was getting a php error that indicated a variable was attempted to be used but wasn’t defined in a function. I went in and modified the code, adding the line $language = common_language(); in the appropriate place and it all worked. Now I am pretty certain that is a serious kluge to get my installation working and not something others will experience. I have looked through the bug reports and discussions and haven’t seen anyone else mention it so something with my setup. No biggie. I believe that since Laconica is still early beta, it will get a lot easier to install and many nifty keen features added.

Have fun!

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