Monthly Archives: December 2003

Simon Willison: Open Mosix

Wow this: Simon Willison: Open Mosix is so cool.

Although I have not needed it much Knoppix Linux is amazingly useful. One great example is from Simons related links (again) ie Simon Willison: Repartitioning with Knoppix

Mind you the new MandrakeMove : move with Internet, Office & Multimedia in your pocket! is another great option, the use of a usb key to hold your data is inspired.

Jesse’s Bookmarklets Site and good browsers

I have had Jesse’s Bookmarklets Site listed in my interesting links for a long time, but I thought I would just emphasise how useful many of these are.

Life becomes so much more comfortable when you combine the bookmarklets with a good browser (eg Mozilla Firebird – Next Generation Browser) that has support for tabs as well as over 130 Extensions. My favourites are

Web Developer Extension on chrispederick.com

gemal.dk – Mozilla – Linky

XUL Apps > Tabbrowser Extensions – outsider reflex

Clearly I am not the only one who thinks this: Simon Willison: On blogging technique and better tabbed browsing found from the related posts link on this story Simon Willison: Open Mosix about which I am writing separately.

Bogroll organised

Following on from 42: Bogroll updated there are some changes:

Firstly my blogroll is now live from Bloglines so it always matched what I am monitoring.

Secondly, it is now at least somewhat organised and I have dropped a load of blogs that were invalid/dead/duplicates etc (mainly due to newsmonster exporting loads of old blogs in it’s opml blogroll).

Thirdly, my blogroll is now public at http://www.bloglines.com/public/davew so you can grab it from there if you are sad enough ;-)

Bogroll updated

OK, just in case anyone is interested I have updated my blogroll to match my Bloglines subscriptions of the moment (except that in Bloglines I have them a bit more organised into folders, but TypePad can’t handle that in an import).

Servers for creating sites that are then published statically

Horrible title – sorry about that.

I have been thinking more about the post 42: Ian Bicking: CMS and static publishing and his latest article Static recap.

Our journey down this has been to create dynamic sites using java servlets and Velocity templates where the framework caches the pages so that we don’t dynamically create them all the time. However, in many cases this is still overkill. So I have started using Cheetah – The Python-Powered Template Engine to generate a purely static site eg www.time-4-change.org. The next step has been to find the tool to allow users to prepare the semi dynamic bits of the site which are then published immediately as static pages for apache to deal with quickly.

Well I have just found a promising option in Karrigell, thanks to the Python Packages Index. It seems to lack only support for https, although there are a couple of potential solutions for that.

One is to use purely for development (much quicker and easier to take an application out of CVS and start coding than if you need to sort out apache/mod_python etc) and then deploy to Apache/mod_python for live use. But for that it will need a common application interface with mod_python and that is currently missing in the python world (although a pre-pep is being discussed in the Python Web SIG.

The other is to add https support to Karrigell, but I have no idea how easy that would be or if it is a part of the plan. I have asked on the Karrigell forum at sourceforge see the Open Discussion thread on Security.

Church communities and the web

In my earlier post (42: Slow Train: To blog or not to blog?
) I very briefly touched on blogging for a Church Web site and said

Of course with many blogging tools it does make it easier for many more people in the church to take part by being extra blogging authors.

Robert came back at me in the comments:

Perhaps this might work best in a smaller group setting more so than a larger congregation. I personally am a member of a small group of twenty-somethings, and we have kicked around the idea of having a group blog. We could probably pull it off quite profitably, but I don’t know about anything larger. Indeed something to think about . . .

Personally I have lots of ideas (but a significant shortage of time) for ways in which Churches could use the web, the time is coming when for some Churches this is becoming practical as access to the internet continues to widen. What would I like to see on the Chirhc web site is a complete shift in focus. Often web sites are essentially a sales tool for evangelism, designed to attract people looking for a Church – great, I have no problem with that. But I feel it could be much more than this.

There are lots of tasks that could be moved to the web, for example a calendar function to co-ordinate all those rotas, a document archive of all the minutes of meetings, the church address book, prayer requests. Now all these features (and many more) are quite different in focus, they are services for the Church community. This means that they are private to the Church community so they have to be available to “members” only (many of us have seen the abuse open prayer request pages and guest books attract).

It is in this context where the Church documents (and gradually moves to conducting) its business on its website that we can see community in action, out of this will come the need to make some of the content public and that basically becomes a publishing exercise from all the internal resources.

The Church web site can become a way for the minister/pastor/priest to control or it can be a way to grow together as a community. The Methodist Church strongly believes in the Priesthood of all Believers and a web site controlled by only the minister seems to me to have lost this aspect. Unfortunately, the tools to allow a community have been beyond the reach of most Churches and that is why the development of blogging tools, along with wiki’s as well as more traditional tools like mailing lists and web based forums is so exciting.

But I stress in all this that we do need to distinguish very carefully between the public and private aspects of a Church web site. On the public site we need to be very careful about privacy and safeguarding. On the private side I can see potential for community building, cost savings and the ability to get our priorities right by spending time together in worship, learning & caring, service and evangelism (from the Methodist document “Our Calling“).

It is also critical to only make steps along this path once you are confident that it is not a means of excluding or controlling, one aid to this might be to provide computer access from the Church buildings.

Slow Train: To blog or not to blog?

In Slow Train: To blog or not to blog? Rene asks “Would a blog make a good church site?”

I have also wondered this, my thoughts are

a) Yes as part of the site

b) Yes in that RSS feeds of the list of services, events etc would be good to have

c) No if it is not updated

Of course with many blogging tools it does make it easier for many more people in the church to take part by being extra blogging authors. But privacy is likely to be a significant issue – trust as well but in my naivity I like to pretend I can assume that ;-)

Two articles on presentations

These came at about the same time, quite good points made in both.

ongoing � On Bulleted Lists and Evil

The Problem With Presentations

Personally I know the best powerpoint presentation I did was for a session on general IT for Biblke Society accountants about 7 years ago. The reason it was the best was because I knew that the whole talk would be simultaneously translated into 4 languages, therefore bullet points in English would not help anyone. Hence lots of graphics and cartoons.

Linux 2.6 is out

Version 2.6 of the Linux Kernel is now released!

The best place to find out about all the great new stuff is at the Wonderful World of Linux 2.6 – Joe Pranevich.

Some background notes for those new to Linux.

The Kernel is at the heart of a linux distribution, it is the base on which everything else runs. This means a new kernel will not make things look different, generally it is faster, supports a wider variety of hardware (particularly new stuff) and has fewer bugs. Well the last may not be true for a few months when it has had time to bed down.

The naming convention is that even numbers in the middle digit are stable versions. The last stable versions were 2.4.x now we are in the 2.6.x series. The 2.5.x series were for developers to start with 2.4 and gradually move towards 2.6. In a few weeks Linus will start 2.7 which will end up becoming the next stable release 2.8 series.

The last digit is a simple numeric sequence. 2.6.0 has just been released, it will be followed by 2.6.1 … If it follows previous patterns you can expect it to be really solid by 2.6.10 or so. I have no idea what earth shattering event will be enough to move from 2.x to 3.x

Unless you like living on the bleeding edge or run public servers you probably won’t upgrade your kernel on it’s own, instead when you upgrade to the next release of Debian, Mandrake, Redhat or whatever it will happen behind your back. Generally the only time you need to reboot a linux machine is when you upgrade the kernel.

It all makes me feel nostalgic for the old days when I first started with Linux in 1998, if I remember correctly the stable version was 2.0 but that was quite old so we used the 2.1 development series for a long time until 2.2 was released. Maybe I’ll write up an entry about that.