WordPress Multisite

As you would have guessed this is a WordPress blog.  Actually, I’ll let you into a little secret, there are three blogs hosted on the same WordPress install.  You see I like having a segmented life and while you are here for my computing journey, you might not be so interested if it was jumbled up with other ‘noise’.
So when I was looking at how to host three blogs on one hosted web account it was an easy decision.  I am sure there are other options but the one that kept being mentioned as ‘the best’ or ‘most flexible’ was WordPress.  It was also around this time that I realised I would need three of these WordPress blogs/sites.  Did that mean I needed three installs of the core software?  How do I connect you with the right site?  A few google searches and I had my answer – WordOress MU (well not quite, that is the old name for the feature now known as WordPress Multisite, or WordPress Network).
WordPress have an excellent instructions on what to do and, to be honest, the WordOress software pretty much takes you through the steps as soon as you choose to enable a ‘network setup’.
There were a few ‘gotchas’ that I encountered:
1/  I installed WordPress as a plain install.  As soon as this was installed the blog was available for viewing.  I realised that this would be an issue as I created the three networked blogs and was setting them up.  WordPress populates each new site with a default post, comment and page.  For a while I needed to have a means to hide them from the world in some way.  To do this I found a ‘Maintenance Mode’ plugin which I installed and enabled on this default blog.  I’ll talk about this plugin in a later posting.
2/  There were references to the HTACCESS file and changes that needed to be made to that.  As I understand it this file allows control of what can be accessed by web requests via the web server.  In the case of a WordPress network installation the web server needs to know that any subdomain reference should go to Wordpress and it will sort out which site to present to the user.  Note that I used the recommended subdomain install ‘e.g. computing.lighthousenz.com’ rather than trying to use subdirectories.  This does mean that if I actually want to have a subdomain that goes to a non WordPress site I may need to change the HTACCESS file.  I did find a couple of places that talked about how the HTACCESS file needs to be customised for each install, however I just cut and pasted the one supplied by WordPress and all was fine.  I’m guessing if you have a non-standard or existing web setup things might be different.
3/  Finally – I found a great video on Youtube that goes through the steps required to setup a WordPress network (thanks guys).  That gave me the confidence to go ahead.  However a few of the commenters for that video had the same problem I did.  They had set up the site in WordPress, created the subdomain (in cpanel, usually) but then got “site not found”.  The missing step for me was to add the subdomain to my DNS records.  The small step made all the difference and the site was accessible within a short time.
So, there you have it.  Multiple blogs or WordPress sites can be yours in a short time.  Follow the instructions of WordPress and that video and my tips above and all will be fine.  Fingers crossed.

Celluon Magic Cube

I am always interested in different means of interacting with a computer and with software applications.  These days we take for granted the touch, swipe and tap of using our smart phones.  Touch screens for PCs have been around for quite some time.  I remember configuring them and using them in demonstrations in the mid 1990’s.  Back then you needed to purchase the touch surface and then have it fitted over the top of the CRT screen.  It was an interesting task.
More recently I saw an article about a laser projected keyboard that could be used for data entry and controlling a PC.  I spend a bit of time these days writing software for medical laboratories so having a keyboard that doesn’t need to be kept sterile and be cleaned every day sounded like a good thing.  I purchased one for demonstration purposes.
As noted above the product is the Celluon Magic Cube.  A revisit to the site indicates that there is a newer version to the one I purchased which has some useful improvements – specifically multitouch gesture recognition.
The Magic Cube device and projected keyboard
The Magic Cube device and projected keyboard
The one I tried was easy to setup – simply a Bluetooth device that needed to be paired.  Once you got used to typing on your desk it was fairly easy to get up to speed.  In a bright room it was a bit harder to see the keyboard, and I quickly found out that you need to keep the device at the same level as the typing surface – you can’t lift it up to make the keyboard bigger.  However for standard typing or data entry where a normal keyboard might be too imposing or get too dirty this just might be an option.
The keyboard projected by the Celluon Magic Cube device
The keyboard projected by the Celluon Magic Cube device

Me and Lotus Notes

This year I will celebrate 25 years of working with a product called Lotus Notes.  In the late 90’s IBM purchased Lotus and it was eventually renamed to IBM Notes (client) and IBM Domino (server).  But to me it is hard to expunge the “Lotus” name from my mind.
For me Lotus Notes and the associated job that exposed me to the product were a case of right place, right time.  I had been looking for a job for some time and after a few fruit unsuccessful interviews I was told by one job recruiter that in the current market I was ‘unemployable’.  Then a job came along where a company wanted to build a team for this new product of Lotus Notes.  While they said ‘prior experience preferred’ this was probably an optimistic statement.  On the way to the interview I decided to spend a few minutes in a local technical book store browsing and calming down before what I expected to be another ‘no’.  In there I found a book with the title ‘Lotus Notes in 10 minutes’.  I read it in five.  I went into that interview able to use the terms and talk about some of the concepts.  I am sure anybody with any experience would pick holes in what I said that day but as I recall I thought ‘I have nothing to lose, let’s just go for it’.  I had a job offer by the end of the week.
That started a career spanning Lotus Notes versions 3 through to 9 (and beyond).  It also enabled me to enjoy roles such as development, testing, design, analysis, project management, team management, consulting, troubleshooting, and much more.
These days my Lotus (IBM) Notes/Domino development is based around a complex application of about 20 databases and over a hundred script libraries.  Most times its development, sometimes design, but all of the time it is enjoyable – still.
I have a few ideas about connecting Lotus Notes databases to iOS so some of that may appear here as I progress.