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, 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:” 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:// 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 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.

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:, 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:// 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 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, and incorporated into the main site via Iframes. I also maintain a Tech blog which will have this posted on it as well at

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.; 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!

The 25 Best Alternatives To Your Enterprise Applications & Functions

The following article on one of my favorite subjects, freeware. This selection is slanted to “enterprise” type solutions.

I’m in the process of updating some material which I will soon post here but in the meantime you should take a look at this article. It has some great ideas. Click on the link below for some good ideas and links. Some of these are new to me.

John Perez, Wednesday, December 10, 2008
2009 Budgets are in and for many who oversee the Operations and IT Budget, you are probably challenged to reduce your capital budget by at least 40% lower than what you originally put in. As the pressure to cut continues, you may want to rethink about the software vendors you have selected to introduce into the Enterprise, or even think about replacing your legacy Enterprise applications with more cost effective open source alternatives.

Still not convinced about Open Source or Lower Cost Alternatives? Well according to Gartner, approximately 85% of companies surveyed are already using Open Source Applications in 2008. The other 15% surveyed have plans to incorporate Open Source Strategies within their Enterprise in 2009. Whether your a small business, or you are looking to minimize costs – attached are some of the most cost effective applications on the market that can easily replace some of your more expensive Enterprise solutions and functions.

Here is the link to the Slashdot discussion of the article, it has a bunch of interesting insights.

Just found a site “Find Open Source Alternatives to comercial Software”. Looks pretty good at 1st blush.