Tala Ko

Archive for August 2008

One of our consultants installed two FOSS Content Management Systems in his own server so we could play around with them. Here are the notes I took while doing just that:

MODx: Manager users cannot log in from the front; Web users can’t log in from the back. Moderators/Admins need both a Manager and a Web account.
WordPress: No need to switch between accounts when working in front or out back.
MODx: Supports Page Parents and Children, with a nice tree that shows the numbering of each page.
WordPress: Also supports Page Families, but without a numbered tree. HOWEVER, it more easily allows URL customization.
MODx: Has an Import HTML function, which might make transition from static to CMS-based easier.
WordPress: Does not have Import HTML. :/
MODx: Requires you to learn MODx tags to add certain things.
WordPress: As far as I can tell, you’ll be fine with the usual languages.
MODx: Need to write a template.
WordPress: Need to write a template.
We’ve decided on MODx upon the consultant’s recommendation, though. The interface could be a little easier to navigate, but the overall system makes it easier to do what we want to do. Anyone here who’s got experience using these CMS’s?
Of course, we’ll be back to square one on the search for a free CMS if the server doesn’t support SQL (I already know that it supports PHP). :p It isn’t a Linux server, that I know for sure. :(
The funny thing is, I found out that most of us younger people on the web team are pretty supportive of FOSS. But IT ordered us computers that run Windows, because the rest of the office uses Windows. *sigh*
Maybe one day, I can tell someone in Admin how much money we could save if we all just used Ubuntu. :D
People at the office are starting to ask us how the website is coming along, and when they’ll be able to see it. I don’t have the heart to say that it’ll take a little longer, as we still have to figure out the CMS stuff. And we’re also redesigning!
Hmph. I wish I had something for Tala other than work stuff, but most of the tech I encounter these days is encountered at work. I’m going to go look for Clips. :p

Recently, I read some posts (1 and 2) by Larry Dignan on ZDNet. He had this to say:

The OS will never be totally irrelevant, but it will be increasingly less important. It’ll be plumbing.

He also introduced me to the idea of “the Webtop, which will deliver programs through the browser.”

Actually, the idea doesn’t surprise me. Sometime ago, I wrote that what I do in Ubuntu isn’t all that different from what I do in Windows. I consider my use of Ubuntu a show of support for computing freedoms, even though I as a non-programmer aren’t equipped to fully use those freedoms.

I could have gone further and said that what I do in Ubuntu isn’t all that different from what I do in Windows, because I can do most of what I need to do through my cross-platform browser, Firefox. Most of that work is done with Google apps, too: GMail, Google Notebook, Google Docs, etc. I also prefer the web-based version of Yahoo! Messenger because it’s nice and neat (and kind of a ripoff of Pidgin’s tabbed chat window, but hey). I just can’t use it at work because of the URL filter. :p

The point is that as long as there are browsers and browser-based applications (once I get the hang of a browser-based image editing app, I’ll be all set), it doesn’t really matter what OS I use. Except, as I said before, as a matter of principle. Principle behind the plumbing.

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The K2 theme has gotten wonky, so I changed to [ ]. Will fix the image header eventually. Any theme I try seems wonky, meaning the right-hand column appears at the bottom of the entire blog instead. Wish I could view it on the work computer to see if it’s just the home computer that has a problem. What do you see?

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I remembered this OS-becoming-less-important thing because we’ll finally be getting our own computers (which will run either XP or Vista) at the office soon. No more borrowing from the Tech department’s supply of standby laptops. No more putting my USB stick on the rack with portable apps; now it’ll be back to simply storing files. :)

A few posts back, I mentioned that I’d started work for the website of a local church. While on the job, I found a bunch of sites that were a great help to me, so I decided to share them:

The Internet Ministry Conference – site of an annual conference on, well, Internet ministry. Contains schedules, an insightful blog (lately, the topic was evangelism and social networking), and links to other ‘net ministry-related sites. The conference itself will have various talks on ministry, web design, and programming.

Church Marketing Sucks – all about improving the image of the church as presented through church websites. Points seekers to resources while providing its own tips and thoughts on making church marketing not suck.

Ekklesia360 – Content Management Systems for church websites. This isn’t just a great solution for the web-challenged; on the whole, CMS’s can save the web team a lot of time.

Circle Builder – Helps you build your own online community for your faith-based group. It’s open not just to Christians, but also to groups of all faiths.

Internet Evangelism Day – Like the conference, this is a project of Gospel Communications. This site has a lot of tips, tools, and articles about improving a church website’s writing style, navigation, design, and so forth. Ironically enough, I find IED’s site design a little dated, but that doesn’t diminish the value of the insight one can find on the site.

The next three links are examples of the kind of online activity that my employers want their church (can’t say ‘my’ church yet because I’m not yet a member) to eventually go into.

Lifechurch – A church that conducts its services online. Messages and music are broadcast live to 12 different locations around the US.

Truth Media – One-on-one counseling and sharing of the good news about Jesus online.

I’ll throw in just one more link: Relevant Magazine is something that I’d like to see for Christian youth here in the Philippines.

A little about myself, now. Yes, I am a Christian. I like the work I’m being asked to do, and I wouldn’t mind doing it for a while. It’s fun. And it’s nice to get the opportunity to show people on both sides of the belief gap that faith, science, and technology aren’t always a bad mix.

On another note, while working on some site content, I got the idea for a church group / ministry group that I’d like to see and join. I’d like to see a group that gathers to discuss advancements in science and technology in light of God’s Word and plan for the universe. To be more specific, it would be a faith-based group that isn’t afraid to talk about aliens, genetics, parallel universes, Mitochondrial Eve, and evolution. They’d geek out in order to (attempt to) answer the question, “If this is true about our universe, what does that tell us about our God?”

The group would also promote and participate in conservation activities, simply because human beings aren’t the only part of Creation of which God made us keepers. We have dominion over the earth in the same way that a good politician has dominion over his constituents – he’s the last to be served.

*dreamy sigh…* How awesome that would be.

Okay. Been working for over a week now, and I haven’t had time to blog. I have the rest of my lunch break to finish this post, though. :)

I started using Google Notebook today and found it to be a great way for me to stay organized.

The little planner that I bring along with me has turned out to be too little to contain everything that I have to scribble down. It’s gotten messy, too. The other thing I did before Google Notebook was to create all these text files, and that got messy, as well.

The first thing that turned up in my search was a blog post about Google Notebook. I actually thought, ‘Not another Google thing.’ I wanted a little variety, and besides, the description didn’t match what I thought I needed – a web-based form of Post-It notes. But after bookmarking websites kept turning up in the search results, in the end, I found myself back at Google Notebook.

Screencap Google Notes

As you can see, I have two Notebooks in my Google Notebook account: one for work things and one for personal, when-you’re-not-at-work things (including topics for blog posts, haha). And inside each Notebook, I have notes, of course.

Organization is pretty simple. With a few simple clicks and drags, they can be reordered as I like. Each note can be labeled ala GMail labels, so that I can view all notes of one label at a time, regardless of which sub-Notebook it’s in (In WordPress terms, Categories:Notebooks as Tags:Labels).

After a while, I realized that its system would keep me a lot more organized than a lot of little yellow squares on the screen. I’ll be using it to

EDIT:

I have no memory of how that sentence was supposed to end. This post was all but done. But when I clicked Publish, the next screen I saw was something from a URL filter telling me that I wasn’t allowed to access the site because it was a blog. I’d been typing away for a good half hour till then. >:p When I logged on again here at the house, I saw that the draft hadn’t been saved completely.

I know that the Webwasher thingy is a program, not a person. But come on. It was break time. :p

Not only blogging, but also chatting, instant messaging, and web radio are filtered out. For a little over a week, I was able to use Twitter every now and then, but that, too, was eventually blocked. I understand that URL filters keep people from looking at dangerous or distracting sites. I just wish that the one at the office would get its ratings/definitions right.

Plain-text lyrics websites are blocked because they’re “Entertainment/Movie.” Wikipedia is blocked, because it’s a “Newsgroup/Blog!” Twitter was blocked because it was a “Dating/Relationships” site. It’s not. Technically, it’s more of a “Chat/Instant Messaging” site, but that’s not the point. Now I’m wondering if they’ll accuse me of online dating on the job. :p

I’d also like to use Chikka to send business texts, because I don’t want to pay to do part of my job. :/

I think what smarts the most is that using a filter implies that we can’t be trusted. Why not just get a simpler porn and mal-ware blocker? Sure, every now and then, I might look up someone’s blog or fire off a Tweet. But I’m not going to do that all day; after all, “no work, no pay” is an actual phrase in my contract. Just knowing that my computer faces a wall, and that anyone passing by can see what’s on my screen, is enough to make sure I don’t change windows for more than five minutes. What’s more is, I actually don’t want to do any blogging myself, at the office; it’s something I want to save for my own time. But it’s nice to know I’d have the option on, say, a slow day.