Nice work if you can get it: Ella sings and WordPress blings

I took the plunge. This blog, as well as a host of other sites I run using WordPress, is now using the latest release of the popular open source blogging software: WordPress 2.1 “Ella,” named after the great Ella Fitzgerald, one of my favorite singers.

I did not encounter errors in the upgrading process, which took less than an hour for all the blogs I oversee. I am, to continue with the Ella theme, in the mood for “making whoopee.”

Major upgrades, like WordPress 2.1, are not to be taken lightly. I botched a major Serendipity upgrade oh so many years back (my fault) and lost at least 50 blog posts. On hindsight, though, the posts are better off in digital limbo.

WordPress update CPANEL FEATURE. Cpanel allows you to upload a packaged file (i.e. zip, tar) and then uncompress this using a point and click interface. This saved me time in uploading new WordPress files while upgrading several blogs I run. Click on image to view larger version.

Unlike security releases, which I implement as soon as I read about them, I usually take days to upgrade to a feature release. This gives me time to read about problems of others who took the plunge earlier. The major cause for worry with the latest WordPress version is the compatibility of plugins for your website blings.
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Manage your tasks with Accomplice

The recent Internet connectivity problem in the Philippines has allowed me to try several software packages in an attempt to replicate the task management that I do online. Before the connectivity problems, I managed all my tasks (personal, blog-related, work-related and other collaborative chores) using an installation of activeCollab.

accomplice EASY TASK MANAGEMENT. Accomplice helps you manage your tasks easily and collaborate with other users. Click on photo to view larger image.

With Internet connectivity deteriorating to the level of the days when flickr would have been dismissed as a wrongly-spelled word, I managed to download several personal information managers (PIM) and tasks managers through the only reliable connection I had left, the office PC, for use at home and in my laptop.

I initially thought of using Sunbird, Mozilla’s calendaring software, in conjunction with Google Calendar. But after searching for possible solutions, I still couldn’t find a way to synchronize Sunbird installations in multiple PCs using Google Calendar. I’m crossing my fingers that Sunbird’s coming version will be able to not only grab data from a Google Calendar account but also add entries to it.

I then tried Chandler, the open source PIM released by the Open Source Applications Foundation, but its hardware requirement is rather steep: a processor with a speed of at least 2 gigahertz and 512mb RAM.

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WordPress blog maintenance checklist

Unlike blogs hosted in such services as WordPress.com and Blogger.com, weblogs installed in your own server need regular checks and maintenance. Failing to do these checks can leave your blogs sluggish and even vulnerable to security problems.

If you use WordPress to run your website, at the minimum, you need to be on the lookout for new releases (one has just been released as a write this) of the blogging engine. You also need to regularly check updates on such things as your theme and the plugins you are using.

Blog tasks checklist WORDPRESS BLOG CHECKLIST. My checklist for tasks related to running a WordPress site. click on photo to view larger image.

I used to keep track of these tasks using an installation of activeCollab, an open source project management software that mimics Basecamp. With the recent Internet connectivity problems caused by that earthquake in Taiwan, I decided to track blog management-related tasks on paper. This way, I can prioritize whatever time I can spend online on really important tasks.

I created this blog maintenance checklist as reminder of tasks I need to do as well as tracker of such things as version numbers of plugins and themes.

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Re-installing my life: the perils of keeping everything online

For more than a year, I have been moving my data online as part of an experiment to make the network my computer. With the telecoms disruption caused by a recent earthquake in Taiwan, my world crashed.

As I write this, the Globelines Broadband connection I have at home is still horrendously slow. It is a 7.8 mbps line to nowhere. I was giddy upon seeing for the first time the notification that my connection to Globelines is 7.8 mbps (it used to say 2 mbps). Now, the notice feels like a taunt.

It takes about as much time to load pages with Globelines Broadband right now as it would take a Sinulog contingent to finish a dance. To say the connection is as slow as molasses would be to overstate the viscosity of the substance.

It was a good thing that I use Gmail for mobile application in my phone, a Sony Ericsson k750i using a Smart pre-paid subscription. I can open my GMail messages faster on my phone than I could using Globelines in my home PC. Half of the time, I couldn’t even get past the Gmail login screen when I use the Globelines connection.

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15 days with the Treo 680 smartphone

I’ve been asked to review the Palm Treo 680. I got the unit yesterday from Microwarehouse and I’ll be testing it until I return the unit in the first week of February.

An official from Microwarehouse approached our executive editor weeks back asking her whether I would accept requests for reviews. Let me just spell it out here. I love trying gadgets and would be happy to review products provided that you give me enough time to tinker with it. Microwarehouse lent me the unit for 15 days.

Microwarehouse didn’t provide any restrictions. I asked whether I’d be allowed to install applications to really test the unit and they said yes. And what’s even better, Microwarehouse did not call me (we never even talked, they arranged it with my editor) to ask questions or offer “suggestions” about the article.

treo 680 TEST UNIT. The Palm Treo 680 I will be testing in the next 15 days. Click on photo to enlarge.

At the outset, let me just say that I am a Sony Ericsson fan boy. I’ve been using Sony Ericsson phones for years and love the way its units work and how you can use third party applications (even open source ones) with it. For me, mobility bliss is Sony Ericsson plus Float’s Mobile Agent-now there’s a lethal getting things done combination.

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WeRoam saves the day: Updating WordPress to latest release

Internet connection has been dismal these past few days following the earthquake in Taiwan that cut submarine cables connecting parts of Asia to the Internet. The Globelines Broadband account I use at home chokes on most web sites. When I connect using it, I’d be able to load pages for the first few minutes and then the connection gets stalled again.

The intermittent connection has made me dependent these past few days on the PLDT WeRoam account temporarily assigned to my wife. WeRoam isn’t as fast as Globelines BQ (before the quake) but with it, I manage to check my mails and browse “must-visit” sites such as del.icio.us and Lifehacker. I seldom visit, let alone log into, my blog these days because of the awful connection speeds. Luckily, I managed to open my Google Reader an hour back and read JAngelo’s post about a vulnerability in WordPress, the open source script I use in this site. I promptly logged into my blog and found that version 2.0.6 has been released.

Seeing that WordPress 2.0.6 “includes an important security fix,” I quickly prepared to update blogs I run and help manage. Before last week, I wouldn’t have dared upgrading my blog using WeRoam. The signal at home is weak and my previous attempt at using WeRoam’s connection to FTP files to my server had me giving up after a few minutes, it was so slow I decided to switch to Globelines.

But today, WeRoam is fast. Not Globelines fast but fast enough for FTP uploading of files to the server. Thank God. With my blogs updated, now I can sleep.