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Why WordPress

I posted a few months ago on why I used Blogger. The main reason for not self-hosting was:

Without starting the whole religious war – yes there are very very strong open source blog frameworks out there; put it simply I’m just too lazy (or too busy) to get the thing deployed, tweaked, secured and customised for my world.. that’s why I’m posting here.

I wanted more control of the content; as well as the ability to control posting, comments, spam etc. I also wanted to investigate using one of the tools in production. What better way than to host.

As for my choice of WordPress – I like the plugin architecture; the post-editor; the licensing works for me. I also looked at several blog comparisions – and it really came down to personal choice.

Moving blog hosts

I’ve moved my blog from blogspot to a self-hosted WordPress installation.

No particular reason. I just wanted more control over the look and feel of the blog; as well as supporting features like trackback.

Currently running on a crappy old server running SLES 9 with WordPress, Apache, PHP and MySQL. Hopefully the hardware is reliable enough.

I’ll post more on how things progress.

Sudoku – another craze hits the UK

More observations on changes in the UK since we last lived there in 2002..

One noticable theme of our stay in England was that every newspaper seemed to have a Sudoku puzzle in it. Asking around and this is a very recent phenomenon. Even Wikipedia notes that the craze started in the Spring of 2005.

It seems that the Sudoku puzzle craze is just another meme – take a look at this article from The Observer Sunday newspaper from 15 May 2005:

If the first week of May 2005 will be remembered for a general election, the second will go down as the week of Sudoku.

National newspapers scrambled to advertise the puzzle on their front pages, while websites devoted to it sprang up and TV and radio stations caught the new global bug.

Numerous articles have attributed the puzzle, which has a Japanese name, to the mysteries of the Land of the Rising Sun. But its true modern origins lie with a team of puzzle constructors in 1970s’ New York, from where it set off on a 25-year journey to Tokyo, London – and back to New York.

Scientists have identified Sudoku as a classic meme – a mental virus which spreads from person to person and sweeps across national boundaries. Dr Susan Blackmore, author of The Meme Machine, said: ‘This puzzle is a fantastic study in memetics. It is using our brains to propagate itself across the world like an infectious virus.’

Indeed.

Deer Park alpha 1

The nice people at the Mozilla Foundation have released the first alpha of the Firefox 1.1 code.

http://www.mozilla.org/projects/deerpark/releases/alpha1.html

It installed and ran just perfectly on my Novell Linux Desktop – all of my cookies, bookmarks etc came across perfectly from Firefox 1.0.4.

I’m just hunting down sites that don’t work. Looks like Blogger is one of them. I’ll revisit this post and add appropriate link goodness.

(near)-Organic food boxes

Last year we took part in Community Supported Agriculture – CSA – in Utah. Just before we left for Europe it was time for renewal – for this years weekly box of delights.

We work with East Farms CSA – they were mentioned in the Salt Lake Tribune a while ago.

It was an interesting summer and autumn – lots of new vegetables; some real treats (fresh cherries!), some great fresh salad greens and lots and lots and lots of squash. What do you do with them?

In my week of solitude away from the net I read this article in The Guardian on a similar sounding commercial service being offering in London – from Abel & Cole. Funny how organic farming has the same issue worldwide – you only sell what’s in season.

We also visited the Center for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth. Think again about the food you buy – how far has it travelled; how much impact did it’s transportation have? And that’s before you think about the food itself.

Normal Service has been resumed

Wow. I’ve been off the net for a week – and I feel so refreshed and revitalised for it. For those that know me watch out – I’ll be evangelising the benefits of doing nothing high tech for the next few weeks!

I spent the time at our extended familys cottage in Borth, Wales – no cell signal, no landline, no internet, no email. Sounds like hell eh?

I got to spend a lot of time relaxing, reading, catching up and playing with Aoife. Lots of good thinking time too.

Culture change, collaberation and elephants

A colleague from the Novell European Support Centre sent me an interesting article from IBM research.

http://www.research.ibm.com/journal/sj/442/neus.pdf

Interesting in many respects – especially seeing the ‘team drawn elephant’ exercise brought into a discussion about collaberation methods.

The key piece that I was interested in was in the culture change required to bring about such changes in communication:

1. Keep it simple. We used a few simple methods in
assessment and intervention that were accessible
to the client’s employees. We did not overload
them with methodology or jargon.

2. Find passionate people. To drive change, you
need passion. You need people who understand
and are excited about the change.

3. Do the ‘‘emperor’s clothes’’ test on the organization.
Don’t require the novice to ask the
emperor’s advisor for permission to spread the
word about change.

4. Involve me, and I will understand. Cultural
change cannot be forced; it can only be facilitated.
Nothing is as powerful a teacher as firsthand
experience. We allowed people to experience
what open-source collaboration could mean
for them in their working environment.

5. Start small, grow fast. Start small with a limited
scope and the mission to solve a concrete
problem. Demonstrate value; then grow.

A really interesting idea – that may be difficult to implement in a corporate structure – is letting individuals find out about open-source collaberation for themselves.

I agree fully that to drive change you need passionate people; my open-ended response is ‘what happens if the enthused change-agents alienate the broader population?’