November 18, 2009

It's flooding ThinkPads

My (not so) new (any more) boss uses one of the really low end ThinkPad R61's. The reason being that the old boss didn't want to get a good notebook for the new boss, at the time when the old boss was still the big boss and the new boss was the new kid on the block. (The old boss uses an X61.) I've made plans to get the new boss an X200 or whatever the next year's equivalent is early next year.

But yesterday when I stopped by my ThinkPad dealer to see if they have any new things in stock. Instead, they showed me some clearance prices for the X301 which were close to 50% off from the original price. Wow! I immediately put in a proposal to my boss to replace his R61 with the much sleeker X301. He immediately approved my proposal, but not for one X301, but for two X301's, one for himself, and one for the vice boss.

They're clearance models so they're older models with the Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400, 2 GB of DDR3 RAM, and only 64 GB SSD. But that's plenty of speed and space for the bosses.

Hmm, people like to stack their notebooks and take photos. I should do that too.

November 16, 2009

Drupal novice

While reading about Drupal, I came across many sites that compare Drupal to Joomla! and WordPress. I mentioned earlier that I had no experience with regards to web CMS, so I decided to check both of them out. This time, instead of downloading the distribution and installing manually, I decided to do things the quick way by downloading complete application stacks through BitNami.

BitNami's application stack lets me run a complete web application using a simple installer program. They also offer ready-to-run virtual machines images ("virtual appliances") if I don't want to install the stack into my OS. The virtual appliance includes its own Linux distribution, and the application stack pre-installed and ready to run.

I mentioned in my first Drupal post that getting Drupal up and running took less than an hour. Getting both Joomla! and WordPress up and running, using the BitNami stack, took less than 10 minutes, including the download time.

Both Joomla! and WordPress do seem easier to get started for most people. At least, they both came with WYSIWYG editors built in, and have nice friendly administrative menus without having to install a module like the admin module or the admin menu module like in Drupal. I don't know, maybe it's my old Unix background, but I found Drupal's standard menus faster and easier to use than fancy icons.

Anyway, what's better for learning than trying to build an actual project? I'm still feeling guilty over last year's blunder (though not my fault at all) on recommending an e-commerce site for my friend's website. So I decided to rebuild the site for her, using Drupal.

November 14, 2009

Drupal newbie

Eventhough I've been using computers since the days of B.I. (Before Internet), I was never really good at this web thing. Sure, I use the web every day to research problems; I set up the very first personal web server in Thailand back in 1993; I use Blogger to keep this blog; I've also helped friends set up their websites and debug website problems; but I never bothered to learn the intricacies of coding HTML or CSS or implementing a CMS.

So, I was just browsing around randomly on when I came across Drupal For Dummies. I've always heard that Drupal is a complex but fully-featured content management system, but graduating into a Dummies book? (Then again, I shouldn't feel too bad, since Windows Server 2008, which I live and breath everyday, is also a Dummies book.) But, I thought I would check it out just to prove that I'm not a dummy. Off to to read some docs. It looked interesting, so I thought I would give it a go.

But first, I had to get MAMP to get Apache, MySQL, and PHP on my Mac. Next, I downloaded the Drupal distribution and extracted it into the htdocs folder inside MAMP. I created a database using phpMyAdmin, then browsed to to the local website, and completed the Drupal installation.

When I tried to make the first test post, I found to my surprise that the editor isn't a WYSIWYG editor. Off to again. I realized that I have to install a module, and there were actually a number of WYSIWYG editors to choose from. I picked FCKeditor since I was familiar with the name when I helped someone with her website last year. My next surprise was that even with FCKeditor installed, there was no easy way to upload images. (I'm comparing Drupal with Blogger's editor, which is the only web editor I'm familiar with.) After a bit of browsing around, I picked IMCE and installed it into FCKeditor.

So now I had a near fully functional CMS site running on my Mac. All in less than an hour of work!

November 9, 2009

My Internet is slower than yours

I now have 16 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload from True Internet. This is just the speed to the ISP and local sites that are directly connected to the ISP though. Actual usage doesn't feel any faster, since the pipes are still well clogged. I can't even get YouTube to play smoothly half of the time.