As we grow our online personas and login to one of many powerful tools, we spread ourselves thinnerliterally. Posting on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, delicious, Digg, YouTube, StumbleUpon or even your personal blog, we spread our lives across many servers and many sites. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were one place where my friends and family could see all of those nuggets of me? Ask and you shall receive, but like the numerous sites you populate already, there are also numerous sites that do exactly what you want. Lifestreams.
This article will take three lifestreams and compare them, bring out their pros and cons, and then let you decide which one may be right for you.
1. Chi.mp. (http://www.chi.mp) A slick web site that allows you to amalgamate Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and RSS feeds. The interface is clean and setup is fairly easy. The one stand out feature is the ability to select a custom domain name, for free, to point to this new collection of your internet life. Chu.mp or Pi.mp could be your chosen domains, or the simple BillSmith.mp can make that address much easier to remember. The downfall of the site for me was the use of the site. Once I set it up, I never went back. For my use, Chi.mp had no traction for me. No big payoff.
2. Storytlr.(http://www.storytlr.com) . I am growing more and more fond of this site. Storytlr has access to your accounts on Delicious, Digg, Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, Stumbleupon, Twitter, Vimeo, Youtube, and many others. Besides the broader reach of Storytlr, it also brings sidebar widgets similar to WordPress, comments, and pre-made themes to skin your site. Antoher feature that I find useful is the ability to crosspost, so if you post onto Facebook, you can have it update your Twitter account and link to that post.
3. FriendFeed .(http://www.friendfeed.com) . FriendFeed taps into delicious, StumbleUpon, Digg, Flickr, Picasa, Facebook, Gmail/Google Talk, Twitter, Amazon, and RSS feeds. There are 58 services in total at the time of this writing that they support, and I see just about everything I need. It also has premade themes to transform the look of the site. FriendFeed also added the ability to friend people within FriendFeed, adding another layer to the site complete with direct messaging that can cross over to Twitter. Lastly, and I think possibly one of the most valuable features is the live updates. No site refresh needed, so I can set up FriendFeed and let it spin all day and I can always catch new updates. Of the three sites, FriendFeed is by far the most likely to grow and catch on. If you don’t have a FriendFeed account, go get one now.
Will these sites revolutionize how we use the internet? Probably not, but they will make our daily lives a little easier and maybe they could spark innovations in how we communicate with friends, family and colleagues.
Two days ago, Google released its highly anticipated project dubbed Google Wave. Initially, Google only sent 100,000 invitations, and those folks that were invited could only recruit 8 more people, much like the Gmail launch 5 years ago.
Luckily, I become one of 100,000 users who received an invite to try, test and use Wave. My first impression of Google Wave was that of a kid who has a browser open in front of him but no clue which website he should open.
This is the first screen that I was presented with after I logged into Google wave:
After watching a few videos from the Google Wave team, working with Wave became piece of cake.
Here is a video tutorial from Google wave team:
Navigation panel is easy to understand and work on. Left sidebar is similar to Gmail with Labels and Navigation bar like Inbox, Sent , Trash… Below the Navigation bar, there is a panel for Contacts, which you can drag and drop to create a new wave.
Creating a new wave is like starting a new conversation. One thing worth mentioning here, when we start a new wave, we can add as many contacts as we want. Simply drag and drop contacts from contact list to new wave. Here is a screenshot with multiple contacts in my wave :
Google Wave works in real time; what ever you are typing can be seen by current users in your wave.
Wave is a mash-up of Google chat and Gmail. For example: if you are ‘waving’ another user, and he/she is not online, they will receive the message upon logging in. If they are online, you can start a real time conversation.
Understanding Google Wave Interface :
The Google Wave interface is divided into 3 columns :
Navigation Panel :
The Navigation Panel is where you will see the Gmail style inbox, sent items, settings, trash, search and folder options. Followed by your contacts. (See image below)
The search option is interesting: it will let you save a search, and with one click you can search for your previously saved search term.
Inbox Panel :
The interface of the Inbox Panel in Google Wave is somewhat similar to Gmail, but a new button which you will see here is the Mute Button.
Mute Button: can be used to mark any Wave, which you do not want to appear in the Inbox. Though you can search for a Muted wave, by search or if you tagged it while waving.
I find this feature important and useful; at least my girlfriend can’t disturb me unless I want her to.
Wave Panel :
The Wave Panel is where all of the magic happens. This panel can be used to start a new wave and see the Playback. Playback is another useful feature, which allows you to see all of the messages along the timeline. If you tend to have very long conversations, this feature will come in handy. Another great feature of Wave: you can drag and drop pictures into a conversation, but only if you have Google gears installed.
Generally speaking, the flexibility of Wave is pretty exciting. You can add lots of useful extensions from the Google wave extension library. You can also integrate Twitter within Google wave.
The end result? The full effect of Google Wave is not very impressive at the moment, as it relies on a broad user base that is currently hindered by the limited invites. This will most likely change based on the substantial buzz that Google Wave is generating around the web. Look for Google Wave to become next best thing.
Have you used Google Wave? If yes, feel free to share your first impressions.
A new URL shortener from Digg wraps your website in a Digg frame instead of taking users directly to your website. This results in a number of obstacles for the website owner.
Digg is not alone in utilizing this process. A platform allowing companies to manage Twitter profiles, HootSuite, uses ow.ly to shorten URL’s in much the same method. StumbleUpon will soon release su.pr which may also make use of the same frame-wrapping tactics.
Let’s go through some of the obstacles presented by these frame-wrapping methods:
First, let’s look at analytics as they perhaps take the biggest hit. Because digg.com’s URL shortener always wraps your site in a digg.com frame, it always appears that it is digg.com requesting your site. All traffic is cloaked making it impossible to see where it is originally coming from.
Therefore whenever digg.com’s URL shortener is used, no matter if it actually coming from Twitter.com, a rival’s site, an affiliate or Digg itself, many analytic solutions will always credit digg.com as the referring site.
It may even get more complicated if your social media campaign uses referrals from social sites as a metric. Through this route it can appear like digg.com is driving traffic to your site without your site ever even being submitted to digg.com.
Affiliates will also have an interesting role when this frame-wrapping technique is utilized. Most affiliates are prohibited by affiliate terms and conditions from frame-wrapping merchant sites in order to protect brands.
Since a frame-based URL shortener doesn’t always show the URL, or the full URL, of the site being pointed to, that site domain will end up hidden. For example, HootSuite’s URL shortener, ow.ly, link for bigmouthmedia shows the URL as http://www.zmogo… with the remainder of the address hidden.
So, as the URL’s become further muddled, the tracking codes of the affiliates may end up being passed around when the shortened URL is shared. It then becomes possible when the next gen URL shortener is used in combination with a site like digg.com that a large amount of traffic being driven to your site would benefit the affiliate.
It is important to point out that many affiliate tracking forms will be instantly visible if the URL shortener shows any of the full or long URL.
And next, SEO campaigns will also be affected negatively by the frame-wrapping URL shorteners. The elite first gen URL shorteners assign a 301 redirect from themselves to the initial “long” URL.
In the case where a link from a trusted site to another site counts as a vote from the trusted site to the other then the 301 redirect safeguards that as much of the vote passes through to the intended site as possible from the URL shortener. In circumstances such as this Google requests that 301 redirects be used.
Such is not the case when the frame-wrapping URL shorteners are utilized. The link’s worth is not passed through to the target site in this situation. The worth of the link remains with the URL shortener.
So what now for the website owner and/or internet marketer… complain about it? Seems like there are 2 options: find a way to adapt, or boycott those that implement shady wrappers.
Turning off the DiggBar:
There are two ways in which you can disable the Digg Toolbar. Go to your settings page and select “Never Show Diggbar for external links”.
The above preference is only available for people who are members of Digg. If you don’t have an account at Digg, open this page and hover your mouse between the “close” button and the feedback button on the Digg toolbar. Click the drop-down arrow and select “Always hide the toolbar”.
For an in-depth analysis of the Digg Toolbar, see: The Digg Toolbar Exposed; What’s in the code?
WordPress plug-in to block the Digg Toolbar
Making a website is a process that requires a good amount of technical expertise, but there’s one thing web designers should never forget: that it is the visitor’s experience that counts the most. For that reason, it’s sometimes good to look at web design from a perspective other than the technical standpoint, and take a look at what generally makes a website enjoyable for someone to visit.
The websites we’re about to look at it aren’t necessarily supposed to be examples of the best websites ever; rather they are meant to be examples of sites that do at least one thing particularly well. These sites could be almost any site at all, because almost every site has some aspect about it that can be learned from.
Finally, some of these pieces of advice will overlap, but that’s just because it’s such great advice that you should hear it twice. Also all of this advice isn’t meant to necessarily be used at the same time on the same site, because, well, we can’t have everything we want.
And without further ado, here are the sites!
I’m not exactly sure what this site is about; it seems to basically feature hip-hop fashion news and other trendy stuff. But it doesn’t really matter what it’s about, because it’s clean and sharp design immediately drew me in and made me want to start clicking on things.
The interesting thing is that Kineda essentially seems to be just a wordpress blog, but that does not hold it back from being a fantastic design. Its use of high-quality pictures and a simple design, with a solid, readable font, straightforward white-on-black background colour scheme, and newspaper-like columns makes the focus entirely on the content, and not on anything that the reader shouldn’t be interested in.
The result is that the site has a look very much like that of a magazine, which naturally makes visitors to the site want to dig in and start reading. Just like in a good magazine, nothing gets in the way of the visitor’s experience with the content.
The Lesson: You don’t need crazy-fancy web design to have a great site; a simple wordpress blog with a bit of thought put into presentation can do wonders for the visitor’s experience.
Also, even though print magazines and the internet are two different mediums, there are always lessons to be learned from print when designing a site. Magazines and newspapers have been around a lot longer than the internet, and many of the basic lessons learned by magazine designers are transferable to the world of the web: use columns for readability, include a good amount of high quality pictures to break up the text, and choose your font well for maximum readability.
Finally, pictures of hot Japanese girls never hurt.
This site is a good example of how to make an appealing style of navigation. It’s also a good example of a site that is different and interesting, yet still completely focused on the content.
The main content of the site is a series of links to sites designed by the owner, which is pretty standard. But what is interesting about the links is how they are presented and how the user navigates through them: by simply moving the mouse the links scroll up and down.
This unique method of navigation immediately puts the focus on the links, which is how it should be, considering they are the main content of the site. The user simply can’t ignore them, because upon first moving their mouse they see the links move; the visual cue to pay attention to those links is immediate. This kind of navigation is also very intuitive, making sure the visitor isn’t confused at all by the somewhat unusual approach.
Also, when a link is clicked on, the user isn’t immediately sent to a site; rather, a preview of the site is shown. By getting previews of the work the visitor gets an idea of the content, while still having the opportunity to stay on the main site and play around with the navigation system.
The end result is a site that the user will most likely start using right away, with no other cues than the unique navigation style.
The Lesson: Thinking about how users navigate your site can be very important, and giving visitors a particular way to navigate can bring more focus to your content, whether it is composed of text, pictures, movies or links.
And you don’t always need a flash site to take advantage of navigation; most of the time visitors will just be scrolling up and down and clicking on links, but there are still design decisions to be made. Want everything to be one screen? Then you’ll most likely need links to navigate the site, while not cluttering your screen with too much text. Want users to scroll through your site? Then keep links to a minimum, and what links you do have should open in a new tab, because losing your place on a long webpage and having to scroll back can be annoying.
By putting a bit of thought into how you want visitors to navigate, and a bit of planning and design to support that vision, you can make your site that much easier for visitors to use.
I usually don’t like sites that have a lot of weird stuff going on in the background; they tend to be confusing and end up scaring me away. But this site managed to hold me in just long enough for me to click on the about button, which scrolls you down to a cleverly embedded video that looks like it’s part of the background.
I’ll admit it, this video is pretty much the only reason this site is on the list. Not to say that the rest of the site is poorly designed; it is perfectly functional, stylish site. But the video in particular was entertaining and funny, and managed to draw me in while explaining what the site was about with a ridiculous cartoon. Further, it didn’t feel like a tacked on gimmick, because of the way it was featured seamlessly in the site.
The result is a fun use of media that is not only entertaining for anyone that visits the site, but that also lets visitors know what the site is all about without boring them to death.
The Lesson: Don’t be afraid to get creative with different types of media to get visitors engaged. Movies, music, and sound aren’t always going to work on every website, but if it is an option then with a bit of ingenuity and some smart integration of the media you can make what is normally a boring affair that users might ignore into something that is engaging and fun. The internet is capable of so much more than just pictures and text, and smart use of these possibilities can make your site that much more engaging.
First of all, this site has a really cute name. I’m not sure how much that’s worth, but it can’t hurt.
Right off the bat this site looks like a pretty design with a full background image of a nighttime cityscape, but doesn’t immediately blow you away with anything amazing. But as soon as you scroll up or down or click on a main link, the website does a very cool effect where the movement of the background gives the impression that the time of day is changing in the little cityscape.
The effect is interesting and engaging, but not distracting, since the buildings in the background stay in place, acting as a visual anchor so that the site doesn’t give that nauseating feeling that most full-scrolling-background sites give. Also, the site makes great use of colour, managing to change the background colour from dark blue to bright red without making the text unreadable.
The result is that you don’t even have to care what the site is about to stay around, because you want to keep exploring it to get more of the unique and attractive scrolling effect. And the better chance someone has of sticking around at your site, the better chance they have of getting into its content.
The Lesson: Keep visitors interested with whatever you can. Sometimes it doesn’t even matter how relevant the interesting aspect of your site is, although ideally it will be with something that gels well with the overall presentation and content of your site.
And you don’t have to come up with a groundbreaking new clever design to do this; a catchy title, a funny picture, some pretty colours, or anything else that might catch a visitor’s attention will help keep them around long enough to let your page make an impression.
This site is a simple blog about web-design, fittingly. It’s got the usual setup, with blog posts, an about section, comments, and so on.
What makes this site worth talking about is how nice it looks. It has a beautiful watercolour background that blends with the blog perfectly, and is just plain easy on the eyes. The colours used are soft and inviting, and this theme is carried through to the rest of the site, which can be seen in the pictures of the various editors, which have the same mild, faded style. The end result is a website that is a pleasure to look at.
The Lesson: If you have the resources to do it, make your website look as nice as possible. Some people might argue that information is information, and that it shouldn’t matter how many nice frills your site has, as long as it gets the points across. But the simple fact of the matter is that most people like stuff that looks nice, and a pretty looking webpage with some attractive graphics — even on something as simple as a blog — just gives visitors one more reason to stick around.
Magnivate is a pretty unusual site: it is almost like a video game, in that you get to explore a little world with a character that you control. It’s a fun and interesting approach that will most likely get any visitor immediately involved with its interactivity.
But the epxloration you do on the Magnivate site isn’t just about exploring the strange little world you are presented with, because by getting your character to run around, you also end up learning what the site is about. As you reach certain points, information about the site is presented to you, making what would normally be dry and boring info become a quick and fun game.
By giving the visitor a fun way to find out what the site is about, Magnivate skips the whole boring about page that no one cares about, and instead integrates exploration of the site into the exploration of the game.
The Lesson: Try to keep things organic when explaining to any visitors what your site is about. A small about section doesn’t hurt, but ultimately you want people to naturally figure out what your site is about while exploring it, so that they aren’t forced to swallow any information about the site without first experiencing what it’s like first hand. When visitors interact directly with the site in learning about it, they build a much stronger connection with it than if they simply memorized a block of text explaining what it’s about.
Of course, you don’t need to take the same route as Magnivate; its flash-based approach takes the exploration-as-information idea to a very literal conclusion, but it’s far more elaborate than is appropriate for most sites. Nonetheless there are ways to make sure that users get an idea of what your site is about without first needing an explanation.
For example, make sure to give the user plenty of options in exploring the content of your site, so that no matter what they click they’re getting content that the site is focused on, and not periphery stuff. A lot of blogs do this well, by not only showing the latest blog posts up front, but by also giving the archives or last month’s posts in a sidebar, or implementing an option that allows users to access a random post. With lots of different ways to get to the same content, the user will quickly figure out what the site is about just by clicking on stuff.
Ted.com is a site meant to showcase various talks given at TED conferences. The site actually has quite a few things going on, with a fair amount of links and options that the user might take some time to become familiar with.
Nonetheless, TED’s main focus, the videos, is undeniably the first thing any visitor will notice. The central feature of the site is a neat visualization of various categories of videos, and it presents the visitor with an interface that immediately asks to be investigated. By making the video visualization feature so prominent, TED gives the visitor direct access to all the videos, and also organizes them according to a number of interesting and intuitive themes, making the visitor comfortable to dive in and get acquainted with the site’s content.
The end result is that, even though TED has a fairly busy design with a good deal of periphery information, most visitors will ignore all that info and instead make use of the much more intuitive visualization feature.
The Lesson: Your site’s content must be the main focus at all times, because it is what the visitor is there to see. If anything gets in the way of that, then the visitor’s focus shifts away from the content, and they may lose interest or miss the point.
Make sure that every design choice you make puts your content, whether that be articles, movies, music, or pictures, front and centre.
Web zen is a site that lives up to its name quite well: it is sparse and straightforward and keeps features to a bare minimum, letting nothing get in the way of the content, which consists of a themed set of links to interesting stuff.
It might almost seem ridiculous to have a webpage with so little on it, but the result is a very focused design. There is no explanation of what the site is about, but there doesn’t need to be, because the content is right there in front of the visitor. With no ads, blocks of text, or distracting graphics to get in the way, web zen loses no time in getting the visitor to start digging in to the site.
The Lesson: Keep things simple. You don’t have to be as minimal as web zen, of course, but the basic design principles it embodies are important: if you have ads, make sure they don’t get in the way, make sure nothing that isn’t the main content is distracting, and if you don’t need it on there, get rid of it.
The challenge is balancing simplicity with the other important features included on your site: the more features you add, or have to add, the more complex the site becomes. But with a bit of organization and some smart cuts, a simple design that ensures the visitor doesn’t get confused, lost, or frustrated can be achieved.
As we go about “realizing” our New Year’s resolutions were maybe just a bit too stringent, I’m going review the top five games in Linux. Once the great downfall of the platform, gaming can now only be considered a strength, in the hopes you take up this guilty pleasure and wait for 2010 before you give up on gaming. May I present the premier Linux gaming software with the best from each genre.
This FPS (first-person shooter) game is portable on all main operating systems (Linux, Windows, Mac) and is built using the Quake engine.
Players choose between two races: aliens and humans. Both have their own unique strengths and weaknesses, and both are opposing teams on the same map. Whilst uncommon for an FPS, Tremulous allows you to build working structures that serve many functions, the most important being “respawning,” whereby if a player is killed, he reappears at a respawn site. Kills for your race earn you credits. For humans, this means better weapons or upgrades; for aliens, kills enable them to evolve into more powerful beings, the most powerful being the “Tyrant”. The objective behind the game is to not only kill all players of the opposing team (i.e. race) but also to destroy their “respawning” site(s), so that they can’t reappear. With an average of 400 users online at a time, there won’t be a moment left in the day to regret the amount of time you spent playing.
According to SourceForge statistics the game has been downloaded over 1,000,000 times as of 16/10/2008. It was also voted Player’s Choice Standalone Game Of The Year in the Mod Of The Year 2006 competition.
Like all great software, it’s open source and can be readily made available to you from the follow link: http://tremulous.net/
Meaning “roast meat” in German, this C++ written FPS runs on the main operating systems (Windows, Macs and Linux) and is built using the rendering engine Cube 2, for those of you who aren’t keen followers of the Quake movement (as with Tremulous). The main distinction to make between Tremulous and Sauerbraten is the ability to edit the geometry of the map ingame. Coupled with an emphasis on 6-directional gameplay, this dynamic is going to keep you hooked. It supports both Singleplayer and Multiplayer modes, and the latter of the two offers three possible gameplays: Deathmatch, Last Man Standing, and Capture (whereby teams fight over certain areas of the map). For the Singleplayer mode, there is plenty to keep you busy, unlike in Tremulous. You have the option to play scenarios split into episodes, Deathmatches with bots ganging up on you, and the game even goes so far as to provide levels where you can fight in slow-motion.
MacWorld UK gave it four out of five stars, whereas Games For Windows: The Official Magazine mentioned it in Issue 3 with the reference “perfect for both stingy and creative gamers alike.” But now for an organization whose opinion matters… Phoronix, a purely Linux-orientated hardware and software reviews gave it a positive rating due to “several enchancements to its underlying “Cube 2″ engine”.
Like all great software, it’s open source and can be readily made available to you from the follow link: http://sauerbraten.org/
Warzone 2100 (Strategy)
If you liked StarCraft, you’ll love this. The “3-D cross-platform real-time strategy” denotation doesn’t do justice to this once-proprietary program. This game is highly customizable, allowing everything from a wide array of camera angles, to the ability to customize drive systems (e.g. wheels/track) of your units. Warzone 2100 follows an episodic gameplay structure, following a sequence of scenerios whereby you have a time limit to complete the objectives stated using construction, upgrading, recruitment, etc. for the availability of the manpower required for the task. The latest stable version was released January 12, 2009.
Warzone 2100, once developed for the PlayStation (rating of 76%) and Windows, is now praised by the likes of IGN and Gamespot, which had the following to say about the game:
“Warzone 2100′s highly navigatable 3D engine, unique campaign structure, and multiplayer gameplay should please most real-time strategy fans”.
Like all great software, it’s open source and can be readily made available to you from the follow link: http://wz2100.net/
This Spanish game, developed using Glest Advanced Engine, is basically a cross between Tremulous and Warzone 2100. It imitates the 3-D, real-time strategy idea of Warzone 2100 but with a medieval theme. It mimics Tremulous in that there are two opposing factions, Magic and Tech, both with their own strengths and weaknesses, both fighting each other on the same map. The Tech team is composed of conventional warriors with medieval weapons at their disposals, with their own unique set of units, buildings and upgrades. The Magic team is targeted at more experienced users where most of their army is “morphed” or “summoned.” Whilst lacking close combat skill, it makes up for it in brute power and versatility. For those of you who loved StarCraft on Windows – this is the game for you.
Like all great software, it’s open source and can be readily made available to you from the follow link: http://glest.wikia.com/wiki/GetGlest
For those among us who miss hearing the upbeat music of Level 1 SuperMario, may I present SuperTux. It’s the classic side-scrolling adventure game we all played in our childhood, only now, instead of Mario you have “Tux”, the penguin mascot of Linux. With “Penny” captured by bad guys, it’s up to Tux to rescue her.
Receiving Game Of The Month award by HappyPenguin.Org when it first came out, SuperTux went on to celebrate eight version updates and the SuperTux Development Team and Blizzard Entertainment are eagerly working to bring you Supertux 2. The beta release reiteration of SuperTux really brings back memories of SuperMario with multiple “Worlds”, a variety of monsters and a complimentary, childlike plot.
I hope these referrals introduce more users to the variety of games on the Linux platform. While much remains to be accomplished, we can at least revel in the progress made up to 2009, and look forward to what this year will bring for us.
By Mihai Marcas
For those who are WordPress addicts, which includes the creators of this site, you might want to check out a site that helps a user to create Website templates and blog themes.
The software program recently won the Red Ferret’s Journal’s Product of the Year for 2008, and it is no wonder why. It can make it easy to create websites for WordPress and other CMS products.
Artisteer also has some automated tools that do not require a first-class web designer to be able to use, just the average user. In other words, you can make some terrific looking templates from scratch, even if you don’t know scratch about web design.
So, is this the way of the future? Let’s hope so, because it will empower people like me, who are not very computer literate to create some adequate websites. Let’s hope not, because we might lose the originality that needs to happen for future sites.
Yes, you might want to check out the program that allows you to immediately become a Web design expert, editing and slicing graphics, coding XHTML and CSS, and creating Web design templates and WordPress themes, all in minutes, without Photoshop or Dreamweaver, and no technical skills. You can download it now on the Aristeer web site.
The plan: Ring in the new year by switching over to Linux for a week, documenting each day of the transition.
Day Two, Installation Continued, Pure Linux-using Bliss (Hopefully).
Yesterday was a bit of an ordeal, but I’m ready to forgive, forget, and move on. So today I log on to the forums to see what the linuxperts have to say. (I thought up that word myself, and if you use it I’ll sue the hell out of you.)
We exchange a few posts and I do some stuff that is really not worth talking about. (It was, like, super-boring.) My computer chugs away, working on what I set it to do, and I head to the kitchen to reheat some crispy squid from last night while I wait for Mr. Forum Guy That Knows Way More Than I Do to get back to me. (The crispy squid was delicious, but could definitely have used some sweet and sour sauce, or perhaps a nice hoisin, if you must know.)
Forum Dude gets back to me, and it looks like that option to try using Ubuntu without installing that I ignored as hard as I could is not only pretty clever, but is also actually useful! It turns out I’m going to have to load up Ubuntu in test-mode, where I will venture into the dreaded lair of my nemesis… The Console.
I begin to panic, sweat, and vomit uncontrollably at the thought of using a console again. (Or is it the reheated squid? No time to think about that now, must start consoling.) As I watch that dreadful cursor blink menacingly at me I experience intense flashbacks of my DOS console telling me that Ultima.exe has failed due to insufficient virtual memory. I muster up the courage to bring my fingers to the keyboard and begin to type about grubs and roots and sudos or something.
Success! The memories are fuzzy, but according to Super Forum Guy I just reconfigured the boot loader on my Ubuntu drive. Next I just have to go into my BIOS, make sure it’s set to boot from a USB drive, and reboot so that it can… Error 23.
Ah, Error 23: the old middle finger and crotch thrust again. I think I’m starting to understand your language, Linux. Your a feisty one, but I like your moxy.
My next step is to contemplate suicide for a moment. Once I’m done reflecting on flinging myself off of my balcony onto the Geo Metro below my window, I head to the forums again. And… you know what? This is, like, getting super-boring again. I’m just going to fast-track this whole deal to the part where I get it working. For those of you who enjoyed reading the minutia of my mental ordeal, feel free to pretend there is a bunch of writing and bad jokes in between this paragraph and the next.
[A bunch of writing, bad jokes, and three or four fantastic adventures]
Success! I finally did it! I got Ubuntu Linux working! The best part was definitely when I had to switch the Golden Idol for a suitably weighted decoy so that my Linux distro wouldn’t breathe fire on me.
My first point of order is to check out what writing programs there are on here, so that I can write. (That’s what I do, in case you didn’t know.) To my delight Open Office is already installed. This is a fantastic feature, as I’ve always believed that every OS should come with something as basic as a word processor by default. I’m pretty sure the PC industry is the only one in which it is perfectly acceptable to charge someone hundreds of dollars to be able to write. (Oh, you want to write with your typewriter? You’ve got to buy the $400 MS Typewriter Suite if you want to do that, mister. Duh.)
After a bit of writing I decide to take some screenshots, and I am delighted once again when I find out that pressing the print screen button in Ubuntu automatically saves your screenshot as a .png, circumventing the need to do all that copying and pasting; a very nice feature, and one that you’d think would be common place by now. Next step is to edit the images I just captured, so I head to the Gimp, which was also included with Ubuntu. Gimp seems to be much better than MS paint, and slightly better than the nothing that is included with a Mac. Besides, I love Gimps; they’re such cute little creatures.
Finally I must head to the Internet, so I look for whatever browser is included. When I do find the browser I am thricely delighted; Firefox, everybody’s favourite browser, comes pre-installed. And here I was worrying that Internet Explorer might be installed, and I’d have to go and delete everything associated with it except for the Internet Explore .exe file which Windows forbids you from tampering with, on punishment of slapping you on the wrist and telling you, “Bad computer user!”
And with that I log in to WordPress and begin typing the very article you are reading right now. Overall I must say I’m very impressed with Ubuntu; everything a person expects a computer to do can be done with Ubuntu, given that everything you need is already pre-loaded. I’m a firm believer that when you buy a computer it should just work, and that includes having fully functional versions of programs that do basic things like word-processing, web browsing and image editing. Although me and Ubuntu had some tumultuous times early in our relationship, I think we’re starting to see eye to eye.
In the short time I’ve used it today I’ve found that Ubuntu is easy to use and has lots of neat features. It even told me that my battery might have been recalled and that I might need to replace it, instead of just letting it explode in my face like that jerk Windows would. True friendship is, after all, not letting something explode in your friend’s face.
So that’s it for today; tune in tomorrow, when I do more stuff with Linux!
Everyone’s favorite open source blogging engine has recently opened up their latest version with 2.7, which has a significant upgrade that makes huge improvements to the user interface.
Hopefully, this will work out better than version 2.5, which was not well-received after Automattic, the parent company of WordPress, updated the publishing interface. Fortunately, version 2.7 has so many customization options that the user can rearrange anything to his or her liking.
Customization is also big when it comes to new features like the ability to create sticky posts, which allows posts to remain on the homepage no matter when it was published. In addition to this, there is also a bookmarklet function that allows the user to select something to quote, click the bookmarklet, and the post is off without having to visit the Admin page.
There is also a way to compose a post and reply to comments from the dashboard, which is this version’s biggest change. It is, of course, fully customizable.
Perhaps the most interesting development is that there is a rumor budding that soon WordPress may soon be able to create a social network as well as a blog. So, will you be able to create your own Facebook or MySpace? I suppose that time will tell. For now, there is just some groundwork laid in the code, but at least users have the power here.
It looks like Microsoft has put its foot into the blog market with the release of Oxite, a new open-source blogging infrastructure.
According to Microsoft, Oxite was designed to make many of the more difficult-to-manage functions of blogs, such as trackback, RSS, and comments, as simple as basic blog features.
Another unique aspect of Oxite is that it is written in ASP.Net MVC. ASP.Net MVC is Microsoft’s web-program development framework. This makes Oxite the first large-scale blogging software written in Microsoft’s MVC framework, meaning Oxite integrates into other Microsoft development platforms, such Visual Studio. Oxite also serves to display what can be done with such tools.
Since Oxite is licensed under the open source Microsoft Public License, the code is available on Microsoft’s CodePlex site. Microsoft also announced that the source code for Mix Online, an example of a site built with Oxite, will be made available online.
So what does this all mean? Is Oxite a viable alternative to other blogging platforms? If you are an average blog user, then no, Oxite is most likely not the right choice for you. Microsoft says that Oxite was not developed as a competitor to suites like blogger or wordpress. Instead, Oxite is geared towards professional developers. Although, given that it is an open source, community-driven project, we may one day see a release of Oxite made for public consumption.
So, if you are a professional developer looking for an alternative blog-development platform, Oxite may be worth a look, especially if you work heavily in visual Studio, which Oxite is closely linked to. Juding by the Mix Online website, it looks like Oxite is capable of producing some very nice blogs.