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.
There's nothing like the expression of mild surprise to confirm that a radical change in the technological landscape is taking place. While showing people the latest phone I've on review, the ZTE Racer (a £99 pay as you go Android phone from 3 UK) I was struck by how many times I heard things like “Oh, that's actually alright, isn't it?”, maybe a realisation that smart phones are arriving for the masses and not just people who are prepared for spend hefty sums on the latest shiny gadget. This isn't a unique offer either, other networks are offering budget Android smartphones (notably Orange with the San Francisco) so now many people who might not have considered owning a smart phone could now do so leading to some interesting changes and new opportunities.
Just over a week ago I walked into a mobile phone shop and handed over my own hard earned cash and bought myself an HTC Desire. I'd thought long and hard about what phone to get. The HTC Hero I had on trial last year was great, but had a few problems that put me off. The Desire has addressed these problems though and added more features, so after reading up on it and seeing one in real life I knew this was the phone for me. A few people have been asking about the phone, so I thought I would share some first impressions.
Most books on Drupal cover various aspects of developing websites using this versatile platform. After reading one of these you might find that you have done a rather good job of it and your site is attracting an increasing amount of traffic. This is great until the point where your site starts to struggle to keep up with demand. Left unchecked this could result in your site becoming slow to use and people becoming impatient and looking elsewhere. At this point you might be tempted to throw money at the problem, maybe an expensive new server or an upgrade to your hosting account. Before you do though it might be worth reading “Drupal 6 Performance Tips” by T.J. Holowaychuk and Trevor James that explains strategies and technologies that might help out.
Art students are sometimes thought of as being "a bit different", often with a distinctive look and a flair for the visual unmatched by their peers. If the INQ Chat 3G was a person it would be an art student with its distinctive visual identity that sets it apart from other mobile phones. Like an art student it has to achieve this style without breaking the bank making it suitable for people who might want a stylish mobile phone but do not want to pay smartphone prices. The INQ Chat 3G comes with a physical keyboard and its functionality revolves around the idea of keeping people in touch through a range of services such as email, SMS, Twitter and Facebook so it may well appeal to the multiplatform chatterboxes amongst you. It also has some surprising features like GPS.
Just before Christmas I had a delivery of a large mysterious black box. There was no obvious way to open it, on the top was engraved “Nokia – connecting people” and on the front a mini usb socket. Also packaged was a USB lead and a card telling me that this was a Nokia “hackerbox” and telling me a web site to visit for clues on how to open it. I managed to connect up the box to my computer and got a terminal session going to “log in” to the box, admittedly I used Google to find out how to get in (as I am not very good at puzzles!). Dramatically, when the right command was issued, the top of the box popped open and a puff of smoke emerged. Inside was a the Nokia N900, a Linux powered mobile phone, accessories, a plastic fox and a nice bit of cake.
If you follow me on Twitter you will know that I have had some ups and downs with Novatel's 2352 Intellegent Mobile Hotspot. It was a rocky start, but the story has a happy ending. This is a small device that combines a mobile broadband modem with a WiFi hotspot allowing you to connect up to five devices to the Internet while out and about without the need to install drivers. It is along similar lines to 3's Mifi device, in fact outside the UK it is called a “Mifi”, so maybe we should just say “it's a Mifi”. I tried it out with various tests to see how it performs.
Smartphones are computers that happen to be able to make phone calls, and that leads to some interesting possibilities. I've been trying out the new HTC Hero thanks to the lovely folk at 3MobileBuzz who sent me one to have a look at for a week. The Hero uses Google's open source operating system Android, which is based on Linux and is optimised for smaller devices. HTC mobiles are available on many of the mobile phone networks, and they are not alone in using the Android operating system on certain models, manufacturers such as Motorola have recently joined them. The Hero is 3's first Android device and the model I looked at also has a bundled Spotify subscription (worth £9.99 per month), it currently costs £97.86 upfront with a two year contract that will cost you £35 per month, so this is toward the premium end of their range. Quite a bit of cash to hand over, but what do you get for your money?
Our relationship with the mobile phone is changing, and it is not just the high end phones that show evidence of this. The Sony Ericsson T715 is a new mid range phone available on 3 that comes preloaded with lots of features that will enable you to enjoy the web on the move, including built in Twitter and Facebook clients. You can also make calls and write texts on the phone, but that isn't very interesting; what is more interesting is that this is a great phone if you are into the "constant checking culture" now thought by 3 to be driving mobile broadband usage. Thanks to the kind folk at 3MobileBuzz I was able to try this phone out and see what it has to offer.
There was once a time when the computer industry was not really people orientated, instead the focus was on pushing data around and worrying about nothing but algorithms. Those days ended with the arrival of Web 2.0, the web changed forever, the model of top-down publishing of content was revolutionised by the idea of users generating content and maintaining connections with each other through social networks. Sites like Facebook and Twitter have brought the web alive as a social space, but what if you want to implement some of these ideas on your own site? This is where Michael Peacock's new book Drupal 6 Social Networking may come in very handy.