Tag: Open Source

Akismet 2.0 is a life (and comment) saver

Akismet is the default anti-spam plugin which comes with WordPress and it has saved me from literally hundreds of thousnads of comment spam messages (124,200 last time I looked).

A new version (Akismet 2.0) was released the same time as WordPress 2.1’s release so it’s release was kind of drowned out in the hoopla.

To my mind, the most significant change in Akismet 2.0 is the ability to tell Akismet to automatically delete any comments on posts over a month old.

Akismet configuration

As Matt himself said:

When I was doing some research into false positives I found an interesting statistic: the overwhelming majority (more that 99.99%) of false positives (which is when Akismet marks someone as spam wrongly) occur on new posts. Which makes sense because most real comments happen on new entries.

Typically I used to get >500 comments per day flagged by Akismet. There was no way i could go through those looking for genuine comments accidentally flagged as spam by Akismet.

Today though, having configured Akismet to dump all suspected spam comments on posts over a month old, I now only have to check 20-30 comments per day.

And just this morning, I rescued two comments which had accidentally been marked as spam by Akismet.

Well done to the guys in Automattic again. I love Akismet.

HD DVD DRM cracker interviewed

There is a fascinating interview with muslix64 today on the Slyck.com site.

muslix64 is the guy who cracked HD DVD DRM when he released the open source application BackupHDDDVD just before Christmas. HD DVD is one of a pair of new formats of High Definition DVDs (the other format is called Blu-ray).

muslix64’s application will allow people to bypass the DRM on DVDs and access the HD DVD’s movie content directly.

As the proud possessor of several DVDs which were bought in the US and won’t play on my DVD player in Ireland because of the regionalisation built into DVDs, I’m delighted this has happened.

The sooner the movie studios realise that all the money they are pouring into DRM is wasted because 1) they are annoying their customers and 2) people will find a way around it anyway, the better.

As muslix64 said:

The reaction time of the community will be way faster than the reaction time of the industry.

Trying out WordPress 2.1

I upgraded to WordPress 2.1 this morning and the whole process was remarkably painless.

The entire process took about ten minutes – the majority of that time was spent on backing up the previous version and FTP’ing the new files into place.

Of course, if you are a client of mine and I maintain your blogs, it actually took waaaaaaaaaaaay longer. Hours of research, planning, etc. were involved and if you need me to upgrade your blog, my invoices would obviously reflect that 😉
The only glitch I found so far was that when I was double-clicking a word to select it in the Visual mode, the paragraph I had just been writing disappeared. And that disappearance was then auto-saved!

Clicking into the Code tab revealed that I had somehow inadvertently switched the paragraph style to hidden. Deleting the style info revealed the text once more.
WordPress 2.1 write screen

I like the auto-save feature (see in the image above, the post is being saved) and the ability to quickly move between the Code and Visual (wysiwyg) views.

The builtin spell checker will prove handy too when I’m not using Firefox (Firefox 2 also has a spell checker which is fabulous for illiterates like me) or the Visual editor.

The other very nifty improvement I noticed was the ability to set any page as the front page of your site. This will allow many more people to use WordPress as a simple CMS for their entire website.

WordPress just gets better and better, great job guys.

WordPress 2.1 released

WordPress 2.1 has been released.

The major features according to the WordPress.org site are:

* Autosave makes sure you never lose a post again.
* Our new tabbed editor allows you to switch between WYSIWYG and code editing instantly while writing a post.
* The lossless XML import and export makes it easy for you to move your content between WordPress blogs.
* Our completely redone visual editor also now includes spell checking.
* New search engine privacy option allows you take you to indicate your blog shouldn’t ping or be indexed by search engines like Google.
* You can set any “page� to be the front page of your site, and put the latest posts somewhere else, making it much easier to use WordPress as a content management system.
* Much more efficient database code, faster than previous versions. Domas Mituzas from MySQL went over all our queries with a fine-toothed comb.
* Links in your blogroll now support sub-categories and you can add categories on the fly.
* Redesigned login screen from the Shuttle project.
* More AJAX to make custom fields, moderation, deletions, and more all faster. My favorite is the comments page, which new lets you approve or unapprove things instantly.
* Pages can now be drafts, or private.
* Our admin has been refreshed to load faster and be more visually consistent.
* The dashboard now instantly and brings RSS feeds asynchronously in the background.
* Comment feeds now include all the comments, not just the last 10.
* Better internationalization and support for right-to-left languages.
* The upload manager lets you easily manage all your uploads pictures, video, and audio.
* A new version of the Akismet plugin is bundled.

2.1 also includes over 550 bug fixes.

Installation and upgrading instructions are provided. Follow them closely.

You can download it here .

WordPress 2.1 due out later today

The next version of WordPress – version 2.1 is to be released later today and Aaron Brazell has a good post outlining 10 features of WordPress 2.1 you should be aware of.

One that I love is the AutoSave feature. I have lost several posts during writing which I wouldn’t have lost if I had this feature. Another is the upgrade tool – that’s right, WordPress 2.1 on installation will automatically upgrade your previous installation making the whole installation process that much easier, it seems.

Looking forward to giving 2.1 a whirl!

Do startups use Open Source?

I was very much of the impression that startups these days, because they want to keep spending to a minimum, would be more likely to use Open Source tools to develop their applications. The likes of MySQL instead of Microsoft SQL Server, for instance.

This view was re-inforced by an interview I did with Salim Ismail for the it@cork pre-conference podcast series where he said all his startups used open source software.

However, after a chat with Microsoft’s Rob Burke on his blog, now I’m not so sure!

In my comment, I said Microsoft’s SQL Server should support other platforms and in this way, startups would be more likely to use it (i.e. if they didn’t have to splash out for a Windows license). Rob’s answer surprised me though, he said:

Our group at Microsoft Ireland can, quite literally, not adequately keep up with the demand we get from local startups (and larger ISVs) who see the value of the platform for the data tier and want to find the best on-ramp. You may have noticed – we’re hiring two more evangelists! 🙂

So startups in Ireland are choosing Microsoft SQL Server in droves? Why? The latest version of MySQL has stored procedures, triggers and views. It is platform independent, has a very strong support community and runs some of the better known sites on the web like Craigs List, Del.icio.us, Digg, Flickr, and Wikipedia, to name but a few.

If you chose SQL Server, you are locked into the Windows platform and although there are free versions of SQL Server to start out with, a fully licenced version to run a web site will cost you tens of thousands of Euros/dollars.

Why would any startup choose SQL Server? What am I missing?

Firefox 2.0 rc2 GB keeps crashing

I downloaded the latest Firefox rc2 this morning. Being based in Ireland I downloaded the English (British) version for my Mac because there is an inbuilt spell checker and I didn’t want all my spelling flagged as incorrect by a US spell checker!

Why is spell checking important in a browser? Well, I write all my blog posts and comments in the browser so having an inbuilt spell checker is, to my mind, invaluable.

However, when I fired it up, it froze on startup! I restarted it and it got going this time. However, it froze twice more, necessitating a force quit and a re-start of the browser. To add insult to injury, the spell checker isn’t available in the English (British) version of Firefox!

I have now downloaded the US version and it appears, so far, to be more stable. Oh, and the spell checker works in this version but it marks colour as a mis-spelling 😦

Yes, I know I can teach it the spellings but I was hoping to avoid having to do this.

Are Microsoft reverting to type?

I read on Dennis Howlett’s site that Microsoft strong-armed the magazine PcPro. PcPro wanted to distribute a beta of Office 2007 on its cover disc and according to Tim Danton of PcPro:

as part of the conditions for allowing us to include Office 2007 on the cover disc, Microsoft Corp – in many ways a company distinct from the far cuddlier and more approachable Microsoft UK – wouldn’t allow us to put any open-source software onto the same disc

Then further in Dennis’ post I also read that Microsoft are going to start charging $1.50 per download of Office 2007 beta. I’m sorry, what? Microsoft you should be paying people for beta testing your software (and finding all the bugs in it for you) NOT charging them for the privilege of so doing.

“Hi, we’ve just developed this new prototype car. We’d like you to take it for a test drive for us to see are there any problems with it. Oh, and that’ll be $1.50 please.”

Yeah, right – welcome back evil empire. The mask slipped there just a bit, didn’t it?

Jonathan Kozol Hates Microsoft!

Via Dave Cormier comes the absolutely scandalous story of how a small West African school was forced to reverse its decision to drop Windows in favour of free and open source software.

…due to numerous recommendations forthcoming from the US Embassy, the State Department, and technology professionals involved in providing services to international schools worldwide, it has been decided that the switch to open source software on such a large scale is premature, and has therefore been reversed.

It is no wonder they are not popular.