Tala Ko

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I ended my last entry with a cautionary remark about doing both integration and aggregation with your social networks.
To illustrate what would happen, let’s say you’ve integrated by configuring your Twitter to send tweets to Livejournal, and blip.fm to send blips to Twitter — effectively making LiveJournal an aggregator for both blip.fm and Twitter. Then you integrate further by setting ping.fm — say, in your excitement that such a service existed, you weren’t thinking — to post to Twitter, Livejournal, and Jaiku. Then — in more excitement — you set your Jaiku to aggregate LJ, Twitter, blip.fm, and ping.fm.
If you’re still with me, you’ll know that your LJ will now display blips, pings, and duplicate tweets, because of ping (hey, the web’s a musical place). And, your Jaiku will now display duplicate LJ entries (one via LJ and one via ping), triplicate tweets (one via LJ, ping, and Twitter each), triplicate blips (one each via Twitter and LJ, plus the actual blip) and quadruplicate pings (one each of the pinged services plus the actual ping).
Basically, whoever wants to know what’s new with you by going to Jaiku (first music, then rhymes with Jaiku; the record producer will be here any minute now) will read what’s up — two, three, or four times. More, depending on how many services you integrate and/or aggregate without thinking, (especially if your integrator can send directly to your aggregator). That’s what’ll happen unless either service is programmed to recognize and weed out duplicates.
If you don’t choose just one, these services that are supposed to organize for you will require some organization from you, defeating their purpose entirely.
I integrate Clipmarks into my LJ and WordPress blogs. For my clips to show up on Tumblr, without duplicating, I had to choose which blog Tumblr would aggregate: LJ, or WordPress? I chose WordPress because any Tumblr reader of mine wouldn’t really be deprived of a non-clip LJ entry.
Now, if I wanted Tumblr to aggregate Clipmarks directly, I would have to disable the integration with WordPress — but I don’t want to, because I think the clips are a great supplement to readers of my WordPress blog. You see? (I’ll understand if you don’t.)
To sum this second part up:
Web life with integration OR aggregation: Send a ping-like integrative post to everywhere you post. Log off. / Post on all your different networks, knowing it will all be aggregated later. Log off.
Web life with blind integration AND aggregation: Post and ping. Go to anything you’ve set to aggregate and delete duplicates one-by-one. Log off.
Web life with somewhat organized integration AND aggregation: Post. Take note of all integration/aggregation activity. Integrate those that aren’t aggregated yet. Aggregate those that aren’t integrated yet. Cross-post if you must. Weed out duplicates and fix settings. If you can’t handle it anymore, wait for the rise of a social network aggregator aggregator and sign up. Repeat. (It is now nearly impossible to log off.)
Before I close and go on to part three, I’ll leave you with these suggestions. How do you choose between integrating or aggregating?
Choose integration if you are a member of various networks and post the same content across all networks.
Choose aggregation if, like me, you post different content on different networks. Stop cross-posting selected content and just give each network your aggregator’s URL. To say any more at this point would be to preempt Part 3.
I’ve noticed that some form of online social network integration and/or aggregation is getting cooler and cooler. Given the nature of the Web, that little insight of mine is already old news to everyone else — that’s evidenced by the increasing number of services that offer some form of cross-posting, link-sharing, automatic-adding, or whatever they call it, to an online service that they don’t run.
Let’s examine this whole thing, shall we?
So I don’t confuse you (or myself), think of an integration service as one remote control that simultaneously changes channels for multiple TVs, so they all display your favorite show. Think of aggregation as the opposite — one TV screen that displays all your different shows at once.
Some sites offer integration alongside whatever it is you do there, making sure that whatever you post, upload, or clip there will also appear elsewhere. Want other people to read that CNN.com article? Look for the “Share” link at the bottom to send it through Mixx, Digg, Facebook, stumbleupon, del.icio.us, reddit, and MySpace.
Now similarly, some sites will aggregate for you, so that they automatically appear with other content you’ve already created there. For instance, if you have a Tumblr, you can set it to import your Twitter and WordPress content, and it will appear between what you tumble.
There are super-sites, however, that are devoted entirely to integration or aggregation. Ping.fm allows you to post content from your preferred location (browser, instant messaging client, mobile phone, etc.) to multiple networks. To make sure that everyone you know online — whichever social network they prefer — gets word of how you feel about school, what happened when you saw your crush at church, or this pervert who tried to feel you up on the train, send one ping.
An aggregation-only service like Jaiku or Friendfeed, meanwhile, is the catchall to make sure that (1) you keep track of what you’ve posted where and (2) everyone you know who’s online on any network can do the same. Remember that CNN.com article? If you Digged it, you also fed it to your Friendfeed, along with that blog post you made about the guitarist in the praise band.
To sum this first part up:
Web life before integration: Post a blog entry at Blogger. Log in to Livejournal; copy-paste Blogger entry so that LJ friends can read. Log in to Xanga; copy-paste Blogger/LJ entry so that Xanga friends can read. Log in to WordPress…

Web life after integration: Send a ping. Blogger, Livejournal, Xanga, etc. friends get to read.

Web life before aggregation: Give fellow Twitter users your Twitter URL. Give fellow Livejournal users your LJ URL. Give fellow Multiply users your Multiply URL…
Web life after aggregation: Give everyone just one URL (probably your Friendfeed).

Pretty handy, right? You’ve saved yourself time and energy; now you can log off and do something in the real world (which you will probably blog about later). Yay!
Please stay on long enough to get this warning, though, one I wish someone had given to me before I dove in: choose only one. It has to be integration or aggregation, one or the other, because doing integration+aggregation may send your offline life into a vegetative state. Things will get annoying, if not really confusing.
Stay tuned for Part 2.

I’ve decided to take what I’ve learned and put it into a tutorial. But just so you know, these things aren’t new. I’m just compiling information from other sources and presenting them here for other Wind users’ benefit. A more apt title for this post would be “How I Got Ubuntu 8.04.1 Running on the MSI Wind U100.”

These instructions are for setting up an Ubuntu-only system, plus guides for getting the wireless and webcam to work. If you got Windows on your Wind and want to keep it, I suggest you search for a dual-boot guide first.

Anyway, let’s go:

Read the rest of this entry »

This is officially the first Tala Ko blog post written on my netbook. :)

While I’m not wireless at the moment, I did manage to compile drivers for the wireless card using this guide. I was a little apprehensive at first, because I don’t often use the command line. I was afraid that I was going to break something. But after reading related forum posts (I <3 the Ubuntu community), I was reassured, and I dove into the command line just… under ten minutes ago!

I know the wifi’s working because it detected three wireless networks within the building – none of them offering free access, hence the gray LAN cable twisting near my toes.

I think I’ll now download Cheese, to see if I can get the webcam working. :)

I was thinking of getting Smart Bro Prepaid, but the feedback hasn’t been all that great. Wonder how my roommate and I should get Internet access once we’ve moved out of our relatives’ homes.

Other Tala: our office IT department is thinking of enforcing its policy that Internet Explorer be the only browser in use. :( I’m thinking, though, that our department can get some exceptions. As the web developing team, it should make sense that we get to use as many different browsers as possible, to make sure that our work is accessible to as many people as possible.

In any case, IT won’t crack down without hearing from the folks at the office first. Poor guys.

Pardon the corny title. :) Yesterday, I was able to buy an MSI Wind U100 with some money from a savings account that my dad started when I was smaller (thanks, Dad). I needed to be more mobile, and he agreed that a laptop would be a good investment.

I’ve named it Teacup, after the ones in “Train Man,” by Hitori Nakano. My desktop PC is named Stella, after the abandoned theater in “The Thief Lord,” by Cornelia Funke. Just felt like sharing.

I’d done research before going to the store. But even if I already knew what I wanted, I let the clerk go through the motions. They didn’t have it in pink or red. I don’t really love pink or red; I just wanted the chassis to be different from the usual black or white units.

I asked for the OS-less Wind, of course; no use paying extra for Windows XP when I was just going to delete it. I did, however, accept their offer to install, at no extra cost, a trial version of XP, just so I could try out all the hardware’s bells and whistles.

Once at home, I’d determined that all the bells were ringing and the whistles whistling within about fifteen minutes. Five, if Trixi and I hadn’t been goofing around in front of the webcam.

I soon reached for a GNU/Linux installer.

I downloaded the Puppy Linux ISO first, because it was only 88Mb large. The MSI Wind doesn’t have a CD-ROM drive, so I decided to try UNetbootin to turn my USB Stick into a LiveUSB. The tool’s amazing. :D It’s quick, and it works.

Puppy Linux didn’t detect my screen settings properly, though. :/ After asking at the forums, I still didn’t learn the proper configurations, and then one poster finally said that Puppy probably didn’t support my screen. :(

Back to Ubuntu, then. I downloaded the ISO from an Indonesian mirror and got it intact on the first try, within a few hours! The first time I ever downloaded the ISO, I chose the Taiwanese mirror, because it was geographically nearer. But it took a whole day, and quite a few tries (so, a few days) before I could get a good ISO. :p

UNetbootin again (I feel really sorry for my USB stick. But now that I have a laptop, it should now get some rest from all my PortableApping.). Ubuntu detected my screen settings right away, so I didn’t hesitate to click on “Install.” Planned partitions with the help of the trusty Psychocat tutorials and this byte calculator.

(Teacup, not Stella, is my first Ubuntu-only system. Will probably convert the desktop, too, once Intrepid Ibex is out.)

Installation took minutes, no hiccups at all. So, that’s it. I now have an MSI Wind running Ubuntu! :)

There’s still a lot left to do, like configure for wireless and install updates and codecs. Will let you know how that goes, of course. But in the meantime, I’ve got a busy day ahead. I’m taking the Wind and going sailing into Project Land. :)

I’m writing this post from Google Chrome. Can I just say how happy I am, that although it probably resembles Vista more, the title/tab bar reminds me of Ubuntu? *sniff*

I first read about Chrome this morning, when a co-worker brought it up. I had a lot of fun reading the comic (learned a lot, too), but to be honest, just doing my usual online activities and seeing how FAAAST everything is seems to have blown my geekery out the window. It’s like when our battered family couch was reupholstered this summer – the new look and feel just gave family couch time that extra zing, even though we knew that the same old squishy cushions were inside.

Except, based on what I’ve learned from the comic, Google Chrome doesn’t have the same old squishy cushions inside. More like, they decided to take the couch apart, find out why (besides shifting butts) it needed reupholstering in the first place, and build it from the ground up, all the way to the woven blanket my mom throws over the pillows. This foam will last longer, is just as soft, and won’t start to sag in the middle, they’re telling me.

So it’s fast, more efficient, safer from crashes, and prettier. I want to know now, what about my extensions? :( For instance, ever since I started using AdBlock Plus a few years ago, browsing hasn’t been the same. That’s one of the reasons I was so happy to finally be free of Internet Explorer (more on that later) at work. No matter how pretty and comfy this new couch is, if it doesn’t have room for Mom’s sewing kit, Dad’s can of Pringles, and my brother’s security blanket, we’re not really going to enjoy it.

Till then, I’m going back to Firefox.

And, speaking of Firefox, I wrote before that once we got our new computers in, I’d no longer need to run apps off my USB stick. I remember thinking as I booted my unit for the first time on Monday, “First thing I’m gonna do is install Firefox, the GIMP, and Pidgin.” I’d already downloaded the .exe’s the previous week, in anticipation of this golden moment that I’d be back in FOSS’s arms.

Then, I found out that IT had done something that prevented me from installing programs. I was a guest user in my own computer. (-_-‘) Apparently, any desire to do more customization than changing the wallpaper had to be cleared with them and scheduled.

I don’t know how they do computers in your office, but for me, this was just wack. I cast my USB stick an apologetic look and proceeded to fire up FirefoxPortable.

I got a prompt saying that I was attempting to run it off a disk in read-only mode. Did I want to un-write-protect my USB stick, or would I be fine copying FirefoxPortable to the Desktop and running it from there? I blinked. Why hadn’t I thought of that before?

But as IE begrudgingly unhooked its claws and slunk off into the Unused Desktop Shortcuts folder, where it belonged, my feeling of relief was mixed with annoyance. Why did I have to resort to such a workaround? Couldn’t I be trusted not to break anything?

(The answer, of course, was no. I haven’t been at the office six months, so IT doesn’t know me or how much fun I find all this geekery.)

So, of course, I had to wait till I got home to try out the Chrome.

Another hiccup caused by this no-installing-by-yourself policy is that they forgot to install a PDF reader. Anytime I get a PDF now, I have to upload it to Google Docs or convert it with Zamzar.

This reminds me of the height of the liquids ban at airports, when one lady’s baby nearly died of dehydration because some idiot wouldn’t let her take the baby’s formula on the plane. To loosely quote Banksy, somebody save me from the people who’re trying to save me.

Yes, yes, I know. To compare my situation to that is a bit of an exagerration. I must behave. I’d even go so far as to remind myself that the Bible tells me to submit to appointed authorities.

It’s just… I’m so used to having such freedom with computers that every wall I come up against – first Webwasher, and now this no-installing thing – feels like a huge injustice. :(

Hang on, now I remember something that’s a little more serious. I found a bar311 virus in my USB stick (I’m not going to point any fingers, but I know where the stick’s been). AVG didn’t find it, but ClamWinPortable did (so it’s a win for ClamWin. Hehe). I couldn’t manually remove it, and the cleaner I’d downloaded off the web wouldn’t work, either – all because I’m not allowed to edit the computer’s registry.

I decided not to tell IT, because they look pretty busy. Anyway, ClamWin told me that the virus wasn’t in the computer’s hard drive; it was just in my USB disk. So I waited till I got home (again), hooked up my Stella Baby to my relatives’ peripherals, and manually deleted the infernal files while in Ubuntu. When I opened up my USB disk at work this morning, bar311.exe was no longer a process listed in the Task Manager. (Another win for FOSS.)


I know, I can’t always get what I want… without having to resort to some kinda workaround.


Other stuff: I’m teaching myself more stuff and can’t wait till I can mess around some more with MODx. :D

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 inĀ 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