How to : Google Wave

Yes, Google wave is a significant improvement over email and I’m glad to be having it already.

Whenever a person opens Wave for the first time, he is greeted by a 2 minute video of Dr. Wave who gives a brief explanation of what wave is about. When I compare that with the welcome email I got when I first signed up for Yahoo! Mail, I’ve already watched technology come a long way.

For those who are not familiar with Google Wave, I’d like to recommend a few excellent articles.
1. Mashable’s Google Wave : A complete guide
2. Mashable’s The top 6 game changing features of Google Wave
3. http://www.davidnaylor.co.uk/google-wave-review-first-impressions.html
4. Google’s own guide
5. List of Robots for Wave

There is even a Firefox addon, here.

Now briefly, let me write down a few things that are absolutely simplistic about wave – rephrazing Google’s own wave on wave.

1. Like you use gmail to send emails, you use wave to create and edit waves.
2. Think of a wave as document that you create and the document is available in a sever somewhere for another person to see.
3. You cant edit an email after you’ve sent it. But a wave is sitting there so that it can be edited any time. So hypothetically, you could have just one wave per person and keep on editing it to add more content. One wave can thus be equivalent to multiple emails.
4. Wave represents a closed set of users. Whatever is created remains within the closed set of users. A person who doesnt have a wave account, cannot send a email to a wave account.
5. A wave can be both a document and a conversation.
6. Like recipients for email, you have participants for wave. All participants on a wave can edit any part of the wave, at the same time.
7.  A wave can have blips in it. A wave with blips is a rough equivalent of an email thread. To quickly read through unread blips in a wave, hit the spacebar.
8. You can have your own wave profile to help to help your contacts recognize you on a wave.
9. You can use the playback feature lets to move through the history of a wave. Awesome!
10. Extensions let you add rich content and interactions to waves, or integrate with other systems.
11. To attach a file to a wave, start in edit mode. Then either:
* Click the paperclip and select the file from your desktop or
* To drag and drop right from the desktop into a wave, install Gears in your browser.
12. Google Wave’s spelling correction uses the context of your message to correct your spelling.
13. You can remove waves from your inbox in two main ways:
* Archive: takes a wave out of your inbox until someone updates it
* Mute: takes a wave out of your inbox unless someone adds a private reply to you
You can always find these waves again by searching for them.
14. Tags are an easy way participants can share organization of waves. Any participant can add or remove a tag.
15. You can create folders to organize your waves.

So there are the basics. Happy waving!

WP-Hive upgrade prevents WordPress login

I upgraded the wp-hive plug-in to version 0.5 earlier today. It wasn’t an active plugin for me and I needn’t have upgraded it. But I did it earlier today and didn’t think twice about it.

Later, I found out that I could not login into WordPress as an administrator. Everything else seemed to be working fine. Site was up and running as usual, but I couldn’t access my dashboard.

When I checked the WordPress database through phpMyAdmin the wp_options table was perfect. I was soon able to figure out that this was not a WordPress problem.

So I started troubleshooting by trying to undo my last set of actions, one of which was upgrading the wp-hive plugin. Renaming the wp-hive folder gave an serious error and brought the site down. With that I was able to narrow down the problem to the file

/wp-contents/db.php

I remmed out the line

/*require_once( WP_CONTENT_DIR . ‘/plugins/wp-hive/do-prefix.php’);
*/

Everything is back to normal for me now because I dont use wp-hive.

I didn’t find anything about this problem in Google, so I decided to write this down.

How to: Carry Wikipedia content on a USB pen drive

This instruction is meant for Windows users.

You’ll need atleast a 16 GB pendrive to carry Wikipedia.

Method 1 : Easy method
For those who are not willing to go through a lot of pain in learning new things, this is the simpler method

  1. First download the latest content from Wikipedia. This is a single file of size 5.1 GB as on today and downloading could take hours.
  2. The latest dump is presently at http://dumps.wikimedia.org/enwiki/latest/enwiki-latest-pages-articles.xml.bz2. Copy the downloaded .bz2 file to, say C:\wikipedia.
  3. After this 5.1 GB download is complete, it is necessary to download the software that can read this huge file.
  4. The simplest is wikitaxi. Download Wikitaxi and unzip to the same folder, C:\wikipedia
  5. You should see two executable files now. The wikitaxi executable is the one that should be used to run wikipedia. The wikitaxi importer executable is the one we need to use to convert the .bz2 file downloaded into a .taxi file.
  6. Run the wikitaxi importer executable and let it convert the .bz2 file into a .taxi file. This takes a long time and produces a single 9.2 GB file with a .taxi extension.
  7. Once .taxi file is made run the wikitaxi executable and open the .taxi file. You should be able to browse  the content of wikipedia, but with a slightly different look.
  8. Now copy the C:\wikipedia folder to a pendrive and you have a portable version for personal reference.


Method 2: For the geeks

You probably don’t need to read this, but the best way is to clearly to host the entire content on the same platform that Wikipedia does.

  1. Install XAMPP on a pen drive
  2. Install Mediawiki on XAMPP
  3. Download the latest Wikipedia dump
  4. Import the dump to Mediawiki.

Voila! You have the portable and perfect replica of Wikipedia.

How to: Use TGFI.net SEO plugin

This is a sample post created after the installation of TGFI SEO plugin.

This sample post should help me verify if I’m able to configure meta data at an individual post level.

What this means is, after this posting this, if I access this post through its permalink and view the html source I should see some meta data for this post.

This plug-in sure doesn’t sound like big deal to me, because I am required to use the wordpress dashboard instead of a blog client. TGFI SEO plugin will give you yet another form just below the editor on which we can fill in the post level meta data for SEO.

One thing that must be done for the plugin to work is from the FAQ:

Q: The titles aren’t showing up for me, or seem to be partially working. What’s wrong?

A: Make you you have <?php wp_head(); ?> in your header.php file between your HTML <head> tags.

I hope it is worth the effort.

Solution to WordPress MU xmlrpc bug

If you are reading this, you probably landed here looking for a fix that will help you use a desktop client on WP-MU. Well, you are not alone.

My previous post on using Scribefire on WP-MU, certainly was not the most elegant way of solving the xmlrpc problem, but it worked then. When I upgraded to Firefox 3.5.1 and Scribefire 3.4.1, the fix stopped working. I was busy at work and could not sit down to study the problem, so I simply stopped posting to the other blogs I really want to write.

Thankfully, this weekend I could fix the problem. I know now that a fix was available since April ’09, but it perhaps took so long to show up in google or it was just my clumsy googling. Daniel Llewellyn has written this small piece of code which solves this problem elegantly.

To solve the problem (xmlrpc bug) so that you use desktop clients on WP-MU do the following:
1. Download the text file with Daniel’s code
2. Rename the text file as wpmublogger-getusersblogs.php
3. Upload the php file to your WP-MU installation to the mu-plugins folder under the wp-content folder.

Thats it and now you’re now ready to go. When I tested, Scribefire 3.4.1 detected all 7 blogs that were configured to a particular user account.

Thank you, Daniel, for sharing the trick. One small piece of code that solves a bug bothering so many WP-MU users.

How to : Twitter

In the recent past, people have told me that they don’t understand the point in using twitter.

With 3 tweets in 7 months so far, I dont really count as a (major) twitter user either. But, I thought I could always write up an explanation about the advantages to help people decide. So, here are a few things about twitter to help you understand why i think it is the next big thing.

To help those who’ve never used twitter, let me start by posting my Twittle screenshot.
Twittle is a light weight client software that I’ve been using to read news from OneIndia regularly.

One quick look at image tells the following:

1. 35 minutes ago, I was solving puzzles at http://www.greylabyrinth.com/.

2. 5 minutes before I wrote about Greylabyrinth, Oneindia.in tweeted about the arrest of Muthalik in Mysore.

3. 20 minutes before that Prakash wrote about a documentary he watched – in New Jersey, I suppose.

I know about all this without reading an email, without seeing a website or even a RSS feed. How cool is that?

Now, if you think of a twitter page as yet another webpage that you need to open to learn about what a friend is doing, then it perhaps doesn’t appear as attractive/intuitive. Now if you want to know what I’m doing, it does not matter if you have to type http://pkrishnan.net or http://twitter.com/pkrishnan into your browser, it feels like the same effort.

Now if you understand that you can get real time updates from me -and-your-other-friends-and-even-companies – by clicking this little “Twittle” icon sitting in the system tray, voila, Twitter worked its magic on you.

So twitter is about real time updates from multiple sources all delivered to an icon in your system tray. Like most services, twittering is only as fun as your client software or friends can make it. Now if you live in a cave and your friends help you kill your prey everyday, you’ll be better off learning about slingshots.

I use Twittle because I dont write much and I am mostly a “read only guy” – but if you have specific needs, you might want a client with at least a few more features like Pwytter.

Most of my friends who are online 24×7 still dont use twitter as they seem to think instant messengers are faster. But then, with instant messengers dont get you a webpage on which you can prove that you said or didn’t say something.

Twitter is the fastest way to publish information publicly but the penalty you pay is size, and I may add that the layout options on your twitter page are really limited.

Most of what is on blogs are for public consumption and most of instant messaging is not for public consumption.
To me, twitter is the perfect fill for the sweet spot between friends who are close enough to beat the crap out of us on messengers and those long distance old buddies who deserve more attention than our occasional email or blog post.

There is a lot of hype about Twitter right now. Many new services and applications are cropping up daily. You might want to spend some time on these and might want to differentiate those which will stand out in the long term. By the time you’re done evaluating, I’m sure you’d be a Twitter expert already.

If you bring twitter into your life, this is a list of things you’ll be doing.

Among others, the invisible power of twitter comes from:
1. Real time – as fast as few second updates delivered to your twitter client
2. Direct – straight from the horse’s mouth
3. Two way communication – better than just reading, you can respond quickly if you choose to
4. Brevity – yes, it is important to intelligent people.
5. Multiple devices to communicate with – Desktops, Laptops, Mobilephones, PDAs
6. Speed – dervied from 1, 4  & 5
7. Greater spontaneity and better thought tracking – derived from 6

So as you can see, there are clear advantages. There is actually more to it, but these are the key differences that matter to most people who just want to keep in touch with friends.

If reading all of this made you understand twitter any better, happy twittering!

How to : Scribefire on WordPress MU

Using a blog client software with WordPress MU does seem to be problem. After 30 minutes of googling, I still couldn’t find one thing that provided any conclusive answers.

I’ve always been a Scribefire fan and wanted it to work with WP MU.

The WP MU forums already have this post on how to make Scribefire work.

To date the solution seems to have remained the same. I tested this out on WP MU 2.8.1, Firefox 3.0.11, Scribefire 3.4.1 on a site that does not use wild card subdomains.

These are the steps:

  1. Set-up your WP MU site without wild card subdomains – eg: http://mysite.com/blog1 instead of http://blog1.mysite.com – if you didnt have one already.
  2. In the main domain and in all blogs, enable XML RPC publishing by accessing Settings->Writing.
  3. Install Firefox with the ScribeFire add-on, if you dont have one already.
  4. Now add a new account to ScribeFire, to any of the WordPress.com or WordPress blog not powered by MU. This step should be easy. Close ScribeFire.
  5. Re-open ScribeFire, edit the new account you created in step 4.
  6. Change the blog URL to http://mysite.com/blog1/.
  7. Change API URL to http://mysite.com/blog1/xmlrpc.php
  8. Update Login credentials and Press “OK”.
  9. Ignore the errors given by ScribeFire.
  10. Close ScribeFire.
  11. When you re-open ScribeFire, it has already become this willing work horse.
  12. Repeat steps 4 to 11 to add additional blogs.

Problem after WP MU upgrade

WP-MU 2.8.1. was released yesterday, just one day after WP 2.8.1.

I upgraded one of my sites to 2.8.1. The site seems to be working alright.
But the dashboard shows signs of trouble.

Does any one else have this problem? What causes this?

WordPress to acquire MU capability

Few days before I could get my lazy self to actually try out WP MU, the WP community had decided to merge  WP and WP MU. I was confused when I this found out. There still seems to be lot of confusion out there, different people giving different stories.

1. http://wpmu.org/wpmu-wp-wpwpmu-wpwpmu/
2. http://technosailor.com/2009/05/30/wordcamp-sf-announcement-wordpress-and-wordpress-mu-to-merge/
3. http://buddypress.org/forums/topic.php?id=2963
4. http://www.wptavern.com/to-merge-or-not-to-merge
5. http://www.blogherald.com/2009/06/02/wordpress-and-wordpressmu-merged-whoa/

Clearly, there was ambiguity.

To MU or not to MU – that was the question.
I decided to MU anyway.

I tried out WP-MU on two domains and both worked perfectly except for a small issue with the install which was well documented already, here.

How to change the skin of a mediawiki based site?

Unlike wordpress users who are spoilt for choices, there aren’t really many good skin options for mediawiki users.

There are not many sites that distribute mediawiki skins.

Wikimedia has a few skins and Mediawiki2u.com has another few. If you google hard enough, you can find a few more sites out there.

  1. Lets us say we want to install a theme whose name is bluetheme.
  2. Down load your mediawiki skin. It is usually a zip/rar/tgz archive. bluetheme.zip/bluetheme.rar/bluetheme.tgz
  3. Unzip the archive to a local folder and examine it.
  4. Usually, the .php files for the theme are in provided along with the theme.
  5. In this case you should have two files called bluetheme.php and bluetheme.deps.php and all other files should be in a subfolder bluetheme.
  6. Upload bluetheme.php, bluetheme.deps.php and the blue themes subfolder to the /skins folder your mediawiki directory.
  7. To activate the theme that was just uploaded you will need to modify your LocalSettings.php file in the / folder of your mediawiki installation.
  8. Open LocalSetting.php in a text editor. Locate the text “$wgDefaultSkin = ‘monobook’;” and replace it with “$wgDefaultSkin = ‘bluetheme’;”
  9. Clear your browser cache and refresh the site to see the new theme.

In case bluetheme.php is not a part of the theme you downloaded, you can manually create it by editing the existing files. For more detailed instructions, read this.

Learning Joomla

There are thousands of guys out there who are working with Joomla.

I wanted to learn Joomla. So I set up Joomla on a domain. Read a tutorial for 6 hours and went about setting up the site.

The Joomla default setup gives the a few sample articles, menus, themes etc. which is user is free to modify and experiment.

I deleted the default Joomla articles, menus etc. to set up my own and now it looks like the thing has crashed. Its giving me a 404 for a component that is not found. I have to re-install the thing now :(

Running two wordpress blogs on the same domain

Today I tried to run two wordpress blogs from the same domain name.
It is entirely possible and works like a charm.

The following are the steps to be used:

1. Download the latest version of WordPress.
2. Unzip the the WordPress files to a folder.
3. Make a second copy of this folder
4. Name the copies of the folder as say blog1 & blog2
5. In each of these folders you will need to create wp-config.php file.
6. To create this you need to edit the wp-config-sample.php file
7. The following items shown are to be edited:

define(‘DB_NAME’, ‘putyourdbnamehere‘);    // The name of the database
define(‘DB_USER’, ‘usernamehere’);     // Your MySQL username
define(‘DB_PASSWORD’, ‘yourpasswordhere’); // …and password
define(‘DB_HOST’, ‘localhost’);    // 99% chance you won’t need to change this value
define(‘DB_CHARSET’, ‘utf8′);
define(‘DB_COLLATE’, ”);

8. To edit the above you will need to first create your databases.
9. Create two different MySQL databases one for each blog in your domain. I’m assuming you have MySQL/PHP on Linux hosting. You will need to use the control panel provided by your web hosting service to create these databases.
10. Note down the parameters with which you set up the database and fill up the wp-config.php file suitably.
11. Upload the blog1 & blog2 folders to your domain to sit at http://www.yoursite.com/blog1 & http://www.yoursite.com/blog1
12. To setup the first blog start with http://www.yoursite.com/blog1/readme.html and follow the standard WordPress install procedure.
13. To setup the second blog start with
http://www.yoursite.com/blog2/readme.html and follow the standard
Wordpress install procedure.
14. Now you will have two different wordpress installations, two different databases and two different blogs.
15. The first blog will be at http://www.yoursite.com/blog1 and the second one at http://www.yoursite.com/blog2.

Have fun with your blogs.

Hanging my hat

I woke up early because there was no power from 2.30 am to 4.30 am.

Couldn’t sleep when power resumed. Burnt a few CDs. I played around with the layout. I think the present layout is a brilliant one in terms of functionality.

WordPress is impressive. It offers everything that covers my needs including RSS Feeds and a spell checker. All I need to worry about is just the content.

I think I’ll hang my hat here.

Hello world

Learnt about WordPress today.

These guys have such a nice sense of aesthetics and it appeals to me. I’m pleased with the features.

I’m in :-)