Google Reader: Gearing Offline Feed Reading!!

I was wondering what feed reader I’ll use since I switched from Windows to [Ubuntu] Linux, again…

… when I saw a very pleasant surprise from Google Reader:

 

Set up Google Reader for offline use.

This feature enables you to read your 2000 most recent items even when your computer is not connected to the internet.

To use the offline features of Google Reader, you will first need to install the Google Gears plug-in for your browser.

Before you begin:

This installation requires that you restart your browser, so we recommend you close all other windows before you begin.

Right on time, Google!

Well, I guess one more of those little Google goodies won’t really hurt that much… 😉

Note: 2000 items? Google sweetheart, I never remember you being so overly conservative before…?

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Installing NX on Amazon EC2's or Your VPS's Ubuntu

NoMachine’s NX is a cool technology to GUI-ly remote your server using less bandwidth and more power responsiveness. If you miss your GUI luxury, let’s install it on your VPS, shall we?

Get some Ubuntu first, Dapper or Edgy or Feisty all work fine. Installing some kind of desktop GUI will make the journey smoother for you. And you’ll need to setup your server you accept SSH connections first, which you probably have done already.

We’re gonna use FreeNX which is already very good and has no connection/user limitation. Append this /etc/apt/sources.list:

# FreeNX
deb http://free.linux.hp.com/~brett/seveas/freenx feisty-seveas freenx
deb-src http://free.linux.hp.com/~brett/seveas/freenx feisty-seveas freenx

If you’re using Dapper or Edgy, modify the ‘feisty’ above to ‘dapper’ (‘edgy’ packages aren’t there, but reported to work just as well.) Then commence:

sudo aptitude update && sudo aptitude install freenx

Let’s set it up:

sudo nxsetup

It’ll ask you a simple question (the answer is unintuitively ‘no’). And your server should be ready.

Download a client from NoMachine web site to your liking. Install it and point it to your server.

Happy remoting! 😉

Note: In case you didn’t notice, Trizoko is a fabulous business-related blog packed with uber-useful tips for you. Check it out!

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Amazon’s EC2: Automated Server Hosting

EC2 is a new server clustering services by Amazon. The difference between traditional servers it’s that this is very on-demand and automated. You won’t need to phone call an admin and “hey, we need a server” anymore, all you have to do is click “launch” and you’ve got a server running. (and the billing starts too, hehhee…)

ec2_small

This is indeed a brand new technology that I haven’t heard other competitor yet. (Besides, when you’re competing with a company called Amazon, well……) It allows developers to create a server in less than a few minutes… and disband them at will as well. It’s even quicker than installing Linux in your own computer. 🙂

Amazon started as online book store, but now it’s grown to be one of the strongest Internet companies. 🙂 They built AWS / Amazon Web Services to provide hosted services. S3 and EC2 is among the most popular AWS services. S3 is a (massive) data hosting / storage service. And EC2 is hosting service. These are mostly interesting for developers, not end-users.

EC2 is similar to semi-dedicated / VPS (virtual private server) hosting services out there, with significant difference:

  • Server instances are commissioned (and “deleted”) on-demand, by using an automated API (“API” word again..!) or by using web-based UI provided by RightScale. This means no need to call customer support for these kinds of stuff.
  • Payment is per bandwidth and per hour used. No usage = no pay. Much usage = more cost. 🙂 This is different than any other hosting companies since they charge a fixed “$xx / month for xx GB bandwidth etc.” This also means EC2 has no cap on upper usage limit… as long as you pay what you used 🙂

EC2 is controlled using programmable Web Services API. RightScale is the web-based front-end UI that can be used by “mere mortals”, it hides the API complexity.

EC2 servers can be anything you like (web/database/Java/etc.). (Presumably as long as you use Linux?). They’re hosted on Amazon so it fits well if you want a remotely hosted server. It’s more convenient in some ways since you’re free-ed from managing the little details (such as when hardware burns out, memory/hard disk crash, etc. they handle it for you) but you still retain complete access to the server (since you’ll be logging in as ‘root’ user, you can basically do anything there).

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Mozilla as Rich Internet Applications Platform

Everybody knows Firefox, Mozilla‘s flagship browser that’s being used by most geeks worldwide (and increasingly used by non-geeks too.) In the emerging Rich Internet Applications platform market, we are seeing more and more vendors jump in: Adobe with Apollo, Microsoft with Silverlight, Sun Microsystems with JavaFX, and a bunch others.

So has anyone considered using Mozilla (or Firefox) as Rich Internet Applications platform (in the near-future)?

The platform compiles natively, has many functions, is proven for building the web browser, e-mail client, calendaring application, and more. It runs JavaScript, which makes it very extensible. Mozilla has demonstrated its cross-platform-ity by having many Firefox extensions that “just work” in all platforms that can run Firefox. It supports CSS, SVG, and XUL, which means it’s really good for presentation. Its components are open source, which is yet another good thing.

I really wonder whether this is a good path to take, or at least feasible?

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XML-RPC Problem in WordPress and Blog Clients

Having problems using your blog client with WordPress? I have been getting errors for awhile without being able to post to WordPress using a blogging software.

I was lucky enough to be able to get the following error messages: “XML-RPC server accepts POST requests only.” or “The server returned an unexpected reponse code: 403” or “Wrong content-type”. Not exactly stellar but it allowed me to find a solution to this problem on the Internet.

They narrowed the problem down to a rather technical detail. There is a configuration problem on the host because the host is behaving drastically differently depending on the “Content-Type” of the request.

The problem arises because when a remote editor connects to a WordPress installation, it communicates with HTTP POST requests. In every case the contents of the HTTP messages are XML data, so the “Content-Type: text/xml” header is passed along with the request.  But the server seems committed to only returning the expected value if the Content-Type is set to “application/x-www-form-urlencoded”, a typical value for *forms* that are posted, e.g. from a web page.

There’s nothing that can done from the client to alleviate this. The server has to be accommodating of “Content-Type: text/xml” requests. In many cases this restriction is because the hosting service has enabled mod_security Apache module with all the guards up.

The following workaround works for me:

  1. Create a .htaccess file.
  2. Add the following:

    <IfModule mod_security.c>
       SecFilterEngine Off
       SecFilterScanPOST Off
    </IfModule>

  3. Save and upload the .htaccess file to the directory with the WordPress files.

You can read the original discussion of this issue at Red Sweater Software forums.

On a particular note: HostingRails customer support staff have been really helpful in diagnosing and solving all of my problems while using their service. Two-thumbs up for these guys! 🙂

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Service Manager Controls Favorite Windows Services

Unable to find a “good” software to quickly control Windows Services. Here’s what I came up with:

Service Manager .NET

It’s written using Microsoft .NET which isn’t “portable” (yeah, like Windows services is portable?) 😉

If anybody wants it I’ll provide it for free including source code. 🙂

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