WordPress.org Vs. WordPress.com How to start with WordPress.com

Here is my presentation for Wordcamp Birmingham 2009.

For those who want a quick guide to getting going in WordPress. I presented the following at WordCamp Birmingham: After looking through it you should be well on your way to setting up your own site.

It is a pretty basic intro to what can you do and how to do it with WordPress.com
Hope it helps, feel free to ask questions in the comments, I’ll try to answer.
If you click on the headline below you will go to the Slideshare site where you can also see the speaker notes, below the slides (notes tab).

Presentation At SlideShare with notes.

APP Engine Using Bloog Part 3 Upload the app

Well, after I got the framework for my new Blog (based on Bloog), going using my local debug server it was time to upload the app and get it live. The instructions simply said to run apcfg.py with a few parameters… Two issues, where to run the command and how to get all the parameters, I got some good help once again in the group. It turns out the command must be run in a Windows Command window, (not exactly intuitive but now that I know it it makes sense!) I placed my cmd window back to root using the cd\ command then ran c:appcfg.py update c:\Users\DadLaptop\Documents\tombrander Note that I did not have any spaces in my directory string, for some reason I could not get the cmd to work within a quoted string as one of the responders suggested, also it does not work in a bat file. Also a subsequent post suggested how I might be able to use cut and past in the Vista cmd window, as follows, (have not tried yet)

You can copy and paste by using the System menu of the window. You can open this menu by using Alt-Space or click on the top left icon in the titlebar (for a cmd window it is a small c:\) In this menu you find a submenu for clipboard operations. If you want to copy text to the clipboard you first have to “Mark” the text and then press “enter”.

Great, now the whole thing was on the internet and working, mostly. I did a few test posts. A bit later I tried the Mail and comment functions,,, FAIL, back to the groups…. I investigated myself and posted the logs,, I was beginning to wonder if the Gmail name in the config.py file was case sensitive… I changed it to all lower case and reran the Update function as discribed above and low and behold both the comments and mail function started to work! Now I have the basics going. Content and refinement to come!

New Blog On App Engine

I Finally got my new “forensics” Blog up on App engine a free service from Google I have very slightly customized the Bloog Blog that is available from the links located elsewhere on this site. I also added my “Forensics Shared items feed” from Google reader over on the right>>>>>

I have a bunch more work to do but now at least the platform is working and I have some idea .of what I’m doing and what to do next!

I’ll document some of my pitfalls on the way once I have rested up a bit! For those who may want to give it a go.

Free Blogging at Google App Engine Using Bloog-part 1

This project is to help me get something of some substance up on app-engine to serve as a vehicle to learn Python and app-engine at the same time. If I was only interested in putting up a blog I’d keep on trucking with WordPress.com, I love it as a great Blogging platform. I evaluated the several frameworks available and for me it came down to Bloog and cpedialog. They both have advantages but for me I just sort of liked the basic layout and description of the Bloog approach better.

Step 1: See my prior article on getting Hello World going on App_engine.

After doing the initial tutorials outlined in my earlier piece on app engine. Then download Bloog here. I was not quite ready to load up client software to get the file out of GIT “properly” so I chose to just click the download button which gives you the file only in Tar format (no zip file) so you may need an unpacker, my native windows Vista 64 extract did not work so I downloaded a (freeware) unpack program called 7 zip from here. I unzipped the folders to my Documents directory.

I decided to run it directly, so without editing anything I made up a Bat file that started app engine on my local machine. The file:”startappengine.bat” contains:”dev_appserver.py C:\Users\DadLaptop\Documents\Bloog”

I got a screen of errors when I opened my browser at http://localhost:8080/

They appeared to be the same as discribed here.

I went to Http://github.com/darwin/firepython/ and clicked on download and selected the zip file, which I then unziped to bloog/utils/external and erased the old (empty) firepython folder and renamed the resulting folder to firepython.

I re-ran the autoexec file and reloaded the local host page and bang I had a operating site, Now I’ll work on some customizations before uploading to the real app engine!!!

Found most customizations in Config.py including customizing the links on the right side. But am still looking to replace the ad space on the right with a rss feed or two. My questions to the Bloog support group are here.

Getting Started With Google App Engine-Hello World

I’m configuring this all on Vista 64. Well I finally decided to begin the learning process. I elected to use only the “Ordinary” x86 versions and not 64 bit versions. I installed the latest Python, 2.61 which according to the Python site is the continuing line from the required 2.5 for app engine (Python 2.6.1 Windows installer (Windows binary — does not include source), this could cause problems later but so far so good. I ran the Python environment stand alone to ensure that is functioned.

I then followed the tutorial. Downloaded the app engine development environment. I ran the install.  I also created the Helloworld folder in the documents folder and placed the trial Yaml and PY file inside the folder, as the tutorial required.  Then tried to run the executable according to the tutorial. I could not figure out how to do that. I rebooted, always a good idea!

Then noticed that the Google App Engine had placed an Icon on the desktop. Clicking it did not result in anything other than a window that opened and closed too fast to see. Re-reading the getting started info it came clearer to me that I had to follow the format for invoking the App Engine and specifying the location of the helloword folder.  So I opened up notepad++ and created this line, which I the entered into the Vista Search box (which I discovered also now functions as the “Run” box). >>> dev_appserver.py C:\Users\DadLaptop\Documents\Helloworld<<<

Bang, It worked!! Followed the rest of the tutorial to display “Hello World” on Localhost. Now I have to continue for the more advanced functions. Stay tuned!

I saved the command line as a .bat file and believe that I can edit the desktop icon to include the parameter for the location of the hellworld folder.

A Survey of Free Software

One of the most vibrant areas of software development world is the free/open source software movement. A big reason to learn and use Freeware and Web 2.0 software is most of it is available free.

Most people think primarily of Linux when using this term but there is a much larger eco system. You have to do some research and trial and error since you won’t see a bunch of ads around (it’s free remember) Actually the “free” part is the biggest Ad.!

The movement covers most “normal” functional areas of software, from

Web 2.0 services,

  • E-mail, MSN, Gmail, Other Google services,
  • Web hosting, Blogs: WordPress.com, Blogger, others,
  • Regular web hosting, Microsoft Live. Microsoft live does not get much respect but is a very rich offering , now up to 25 GB of space and web site, automatic file backup/synchronization, blogs, picture storage, collaborative workspace and more.
  • Google app engine is so big and multifaceted I have not yet started to use it, and it’s free.

It is a bit hard to find the good and distinguish from the bad, many Google search results are pretty confusing. I generally have to poke around a bit in a regular Google search to find the host site as opposed to some fly-by-night site. You really want to “know” what you are looking for, find reviews and make sure that you are getting the “original” product. I am including links in this paper to most of the key products which I mention.

For instance I wanted to use Eclipse a major free Software development platform,. I figured I would need the Linux operating system. I downloaded and installed the Ubuntu version of Linux and configured it to “dual boot on my machine. One of it’s features is an automatic software installer, which is very cool, just click what you want and the operating system downloads and installs the software. Unfortunately, it did not work for Eclipse, I later found out that the version that Ubuntu had in it’s repositories was out of data. A direct download from the Eclipse site rand fine, in the process I also discovered that almost all of the freeware I was interested in was available in Windows, it was not just a Linux phenomenon! In fact most freeware is pretty platform independent, this is because the developers are very conscious of wanting to appeal to all audiences and since most of the software is built using freeware tools themselves which incorporated “cross-platform” libraries.

Some of the software and systems fall into the category of, “some assembly required”. While if you get everything from Microsoft, you can generally expect it all to work together right out of the box. Well, sometimes not quite that easy. In the free software arena you may very well be getting numerous pieces from separate vendors to work nicely together. In my case Mysql, JDBC driver, Birt report writer, query browser, Eclipse, Subversion, and Heidi SQL. In general the process is not too painful, and the online support community is very responsive, more so that the “Normal” vendors. You may often hear directly from the developer. Learning each products support methods is a bit of a chore but the more you do the more they all begin to feel very similar.

Sometimes documentation can be an issue a project called Floss manuals is a relatively new attempt to address the issue, check out the site free manuals for freeware.

I started to document my journey to the brave new software world. Wait! you say, its not new, and well you may be right! But it is new to me and from poking around in the process of learning it it seems that it is new to a lot of other people also.

I began by setting up a web site on Microsoft Live. Located at Http://TomBrander.com which hosts information about my real estate statistical consulting services. While Microsoft is not normally associated with great web stuff, this product is a wonderful exception. I got it when they were still handing out free domain registration, which sadly they have discontinued, now its something like $14.95 per year. However, the hosting remains free. You can get a free subdomain (like http://myname.live.com) and still get completely operational for free. Since, as some have pointed out, search is the most common way to find information now on the web. I don’t think the lack of a full domain registration is the handicap it once was, Google does index top level domains better, I hear, though.

I also incorporated a Blog hosted here at WordPress, a free service, http://tbrander.wordpress.com and incorporated into the main site via Iframes. I also maintain a Tech blog which will have this posted on it as well at https://tombrander.wordpress.com.

I’m now exploring Linux (Ubuntu), MySql, Eclipse, Open Office. I’ve got them loaded but I have a ways to go to get fully operational. I’m Using a dual boot Dell Win XP pro Machine with the newest Ubuntu Hardy. I’ll pick up some of that next time. I’m striving to create a solid free software development replacement to my entire Windows experience. I need a replacement for MS Access and eventually Photoshop CS3, although If I could get that in Wine I’d probably be ok with it.

Other neat tools/ services I’ve picked up are: Many Items in Google such as my new favorite: Google “reader” the Shared items page, Base, Mail, Docs, adsense, to do lists, portfolio, finance and a bunch of others, something new almost every day.

Metadot: A free hosted Wiki. My experimental site is here.

Mindtouch Wiki a hosted free service. My site is here.

PB wiki Is a hosted free service. My site is here.

Del.icio.us; A great way to keep bookmarks organized so I can get to them via any computer and not use my browser which keeps them stuck on one machine.

In fact one of my main goals is to move as much as I can into the “cloud” so that depending on a particular machine or location is no longer necessary. So this means giving up on Microsoft Outlook. So far no problem.

One last item for today is getting Firefox instead of Explorer, It has been a great improvement. I happen to be in Explorer at the moment, for no particular reason but I find myself most of the time in Firefox, which seems noticeably faster and much less crash prone, when running exactly the same stuff!

Free Wiki/blogging hosts: an overview

I plan to update this but thought I’d go ahead and put this very brief version out for the time being.

Ok, I’ve signed up and set up beginning pages on 5 free Wiki sites in addition to my sites at several blog sites as well as WordPress: What you can see from the links below are the “mother site” (where the software/service comes from) and my very primitive initial set up or modification of the base start up pages.

Please note that I have done minimal work on each of these host platforms as of 6/6/2008 and plan to update and play around with them more as time permits. The first link takes you to the parent site for the provider and the My site link is just that, a barebones site I just created.

Pbwiki My site is here

Metadot My site is here

Deki Wiki/Mindtouch My site is here

Blogger My site is here

Joomla My site is here (this host restricted for “testing purposes only” no way to “upgrade” account, but a very rich environment.

Microsoft Live My site here, I’ve put the most effort in here and it is my Production site. Needs work, and not really a Wiki but totally free hosting.

Each of these tools and hosts has its own strengths and weaknesses which I hope to document as I get the time. Initially I can state that the richness of each environment amazes me. I also Hope to fiddle around a bit with Google app engine but that environment is more “programmer centric” as contrasted with the services above which can generally be handled by end-users…