Archive for the 'Software' Category

My New Blog!

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

I have created a new blog here: My Robot and Other Stuff

iPad without ebooks

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

We are now officially living in the future as Apple have finally released a tablet. The name made many people cringe, as it kind of sounds like something that belongs inside women’s underwear when it is that time of the month.

Anyway, it looks fantastic and I’m sure it will be a success. Everybody will want to use the iPad to read ebooks. Ebooks are not available on iTunes instead you need to download the iBooks application and buy ebooks through that. Alternatively you could still buy ebooks online from Fictionwise or somewhere like that. This is a minor irritation compared to the fact that due to geographical restrictions the vast majority of ebooks aren’t available in Australia.

I want my ebook

According to the Fictionwise website ebooks are not available in Australia due to the way the book publishing industry works. The publishing industry has always worked on the idea that the rights of books could be sold to publishers according to geographical region. This idea is basically incompatible with the idea of the Internet, but these contracts still apply to ebooks. Publishers are legally obliged to make sure their ebooks adhere to these contracts.

The result is different publishers produce the same titles in different countries and each individual publisher needs to release ebooks in the different countries before they can become available.

Even if a company wants to sell all ebooks to Australians they can’t. That is correct: I can’t buy ebooks because I’m Australian.

Legally that is

This forces many e-book fans to download ebooks illegally using filesharing networks. I personally do not feel comfortable doing this and would much rather be able to buy ebooks legally.

There is also the choice of buying them illegally by using a foreign friend’s credit card or using IP masking techniques.

Why me?

The inability to buy ebooks is an irritation for most people, but there are many people who can’t physically read a book. Someone with muscular dystrophy such as myself can have great difficulty holding a book and turning the pages. With an ebook all you need do is press a button or click a mouse. There are mechanical page turners available, but they are very expensive and don’t work so well. I am also not a fan of audio books as it tends to go in one ear and out the other and what about people who can’t hear.

E-book crusade

I am hoping that the release of the iPad will increase the number of Australians wanting to read ebooks and this will force the hand of publishers to be more ebook friendly.

I also plan on finding out as much as I can about the reasons why ebooks are not available in Australia and to fight for the rights of Australians to read ebooks.

Content management systems – the way of the future?

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

As some readers of this blog will know my brother runs a Web development business from home, Constitution Computing. We both started making websites way back in 2000. Most sites back then were static and hard coded. In the case of database driven Web sites we coded the site from scratch.

Nowadays this is not the way things are done. Websites usually use a content management system, the problem is there are hundreds of them on the market. We have also been bitten on the arse by content management systems before – where numerous inexplicable bugs would appear for no apparent reason.

I have used a content management system for my blog for many years. When I first started I tried to develop my own blog software and in the end I gave up because other people had already done it for me. I moved on to a program called Movable Type. This program used a combination of Pearl, PHP and CGI. It was a little bit of a disaster because of it. Movable type was only a tiny bit easier than operating my own blog software.

Finally I moved on to WordPress 3.0.2 – by far the best blog software I’ve seen. The only problem with using popular software is that it can sometimes be abused by spammers. The one thing I never had to worry about when running my own Web software is that only I used it – there was no point for spammers to develop spam bots to target only one site. Spam was a constant battle on both Movable Type and WordPress. Track back spam was by far the worst on both platforms.

Yesterday I decided to install the latest version of WordPress. Upgrading was a big thing for me as it has always caused innumerable problems later on. I’d also just updated the theme on my website – a surprisingly fiddly all day process. Upgrading could potentially negate all my hard work, but it needed to be done.

I am a firm believer in pessimism. Contrary to popular belief pessimists are far more likely to be happy. I always prepare myself for the worst. This way if the worst does not occur I am pleasantly surprised, if it does, I have the satisfaction knowing I was correct. It’s a win-win.

I backed up my old WordPress installation and then deleted it off the Web server. I then uploaded the latest version of WordPress. In the browser I then went to the update page. It immediately detected my old WordPress database and automatically upgraded it so it would work with the new version. I went to my website and it worked!

At this stage I was still a little worried as my nice new theme had been deleted by the new WordPress installation. The fix for this was incredibly easy. My layout was an edited version of the WordPress default theme. I simply went to where I had backed up my old WordPress installation and changed the name of the theme from default to christheme. I uploaded it and then went to the themes page in WordPress admin selected the theme and it worked.

I was then overcome with a feeling of pleasantly surpriseadness.

Anyway I told my brother about my experiences with WordPress. This set us wondering whether content management systems have reached the maturity we need to make Web site development easier?

We have been looking at Joomla and Drupal both open source content management systems. It’s a difficult decision.

If anyone has any experience with content management systems we would love to hear from you in the comments.

Will greed ruin Facebook?

Monday, February 4th, 2008

I think greed is one the most damaging of the seven deadly sins. Greed has the potential to destroy the thing you most desire. Greed on a personal level is probably not that damaging its when corporations get in on the act when the carnage starts to happen, for example Facebook.

I used to think Facebook was the greatest of all social network sites. The thing that makes Facebook one of the most popular websites on the net is its ability to install third-party “applications”. These applications mean that their website gets content provided by a third party with the operators of Facebook having to a minimum of work. The makers of the applications get to advertise directly to Facebook users. It is a win-win situation.

The problem occurs when the users install the applications. The application developers want their application used by as many people as possible. The more people the more money they receive from advertising. When installing an application you can invite other people on your friends list to use the application. Every time you receive an invitation it adds it to your request list. When I first started using Facebook you could skip the friend invitation stage and just start using the application, but now Facebook forces you to invite 20 friends before you can use the application. This results in a shit load of unnecessary spam.

I barely have enough time to control e-mail spam and blog comment spam – now I have to deal with Facebook spam as well. Facebook has so many other great features that I will continue to use it – but why do they have to abuse their users like this. Stupid decisions driven by corporate greed could destroy something like Facebook. Users aren’t a commodity they are people – without the users there would be no website. Try showing us a little bit of respect.

Can you say can’t?

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

I have found wonderful new piece of software. I was speaking to my friend Ryan the other day, he has Muscular Dystrophy, just like me, and he has difficulty typing, just like me. He asked me if I used voice recognition software? I told him no. He told me he used Dragon Naturally Speaking and that its really quite good. So, on his advice I went down to Harvey Norman today, and got Dragon Naturally Speaking version 9. I am not being paid to say this by the way. And I actually did say that because I’m using it to type this now. It is incredibly accurate, although I had to teach it fuck, fucking, dildo and I haven’t got around to teaching it cunt yet (as you can see from the title) – but I will. It is correct about 90% of the time, so I do have to read through and change some words that it gets wrong.

Is Vista Gonna Fist Ya?

Thursday, May 3rd, 2007

I think we all know the answer to that one.

In fact I have not heard a good thing about Vista that new operating system from Microsoft.

The other day my friend brought over his new beast of a machine we plugged into in our LAN and we were going to have a day of Wolrd of Warcraft – the damn game doesn’t install on Vista.

But, instead of bending over and taking the big one from Bill Gates I came up with a dastardly plan. What if I copied the entire World of Warcraft directory from my computer to my friend’s new computer?

My friend said, “nah its never gunna work”, we tried it anyway and what do you know – it works just fine!

Me may have avoided a fisting this time, but all Microsoft products have a tendency to make the users life hell, as Nicholas Gruen found out.

So, good luck with Vista and keep your butt cheeks firmly pressed together.