Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Good Blogs


In my eternal effort to grow traffic, I have signed up with TheGoodBlogs. TheGoodBlogs sign up was quick and easy and within 5 minutes I had set up a widget which installed flawlessly into a Drupal block. This is hardly surprising--TheGoodBlogs is powered by Drupal. The widget isn't working right Blogger yet. It previews fine, but then doesn't show up once the modified template is saved.

They categorize your site and then display your link to other bloggers who are in similar categories. There isn't any money in it--essentially it is a link trading scheme. It is up to you to montetize your site if you want to earn money.

At the end of the day, the goal with TheGoodBlogs is to increase your traffic. Because they link you to like sites, you have a greater chance of increasing your audience and helping others increase audience as well. NP's can use this tool to try and develop audience.

I'll keep a close eye on my traffic, where it is coming from and write later on whether it is having any meaningful effect on growing audience.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Sprint and Insurance


Today I dropped my Treo 650 today at work. The display shattered leaving large grey areas oozing through out the front LCD. It is times like this that I am glad we bought insurance from our phones. We pay $3 per month (although I think it is going to raise up to $4 shortly) and it covers accidental damage to the phone. My Treo 600 died and they upgraded me for free to the 650. Now with a cracked screen, they had it repaired in an hour.

Given that I would have to upgrade to a 700 now and that a 700 runs $300, if I make use of the insurance ONCE in 75 months--or 6.25 years, the insurance has paid for itself. I have used it twice in the last two years.

So, if you are considering buying insurance at Sprint--look at the value of your phone and make a guess as to whether you might need to use it within the value of the phone. It has been a great deal for me.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

More on Openkapow


Openkapow's robot tool is designed to work in Windows and Linux. Because OSX is UNIX at its core, I thought I would download the Linux version and see if I could install it. No joy. It threw errors in the command line. It would be nice if they would port it to MacOS.

Today at work, I installed the tool on my Windows work station and started messing around. The idea is that you create "robots" that aggregate, manipulate, and display data from other sites. You can create specialised RSS feeds, clips (that display visual data), and REST robots (that apply rules to data).

The interface is a little daunting, but I think after doing the tutorials I should be able to make use of this tool to create "robots" that could potentially live in Drupal in a Block, for example.

Over the next few weeks I'm going to try and see what I can accomplish using Openkapow. One of the things we're going to need for an upcoming WESTAF project is a Revver "sucker" to drag certain kinds of content into a site.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Drupal 5.0 Released


Drupal released version 5.0 last Monday. I guess this means I'll be upgrading this site pretty soon. I played with the pre-release, and it was much more intuitive than 4.7 from the admin side. Slowly but surely, the contributed modules are following the upgrade path. It will be interesting to see which ones quietly never move to the lasted version of the software.

Mac Minis


I bought two Mac minis on Saturday. One for work--we are going to try and make use of it for ZAPP(tm) juries in the future. We need one on the bench to figure out what it can or can't do for WESTAF. The second was for my daughter. She has been drawing keyboards on a typing paper, folding them and drawing an Apple on the back. I've set up the little computer between Paula and my work stations.

One of the things that I absolutely love about MacOS X is parental controls. Paula spent about 45 minutes setting up the Internet sites that our kiddo can access. No more, no less. You can lock down access tight as a drum. Very cool.

As for setup of the unit itself--It took about 10 minutes to get it set up and then about 45 minutes, over wireless, to get the unit updated. There were a mess of software updates that needed to happen and a firmware update to boot. I used an old 15 inch monitor we had kicking around, a USB keyboard from my Bondi Blue iMac from the days of yore, and its mouse--which really needs to be replaced.

Apple amazes me with how easy they make it to get a machine up and running securely.

What does this have to do with NPT and the Arts? Well, three things.

1) You can buy a pretty powerful desktop computer for about $600.

2) That computer can have a TINY footprint

3) It doesn't take a technician to set one up

4) You can use your existing mouses, keyboards, and monitors

If you are looking to buy a pretty powerful computer with great bundled software at a reasonable price...look no further.

Mashups Go Mainstream


It was bound to happen. Since sites like YouTube, Revver, and Flickr started providing API access allowing reasonably easy embedding of functionality and content into other sites, we have seen some amazing mashups. With a little programming know-how, some pretty sophisticated systems can be built at a fraction of the cost.

It was bound to happen. New services are starting to pop up like OpenKapow and QEDWiki. These services allow folks with even less programming knowledge to build their own mashups. OpenKapow advertises:

On openkapow web developers can freely download and use our RoboMaker visual scripting tool, which allows for an easy point and click interface to mashup anything on the web that has a URL. RoboMaker creates robots that can be deployed, shared and run for free non-commercial use as REST, RSS, ATOM or HTML services on openkapow. Everyone that has ever tried RoboMaker has been amazed by its power.

Tools like these make it even easier for arts non-profits to start playing in the Web 2.0/Mashup sandbox.

It was bound to happen.

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