Thursday, December 27, 2012

Tour Shopping on the Web: the... Bad and the Ugly

Back in 1994, when I started hand-coding my first big web site about the tourist resources of a certain European country, we browsed the Web, literally. Web masters created web sites "by hand" (using a plain-text editor). They manually added hyperlinks between pages and to other sites (creating the "web effect"). They submitted their sites to a handful of web resource directories/catalogs, which were also compiled and maintained "manually". The number of web sites was, by today's standards, microscopically small, but even back then many realized that maintaining catalogs of web resources manually, as well as finding information on the Web by actually browsing the Web, would soon become impossible. A few short years later, there was a whole bunch of search engines available. We stopped browsing the Web and started browsing search results.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Chicken Thighs, SEO, Structured Data... and More

Let's run a simple experiment. Imagine that you have some chicken thighs in your refrigerator. You are not much of a cook, but you are willing to try. So, you do what most of us do looking for answers to all kinds of questions - search the Web. Don't worry - the experiment doesn't involve actual cooking :-)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Apache and Skype: Yet Another Reason to Keep Things (Virtually) Separate

I rarely use my always-on Windows desktop for anything other than office type of stuff, an occasional blog post, and communication. Still, when I am too lazy to boot up another machine (physical or virtual) for a quick test or something like that, I may run some web applications on it.

I guess, today was one of those "lazy" days. So, I started MySQL. No problem. Then, I tried to start Apache 2.2. It showed me the usual
The Apache2.2 service is starting.....
and then, all of a sudden, gave me this error message:
The Apache 2.2 service could not be started.
A service specific error occurred: 1.
More help is available by typing NET HELPMSG 3547.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Getting Your Feet Wet with AWS - Part 2: Connect to Amazon EC2 Instance via SSH

In Part 1 of this tutorial, we created an Amazon EC2 instance using a pre-built minimalist AMI. In other words, we created a remote virtual machine from a "disk image" with just enough of Linux operating system (plus some applications) for it to boot up and run, and for us - to be able to remotely administer it over a secure connection.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Getting Your Feet Wet with AWS - Part 1: Create Amazon EC2 Instance

Although this tutorial was written with an absolute beginner in mind, some general computer knowledge is required in order to complete it.


On a very basic level, AWS (Amazon Web Services) is fairly easy to use. However, if you are totally new to virtualization, at first, it may be somewhat confusing primarily because the documentation, although quite extensive, is, for the most part, not written for the "uninitiated".

Luckily, Amazon offers one year of AWS for free. The free offer includes: one micro instance of Amazon EC2 (Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud) and one micro instance of Amazon RDS (Amazon Relational Database Service). As the word "micro" implies, these are not computing powerhouses, but they are enough for anyone, even without advanced computer knowledge, to "poke around" and figure out the basics of how they work and how to manage them.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

T-Mobile's MobileLife Contacts App Disabled, Finally!

Among other things that are beyond the scope of this post, T-mobile is known for slapping mostly useless, extremely annoying, often intrusive, and always poorly implemented applications onto mobile phones. MobileLife Contacts is, quite possibly, one of the worst I have seen so far in that it is all of the above plus very hard to get rid of. I could go on ranting, but, I guess, you just want to know how to uninstall the "pest".

Monday, July 23, 2012

"Enterprise English": the Confusion of Tongues

La parole a été donnée à l'homme pour déguiser sa pensée.
(Speech was given to man to disguise his thoughts.)
~ Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord


Engraving The Confusion of Tongues by Gustave Doré (1865)

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, English vocabulary pertinent to science and technology has been growing at an unprecedented pace. The Information Age, with new technologies springing up like mushrooms after a rain shower, has accelerated this growth even further. Business lexicon has manifested similar tendencies.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Unless You Really Want to Look Like a Fool, Don't Save on Software Testing

From time to time, I just can't resist the temptation to do some ad hoc testing of business web applications I run into on the Internet. I've been doing it for years off and on (no penetration or any other disruptive testing, of course), and, although I don't keep statistics, my subjective feeling is that web apps have gotten much buggier lately. What's even worse is that the nature of the bugs I come across these days makes me wonder whether whoever is in charge of those applications just slaps them together as quickly as possible and puts them in production without any testing at all.

If you think I am exaggerating, let me give you an example.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

Implementing Web Publishing Workflows

Out of the box, most content management systems provide a very basic publishing workflow that consists of two states: "unpublished" and "published". Although it may be sufficient for a site of a very small organization or a personal web site, most large, mid-size, and even many small organizations will probably need more complex workflows.

Let me show you a very simple web publishing workflow that goes beyond the default "two-state solution". Bear in mind that, even though this workflow may be used in real life as is, being an intentionally oversimplified example for those who are not familiar with the subject, it has its limitations.