Radio is Complicated

I’m beginning to get the hang of Radio, I think. I wanted to move my IT blog to Radio from BloggerPro, not because I don’t like Blogger (I do like it, very much, and am still using Blogger for my Digital Medievalist blog), but because Radio has some intriguing features.

The Categories option in Radio in particular appealed to me. It strikes me as useful for readers interested in reading about a particular subject, or find resources they knew they read about at some point.

I’ve found the help written by other users to be invaluable, since there’s no help, or decent documentation from Userland, the Radio developer. I’ve used user help in tandem with the Radio documentation, but I’ve especially appreciated the helpful tutorials written by Jenny, the Shifted Librarian. Her Radio tutorials are here. The UserLand documentation, and invisible (or rather, hostile) user support are pretty awful, so I’ve been grateful for other users’ help.

Moving from Blogger to Radio

Thanks to Lawrence Lee, Robert Occhialini and Aaron Cope, there are instructions and a script to download and run that allows you to import xml formatted blog entries from Movable Type and Blogger into Radio. You can read all about it here.

I had to import the xml file three times before the imported entries worked correctly, and even then there were some problems, but I think they are resolvable. It’s very very important that your system data and time, and the time and date setting in Blgger (or BloggerPro) are exactly as described MMDDYYYYHHMMSS. In my case that meant changing my Mac to use leading zeros. When I tried to import the xml file without the leading zeros setting, the dates were bizarre, ranging from 1904, to 2052.

Then, after getting the imported entries dates to display properly, and after telling Radio to republish the entire site, some of the past entries didn’t show from the public Home page; users got an error.

I was able to get most of the past entries to display by hand editing and republishing them—I wanted to use Radio’s Categories anyway, so I didn’t mind. But some entries are still not displaying properly. By now, I know it’s too much to hope for support directly from Userland.

Distinctions

Dave Winer uses analogy to distinguish Frontier, the environment (framework?) Manilla runs on, from Radio. He writes:

Frontier is our mainframe. It’s centralized. It includes Manila, a deep and powerful browser-based content management system. Where Radio is designed for individuals, Frontier is designed for communities and organizations, workgroups—groups of people.

I think that’s key. But it also seems to me that an organization running Frontier/Manilla might still want to license Radio for its end users.

I’m still struggling to grasp Radio. It’s so enormously powerful, with so much potential that I find it slippery.

Userland Radio and Blogger Pro

Interesting article at Byte by John Udall on Userland’s Radio 8.0.5. He does a better job of differentiating Radio from Blogger and other tools than anything else I’ve seen. I’m thus far unimpressed with user support at Userland; I’ve found places where the documentation, such as it is, is just wrong, as well as numerous instances where Windows information has been left intact in the Mac version of the software; that’s pretty unprofessional. And they don’t respond to user help requests, even though I’m registered and sent very specific information.

Yet More Blogs—And some Perls

So in my frenzied selfless search for blog tools, in between writing my dissertation, I took a look at Radio Userland. Cool. I think. Yeah, cool, but I think it’s more than it seems. It lets you automatically fetch “headlines” from a list of sites. I chose to look at O’Reilly’s Perl.com, and found a link to an article on the perils of Perl for the unwary, specifically, finding and downloading .CGIs. There’s a nifty checklist of things to watch out for, worth knowing about. Part of the article is a plug for .nms, a SourceForge project, as a source for solid Perl scripts, but it is nonetheless interesting.