If you have visited this site before you might have noticed that things are looking a little bit different around here. There is a new look and also the software that the site runs on has been upgraded. Since the site started it has run on an installation of Drupal 5, which is of course part of history now and no longer supported. It was great to get three and a half years service out of that version of Drupal but the time had come to move on and upgrade to Drupal 7 in order that the site will have the features it needs going forward. Upgrading was an interesting experience though and maybe a little time consuming!
The release of Drupal 7 was a long time in coming and is a major upgrade from and means major changes for anybody used to working with Drupal, the popular content management system and web application framework. Every major version number means lots of new features, but also breaking changes making upgrading possibly tricky depending on how your site is set up. It also means that you need to know what the benefits are of the new version before deploying Drupal. In an attempt to address this need Packt Publishing have released Drupal 7 First Look by Mark Noble and were kind enough to send me an electronic review copy.
The demise or otherwise of social bookmarking service Delicious has set tongues wagging across the Internet. Does it mean we can't trust cloud services? Or nothing of the sort? In reality I think this story shows us nothing new, it is just another manifestation of an age old problem. As the old saying goes “if you want something doing, do it yourself”, but you can't do everything yourself so you have to trust other people at some point and that is where risk comes in. One way to reduce that risk is to have alternatives that you can switch to easily (and consequently this is why vendor lock-in can be so dangerous). Fortunately with Delicious there are a number of ready to go alternatives and one I have been experimenting with a self-hosted solution called Scuttle.
I am alone on a small island that is about the size of a roundabout in the middle of a vast ocean. With my ghostly body I look up at the night sky and contemplate what to do next. Maybe I will make the sun rise, build some more land or just read some more of the wiki. I've just installed OpenSimulator (a.k.a. OpenSim), a "3D Application Server". What this means is that it can be used to host "virtual worlds", a bit like SecondLife. In fact you can use the SecondLife Viewer as a client for it. After hearing about at various points for quite a while and finding a really good set of instructions on how to set it up, I couldn't resist having a go, even though creating virtual worlds is a bit of an excursion for me.
Since my last blog post on the Nokia N900 I have been experimenting more with this Linux powered device and thought it was time to go a little further to see what it could do. Just over two years ago I wrote about using the Asus EEE PC as a “server in your handbag” running Apache 2, MySQL and PHP. I could not help wondering if such a feat was possible on the N900, after all it is a Linux machine, a small computer, but running the LAMP stack on a mobile phone? Maemo, the N900's operating system is a derivative of Debian, but the packages needed have not (yet) been ported, however, there was another route: Easy Debian.
Do you like my Random Content block? I thought it would be nice to show people random selections from previous entries on my website as another way, along with the Popular Content block, to help visitors discover pages that they might be interested in. The way it was done is a little hack-ish, and it would be better to write this up as a module, but it does give an example of a custom content block using the PHP filter.
If you fancy using the Asus EEE as a development environment for you web projects then you are in luck. The little machine will quite happily run the entire LAMP stack. LAMP stands for Linux, Apache, PHP and MySQL, which are the operating system, web server, programming language and database components respectively. Being a developer isn't the only reason you might want to install this technology, it also lets you experiment with some interesting software, which I will be exploring in later blog posts.
Admittedly, I didn't actually try to put the EEE into a handbag, but a couple of people very enthusiastically mentioned that such a feat would be possible. Now of course as I'm sure you know there are few subjects more serious than servers, this is the impression I have got over the years from sysadmins suspicious of developers! So we ought to see if some serious technology works on the machine, could we really use it as a web server? Or a database server? Maybe even for Drupal?