Category Archives: General

How was your 2010?

The new year is fast approaching, so I thought I’d join the rest of the blogging universe in a quick reflective post.

This year was a decent year for me.  Some good new clients, a second book deal, and a rediscovered love of martial arts.

Next year I’m hoping to keep going with the books, get my brown belt, go back to Los Angeles, do some more open source work, and continue with my Japanese studies.

How was your 2010?  Did you achieve what you wanted?  What do you want to do next year?

Funambol Open Source from Packt Publishing

Packt Publishing have released a book on the Funambol Mobile Open Source system. I’m not going to write a review of the title, because I worked on it, so I can’t be completely impartial.

However, I will say this – I really enjoyed working on it. I use Citadel for my email, and it can easily integrate with a Funambol server. If you’re looking for a PIM and push email system that works with a variety of mobile clients, then you should definitely check out Funambol – it’s free and open source, and can scale to suit anything from a small business like mine to a much bigger enterprise.

The book takes you through the basics of setting up a server for personal use and scaling it for more users, then goes on to explain how to create Funambol extensions. You can check out the book here.

Blender 3D: Architecture, Buildings and Scenery

Packt have sent me a copy of Blender 3D: Architecture, Buildings and Scenery to review.

The book arrived in the post today, and I’ll be working on a review of it over the weekend. My first impressions are positive, however.

I’m looking forward to working through it – some heavy duty rendering should be a good way to put my new quad core PC through its paces!

Slow Windows 7 Install – Expanding Windows Files

My main PC suffered a series of related failures last week – the PSU died, and it took the motherboard with it.

I had to wait until I got paid to get replacement parts, and that turned out to be quite a challenge.  My PC was an early dual core – one of the socket 754s.  It had four RAM slots, and two PCIe ports (which were used for SLI).  It also had three PCI slots (which were used for various cards), and two IDE + several SATA ports.

Finding a similar socket 754 motherboard from a store that offered fast delivery was almost impossible.  In fact, the only one I managed to find didn’t have the listed board in stock.

I ended up buying a new motherboard + processor + RAM bundle  because it was inexpensive, and the only way I was going to end up with a working PC that could take all my bits.  So I’ve upgraded to a quad core and got some faster memory 🙂

Of course, this means I had to reinstall Windows 7, which has been an interesting process.  The installer ran incredibly slowly the first time I tried it – taking several minutes to bring up the first screen, about half an hour to copy the files, then hanging at 0% on Expanding Windows Files.

I tried restarting the process a few times, and also removing all extra drives, but that didn’t help.  Then I saw a post on Technet which offered a simple suggestion – disable the Floppy drive in the bios.

In my case, I hadn’t wired up my floppy yet, but in the bios the “Drive A:” option was set to 3 1/4 Floppy.  Setting that to Disabled made the Windows 7 install fly by at the speed you’d expect of a Quad Core.

If you’re encountering similar problems installing Windows 7, try disabling your floppy drive before doing anything fancy or unplugging any of your drives.  There’s a good chance it will help.



Reminder for UK People – Tax Returns Due This Month!

This is just a quick reminder for any self employed UK people – the deadline for filing your tax return online is the end of this month!

I hope you’ve all been more organized than me, and you have your books all filled out. I still need to work mine out – my internet banking has been broken for several months, and the bank can’t figure out why I can’t log in, so I’ll be doing it the old fashioned way, leafing through paper reciepts and invoices 🙂

Make sure you file on time – the fines are hefty if you miss the deadline.

NaBloPoMo Day Two

Well, it’s day two of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month), and I’m already unsure what to write each day.  Usually, I only blog if something important happens, or if there’s an idea worthy of an in-depth discussion.

Rather than churn out 31 “What I did today” posts, I’ve decided to spend some time thinking about interesting topics – both for this month, and for the future, after all, nothing looks worse than a blog that goes un-updated for months on end, so it’s always good to have some ideas tucked away.

So far, I’m taking inspiration from the world around me, and that’s something that I think a lot of bloggers could do.  I plan to post more on things like Security issues, software updates, Identi.ca discussions (and Twitter discussions), things that show up on Freenode / OFTC and other IRC channels, and the results of things like Ubuntu meetings.

There’s enough going on in those areas that there’s always something to say, and blogging about those things doesn’t mean leaving out the occasional how-to, introspective, or “this is what I’m up to”. It does, however, mean that there’s no need to fall back on the dreaded Top 10, or journal style post!

Welcome to 2010

Well, it’s the new year now – in fact, it’s a new decade!  I’ve already done a year in retrospective post, so this won’t be one of those, but I thought I’d still post something today, to start the year as I mean to go on.

This month is also National Blog Posting Month.  I took part in one of those last year, but didn’t do so well because BT managed to break our internet connection.  Here’s hoping things go better this year.

I hope you’re not all too hung over!  Enjoy what’s left of the holiday season, and best wishes for the coming year.

2009 Wrap Up

This is my first post as part of an Absolute Write blog chain.  The site runs blog chains every month, and this month, the topic is “Wrap Up List 2009” – a chance to reflect on the previous year. At the bottom of this post you will find a list of the other people participating in the chain. I encourage you to take a look at their blogs – there’s some good writers taking part.

I’m pleased to say that 2009 was a decent year for me.  I’m looking forward to 2010, and plan to build on the foundations set this year.

Health

I had some health issues this year, but my doctors have been great.  I think this is worth mentioning because I moved relatively recently, and the doctors at my former place of residence were terrible.  At one point I had to get so sick I was hospitalized – for something that turned out to need a course of antibiotics – because my old doctor insisted all my symptoms were in my head. If you have a good doctor, be thankful!

I took up weight lifting this year, and I’m working towards a weight goal in bench / deadlift.  I’m planning to buy a squat rack next summer so that I can start squatting more regularly – at the moment it’s awkward  and a little dangerous to try to squat heavy weights, so I’m only doing weights I know I can manage easily to get the form down.

Next year I hope to compete in a powerlifting competition.  I’m not expecting to do well, but at least I’ll be able to say I’ve competed.

Writing

In 2008, I started working on my first book, the WordPress-MU Beginner’s Guide. It was published by Packt Publishing in October 2009, and next month I’ll find out how the early sales went.  Initial reviews have been positive, and I learned a lot about the publishing process while working on the title.  I’m looking forward to writing more books with Packt in the future.

I also started working as a proof reader (and I’m sure that mentioning that will mean this post is riddled with typos and other errors).  It’s a job that I enjoy because I get to read interesting books – before they’re published, and get paid to do it!

I’m currently working on a technical review of a book about Ubuntu for tech publishing company O’Reilly, and I’m really enjoying that title too.  My publisher has cleared me to work on a short ebook for O’Reilly, something that I’m very grateful for.  I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about option clauses, so having a publisher that’s willing to work with their authors to maintain a good relationship makes me feel blessed.

Ubuntu Membership

Writing about, and reviewing a book on Ubuntu has made me get more involved with the community.  I’ve already posted about Ubuntu Membership, and that’s something I plan to pursue next year.  This year I started to learn packaging, and I got involved with the bug triaging project, and I hope to continue both of those things long term.

Business

Myth Games – the site I run which offers game reviews and news, moved to a new server this year.  I’m working on ironing out some bugs and adding some new site features which should make it easier to update and to add new content.  The site move and the associated downtime killed our traffic in the short term,but it’s going back up, and I hope it will exceed it’s former traffic levels by the time E3 (the biggest trade show in the industry) comes around again.

We missed E3 last year because of my health issues.  Hopefully that won’t happen again in 2010.

Fiction

I have a lot of respect for people who can write fiction. I’m working on a couple of short stories, but I have a lot to learn in that regard.  I didn’t take part in NANOWRIMO this year, and that’s something I regret.  Rather than delay the whole thing until next November, I think I’ll have an unofficial NANO sometime in the spring – anything to get me writing, and get over this fear of fiction.

Legends Reborn is still in progress.  It’s a mammoth project, though, so I’m not expecting to have much to show for it until this time next year. I have a couple of betas lined up, but I don’t want to pull them in until I know what *I* want to do, because I fear too many changes will burn them out.

Life

I got my provisional driving license recently, and I plan on learning to drive in the spring.  The weather is far too bad (icy / dark / wet) to learn at the moment.  I will be taking an advanced course, assuming I pass, so that I have an idea how to handle such weather.  I just don’t want my first experience of handling a vehicle to be skidding off the road!

That concludes my wrap-up. The other participants in the blog chain are listed below. Please do take a look at them, and wish them all well for next year!

Lost Wanderer – http://www.lostwanderer5.blogspot.com
Claire Crossdale – http://theromanticqueryletter.blogspot.com/
coryleslie – http://corrinejackson.wordpress.com/
bsolah – http://benjaminsolah.com/blog
DavidZahir – http://zahirblue.blogspot.com/
RavenCorinnCarluk – http://ravencorinncarluk.blogspot.com
Ralph Pines – http://ralfast.wordpress.com/
shethinkstoomuch – http://shethinkstoomuch.wordpress.com
Lady Cat – http://www.randomwriterlythoughts.blogspot.com
truelyana – http://expressiveworld.com
misaditas – http://misaditas-novels.blogspot.co

collectonian – http://collectonian.livejournal.com/632314.html (PREVIOUS)
razibahmed – http://www.blogging37.com
(Next)

beawhiz – http://beawrites.wordpress.com
FreshHell – http://freshhell.wordpress.com
AlissaC – http://alissacarleton.blogspot.com
Aimee – http://writing.aimeelaine.com
Forbidden Snowflake – http://www.alleslinks.com

Social bookmarking links script

There are dozens of social bookmarking services.  If you tried to promote your site on all of them, you would probably end up spending more time on submitting pages to those sites than you would on producing new content.

Most of those sites are very sensitive to ‘spam’, and are hostile towards people who are clearly shilling or promoting their own web sites.  So, if you have a strong community already, why not encourage your users to promote your site for you, rather than doing all the submission work yourself.

One effective way to do this is to place social bookmarking links at the bottom of each article.  These links take the user to the submission page of their favourite social bookmarking site, so all they have to do is enter a quick description, and submit.

One such script is available for download here.

This script was originally designed by Hugo Haas.  I have been using it on my web sites for quite some time, simply updating the social bookmarking links as necessary.

The script is ideal for use on any web site – whether it’s powered by WordPress-MU, Joomla, e107, or any other CMS.  It’s also useful for custom coded sites.  Just extract the folders, drop the Javascript into your pages, and you’re good to go.

LinkedIn Update – Fake Profile Removed

I’m finally back online, and I’m glad to report that LinkedIn have removed the faked LinkedIn profile that I mentioned last month.  To their credit, they actually removed it within 10 days of me making the support request – I simply didn’t spot the email telling me they’d done so, as I haven’t been able to get online much until recently.

I’m pleased they removed the profile, and I’m relieved that the creator of the fake profile didn’t do anything to damage the reputation of Myth Games, however I’d still love to know who made it, and why.