Textpattern Test at 4:02am

23 October 2006

It’s 4:02am as shown by the time on my computer.

This weblog is in debugging mode.

I’m going to post this article, check its placement on the home page and immediately post another test article. The goal of these tests is to uncover some coding problem that is causing the most recent articles to post out of sequence on the home page.

EDIT: This is a simple addition to the original article to see if it properly updates on the home page.

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Makezine Blog

18 October 2006

The gadget and technology fans among you are most likely Gizmodo and Engadget readers. But, have you been reading the Make magazine weblog? It’s more than one can keep up with in a day!

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Replacing Plugins in Textpattern

2 September 2006

Replacing Textpattern PluginsTextpattern is a feature-rich tool for publishing on the web. It provides for a wealth of additional features using independently-developed plugins.

This site currently has a dozen plugins installed with eleven of them “active.” Once added to your Textpattern installation and made active, these plugins provide sets of tags and features that extend Textpattern’s features beyond the native capabilities.

In other cases, plugins simplify the way something might be done in Textpattern. However, as Textpattern’s own features have become richer, some plugins may not be required. Plugins used in 2004 may not be required when using Textpattern 4.0.4—which is on the horizon—in 2007. In other words, plugins that plugged feature gaps might be displaced when Textpattern’s own capabilities expand.

Hundreds of plugins have been written. Little has been said about what liberal use of plugins does to a Textpattern site’s performance. By the way, what is liberal use of plugins? Even less has been said about which plugins make serious impacts on a site’s web host! How many plugins is too many? Do they conflict with one another? Does a site become more fragile after exceeding a certain number of plugins?

Clearly, there are challenges—38 pages worth—associated with administering plugins as they are updated and as Textpattern changes versions. This is largely a manual process completely dependent upon a user’s vigilance.

Textpattern’s developers are “doing everything they can” to prevent breakage as users upgrade. Plugins make this more difficult, even though specific rules exist for writing plugins that minimize the risk of problems.

But, here’s the real challenge: with eleven plugins installed and active, where are all the occurences of each plugin’s tags in the templates of the site? How does one locate all of the tags related to plugins and distinguish them from native Textpattern plugins? What if you are managing a dozen Textpattern-based web sites? Imagine how long it might take to “fix” the sites if plugins aren’t updated or compliant with the rules.

The work required to answer those questions is about to begin here. We mentioned a bit about some of the goals this week. Stay tuned for more information as we learn the secrets of applying plugins wisely.

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Technology in Small Companies

12 July 2006

Whatever you do with your choices about technology in a small company (defined as a business with fewer than 25 employees), DO NOT use the Microsoft Active Directory Migration Tool or the document (doc download) that tells you how to use it.

After almost 21 hours of phone time on a $245 Microsoft case number and 7 engineers’ efforts, recovery from the effects of using the ADMT was complete. The real work could then begin. Remember the Apple ad that says something like, “sounds like you’ve got some stuff to do before you can do stuff?

Weeks ago answers were promised. We were seeing beta versions of Office and Windows Vista. Ubuntu was making a splash and has made even greater noise since that time. Long-time loyalties to a single platform continued collapsing.

Apple runs Windows, though it’s been unclear just how dependably a Mac can remain joined to a Windows server domain when there are multiple network connections installed on the computer. With all of the announcements, what’s a dependable path? Remember, we’re not talking about businesses rich with I.T. savvy or time to work on their I.T. problems.

To keep this brief, I’ll boil it down this way:

  • Career-perspective: Were a new entrant into the business of installing and supporting basic I.T. needs in small businesses to inquire about where to develop expertise, what would we answer?
  • Business owners perspective: Were a small business with basic collaboration, email, file-sharing, backup, calendar sharing and office productivity needs to inquire about what to install, what would we answer?

Short answers go like this:

  • For the server, install Microsoft Small Business Server 2003R2.
  • For the workstations, install Intel Pentium 4-based PC’s running Windows XP Professional.
  • For the adventurous who have access to a knowledgeable support team, you can consider replacing MS-SBS with Ubuntu’s server and a mix of Windows XP Professional and Ubuntu PC’s. Just be certain you know how to replace the Windows applications that users are accustomed to with their corresponding products in the FOSS world.

Finally, whatever you do, begin to think of long-term data storage as something that must withstand a series of short-term technology changes. Remember, 8-inch floppies? Remember when you took photos at low resolution to “save space.” Remember when you downloaded music at low bit-rates to “save space.” Some of those things will be terribly disappointing in thirty or forty years. Decide whether or not your applications really are providing data that you can save and see long after the application or the storage medium is gone.

Know how to pick and update your technologies in 36 to 60-month intervals so that the 40-year run is sustainable!

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Got Firefox?

9 June 2006

If you aren’t a Firefox user, there’s no time like the present. If you haven’t seen the recent Firefox Flicks, use some weekend to catch up.

Stay tuned for an upcoming essay. You just might answer some of these questions:

  • What’s the state of Linux on the desktop?
  • Will your next computer run Windows, OS X or Linux?
  • Will you upgrade your PC to run Windows Vista & Office 2007?
  • Can anyone make money in PC’s any more?

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