Categories
free software Open source WebTech

Joomla users schedule Cebu meeting

Users, developers, and supporters of the open source content management system (CMS) Joomla will be meeting in Cebu next Saturday, June 7 at the Lepiten & Bojos Law Office on Don Pedro Rodriguez St. in Capitol Site, Cebu City (see map below).

The meeting is preparatory to the Joomla Day that will be held in UP Diliman on June 14. During the meeting, members of the Joomla community in Cebu are scheduled to plan activities for a year and consider participation in a coming Open Source summit in Cebu on June 23 to 24 at the Cebu International Convention Center. The Open Source summit will have a track on Drupal, another popular open source CMS.

Categories
linux Mobile Open source WebTech

From here on, Heron

Today, the new Ubuntu Linux version—8.04 the Hardy Heron—will be released. I have been using the beta or test version for the last two weeks and have found Ubuntu to be easier to use and install and its whole computing experience better than ever.

I had initially decided to stay away from using the beta version—the amount of updates you have to download on the run-up to the final version can be huge. I had several urgent tasks and didn’t want to deal with regularly updating my laptop.

Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron HARDY HERON running on my MSI S260 laptop. Click to enlarge photo.

But Chin Wong made me do it. The devil, in turn, made him do it, or at least that line kept playing in his head as he installed the beta version in his desktop computer. During the installation, he had problems with sound in his system.

A day later, however, he posted a fix to the problem.

That broke my resolve to stay away from the Hardy Heron beta and proceeded to install it, as opposed to upgrade, in my MSI S260 laptop.

Categories
Blog design Highlights Internet Journalism Open source WebTech

Using WordPress as CMS of news, magazine sites redux

My redesign of Cebu Living, an online magazine on Cebu, is now live. Check it out. It’s using a WordPress theme for news and magazine websites. The new theme still needs a lot of work but if you want to try it out, you can do an anonymous svn checkout: svn checkout http://svn2.assembla.com/svn/cebulivingmagazine. Just go through the template files and see what needs to be changed for your site. I promise a commented version of the template files soon.

Unlike the previous Cebu Living theme, which I ported from an open source CSS/XHTML design, I built this new one from scratch. And it shows. I’m not a designer, in fact, I’m bad at designs. But the new theme incorporates elements I, as publisher, wanted from a site run as an e-zine and using WordPress as content management system (CMS).

I will be releasing the theme as soon as I finalize it. If you have comments on the new design, please leave it in this post or send it as an e-mail so that I can consider incorporating it in the theme.

Categories
Free services Highlights Mobile planner productivity WebTech

Smart TextMail and mobile alerts on tasks, website availability

One of my longest mobile experiment drew to a close early this month with my rediscovery of Smart’s TextMail.

For more than a year, I’ve been trying one service after another in an effort to get my e-mails sent as text messages to my mobile phone. The answer, you might say, is simple: buy a Blackberry.

I’m not, however, prepared to spend thousands of pesos for the device and its mobile e-mail solution when I have only very specific alerts in mind: website availability and tasks reminders. For regular e-mails, I am perfectly satisfied with the GMail for mobile Java application.

Scrybe online planner ONLINE PLANNER. My current online planner of choice, Scrybe. The free service allows me to manage my tasks and get alerted of deadlines via SMS messages sent through Smart TextMail. Click on photo to enlarge image.

I run and help oversee several websites and need to know whenever the servers where these are hosted encounter problems so that I can work on fixing it or submitting a support ticket. All the sites I run are monitored by free web server monitoring services that check every few minutes or so whether these are available.

Whenever the monitoring services I use detect any of the my sites to be down, it immediately sends an e-mail to alert me of the problem. I wanted to be able to get that message as an SMS alert. Sure many of these services offer SMS alerts, but for a fee.

Categories
Highlights Internet linux Mobile WebTech

Wi-Fi piggybacking widespread, anti-virus firm warns

While setting up a Wi-Fi network for the PLDT myDSL connection at home earlier this week, I got a timely warning from a press release. Anti-virus company Sophos said many people now use someone else’s wireless Internet connection without their permission.

Sophos said 54 percent of 560 respondents who took their online survey admitted to using other people’s Wi-Fi connection without their permission. The survey is not scientific and I don’t see how you can see a “widespread” trend from it. But it does provide a timely warning to home users who have gone wireless.

Sophos said “many Internet-enabled homes fail to properly secure their wireless connection with passwords and encryption, allowing freeloading passers-by and neighbors to steal Internet access rather than paying an internet service provider (ISP) for their own.”

I don’t know how common Wi-Fi piggybacking is in Cebu or in the Philippines, save for anecdotal feedback from geeks I know. I’ve heard of maybe three persons who said they were able to use an unsecured wireless network.

Still, the absence of reports should not be a reason to be complacent and just leave your home Wi-Fi network unsecured. This absence of reports may be because none have been caught.

And with more mobile devices like phones having the capability to use Wi-Fi, the risk will only get higher.

Categories
Highlights linux WebTech

Going cold turkey while setting up a hotspot

With my wife and I now using laptops as primary workstations at home, we decided to use a Wi-Fi router to share our PLDT myDSL connection. The snaking network cables were threatening to trip us and our kids.

I bought a Linksys WRT54G after reading about its storied history. Mark Stephens, writing as Rober X. Cringely, calls the WRT54G and its Linux system “The Little Engine That Could.”

Linksys wrt54g LINKSYS WRT54G. I used this Wi-Fi router to set up a wireless broadband connection at home. Click to enlarge image.

In my case, it was “the sleep-deprived blogger who couldn’t with the little engine that could.” I did eventually set it up—and I’m now using it to publish this post while downloading tons of files—but only after I went Internet-deprived cold turkey, at home at least.

Categories
free software Highlights linux Open source WebTech

Installing Ubuntu Linux Gutsy Gibbon

It’s been four days since I’ve switched my main blogging tool, an MSI s260 laptop, into the beta version of the next Ubuntu release—Gutsy Gibbon or Ubuntu 7.10. This next version of Ubuntu is scheduled for release in the coming weeks but I couldn’t wait for the final version. I wanted it now.

After the beta was released, I started preparing to upgrade. I downloaded a disk image of the installer via Bittorrent while backing up files in my laptop. Since there were many seeders, the download took less than two hours.

Ubuntu restricted extras RESTRICTED EXTRAS. Among the packages in the repositories of the next Ubuntu Linux version is “restricted extras,” which comes with Microsoft fonts, MP3 playback support and the Flash plugin. Click on photo to enlarge.

You can upgrade to Gutsy Gibbon from Feisty Fawn, the version prior to it. I chose to do a fresh install partly because I was reared in a Windows world and that’s how I installed new operating system versions—starting from scratch.

The installation was easy and went without a hitch. The installer detected my built-in dial-up modem, which I haven’t used since I bought the laptop, and informed that “restricted drivers” were available for it.

Categories
Free services free software Highlights Open source productivity WebTech

Goodbye activeCollab, hello ProjectPier

The project management application I use extensively for some of my tasks has turned its back on the open source beginnings that attracted me and, I’m sure, many others to it during its initial versions.

ActiveCollab is a clone of the popular Basecamp project management application. The main difference is that while Basecamp is a hosted service with various account levels, activeCollab is something you install in your own server and on which you have full control.

ProjectPier PROJECTPIER. The ProjectPier installation that replaced activeCollab in my webserver. I’m using the goCollab monochrome theme that came it.

The project management application appealed to do-it-yourself type geeks who wanted to host the data on their own and deal with less restrictions on accounts. Plus, it was free.

When it was first released, activeCollab came with an open source license and that was what attracted me to the project. I thought it held promise of being a very powerful and useful project management application if developed by an active community of users.

But the developer has decided to stop open source development on the project. Development will now be closed source, at least on the core features. The next release, version 1.0 due out next week, will also not have a free version. Your only options for activeCollab 1.0 are SmallBiz ($199) and Corporate ($399).

Categories
Blog design free software Highlights WebTech

Edit your website, blog design live and without breaking it

CSSVista is a tool any blogger or website owner will find useful. The Windows-only application allows you to load any website in Firefox and Explorer and then edit its CSS code live, with the changes showing immediately in the two browser windows.

cssvista CSSVISTA. The application makes editing website designs easy. CSSVista loads the page in Explorer and Firefox and allows you to edit the designs live, with changes showing up immediately. Click on photo to view larger image.

I’m working on a new website on online journalism and independent publishing and CSSVista saved me a lot of time in finalizing my site design. I use Drupal for the site, building on the Zen theme, a very good theme to base your design on. I will launch the new website early next week with an explanation on my choice of content management system.

What I did before I found CSSVista was 1.) I’d edit the template (Zen uses PHPTemplate) and CSS files in Bluefish, 2.) Upload the files into the server, 3.) Cross my fingers; and 4.) Hit reload like crazy to see the changes.

This process is tedious and I was about to look for ways for Bluefish to be able to edit the files directly in my web server or research on how to make Firebug work in my Ubuntu Linux installation when I found a link to CSSVista in the popular page of del.icio.us.

Categories
Highlights WebTech

From YouTube to your phone, MP3 player

It was love at first note when I heard Amy Winehouse sing. Her voice exudes raw emotion unmatched in decades.

I first played my copy of her Back to Black album in Rhythmbox in my Linux laptop, while I was struggling with getting a graphical interface to Subversion working. When I heard her sing, it was as if I mangled my system and did an svn merge that automagically produced a track from my collection of songs of Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Eartha Kitt, and Dodo Greene.

I finally settled with using RapidSVN but I wouldn’t settle with the few Amy Winehouse songs I had. I browsed YouTube to view videos of her performances (especially her AOL sessions) and played them over and over again. Over and over and over again.

I wanted to sleep to her songs. I didn’t want, however, to leave the laptop and the modem router on. The siren’s calls were too strong, I knew I had to have her songs in my MP3 player.

Luckily, I had bookmarked VConvert.net weeks earlier, when I spotted a link to it in the popular bookmarks page of del.icio.us.