Vista Revisited

I have a confession: I use Microsoft products. There. It’s out. Considering the tone and content of this site, I think I would do well to explain myself: Our company provides web development services – plenty of FLOSS applications in this respect, from development tools and web servers to complete API’s. We also provide consulting and network administration services and it is, like it, or not, a Windows dominated world. I need to be able to provide support that requires very little “research” when a customer calls because Outlook won’t send mail anymore. I need to be able to tell them to go to the File menu and make sure that the “Work Offline” option is not ticked. I also need to be able to walk them through various other troubleshooting steps, even when I’m mobile and I do not have a computer in front of me. You get this knowledge only by using the software on a daily basis. We have several customers with Windows Small Business Server 2003 deployed as well. How does one get solid experience in system administration of this type without hands-on use? I steer my customers toward FLOSS solutions as often as possible – mainly servers and web based technologies. We haven’t seen much in the way of desktop migration, but then again, we don’t deploy a lot of desktops. Continue reading

Captain Tangent’s Friday link post for 12/28/07

Week Link WednesdayAfter a brief hiatus, Captain Tangent is back with more useful/less links for your clicking pleasure.

This week, I want to start with a dilemma (one of several) of the web developer: None of my clients want their site to look like other sites that I’ve done – go figure. Nice looking color schemes are one aspect of this and there are several tools to assist. Online, there is the ColorSchemer. This is probably my favorite tool for color schemes. Just enter a hex or an RGB color value, and your off and running. For you Linux users out there, there is a package called Agave. They say that it is for the Gnome desktop, but it works just fine on my KDE desktop as well – obviously, you’ll need to have the Gnome libraries installed. Just look for Agave in your favorite package manager.

Every now and again, while browsing the internet, I come across a clever 404 error. Some are funny, some are scary, and some are just plain stupid. The good people at the 404 Research Lab have done a bang-up job of finding some of the more entertaining and unique errors. Yeah! A whole site dedicated to not finding what your looking for – now that’s geeky!

Everyone wants ajax these days – it looks great and can significantly enhance the usability of your web-based applications. Now there is no point in reinventing the wheel every time you need a feature or some sort of functionality for your apps. Head over to mini ajax for loads of code and ajax “applets”.

Finally, a shout to Wayne over at fsckin w/ linux – congrats on the success of your site – may it continue into the new year! I have traffic envy. Have a look at Wayne’s article Top Linux Headlines of 2007 – A Year In Review . It’s a brief article with links to some of the more interesting stories from the Linux world from this past year.

Gmail, Talk, IMAP and your business: Transparent communication done right.

Having secure and universal access to seamless and synchronized data like email, contact lists, and calendars is one of the dilemmas of the small business, or anyone else who needs to stay connected. Google now hosts domain email under it’s Google Apps brand. In addition to secure pop3 access, I can also use the IMAP service so no matter if I get my mail on my Linux box, online, or on my Windows box, all 6 GB of email storage is at my finger tips. As a bonus, I have access to chat and chat logs and VoIP through Google Talk, a Jabber based IM network. I can even upload and access files on gmail through programs like GmailFS. There are packages for the GmailFS available in many different Linux distros including Debian (ubuntu), I’m not sure about Windows tools that do the same thing but there are web-based and therefore, cross-platform applications like php Gmail Drive that work fine. While they may have some minor issues as far as account/feature integration, and a seamless online experience are concerned, Google has always done search and email right, so it’s very easy to find one email or thread from thousands, and thousands of messages. Eventually, their GrandCentral acquisition should be integrated into the whole thing, providing SMS and Voice Messaging on top of it all. For now though, you can access your email from any mobile phone with internet.

I used to manage the mail server for gartnerwebdev.com, luckeycat.com, oneofakindwis.com, and a few others in-house using postfix, spamassassin, clamav and amavisd. With all of that control, I was reluctant, to say the least, to make the switch. We were quickly outgrowing our resources though, so I made the leap. The 8 or so email accounts and 40 odd aliases migrated with out too much hassle. The free version comes with more users and multiple domains than we will likely ever use. Google also has an Apps product aimed at the enterprise in case the standard edition just doesn’t cut it for you.

KDE 4.0 rc2 Scheduled for release on December 12th, 2007

In an announcement today, the KDE team has said that the release of KDE 4.0 rc2 will be available on Wednesday, December 12th. While the vast majority of the codebase is shored up, there are still some issues that the team felt warranted a second release candidate prior to the official dot oh release on January 11th, 2008. Full details can be found at http://www.kde.org/announcements/announce-4.0-rc2.php