web

Hosting?

Yes, the demise of iWeb is official see here. I have 12 months to make other arrangments.

Several things have cropped up with my proposed move to Squarespace. In fact I was going to link that first sentence to the previous article until I realised I didn't know how to do that yet and had to learn.

Hosting with MobileMe has made podcast publishing a one-button affair. Once the podcast is finished in GarageBand, I just hit "publish" and it sends the episode to my iweb site and updates the RSS automatically. I do nothing more than one click. But once you get away from the Apple ecosystem, there is all the background stuff to do manually. More work. Yurgh. Is this what real bloggers do?

Then there's the hosting. Squarespace has unlimited storage but individual files must be less than 20Mb. They are clearly in the web publishing not content delivery business. Most of my podcast episodes are 70Mb or more. If I do video, the files are much larger again. The Squarespace help pages suggest hosting them on Libsyn or similar. I'm fine to host my video on Youtube or (preferably) Vimeo, but where do I put the audio? This exercise is starting to get expensive.

Libsyn seems out. At $5 for the classic plan, I would get only 50Mb of new podcasts per months, that's less than one. The $15 plan has 250Mb but that seems a bit steep.

Podbean is slightly better at $4.95 for 150Mb per month which is roughly two episodes.

Any way I jump, it is very clear I need Feedburner to hide where the actual podcast files are saved from my audience. This is invaluable if you have to move the files for any reason. Basically, iTunes points to Feedburner and feedburner points to the files. So changing hosts doesn't affect iTunes, it still sees the same thing.

My domain registration at GoDaddy includes hosting, 10Gb and unlimited bandwidth, so I think I'm using that for now. Given the SquareSpace plan was a little more than I anticipated, I think free hosting is in order.

Squarespace?

Steve Jobs indicated that iWeb will probably go away or at least lose hosting on iCloud when it replaces MobileMe. The pundits say this is a minor inconvenience as hardly anyone hosts on MobileMe. Bugger, I'm in the minority.
For all its bad press, MobileMe and iWeb are so incredibly easy to use and integrated with my Mac that I love them. But it looks like I need to find another blogging platform.
Leo and Co are always ranting about Squarespace and from everything I can see, it is the premiere web hosting platform out there. Sure Wordpress and Blogger feature highly, but Squarespace seems to aspire to be better. Every now and then you hear of a Wordpress exploit or some bug or the bloody thing goes down. I'm just not into that. I have no time at all for technology that does not work first time, every time.
So the issues I now face are;
Learn Squarespace.
Decide if I should start again or try to keep my current web site/blog articles and move them across. I think the answer is moot - I have to keep my best stuff and take the opportunity to dump the crud.
Re-design site for better usability;
  •   Search
  •   Comments
  •   Links
  •   Photos
  •   Tagging
  •   Related articles
Separate out the "core" message stuff (computer usability for normal people) from the more personal human interest stuff. (Since we don't own alpacas anymore that might be a time to drop that stuff?)
And if this is starting to sound more like a "think out loud" project plan than a blog article, you might be right. The in's and out's of getting my articles out of iWeb are immense. It has no export. I knew this going in but I never thought I'd need an export. Curiously enough Blogger and Wordpress don't have export either from what I can see. Squarespace does. I think this is good.
I think I'll have to go through every article I ever wrote and decide if it is still valid and if so export it. Yurgh!
Next issue is Markdown. Well opportunity I suppose. If I export the articles I need a format to export them into. I could just grab the text and bung it in Word or something hideous like that. But I would lose the formatting and links. And be reliant on Word saving valid HTML which isn't a place I want to be. I could export to HTML but who can read raw HTML? That's a job for web browsers not humans. No, I want a WYSIWYG format. Enter Markdown, a human readable text format that also converts easily to HTML or anything else. Yep geeky, but allegedly intuitive. Do I have the brainspace to take on a new language?
While I've been writing this article, I've been researching Squarespace. Google is your friend. The phrase "squarespace sucks" doesn't yield anything too nasty. The worst complaint I could find was years old and about SEO. The snake oil salesmen think Wordpress is more SEO friendly. Whoopee do. Certainly no service complaints, no outages that lasted days and no one demanding their money back. So far so good.
Ok, so I think I'm decided. Yeah, bugger it, let's go for it. Any nay sayers should speak now or forever hold your typing fingers.
Suggestions welcome.

Internet Explorer and why you must avoid it.

I'm a crusader against Microsoft Internet Explorer.

It is the most flawed, broken, dangerous piece of crap that Microsoft ever built. I do not say this lightly. I've written many articles on the subject and they are reproduced below.

The top cop at the NSW Cyber Crimes Task Force put it best in a public lecture where he said the two things Australians can do to protect themselves on the Internet are; 1. don't click on links in email and 2. don't use Internet Explorer.

Internet Explorer (IE) is the web browser that comes with Windows and is the way most newbies view the Internet. But it is NOT the best, safest or only way to surf.

Most web pages contain more than just text. To help your web browser display them (as the designer intended) the web site downloads program code to your PC. This is normal.

With IE, this program code is called Active-X and it is like getting Hitler’s brain transplanted into your head, the evil is inside you and has full control. Java is like reading a book on bomb making, you can choose to follow the instructions, or you can think better of it and ignore them.

There’s lots of other glaring security problems with IE. And Microsoft’s approach to security is to ask the user - “To view this web site you need to install this Active-X component, click here to install” well of course everyone clicks here because you wouldn’t have gone to the web site if you didn’t want to view it! How are you supposed to know if the Active-X is safe or malicious?

So stop using IE and check out Firefox (or Opera or Safari or Chrome). Your surfing will be safer and you will find they work better too! Of course, you will find the odd web site that insists on IE, and if that’s your bank or someone you trust, IE will always be there, because you can’t remove it from Windows.

The first thing you can do to make yourself a whole lot safer on the Internet is to stop using Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE). You know that blue E icon? Stop using it. There are other web browsers you can use and all of them are better.

The Microsoft browser is built in to Windows and for a lot of people that’s all they use. This must change and in fact it has changed. IE has dropped to less than half of all Internet users. Most people have got the message and are using those other browsers. Firefox is the popular choice.

The mainstream press reported yet another bug in IE recently. And rightly so. This most recent one was a bad one. Visit one wrong web page and Bingo! Your computer is taken over and infected with malware.

IE continues to have major security flaws. All these years later and the bad guys are still finding new ones. Over and over again.

In my humble opinion, the whole stupid design sucks badly. In short, the plug-ins (add-ons) for IE are Windows programs. And Windows programs can do anything – wipe your disk, change your settings – anything. And then Microsoft had this horrible after thought – how do we stop them? We opened the gate and after the bad guys had been pouring in for 10 years, then Microsoft decided to do something about it. It’s like allowing anyone to graft anything directly onto your brain – no questions asked.

In contrast, the other browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari to name a few) don’t work that way. They will accept a wish list (from a web site) and decide if the instructions make sense before following them.

At this point, all the programmers reading will be screaming at me. Yep I know that is a massive over simplification to say the least. But I’m trying to boil this down so everyone can get the extremely important message that IE stinks. Go with me here folks.

Understand that if you surf the Internet with Microsoft Internet Explorer, you ARE way more likely to get infected.

Best news? The other browsers are free and easy to use. And I have found them ALL to be better to use. Go change now if you haven’t done so already.

Just in case you didn’t get the memo - Microsoft Internet Explorer is my pick for the most crap security risk of all time. And if you needed another reason to abandon it forever - try this.

Apple’s web browser, Safari, is getting an upgrade. The current version 3 is pretty darn good and runs rings around IE, well doughnuts really. Now Apple has version 4 out as a public Beta (test drive).

In the world of Apple, an UPgrade generally offers more features, more speed and is better than the previous version. Safari does not disappoint. It is around 4 times faster than before and even then it was still the fastest browser out there for my money.

Yep, pages come up faster, look shiny and generally work better. And the cover flow view shows all your recent sites on one screen in a way that has to be seen to be believed.

Yep, I like it.

For Windows or Mac. Free. www.apple.com

Microsoft has released Internet Explorer version 8. And you might like to know if my opinion has changed or if this version is better, safe to use or gets the tick of approval.

It doesn’t.

Another fundamentally broken insecure piece of garbage from Microsoft. In all fairness it does have some nice new features and it is more secure than the previous versions. It still is no way as secure as any of the other browser you should be using.

I won’t bore you with a deep technical discussion.

Just use Firefox.

Dropbox

Since I wrote this article over a year ago, Dropbox has become pervasive. In short it's everywhere. As well as being cloud based storage, it is the "sync and store" solution for mobile devices like the iPad, iPhone, Android, laptops and web based warriors. Frankly, if you are not using Dropbox, why not?

If you work at home and don't lug a laptop around, install Dropbox on your work and home PC and your files will be waiting for you when you get home. Any changes you make are automatically synchronised back at work. And they keep backup versions in case you changed something and messed it up. Try doing that at work, you'll be groping for backup tapes and doing restores.

Think of Dropbox as a file server in the cloud.

There are files that are too big to email. Imagine popping in to your local Australia Post office with a pallet load of bricks and asking the nice lady behind the counter how many stamps you need.

If your file is larger than 2Mb, don’t email it, the chances of it getting through are low.

Enter Drop Box. It allows you to save files into the cloud (the Internet) and access them from any PC. You can share files, or keep them private, or both. I use mine to store my (encrypted) 1Password file which is very private and also I have a public folder for the common utilities I like to share. I have a semi-private folder just for EMC so I can share the log files with my senior engineer at EMC, no one else can see those files.

There’s a DropBox client (program) for Windows, Mac. Linux and iPhone. This allows you to have a folder on your computer that syncs to your DropBox. The files are store both on your computer and in the cloud at DropBox and kept in sync for you. So you can access them even if you have no Internet.

Use it to move files around, use it to backup to the cloud, use it to give several computers access to your files anywhere in the world. Just use it.

And best of all, its free. You get 2Gb storage for free and can buy a premium account if you need more. Since Drop.io died a death of Facebook, DropBox is my solution.

www.dropbox.com