Mar
24
2009
0

Drooling over the Dell Mini 9

New Laptop

New Laptop

Since I reviewed available netbooks about two months back several new options have opened up.1 There’s the new Samsung NC11023 and a slew of new Acer One’s.

However, none of them can touch the 4GB Dell Mini 9 on sale right now for $199 with Ubuntu.

I know I had earlier said that 8GB was too small for my purposes. I had even suggested that I was more interested in some of the other available netbooks over the Dell for this reason.  However, I want to make my next computer a Dell, true to my word.

The reason I’m considering the 4GB version where I was dismissing the 8GB version before is the incredible price and the purposes to which such a laptop would be put.  In order to do about 98% of what I need with a laptop, I could easily use a netbook.  On any given day I use:

  • Firefox for web browsing
  • Thunderbird for e-mail
  • Pidgin for instant messaging
  • FileZilla for FTP transfers
  • Notepad++ for programming/text editing
  • OpenOffice for word processing, spreadsheets
  • TightVNC for remote access

All of these programs are open source software and available for Ubuntu4 and Windows.  So, in shopping for a laptop, I really don’t care about which operating system I use.  The 4GB Dell Mini 9 with Ubuntu could do all of these things – and for a $199 price tag.  Plus, with the Mini’s SD card slot, I could pop in an extra 16GB of memory for only $26.

  1. Photo courtesy of Ciccio Pizzettaro []
  2. The Samsung NC110 is the successor to the NC10 []
  3. A review of the NC110 I found helpful []
  4. An easy-to-use Liniux installation. []
Feb
12
2009
0

WordPress Upgrade! Version 2.7.1!

Wordpress Upgrade

Wordpress Upgrade

I upgraded to WordPress v2.7.1 as soon as it came out (after testing on another website, of course).  I can honestly say WordPress is the only software I use that I actually look forward to upgrading.

Since version 2.7 RC 1, upgrading to the next version of WordPress has been this easy:

How to Upgrade WordPress

How to Upgrade WordPress

You click “Upgrade Automatically” and wait about 5 seconds.

You’re done.

Not entirely off topic: a friend of mine asked me yesterday about the best way to put up a new website.  She had thought about using Yahoo Site Builder or some such.  Yahoo and its like are great at building free, quick, and ugly websites.  If you’re going to publish on the internets, why not just opt for something just as easy and that has hundreds, if not thousands of possible totally free themes to choose from?  I say, go with WordPress.

I used to code sites by hand – that’s a chump’s game.  Just install WordPress and call it a day.

Nov
13
2008
1

OpenOffice v3.0: Helping with EAMS

MicroSoft has no one to blame but themselves for my deleting MicroSoft Office.  Well, its partly Dell’s fault too, but that’s a long story I’ll tell some other time.  (Short version: Dell repaired a prior laptop and shipped it to a construction site in Oakland.)

Once I tried OpenOffice, I never looked back.  Its my preferred word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, office suite program.  Not only is it better than MicroSoft office in just about every way, but its also completely free.  You might be interested in trying it out because I believe it will help you tremendously with EAMS.

OpenOffice.org

OpenOffice.org

OpenOffice.org released version 3.0 of their program on October 13, 2008.  It was so wildly popular that their website was crushed under the overwhelming demand.  The three most important things to know about OpenOffice are:

  1. Its open source, so its completely free.  So, there’s no reason not to give it a shot.
  2. It can open, edit, and save to any MS Office 2000, 2003, 2007, and WordPerfect formats.
  3. It can print or export any file to a PDF.

If you’re a Workers’ Compensation professional in California, you’re probably dealing with EAMS.  Since filing things with EAMS means working with a lot of PDF’s.  In order to keep from reinventing the wheel, it makes sense to save those PDF’s of the document cover sheets.  But what if you need to make a small change later on?  Well, OpenOffice v3.0 can help with that too.

Using an extension ((basically a small program)) OpenOffice can open and edit and re-save a PDF file. Not even Adobe, the company that promotes the PDF format1 , does a good job of opening and editing PDF’s.

This is a really big deal to me because editing saved PDF’s is going to save me a lot of time editing settlement documents and various pleadings.

Update

I wrote the above about a month ago while I gave OpenOffice 3.0 a shot.  It won’t install on my Vista laptop but works great on my XP desktop.  I’ve reverted to OpenOffice 2.4 on the laptop while I wait for a fix.  OpenOffice 2.4 is still free, but it won’t open MS Office 2007 formats (which not everyone is using anyhow) and cannot edit PDFs.

  1. I know that’s redundant. []
Nov
11
2008
0

Safer Software Practices

Wordpress

Wordpress

I’ve been upgrading to the latest releases of WordPress as soon as each one comes out.  And, its a good thing too.

Over the last week or two a website named “Wordpresz.org” ((I’ve edited the link so that it goes to WordPress.org instead.  I don’t want contribute to these hackers fooling anyone else.)) was discovered.  The people who created this website were using a vulenerability in WordPress version 2.6.2 to redirect users to their website.  Their website purported to release WordPress version 2.6.41.  The problem was that they had hacked one file in the installation package to create a bigger security vulerability.

This just goes to show that:

  1. Monitor for Updates. Many programs these days automatically check to see if new versions are available.  If the program does not have this feature2 , its a good idea to check about once a month or so.
  2. Update Frequently. Not all software updates are equal.  If the program is being updated to fix security vulnerabilities or improve the program’s stability, you definitely want to install the update.  This website’s installation of WordPress was already “inocculated” against this kind of attack because I had alled version 2.6.3 almost as soon as it came out.
  3. Use Official Sources. WordPress is open source software built using PHP and MySQL.  Since the program is open source, its easier to modify the code. ((As Uncle Ben said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”))  The themes and plugins available through WordPress.org are reviewed by other users for malicious code and for possible improvements.  If you’re not certain how to examine source code for malicious code, its best to only use official sources.
  1. The latest version is 2.6.3 which is just version 2.6.2 with a small but important security fix. []
  2. Or if you turn it off, as I sometimes do. []
Oct
24
2008
0

WordPress Update to v2.6.3

Wordpress Upgrade

Wordpress Upgrade

Quick Update

or those of you keeping score at home, I’ve updated to WordPress v2.6.3 last night. 1  This version was released as a security fix.  Unlike other WordPress upgrades, this one took only a few seconds.

Less Quick Updates

Admittedly, prior updates probably only take about 10 minutes, max.  This 10 minutes includes roughly 9 minutes of backing the website and database up and 1 minute of actually uploading the new version.  Since the 9 minutes of backing up is essentially all processing/downloading time, there’s nothing for me to monitor which makes the whole process very painless.

Upcoming Updates

The kind folks over at WordPress have been hard at work on the version 2.72  If you scan through the above link, you’ll get to see what the new WordPress 2.7 control panel/dashboard is supposed to look like.

Best Thing About WordPress

(If you just can’t wait, skip down two paragraphs.)  Regular readers have heard me go on and on about the virtues of WordPress3  The interesting thing about new versions of WordPress is that any upgrades would be seamless to a website visitor. 4

A website that is easy to read is a function of the author

Website content is really all that matters to a website visitor.  Visitors don’t care about what software a website owner is using – just as long as the content is useful. 5

A website that is easy to write is a function of the program

The single best thing about WordPress is that this program makes maintaining a website a breeze.  I would recommend WordPress to absolutely anyone interested in creating a website.  For the novice, the program makes it easy to write, edit, and delete single pages or the entire website without any knowledge of programming.  For the tech-minded, the program makes it easy to install, upgrade, and personalize a website.

If you know a little PHP, MySQL, and javascript you could do some c-r-a-z-y things with WordPress. 678

  1. Talk about unnecessary decimal places. []
  2. I call them “kind” since a lot of these people are working for free. []
  3. You know, you three should really form some kind of support group for people who read unnecessarily nerdy and self-referential blogs. []
  4. I think its interesting, anyhow. []
  5. If they don’t care about what kind of software, they sure as heck don’t care its version 2.6.3. []
  6. You could even put together your own workers compensation calculators and EAMS search engines! []
  7. Am I going overboard with these footnotes? []
  8. The answer is “No, I’m not going overboard.”  In the immortal words of Ferris Bueller, “You can never go too far.” []

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