Archive for December, 2007

WordPress as a CMS…Hmm…

Monday, December 31st, 2007

Richard and I have been kicking around ideas for a Content Management System (CMS) for the Screencasters’ website. We are both new to this and are open minded to solutions. I won’t speak for Richard (although I’m sure he’s in the same boat as I) but as far as I’m concerned my mind has been racing for the last week regarding CMS. I’m not sure what is right for us. All I know is that it has to be simple to use and simple to maintain. Most importantly, it has to be compatible with my web hosting service.

Right now our main website is static. Updating is not difficult due to the fact that Richard wrote a few python scripts that piece together our HTML in the proper order. Without those scripts it would surely suck a fat one with all of the HTML that we would have to manually construct. ๐Ÿ™‚ That’s why CMS makes sense. No more fiddling with HTML. Sure…I suppose we’ll alter a few things here and there manually but I imagine that we’ll use a GUI interface to do all of the main stuff. That’s the beauty of it.

Recently, Richard purchased a few domains and web hosting for his online life. He’s has been in the middle of transferring his Blogger account over to his new WordPress account that he intends to use with his hosting package. I have been keeping tabs on his progress regarding setting up a full blown version of WordPress as opposed to a free account (that we are using for our blog). I’m not sure if he knows it but he’s been playing guinea pig. He has already gotten me to interested in installing and setting up Apache, PHP, and MySQL locally so that I can play with WordPress without hosing anything online.

Over last weekend I sat down and converted a default WordPress theme into our main Screencaster’s website. I just wanted to see if I could do it. My prototype looks pretty good so far. Now what I have is a cross between our main website and our blog website. My goal is to mesh those so that we can eliminate one or the other. Just one website to do it all. I would like to keep our main content (screencast videos) separate from blog content if possible. Not sure how to do that yet.

It took me about a day and a half to figure most of it out. There are PHP files galore in the WordPress directory structure. It took me awhile to figure out which PHP files to alter and which rules to alter in the style sheet. I have a hard time looking at someone else’s code and figuring out what they’re doing. I don’t code the same way as others. I guess I do things a little differently. Plus, I don’t know squat about PHP yet so it might as well be Latin…and since I’m Catholic I know more Latin at this point. ๐Ÿ™‚

To conclude my weekend, I walked away with the impression that WordPress could be a pretty powerful CMS solution for Richard and I. I think it would work great for our small website. We are already familiar with WordPress and it has a bazillion plugins to boot, specifically the podpress plugin for our videos. That one is awfully handy.

So what do you think? Do any of you use a CMS? Any horror stories or advice? I have read several articles regarding using WordPress as a CMS. It makes sense to use it but maybe there is something even better. Please comment or email us. We wouldn’t mind a little input. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Final Thoughts: gOS Everex PC

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Got some good news and I’ve got some bad news…

First, the good news. The Everex PC is a nice computer. I’m glad that I bought it. It’s ultra quiet and ultra light. True…the case is rather generic looking, although, I expected it to be. I didn’t even take the speakers out of the packaging because the kids already have a 2.1 speaker setup that already rattles the pictures on the walls. The keyboard is really cheap looking but ultra quiet. Typing is pretty comfortable (<- whatever that means). The mouse is a ball mouse. Not surprised nor disappointed since their old mouse was a ball mouse too.

Now for the bad. The kids thought that gOS was cool for about 5 minutes. I was hoping that they would like it but even I got a little frustrated with things while I was setting it up. It isn’t because Enlightenment sucks or anything. It has more to do with me being a KDE, Gnome, XFCE user for my entire Linux life. I’m a noob regarding gOS/Enlightenment. So rather than piss with it in frustration I just let them decide what they wanted. It’s their computer after all. That turned out to be Edubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy). They chose wisely. So I formatted the whole drive and installed a clean OS in about 20 minutes. After that I had 136 updates and some tweaking to do. 

Finally, the graphics situation wasn’t the best. The Everex PC comes with an onboard Via UniChrome Pro graphics chip. I know nothing about these. Edubuntu did not have the openChrome driver already installed (at least I couldn’t find it). It didn’t matter because I gave up rather quickly. I decided not to research this and just dump in a PCI nVidia 5200 FX card with a 128MB of memory that I already had. It’s an old card but it still worked and was plenty for SuperTux or Torcs. I knew that it would work well. Unfortunately the Everex does not have an AGP slot so you’ll have to get a PCI card if you can still find them. After getting the nVidia driver in check I was ready to go. I even have compositing running. The kids love the wobbly windows. ๐Ÿ™‚

So in conclusion, if someone out there is wishing to use the gOS Everex PC as a light gaming rig for the kids or for yourself then you may have to invest in a PCI graphics card. I was fortunate that I already had one, especially on Christmas day when I was trying to get it set up. Not often that I have that kind of luck.

The kids are happy with their new PC. Of course…they also got Guitar Hero 3 and Star Wars Complete Saga for the Wii…soooo…they haven’t spent a lot of time on the computer. ๐Ÿ˜

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007


Episode 048 – Firefox Personas

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

I had an opportunity to make a screencast last night. I actually thought that my last screencast was going to be my only screencast for December. The kids were being extra quiet so like a ninja I slipped away, put on my headphones and hit the record button. Since I wasn’t planning on recording, this screencast was a little off the cuff. Although, I think it serves it’s purpose.

Episode 048 is just a quick and dirty demonstration on how to make a custom Firefox Personas header image. Firefox Personas is a new Firefox Add-On that lets you choose or make a custom header (and footer) image. I didn’t want to take the time and make a proper header because it wasn’t necessary. Designing a header is up to you. I just wanted to show you how to get started.

Firefox Personas is still new so perhaps some of the features will change in time.

I hope you enjoy it.

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Why is it that every time I eat a chocolate covered pretzel I have flash backs from the movie Mall Rats and the nasty stink palm? Eew. ๐Ÿ˜

New Printer

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

‘Nother project last night…

I have been without a printer at home for a couple of months. Normally when equipment like this stops working I replace it immediately. I’m not sure why I waited so long before buying a new one. Busy doing other things, I guess.

Anyway, the last three printers that I have owned were HP all-in-one printers. You know the type. These are the printer, copier, scanner, and fax machines all in one box. I have always told myself that I needed all of that capability. Honestly, I rarely ever use anything but the printer. Of course, I’ll bust my ass getting all of the functions of the all-in-one to work under Linux but then I never use them once they’re set up.

So since I have been getting about two years of life out of my printers, I opted for the cheap route. This time around all I wanted was just a printer. I didn’t want a fancy photo printer and I didn’t want any features that would go unused. Plus I wanted cheap ink cartridges for once. Tired of dropping $30 for ink. Plus I’m tired of my wife crying the blues about the cost of ink when it’s her that’s using it up…and she’s the smart one.

I picked up an HP Deskjet D2430 Series printer from Tiger Direct. It was delivered last night. They don’t come any simpler than this. It almost looks like a toy. I think McDonald’s puts these in their happy meals. I could be wrong. It’s really small. Maybe this time I won’t feel so bent over when it stops working on me. There’s no digital display. Just three buttons. This thing looks like it would be easy to clean too.

Setting this printer up in Linux (openSUSE 10.3) was a cake walk as always. Do you like cake? I love the stuff. ๐Ÿ™‚ The driver was already supplied by the OS so I didn’t have to go hunting for anything. I think it took me three minutes from start to the time that it finished kicking out that green lizard test page.

What I struggled with last night was setting up a print server properly. I have never had trouble with this in the past and I was unable to figure it out last night. I couldn’t get any of my ubuntu PC’s nor Windows XP to send a test page to the printer. Sure, I could see the printer and map to it from these other computers but I just couldn’t send a test page. I had my firewall in openSUSE turned off, samba shares looked fine, cups info looked fine, permissions looked fine. Just cannot get it to share properly.

I have a NAS enclosure with a print server in it that I wasn’t using. I believe it’s running samba. So I unplugged my usb printer cord from the back of my PC and plugged it into the NAS device. This time Windows XP found it and could print but with a long delay, about a minute between the time that I hit the print button until the printer finally initialized. I figured if Windows worked than Linux should work as well. However, openSUSE was unable to map to this network printer setup. Didn’t try ubuntu. Too bad because for a second there it looked like the way to go. I’m sure I mistyped a setting or two. Nevertheless, I gave up on it quickly.

So I unplugged from my NAS and plugged back into my PC and called it quits for the night. I am not sure what I am forgetting. I have a crappy memory for stuff like this. I have always used the KDE printer manager to set this up in the past and this time I do not have it installed. Maybe I should go that route if I still can. In the meantime, at least I can print…so the heck with everyone else in my household. ๐Ÿ˜‰ On the other hand, if they were crafty, they could just VNC into my machine and print what they wanted. Yeah…you’re right…they’ll never do that.

Xubuntu Alongside gOS’s Enlightenment

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

If some of you caught a previous post of mine, I bought an Everex gOS PC recently for my kids for Christmas. Like I had said before I thought that this PC would be perfect for children. It’s a budget PC with a budget OS that should handle the tasks of a 9, 8, and 4 year old quite nicely. My kids do not fully understand or appreciate the beauty of cheap hardware and a bitchin’ operating system. They just want it to work and they’ll put pressure on the ‘ole man if it’s not. So I’m hoping that this computer handles their needs.

So I was thinking about my xubuntu experience from last night. I was so impressed with xubuntu’s polish that maybe it would be a better fit for my kids in comparison to gOS’s Enlightenment desktop manager. Don’t get me wrong, gOS’s Enlightenment desktop manager is pretty sweet too but there will be a slight learning curve for them. I installed gOS in VirtualBox so that I could get myself familiar with it in the meantime. There are a few things that I find difficult to use in Enlightenment. If they are difficult for me then those difficulties will be amplified for my kids.

In theory since gOS is based on ubuntu 7.10 and since I have access to the ubuntu repositories, I should be able to install xubuntu (ubuntu, kubuntu, and edubuntu) if I wanted. That way they could choose which one to use.

So I put it to the test. I booted into gOS in VirtualBox and installed xubuntu. I logged out after it finished installing and I was back at the gOS login screen. At this login screen I could NOT pick which session to run. So I just logged in and to my surprise I logged into xubuntu. From here I changed the login screen from gOS to xubuntu’s default so that I could choose which session to run in the future, Enlightenment or xubuntu (or whatever else that I installed).

Basically, this worked out rather well. If my children have trouble using Enlightenment then I can install whatever desktop manager that they would be most productive in without having to format. How flippn’ convenient is that? ๐Ÿ™‚

Firefox Personas

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

Finally! I’ll be able make a Britney Spears theme for Firefox using Personas.

Xubuntu 7.10

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

One of my children’s laptops took a dive on me last night. Nothing mechanical, just the OS. This particular laptop had ubuntu 6.06 installed. I know, lazy father cannot update his kid’s operating system, is what your thinking. In my defense they only play a handful of games on it anyway. So we’re good.

Since this laptop is old and slow I decided to try out xubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy). I have always liked ubuntu’s version of XFCE4. In my opinion it’s a very polished looking distro. Furthermore, it doesn’t feel too different from regular ubuntu so my kids are comfortable going back and forth from there other ubuntu flavored computers.

Having just written the above paragraph, I must now confess something. Xubuntu was not my first choice. I actually installed edubuntu 7.10 but it was so damn slow that it would have surely driven my kids nuts. I kept it installed and just issued a ‘sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop’ so I would not have to sit in front of the installer again. Nice feature, huh? I suppose I should have installed xubuntu from the get go but I was too impatient. I had an edubuntu disc lying around and was in the process of downloading xubuntu. Had to do something while I was waiting for my download. Live and learn but I wasn’t disappointed in the end. Besides I got to check out edubuntu a little…which is pretty nice too.

Anyway, this isn’t a review of any kind but damn!, the xubuntu team put together a fine distro. Here’s another example of a desktop manager that I could use on a daily basis. And I would bet that it would scream on some faster hardware. It’s no wonder people distro hop all of the time. There are so many good ones out there to choose from.

This is why I love using Linux. Choose the right distro and it’s very flexible. It bends to the needs of the user. Think about it…could you install the latest OS from Microsoft on a computer that was 7-8 years old? Oh, it might install but have fun using it. Cripes, Vista barely runs well on a new computer.

Ubuntu’s slogan should be, โ€œUbuntu: Keep your old hardware…you’ll want it.โ€ ๐Ÿ™‚

And I shouldn’t forget. My son, who was doing the pee pee dance in anticipation of playing Super Tux again (during the install), is happy once more.

Ulteo – OpenOffice in a Web Browser

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

How would you like to run the latest OpenOffice completely on line in a web browser? Web applications like this do not appeal to me (yet) but if some of you are interested then check out Ulteo. The creator of Ulteo is none other than Gael Duval, the founder of Mandrake. At this time the project is still in beta and selecting a limited few as beta testers.