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Conference notes: podcasting, CMS, and don’t open Google Reader in the conference room

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I’m learning a lot both in the sessions and off-session talks with participants of the Free Expression in Asian Cyberspace conference here at the Asian Institute of Management Conference Center.

I had a long talk with Bryan Nunez, technology manager of Witness, a website that uses video to expose human rights abuses. Bryan is a geek and an open source enthusiast. We got to talk about open source content management systems, an area that fascinates me: Mambo, Joomla, Drupal, Civic Space, Props, Cofax and even Campsite. I told him about the Xinha Here extension for Firefox and how this makes developing CMS easier because you no longer have to work on integrating a what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) editor for your system. Bryan, here’s the link to the developer of the extension. Here’s a link to my post on it.
With Bobby Timonera
Bryan and I also talked about Sun.Star Cebu’s citizen journalists project. He was interested in how Sun.Star was running the site. I also got to meet Bobby Timonera (in photo) of Mindanews, Alecks Pabico said Ma’am Carol Arguillas was scheduled to arrive later yesterday.

Conference participants were treated to a dinner in a restaurant at the Manila Bay by Sen. Juan Flavier. On the way back to the hotel, I was seated in the bus with Steven Gan, editor-in-chief of MalaysiaKini, how cool is that.

Steven asked me where I was from and when I said Cebu, he said “yeah that’s near Iloilo.” He has been to Iloilo but has never been to Cebu. Then we got to talk about CMS. MalaysiaKini, he says, uses a custom CMS. He said commercial systems are expensive and open source packages do not fit their needs. He did mention though that they are selling their CMS package. Their CMS has one very important feature, caching. Caching is very important in database-driven websites, especially those with high traffic, because you reduce the server load by caching your files. Sun.Star’s CMS caches data by writing HTML files.

Vodcasting session
Yesterday afternoon’s session on podcasting and vodcasting was really informative. It was done by Jeremiah Foo of the Southeast Asian Center for E-Media. I had been planning to try podcasting using the Sony Ericsson K750i. I’ve been stumped with the conversion from AMR to MP3, I might give it a go in a day or two to write about the setup. Jeremiah had promised to list the equipment and software needed to podcast or vodcast from the “poor man’s setup” to the high-end units. He demonstrated vodcasting via a cameraphone by asking Bryan to take a sample video.

One of the embarrassing things I learned this afternoon, though, is to never open Google Reader in the conference room. The organizers set up laptops with Wi-Fi connection for use by participants. I used one of the units despite the browser being Internet Explorer and proceeded to open my Google Reader account. I primarily keep up with sites using RSS feeds and my account includes certain not safe for work (and conferences) subscriptions. The thing with Google Reader is that the main page immediately takes you to the feed items.

When I opened my account yesterday, one of the NSFW items was displayed and I immediately hit ctrl + t (the shortcut to open a new tab in Firefox to cover the current window), forgetting I was in Explorer. Starting to panic, I scrolled down and the succeeding items were from that same feed (flickricious, if you’re curious) and the feed item was displayed for close to a minute, visible to people in the back, I think. I’m never opening my Google Reader account in the conference room, ever. Darn, I should have thought of my Bloglines account.

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By Max Limpag

Max is a journalist and blogger based in Cebu City, Philippines. He is co-founder of the journalism start-up InnoPub Media.