Category Archives: Opensource

Google Calendar Beta

Was chatting with my brother online today and he made me realize that Google Calendar is out in beta. I hadn’t noticed. Very cool. Thanks, Bill.

…social calendar networking is here and I like it …for nonprofits this removes software costs and provides easy RSS delivery of events…

I love it already. Still, there are some aspects that I would like to see beyond this Beta version. Naturally, they are still working on it so here is my wish list.

A shared output that can be viewed like a traditional calendar. You know, with little boxes in rows and columns. Google’s, just like 30boxes, simply provides the feed. Why not allow a the caledar box view? Perhaps because it frees them from having to host such an animal. The way they are doing it, Google just has to deal with delivering the RSS feed.

The calendar already allows for pop-up notifications as well as notifications by email and SMS. You can have reminders sent to your cellphone. The calendars have public and “invite a friend” capabilities, too. Excellent idea by Google and much appreciated.

This tool has potentional to be tied into Google video and podcasting along with Flickr. The possibilities are many and broad. But, we’ll have to wait as the 3rd party developers get started working with the API.

Can’t wait to see the mods and hacks that will be coming down the line. CBS News reports:

Google is publishing an “application program interface” (API) which will enable independent programmers and web developers to create applications that work with the calendar.

That will almost certainly result in a number of rich applications including event web sites using Google calendar as well as added features such as two-way synchronization between Google Calendar, Blackberries and programs such as Microsoft Outlook.

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HigherEd BlogCon Starts Today!

Today marks the launch of HigherEd BlogCon, “an online event focused on how new online communications technologies and social tools are changing Higher Education. The month-long event begins with a week of presentations about the impact of new tools on teaching and the learner.”

…educators embracing social media… you really should visit and join in…

Please visit HigherEd BlogCon and see some truly wonderful examples of social media and online strategies being used around the web.

This is “a fully web-based event focused on how new online communications technologies and social tools are changing Higher Education. Except as noted, presentations are offered free of charge.”

Ike Pigott Draws RSS Blood and News

Ike Pigott, of Accentuate the Positive, 2.0, shared news of an interesting project at the Birmingham Red Cross.

Get Newsplorer! The campaign includes two blogs and a customized/branded RSS reader that you can download.

The blogs are Red Cross Media Alerts and Jefferson County EMA Media Alerts. Also, check out Ike’s version of a branded RSS reader. That is just one of many ways you could accomplish this neat little freebie. During an emergency situation, I can imagine some news people launching this to keep track of new posts.

I like this for several reasons. First, news outlets always want these Red Cross and EMA alerts. Many news outlets have not engaged in RSS and this is a way to turn them on to it easily.

…a local example of RSS and blog adoption from Birmingham…

Second, using Blogger (as Ike has) the sites are free. Any free hosted service will do. Perhaps this will spur other nonprofits into the blogosphere. Later on, they may start a blog from within their ranks – beyond news releases and alerts, after seeing how easy it can be to publish. Blogs are an easy way to tell your organization’s story.

Third – and Ike, this is where my students will love you – the branded RSS reader is so cool I’m going to require they make one as part of their final project.

Yes, I know some will say that RSS readers are everywhere and why would someone want your branded version. Well, if they have not adopted RSS and you are the one that gets them started, they may well keep your branded version for awhile. That means each time they start the reader (which you can add other feeds to, as well) they will see your logo and info. Now what is wrong with that? The effort to make one is so minimal that the real question might be “Why not make one?”

Finally, Ike is helping nonprofits get into new media and that is laudable. His efforts are also in line with the ideals behind Operation Link Love where we are trying to find examples of nonprofit blogging. Ike takes the next step of “paying it forward” and “giving back” by getting the nonprofits involved. Now that is admirable and I appreciate his efforts. Good job, Ike.

Upgrade to WordPress 2.0

Took the plunge. As part of the redesign effort for this blog, I was hoping to upgrade to WordPress 2.0. Thankfully the developer team met their deadlines and did release the new version. Aren’t they great? You bet! Congratulations to all WordPress Developers.

The majority of differences between 2.0 and previous 1.5.x versions are in the user interface (admin area) and casual users won’t see them. There is the new “Roles and Capabilities” determination for blog subscribers/authors. A good run-down of all the changes, with an explanation, comes from Asymptomatic. Also, with the upgrade of the platform, WordPress has redesigned their main site and provided an improved, and organized, documentation section. That is especially good to see.

Upgrading to WordPress 2.0 on this heavily modified blog took only 45 minutes to get it back up and working. Not bad when you consider that counts backing up the database, deactivating over 20 plugins, deletion of all files, FTP of all new files, unrelated phone call interruptions, and the final re-activation of select plugins to get the blog running. There was a bit more to it, but that covers the major tasks.

…WordPress simply the best blog platform available anywhere…

Comments and posting are working. The new theme, Exquisite, is functioning. I will enable it later as the sidebar still needs some work.

As for WordPress 2.0, I admit that there are some quirks I’m discovering and I’ll probably spend a few hours fixing and tweaking things. However, that is because this blog had been modified a great deal with numerous plugins/hacks over the past several months. If this were a new installation, I am certain that the famous WordPress 5-minute (or less) install is still a safe and honest promise from the developers.

This version looks just like WordPress Multiuser in the administration area. It is very clean, easy to use and navigate, and quite powerful. All of that from free software. Can’t beat it.

So, for what it is worth, I now declare WordPress the King/Queen of the personal/business blogging platforms – opensource or commercial. Alright, to be fair – I’ll have to caveat that with my trusty-dusty “of the platforms I have tried” qualifier. As a yardstick on what I have tried, I have downloaded and installed (or tried to install) almost all of the blogs, portals, wikis (and several other CMS platforms) at Opensourcecms.com. I’ve even installed Movable Type and have/had Typepad, Blogger, LiveJournal accounts. For me, WordPress is the clear winner. It is not even close.

In fact, the new version of WordPress – out of the box – allows for the easy importing of posts from a Movable Type blog. “The importer is smart enough not to import duplicates, so you can run this multiple times without worry if—for whatever reason—it doesn’t finish. If you get an out of memory error try splitting up the import file into pieces.”

But, the new platform doesn’t stop there. You may also import from these accounts and processes, too. “Blogger – Import posts and comments from a Blogger account; Textpattern – Import posts from a Textpattern Blog; and, RSS – Import posts from an RSS feed”

What’s the point here? The level of user knowledge required to launch a WordPress blog is much lower than a Movable Type blog, for instance. Yet, you get the same power of Movable Type. I think you actually get more, but that is still being debated. Either way, more people can use the WordPress platform – easier and faster, out of the box – than any other platform you might choose to host yourself, or acquire hosting to launch.
Continue reading

Firefox :: Great, but problems. Fixed now, but …

You know, I waited and waited to install the latest version of Firefox – version 1.5. Why? Because I initially installed the beta version and it caused oh, so many problems. So, I uninstalled the beta and re-installed the previous 1.x version.

…Browse
the Web with confidence? Enjoy improvements to performance?
Wish I could! too many bugs…

But, recently it was getting to the point where most of my extensions had updates available for v. 1.5. Well, they keep pinging you with “updates are available” and such. So, despite ignoring that for awhile, I finally installed 1.5.

Essentially, I rolled the dice. And, I crapped out – for awhile at least.

This one is supposed to be stable. Yeah, right. Since then? Nothing but problems. I keep getting this very bothersome alert that a javascript is slowing down the page. I get it on almost every page I visit. Sometimes twice … three times … even more! I also have links opening twice – on only one click. I kid you not.

The good news is, I did find this forum post about the issue and it gives a simple “about:config” edit that ‘seems’ to have stopped the problem. Continue reading

WordPress.com :: Wish I had an invite

In case you haven’t guessed it from my rantings and evangelical fervor towards WordPress, I love the blogging platform.

Well, there is news! Matthew Mullenweg and all the WordPress developers have something new for you – hosted blogging at WordPress.com.

I believe that WordPress.org is now trying to pump up interest in WordPress MultiUser. A great tool for creating a blogging community. I’m betting that is what they are using to provide this new offer at WordPress.com.

Update: It may also be that WordPress is offering something more akin to what many hosting providers are offering: a .gzipped version of WordPress that may be launched immediately by a simple script. Darn. I want to find out more. 🙂 WordPress needs to win in this race for the business world’s fav blogging platform. Read Bucks for blogs: Businesses, bloggers look to score deals, forge links at S. F. summit (Mercury News)

Another Update: I now find this rather old comment thread at WordPress Suport Forums and it led me to this recent post in WordPress.com (Wednesday, July 20th, 2005) that makes me feel WordPress.com is using MultiUser. We’ll see.

I’m excited for WordPress. This could be the boost they need to start gaining wider MSM / Trade Press coverage.

WordPress.com is an easy and powerful way to start blogging.
Why Blog?

* Connect with an audience of dozens to millions.
* Stop sending mass emails to everyone.
* Archive your thoughts.
* Why the heck not? (WordPress.com)

and, from Qumana we find two features:

* WYSIWYG editor
* Side-panel features like categories can be moved around to better suit the order you prefer.

The WYSIWYG has already been available as a plugin. The drag-n-drop tools is in the 1.6-ALPHA-2 version and is used in the MultiUser version.

Thanks to PR meets the WWW – Constantin Basturea, Nevon – Neville Hobson, and DL Byron for the tip off to this new offering.

We are using MultiUser for PRblogs.org to give free blogs to PR practitioners, educators and students. That project is in conjunction with James Farmer of BlogSavvy. Many thanks to James. He is offering new blogs to educators at edublogs.org, too. James thinks way ahead of the curve.

Best wishes to WordPress with their new offering. After people start to see this blogging platform (on an even larger scale – building communities) I believe the others may have some very worried expressions on their faces. It is that good.

Related links:
Matt on his WordPress presentation at the BBS05
Donncha O’Caoimh’s blog
Reference to James Farmer’s work in the Multiuser blog