Looking back

I started 2006 with a massive traffic spike when Lifehacker linked to two of my posts: how to color-code tasks in Backpackit using The Printable CEO as guide, and how to get things done faster on your phone by using Float’s Mobile Agent. Since then, my site’s traffic has tripled and certain posts have been to the front pages of Digg once and del.icio.us thrice.

I blog because I want to improve my writing. Instead of the notebook writing coaches tell you to keep for regular jottings, I keep a blog. My measure for success is simple: once in a while I’d go over old posts and see how I would have written it better. I’d spot passages that could be sharpened, details that could be clarified and grammatical errors that could be corrected.

But blogging, being the medium that it is, provides a lot of bonuses. I’ve gotten feedback, through this blog, that helped me improve my writing and technical skills. Comments have pointed me to scripts and programs related to my field of interest: content management systems. Blogging has also brought me into contact with people whom I share an interest with.

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Media Temple falters on 100% uptime promise

Media Temple, in the first days after launching its widely-hyped GridServer hosting, seemed to deliver on its grandiose 100% uptime promise. The figures I was getting in early monitoring of Media Temple uptime, and a host of other web hosting services, was tempting me to sign up with them for a project that was still at an early stage.

I’ve since changed my mind. I will be using my current web host, the dependable A Small Orange, for the new project. MediaTemple has apparently failed to sustain its 100% availability, based on my monitoring using mon.itor.us and the posts of scores of its own customers. The downtime was significant that it generated an article in Netcraft.

And even if it got good http uptime performance for several days, there were a lot of complaints regarding Media Temple’s database connections, a huge issue for those that depend on PHP/MySQL scripts, such as WordPress, to run their websites.

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New screencast on using a TiddlyWiki

I’ve recreated my earlier video guide on using a TiddlyWiki, a single-page wiki you can use for your notes and task lists. Instead of Wink, I used CamStudio to capture screen activities this time.

Wink is an easy to use free software to capture videos of your screen activities and it’s great for creating tutorials. My only problem with it is that it doesn’t offer an option to capture screen activities in video format (i.e. mpeg or avi) so that it can easily be uploaded in video sharing sites like YouTube, Metacafe, and Revver. Wink outputs the screen activities in .swf and .exe formats.

My previous screencasts– one is on how to turn any web template into a WordPress theme–are in .swf format and hosted in the Internet Archive. I’ve had complaints on its playback quality and how it can be slow at times so I decided to try hosting it other video services. These services, however, do not accept .swf files so I spent days trying one application after another to convert the files into .mpg or .avi formats to no avail.

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Using phones to capture data from whiteboards, cards, documents

I’ve been meaning to try the services of scanR for a long time but somehow I’ve been pretty successful in avoiding meetings–and those I attended didn’t use whiteboards–that I somehow forgot about it.

scanr WHITEBOARD DATA processed by scanR. Compare it with the original photograph below. Images processed by scanR are great for printing as handouts. Click on photo to enlarge.

I was finally able to try it yesterday. Metro Cebu staged a dry run yesterday of the traffic re-routing to be implemented during the Asean Summit in Cebu. As is usual with major news events, reporters and editors held a story conference to thresh out news angles, discuss gathered data, and look for issues to follow up.

Sol Amante, our managing editor for news and the writer behind Peryodistang Pinay, presided over the story conference using a whiteboard to take down notes. She was about to copy her notes on paper after the meeting when I told her I’d reprint it using scanR.

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Do you have a complaint against a Cebu newspaper? File it online

And here’s the link to the complaint form.

Our editor-in-chief, one of the driving forces behind the Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC), asked me to build the council’s website in time for the Cebu Press Freedom Week celebration in September.

CCPC website CCPC WEBSITE, as featured in a recent issue of Philippine Journalism Reports. Click on image to enlarge.

The requirements for the site were simple: the ability to post articles and reports and an easy facility to get feedback–features easily managed by my favorite open source blogging platform, WordPress.

I briefly considered using another content management system (CMS) with more advance portal features, some form of document tracking or online file repository but the person tasked with updating the site said these aren’t needed. Complaints, she said, will be handled offline.

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